Sleepy Meditation Marmot

Scientific Name:  arctomys himalayanus
Habitat:  Himalayas: 4,000 – 5,500 ft
Size: size of a matured house cat, >6kg
AKA:

  • Tibetan snow pig
  • The Himalayan marmot
  • “Wild Dog”
  • “Yogi rat”:  Gomchen tsi-tsi (གོམས་ཆེན་ ཙི་ཙི)
    Gom=meditation + chen=great + tsitsi=rat

This fellow burrows near the snow line of the great Himalayan mountains and is not only one of the largest marmots in the world, but also one of the world’s highest living mammals.  As an adaptation to this harsh environment these critters hibernate a larger part of the year.

The “Tibetan snow pig” is not eaten because it gives off a very pungently offensive smell — but anyone would stink after months of sleeping in a cave.  Nonetheless, the resourceful Tibetans claim that its fat is a helpful ointment in treating rheumatism.

OK, why all this info? Well, Ngakpa Chögyam relates a meditation metaphor, told to him by his teacher, using this fat little fellow so I thought I’d tell you a bit more about him and offer another photo to illustrate the story.  Here is the story:

The story is that this creature goes into its little hole, but when it comes out again six months later — it’s still a marmot.  So, simply to go into isolation in your retreat cave means very little — even the marmot does that.  If you go into retreat according to the method of the marmot, then you come out again in a similar way.  The same is true of going into the empty state.  If there is no clarity in the empty state — if there is no presence — then little is gained apart from having a rest.  If you have merely blocked the arising of thought, then it’s very likely that you’ll fall into a state called ‘sleepy shi-ne’.  This is a condition in which there is absence of thought, but in which there is no presence of awareness.  It’s somewhat similar to going into a coma.  People who engage in this practice may find it very relaxing, but it serves no function in terms of how they cope with the phenomena of their existence.  As soon as they re-enter the world of form (that is to say: as soon as they leave their meditation and re-commence their everyday lives) they’re back in all their old reactions patterns — meditation and everyday life still remain separate.  In fact, you cannot actually say that this is meditation anymore: it has become simply a relaxation technique.  That isn’t so terrible, but there are easier ways to relax.
— Wearing the Body of Visions (pg 95)

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Sources:

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2 Comments

  1. oh what a cutie

  2. Ahhhh, thanks. The marmot is good looking too, don’t you think? 🙂

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