maanantai 10. elokuuta 2020

Introduction to Awakening and The Two-Part Formula for Awakening by Lama Karl Eikrem

Introduction to Awakening and 

The Two-Part Formula for Awakening

By Lama Karl Eikrem

In this text I will be approaching the topic of awakening from a Buddhist perspective. This is because the Buddhist framework is what I’m most familiar with, and not because Buddhism has any special claim to the phenomena of awakening as such. Awakening as defined below is universal in that can happen to people of any culture, age and spiritual orientation. It can come about by applying specific tools, such as the Two-Part Formula for
Awakening presented in this text, or it can happen by “accident”; where a practitioner is either using a meditative tool not specifically designed to induce awakening, or that they are doing something completely unrelated to spiritual practice and just happen to spontaneously awaken to the true nature of that which is commonly labeled “I” or “me”.

One of the basic tenets of Mahayana Buddhism is that all beings have buddha-nature. This does not mean that all beings carry around something that they can point to and call buddha-nature, but that the very nature of existence, of being itself is Buddha; basic wakefulness. Ironically, this basic wakefulness is so ordinary and obvious that it makes it profoundly difficult to recognise for most beings. But if we look at our surroundings and feel into the very experience we are having right here and right now, the basis of it is always basic wakefulness.

This basic nature of ours has three main qualities: (1) it is self-cognisant; free of any “knower” and “known” and simply aware of itself as timeless presence, (2) it is brilliantly alive; full of richness, positivity and love, and (3) it is perfectly stable; never changing. Furthermore, in being the nature of being itself, basic wakefulness is always-already present. It can never not be, and it can never be different from what is. Thus, recognising and actualising the basic nature of our own being is the purpose of spiritual practice.

The main hinder we have on the spiritual path is what we call the selfing-mechanism. The selfing-mechanism refers to the conceptual filter that confused beings see reality through, and it can be divided into three parts. First of all there is (1) the subject-self; the feeling of being “me”, an entity residing within the body, (2) object-selves; self-based thoughts, emotions and feelings, and (3) substrate consciousness; the subtle veils of existential confusion that give rise to self-based mind states such as depression or gross bliss.

The term “awakening” in the broad sense of the word refers to the process of deconstructing the entire selfing-mechanism and awakening to our true nature. Seen this way awakening is a gradual process that moves through several distinct phases until the ultimate freedom from “self-identification” is completely actualised. However, when it comes to the topic of this text “awakening” refers only to the inner shift that takes place in the mind of practitioners as the core of the selfing-mechanism, the “subject-I” is permanently deconstructed. This can be said to be to starting point of the Buddhist Path.

The Buddhist way of deconstructing the selfing-mechanism is through direct exploration of its constitution (Skt. Vipashyana). The basic principle of this approach is to recognise the basic clarity of mind and then bring that clarity to the confusion, i.e. “selfing-mechanism”.

The Two-Part Formula for Awakening, as taught in Pemako Buddhism, embodies this principle by first instructing the practitioner to release tensions in the physical body and recognise the basic openness that reveals itself when doing so. When we keep releasing tension this way, eventually we arrive at the recognition of the basic open space that permeates all of experience. But we cannot stop here. It is equally important that we use this basic clarity as a baseline for further investigation into the existential confusion in question.

Therefore, the Two-Part Forumla for Awakening guides us to mentally reaffirm “I, I, I!” or “Me, me, me!” and then study the sensations that arise within the body. These sensations include gross and subtle contractions, uncomfortable feelings, buzzing sensations, movement of energy and so on. Whatever arise within the body-space we simply study the strongest sensation from the perspective of basic wakefulness. This way, we can naturally dis-identify from the sensations of the “I” and study it like just another object of mind.

By alternating between the two modes; (1) relaxing into basic openness, and (2) reaffirming the sense of subject-self, we are able to dig deeper into both modes, seeing the two modes with greater and greater clarity. Eventually we come to a point where the distinction collapses and the “I” is seen to have not substance, no basis in reality. This is what we call (initial) awakening.

While awakening doesn’t offer anything new in terms of fancy experiences or abilities, it is absolutely crucial for spiritual practitioners to awaken as soon as possible. Without awakening to the emptiness of the subject-I there is no hope of progressing effectively on the path of deconstructing the whole self-based psyche. Rather, it is likely that the practitioner will unconsciously use spiritual practice to strengthen the sense of self – the complete opposite of what the practice is designed for! - as the “I” attaches itself to every aspect of a life spent in full identification with “me”.

As the great Zen master Hakuin Ekaku said,

Anyone who would call himself a member of the Zen family must first of all achieve kenshō — realization of the Buddha's Way. If a person who has not achieved kensho says he is a follower of Zen, he is an outrageous fraud. A swindler pure and simple.

Therefore, do not postpone awakening to the way of basic wakefulness!

May all beings be free!

Further reading:
How to Become Awakened:

Awake! Handbook of Awakening:

torstai 30. heinäkuuta 2020

Generosity - The Foundation of Mahayana Buddhism by Kim Katami

Generosity - The Foundation of Mahayana Buddhism

I was just talking with my teacher about money and generosity. To me and her, money was always means to do something, not something to accumulate or to hoard because there'd be no point in that for us. I give away money all the time for good purposes, like animal shelters, and people who need it. I am generous because that's who I am and that's who I want to be. I am not rich though and here's the thing: Why are people who have lots of money, so attached to it? It is always people who have lot of money, who are the most stingy. Vice versa, people who don't have so much money, give it away easily without reservations. There are of course exceptions to the rule but in general wealthy people seem to be attached to their money. From the point of view of humanity, this is embarrassing. From the point of view of dharma, this is a major pitfall.

Mahayana & Generosity

The first foundational guideline (paramita) of mahayana buddhism is generosity or dana. Why did the masters who constructed the mahayana buddhist doctrine, set generosity as the basis of mahayana buddhist practice? This clearly suggests that this is something important, though I always find it surprising how little dharma practitioners give thought to it.

Mahayana buddhism teaches that all beings have buddhanature and that it is possible to attain it. In this way mahayana buddhism empowers us by telling and giving us the tools how full enlightenment or buddhahood can be attained and actualised. Mahayana teaches wisdom (prajna) and compassion (karuna) as means to realise our innate wakefulness. Simultaneosly both wisdom and compassion are the two main characteristics of our buddhanature which means that someone who has some or complete first hand experience, is both wise and compassionate in terms of existencial matters. Wisdom means absence or lessening of self-based ignorance and compassion is the lively flowering of that wisdom that cares for others, I would say primarily from the perspective of mind-based suffering (dukkha) but also from the perspective of common suffering, such as poverty and illness.

The opposite of wisdom and compassion is self-based ignorance that only thinks for itself. In ignorant mind there is a lot of energy or power in the "I" thought. This is samsaric mind, which repeats the same thoughts and confusions again and again based on the deeply ingrained belief that there is "I" or "me" and "others". According to buddhism, this is the root of existential confusion that makes life a confusing and unsatisfactory experiece. Thinking in terms of me and other also creates separation and inequality between people. That is not normal or healthy in any way. This is duality and duality is pain.

So, ignorant mind thinks, talks and acts in ways that are selfish and narrow minded, and it is this deeply rooted habit of self-based ignorance that generosity is designed to break. Imagine what happens in a mind that begins to think, talk and act for the welfare of others, rather than oneself. This is the medicine of dharma that uproots our self-belief and removes the gap between me and others, lettin the buddha within to shine through as understanding and love.

Generosity is actually a geniously designed practice because money is related to our basic safety which in turn relates to our root chakra. A wise man knows the difference between real safety and illusory safety. That is really the only difference between someone who is caught up by samsara and who is liberated. Giving money away can change your life. It literally has the power to liberate you.


Vajrayana is the tantric interpretation of mahayana buddhism. Tantra that involves gurus, empowerments, deities, mantras and such, is or should be built on solid understanding of both mahayana and hinayana teaching. In the context of this article - generosity - this means that one cannot reap the promise of vajrayana, which is to attain buddhahood in this life, without the foundation of mahayana. Without genuine care for others - bodhicitta/compassion - one cannot reap the benefits of either mahayana or vajrayana. This downgrades vajrayana into a hinayana practice. It is not bad but it is not how it should be because tantra is not designed for that.

The three vehicles of buddhism: hinayana or small vehicle, mahayana or big vehicle and vajrayana or tantric vehicle, can be compared to woodwork. A carpenter takes a piece of wood that has the potential to be made into a fine work of art. In the beginning it's just a block of wood with bark on it. First, the carpenter makes a sketch of his sculpture on the wood, and begins to work on it with rough tools, like axe and chainsaw. After applying some skill and effort, he manages to make a rough outline of the design that already looks a lot like what the design is about. It is like a Lego-man compared to a fine work done by an Italian master sculptor. This is hinayana. Then the carpenter takes finer tools, like big and small chisels and continues to work with those. After some more applied effort, we really begin to see many details. We can also see a great difference between the former stage and present stage. This is mahayana. Then finally, the carpenter takes out a collection of sandpapers of various roughnesses and continues the work. He keeps working and finally... the finished sculpture looks so beautiful that we are amazed! This is vajrayana. We cannot expect to understand the fineness of vajrayana if we never even tried the foundational practices of mahayana, such as generosity.

The point with this analogy is that all three stages – vehicles – follow each other. Gross, middle and fine are all part of the same process and if any of them is missing the sculpture cannot be finished. This explains perfectly the progression from hinayana to mahayana to vajrayana teaching, and their corresponding practices and levels of insight. Not understanding this progression also explains why practitioners of the higher vehicles sometimes have lesser insight and understanding than those of lower vehicles. If vajrayanis don't have a solid foundation from gross and medium level insight, they cannot possibly understand the subtlety and fineness of vajrayana.

Jesus by Gian Bernini


The sole purpose of dharma is removing our self-based views from our subtle nervous system or mind. The meaning of dharma is not in making our lives better, happier or more pleasurable while remaining arrogant and selfish. Committing to a dharma practice necessarily stings a bit but for someone who is fed up with self-created nonsense, this is both necessary and unavoidable. To such a practitioner, the process that gets lighter and easier with every insight and moment of practice. For someone who doesn't understand this and is in it only to make ones self-based life better, dharma is like ripping one's hair off one by one, that is, highly unpleasant. Such practitioners should look into the teachings of hinayana and mahayana because they are not ready or prepared for vajrayana.

Beginning to think about the welfare of those around us is a good place to start.

May you come in contact with the Buddha within,

-Kim Katami, 30.7.2020


Pemako Buddhism

torstai 16. heinäkuuta 2020

Physical Dynamic Concentration in Other Traditions

Physical Dynamic Concentration
in Other Traditions

Dynamic Concentration

The idea of Dynamic Concentration (DC), as has been explained in the previous chapter of this book, is to cut through all layers of the self-based mind and in consequence access one's pure wakeful nature. This type of yogic exercise is done with sudden explosive yet purposeful and controlled force. It can be done solely on the level of the mind but easiest way to apply it is through shout, often as repeated shouts.

Physical Dynamic Concentration

Dynamic Concentration can also be done physically. In Pemako Buddhism this is known as Physical Dynamic Concentration (PDC). Find Physical Dynamic Concentration with simple tantric mantra of Guru Rinpoche and Yeshe Tsogyal taught in this video, under the name of Vajra Body-exercise.

The idea of Physical Dynamic Concentration is to tense all muscles of the body at once in a controlled yet forceful manner while being fully aware of it. Because tensing of the muscles is so engaging, during this type of concentration it is very difficult for the mind to start drifting and therefore PDC also accomplishes very well what the practitioner intends to do, which is to access and establish one's wakeful nature. Flexing is kept for few seconds, usually while holding the breath, with tantric elements such as mantras and visualisations, and then relaxed. As in the above video instruction, PDC should be done at least few times before a brief pause (half a minute or a minute) before second (-third-fourth) series of repetitions. Same idea of several repetitions (up to 100 in one series) and few sets (usually 2-4) is used with both DC and PDC in Pemako Buddhist practice. This is because many repetitions and sets works more effectively and accomplishes the task splendidly in comparison to just few repetitions.

Physical Dynamic Concentration in Other Traditions


Probably the most widely practiced form of PDC, is Paramahamsa Yogananda's Energisation Exercises. Yogananda is famous through his Autobiography of A Yogi. He is one of those who brought a type of hindu tantra called Kriya Yoga to the West beginning in 1920's. See from this video how he formulated PDC, together with prayer and breathing practices.

According to Swami Satyananda, Yogananda's childhood friend and dharma brother, Yogananda got the idea of PDC from a book on gymnastics by a German physical educator in the early 1900's. According to Swami Kriyananda, Yogananda's close disciple, Yogananda practiced Energisation Exercises twice every day of his life until his passing. See a photo of Yogananda taken just an hour before his passing in 1952, at the age of 59. I find his energy and appearance quite impressive.


Another, though much less known, tradition of hindu yoga that uses PDC is the lineage of Shyam Sunder Goswami. Goswami published few books and was the founder of the Sweden-based Goswami Yoga Institute. His Advanced Hatha Yoga introduces PDC as ”Carana Yoga”. See these pictures of Goswami students practicing ”yogic bodybuilding”.


The only buddhist tradition that uses PDC exactly in the same way as Pemako Buddhism and the other examples is the Shaolin-tradition from China. Shaolin monastery is considered to have been founded by Bodhidharma, the yogi who brought Zen from India to China.

Over the past 1500 years, the training system of Shaolin temple has developed into a three-way system: 1. kung fu, 2. chi gong and 3. meditation (c. chan). Roughly speaking, kung fu refers to martial arts training, chi gong refers to conditioning of the body, focusing of the mind and cultivation of breath energy (c. qi) and meditation refers to cultivation of mindfulness. These three can also be explained as physical cultivation (c. jing), cultivation of breath energy through intention (c. yi) and cultivation of wakeful nature (c. shen).

The Gift of Physical Dynamic Concentration

People arrive and have glimpses of the natural state accidentally, as a side-effect and purposefully. The point of DC and PDC is to have a reliable and mechanical tool that enables recognition of one's wakeful nature anywhere and anytime to anyone, with or without a tantric empowerment.

Thank you for reading and many blessings,

-Kim Rinpoche, 16 of July 2020

Pemako Buddhism,

* This text is additional material to What's Next? On Post-Awakening Practice

tiistai 30. kesäkuuta 2020

Subtle Ignorance in Zen Buddhism

>>I saw you post about how many Zen folks sit in a very cursory level of Shamatha and call it a day. I thought it was hilarious. There are ALOT of unqualified Zen teachers out there for sure.

--I trained in rinzai zen where there is great emphasis on shamatha/samadhi. Then when a rinzai student has a meeting with roshi, the roshi shouts or hits the student with a stick and bang, it breaks the samadhi... to make the natural state appear, and this makes the student have kensho, proper recognition of the natural state. In dzogchen, they figured out that you don't need to develop samadhi by countless hours of concentration practice. You can just shout syllables yourself and have the same benefit. This means that by shouting or what we call Dynamic Concentration in Pemako Sangha, anyone can have instant release of the samsaric body and instant access to their buddhanature. This is why I do not teach shamatha at all because why would you want to put your time in something that is not it?

But yeah most zen groups I've seen over the past 20 years, just cultivate shamatha and a lot of them confuse that for the natural state or as they say shikantaza, or how I like to call it buddha nature sitting. They waste their time for years and years, even decades and think that that's it. Sometimes they might get lucky and have a glimpse or even a shift but then it doesn't ring their bells to make them question their views and methods. They think that that's how it is supposed to be, that you sit for ten thousand hours, have a moment of kensho, then you sit another ten thousand and have a kensho and so on... It is incredible waste of time. Again, this is something that dzogchen masters such as Longchenpa have made clear for centuries, that one should not confuse shamatha or samadhi with rigpa or the natural state. According to masters, this actually creates a karma that is very detrimental to real dharma practice. I actually have story about this but will save it for later. This is not what dharma professionals do.

Yes, there are many zen teachers with papers in order, all right. Unfortunately, most suffer of these basic problems and since they have so much faith for their tradition, I don't see it will change any time soon. The greatest masters like Hakuin or Linchi make it perfectly clear that kensho is the way and that there is no other way. Ugi sent me a message yesterday and said, "Not of lineage holders, not of Lamas, not of Tibetans, but of liberated beings." I think that there are very few people who really wish to know themselves fully, wish to become buddhas, because so many practitioners are so attached to the external paraphernalia of traditions. It is an awful trap to be in... Anyway, having said that, this problem of subtle ignorance is very very common at all places.

-Kim Katami

Pemako Buddhism, 

tiistai 16. kesäkuuta 2020

Chris’s Guidance to Awakening, by Lama Karl Eikrem

Chris’s Guidance to Awakening

*This guidance took place over a period of 7 days*

Chris: Hello Lama Karl,

I am writing to inquire about guidance to awakening.

I first heard about the 2PF on Reddit about a year ago via the r/streamentry subreddit. I have been practicing meditation on and off since I was 16 (almost 20 years, now), but more seriously over the past few years. I have some experience in Vipassana, Zen, and Vajrayana traditions and have practiced with a few sanghas but have never formally had a teacher.

Recently I became more interested in the 2PF. I am about half way through reading the Awake! book and have been practicing the 2PF for 30 minutes a day for the last 10 days. I have had some interesting experiences so far and am eager to deepen the practice. I have also listened to Kim's guided meditation on Insight Timer and watched a number of the testimonial videos that are on YouTube.

Please let me know what I will need to do in order to undertake guidance at this time, if such is available.

Thank you.

Karl: Hi Chris,

Good to hear from you. I’d be happy to help you out. It is good that you have many years of practice under your belt, it should make things easier.

We usually recommend people familiarise themselves with the 2pf for about two weeks before starting, but I’m happy to start straight away.
Shall we?

Chris: I just completed my morning meditation (30 minutes). This is day 12 of practicing with the 2PF for me, though only 1 session per day up till now. If you are interested, I kept a journal of my experiences so far, which I can send to you, or provide a summary.
Today (as in the past couple of days) I have had a harder time bringing up clear physical sensations in the I-based mode. I am trying to affirm 'I, I, I' quite strongly and with some emotion of frustration or vexation. I have to keep my voice low because I live in a large apartment complex, however, so sometimes it is more like a stage whisper. Currently, the 'I' feels like it is located in or behind the face, especially the eyes and cheeks. It appears to be centered right in between my eyebrows. In fact, over the past couple of days, I have had less and less physical sensations in response to the affirmations. Between the eyebrows, there is a mild feeling of pressure and sometimes tingling. Instead of a tight ball of energy, it feels wispy and diffuse. These sensations are subtle and therefore more difficult to follow. Sometimes I feel a bit of frustration that I am having a hard time with the technique or that more isn't happening. I feel the frustration or impatience in my chest and stomach, but then if I ask myself, "Who is feeling frustrated," it comes back to the point between the eyes.

Karl: Very good. Most people end up between the eyebrows, and it is totally normal that the sensations vary in intensity. The fact that it is getting weaker or more subtle is because you have been peeling the layers off it, just like peeling an onion. Ground yourself properly in the clarity of the I-less mode, so that your sensitivity to the change between the two modes increases. Forget about "more things happening" just work with what it taking place each moment. Everything sounds normal from your description, so there is no need to worry. One last point is that you don't have to say the affirmations out loud. All that matters is that you mean it when you say it. Another trick can be to remember specific memories that trigger the I-sensation strongly. 

Chris: During the I-less mode, I can mostly relax the body, and I have been trying to let my mind just melt into the parts of the body as they relax. I'm not totally sure that I understand the instructions for the I-less mode, or that I am doing it right. I do feel generally relaxed and spacious, but I am not sure I am reaching a true I-less state, because when I ask myself, "Where am I?" the attention will zoom right back to being behind the face. Does that make sense?

Karl: Also normal. Forget about reaching the "true I-less state" and just marinate in the relaxation and spaciousness. Another word for spaciousness is knowingness. Knowingness refers to the fact there there is absolutely no effort involved in feeling the natural sensations of the body. There is no doing there, there is just automatic, spacious knowing. And this knowing is completely natural and ordinary, no fireworks at all. So let go of the "trying" and just marinate in the natural relaxation. And don't bring up the "I", in the middle of the relaxation as that will bring you to the second mode. Take your time, several minutes.  
Chris: In my daily life, I have been feeling pretty good, overall. I am working full-time from home (due to the coronavirus) and just moved into a new apartment, so I have a lot of things on my to-do list, and certainly some stress. But I feel pretty resilient, and have very positive interactions with others. I do notice the 'I' coming up in my daily life, although perhaps more object-I than subject-I. For example, if I get a stressful email at work, I can watch the wave of anxiety rise and fall in my stomach. Or sometimes in work meetings, I notice myself wanting others to perceive me in a positive way.

Karl: Stressful can be good as it gives us an opportunity to study the "I". If anxiety etc comes up, simply trace it back to the root, the subject, what grasps or hangs onto the sensations.  

Chris: Last night I had a strange little experience. I woke up either in a dream (a moment of lucidity) or just after a dream. When I noticed I was conscious, I looked for the 'I' and, for a moment, there was nothing there. I fell back asleep soon after this. This morning, things seem to be normal.

Karl: Sounds like a glimpse to me. Very normal but a good sign indeed. Keep on going!

Chris: Thank you for your feedback. I am doing the 2PF twice per day now for 30 minutes each time. Last night was my first evening session, and I found myself feeling a bit sleepy. I wonder if it would be better for me to do my second meditation right after work/before dinner, rather than before bed? I also wondered if it would be better for me not to drink during the guidance? Normally I have a beer with dinner, and I just want to make sure that will not interfere with my meditation in the evening.

Karl: It doesn't really matter when you practice as long as you stick to the two daily sittings. If you find that you are too tired in the evening, feel free to experiment with a different schedule. As for drinking a beer or two, I don't see that it would be much of a problem in general, but again you have to see if it affects your ability to process. 

Chris: In last night's meditation, I again had only subtle sensations, mostly centred between the eyebrows. I tried your suggestion of bringing up memories related to the self. I ended up bringing up a bunch of memories in rapid succession, including many of the things in my life that were most painful to the 'I.' This intensified the sensations somewhat, but not as much as I expected. Occasionally I still have feelings of tightness around the solar plexus--almost like a band of pressure that goes around my torso, but mostly it is all centred between the eyebrows. 
Karl: Alright. As long as there is something that arises that can be studied, it is not a problem that it is more subtle. Also, if other sensations in the body are stronger than behind the eyes after affirmation, do check them out. Always go to the strongest sensation, regardless of where it is. 

Chris: In the I-less mode, I have been able to notice that there is no self required for sensory perception. As you said, awareness is already effortlessly aware of body sensations, sounds, objects in the visual field, and so on. The self is extra. 
Karl: Very good. You are clearly getting an experience of it. Keep marinating. 

Chris: I also noticed this as I took a walk after work yesterday. For several minutes, I was able to sink into this sense of not needing to do anything or think anything... just kind of allowing life to flow through me. There was a sense of peace, but still on a relative level. My thinking mind was kind of sputtering like an engine low on gas. Also, a few times during the day, I noticed myself thinking about something (my typical inner narrative) while my body was effortlessly executing some task without needing to think about it--like making a cup of tea. It made me realize that all that thinking and narrative is so unnecessary. 

Karl: Good. 

Chris: This morning's meditation was about the same, except with less sleepiness and more clarity. I am trying to really study the sensations between the eyebrows, though without trying to force anything. 
Karl: You are doing great. Just keep grounding yourself in the effortless clarity of the first mode, before bringing that clarity to whatever sensations arise after the affirmation. 

Chris: I am trying to take your advice and really ground myself in the I-less mode before applying myself to the affirmations. I think up till now, I have leaned a little more toward the I-based mode because of my eagerness to study the I and to "finish the job." But I realize the modes are equally important.
Karl: Yes, exactly. It is very common to focus too much on either one, but if you focus too much on the I-based mode you will not have clarity and get lost in identification with what arises. If one focuses too much on the I-less one will not able to weed out the root of the problem. Always both modes. 

Chris: But I realize the modes are equally important. In any case, I'm still not 100% sure I'm doing the I-less mode correctly. When I release a tension in the body, I seem to feel some warmth or vibration, rather than an empty space. I have just been letting my mind feel that, and continuing to move through the body. Sometimes once I've gone through several spots in the body, I do feel a kind of space open up--as if I'm sitting in the middle of a big, dark cavern. It is a generally peaceful and spacious feeling. 
Karl: Spaciousness or openness are just metaphors that specifically convey the lack of contraction, lack of self-hood. We are not necessarily talking about a big empty space (i.e. 3-dimensional space) etc. The warmth and vibration that you describe are perfectly valid descriptions of the I-less mode. Sometimes we can have "deeper" experiences as you describe, but just keep doing what you do without expecting anything. Do the sensations you experience when letting go feel more natural than the tensions? Freer? Check. 

Chris: When I go into the I-based mode, the affirmations are still bringing up quite subtle responses. I'm paying attention to all the body sensations that come up--not just between the eyes. But that is still where I feel it most strongly. The area of the sensations is quite small, about the size of an American quarter-dollar coin. If I had to describe the shape, it feels like a couple of strands of energy that are tied together--like a knot that has already been loosened somewhat--and turning and twisting around in space. The feeling is one of tingling or energy, sometimes a mild pressure. I have been feeling the same sensation come up a few times, walking around in my daily life. It grows stronger the more attention I pay to it.

Karl: If the sensations between the eyes are the strongest after doing the affirmation, then zoom into it and study it as closely as possible. Really get on the inside of it.. Does it have a centre?

Chris: A few times in my sitting meditations, I have noticed my mind wandering a bit. Much less than in other types of meditation I've practiced, but it is still there. Any tips on how to deal with this? I've tried Kim's advice of saying "Ha, ha!" or "Ho, ho!" sharply, and that seems to work at least temporarily.
Karl: The shouting of "Ha's" and "Ho's" is what I usually recommend if the wandering hinders the process. If a few reps don't do the trick, then you can try shouting it rythmically for longer. Like 30 seconds or so. That usually does it. Only use it to cut through to the first mode, though, not when studying the "I". 

Chris: I do notice that my narrative self is still quite active--always telling the story of what I'm doing, what I'm going to do next and so on. It even tries to co-opt awakening, like "Now I'm doing the guidance with Karl... I wonder if the process will work... If I do get awakened, it will be interesting to try the Rainbow Body Yoga, that sounds enjoyable..." and other such stuff. 

Karl: Nevermind, leave it be. Thoughts aren't really a problem when processing the 2PF, unless of course it's buzzing to the point where there is no focus.

Chris: Sorry for the length of my emails--if you have any feedback on how to make my reporting most effective (as well as my meditation), please let me know. Thank you again for your time.

Karl: As long as you are on point, which you are, the longer emails are no problem. Try out the things mentioned above and let me know how it goes. You don't have anything to worry about with regards to how the process is unfolding. Go on!

Chris: Thanks for your advice about the I-less mode, I feel less worried now that I am doing it wrong. I am relaxing the body and mind, and it certainly feels freer and more spacious than the I-based mode. In the I-based mode, when I do the affirmations, the sensations that come up are still centred between the eyes. It is mostly a feeling of pressure, now. On the other hand, I also sometimes feel like "I" am in the space behind the eyes. Is there a distinction between these two phenomena?

Karl: Good to hear about the I-less mode. The I-less mode is the true nature of sensations, of being, so it is hard to "do" it wrong if you simply stop doing so much and relax with what is… As for the "I" behind the eyes, whenever it feels that way, you should investigate it. Try this technique (similar to what you describe that you do in everyday life) when sitting as well.. Like this: 

Recognise the feeling of "me" looking out from behind the eyes. Usually when we look at some object there is a clear direction from behind the eyes and outwards. Notice this clerly. Then trace back along the opposite direction, all the way back to the "root" of seeing, the perceived "seer" in the space behind the eyes. Is there anybody in there? Anything solid? Let me know how it goes. 

Chris: Last night's meditation I was a little tired, but sinking into the I-less mode felt a bit more natural. As I relaxed into the body, there were times when the body felt very large, like it was taking up all the space in my awareness. That was interesting. 

Karl: Sounds good, keep relaxing into it without expectations. 

Chris: This morning, I had a little more trouble with monkey mind; thoughts coming up unrelated to the meditation. I dealt with these with a few 'ha's and 'ho's. Very little sensation coming up in response to the affirmations, so it was hard to investigate. Sometimes when this happens I've been asking, "Who is it that's frustrated?" and that brings me back to the feeling of 'I.' 

Karl: It seems to be a pattern that after very clear experiences like the ones you describe from the night before, the mind will get stirred and become more unruly. Nothing to worry about, just keep cutting through. 

Chris: I have tried the technique of looking behind the eyes, and it's interesting... again, there is just kind of the visual field (or darkness, if I have my eyes closed) and hearing. It feels like there is just a sense of 'presence' back there, but the presence still feels kind of centered in my head. There are very few thoughts when I put my attention there, but it seems to take effort... after a few seconds the seeing process goes back to normal. Maybe I am crossing my eyes a bit too when I do this? It's hard to describe.

Karl: Right. Did you try it with eyes open? I think this technique is easier if you have them open rather than closed. The idea is to see whether there is really something solid there looking out onto the «world» from behind the eyes. I know the feeling of crossing your eyes, but that is not necessary. You trace the direction of seeing back and look at «seer» with you attention rather than your physical eyes. 

Chris: Yes, I have tried this multiple times with my eyes open now... I cannot find anything solid. There is just seeing, hearing, and also a nebulous cloud of physical body sensations. If I repeat I, I, I, while paying attention to this space, it is just a sound. There is a feeling of presence, or of looking from a certain perspective--maybe the sense of self that remains to me is just an optical illusion caused by the position of the eyes in the head/on the body? Or the aggregation of seeing, hearing, and feeling so that it seems like it's all happening in one place? But that is already too theoretical.

My two most recent sits, last night and this morning, I have felt quite sleepy. In the I-less mode, I can sink into the body sensations and being in the moment. I noticed that when the body is aware of itself, hearing feels effortless, too, and I am just kind of letting the moment happen. The I-based mode is not so clear. Sometimes there are mild physical sensations (between the eyes), sometimes there is almost nothing, so that repeating 'I' feels like just making a sound with my mouth and throat, kind of a futile gesture and a little funny or ridiculous.

Karl: Could you take another picture of your face and send it along with the "before" picture so I can have a look at where we are at? Your comment that the "I" is just a sound makes me wonder if awakening might have happened. Is there anything that "sticks" so to speak when doing affirmations? 

Chris: Here you go.

*Photos not published in accordance with the wishes of the participant*

Karl:  I suggest that you take a break from the 2PF and relax for a few days. Notice how you feel in general, meeting other people, doing everyday activities. I’ll message you in a few days to see how you’re doing. OK?

Chris: That sounds like a good idea.
This morning, in my meditation, there was almost nothing that came up in response to the affirmations- it feels like the meaning of the words I, me, and mine has worn out and there is a vague sense that I can't tell who they are referring to. But I wonder if it's just from repeating them so many times, as in Titchener's repetition? When I asked, "Where am I?" and felt into it, there was some pulsing and tingling at the point between the eyes. But it feels more like 'I' am behind that, in the space of the head and the whole body, as a kind of field of sensation. When I look into that though, there is nothing really solid there, no 'self' that I can find, at least as far as I can tell.

However, off of the meditation cushion, I seem to feel normal. I will take a break from the 2PF and let you know how the weekend goes.

Karl: Sorry it took me a while longer than planned to get back to you. How are you doing? How did you feel not doing the 2PF? And have you tried the method again since taking a break? 

Chris: No problem. Thanks for writing back. I've had two weekend days and three workdays to explore and evaluate. Something does feel different. Ever since Friday (at least)... it's difficult to describe, but it feels like the pressure is off. There is a kind of ease. I don't have the pressure to be or do anything in particular. I do still have plenty of thoughts, including self-oriented thoughts, but they don't have the same pull for me--they feel like just a habit playing itself out. I have even had feelings of anxiety in my body (on Monday, we went back to the office after 2.5 months working from home) but they don't bother me as much as usual. Meeting and interacting with people feels quite easy.

I had not meditated since Friday. This morning I did sit for 30 minutes, but not with the 2PF, just sitting and doing nothing. I did notice some energetic activity around my ajna/third eye point during the sit.

Throughout this time, I have had a lot of thoughts like, "Wow, is this really it? Has something really changed? I can't quite put my finger on it." It seems possible that awakening has taken place. At the same time, I do not want to call the game prematurely if I haven't quite got it or if there is still more work to be done with the 2PF. My experience seems similar to some of the stories in the Awake! book, but also lacking some of the fireworks or romance of some of the other stories. Anyway, the truth is more important to me than clinging to any particular state or stage. I am grateful to you for the guidance so far and curious to hear what you think.

Karl: Good. Try the 2PF and let me know how it goes.

Chris: I have tried the 2PF again the last two mornings. In response to the affirmations, there either seems to be no response or some minor energetic activity around the ajna chakra. There is no real sense of tension, discomfort, or stuckness that I can discern. Should I keep practicing the 2PF or leave it alone, at this point?

My everyday life continues to feel oddly problem-free. There is a sense of lightness. However, I do notice that my verbal mind is chattering away as much as before (though the thoughts don't have the same kind of emotional pull, perhaps).

Karl: Yes. It was already evident from your photos that awakening had taken place, though as a policy I don't verify awakening unless the person recognises it themselves. Your description is classic in that it is not something "new" but just something dropping away. That's it. That is awakening. 

As for the remaining existential confusion, in Pemako Buddhism we divide the "selfing mechanism", the identification with passing forms, into three parts: (1) the subject self; the "I", (2) object selves; self-based thoughts, emotions and feelings, and (3) substrate conciousnes; sublte states of dullness of mind. As you have awakened to the truth of the emptiness of the first of these, the path forward will be focused on realisation the empty nature of the rest

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to ask me.

Chris: That is great news! Haha.

Karl: Yes, it is indeed good news.

Chris: Thank you. I truly appreciate your help in my awakening process. The change feels subtle but significant. I feel like a thorn has been removed from my foot--but one that's been there my whole life.

Karl: You are very welcome. It is wonderful to be in a position able to help other people with this problem of problems. Besides, you were very easy to work with as you did most of the job yourself. Cheers!


Relevant links:
Guidance to Awakening, offered by Pemako Buddhist teachers


Pemako Buddhism,

maanantai 15. kesäkuuta 2020

As a pragmatic Vajrayana practitioner I'm really impressed by... Written by Ugi Muller

As a pragmatic Vajrayana practitioner I'm really impressed by...

by Ugi Muller

As a pragmatic Vajrayana practictioner I'm not really impressed by ...

... traditions.
... titles.
... the "argument" that age automatically makes credibility.
... geographical origins.
... number of years "spent" in retreat.
... glorified secrecy.
... hierarchy.
... personal worship.
... scholastic elitism.
... non-innovation

As a pragmatic Vajrayana practitioner I'm really impressed by ...

... sticking to what really works.
... the courage to question old ways.
... discussing real attainments.
... transparency regarding fruits of practice.
... emphasis on the universal core of the Dharma.
... innovative new practices.
... real experiental accounts.
... critical self-evaluation.
... teachings from personal experience.
... the use of a fresh and experiental language.
... real accessibility of teachers.
... practitioners and teachers meeting at eye level.
... open-mindedness.

Deep bow to all past and present masters as well as the pioneers of pragmatic Dharma!

-Ugi Muller, teacher in training

Pemako Buddhism,


perjantai 5. kesäkuuta 2020

Why awaken? How does awakening make Dzogchen & Mahamudra practice easier? by Ugi Muller

Why awaken? How does awakening make Dzogchen Atiyoga & Mahamudra practice easier?

By Ugi Muller

Imagine that you are in a big garden full of all kinds of plants, trees and animals. To many of these plants and animals you have a fearful and hostile attitude. You want to keep them away from you. On the other hand, many of these plants you like a lot and want to keep them close, even possess them. Now you heard of the Buddha’s nondual teachings and want to attain Buddhahood in this life time. You know that this entails one job only: looking directly at every plant, every animal and everything in the garden to see their true nature.

That’s a very challenging job. It means that you have to face all the plants and animals you always wanted to keep away from. And it means to let go of all your beloved ideas about the plants and animals you like. You’ll have to completely drop every point of reference and orientation you’ve ever had.

That’s the gardener’s Dzogchen Atiyoga and Mahamudra practice. Very challenging, it’s asking all of you.

Now as if this wasn’t challenging enough, there’s another obstacle you’re confronted with. You are bound to a strong pole in the middle of the garden by rubber bands. Wherever you try to go, it always immediately pulls you back to that pole. As if it is magnetic. This is actually so normal for you that you take it as a law of nature like the gravity that keeps your feet to the ground.

Without any awareness of your attachment to the pole you just don’t get far with your practice. Whenever you try to walk up to and look into the nature of a plant or animal, the rubber bands draw you back to the pole, making it very hard to even get a proper look at what’s there to be looked at. It makes this already challenging task of direct looking a 100 times more strenuous. You spend 95% of your practice time struggling against the rubber bands and maybe just 5% directly looking. And you don’t even know that it’s happening!

Now fortunately you see someone walking through the garden and he lets you know that you’re tied to a pole. You look down your body and for the first time you see it. “What the duck, all this time I’ve spent being tied to this pole and strained my ass doing anything, thinking that life is just this hard.” You see that being tied to this pole is not necessary or natural at all! And within no time you remove all the rubber bands from your body. You can’t believe that you actually thought being tied to this pole was part of your being.

Now you are able to walk freely through the garden and follow through with your challenging practice of looking at the true nature of all the plants and animals, the ones feared aswell as the ones hoped for. Finally, you are able to give a 100% of your focus to the practice itself and not to the struggle to even get there.

So what does this garden story have to do with awakening and Dzogchen/Mahamudra? Awakening is realising that there is a pole in your mind that you thought yourself attached to. And letting go of it. This pole is the subject consciousness, the more or less constant energetic impression of being a personal self which is located behind your eyes. It’s a strict filter that frames all our sense consciousnesses in a dualistic and personal way. It renders all experience around a poor me and makes pretty much a huge anxious drag out of everything.

Not seeing this subject self at work makes Dzogchen/Mahamudra practices extremely and especially unnecessarily difficult. Being awakened to this subject’s non-existence on the other hand makes an effective and fast Dzogchen/Mahamudra practice possible. You just can get to the task directly without the drag of personal drama. And it’s much more fun this way …

If that sounds appealing to you, I highly recommend to you to look into the Two-Part Formula of Pemako Buddhism. It’s a proven and very quick way to achieve awakening and to spare you years, decades or even life times of unnecessary struggle.

You can find the Two-Part Formula in this free ebook together with many real people’s accounts of awakening and losing their pole:
May all beings be free!
Ugi, teacher in training