Four Qualities of Mind: Mind Nature


What’s the purpose of meditation? In this teaching from an August 2015 talk at the Mahamudra retreat at Samye Hermitage New York, Phakchok Rinpoche explains the purpose of meditation practice. Here he stresses that we can familiarize ourselves through direct experience with the four qualities of our true mind nature.

  1. Peaceful
  2. Compassionate
  3. Perceives purely—sees things as pure
  4. Ultimately free of thinking

We come to understand and become confident in these four qualities. But it requires some work. We habituate ourselves to the recognition through practice–it is not enough to know them intellectually. And as we continue to practice, we will see these four qualities manifest.

Pure perception is not something we create. Yet, we can learn to see things as blessed. However, when we have judgment and comparison, developing pure perception is very difficult. We cannot “produce” pure perception by forcing or by pretending. Instead, we must relax and realize the natural qualities of the mind. Rinpoche explains how we can “flip” things around immediately if we have the habit of recognizing this pure quality.

Most importantly, we will realize freedom from thoughts and experience true peace. And we will then be beyond ego-clinging, hope, and fear. Rinpoche advises us to relax and not to carry hope and fear into our practice. These hopes and fears make it difficult to recognize our mind nature, true freedom.

Reflection Exercise

We can appreciate this true peace when we reflect on the words of Rinpoche’s own meditation master, Nyoshül Khen Rinpoche (Nyoshül Khenpo Jamyang Dorje, 1932-1999). Here’s a beautiful poem:

Rest in natural great peace this exhausted mind,
Beaten helpless by karma and neurotic thoughts
Like the relentless fury of the pounding waves
In the infinite ocean of samsara.
Rest in natural great peace.

Related Courses

Phakchok Rinpoche
The Four Foundations practices form the gateway for the Traditional Vajrayana path. Each element purifies the body, speech, and mind.
Guided by translator Oriane Lavole, this course helps students connect with the Tibetan language and its rich dharmic context.
Drupla Sonam Tsering
Teachings on the Seed of Supreme Awakening, the extensive Ngöndro of the Lamé Tukdrup Barché Künsel.
Phakchok Rinpoche
Phakchok Rinpoche guides students to recognize the essence of thought and to distinguish mind from awareness.
Phakchok Rinpoche
Using a classic Mahayana Sutra, Phakchok Rinpoche gives pithy practice advice covering five core topics on the Buddhist path.
Phakchok Rinpoche
Phakchok Rinpoche guides students through a year-long experiential meditation practice program.
Tulku Migmar Tsering
In this teaching series, Tulku Migmar Tsering provides detailed teaching and commentary on Gyalse Tokme Zangpo’s 37 Bodhisattva Practices.
Dr. David Shlim gently guides us to make the connection between relaxed open mind and natural compassion.
Phakchok Rinpoche
Phakchok Rinpoche introduces a step-by-step approach to understanding how our minds function.
Phakchok Rinpoche
This support program offers video and audio teachings on the Vajrayana practice of fragrant smoke offerings.
Matthew Zalichin
Approach the Buddha’s teachings gradually, learning how to integrate study, reflection, and meditation.