Dzogchen Ponlop is a teacher, a poet, visual artist and city-dweller, based in the United States for two decades. He is the author of Rebel Buddha.

From the Buddhist point of view, to discover the truth about our mind and our world, we have to start with study and analysis. Buddha said that it is most important, before we accept his teachings, to contemplate their meaning, to analyze them thoroughly and submit them to logical reasoning. Buddha taught how to explore the nature of our suffering until we reach the end of our search, where we find only peace.

We start by looking at the thoughts we have, and the reactions they produce. We look at our feelings, and our reactions to those. We look to see the relationship between our thinking and our emotional reactions. We explore our options. After a while we reach a logical conclusion about what is true and what is false in our perception of ourselves, others, and situations.

After we analyze, we have to meditate. Analysis is important, but through analysis alone we cannot experience the truth. We can really only experience the nature of mind through meditative contemplation. In this kind of meditation we look into the nature of our pain and what causes it. We also examine our happiness and its causes — we take stock of the whole range of our experiences and emotions. By doing this meditative contemplation, we gradually experience the nature of the mind without words, without concepts, and without labels.

We do this meditation in the same way that we might experience a Snickers bar. When we take the first bite, we experience it very directly, but we can’t really describe how it tastes. You could say the Snickers is sweet, but what does that mean? Is it like a spoonful of sugar in your mouth? No. Just the word “sweet” doesn’t do it. You could say it is “milky,” but is it like drinking a glass of milk? Not at all. “Milky” is too vague. Is it like the taste of butter, or cheese, or some other milk product? No, it’s not like that, either. Even if you say, like the ad agency, that it has peanuts and creamy caramel, that still doesn’t say anything about the actual taste of the Snickers. Meditation is like that. When we experience the true taste of meditation, it’s beyond words.

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  1. How Is Meditation Like a Snickers Bar? – Rebel Buddha -…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  2. avatar Loyiso khaka says:

    The word is not the thing.
    The description is not the described.
    Everything communicates DIRECTLY to our AWARENESS!
    This is why even an illiterate man can realise TRUTH!

  3. avatar Jet Mort says:

    Thank you for these few lines, and tank you for the posts on FB. Your words and thoughts are what is needed just now. (Nougaro Saint Sernin is the FB identity) Jet.

  4. avatar SvR says:

    Yes, in order to fully understand the phenomena of a Snickers Bar, we need to appreciate the co-dependent nature of its form (the physical perception of that form, its structure, its qualities, the words and concepts that describe aspects), as well as its emptiness (non-conceptual presence.) Both are equally necessary to realize its nature. Meditation without tasting is equally deficient (though better for the wasteline)as tasting without reflecting on the fullness of the moment.

    Words are helpful to appreciate the complexity of the Snicker experience: reading the label, I learn it is a ingenious combination milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, skimmed milk, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, artificial flavour), peanuts, corn syrup, sugar, skimmed milk, butter, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, lactose (a milk product), salt, egg whites and artificial flavor – all of which promises an explosion of oral pleasure, for a mere 440 calories.

    Other words, medical journals for example, helpfully warn me that my temporary joy may come at the expense of later cardiac arrest and/or diabetes. My mind struggles to reconcile these words with the words and forms used in advertisements I have seen for Snickers, in which joyful, healthy, trim people frolic with chocolate induced abandon.

    My subjective exposure to the diverse influence of all of these Snicker related words and forms, shape and influence my subjective experience of eating a Snickers Bar. They color my pleasure with guilt, worry, and aspirations of jogging.

    That subjective experience of becoming One with the Snickers Bar also changes over time. As I take my first bite, that moment may be pure heaven. My last bite (depending on how full I am) may be pure hell. So even the non-conceptual experience of the Snickers Bar is subject to time, even as the Snicker Bar leaves its imprint on each moment thereof.

    Lastly, my form influences the form and formlessness of the Snickers Bar. The Snickers Bar is changed by me, just as my waistline is changed by it. We interact. Not being M&Ms, its melts in my hand, such that I no longer know where the Snicker Bar begins, and where I end.

  5. avatar George says:

    Great piece of writing…..now to try and remember some of it and apply it.

  6. avatar Robert J. Bullock says:

    “Beyond words” is a really uncomfortable place for many of us. Words are so reassuring. As Rinpoche points out, though, it’s not as though we’re just rejecting words and concepts as if they’re “bad”.

    We should be exploring words, learning to relate to them, playing with them even.

    I need to remember THAT when I get hung up on some “deep” philosophical point or wound up in a heated debate with a friend.

    Sometimes a play fight turns into a real fight and that’s no good.

  7. avatar kathy says:

    love snickers! so yummy :-) ……drooling…

  8. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tyler Dewar, Rebel Buddha. Rebel Buddha said: NEW "How Is Meditation Like a Snickers Bar?" by Dzogchen @Ponlop http://bit.ly/9yvjVh [...]

  9. avatar Gloria says:

    Analysis can turn into avoidance and analysis for analysis sake alone. Meditation can turn into bliss attraction/addiction. It seems we need both and an underlying understanding of why we are analyzing and why we are meditating. It is true the reasons can vary but an intent to live in freedom and to support others living in freedom also seems key.

    Far as Snicker Bars go…if you haven’t eaten the poison of white sugar in awhile and then you take a bit of it (in whatever form)…you can sometimes immediately recognize it is a poison and yet another potential source of addiction. No offense to my fellow sugar addicts but i’m seeking to detoxify and kick the habit. If it isn’t a habit for y’all…you are lucky!

    :o D

  10. avatar Charlotte Kennedy says:

    Meantime, in Snickers Bar World, the question du jour, bar none, for all the aspiring Snickers Bars is: How is meditation like the true taste of human? But they thought the question lacked teeth and could only snicker.

    • avatar svr says:

      Snickers eventually went nuts. Almond Joy, on the other hand, remained in a state of bliss, even as Babe Ruth – locked in a tantric embrace – moaned “O Henry!” ;)

  11. avatar fitri says:

    Attended a class on “Teaching and Learning in Higher Education” this afternoon. The instructor gave us three ways in learning to be a good teacher: 1. Practice. 2. Practice more. 3. Practice even more. Hmm…Immediately I thought of meditation. Without continuous practice, ain’t gonna have any idea about what meditation really is, who or what we are, let alone the Truth. This is an advice I give to myself, because I’m only at a point of “feeling my feelings”, and honestly, it is NOT pleasant at all; very annoying beyond words. It makes me want to get up and look for a Snickers Bar instead…

  12. avatar smarty pants says:

    Ok, so if I’m hearing this correctly, and I believe I am, then what you are saying is that if we eat a snickers bar we will become enlightened?

  13. avatar Ray says:

    Chocolate stimulates mind. Rinpoche is like a box of chocolates. And that’s nothing to snicker about.

  14. avatar carloslokko says:

    if only awareness was so accessible – in your face – like advertising. LOL
    It is so accessible that we don’t even think about it. Our capacity to be aware is a wild inconceivable experience we over look, take for granted, part of being alive.

    this awareness break was brought to you by snickers, satisfies your mind

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