Since the fundamental objective of Buddhism is to liberate oneself from the suffering of birth and death, and the practical way to achieve this goal is to understand the mind and to realize the self-nature. The first thing to attain such understanding and realization/Meditation (mind-cultivation), just like cutting a tree to begin with its root, is to discipline oneself vigorously in the practice of looking into the mind.
From the saying of the Mahayana Meditation Sutra “If one can see one’s own mind, his/her deliverance will be absolute and complete, but if they cannot do so, they will be held in bondage forever.” , the importance of this practice may be clearly seen. But how to practice the method of looking within?
First of all, lay down everything in your mind and refrain from thinking of anything, good or bad, of the past or the future. Then look directly of what is in your mind and instantly you will find momentary thoughts coming and going alternately in succession; meanwhile, neither grasp them nor cling to them nor reject them deliberately but look into them objectively and attentively (to be aware means to look into). The moment you are aware of a thought, at once it disappears, but only to be followed too soon by another and many more.
As long as the process of the arising and vanishing of thought is going on, and even when there is no arising of though, still effort of awareness must not be relaxed at all. Given sufficient practice in due course of time (by that time awareness becomes illumination), the mind would be totally free of thought, and then the state of Void would be realized.
Now all the various phenomena before us, which we can clearly perceive by seeing or hearing (non-void), are nothing but objective realities (as they are), yet we are entirely unperturbed and free of any conceptual thought (non-being), and this is the so-called Fundamental Face of the Self-Nature. (Please note: such state us absolutely beyond words).
It is vitally important that we should see the reality of all phenomena clearly and correctly so that we may correspond with them without fail, and this may be called realizing the self-nature (from this, it may be seen that understanding the mind and realizing the self-nature is but a matter-of-fact-ness, common, ordinary and nothing unusual about it).
As soon as the self-nature of the mind is realized, we can easily see that Ignorance, Karma and Suffering, produced and conditioned by causes, are devoid of self-nature, thereby the mind would be detached from the influence of the phenomena and gradually would be free of delusions. This method of mental discipline is called Prajnaparamita, meaning Wisdom to carry oneself to the other Shore.
Though the aforementioned method may be practiced at any time of the day, however, to intensify awareness, it should be consistently practiced at all times, whether when walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, at lease a good many times everyday. But for those usually too much occupied with wandering thoughts, the practice of sitting-meditation may be recommended as a measure of remedy. This meditation may be either single cross-legged sitting, that is, by putting right toes on the left thigh, or preferably, double cross-legged sitting. During the sitting, the posture of the body should be upright and not bent, balanced and not leaning to either side.
With the right palm placed over the left one and the thumbs joined at tip-ends, assuming a particular form of mandola, both hands are put at the place, which is below the navel and above the center between the cross-legged ends. With eyes closed barely enough to shut off the light and the tip of the tongue slightly touching the upper part of the closed mouth, breathing should be natural and easy, and not to be hindered by tight clothing and underwear.
Avoid sitting where drought may be accessible, and also take care to keep the knees warm during the meditation. As soon as meditation is over, rub the hands against each other and also the face all over to help blood circulation to good effect. Time allotted for meditation should be from half to one hour at least, and of course, the longer, the better.
In meditation awareness is developed, and so at the advanced stage of meditation, one can be spontaneously and alertly aware of everything anywhere at any time. Inversely speaking, the more highly developed is the capacity of awareness, the more intensified is the power of meditation, and when the mind is completely free of delusions, as a result of this development, the self-nature can be seen very clearly.