lauantai 9. kesäkuuta 2018

What is Emptiness?

What is Emptiness? How to Make Sense of Emptiness?

Emptiness in sanskrit is shunyata. Emptiness is also called selflessness, I-lessness or me-lessness (anatman, anatta). Emptiness and selflessness refer to the self-empty nature of mind. This is the basis of buddhist thought and practice. One who has seen his mind to be completely without a self, has mastered the teaching of emptiness, is fully awake, that is, a living buddha.

The main reason why we suffer is the sense of self (skt. atman). We have thoughts, emotions and reactions within our mind and because of the accumulation of the self-thought, I or me, these mind elements make us convinced that we exist independently as separate entities. This is the basis of delusion and suffering (dukkha).

The buddhist path is concerned with interruption and putting an end to cyclic existence (samsara) through proper understanding of the nature of suffering and through proper yogic effort. Particularly insight meditation (vipashyana), also called by different names such as lhaktong or prajna, is what is unique to buddhist meditation. According to the teachings of buddhist masters vipashyana, lit. clear seeing, is the key to removing existential confusion (dukkha).

Buddhist teachings on emptiness such as the Heart Sutra famously states that, ”Form is emptiness, emptiness is form”. What is the meaning of this? Form refers to any sort of relative phenomena, physical or nonphysical. Relative phenomena occurs in one or two ways: 1. external phenomena reflected on the mind and 2. internal mind phenomena. If all phenomena are experienced empty, there is no cause for confusion to arise. If any phenomena appearing in the mind is not experienced as empty, and hence causes selfing, self-based reaction, this impulse can and should be used as fuel for vipashyana practice.


Emptiness cannot be properly understood by contemplating the existence of external things, such as a chair or a desk. The only way to have a liberating insight is to see that selfing happens in the mind, not somewhere outside.

Emptiness needs to be understood through emptiness. Even though impermanence (anicca) and suffering (dukkha) are the other two pillars of buddha dharma it is the insight into the empty nature of mind that liberates, not the other two.

Understanding emptiness through insight is crucial for all buddhist meditators, and in fact to all who suffer of existential confusion.

Meditation on emptiness is not difficult or lofty, but simple, grounded and easy-to-understand when taught and applied correctly. If the instructions are vague and lack clarity, there will be no result or it will take unnecessarily long time. Without emptiness insight it is impossible to make sense of any buddhist teachings. This is so because all buddha dharma is built on realisation of emptiness (insight, awakening, kensho, semngo tropa). If the foundation of emptiness is not solid, there is nothing to build a stable house on.

In the long run, not having a proper insight leads to twisted dharma that is harmful and misleading. The imporatnce of direct insight has been stressed by numerous buddhist masters throughout the existence of buddhism. Without insight, the noncausal paths such as of zen, dzogchen and mahamudra are impossible to understand.

On societal and cultural levels the lack of experiential understanding of emptiness leads to great numbers of lost practitioners who are unable to have real faith about the buddhist path. For this reason the mahasangha of all beings doesn't reap true benefits through interconnectedness. All practitioners should first and foremost make sure that they understand emptiness through direct experience.

How do I know if my understanding of emptiness is right?

Insight, awakening or kensho means that part of one's deluded self-based mind becomes permanently deconstructed of the sense of self, me or I. Figuratively speaking, an insight makes a lasting hole in the wall through which the sight on the other side of the wall becomes easier to see. Without the hole one is shut behind the wall of self-delusion. An insight has a liberating effect. It makes a notable difference to have even a small hole in the wall, instead of having none, because looking through the hole instead of looking at the wall are two very different experiences.

Consecutive insights (bhumi openings), after the first one, keep making the hole bigger and bigger and in consequence it becomes easier and easier to see what is behind the wall. When insights are combined with regular daily practice, the outcome is that the separating wall becomes entirely deconstructed.

Also ”glimpses” into the self-empty nature of mind are needed. The difference between a glimpse and insight is that glimpse is not permanent.

When the hole is there our everyday life becomes a significantly different. A part of our narrow minded selfing has been permanently removed so this cannot not have an effect on our lives. Social relationships, work, creative work and other things in life are met from a more open minded and less opinionated place. Because selfing no longer happens the same way it used to, how the mind used to think, feel and react according to the self-based habits, life becomes more direct, more fresh and more intimate. This is the most profound change we can have.

There is nothing that can replace selfless insight because nothing else will deconstruct the sense of self. A simple indication that one matures in insight meditation is that one feels clear minded, open hearted, fresh and less reactive in everyday life.

Practical advice

In Open Heart vipashyana is practiced in both sutra and tantra forms. Sutra vipashyana refers to the Two-Part Formula for the first awakening and object-vipashyana instructions after that. Tantra vipashyana refers to Tibetan Heart Yoga which because of the unique aspects in the practice has the power to generate a whole series of awakenings, bhumi openings, within a relatively short period of time. These awakenings (bhumi openings) are matured (bhumi perfection) by regular practice over a longer period of time.

A practice hint: When selfing happens, pay attention to tensions in the head space. The area inside the head, pre- or post-awakening, is the place where the impulse can be effectively seen through.

Dudjom Lingpa's autobiography, p. 75:

Just as many springs and rivers in all directions merge as one taste in the vast ocean, likewise, all teachings without exception can be grouped as relative or ultimate truth. The two truths inseparable are fused within Great Perfection. If you understand the meaning of Great Perfection, you see the truth of the nature of reality. Connection to its vital instructions will carry you to the level of awareness holder.”

perjantai 8. kesäkuuta 2018

Taoist Master Attains Rainbow Body

Taoist Master Attains Rainbow Body

From book ”Qi Gong” by Baolin Wu

Du Xinlin, known as the Master of the Purple Luminescence, was an extraordinary modern seer. From his earliest childhood to his mystical passing from this plane, he lived his life as something more than a mere man. Tales of his feats of divination, martial artistry, and healing are recorded within the annals of both the Purple Cloud and White Cloud Monasteries.

At the age of 116, Master Du left the earthly plane. He lived his life as a towering mystic and master of the Taoist arts and had decided to dedicate his passing to a demonstration of the truth of his lifelong beliefs. What he accomplished was a manifestation of the power of Oi Gong few have ever attempted and no one had ever truly succeeded at in the modern era. His accomplishment is a significant event in Chinese cultural history. To present the inner teachings of 9 Palaces Microcosmic Orbit Oi Gong is a testament to his attainment and the fulfillment of his last living wish.

A few years before, when Dr. Wu was still living with him, Master Du told him that he believed that Lao Zi, Wang Chongyang, and all his other teachers were waiting for him in the Nine Central Heavens. As Lao Zi's disciple, he was ready to join him there. He told the young boy about the Rainbow Body that a worthy believer could cultivate inside his mortal body and that if his righteousness  merited it, it could leave the body with consciousness and spirit intact, instead of physical death, to fly up to Heaven in a rainbow of light.

Transubstantiation and eternal life that bypasses corporeal death has a long tradition in the East. It is known as hong hua, literally a form of the word "rainbow" that can be used as a noun or verb: The Rainbow Body is cultivated within a righteous person's physical body at the moment in passing. Taoist and Tibetan Buddhist tradition is peppered with stories of famous monks, hermits, and high lamas who attempted this feat by devoting their lives to meditation, training, and saintly acts. The ones who attained the RainbowBody were revered forever as saints and Immortals. Those who tried to pass over by "rainbow-ing" but did not succeed in leaving the world without a trace of their physical remains left behind were still venerated , the remnants of their bodies kept enshrined as holy relics. One such relic had been housed in the White Cloud Monastery when Dr. Wu was a boy there. It looked like a tiny, shriveled little man about a foot and a half high, covered in leathery, age-darkened skin. It was explained to him that if there were any portions of the Rainbow Body practitioner's body that had not been properly purified beforehis or her attempt, it would be left behind in a shrunken, desiccated form.

Master Du told young Wu the day and the hour he was going to Rainbow and made him swear to be there to watch his attempt, no matter what. Soon he became so focused on his future that he would spend the whole day quietly whispering, "I'm going, I'm going" to himself. In the beginning, the boy thought, "My teacher must be too old ... what is he talking about, all day long just saying, 'I'm going, I'm going!' Toward the end, when he had to return to Beijing for his studies, he remembers pleading with his master to stop worrying and continuously talking about it with him, assuring him that he would skip school and do whatever else he had to do to be there and watch him when he was ready to leave. Even with his childhood of Taoist training, the teenage Dr. Wu was still skeptical of his master's unconventional ways and crazy ideas. But when that particular day finally came to pass, Master Du attained his Rainbow Body. Ever since, Dr. Wu deeply believes.
The day before he was set to make his attempt, Master Du called his young student to his side. He told him, "Tomorrow I will be rainbowed. I am goingto my place in the Ninth Level of Heaven to do my practice there. I am going to continue my studies with my master Lao Zi and sit at his feet, learning what he teaches, but from now on you are going to have to study by yourself. You're going to have to work hard. Of all my students, you have learned much, but I am worried for you. You don't study hard, you are skeptical in your practice, and yet you absorb my teachings so well. All that I know, I must pass to you because none of my other students have the wisdom and insight that you barely realize that you possess. Because of the troubles in China, there is no time or place to find someone better than you to pass these traditions to."

As he sat in a tub of hot water strewn with fragrant flower petals, being washed by his student, he talked to him at length about the key points of 9 Palaces and 5 Centers Qi Gong. He told him of the real meaning of martial arts, When you learn martial arts, you are not going after specific movements, or their proper visual form, or if your hand moves correctly or not. You have to have the feel of a natural force living within you. If you feel it rising inside you, then you can bring it out with power and dynamism. Why does it take more than one person to catch, control, and subdue an insane person? They have left behind all the things that have separated them from their original abilities. Within your own original abilities lies your power. Why was Wang Xiangzhai (the founder of yiquan) so successful in his martial arts? Because he was able to bring out his own personal essence, his own unique force. There are special trainings to accomplish this. If you just focus on supple movements it might be good exercise, but if you really want to learn true striking power, true healing power, true energetic power, the basic foundation is Qi Gong.

They talked together like that all night, the student bathing the master, the
master transmitting his last words of wisdom, from eight o'clock in the evening to five the next morning. When Master Du had said all that he could,he faced his apprentice seriously. "I know you question what I have taught you, but tomorrow I will show you the reality of this knowledge. Of all mystudents, you are the one with the most doubts. You have difficulty trusting in me or believing in the teachings. But I believe, because I believe my owneyes. I believe in myself. I know you are a good student. You're a very smartperson. You have good comprehension and understanding, you can see things through, clearly and quickly. You have your own measure of wisdom. If tomorrow I fail to attain the Rainbow Body, all I ask is that you bury my remains in the place I have directed you. You can go on with your life and never think about Taoism again. I have high hopes that if tomorrow you seewith your own two eyes that I have indeed succeeded, you will vow to teach the 9 Palaces nine hundred and ninety nine times in honor of the truth you have been witness to."

That day, the temple was decorated with flowers and auspicious banners. Monks with musical instruments played continuously. Over one hundred people were assembled, including silent monitors from the Communist Party. Master Du sat in complete stillness and silence on a silken meditation cushion embroidered with dragons. At high noon, the moment for the transition had arrived. At first he remained immobile. At his side, Dr. Wu momentarily grasped his shoulder with a small shake. Suddenly his teacher flared with a burst of energy. Still enclosed in profound contemplation, his body began to levitate, spinning straight up from its cushion, rising by itself and revolving faster and faster. Turning so fast his body was a blur, he hovered for a fleeting moment just above the heads of the stunned onlookers. The solidity of his form shifted, became indistinct. His outline evaporated into red smoke; a piercing ray of red light shot straight through the center of the sun, transfixing him; and at once, the Master was gone. He had departed. No trace was left, except a pleasing fragrance that filled the courtyard for hours after.

How can this be understood? How can it be explained? For the rest of the afternoon, Dr. Wu and his companions were lost in wonder and shocked
speechless. They had been witness to proof of the heights a lifetime's study
in Qi Gong could achieve.

Receiving a Teaching from Sakya Sri

Receiving a Teaching from Sakya Sri

by Karl Eikrem

Hidden treasures, or mind treasures (tib. terma) are teaching that are concealed by a mahasiddha, such as Guru Rinpoche, for later discovery by yogins with karmic connection to the master. The reason for this is to make sure that authentic teachings, suitable to particular cultures are available for generations to come.

As impermanence also applies to the physical forms of dharma, teachings that have been in circulation for a long time, for example in old lineages, have a tendency to loose their efficiency because they get (1) outdated; that is their form is no longer suitable to a particular culture, mind set, paradigm etc., or (2) they get modified by teachers lacking in sufficient understanding of the underlying principles of dharma, rendering the teachings impotent or less effective.

Hiding termas to be revealed within future cultures is a brilliant way of avoiding this.

In this text I would like to write about my own experiences with receiving termas, particularly the first teaching I received from the wonderful 19th century mahasiddha Sakya Sri.

Find out more about Sakya Sri here.


In September 2017, my teacher Kim Katami and I did a short casual retreat at a cabin in Eastern Finland. One evening, as we were about to meditate, Kim showed me a picture of Sakya Sri on his phone. As soon as I saw the picture, my being was flushed with a warm presence and the room lit up with powerful blessings that clarified our minds. After a while of sitting and taking in the blessings of Sakya Sri, Kim said to me:

If you now ask for a teaching, advice or an instruction, you will get it.”

Being unfamiliar with the experience of receiving teachings from non-physical masters, I asked the mahasiddha to make sure to remove my doubts by making it obvious that this was not a product of my own imagination. 
Sakya Sri.
A moment after passing the request, my body started feeling very hot. In my mind's eye I saw a fireball, a bright burning star forming above the crown of my head. At first I was taken back a little by the sudden change of the inner environment, but I kept watching the ball as it took on a life on its own.

First it slowly descended from above the crown, through the skull and down the central channel within the spine stopping at the perineum. As it was moving, the ball of light was illuminating the central channel. I could see and feel it very clearly.

After sitting at the base of the spine for a few moments, the fireball started slowly going back up again, but this time it stopped at the crown inside the skull. Then the light started expanding upwards, splitting my skull open to form a sort of upside down cone of light emanating from the top of the skull. It felt like a volcano eruption from the top of my head. After that the whole central channel, still glowing, expanded to cover my entire aura, or energy field, an area of approximately 3 meters in diameter around my body. After a while the intensity slowly faded, until there was nothing but spacious awareness left. I remember experiencing an afterglow that lasted the entire rest of the evening, as well as a feeling of euphoria due to not having purified all karmic patterns.


During the time that has passed since this evening , I have received a few teachings from different masters, all of which have been less intense experiences. I actually realized that I have received teachings before the one described here, but because I had no framework with which to understand and make sense of the experience, there was no way for me to interpret it and make use of it.

Although some tertons, such as Dudjom Lingpa, seem to have been gifted with the ability of unlocking termas from childhood, it seems to me that most people need a framework to do so. This idea has lead to believe that receiving termas isn't necessarily that rare an experience, it's just that most people and cultures don't have this framework. Because of this, very few people are able to making use of these universal experiences.

I hope that the writing and publication of this short text, will be a small contribution to the general acceptance of the fact that human beings have the ability to communicate and receive teachings from non-physical beings, and that this again will help us move towards a more mature culture, one that embrace all the principles of dharma.

May all beings be free!

Dharma Sun Visualization of Shakya Shri

  1. Sit down, relax and recognize the basic space.
  2. Ask Sakya Sri to give a blessing for yourself, for it to benefit of all sentient beings. Receive it and feel it for few moments.
  3. Then visualize a bright sun above the head. See the bright light, feel the warmth of it. Bring the sun down the central channel, through the top of the skull and down to the base of the spine. Notice that it illuminates the central channel as it moves. Then, feel the light erupt from the base of the spine, shooting upwards through crown, like a fountain of light. See that, along with this eruption, the central channel expands to a diameter of 2½ to 3 meters so that it covers the whole aura. Feel it in your whole being.
  4. Leave the active visualization and enjoy the natural state for as long as you wish, at least 10-15 minutes.
  5. Give thanks to the master and dedicate the merit of the practice session to all sentient beings.

An Illiterate Attains Rainbow Body

An Illiterate Attains Rainbow Body

When I went to my master Changchub Dorje, I was educated up to the hilt in the intellectual sense. My mind was filled with everything I'd learned in the monastic colleges. I thought that to receive transmission of the teachings, elaborate ritual initiations were essential and I asked Changchub Dorje to give me a certain initiation. I asked him every day for days and days, but he always refused.

'What's the use?' he'd say. 'You've already received so many of those initiations from your other masters; initiations like that are not the principle of the Dzogchen teachings. Transmission isn't only received in formal initiations.' But no matter what he said, I remained fixed on the kind of perfectly performed ritual initiations other masters had always given me. I wasn't satisfied with his replies, and I wanted him to put on a special hat, prepare a mandala, and pour a little water on my head, or something like that. That was what I really, sincerely wanted; but he always continued to refuse.

Finally, I insisted so much that he at last agreed. He promised that about two months later, on the day of Padmasambhava, the tenth day of the Tibetan lunar month1, he would give me the initiation I wanted, the empowerment of Samantabhadra and the peaceful and wrathful divinities of the Bardo. This initiation is actually not very complicated, and a master skilled in such things
could have completed it very quickly. But Changchub Dorje had never received a formal education, and he was not used to giving initiations. When the long-awaited day finally came, the initiation took him from about nine in the morning till midnight. To begin with, he had to prepare himself by performing a rite of self-initiation. This took him until mid-day to complete. Then he began the initiation for me. But, not being formally educated, not only couldn't he read the text himself, but on top of that I could see that he didn't know how to do all the ritual things he was supposed to do. He wasn't that kind of a master.

So Changchub Dorje had a disciple present as an assistant who was himself an expert teacher, and it was he who prepared all the mandalas and ritual objects. Then this disciple began to read the text to tell the master what he had to do next. But when he read out that a certain mudra, or gesture, should be done by the master giving the initiation, Changchub Dorje didn't know how to do it, so they had to stop while he learned it. Then there was a whole long invocation that was supposed to be chanted, invoking all the masters of the lineage, and while chanting it, the master is supposed to sound a bell and a damaru, or small drum. Someone who is used to rituals can perform all this very quickly, but Changchub Dorje wasn't used to such things, and the whole situation became outrageous, a complete farce.

First of all he worked out with his assistant what was written in the notes to the text. 'Ah!' he said. 'It says here that you have to sound the bell!' So he took the bell, and for about five minutes all he did was sound it over and over again. Then it was read out to him that you have to sound the damaru. So he sounded the little drum over and over for about another five minutes. Then he suddenly said: 'Oh, now I see! You have to sound the bell and damaru together!' So he did that. But by then he had forgotten what it was that he was supposed to chant, so he had to go through it all again with the help of the disciple who could read.

Changchub Dorje himself hadn't had the kind of education that involves study, but was a practitioner who had manifested wisdom and clarity through the development of his practice, and it was because of this wisdom and clarity that he was considered to be a master. So he hadn't received the kind of monastic training that would have prepared him to give all the various kinds of formal empowerment, and he stumbled through the initiation he gave me taking all day and a good deal of the evening to do it. By the time he had finished, I was almost in a state of shock, as, given my own background, I knew very well how an initiation should be done, and it was nothing like this.

But by then it was nearly midnight, and we were all very hungry. We sang the Song of the Vajra together many times. This is a short, slow, anthemic chant, characteristic of the way Dzogchen works with ritual, that leads the practitioner into contemplation through integration with its actual sound, the structure of its syllables and melody ensuring deep, relaxed breathing. Then we recited a short Gana Puja offering, and we ate. After the meal the master gave me a real explanation of the true meaning of initiation and transmission, and I realized that despite all the formal initiations I had received at my college, I had never understood or entered into the true meaning of them.

Then, without interruption, for about three or four hours, Changchub Dorje gave me a real explanation of Dzogchen, not teaching me in an intellectual style, but talking to me in a very straightforward and relaxed, friendly, conversational way. Despite all my education, this was the first time a master had really made such a direct attempt to get me to understand something. What he said, and the way that he said it, was exactly like a tantra of Dzogchen, spoken spontaneously, continuously aloud, and I knew that even a very learned scholar would not be able to speak like that. Changchub Dorje was speaking from clarity and not just from an intellectual understanding.

Copied from Crystal and the Way of Light by Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche.

Nyala Changchub Dorje was Dzogchen master renowned as the teacher of Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. He was born in the Nyarong region of Kham and studied with Adzom Drukpa, Nyala Pema Dündul, his student Nyala Rangrik Dorje and the Bön master Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen (1859-1935).
Nyala Rinpoche led a community of Dzogchen practitioners in Nyalagar in the Dedrol area of Kham. He attained the rainbow body. Copied from here.

keskiviikko 16. toukokuuta 2018

Recognition of Steven Seagal by Penor Rinpoche

Recognition of Steven Seagal
by Penor Rinpoche

Statement by H.H. Penor Rinpoche Regarding the Recognition of Steven Seagal as a Reincarnation of the Treasure Revealer Chungdrag Dorje of Palyul Monastery
In February of 1997 I recognized my student, Steven Seagal, as a reincarnation (tulku) of the treasure revealer Chungdrag Dorje. Since there has been some confusion and uncertainty as to what this means, I am writing to clarify this situation. 
Traditionally a tulku is considered to be a reincarnation of a Buddhist master who, out of his or her compassion for the suffering of sentient beings, has vowed to take rebirth to help all beings attain enlightenment. To fulfill this aspiration, a tulku will generally need to go through the complete process of recognition, enthronement and training. 
Formal recognition generally occurs soon after a tulku has been identified, but only after other important lineage masters have been consulted. The newly identified tulku does not take on any formal responsibilities at the time of recognition. 
The next step of enthronement may or may not occur for a tulku, depending on the circumstances. Enthronement formally invests the tulku with the responsibility of furthering the activities associated with their particular tulku lineage. Thus, if there are specific teachings and practice traditions associated with their lineage, and if there are perhaps monks, nuns, monasteries, retreat centers, lay communities and so forth for which the tulku traditionally takes responsibility, then the tulku is formally vested with those responsibilities at the time of enthronement. In the event that an enthronement ceremony is conducted, it may take place soon after recognition or some years later. If the tulku is too young to assume their responsibilities upon enthronement, others may be entrusted to take on those responsibilities until the tulku is ready. 
Finally, a tulku needs to complete a formal course of training which includes years of study and meditation. This training reawakens the tulku's powers of insight and compassion and develops their skillful means for helping others. It is only after such training that a tulku is ready to take on the role of a teacher. 
In the case of Steven Seagal, he has been formally recognized as a tulku, but has not been officially enthroned. He has also not undergone the lengthy process of study and practice necessary to fully realize what I view as his potential for helping others. When I first met him, I felt he had the special qualities of a tulku within him. According to the Great Vehicle (Mahayana) of the Buddhist tradition, all beings have within them the potential for becoming Buddhas. With Steven Seagal I perceived this potential to be particularly strong as accords with being a tulku. In the past, whenever I have met someone that I feel is a tulku, I have always consulted with other masters of the Nyingma lineage such as Dudjom Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and other senior lineage holders. Similarly, after my experience of meeting Steven Seagal, I consulted with another important Nyingma master and with his concurrence, recognized Steven Seagal as a tulku.
With regard to the particular circumstances of Steven Seagal's recognition, while it is generally the case that tulkus are recognized young in life, this is not always so. For example, the great master Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö remained unrecognized for many years while he was an ordained monk at Kathok Monastery. He was over 30 years old, perhaps 35, and had completed his monastic education when he was recognized and enthroned as the first reincarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Wangpo. In his case, he had devoted his life to study and practice and was thus prepared for taking on the full responsibilities of being a tulku at the time of his recognition. 

Prior to my recognition of Steven Seagal I myself recognized another tulku late in his life. Kalsang Yeshe Rinpoche, a monk originally from the Palyul branch monastery of Shibo in Tibet and later at Namdroling Monastery in India, was recognized and enthroned in 1983 at the age of 51. He too had spent his life studying Buddhism and meditating before he was recognized as a tulku. Because he had cultivated his potential through many years of diligent study and meditation, he was able to become a teacher and is currently the head of our Palyul Center in Singapore. So, in short, in the Tibetan tradition there is nothing unusual about recognizing a tulku late in their life. In fact, the recognition of a tulku who has been born in the West is especially likely to occur later in their lifetime because it will generally take much longer for all the conditions that are necessary for such a recognition to come together. 
Steven Seagal has been recognized as a reincarnation of the 17th century hidden treasure revealer (tertön) Chungdrag Dorje (khyung brag rdo rje) of Palyul Monastery. Chungdrag Dorje founded a small monastery called Gegön Gompa near his native village of Phene in the Kutse area of Derge in Eastern Tibet. Though there are no monks there now, the small monastery building still exists and is well known in the area for its beautiful religious wall paintings. 
As a tertön, Chungdrag Dorje rediscovered teachings and sacred objects hidden by Padmasambhava in the eighth century. Such treasures (terma) were concealed with the intention that they would be discovered and revealed at a later date when the circumstances were such that they would be of particular benefit to sentient beings. Texts of the teachings discovered by Chungdrag Dorje have apparently not survived the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Sacred objects discovered by Chungdrag Dorje include an unusually shaped bell, a phurba (ritual dagger), the syllable 'A' carved in stone and pigments used to create the sacred wall paintings in his monastery mentioned above. Several of these objects have been preserved and are still kept at Palyul Monastery today. 
In the Nyingma tradition it is said that there are a hundred main treasure revealers and an even greater number of secondary treasure revealers. Among the latter it is not uncommon for the line of their teachings to eventually lapse. Though they were beneficial during the time they flourished, for various reasons some tertön teaching lineages have ceased. This would seem to be the case with Chungdrag Dorje. 
Now with regard to Steven Seagal, he was born centuries after the death of Chungdrag Dorje. It is not uncommon for there to be a lengthy span of time between the death of a master and the appearance of his or her subsequent reincarnation. My own tulku lineage is an example of this. There was a 130 years hiatus between the death of the First Pema Norbu in 1757 and the birth of the Second Pema Norbu in 1887. This is common in all the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. As for how these gaps come about, while tulkus are understood to have vowed to be continually reborn to help beings, it is not necessary for them to take rebirth in a continuous sequence of lives in this world. It is believed that they can be reborn in other world systems where they continue their compassionate activities, returning only later to this world system. This is how such lapses in tulku lineages are understood in Tibet. 
As for Steven Seagal's movie career, my concern is with the qualities I experienced within him which relate to his potential for benefiting others and not with the conventional details of his life which are wholly secondary. Some people think that because Steven Seagal is always acting in violent movies, how can he be a true Buddhist? Such movies are for temporary entertainment and do not relate to what is real and important. It is the view of the Great Vehicle of Buddhism that compassionate beings take rebirth in all walks of life to help others. Any life condition can be used to serve beings and thus, from this point of view, it is possible to be both a popular movie star and a tulku. There is no inherent contradiction in this possibility. 
As the head of the Palyul lineage of the Nyingma School and more recently as the Head of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, I have had the responsibility of recognizing numerous tulkus. The first time I recognized a tulku, I was ten years old. This tulku was the incarnation of the great Khenpo Ngaga. He is still living in Eastern Tibet and continues to strive, to this day, to promote the welfare of others. Since that time until now I have recognized over one hundred tulkus. In addition I have overseen the training and enthronement of over thirty khenpos (learned scholars) and I am responsible for the welfare of the many thousands of monks belonging to the Palyul tradition. My concern in seeking to nurture these tulkus, khenpos, monks, as well as sincere lay people, has been to benefit all sentient beings. It is out of this intention that I have recognized tulkus in the past and will continue to recognize them in the future as appropriate. 
In the case of my student Steven Seagal, I initiated the decision to recognize him as a tulku based on my own feelings about him. Neither I nor any of my monasteries have received or sought any sort of substantial donation from him. What is important to me are the qualities I have seen in my student. For this reason I feel confident that recognizing him as a tulku will be of benefit to others as well as to the Buddha dharma. 
Whenever there is a new incarnation born or recognized, I personally feel very happy because it is like you have one more brother or sister. I take delight in such occasions as they seek to further compassionate activity for others. Being recognized as a tulku is an acknowledgment of one's potential to help others. Such recognition does not mean that one is already a realized teacher. The degree to which tulkus have been able to actualize and utilize their potential depends upon how they have been able to use their past circumstances and how they currently use their present circumstances to develop their potential. Each tulku must work to develop themselves to the best of their ability. The essential point is that a tulku should strive to help others in whatever life situation they find themselves. It is out of such an aspiration to help all sentient beings that I have recognized many tulkus in my life and it is with this motivation that I recognized Steven Seagal as a tulku. If all beings seek to have this motivation, what need will there be for controversies and confusion over the motivations of others? 
Penor Rinpoche

Hush! It's Secret!

Hush! It's Secret!

I recently joined a weeklong retreat with a well known Tibetan buddhist lama in England. I have read books of this rinpoche and find his style of teaching dzogchen refreshing among the larger field of vajrayana buddhism where only few seem to be proficient in communicating the natural state to others through their own living experience.

The retreat was attended by 160 people and was well organised. I joined the retreat because I wanted to take a breather from the hectic family and work life, and also to do my own practice and perhaps to learn something new. All in all it was a nice experience and I will probably join it again next year.

Rinpoche spent the first couple of days talking about shamatha and vipashyana meditations. He also taught some tummo breathwork. These sessions were recorded on video by volunteers.

On the 4th day of the retreat he started giving pointing out instructions. For those who don't know what pointing out instructions are they are verbal and nonverbal ways that the teacher uses for the students to have a recognition of their natural state, also called buddhanature. I give pointers such as finding knowingness, shaking (rushen) of the body and speech, shouting short syllables and many others. Even though I highly appreciate pointing out instructions and see the necessity of them, I do not think there is anything special to them. From the perspective of samsaric mind the natural state is more profound than anything else. But it still is the simple and direct awareness that each of us have which is more or less familiar to all of us already. Instructions by the teacher can be very helpful but having said that it is all very simple.

One thing that I find strange is that rinpoche's teachings were filmed up until he started giving pointing out instructions. Then he told the technical staff to ”Stop the recording” when he started giving instructions about the nature of mind. I have thought about this in retrospect and find it quite problematic for obvious reasons. The students who joined and paid a notable sum for the retreat could not get the recorded instructions that were the heart and soul of the whole event.

I think that the custom of not recording ”dzogchen” instructions comes from the medieval habit. This prevents the instructions from getting available to millions of seekers worldwide. I find that restricting pointing out instructions only to those present is wrong and actually in conflict with the view of compassion. I think this is unhealthy and merely serves the religious establishment as it keeps the business in motion.

I am happy to say that I do not belong to the vajrayana establishment. The elderly vajrayana is like a dying dinosaur with many ancient counterproductive habits with little to offer for the modern population.

I wonder how it is always so difficult for teachers, religous or otherwise, to prioritise the needs of the people instead of the needs of the establishment.

- Kim Katami, 16th May 2018.

Find many pointing out instructions from Open Heart YouTube-channel for free.

lauantai 5. toukokuuta 2018

Yamada Ryoun Roshi on Enlightenment Experiences

Yamada Ryoun Roshi on Enlightenment Experiences

Yamada Ryoun Roshi speaks of awakening experiences, difference of depth and clarity in them and finally how "the whole wall collapses" and one becomes a buddha. This is exactly how we talk about progressing through the bhumis in Open Heart.