My name is Mark from UK.
My good friends Jon and Michael, whom I believe you have had some contact with, suggested that I get in touch with you regarding your guidance on how to awaken. After all three of us had a group internet call, they told me about you and the guidance that you offer, guidance which I would like to follow also.
A little bit more about me:
I am 40 years old and have been a member of the Buddhist Dharma Group since its inception in 2008. We are a practice group who follow the path of ‘Silent-Illumination’, you may already know a little about us. Prior to joining that group I was practicing with a different Buddhist organisation called the Triranta Community (formally Friends of the Western Buddhist Order). I joined that group when I was 20 and have had a committed practice including a daily meditation practice since that time. I have done many practice retreats including almost all of the retreats that the Buddhist Dharma Group have organised. I work in engineering, although I consider myself to be an artist.
I have begun the process of familiarising myself with the 2 part formula practice, and have been trying it out since Wednesday morning (13/09/17) where I effectively used my morning sitting period (40mins) to practice the 2PF and have been trying it out during lunchtime at work and also a little time in the evenings. I almost immediately experienced physical contractions in my body, hands and chest with some shaking of the head, especially this Saturday morning (16/09/17) during the 2nd part of the formula. I would say that the first part of the practice, of experiencing embodied expansive spaciousness I am pretty familiar with, but only that it has deepened somewhat, especially in my head since using the 2nd part of the formula. But now the contractions have subsided, at least I think they have, and I notice a subtle quietness in my mind and head, again, at lest I think I do.
Sunday morning update (17/09/17 - today):
This morning I sat my 40 min period of meditation, and essentially just tried to open up to the feeling of quietness in my head/mind. I tried out the 2 part formula once, saying the affirmations “I I I, me me me, mine mine mine” out loud, but I kinda feel like my hearts not in it. I am just not getting the same convolutions/contractions that I was having earlier, so it felt best to just be with my experience and leave the formula alone until I know what is happening.
So anyhow, I could do with some guidance in these matters regarding the 2PF.
Are you ready to begin? Your training history makes you fit for this process, as those of your sangha friends who have done this already. Keep an open mind. Don't bring all what you know or have experienced with you because you need none of that now. Start fresh. No expectations or high hopes, with plainness and simplicity. If you can do just that, this can be over in few short days.
Great to hear back from you.
With regards the awakening process I think the horse may have bolted already, so to speak. I think it happened last Saturday morning during meditation. After reading some of the case studies of the process, I recognise the events having had occurred to myself as well. I would like to write you an account if I may? I think this would be helpful.
In terms of my practice right now - I have a lot of questions. I wonder if I can ask you them?
You mean you awakened already? Wouldn't be surprised in your case. Sure, write me an account and send me a photo (eyes directly in the camera, no eye glasses, good light). If you are awake, we can talk practice related matters.
Please find below an account of what I believe was an awakening experience I had last week. I have attached a picture of my face to this email.
Events Concerning Awakening
During the evening, after a sangha team internet call to plan for the forthcoming autumn retreat, there followed a second call between myself, Jon and Michael, who are also long standing members of group.
Jon went on to explain that after many years of practice under the guidance of our former teacher (now deceased), he had still not woken up to the truth. That this is ‘getting ridiculous’ I think was the phrase he used. So he decided to do some googling to see what else is out there, perhaps there was another path more suitable?
And so he happened upon the Open Heart website and the 2 Part Formula that you offer guidance on. After trying it out for a short time, his words where that he had a ‘kensho’ experience. So he tells Michael, who in a short time, under your guidance, also has an awakening experience and that Carlos, another long standing member of the sangha, has also woken and that two other members of the sangha where also ‘in the process’.
Well, me thinks, on the surface it sounds to good to be true, but that these people I trust and have known them for a long time and I know they are committed Dharma practitioners. And so, with a feeling of disbelief but also trusting my spiritual friends I accept their advise. Jon sends me an email with all of the relevant links to the material. During our discussion that evening, Jon mentions the 2PF and the affirmations of ‘I,I,I’ and ‘me, me, me’, and, you know I almost immediately had a sense of what was happening when the I or the self is affirmed, exposed and brought out into the open light of awareness. A kind of purposeful exposure. Still with a feeling of disbelief, I head off to the land of nod, bedtime.
I check my emails in the morning and Jon's email regarding ‘Guidance’ has already landed (late the night before). Such an important email I will not open at work though, and wait until the evening to open it. However, having listened to Jon talk about the 2PF, I start playing around with saying ‘I’ and ‘Me’ at work in my head/mind especially during my lunch break, to see what kind of effect it would have on my experience.
My sense at this time, not fully knowing the 2PF, only knowing that it involves affirming the ‘I’, is that tension is created, or rather exposed as pain and contractions in the body/mind. But that after saying the affirmations there comes a feeling of release and spaciousness.
In the evening, after a run in the park, I open Jon’s email, following the links and read the instructions for using the 2PF. I reply to Jon’s email with thanks and try out 2PF a little as I fall asleep.
I incorporate the 2PF into my 40 minute morning meditation as a means of beginning preparatory work for ‘guidance’. After some minutes of watching the rise and fall of my abdomen and opening to awareness, I begin the affirmations saying out loud, ‘I, I, I, me, me, me, mine, mine, mine’ twice, all the while experiencing contractions and convulsions in my hands, chest and head, unpleasant but not totally unbearable. And then rest again in open awareness. I continue in this way until the end of the sitting period.
At work I use the 2PF during quieter periods including a half hour period of 2PF during my lunch break. During the evening I sit meditation, doing 2PF for half an hour and after some familiarisation of the online material on the Open Heart website, especially the ebook ‘Awake’.
Pretty much the same as Thursday.
Again I use my morning period of meditation to continue the practice of 2PF. As I continue alternating between opening to spacious awareness and then affirming the ‘I’, I continue to experience physical contractions in my body, hands and chest with some shaking of the head. The head shaking, I experienced the day before but this time the onset is more sudden, happening much earlier in the meditation period. As the sit goes on, so do the contractions and subsequent feelings of release. During what I think was the last set of affirmations, saying out loud, ‘I, I, I, me, me, me, mine, mine, mine’ twice, my head shook and then curled around my neck and my legs flew in the air like one flap of a birds wings (I sit cross legged). As this happened a kind of small explosion happened in my mind/head and I saw a light appear in my minds eye, high in the room. It was a whitish blue colour and sparkled with small trails around it. It appeared as though something moved across it, just like the movement of an eye lid. There was also one trail that shimmered from its centre. I also think I saw a small black dot, but at the same time I thought a bird had flown into the room. It was there for a moment and then it was gone, disappearing with an after image of soft, sparking white-blue light. As it appeared it felt very peaceful and warm, loving and tender, gentle and soft, the kind of thing you would want to melt into. There for a moment and then gone.
Whatever it was it was kind of cool and didn’t feel wrong it any way, just another meditation experience I thought. As the morning unfolded I noticed that I was getting myself organised in an usually clear and concise way, without any fuss and very smoothly, as usually I flap and rush in an effort to save time. After getting breakfast in a nearby cafe (a new found pleasure) I drove to my parents house, who are away at the moment, in order to do a few administrative tasks. Admin tasks done, I settle down with the ebook ‘Awake’ and continue to read. After lunch I decide to take a walk in the park. The colours are bright and sharp, the sounds clear and do not feel like cutting stabs in my head as they have done in the past (for years and years). I feel light and relaxed and not lonely and worried as I often am. I enjoy the sunlight and do not feel like wearing my sun glasses. I sit down in the park and enjoy the quietness in my head/mind, that feels unusually stable and permanent, not fleeting and a battle to ‘stay concentrated’. It was then that I thought perhaps I have woken up, and that what happened during morning meditation was an awakening experience.
From then on…
After I emailed you on last Sunday (17-09-2017), to express my interest in the awakening guidance, I have been following your advise to continue to do 2PF and familiarise myself with the material. This I continue from last Sunday. Now when I say the ‘I’ affirmations, I get no reaction, no contractions of the body/mind. I think I do get perhaps a faint after effect of the affirmations, perhaps a very slight sharpening of something in my experience, but to all intense it feels like I just say the affirmations into space, with nothing reacting to them. What I do have is a brightness in my head/mind like never before, which I feel invited to open up to. It feels exciting and like I can actually practice meditation properly for the first time in my life. Which leads me practice, but first things first, am I deluding myself here with regards what I believe to be my awakening?
After reading your report and seen your photo, absolutely, you are through. Congratulations! I'll make some comments.
You are one of 8 people so far who have come to awakening by reading the materials and testing the 2PF by themselves, and case number 89 in our statistics. Nice.
You wrote on Saturday 16th of September: "...a kind of small explosion happened in my mind/head and I saw a light appear in my minds eye, high in the room. It was a whitish blue colour and sparkled with small trails around it. It appeared as though something moved across it, just like the movement of an eye lid. There was also one trail that shimmered from its centre. I also think I saw a small black dot, but at the same time I thought a bird had flown into the room. It was there for a moment and then it was gone, disappearing with an after image of soft, sparking white-blue light. As it appeared it felt very peaceful and warm, loving and tender, gentle and soft, the kind of thing you would want to melt into. There for a moment and then gone. What ever it was it was kind of cool and didn’t feel wrong it any way, just another meditation experience I thought."
This is not actually "just another meditation experience", or it kind of is but this is very significant. What happened here was an energetic occurrence which unwound your so called kundalini energy, connected it with energy centers above the head (which are very important regarding the recognition of the natural state) and then disappeared at the heart for good, leaving that warm and loving feel. I have seen many teachers tell this same thing, including my teacher Sivakami and Ramana Maharishi. This is known in buddhist tantra as well. The outcome of this energetic happening is the dissolution of the self-knot in the head which refers to an irreversible insight. Just to let you know, in Tibetan Heart Yoga which is our main practice in Open Heart, we connect with the centers above the head in every practice session. These instructions can be found from the introduction at the website, if you wish to check it out. The main point about all kinds of energy sensations is that fully enlightened being, buddhas, don't have them but having said that some experiences like this one are indications that something important is happening from the point of view of dharma, i.e. knowing one's mind.
You have a long practice background. Awakening was long overdue... but I am glad for you that it happened! The first person who asked me for awakening guidance had spent over 30 years meditating full time and wasn't awakened, so its good that you didn't have to wait any longer.
As you say, your meditation will be significantly different from now on because "I" won't be jumping back and forth to split it. It has been great for me to work with your sangha members because you have done so much hard work sitting on your butt. That's why its also been rewarding, kind of a relief, because you guys if anyone deserve it after all that sitting.
I am sure your mind is pretty stable by now, after 20 years of sitting but having said that you still have a whole range of insights and maturation ahead of you. In Open Heart, we have something called Open Heart Bhumi Model. Bhumis are talked about in mahayana and vajrayana buddhism, althought they don't use bhumi mapping like we do. Anyway, awakening refers to opening of the 1st bhumi (not perfecting it). After this opening there are 12 more to go, plus perfecting all of them. Because it is quite a task, as a teacher of all sutra, tantra and dzogchen, I recommend tantric practice for attaining this because it much faster than sutra and more suitable for laypeople. Other methods work too, it just takes longer.
If you have any questions, glad to help.
That's great news many thanks. It feels good to get confirmation on my awakening.
Also thanks for the information that you have sent me, it is very informative and inspiring. I shall begin looking through the info, in particular the Tibetan Heart Yoga meditation. I shall study the material though and see how it feels. I will also speak to Jon and compare notes. I look forward hearing his experience of THY.
I know almost nothing of Bhumis, apart from what our former teacher, now deceased, has written about them in his book, but that was something I read years ago and never went anywhere near since, as nothing like that was ever my experience, at least not before last Saturdays awakening. I did however, a few nights ago watch your YouTube video on the bhumi model and dark night. It's pretty far out to say the least, but maybe not, time will tell.
Once again a hearty warm thanks for offering the 2PF. I must say that although very grateful for the spiritual transformation (which is kind of an understatement!) I am stunned and shocked at the simplicity and childishness of the predicament I was in. I could almost cry at the time and effort I have put into practice over the years, all the needless suffering. However, how was I to know the way out would be so simple?
OK, go ahead and see how it feels. The introductory practice has a few techniques, very important ones actually, including guru yoga with Guru Rinpoche. Making that connection (with him or other mahasiddhas, masters) is a life- and path-changer. I started with zen, sat a lot but made very little progress. Then when I learned the principle and technique of tantric guru yoga and felt how the master's presence can so palpably felt in my bodymind, it changed everything and there was no going back to the old way because through guru yoga I could get glimpses of the natural state as much as I wanted. It didn't happen prior to that. In my view, the most important thing in the path of dharma is to have those glimpses. Everything else is secondary. Unfortunately the vast majority of old dharma systems are caught in thinking otherwise which makes the path for the practitioners needlessly long, demanding and fruitless. Both you, me and your dharma siblings are examples of this, as are numerous others around the world. There must be hundreds of thousands of people worldwide putting in the hours, being very devoted and good students and yet, not getting much fruit. In Open Heart we, the masters, my wife and I, have made a conscious effort to shed everything that is needless (both from practices and verbal view) and make the system simple and direct without compromising the ultimate attainment of buddhahood in this life. I cannot emphasize the role of our gurus here. Without them none of this would be happening.
As far as I know reading or mapping bhumis, like we do in Open Heart, is not done in any other school of dharma, even though extensive commentaries are given on them. I assume that at some point this skill was lost and all that is left now doesn't make any sense. I understand perfectly how strange or suspicious all this might seem. Just try and see for yourself. I am so glad that Jon has made this great effort in getting you all try one by one. Do you think you would have considered the Guidance without the recommendation of your dharma brothers? Maybe, maybe not... But now, a week or two after meeting with the materials, not even receiving pointers from a teacher, you are awake... which didn't happen to you through other dharma paths you have followed for almost 20 years. The same has happened to 90 other people so far. This is just a pragmatical note. As this text is going to be published in my blog I also want to make people think these things.
Another pragmatical statement. About 1½ years ago I had a chat with Daniel Ingram, one of the founders of the pragmatic dharma movement. He told me that he knew "about 20 arhats" worldwide, including himself. These included famous theravada buddhist teachers. Bhumi mapping Dan and other "arhats" of their movement as well as masters from the East, they all have opened their 6th bhumis, more or less perfected. At the time, 1½ years ago, I think there was only a few 6th bhumis in Open Heart Sangha. Now there are 19. We also have 9 people who have opened one or more of the mahasiddha bhumis which means that the natural state is their prevalent state. This group is now in the process of perfecting their bodhisattva bhumis, that is, fully purifying their minds. Shouldn't take long when people start getting the ultimate fruit. This may sound a bit technical, sorry for that. I'm an engineer by nature so I sometimes get excited explaining these things. Anyway, take it one step at a time. See if this hypothesis works for you. Never believe.
Exactly Mark... It is that simple...
Have a great day!