Ray: Your first book, Turning the Mind Into an Ally, serves as a guide for training the mind with meditation practice.
Your second book, Ruling Your World, is more broadly philosophical. At the same time, it seems designed to help people make their practice practical and relevant to day-to-day life.
I already am using one of the tools you recommend, counting breaths when focused on breathing in meditation, which has brought me into the breath in a deeper way.
What was your purpose in writing the second book, and how do you envision it being used by Shambhalians and others?
Mipham: I hope it is used! (He laughs.)
We have this deep tradition of teachings about how to be better people. The point is to bring the understandings into experience.
Part of my inspiration was to say — to Shambhalians and other people who have been practicing meditation for years — has your life improved? Are there signs of your development? There should be signs.
Your life and your practice should not be separate. You bring your practice into experience. You bring it about.
I wanted to bring the Shambhala terms out of their mystical background and make clear they are very practical. Understandings about the tiger, the lion, the garuda, and the dragon can be used to help out with everyday life situations. And I hope the notion of virtue I promote includes a sense of people living virtuous lives — lives of compassion.
A lot of times people do spiritual practice just for themselves. I try to turn that a little bit.
I try to make spiritual practice more a part of the community. I write about infusing people with compassion.
If we are going to live in a society, there has to be an attitude where people really do care for others. And if we are going to create a community, like a Shambhala community or a meditation community, there has to be some kind of warmth or energy that is very sustaining, appealing, and helpful.
Otherwise, there’s no point in doing it.