lauantai 21. syyskuuta 2019

Pitfall of Being Alone by Ken McLeod

Pitfall of Being Alone by Ken McLeod

From Ken McLeod’s Waking up to your Life, pp. 87-88:

“Finally, there is one pitfall in meditation practice that you must avoid. Meditation practice raises the level of energy in your system in the form of active attention. The higher level of energy inevitably brings you into contact with reactive emotional patterns. If you now become selective and repress certain emotions, pushing them out of attention, two things happen. The higher level of energy in your system flows into the reactive pattern, making it stronger. The higher energy also flows into the repressing pattern, making that stronger. Both the reactive patterns of the emotion and the repression are reinforced.
You end up splitting in two. One part of you is capable of attention and response. The other part becomes increasingly rigid and inflexible. It takes over unpredictably whenever the repressed emotion is triggered by events or situations. Typically, a person becomes more arrogant and self-indulgent, obsessed with power, money, sex, security, or other fixations, and acts in ways to control or amass the object of the obsession. Long-term practitioners and teachers who protect areas of their lives from their practice frequently run into this problem with unfortunate and sometimes tragic results. We run the risk of a similar fate if we protect any area of our personality or our lives from the increased awareness that develops in meditation.

To guard against this problem, always have at least one person, a teacher, colleague, or friend, with whom you discuss all aspects of your practice and your life. The person needs to be someone you trust and to whom you will listen regardless of the state of mind you are in or what he or she says. The
only way to be sure that you will not protect an area of your habituated personality from the effects of practice is to have such a person in your life.”

sunnuntai 15. syyskuuta 2019

Ethics in Relation to the Depth of Awakening

Ethics in Relation
to the Depth of Awakening

Q: That's exactly what I mean. In the original Buddhist training there's a notion of morality, but the approach is ridiculosly primitive compared to the advances that humanity has made regarding human development, specially in the modern west. So, the possibility of putting together the super sophisticated training of Buddhism (WAKING UP) with the super sophisticated training of western psychology (and other approaches) that's available today (GROWING UP) is an unprecedented opportunity for humanity.
If you look at it this way, then all this debate about Awakening vs Morality gets pretty clear, then we can transcend the apparent confusion, and understand why so many "awakened" beings screw up so much.

Kim: I have no problem with combining dharma practice and psychology but I think that most "masters" of any branch of buddhism are actually more or less far from being fully enlightened, even if they were masters of their particular training systems/meditation techniques. The percentage of buddhists who attain any type of buddhahood per generation is ridiculously low. Hence, all the problems and confusions, f. ex. about attainments and morality.
I personally do not think buddhist dharma lacks anything else except a new understanding and methods in how to effect deeper waking up. Folks just aren't waking up quickly and deeply enough. The rest; growing up, cleaning up and showing up, that Wilber discusses, follows from there.

Q: Awakening is one dimension and maturity (ethics and morality) is another. People can be developed and/or not developed on either spectrum. They are not necessarily related.

Kim: Ethics in dharma are not merely preliminaries or something on the side. For a confused mind, they are pointers and direct means to access and recognise the enlightened mind. From enlightened mind itself, ethical actions come into being. They are one and the same thing, not separate things. This is exactly what I mean with shallowness of awakening.

Q: Kim, how do you explain unawakened people who are ethically and morally advanced? I know some. They are beyond reproach. True, highly evolved human adults. How do they get there without being enlightened?

Kim: They haven't had emptiness insight and aren't enlightened as defined in dharma but nevertheless they are better aligned with their nature of mind than people with poor morals. There is no chance for success in practice if one's inner values aren't made of uncorrupt steel. You can see from the faces of all those bad boys and girls that there is some dirt, dirtyness, in their eyes and general demeanor.

I've met a bunch of people who are as you describe "beyond reproach". Some of them who are not practitioners, don't quite understand the point of practice because by having clear values they don't have as much need for it, as they already rest in true being a lot but they live in a dualistic state nonetheless. I've also guided a people like this to the first shift and even when they experience a shift that changes the way their mind works and increases clarity, it isn't as much of a surprise as it can be for others.

keskiviikko 11. syyskuuta 2019

Sex and Sexual Art

Sex and Sexual Art

Q: I write this partly as a response to your recent sexual art works but also it’s been something that’s been on my mind for ages and actually something I have been meaning to write to you about.
When you posted about your sexual art I read it at work and only the night before I had been very consumed by sexual desire. Hence sex was strongly on my mind when I read your email. Basically my sexual desire has nowhere to go. I know understand how frustrated and blocked this aspect of myself is.
Any advice in this area would be appreciated as I have experienced first hand the pain of cutting off the sex drive. I want to be a normal human being and not some spiritual seeker who cuts off the sex drive in an attempt to be holy.

Kim: Do what you can to help yourself. Suppression and ignoring sexuality makes people strange, if not batshit crazy. Once Babaji told me, ”Be yourself. Find your own way”. You got to find your own way. It is important not to pretend saintliness. Besides, saints are often psychopaths. Tantrics don’t play with fire, we use it as wisely as we can. 
Close up from one of Kim's works.

Q: That was a lovely reply thank you I really needed to hear that. Yes there is no post office form for how it should work out. I hadn’t really clocked how important sexual relationships are because it’s just not really spoken about in the Buddhist circles. My previous teacher didn’t go there that’s for sure. People don’t talk about it openly and I didn’t get any advice from my parents at all which I think is neglectful parenting, but that’s just my opinion.

Kim: Few traditions speak openly about sex and sexuality. I have the impression that Taoists from China, at least some lineages, have been most openminded about it. In buddhism and hinduism that I am most familiar with, it's like people had an empty hole in the place of their sexual organs. They don't exist and they never go there. Even the chakra, subtle energy center close to the genitals is called ”secret center”.
Looking at the record of sexual harrassment and abuse in buddhism tells me that whatever the tradition says or doesn't say about sexuality, needs to change because it is such a big part of being a human. If you ignore it or don't understand it, how could you ever truly know yourself?
People should not feel more uncomfortable about their genitals and sex than they are about their hands and feet. Shame and guilt that religions have connected with sexuality is completely unnatural, crazy really, and we see constantly how it affects people's lives in negative manner. If I can do something about it through my art and simply by talking about it openly, I feel I should.
I have received only few positive feedbacks about my art works but much more clicks than any of my other posts. Thanks.

keskiviikko 4. syyskuuta 2019

Infinite Love and Perfection of Wisdom

Infinite Love and Perfection of Wisdom

In opening and openness of heart there are typical signs. Some people get so high on love and bliss that they stop caring about everything else and stop using their mental discrimination. In terms of the three basic characteristics this means overdoing aliveness/love with the expense of knowing quality. Then there is a subtler form of this which I have a story of.

Couple of years back we had a special guest at our center in Finland. He was American lama who had really extensive training in vajrayana and hinduism but in the last 15 years had really diven deep into heart through teachings of Irmansyah Effendi. He spoke much the same way like Alex, "Top and bottom collapsed together, and exploded with infinite love in the heart.". 

I was really impressed by our lama friend's energetic skills. He had been a direct stdent of Dudjom Rinpoche and was trained since the age of 7 by him, so he got his skills down... but he was impossible to talk to. He would go on and on and on for hours on end, until people literally walked away. He was completely convinced that the heart path he followed was significantly better than any buddhist path he knew, and he knew all of them, though had not perfected his vajrayana practice. Listening him, I was like, "Oh really? And how many buddhas and rainbow bodies this path has produced...".

The problem was that he kept bypassing his emotions, always going back to his safe place in the heart when his own emotions started coming up. He had gotten really good at that, like the moment some dirt started showing up he had already shifted back to his safe place of immense and infinite love. It was nice and cute but completely pretentious, an ego trip. We had planned a course that he would teach at our place but the situation was so bad that I had to cancel it. He had mahasiddha bhumis open too.

I understand from my own experience of many years of professional kriya yoga practice which had really strong flavour of love, how great love feels for someone whose heart has been kicked in by the world and people who were supposed to love you. It is amazing and useful to a degree... but that's not the whole story of our mind/psyche and neither it is the whole story of practices.

The three characteristics are excellent guideposts.

It is curious that buddhist dharma describes perfection of wisdom or prajna paramita as a mark of buddhahood. Perfection of wisdom is born out of completing the whole vipashyana process, that is, realising emptiness of all phenomena. This is the first stage of buddhahood, perfection of the first 10 bhumis, hence arriving or abiding on the 11th bhumi, if you will.

Vajrayana buddhism is very particular about different bodies, like nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya and dharmakaya. In hinduism they never really made such divisions even if they discuss Shiva (dharmakaya) and Shakti (sambhogakaya) principles. Buddhism is very insistent on this point and it has both pros and cons. The con is that because most practitioners are unable to stabilise knowing awareness (rigpa), they misunderstand the meaning of emptiness. You know, mosts buddhists don't look like they enjoyd life very much. Ha. I think the constant discussion about the empty nature of this and that, and me and other makes buddhists go a bit lifeless and boring. But, emptiness itself is far from lifeless and boring. Good side of separating bodies is that at least theoretically it brings much more clarity than without the separation. I think that it is because of this very emphasis why buddhist practitioners are much more succesful in their practice than hindus are, at least based on what I know. And having said that the division between bodies from the point of view of big picture or dzogchen is completely artificial. I see it as a pedagogical tool because it helps with the learning of it but purity of emptiness is not all there is to buddhanature. There is also light and colours, like there is in all life. This is something that only dzogchen teachings talk about.

So, again speaking of three basic characteristics of the natural state, there is a good reason why clarity or knowingness of given more emphasis in the beginning until rigpa become stable with the opening of the 11th bhumi. Looking at our lama friend's and Alex's cases, even such advanced practitioners who have all bhumis open can apparently be mislead by the samsaric experience of infinite love. It is precisely because of this why buddhism is so much more successful in yoga. I base my statements about success and failure of paths on bhumi analyses (OHBM).

Heart and it's ability to feel love is very meaningful but without clarity it leads astray. Again, buddhahood comes through perfection of wisdom, not through perfection of emotion, such as love.

-Kim Katami, 4.9.2019
Open Heart Sangha,

maanantai 2. syyskuuta 2019

Dharma Porn

Dharma Porn

For those who don't practice or who practice too little, views and ideas can turn into porn. Buddhists like to roll over in the thought of emptiness. Emptiness this, emptiness that, emptiness, emptiness, emptiness... people go on and on talking and thinking about emptiness, as if they had fever. It is even more pleasurable when one's favourite teacher or lama talks about emptiness. It is like our fantasies becoming true. People associated with dzogchen, find pleasure and delight in words such as rigpa and dzogchen. That's their favourite thing, so they keep repeating these terms. Advaita folks get goose bumps and shiver in pleasurable delight through all those catchy phrases like I am That, I am That, I am That and oohh... how it turns them on. 

This kind of thing is very common. People mistake the finger that points to the moon, for the moon. Instead of practicing and finding the moon of buddhahood within themselves, they start sniffing the finger and develop a liking for it. It is OK for someone who is new but sometimes you see people who have practiced for a long time who still look at teachings very superficially like it was porn. Zen porn, dzogchen porn, advaita porn, emptiness porn, lama porn, rigpa porn, stream entry porn, kensho porn, guru porn, secular buddhist porn, wearing robes porn, being a monastic porn, compassion porn, enlightenment porn, purity of mind porn, nonduality porn, Dalai Lama porn, Karmapa porn, my favourite lama porn, being a servant of all beings porn, being awakened porn, taking refuge porn, getting a dharma name porn and so on.

There is a big difference between those who talk and those who walk. In my view, most people associated with spirituality talk much more than they walk. Some even want to remain as fans of dharma and never become practitioners of it.

Getting enchanted by ideas is a sign of immaturity. Getting enchanted by ideas is samsara. 

- Kim Katami
Open Heart Sangha,

perjantai 23. elokuuta 2019

Culadasa John Yates: Sutrayana ”doesn't go far enough”

Culadasa John Yates:
Sutrayana ”doesn't go far enough”

See this video from July 2019:

In the video Culadasa John Yates, a veteran of 50 years of practice and one of the most respected teachers of buddhist meditation in the West, discusses The Mind Illuminated, his own version of buddhist sutrayana meditations, and states that it "doesn't go far enough", despite of insight and awakening that the method produces. This lecture was given about a month before he was fired or himself left his own Dharma Treasure organisation due to allegations of misconduct in the forms of lying and extramarital sexual affairs.

Although Culadasa's bio says that together with his hinayana lineage, he also has vajrayana lineage, I have never seen or found a reference that would state that he is a tantric
practitioner or that he would teach tantra. If you know that my information lacks in this regard, please correct me. I have sought this bit of information for few years but never found it. In some webcasts he has mentioned vajrayana in general but I have never seen him talk about tantric practices in the sense that it was something that he and his students were actively involved with.

In the video he says that he has gone through buddhist meditation training and that, despite of some illumination, "buddhist meditation traditions" (in plural) have severe deficiencies. He goes on to say that combination of shamanism and buddhism would tap what his practices have left untapped. In this connection, he also mentions Tibetan buddhism and Bon-tradition. That he doesn't mention his own vajrayana teachings or practices, adds to my belief that, despite of his lineage, he is not a vajrayana practitioner or teacher of it.

Culadasa John Yates

To my knowledge, Culadasa is a practitioner of sutrayana, so I cannot take his statement about the deficiency of all buddhist tradition
s seriously. I am aware that buddhism in general and Tibetan vajrayana in particular has all kinds of problems but in general based on my own observations vajrayana practitioners go farther in their practice than practitioners of sutrayana. I leave scholars, academics and doctors of buddhism entirely out of this. In terms of bhumi analysis (OHBM) it can be clearly seen that tantrics have more bhumis open and perfected, or in common terms have more clarity and purity than sutrayana practitioners do. By saying this I do not deny the benefits of sutrayana, neither in mahayana nor in hinayana, because I know from my own experience that sutra practice reaps benefits. However, in my experience as well as Culadasa's, sutrayana leaves a lot of the psyche into the shadow. It just "doesn't go far enough". For this reason I have discussed the greater benefits of tantric practice.

The problem is that sutric meditation practice is built on one's own effort, energy and ability of attention which in the present samsaric condition are very limited. On the other hand , tantric deities that are archetypes of the enlightened mind cannot but reveal all the nooks and corners of the mind or psyche, leaving nothing hidden. This is the potential of tantric practice but like I said it needs to be practiced correctly. Some ex-Tibetan buddhists, like Stephen Batchelor, have not understood this so they have renounced tantra.

"As you progress on the paths of awakening, the changes of you recognising them (parts of our pscyhe) as something that needs to be purified, diminishes.".

It is such a strange thing to say but at least he is honest. This precisely is Culadasa's testimony of the insufficiency of his long sutric practice that according to his experience, he is no longer able to find the very inner obstructions and habits that lead him to behave in unethical and destructive ways.

May All Beings Be Free,

-Kim Katami, 23.8.2019
Open Heart Sangha,

maanantai 19. elokuuta 2019

Have All Beings Been Our Mothers?

Have All Beings Been Our Mothers?

When a practitioner, who personally knows and practices on behalf of ill, dying or dead person, it has the power to move mountains of karma and health issues. Things can really change through personal connection. Can you think of a bigger favour to someone you know?

In Tibet it is customary to think that all sentient beings have at some point been our mothers. Lately I've been thinking about my human ancestors from both of mine parental lineages and last week did some calculations.

I, like everyone else, have two parents. My parents both have two parents, so including their parents, I have 4 grandparents. My 4 grandparents have altogether 8 parents of their own, which means that consequentially, I am genetically and karmically connected to these 8 ancestors. If I go further back in history up to 10 generations, it adds up to 1024 ancestors. I am genetically and karmically an heir to all these 1024 people, most of who I have no idea who they have been, what they did or where they lived. According to the definition of familial generation, which according to Wikipedia is 25-30 years, people 10 generations before me lived about 250-300 years ago. In 20 generations, the number of ancestors increases up o over a million, 1 048 576 to be exact. They lived roughly about 500-600 years back, in 1400-1500's. With 30 generations, the number of ancestors goes over a billion, to 1 073 741 824 and they lived roughly 800 years ago. That's a staggering number. In less than thousand years, which is a really short time in greater time frame, we've had over 1 billion ancestors, whose genes we have and to whose karma we are connected to. In three more generations (33), the number goes up to 8 billion which is the number of current popuation on Earth. The further back we go in time, the bigger the number of ancestors gets. Already one million ancestors is difficult if not impossible to comprehend. 
By Yayoi Kusama

To me the idea that my body and to some extent also my mind is directly related to countless people that I never met and do not know anything about, is a bewildering idea. My body, its constitution and health, is a cause of endless amount of ancestors, even beyond the scope of homo sapiens sapiens, which is our current species. It goes directly, without a gap, all the way back to apes and more primitive animals. Our ancestors are numberless, just like all sentient beings are numberless, as often recited in bodhisattva prayers.

All of our ancestors, beyond one, two or three generations, are of course long gone. They have left the bodies they used to pass on our genes and according to the buddhist theory of transmigration, as samsaric beings went on to take rebirth in all possible forms according to their karma. Maybe some of them were practitioners and attained something meaningful. Maybe one or two of them even attained buddhahood but by looking at the condition of the present spiritual state of human kind, it is safe to assume that the vast majority of them did not attain liberation. Anyhow, through this simple logic we can realise our connection to numberless beings and in this light, the Tibetan idea that all beings have been our mothers at some point, no longer sounds so abstract or silly anymore. I have been your mother, you have been my mother, your neighbour has been your mother, as well as mine, and so on. Our connection to everyone else does not come only through being citizens of Planet Earth at present time but through all these ancestors and the continuous engine of transmigration. It is a massive system... It is both funny and tragical to think that most of us from beginningless time, have had and keep having the same problems. We just keep going round and round, some as bodhisattvas and buddhas, some as samsaric beings.

Prayers said by practitioners who have personal connection to someone or a group of people, weigh more in the scale than prayers said by strangers. It is so because of stronger karmic, energetic or emotional connection between the two parties. What if we started praying and practicing on behalf of all those ancestors to whom we are actually connected to through our bloodline? Each of us has the capability to tune in and feel the presence of all those people and pray for them, for example, chanting Guru Rinpoche's name or the Refuge for them. In my experience this is an immensely touching and fulfilling practice of wisdom and compassion that really changes destinies by removing immense mountains of karma.

-Kim Katami, 19.8.2019
Open Heart Sangha,