中文
How to Listen to Dharma Teachings 1
Kagyu Samye Ling, UK, 9th October 2016, afternoon teaching session

Summary: An explanation of the need for setting a good motivation; Different levels of motivation; How making the benefit of others our priority unties ego’s knots; The importance of having practice as a constant companion.    


Reminder for correct conduct and motivation at the beginning

Please listen to the teachings thinking, ‘I will listen to this sacred dharma, and put it into practice, in order to attain lasting happiness, the precious state of supreme, true and complete Buddhahood, for the benefit of all sentient beings who are as numerous as space is vast.’ In this way, give rise to the attitude of supreme awakening, and do not confuse the conduct to be adopted and rejected when listening to the dharma. And with that in mind, the dharma to be listened to is, the motivation and the conduct to adopted and rejected when listening to the dharma. That is the teaching topic for the afternoons, and calm abiding or shinay, is the topic for the mornings.

So at the start of every teaching session the lama will give a reminder to keep the correct conduct and motivation. The words for that reminder may be very few, but if we take a detailed look at exactly what that motivation and conduct are it becomes a vast topic. And it’s a very important topic too. So that’s why at the beginning of any authentic dharma teaching we receive the reminder – at least if it’s given by a Tibetan lama that is. I can say for certain, that when I was studying extensively and receiving dharma teachings, the lama would always give the reminder. What others did I don’t know, but I am pretty sure it’s standard practice to give the reminder of the motivation and conduct at the beginning of the teachings.


Defining motivation and good conduct

Put very simply, then what we are looking at is: For those giving the teachings and those receiving them, what should their objective and conduct be? What is the correct attitude and way of thinking? Regarding our body and speech, how should we conduct ourselves? To put it even more simply one could say: What is it that you should and shouldn’t do?

This topic on the motivation and conduct needed is taught in many different instruction manuals, but mainly we find it taught among what are called the ‘oral instructions’. Here Kunga has taken the main headings, from The Words of My Perfect Teacher, which is translated into english, and I think into many other languages too. I taught this text once in both the previous Samye Ling retreats. Dza Patrul Rinpoche authored it. He was a Nyingmapa, but most of this text consists of teachings that came from the Kadampa and Kagyu masters. And its focus is the practice of renunciation and bodhichitta, or the awakening mind. Who was it that had a very rich practice of these? Well, previously the Kadampa and Kagyu lamas had an excellent practice of renunciation and the awakening mind, and so Patrul Rinpoche took excerpts from their teachings, and these form the main body of The Words of My Perfect Teacher.


The story of the lost shoe

Speaking of this reminds me of something that happened to me when I was young and I’d like to share it with you. I was born into a nomadic family and we literally lived off in the middle of nowhere. When I was about fourteen, I thought about going to visit the Jowo in Lhasa. The Jowo is a very holy statue, and I’m sure many of you have heard of it, or been to see it. It was taken from Bodhgaya to China, and then later from China to Tibet. It’s about the holiest object in Tibet, and many people travel great distances to see it – especially young people. They will even run away from home to go see it if their parents won’t let them go for some reason. And it’s not easy going to get there. If you want to go by car, to hire one or get a ride is expensive. If you are just a young kid and don’t have the help of your parents then that’s not really an option. So, many young people do go. But they walk.

One day then, when I was fourteen or so, I thought of going. I had a friend who was a young monk. I’d also become a monk at a young age. He was fifteen and I suggested we go see the Jowo in Lhasa. He thought it was a great idea. So in the eleventh month of the Tibetan year I went to his home and we ran away to Lhasa together. It’s a long way, over a thousand kilometres, and takes many days of walking. I was wearing some traditional Tibetan shoes; I’m not sure if you know what they look like but they’re made of leather and don’t have any hard rubber sole. And although they were brand new they weren’t very good for walking in. Those of you who know what Tibetan shoes are like will know that they aren’t very good for walking. One day quite soon after we’d set off, we were out on the road and I was given, or somehow came by, a pair of shoes with rubber soles. So I put them on and carried my Tibetan shoes with me. I didn’t just throw them away. I was just a kid and I didn’t have a bag, so I carried one and my friend carried one and off we went on the road, each carrying a shoe. But one of the shoes was left behind along the way. It was left on a pass called Tsa Gama/Tsawa Gang La. That’s the name of the mountain pass. And this pass is right near Tsawa Drolma Lhakhang, Akong Rinpoche’s seat in Tibet. So Tsawa is the name of that area, and there is a great plain called Tsa Kunchen Tang (at least that’s how I remember it being said as a kid). So one shoe was left at this pass right next to Tsawa Drolma Lhakhang, and the other one went all the way to Lhasa and back.

Now there is a particular account in Tibetan history of when dharma first came to Tibet. One lama was invited from China and another from India, and they came together at Samye monastery to debate with each other. It was decided that whoever won the debate would stay and the other must leave. Well, the lama from China lost the debate, so he had to leave. But it’s said that he left his shoe somewhere along the way and the interdependence of that meant something of the Hi-Shang/‘Ha-Shang’ view (his name, which I think means something like monk or lama in Chinese) remained in Tibet. And earlier this year I remembered how I left my shoe right next to Akong Rinpoche’s monastery in Tibet. Who knows, maybe my view will have an effect on Akong Rinpoche’s monastery. Because it is rather strange isn’t it, that over a journey of a thousand kilometres my shoe just happens to get left close to Akong Rinpoche’s monastery. Anyway this just came to mind, so I thought I would share it with you. It’s not really a teaching but there we go. This is not to say my view is good or bad, or what sort of view I will leave behind me when I go. But maybe something of it will be left, be it good or bad. If it’s good, then I suppose it’s good that it remains and has an influence, but if it’s bad, then it’d be better if it didn’t.


Two types of motivation

So here we’ll work with the headings that Kunga has made, and they start with motivation, the vast attitude of the awakening mind, and vast skill in means, the attitude of the secret mantrayana. So these are the two aspects of motivation. And these two motivations are in truth very high. They are motivations that will lead to buddhahood if we see them through. The objective, or result, of these motivations is extremely vast. However we look at it then, first of all we need to know something of the workings of the mind, the way mind is. Once we come to know that a little, we will begin to know what’s good and conducive, and what isn’t. That understanding in turn, will influence and change the way we go about our practice.


Tying ourselves up in knots

The mind is not like a material object, but when it is involved in a certain way of thinking it can tie itself up. Just like a silkworm ties itself up, as the threads of silk come out, our mind ties itself up when our way of thinking isn’t very good.

Our mind tying itself up like this is the source of all our problems. It leads to unhappiness and causes us to have many difficulties. We can use the physical body as the example. If we’ve been doing lots of work and become tired, we take a rest. When we are resting our mentality is that of non-doing, isn’t it? We just let go of what we’ve been doing. We just stop and put it aside. Working is the opposite isn’t it? Working is actively doing, or making. Resting is the letting go, and putting aside of the activity. Maybe we’ll rest on our bed, or on our seat, but we’ll give up the activity. Through taking a rest we’ll start to feel more at ease and happy. And what is it that brings about that sense of being rested and more at ease? It’s not doing isn’t it? A letting everything go, and putting our activity aside. And for however long we rest, we are relaxed, and it’s pleasant. The body is the example there but it’s the same for our mind. When our mind is very active and wound up, that’s when the problems come. This tying up of our mind has a name in Buddhism. We call it ‘ego-clinging’, or ‘self-grasping’. There are various ways it’s referred to but, in brief, when that’s happening the mind is no longer open and at ease. It’s neither naturally settled nor left without contrivance. Instead, the mind is tight and that brings suffering and difficulties.

So much of our mental activity is based in this. It’s a doing, or a holding and grasping within our own mind by which mind ties itself up. Ideas like “I need to be happy, I need something, or need to be something” – it’s this constant activity, of making or doing something, of grasping or looking for something. And if that mental approach becomes very strong then we suffer greatly. For those who aren’t thinking in that way very strongly, who don’t grasp and cling strongly, there are fewer problems. And there are many methods taught in the dharma to help us reduce this grasping, this tying one’s self up.


Untying ourselves

One such method for helping us to ease that clinging is to not be so concerned with this life, but to give more consideration to our future lives. So the aim, or thought, is to use this life to do that which will be good for us in the future, in our future lives. At that point we still haven’t let go of the ‘me’, or the ego, entirely. But we are now thinking more long term about ‘My future life, my future lives’. Right now, if we look at what we are attached to and the happiness we seek, we’ll see that it’s all related to this life. All our present thoughts are related to feeling good now in body and mind. That which we’re attached to, and the way we work to gain these pleasant experiences, is all based in a concern for this life. We are not thinking of our happiness and well-being in future lives.  We want them now. And being so tied-up with this life, we encounter many problems and sufferings. When we start to think about our future lives, we start to give up our concerns for this life and just naturally our mind eases, becoming more relaxed and less tight. So with this method we give less consideration to this life, our clinging eases and we experience greater peace.

This is the way of thinking of those called, ‘capable individuals of lesser capacity’, or the motivation of the Shravakas, the ‘hearers’. But in this motivation there are still issues because we’ve still not let go of ‘me’, and the ego. We are still concerned with ‘my’ future happiness, and the well-being of ‘my’ future lives. As long as that ‘me’, the ego, is present there will be problems and suffering. It’s only when the ego has been transcended that problems and difficulties fall away. But at our current level, if we’re able to gain the outlook of abandoning concerns for this life that would be really amazing. You could say it would be perfect. But as there are many different levels and ways of thinking, when we consider the bigger picture it’s still not quite perfect.


No ego, no problem

Among the two types of motivation we see here, the vast attitude of awakening mind can truly be considered as the perfect motivation, the perfect way of thinking. Why is that? It’s because now the ‘I’, the ego has been let go. When we’ve truly let go of the ‘I’ and self-clinging, we’ve let go of self-concern in relation to this present life as well as future lives, and so all of the bindings of mind have been lost. There’s no more ego. Everything becomes about others, and when all of our thoughts are geared towards others, our mind becomes extremely open and broad. We can understand this to some degree. For instance when people are working together with others, those who are only thinking ‘Me, Me, Me. As long as I’m okay, stuff the others,’ will have very tight minds and experience many problems and difficulties. Whereas those who are able to forsake themselves and be solely concerned with others, their minds are so much more open and easy going  They suffer less and have a fewer problems. We’ll see this if we stop and think about it. The mindset of the Mahayana, the greater vehicle is one where self-concern is given up, or the ego is given up. And with that way of thinking we are no longer tying ourselves up but are letting ourselves go. When that becomes the habit we have the perfect attitude, the perfect mentality.


Speaking directly

When I am teaching here in this way I am not teaching using a lot of dharma terminology and jargon. I don’t know all that much in the first place but even the little I do know I won’t use. Instead, even though I don’t have much experience or understanding, I will try to explain the little that I do understand in a very direct and simple manner. I think this will be of greater benefit because to use a lot of dharma terms, which are often talking about something quite high, will most likely mean we’ll miss the point as our way of thinking is still quite low. I myself have quite a low level of practice so there is a good chance that we are of a similar level. So I will just take what I have seen in the texts and share it with you as directly as possible, using as direct a language as I can. I think this will make for easier communication. On this particular topic, I could possibly use a little more dharma terminology than for other topics, because when I was about eighteen my Lama had us memorise a lot about this. So I probably could teach on conduct and motivation using dharma terms but it would make communication more difficult. So I will take the headings that have been provided here, and teach how best we can think about and apply them. It seems this is more likely to bring understanding of the topic.


Caring for others without discrimination

The thought here then is to be solely concerned with others, other sentient beings. There are many ways we can think about other sentient beings. We can see them all as being equal. Thinking about how to help them all equally, what we might be able to do to benefit them and what is the correct attitude for bringing about their welfare. Looking at that, we see that it is the vast attitude of the awakening mind. Why is it that we need to regard all sentient beings equally? It’s because when we have preference for some over others, we have attachment and aversion and with these come troubles. So we try to think about all sentient beings equally, without attachment to some and aversion to others, and that is a very pure mentality. And if that becomes the habit, it’s good news for us. However, in the beginning we have to contrive the practice. It’s not something that just comes naturally to us. We have to force it a bit, contrive and pretend. Eventually it becomes uncontrived and natural. And at that point just naturally our problems fall away. We become happier and make much more progress. But if it seems that we are thinking about others when in truth we are only thinking about ourselves, it won’t work. Because right at the heart everything is still about ‘me’. All of our problems and difficulties come about through our having attachment and aversion, and if we have these strongly we never feel satisfied. We always want more of what we like, and with that our sense of dissatisfaction only increases.



Satisfaction – ‘I want’ doesn’t get

To give a very simple example: very few people go crazy because they don’t have a partner. I think this happens to very few people. But those who are driven mad when they do have a partner, when their relationship starts to go bad and they encounter difficulties, are many. I don’t think I need logic to back up what I’m saying up. I think we can ascertain this through our own experience. But, to give an example that does back it up, in Tibet there are many monks and nuns, and they don’t have partners. But you don’t see them being driven mad, or going crazy because of it – nuns being obsessed with guys and going crazy or monks becoming obsessed with girls and going crazy. Well, I’ve never heard of it at least. When do people go crazy? It’s in relation to having partners, or in relation to the opposite sex towards whom they’re attracted. It’s when they have partners, aren’t satisfied, and feeling something’s not right, they go mad. That’s how it is when we have obtained the object of our attachment but are not happy or satisfied with it. It troubles us greatly. You might think that lacking the object of our attachment would trouble us most, but in reality it’s not like that. It’s when we have it that we are more likely to be driven mad by it.

Also here in Samye Ling there are many monks and nuns. And again, I don’t think they are being driven mad by thinking of the opposite sex, or the object of their attachment. If they have been driven mad by this, most likely it happened before they became monks and nuns. And this comes about through a lack of satisfaction and contentment, feeling things are not right. It’s not when we lack something that we are troubled by it, but when we have it. That’s the way of things.

The particular motivations we are looking at here are what remedies attachment and aversion. There are many aspects to them, some work to remedy our attachment and aversion directly, others indirectly. But when these are remedied and reduced to some degree, then the mind becomes more relaxed and more natural. When the mind is more natural we suffer less as there are just fewer problems.


Approaching the Vajrayana

And that takes us towards the second of the two motivations – vast skill in means, the attitude of the secret mantrayana. In this view there are no issues. But to come to that particular mindset, or view, there’s an order that needs to be followed. First of all we try to give up our concerns for this life. Then we start to think about future lives and with that our clinging has been chipped away a little. Once we are clinging less to this life, clinging less to ‘me’, the ego becomes easier and as we continue working with that, reducing our ego clinging, we develop a very full and complete practice of the motivation of ‘the vast attitude of the awakening mind’. As that happens, as our attachment, aversion and ego clinging are reducing, the mind’s actual character, or true state, becomes ever more manifest, and the mind becomes purer – pure as in more itself. That then takes us to the motivation of the vajrayana: vast skill in means, the attitude of secret mantrayana.

So that’s the order of the progression of thought. Some people can follow that order very correctly, step by step, while for others their path is more one of inspiration or belief, based on inference. They believe things to be a certain way because of something. The lowest approach is one of mental fabrication, and how that will pan out is uncertain. It could go well, or it could go poorly. This is because fabrication by its very nature is fake and superficial. And when we have an object that’s not the real deal sometimes it may be useful, but sometimes it doesn’t work. So we may be lucky, we may not. What does it mean when we are not lucky? It means we do not gain the result and as a result our belief or inspiration in the path takes a battering, and our clinging and problems are only going to increase then. But if we are lucky, through our fabrication we gain a glimpse of how things might really be, or what the reality might be. And using that glimpse as the basis for inference we work until we see the actuality. In other words we gain good practice and find the right path.


Working towards a selfless motivation

When we are listening to the dharma, meditating or practicing, if our way of thinking is along the lines of, ‘May this be good for me,’ then our motivation is poor. As I said already, all of our difficulties and problems stem from this very strong sense of ‘me’. So if we are taking that as the foundation for our listening to the dharma, and practicing the dharma, it’s not really going to work or help us progress. If by chance there is some sign of progress, you can be sure that it will only be temporary. So when we are studying or practicing, we have to think, ‘I’m doing this for the benefit of others.’

The next thing is that just as when we are going to help others, let’s say financially, first of all we need to make money ourselves. It’s not that as soon as we think, ‘I’m going to help others financially,’ that all of a sudden we have a lot of money. It doesn’t work like that. First of all, the money has to be made, and then we can help. It’s the same no matter which activity we wish to engage in to help others. First of all we have to work well ourselves, and then we can use the fruits of that to benefit others. The dharma is the same. Firstly we study the dharma, we listen to it and come to know it. And that knowing we can then use to help others. We now have something through which we can help others. Likewise with practice: firstly we learn the practice ourselves, engage in it, gain experience, and then that experience we can use to help others. And so whatever dharma activities we are engaged in, be they receiving dharma teachings or practicing the dharma, we should do so with the motivation that through this may others benefit. And that will make it of great benefit.

When it actually comes to being of benefit to others, then of course the capacity for doing that will vary from person to person. It may seem that some people are not going to able to be of great benefit to others, whereas others will. Whatever the case, in the Buddhist view we believe in past and future lives, so even if someone is not of great benefit to people in this life, there will be many future opportunities to help. This life is seen as being very fleeting, one of many lives; the equivalent to a single day in a lifetime. So even if we do not benefit people on a grand scale in this life, that’s okay, because we have the next life and many future lives to do that. Also, you will find people’s levels of intelligence and ability vary greatly. From the Buddhist perspective, our present situation is related to our past lives. It’s not only about what we can see here and now in this life. And, if in our past lives we have cultivated good habits, say we’ve learned and studied well, then we’ll gain that easily in this life. Those habits will awaken in this life. But it works the other way as well. If in our past lives we have developed many bad habits, then they too can awaken in this life, and have a negative effect. So good habits will have a positive effect, negative habits a negative effect. With that, we don’t only think about this life, because this life is actually seen to be very short in the grand scheme of things.

This means that when we are practicing the dharma we have to do our best to give up thoughts such as, ‘May this make me happy and comfortable.’ If we are able to give up such thoughts, then we will gain the benefits of the practice. So that’s what we are going to try and do; try and think, ‘Who cares if I feel good or not, what does that matter? I’m just going to do my best with the practice.’ At least try to feel, ‘I’m not going to care so much about whether I feel good physically or mentally. Whilst I’m doing this, I’m doing this.’ Once we clear up those sorts of thoughts, we are more able to actually do the practice and will gain the benefit. If we are practicing with the motivation of, ‘May this be good for me, may this make me feel good,’ then the practice in fact doesn’t become practice, instead it becomes something which sends us in the other direction.


Talking the talk

To give an example of how the way we go about our practice is often actually quite funny, strange, and amusing, let’s use the recitation of Om Mani Padme Hung. Now the recitation of and meditation on the ‘Mani-mantra’ is something beneficial and virtuous, so we are taking that which is virtuous as the example, whatever that might be. If we consider what we are reciting, it’s for the benefit of all sentient beings. For the sake of this example, let’s imagine that you are all sentient beings, I’m the practitioner, and this (Rinpoche points to an object on the table in front of him) is the virtue which is to be taken on. How do we start? “I’m going to practice this virtuous activity for the benefit of all sentient beings.” This, is what we say with our mouths. Then (Rinpoche takes the object from the table and puts it into his pocket) I take all the benefit and you don’t get anything! But all along our mouths are saying; “For the benefit of all sentient beings.”

Also how are we thinking? ‘For the benefit of all sentient beings … may I be happy. For the benefit all sentient beings… may this help me.’ And in this way we go about the practice. ‘For the benefit of all sentient beings…I’m going to practice Chenrezig…. May my body be comfortable. For the benefit of all sentient beings… May my mind become happy.’ And like that we fake it. Because when we look at what’s actually going on, it’s pure self concern, and that doesn’t bring much of a beneficial result. Why is that? It’s because we are not doing the practice properly. If we were to do it as we are supposed to, we would gain the proper benefits. If we were to do it as it’s taught, where we are not cherishing ourselves, but instead are cherishing others, the practice would become something through which both ourselves and others would be benefited. The dharma teaches us the way to do it, how to give up self-cherishing and to take up cherishing others, but in our way of thinking and at our level of intelligence, we just aren’t able to do it.


We will leave it there for now, which gives us a few minutes for questions.

QUESTION 1 – Posture
Should we keep our eyes open while practicing visualisations, for example Dorje Sempa or Dorje Chang.


Answer

The eyes should be open. No matter what the focus for the practice is, the eyes should be open.

When we are visualising, we are visualising with our mind, not with our eyes, and therefore closing our eyes is not the right approach. As I said before, when our eyes are open our mind is sharper and clearer, and won’t become sort of inwardly absorbed. It’s especially important to keep your eyes open if you are meditating for long periods of time. Closing the eyes is what leads to becoming inwardly absorbed, which is effectively what happens when the mind becomes drowsy, it sort of gets drawn inwards.


Advice: Your meditation - your friend

I could wait and say more about this tomorrow morning, but I’ll say it now. In general having a practice is so very helpful, it’s very important. It has both temporary benefits, and future long-term benefits. The temporary benefits are; for example, sometimes we get sad. Maybe we haven’t anyone to talk to, anyone to help us, and we might feel that if we had someone to talk to, we could share our joys and sorrows with them, which would make us feel better. Sometimes with loneliness the mind can become very sad, discouraged and weak. That in turn can make us sadder. This happens, doesn’t it? For this type of person, having a practice is so very helpful. Having a practice they are familiar with, they become more accepting. So it’s very helpful, even in mundane, worldly short-term ways. Because having a meditation becomes like having a friend. It’s always there whenever we need it. Of course, there are a whole range of practices and meditations. But they all occupy our mind, and when the mind is occupied with practice, it’s not thinking, ‘I’m sad, I have no friends, no one to talk to.’ So having a practice we are familiar with means it’s always there for us, we have something we can always rely on. This is why practitioners are always happy and never feel lonely. They can practice for years without talking to anybody, in quite poor accommodation, with poor food, and never get down because they have a friend with them, they’ve got a helper. They find this in their meditation, and their practice. As they bring the practice to mind, in other words do that which automatically counteracts aversion and attachment, things like sadness and depression just don’t have place to arrive. Instead they become very peaceful, comfortable, happy and at ease.


Having a high view

Yesterday morning when Lama Yeshe Rinpoche was giving his talk, Kunga was translating it to me. I’m guessing he translated it correctly. Lama Yeshe was saying that when he finishes his day’s activities here in Samye Ling and goes home, he just lets it all go, and it doesn’t bother him anymore. He never brings what happened through the day to mind. What he is saying there is extremely high, the words of a very high view. I’m not sure if you understood or recognized that when he said it. But it’s certainly not something we’re able to do. At the end of our day, we probably go to the pub, a nightclub, the cinema, or even to a drug den? We need something else to rely upon, an external support, something other. We can’t just let everything go like that. What’s more, not only are we bothered by the activity of today, we’re also bothered by what we’re going to do tomorrow.

Our minds are mainly pained and stressed by that, so much so that we may not get any sleep that night. So what Lama Yeshe said is in fact very high. When he’s working, he’s working, and when it’s done, it’s done. But that’s not doable for us. It’s only doable for a meditator who has good practice. I don’t know about you, but it’s certainly not easy for me. When I’m busy, I’m thinking about what has taken place, and it troubles me. Perhaps you take your troubles to the pub, or somewhere else. To be clear, it’s not when we are actually working that we are so troubled, not when we are busy, tied up and occupied. After work is when the troubles start. But for Lama Yeshe, after work, he is able to let it go. For us, that’s when we encounter difficulties, after work. During our work nobody is really having a difficult time, or going mad. When we are at work, we’re busy, maybe zoned in on a computer screen typing away, or carrying things here and there, and at that point there’s no problem, we just get on with the task in hand. But after work there’s this sort of vacant space; ‘Hmm, now what…., maybe I should meet my friend…., go here…., go there…?’ That’s when we head to the pub, or wherever it is we head. And there we think and stress about what took place during the day. So that’s the trouble time. You look for yourself; is it while you’re actually working that you are more troubled, or is it after work? For Lama Yeshe, after work is fine. What’s gone has gone. When he’s saying that, he’s actually talking about very high view. It’s probably different when you talk about a high view. For you, if you talk about a high view, you probably talk about purity and that sort of thing. But that’s to do with the view itself. What Lama Yeshe was talking about was not concerned with just understanding the view, but with the attainment and accomplishment of the view.

So for us, most of our difficulties arise not at work, but after work.



QUESTION 2 – Posture
What do you think about using a meditation stool, and sitting in the kneeling position?

Answer
It’s taught in vajrayana that the other aspects of the physical posture are just branch aspects. I think it’s the same in Hindu Yoga, which is now prevalent in the world. What sits at the root of them all is a straight body. You can see that many of the techniques seem to be based on having the straight posture. This is also the way it’s taught in the vajrayana. There are different types of yogas, but what’s the root of them all is having a straight body. Yoga is definitely very beneficial for our body and mind. This is universally recognized these days. So being able to sit straight is deemed to be a key aspect of meditation.

So, yes this is good, especially for those who are meditating for long periods. It’s very helpful to have some sort of support which lifts the body. We have something similar in the Tibetan tradition, a cushion is used; it’s called a ‘meditation cushion’ (the term in English is quite common, but in Tibetan it’s a very particular term). The main thing is; what can we use that will support our body, and stop it from getting tired when we meditate for long periods? For example; what will help us to maintain cross-leg position, without getting tired, for long periods? In the vajrayana there are many forms of ‘trulkor’; (yoga is not the direct translation, but it’s something equivalent.) The Six Yogas of Naropa, and The Six Yogas of Niguma for instance, are types of yoga. But, at the root of them all is having a straight body.