Inner Fire Meditation

The Buddhist Tantric master Garchen Rinpoche explains an abbreviated version of inner flame meditation, as taught in the Drikung Kagyu lineage of master Jigten Sumgön (1143–1217). **Notes from Garchen R’s teachings** Abiding in the ultimate meaning is abiding in true nature, buddha nature. However, discursive mind follows after thoughts, wind energies in body follow after karmic winds, so mind and winds separate. In the body there are five principal winds (the navel being like the “royal seat” of them all) and three principal subtle channels: left, right, central (the central channel is the principal one). Drawing wind and mind energies into the central channel at the navel is the practice method for “merging mind and wind energies into one point.” A particular method for focusing on the energies at the navel is the Vajra Recitation: mentally reciting the syllables OM AH HUNG, together with focusing on the subtle wind energies. Bringing together the OM AH HUNG recitation with the in-and-out breath allows wind and mind to mingle, freeing us from obstacles that arise from the distraction of winds going where they will while consciousness wanders where it will. Sitting with spine erect, visualize in the central channel, at the level of the navel, a ball of fire the size of a lentil. Breathing in through both nostrils together, mentally recite the syllable OM. The wind energies descend the right and left channels, entering the central channel just below the navel chakra. At this time, hold the breath briefly, mentally reciting the syllable AH. Imagine or visualize the winds lightly fanning the flame that sits at the navel so it burns hotter and brighter, as you rest in equipoise for a few moments. Then breathe out through both nostrils together, mentally reciting the syllable HUNG. “Within this practice, look at the empty nature of mind itself,” says Rinpoche; this will help stabilize the practice of mahamudra. We are concentrating on the fire of awareness at the navel, not following the in-and-out breath with our minds. Again and again we return to the flame, liberating all mental, physical, emotional arisings through awareness. With this practice, no need whatsoever to consider the gross physical body. The three channels are visualized, but it is unnecessary to be concerned with their exact locations since they are immaterial, cannot be found in the physical form. Eventually we can focus our attention completely on the central channel, from which the right and left channels arise. Other than this, no additional visualization is required. As to holding the breath slightly with the syllable AH: we are holding the breath mixed with the wind energies at the level of the navel, fanning the flame. Hold the breath gently by binding the lower orifices, drawing the lower winds up while pressing the upper winds down. This is known as the “vase breath.” This is not a forceful training but a gentle one. (Do not distend the belly while holding the breath.) With the wind energies abiding at the navel and the mind left in its natural, unfabricated state, warmth will arise at the navel. When habituated, there will be no need to hold the breath again and again, because the warmth will allow awareness to abide naturally at the navel. Results will depend on effort. Best time to train in this practice is at daybreak. The experience of warmth may arise in a week, a month, six months, etc. Eventually the experience will require no meditation but will naturally abide as mind abides, and the cycle of OM AH HUNG will become continuous, pervading our awareness. This method of causing the mind to abide on the basis of warmth and bliss is extremely beneficial. When it is stabilized mind will abide in stillness without effort, warmth will be stable in the body, awareness will be clear, afflictive emotions will be burnt by the fire, cold-based illnesses will disperse, and so forth. The experience of bliss is empty in its nature; it is a mental arising, no need to fixate on it. These notes, from instructions given by Garchen Rinpoche (Tucson, 2005), were compiled by Barbara DuBois to fulfill the request of a devoted student to whom Rinpoche assigned this practice.


(English begins at p. 56)……

For a more extensive exposition, see the following video:

The Prayer of Samantabhadra 

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