Note: This blog is part of a series sharing the teachings of the Atisha's Lojong Root Verses on Training the Mind as shared by Jetsumna Tenzin Palmo in London May 28 & 29, 2016.  These are not transcriptions of the lectures, rather a collection of her thoughts sewn together.

13. The Supreme Concentration is not altering the mind

There are two primary approaches to working with the monkey mind.

1.     Through Control

To control the mind and attempt to create the strength of single pointedness through restrictions and concentration is one method.


“As the moments of being mindful increase, the moments of being distracted are being decreased.” ~ Jetsumna Tenzin Palmo

We cannot have two mind moments at the same time. So, the tighter and more focused our attention mentally, the background noise abates.

2.     Relaxing

We can also choose to let go of everything mental.

In the beginning strategy of control, we make effort to focus and discipline the mind, therefore, we are altering the mind in this exercise.

Once we become conscious (in touch with our quality of awareness), then we don’t need to change anything, just relax and allow the mind to be as it is – no need to constrict. Therefore, for many, samatha practice is taught first, to get the mind more workable, flexible. Jetsumna often used the example of training a wild horse when explaining this.


“You can’t tame a wild horse through beating her.  We have to make the mind enthusiastic for training. We have to work with her.” ~ Jetsumna Tenzin Palmo
“Sometimes people think the point of meditation is to stop thinking. This is not true.” ~ Jetsumna Tenzin Plamo

The engagement is to what is thought and who is thinking? We identify with our thinking and we solidify our thoughts.  We believe what we think. We swim in a sea of thinking without investigation and we are like a fish who have never noticed what water is. Who is aware of these thoughts? I am. Well, who is I? Meditation is simply about seeing things as they really are. We are not trying to alter the mind, we are trying to recognize and see the mind through direct seeing. Vipassana, the meditation method shared after samatha, means to see clearly, and not intellectually.  We are trying to KNOW the thinking as oppose to being caught in it’s grip. Waking up from the dream of our central ignorance, we wake into freedom.

"In Buddhism, all the Bodhisattvas are smiling.  They are aware of all the problems and they are free." ~ Jetsumna Tenzin Palmo

Read Verse 14 and the teaching notes.