Meditate all the time.
Practice now. Don’t think you will do more later.
Dipa Ma stated firmly that if you want peace, you must practice regularly. She insisted that students find time for formal meditation practice every day, even if only for five minutes. If that proved impossible, she advised, At least when you are in bed at night, notice just one in-breath and one out-breath before you fall asleep.
More importantly, in addition to formal sitting on the cushion,Dipa Ma urged students to make every moment of their lives a meditation. Some of us are busy people who find it difficult to set aside any time at all. If you are busy, then busyness is the meditation, she tells us. Meditation is to know what you are doing. When you do calculations, know that you are doing calculations. If you are rushing to the office, then you should be mindful of rushing. When you are eating, putting on your shoes, your socks, your clothes, you must be mindful. It is all meditation!
For Dipa Ma, mindfulness wasn’t something she did, it was who she was-all the time. Dipa Ma made it clear that there is nothing wrong with lapses of mindfulness, with the mind wandering. It happens to everyone. It is not a permanent problem.
There is nothing ultimately to cling to in this world, Dipa Ma taught, but we can make good use of everything in it. Life is not to be rejected. It is here. And as long as it is here and we are here, we can make the best use of it.
Choose one meditation practice and stick with it.
If you want to progress in meditation, stay with one technique.
For those beginning the spiritual journey, Dipa Ma was adamant about commitment to one of meditation. Don’t give up, and don’t jump around from practice to practice. Find a technique that suits you, and keep going until you find your edge, the point where difficulties start to arise.
A common mistake many Western spiritual seekers make is to interpret difficulties as a problem with a particular practice. From the vantage point of that uncomfortable edge, some other practice always looks better. Maybe I should do Tibetan chanting . . . or Sufi dancing. In fact, difficulties usually are a reliable sign that the practice is working.
Take Dipa Ma’s advice to heart. Stick with the practice you’ve chosen through difficulty and doubt, through inspiration and stagnation, through the inevitable ups and downs. If you can stay committed to your practice through the darkest of times, wisdom will dawn.
Patience is one of the most important virtues for developing mindfulness and concentration.
Patience is forged by constantly meeting the edge. In the most challenging situations, merely showing up, being present, may be all that is possible-and it may be enough.
One student recounts the effects of this kind of patience in Dipa Ma’s life She had seen her mind go through every kind of suffering and was able to sit through it. Later, when she came out of that fire, there was something very determined, almost frightening about how she could look at you, because she had seen herself. There was nowhere to hide. She exemplified that you can’t just sit around thinking about getting enlightened. You have to take hold of these truths at the deepest level of your heart.
Patience is a lifetime practice, to be developed and refined over time. Cultivating patience is a large part of maturing the mind, which, according to Dipa Ma, is the highest vocation of all.
Free your mind.
Your mind is all stories.
Dipa Ma did not say that the mind is mostly stories; she said that there is nothing in the mind but stories. These are the personal dramas that create and maintain the sense of individual identity who we are, what we do, what we are and are not capable of. Without our being aware of it, the endless series of such thoughts drives and limits our lives – and yet those stories are without substance.
Dipa Ma challenged studentsbelief in and attachment to their stories. When someone said, I can’t do that, she would ask, Are you sure or Who says or Why not She encouraged students to observe the stories, to see their emptiness, and to go beyond the limitations they impose. Let go of thinking, she urged. Meditation is not about thinking.
At the same time, Dipa Ma taught that the mind is not an enemy to be gotten rid of. Rather, in the process of befriending the mind, in getting to know and accept it, it ceases to be a problem.
Cool the fire of emotions.
Anger is a fire.
When someone came to visit Dipa Ma, it didn’t matter who it was, or what emotional state they were embroiled in, or what the circumstances were. In every instance, Dipa Ma saw each person as someone to be loved. Can we offer the same acceptance to the emotions that arise in us, treating them as visitors to be treated with lovingkindness Can we simply allow them to come and go, without reacting in ways that might be harmful
A lot of incidents happen in daily life which are undesirable, Dipa Ma said. Sometimes I experience some irritation, but my mind remains cool. Irritation comes and passes. My mind isn’t disturbed by this. Anger is a fire. But I don’t feel any heat. It comes and it dies right out.
Sylvia Boorstein, a meditation teacher who hosted Dipa Ma in her home in 1980, said that her husband once challenged Dipa Ma on this point. Dipa Ma was talking about the importance of maintaining tranquillity and equanimity and non-anger, and my husband asked her, would you do that What if someone were in some way to jeopardize Rishi [Dipa Ma’s grandson], to threaten him （Sylvia Boorstein
I would stop him, of course, Dipa Ma replied, but without anger.
Live simply. A very simple life is good for everything. Too much luxury is a hindrance to practice.
In every way, Dipa Ma lived in the greatest simplicity. She refrained from socializing. She did not engage in unnecessary talk. She didn’t involve herself in other people’s concerns, especially complaints. Her guideline for herself and her students was to live honestly and never blame others.
Often Dipa Ma simply rested in silence. Whenever I get time alone, I always turn my mind inward, she said. She did not spend time at any activity that was unnecessary to her life.
Just as in meditation, where we practice giving our full attention to one thing at a time, Dipa Ma did each thing completely without worrying about the next. Thoughts of the past and future, she said, spoil your time. In whatever she did, she was fully present, with ease, stillness, and simplicity.
Cultivate the spirit of blessing.
If you bless those around you, this will inspire you to be attentive in every moment.
Dipa Ma continuously offered blessings. She blessed people from head to toe, blowing on them, chanting over them, stroking their hair. Her blessings were not reserved exclusively for people. Before boarding an airplane she would bestow a blessing upon it. Riding in a car was an opportunity to offer a blessing not only to the vehicle but also to the driver and to the men who pumped the gas.
Practicing this spirit of blessing throughout the day can make the ordinary become something special. It’s a way of encountering grace moment after moment.