I attended a public talk by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche in Millbrae, CA, today.
Many people have previously told me, "You have to meet Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, you're alike in many ways, you're going to enjoy meeting each other". Yesterday, a thought suddenly arosed in my mind, that maybe I should find out when Rinpoche is in the Bay Area, so I can go see him sometime. So I Googled him, and found out he's right here in the Bay Area right now, and is giving a public talk the next day! AND, my angel has a playdate, so I'm free for the day. Wow. How can I not go?
(Also see: Mingyur and Meng)
Rinpoche spoke for about 4 hours in total (with a lunch break in between). From what I can see, he is just as others have described him. He is very charming, intelligent, wise, very knowledgeable about Dharma and practice, and he is very playful and has a great sense of humor. And he's very young, barely in his 30s. I think the appropriate one-word summary is "wow". This man is certainly one of the greatest Dharma teachers of his generation, and seems destined to become one of the greatest in the world. It's an honor to just be in his presence.
The biggest thing I've learned from Rinpoche's talk today is his teaching on Sleeping Meditation. I had many "omigod" moments. Here are my notes on what I remember:
When you become sleepy, then make sleepiness the object of meditation. The idea is to bring focused awareness to the sleepiness process, and let go of all other thoughts. If you drift into sleep, just feel free to wake up anytime and resume that focused awareness on sleepiness again until you drift into sleep. (Visual: keep attention stable, and let sleepiness catch up and envelope that stable attention). Do this repeatedly if you wish.
In this way, even if you fall asleep, you may be meditating in your sleep. Imagine, meditating while you're sleeping! Beginners may find it hard to recognize if they're actually meditating in their sleep, or if they are merely sleeping. There are 2 signs that you're doing Sleeping Meditation:
1. There is no dream in that sleep.
2. When you awake, you awake in meditation, and you feel very refreshed.
As you master this practice, even when in sleeping meditation, you have visual sense of the room around you, and you are aware of happenings in the current room and the surrounding space outside.
Rinpoche said one of his main gurus (Saljay Rinpoche) uses Sleeping Meditation as his main practice. He would use a mala in one hand, and a prayer wheel in the other hand, and then fall asleep.
Rinpoche said that when he and guru's other students were having long conversations with guru, guru would fall alseep halfway and the students would just continue talking to guru and asking their long list of questions. And then guru would just wake up and answer that long list of questions in perfect clarity.
Fascinating stuff. I should start trying it.
(Also see: Mingyur and Meng)