In the past, teachers often had to persuade their students to move to higher levels of meditations, as students were usually humble and cautious. Today, however, even beginners want to practice only the highest meditations, like the loving-kindness free from concepts or emptiness. They dive into ocean-like meditations without any clue of their depths, whether due to arrogance or being unrealistic.
The problem is that, if you try to meditate on high teachings like emptiness without adequate preparation from the ground level, you could very easily fall into the extreme views and experiences of nihilism or eternalism, while holding on to a subtle concept or thought of grasping at “a nothing” or “a non-existence.” Or you could become lost in a state of being spaced out, with your mind endlessly floating semi-unconsciously, while you are not aware of anything.
If these errors occur, though you might not be committing any gross misdeeds, you would still be very much recycling yourself in the chain of ignorance and confusion, which drag you further from the light of wisdom. True realization is the realization of the union of freedom from grasping at anything and the wisdom of self-awareness. But, again, high realizations will not take place unless you have vigorously trained in the preliminary trainings for a long time. Being smart, prosperous, youthful, or powerful cannot buy true realization.
Tulku Thondup Rinpoche
from the book The Heart of Unconditional Love: A Powerful New Approach to Loving-Kindness Meditation
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