tiistai 24. lokakuuta 2017

Introduction to Tibetan Heart Yoga

Introduction to Tibetan Heart Yoga

by Kim Katami
Open Heart, www.openheart.fi


  • Man has three bodies:
    1. physical body
    2. energetic body/mind and
    3. awareness.
    Physical and energetic bodies are three-dimensional, awareness is non-dimensional.
  • Practice of dharma is centered on removing dukkha or unsatisfactory and confused existence, as is taught in the Four Noble Truths. Existential confusion means perceiving our life in dualistic fashion. Because we perceive ourselves as individual entities or selves, we get confused and suffer. When this self-based dualistic perception does not arise, even momentarily, that is a moment free of suffering. 

    Introduction to Tibetan Heart Yoga: Lecture about the Principles: 

     
  • Selfing is spread over the energetic body or mind. It can be removed according to the laws, functions and mechanisms of the mind. Selfing cannot be removed by denying it or by disregarding the way how the mind works. Selfing cannot be thoroughly removed by physical exercises or by the means of plain awareness approach alone, although both are very relevant. Psychology cannot be bypassed. If profound transformation or realisation is attained it is through the delusion stored in your mind, not in any other way. 

    Tibetan Heart Yoga: Guided Practice:


     
  • When samsaric mind is ”seen through” by sutra or tantra practices, it gets transformed into wisdom mind. Seeing through refers to the principle of vipashyana meditation which means ”seeing clearly”. Seeing clearly or vipashyana is a principle that can be applied in sutric or tantric fashion. When a mental element, such as a thought is seen through, it means that the self-charge in it is released. Thereafter it has no binding power that causes selfing. In this way, our sense of self is seen through and released by piercing through it, not by transcending it. As vipashyana practices are applied, the practitioner's mind becomes growingly more lucid, while one's true self, selfless awareness, becomes the dominant mode of living. 
     
  • Samsaric mind, in other terms, the psychology of man, has four main aspects:
    1. subject-self
    2. object-selves referring to thoughts and emotions
    3. subconscious mind (energetics inside the physical body, bhumis 1-6) and
    4. substrate consciousness (energetics outside the body, bhumis 7-10, skt. alaya vijnana).
    All aspects of the mind correlate directly to energy channels (nadi) and energy centers (chakra). The ”mind” consists of numerous energy channels and centers. Having a samsaric mind that goes round and round in thoughts, emotions, fantasies and dreams means that the channels and centers are filled with junk, junk that is our selves with all the habits, tendencies, needs and drives. 
     
  • By tantra practice, all of samsaric mind is transformed into wisdom mind. This means that the self-charge, self-delusion, is released from the mind elements. This is the outcome of vipashyana practice. ”Wisdom mind” means that all the thoughtforms and formless energies of the subconscious mind (numbers 3. and 4. together) become embodiments of awareness itself. When the self-charge is released from mental elements, their true nature is experienced. True nature refers to qualities such as sense of freedom, openness, lucidity, clarity, lightness, elation, naturalness, aliveness and utter ordinariness. All these are qualities of awareness or buddha nature.

  • In tantra, the self-charge is removed with the help of a guru and buddha-deities, that the master or guru has assigned for practice. In Open Heart we ask blessings and meditate many different masters of the Mahasiddha Family, but the main masters are Guru Padmasambhava and Guru Ma Yeshe Tsogyal. Buddha-deities are cultivated through singing and repeating mantras, verbal sounds, which are the main technique of tantric yoga. Also Guru Yoga is one of our central practices where master's presence is invoked and felt in one's own bodymind. 
     
  • Deities are always learned or received through empowerment given by the guru or his representative so that the practitioner gets the deity or deities correctly. 
     
  • In Tibetan Heart Yoga, there are over 20 different buddha-deities. The list can be found from the website.

  • By using mantras relating to buddhas, the practitioner's mind goes through a transformation where the self-charges are released from all mentioned areas of the mind systematically. While some effects can be instantly experienced, thorough transformation takes time and committed effort because selfing is so deeply ingrained in the channels and centers of the energy body. 
     
  • In addition to mantras, the practices include mudras (hand gestures), visualisations and breathing techniques. 
     
  • Open Heart-method includes three approaches: sutra, tantra and dzogchen. Tantra is recommended to householders because it is easy to learn and practice, and it gives fast results. Results of Tibetan Heart Yoga can be observed from publicly released bhumi studies from the Open Heart-blog and Open Heart-YouTube-channel
     
  • In Open Heart, progress in practice is measured with Open Heart Bhumi Model
     
  • The first task in practice is to open the bhumis, all the way up to the 11th bhumi which is the first ”mahasiddha bhumi”. Throughout this process one has glimpses and insights into the selfless nature of the mind and also grows in experiencing natural awareness. 
     
  • When the 11th, 12th and 13th bhumis open up, awareness becomes one's default mode. Opening of the 11th bhumi brings an important paradigm shift as one mostly rests in the natural state. There is no need to ”get back to it” anymore. From this point onwards, tantric and dzogchen practice is continued for the reason of removing all habits, tendencies and karmas which in other words is perfecting the bhumis.

  • First (of three) stages of buddhahood is attained when the whole energetic body, including all channels and centers, relating to the four aspects of the mind, and the first 10 bhumis, is fully purified. After this there are no impulsive actions in one's mind at all. Being a ”buddha” means being free of one's mind while still having it. This is what the famous line from the Heart Sutra means: ”Form is emptiness, emptiness of form. Form is form, emptiness is emptiness”. A buddha does not experience selfing at all and because of this is no longer a samsaric being. The first stage of buddhahood could be described as ”mental nonduality” while the latter two stages, referring to 12th and 13th bhumis concern ”physical nonduality” and the so called ”light body” or ”rainbow body”. 
     
  • In Open Heart, attaining the first stage of buddhahood where all of psychology has dissolved into awareness, is seen as a realistic goal to be achieved in this body and life. It is not something that should be postponed because that is what we truly are.


Open Heart

*

May be freely copied and quoted with mentioning the source
Copyright Kim Katami 2017

perjantai 20. lokakuuta 2017

Awakening Statistics

Awakening Statistics

  • People who awakened in this guidance: 98/100
  • Percentage of people who attained awakening in this guidance: 98%

Since April 2014, when I started giving Guidances to Awakening, I have kept statistics which have been visible at the Open Heart-website. My purpose was to gather data from the first 100 cases (4/2014-10/2017) to see how well or poorly the technique, The Two-Part Formula, and the instructions would do. In the beginning I didn't know how the success rate would turn out and whether the percentage of success would be very low, high or something in between. Here are some facts and my thoughts about the statistics from the first 100 cases.

Why compile statistics?

An important reason behind compiling this data was that to me it got old that reliable data about how well or poorly a practice or a system does, is extremely scarce. If you start thinking about it, the field of spirituality is the only one to do so among all other possible fields of human endeavour and expertise. If data about functionable and beneficial applications was not available in science, education or culture, it would be seen suspicious and unacceptable. It is not common to find statistic data regarding awakenings or other levels of attainment (which has also been done in this blog here) but I personally think it should be a standard.

Doing this would illuminate a lot of corners. The most obvious concern is of course whether practitioners of a system do or do not wake up at all. And if they do, the next logical questions are how, within what time range, with how much effort and time put into the practice and how much help was needed from a teacher or a guide. This is simple logical reasoning, isn't it.

Guidances given by myself or other teachers

The statistics include the first 100 guidances that were given by myself or a couple of other Open Heart-teachers. The number of cases done by other teachers were 9 in number which included 7 succesful cases and 2 unsuccesful ones. At their first try (also the teacher's) two persons didn't get awakened through the guidance. After participants had failed to get awakened, I offered to do the guidance with these people for second time through which both cases succeeded. In the beginning, in all arts there are failures until the art is mastered enough for keeping the standards where they should be. This is a natural part of the learning process.

During my first 10-15 guidances I had two cases who didn't awaken. These failures happened due to my lack of expertise in giving guidance with the Two-Part Formula (2PF). Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to do the guidance with them for second time.

Even though the 2PF hits precisely at the core of the selfing mechanism, it requires skillfulness from the guide to both give helpful pointers as well as to intuit what the person needs. Just as peoples personalities differ, guidances differ quite a lot. An advice that worked for one person might not work for another, even though they are using the same technique as the basis for their processing.

Through doing these 100 guidances I've noticed that my way of doing it has changed and developed along the way. I have always put a lot of emphasis on the preparation of the person involved and as a general rule I always require 1-2 weeks of preparation, going through the materials and doing the 2PF on their own, before the guidance begins. One reason for this is that if the preparation is not well done, then the teacher has to work needlessly hard and repeat the same points over and over, from one guidance to another. A more important reason of the preparation is that the responsibility of the process is and always should be on the seeker as it his problem that the guidance seeks to solve, not the teacher's. The person involved needs to understand his responsibility and make the commitment. There were a couple of cases who started the process too casually but who understood the importance and value of the opportunity once it was pointed out to them. The teacher is there only to give pointers, and even though they are crucial, the work has to be done by the person in question.

Three kinds of cases

12 cases of the total awakened without any one-on-one attention from teacher. These people include cases who joined public lectures (30-60 min in duration) given about awakening and the technique (where technique was taught to them) and people who studied the online materials (dialogues found from Awake-ebook and Open Heart-blog) and did the 2PF on their own. All these people contacted me to ask what had happened to them or whether they had awakened. I verified their awakenings, as in all cases, through reading their verbal descriptions and by analysing their photographs.

Some people, perhaps about 15% of the total (15/100), needed very little help from the teacher. When learning about it, these ”easy cases” realised the usefulness of the technique and did the heavy lifting by themselves without much help from the teacher. In these cases the guidances lasted from few hours (the shortest was two emails changed within 6 hours) to few days. The average duration of all guidances was 4-5 days of emailing. The longest guidances, less than 10 cases, lasted for 4-5 weeks, where a break of two weeks was held in the middle.

In overall

In the beginning I didn't expect the success rate to turn out as high as 98%. As I also was identified with some of the many mistaken views about awakening out there (that have been extensively discussed in my blog and The Lion-Faced Guru Podcast), I became convinced of the effectivity of the Two Part-Formula and the guidance only after 30-40 cases.

Various aspects of awakening has been covered in my talks, writings and other materials so I will keep this short but I'd like to mention one thing. Resistance and cynicality towards Guidance to Awakening and the 2PF has been extensive, in many forms. While witnessing the peak of people's delusion disappear first hand over and over again, I have come to see this foolish critique as an indication of a very low level of understanding about awakening in our present spiritual culture, whether hindu, buddhist or otherwise. To date, I have not received a single disappointed email from anyone who took guidance or were verified awakened by me, obviously because (one of) their problems was solved for good.

It has become apparent to me that most old traditions who are the main proponents of the whole theme of awakening (!), often actually know very little about it. I have discussed problems related to this here: A Look at Awakening and The Two-Part Formula.

I am genuinely woeful for having to say this as it always upsets people who have invested in the old traditions but I have to speak my mind. I'd like to remind that in my own case it took 8½ years of 8 hours daily sitting, following old ways and views with full dedication, until I woke up. Awakening certainly doesn't replace long-standing practice but I, like many, was a victim of false views of what awakening is, how it fits in the big picture and how it is achieved. I hope it need not be so for future generations.

Thank you to all those who took this teaching seriously, worked hard and burst their bubble of self. Great!

Thank you also to many dharma friends and teacher colleagues who have given their support to my work and Open Heart.

Finally, thank you to Guru Rinpoche, Yeshe Tsogyal and the whole Mahasiddha Family. Jai Guru!

- Kim Katami, 20.10.2017
Open Heart, www.openheart.fi

torstai 19. lokakuuta 2017

Quotes about Awakening and Practice from Zen-teachers with Comments

Quotes about Awakening and Practice
from Zen-teachers 
with Kim's Comments

By James Ford, Soto Zen and Sanbo Kyodan Zen

"In the Western Zen scene today words like enlightenment, kensho, and satori have been pushed to the background. Any emphasis on the experience of awakening has been minimized. There are reasons for this. And I think some of them are legitimate.
However, that acknowledged, the great project of Zen is nothing less than awakening. And, sliding over that, shifting the point to something else, is making a terrible mistake...
As it happened this minimizing of kensho was also the general stance within the Soto school. In a delightful illustration of this Huston Smith tells of visiting the “other Suzuki,” the renowned Shunryu Suzuki Roshi:

When, four months before his death, I had the opportunity to ask him why satori didn’t figure in his book, his wife leaned toward me and whispered impishly, “It’s because he hasn’t had it”; whereupon the Roshi batted his fan at her in mock consternation and with finger to his lips hissed, “Shhhh! Don’t tell him!’”When our laughter had subsided, he said simply, “It’s not that satori is unimportant, but it’s not the part of Zen that needs to be stressed.”

Kim's Comment: While jokes are good, old zen-master (roshi) admitting never having had an insight (awakening, opening of the 1st bhumi) is alarming. It is a direct indication of admitting not understanding the essence of buddhism. How can one present oneself as a buddhist teacher, without having a single insight into the selfless nature of the mind? This has been warned by generations of ancient zen and dzogchen masters. Bhumi-analysis on Suzuki Roshi confirms that he was not awakened.
In his book "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind", Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, says, "If you feel that you are somebody, you have to practice zazen harder". I wonder what Suzuki Roshi meant with practicing zazen, or "just sitting" harder? If by practicing harder he meant paying more attention, the whole practice becomes reduced into calmness meditation (shamatha) of beginning stages (see nine stages of shamatha meditation). This is not at all what "just sitting" (shikantaza) is. See  below for more about just sitting.

"In fact others practicing within the Soto school would go much farther, denying the experience itself or denigrating it or its pursuit as nothing but a “gaining thought,” another dualistic trap...
So, in a reaction to D. T. Suzuki’s many writings, and in particular the focus found in that first book on Zen practice the Three Pillars a baby was thrown out with the bath water. Zen without awakening is a hobbled eagle. I suggest if we want Zen to be more than a mindfulness practice that will get us an edge in whatever project we want an edge in, we need to reclaim awakening as the central purpose of the project."

Kim's Comment: What many Soto Zen Buddhists don't understand is that kensho is not an experience in the same way as other experiences are. Kensho means to see one's true nature, one's buddhanature and by definition it is not a kensho if it has no irreversible effect. Zen Buddhism, like dzogchen, is correct in its view that the buddhanature cannot be created or generated but it makes a horrible mistake in its attempt to "just sit" without any kensho which for samsaric beings is an impossibility.

"Zen is a spiritual process completely bound up with the actual world; it is not meant to be a philosophy. Nor is it psychology. It is about our awakening. And when awakening is brought together with our practices and the precepts, we begin to see the contours of what Zen actually offers to the world..."
"Kensho means “to see,” and its related term is Satori, which means “to know.” Both point to the great opening of heart and mind. Sometimes, in Zen mostly, they’re synonyms for that big thing. Although I’ve seen kensho to be used for lesser insights and satori for either the big one or sometimes even for the cumulative place that one on a path that attends to these things may at some point find themselves.
The reality is dynamic, even messy. And I like the term to be a bit messy, as well. I suspect it cannot be fully described. But we can take a stab at it. At least I’m going to here.
First, I would like to hold up the big thing that is awakening as I understand it. The deepest thing is a collapsing of one’s sense of self and other and finding a place of radical openness.
The rhetoric attached to this awakening is that it is a once and forever. I have a sense of that. And at the same time I’ve seen in others who have been recognized for their awakening as well as in myself that it isn’t an escape from one’s place in karma. As the famous Fox koan reminds us, awakening does not free us from the consequences of our actions. It doesn’t even free us from taking actions in the future that will have negative consequences. What awakening is, is an existential stance of radical openness. It does not mean there are no blind spots. It does not mean one is free of the play of those endlessly arising constellations of grasping, aversion, and death-grasping certainties. But, it does mean some part of the person who has had this experience sees or knows the freedom as well as being fully in the play of life and death. So, yes, once and forever. And, no, not free from karma or even stupid or possibly evil actions."

Kim's Comment: We have to be clear about a few things: 1. The need for insights into the empty nature of the mind, 2. The range of our self-delusion and psychology so that 3. We can understand how our self-delusion (dukkha) and the path of insight meet each other. If these three points are not understood it becomes impossible to understand our position in reference to the ultimate attainment of buddhahood. It is precisely this lacking in knowledge that has been depicted by many zen- and other buddhist masters through their harmful actions and scandals. 

- James Ford, Zen-teacher of Soto and Sanbo Kyodan schools

Quotes from:


By Sheng Yen, Chinese Chan-master of Caodong and Linji-schools

So they (the students) hoped I can give them a way to sudden enlightenment. It seems to them that, given the way to sudden enlightenment they would get enlightened immediately. I told them, ”I'm sorry. If there is such a way, I would have used it first. But up until now I have not invented it.” Up until now no Chan Buddhism literature has shown who had used it. It's like making a pill from a thing called sudden enlightenment and then once you swallow it, you'd be enlightened immediately. Or like getting a morphine injection. You want enlightenment? No problem. I have this thing that you inject and you become enlightened at once. Or how about something like an acupuncture needle? One needle at the acupuncture point and enlightenment at once. All these are sudden enlightenment, aren't they? I say, what a pity, no one has yet made the discovery... Some attain enlightenment gradually while others attain enlightenment at once.”

Sheng Yen's quote from: The difference between gradual and sudden awakening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQSJ5WFtKLM&index=14&list=WL

Kim's Comment: It is very unfortunate that someone as influential as master Sheng Yen, spreads such misleading views. The view of there not existing practices that directly generate sudden awakening is very widely spread, especially in the world of zen buddhism. However, such practices do exist.  It is a great pity that such techniques have been kept secret in Tibet but, nevertheless such techniques do exist. Refer to Daniel Brown's instruction given here and The Two-Part Formula openly shared by Open Heart.

By Shinzen Young, Rinzai Zen, Shingon and Theravada

Shinzen Young, who trained extensively in Rinzai Zen, was interviewed by the Buddhist Geeks in 2010,

BG: ”
How common is that dramatic, sudden experience of enlightenment as
compared to the more gradual and even integration?”


Shinzen Young: ”
The sudden epiphany that’s described in many books about enlightenment, that has definitely happened to some of my students. And when it happens, it’s similar to what is described in those books*. How frequently does it happen? I don’t know. I don’t keep statistics, but maybe a couple times a year.”

*Visuddhimagga and Three Pillars of Zen were mentioned earlier in the interview

By Robert Aitken Roshi, Sanbo Kyodan

Aitken Roshi's student wrote: ”Aitken Roshi often noted that awakening doesn't happen by a one-size fits all formula and is as unpredictable as a lightening strike, but that while there is an "accidental" quality to the timing of one's awakening, we can make our selves "accident prone" by our cultivation of samadhi power”. 

Kim's Comment: I know zen-practitioners who had their first kensho on their first retreat, who had it after 8 years of dedicated practice and retreats or who never had it, despite of the practice aiming at it. It is unfortunate that Robert Aitken Roshi, a prioneer of American Zen spreads this misleading view, because it is incorrect. It may be the case in zen buddhism that awakenings are "unpredictable" and "accidental" but in the light of better knowledge, it is like saying that "We don't really know what we are doing". To better understand my criticism, read this. The level of dharma in the present world is regrettably low. When dharma holders and their respective methods are inable to assist people coming to them properly, I think it is logical to question the validity of the concerned tradition and its particular techniques. The methods of dharma should meet the needs of those who turn to them. This should always be the priority. Without authentic insight, a tradition, its long history, valuable ites and rituals are of little use. 
Refer to instructions that directly generate awakening here (Daniel Brown) and here. 

By Sokuzan Bob Brown, Soto Zen and Tibetan Kagyu

"There is only one awakening. There is not a shikantaza awakening, mahamudra awakening, zen awakening or tantric awakening. There is only reality. If you awaken to it, you know it. You are not in doubt, you are in certainty."

By Denko John Mortensen, Rinzai Zen

Rinzai zen-teacher called John Denko Mortensen, who took up dzogchen after decades of getting trained as a zen-teacher, said in dharma talk given in 2012, "While zen-masters say weird things, dzogchen-people actually explain things"


Kim's Comment: Please refer to my long article on Pedagogy of Dharma here

By Kobun Chino Roshi, Soto Zen

Someone wrote: "My first buddhist teacher was Kobun Chino Roshi. In one class, someone asked him how to get closer to his lineage or more involved with his lineage. His answer was to look into dzogchen." 

Kim's Comment: Kobun Chino's recommendation is like fresh air! A teacher who can admit the weak points of one's own lineage, is one among hundreds. It is a common trait that a follower of a certain method is self-sufficient and has no interest in expanding his knowledge beyond one's own system. To rely on a single lineage or a school can cause a faulty sense of confidence and authenticity. A blog about the authenticity of a dharma teacher can be found here.  

By Meido Moore Roshi, Rinzai Zen

"If I were to critique some aspects of Western Zen I have observed, though, it would be that in some quarters a misunderstanding of words like "just sit" and "ordinary mind" leads many practitioners to go off in a mistaken direction, often for years or decades. Their "just sit" is, in fact, just sitting there within the habitual arising of stale habit, and their "ordinary mind" is really just ordinary, delusional mind. Yet they are immune to correction, as they have read and been told for years that "just sit" is sufficient, that "practice IS enlightenment," etc... and have interpreted those words according to their own understanding/experience, rather than as goads to genuine realization and descriptions of the radical confidence/faith that arise within the fruition of practice."



By Yasutani Hakuun Roshi, founder of Sanbo Kyodan Zen


When people get fixed about a teacher/lineage/school and stuff like that they easily loose their sight of what they are actually doing and then say stoopid stuff like "My roshi teaches just sitting but it seems different from what sifu from China teaches with silent illumination". I've seen such discussions so many times. It's madness. It beats me how folks can loose sight of the fact that all beings have buddhanature and all these direct path meditations are solely about recognition of one's buddhanature and familiarisation of it. I think such debates are just indications how rare the recognition and familiarisation of it is.

Here is a fine example how faulty instructions can be, from one of the most highly respected Japanese zen masters of the last century, Yasutani Hakuun Roshi:

"In doing shikantaza you must maintain mental alertness, which is of particular importance to beginners-and even those who have been practicing ten years could still be called beginners! Often due to weak concentration, one becomes self-conscious or falls into a sort of trance or ecstatic state of mind. Such practice might be useful to relax yourself, but it will never lead to enlightenment and is not the practice of the Buddha Way. When you thoroughly practice shikantaza you will sweat-even in the winter. Such intensely heightened alertness of mind cannot be maintained for long periods of time. You might think that you can maintain it for longer, but this state will naturally loosen...To do shikantaza does not mean to become without thoughts, yet, doing shikantaza, do not let your mind wander. Do not even contemplate enlightenment or becoming Buddha. As soon as such thoughts arise, you have stopped doing shikantaza...Sit with such intensely heightened concentration, patience, and alertness that if someone were to touch you while you are sitting, there would be an electrical spark! Sitting thus, you return naturally to the original Buddha, the very nature of your being."

https://www.dailyzen.com/journal/shikantaza

He says he is teaching just sitting, recognition of buddhanature, the highest practice in zen buddhism, but is actually describing three-dimensional attention with very high intensity. This is developmental shamatha, not the natural state. He is basically narrating a huge misunderstanding. In mahamudra, this is known as shamatha without support, although I've never seen any Tibetan recommend sitting with so much intensity that you sweat in Winter's cold. I perfectly admit the value of momentary heightened attention, which is what I call dynamic concentration, but this simply is not shikantaza, buddhanature sitting. On longer scale, practicing like this is not healthy either.




lauantai 14. lokakuuta 2017

About Zen Art and Ordinary Art

About Zen Art and Ordinary Art

Some casual thoughts about art.

Zen Art

I was a student of a Japanese zen master, Terayama Tanchu Roshi, who was one of the greatest zen artists and zen art teachers of Japan. His art was calligraphy but he could comment all other arts and their spiritual or mundane features because he knew how to analyse the "zen quality" in them. This was possible because he knew the mind where art emanates from through his own zen meditation practice.

In short, the zen quality in art means whether the utter clarity and aliveness of mind is transmitted into and through the art piece to the observer. Pieces of zen art, created by people who have pure minds are impressive and have impact in a deepest meaning of the word because it reaches and touches the core of the viewer or listener, instead of merely causing the viewer to think or feel on the level of thoughts and emotions as ordinary art does. Zen art clarifies, purifies and inspires the viewer's mind while ordinary art clouds it with thought and abstract mental ideas.

In zen calligraphy, the form of the art piece can be a simple dot, a line or a circle or it can be an abstract painting or a poem brushed in alphabet or Chinese letters. In music this can mean playing a single or very few notes or creating elaborate tonal textures of complex harmonies. The form does not matter even nearly as much as the zen quality of it. If the vibrancy and aliveness of buddhanature does not come through the art, it is not zen art.

Zen and the arts have not only a closely-tied but an
inseparable relationship, like Siamese twins. The inseparability
arises because zen negates the self and in the absolute being called buddha, then affirms its being. The self once negated is not only the simple limited self but is also the manifestation of buddha, symbol of that which we revere
as universal life. When something which cannot be seen or touched is symbolized in this way, it is worthy of recognition as a magnificent
work of art. When this occurs, zen takes the form of artistic expression.
But notice, all work from a zen priest is not necessarily zen art. The art must embody the selfless absolute and in the true religious sense zen art must embody the mind that is awake.”

- Omori Sogen Roshi, Japanese zen master

Ordinary Art

In my teens I was a keen musician and studied guitar with several great musicians, played a few hundred gigs and went through the whole formal music education channel. I also became a music producer until I quit music entirely for nearly 20 years. I never stopped listening music, though.

At the time I didn't know what it actually meant but I always sought ”truth” through music. I thought that through learning the instrument, its playing techniques, musical theory and many things about melody, harmony and so on. would help me to get there, to truth, whatever it was. I spent many thousands of hours learning these things but ironically it was only when I somehow got out from everything I had learned when great music came out and and touched the hearts of the listeners. I spent a few dozen hours a week learning all these things about fingerings, chords, effects and copy the musical phrases of great musicians but when ”that something”, a glimpse, happened live, it was like jumping out from the box of musical learning to an unknown and utterly fresh territory where pure expression gushed out from. At the time as a teenager I intuited that it had to do with what was talked about by spiritual masters in their books but no one I knew had ways to systematically cultivate this.

In retrospect, after countless hours of meditation and study of buddhist psychology and zen art, I know that these moments of pure expression happened because my sense of me-ness subsided for the true me, the selfless creative space, to take over. This is nothing new to anyone who has delved deeply into doing their favourite hobby or art. My own mother, a professional of handcrafts, could instantly recognise from my narration what she has often experienced.

This is what all the greatest artists and athletes speak about. Champions like Ayrton Senna (Formula 1) or Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest basketball players ever, always say that they played and achieved their best when they went beyond their mind that thinks in usual terms of their art such as: winning, competing, game tactics or particular techniques like running, jumping, throwing, hitting the gas or changing the gear. Similarly musical giants like John Coltrane (jazz saxophone) and Steve Vai, (electric guitar, of whom I have written a book about), who are keenly into sitting meditation and prayer, testify that when their usual sense of self subsides, the true art emanates forth by itself. This is why the greats are known as ”greats”.

Ordinary Education

It is curious that one cannot become a zen calligrapher by applying brush, and black ink on white paper alone. In the same way a musician cannot learn to know and express the deepest and the most profound part of him- or herself by playing his instrument alone. One cannot learn to know ones mind, its deluded and pure areas, in any other way than through meditation. And it is here where the biggest problem and hindrance of musical education lies at because no system of musical education teaches us how to study our minds.

The consequence is that educated musicians become good at technique and they come to know everything there is to know about the common aspects of music, but they don't learn to know themselves as existential beings beyond their self-deluded mind. In terms of musical education the self-delusion becomes created through becoming biased to the works of idols, to the theory of music and by identifying with a particular genre or style of music. The students become biased to the view that this is all they need to learn, that these are the ingredients that will enable them to become as great as their idols. But this is a misleading idea because the whole thing lacks a larger context, that of mind and awareness which is the basis of everything.

Whenever we go into that creative element of our brain,
we always gravitate to the thing that interests us the most.
Some people are very passionate about politics, about love affairs,
about fast cars, most of the time we are thinking about sex... Right?
But for some reason, ever since I was very young, I've been a seeker,
after truth or reality. And through the years, I've studied,
even more than guitar, more than anything, I've studied
various religions, spiritual thoughts and truths.
You know, that's a personal journey, we all can have.
And when I go to write my music, many times I immediately just
gravitate to that core. Then my brain has all the technical information
and ability so it mixes it all up. That's how I get the music that I write.”

- Steve Vai from ”Zen of Steve Vai”

We play and create music firstly with our hearts and minds, and secondly with our bodies, voices, fingers, feet and instruments. Sounds that we create are expressions of our minds. A skilled zen artist can instantly recognise whether the notes, musical vibrations, carry the messy energy of conceptually biased mind or whether they transmit freshness and wonder of the natural mind. The nature of mind infuses the art with way more power and appeal than a deluded mind ever could.

Education of Zen Art

Music is about listening or hearing. Hearing means being in a receptive mode, rather than in a transmitting mode, projecting outwards. After one has learned the essentials about one's own instrument and music in general, it is important for one to become a listener, or otherwise one ends up blabbering all the things you've heard from others which is interesting only to those who are stuck in the same limbo. Learning to listen can and does take years of practice but if you ever stepped out from your limited mind zone and tasted pure expresion, you already know it is more than worth it.

We need to learn to listen in order for us to hear our own voice. This point has been stressed by all spiritual classics. Hearing our own voice means going beyond our sense of me-ness with all the conceptions we have acquired. When we do that, expression begins to flow by itself. We start to play, or dance or sculpt in a way we always dreamed of.

People ask me,
'How do you write music and how do you get inspiration?'.
Sometimes inspiration just comes and you never know how it's gonna come. The best music comes when you listen to your inner ear
and you hear the melodies there.”

- Steve Vai

This happens because the nature of awareness is to create and express its own nature in every way it can. For this reason we can detect the same feel, or zen quality in the work of a master race car driver, a master rock'n'roll guitarist or in the work by a master craftsman. The same vibe can be observed from an aware person walking, fixing a car, having a cup of tea, or when having an argument.


Thank you for reading.

- Kim Katami. 10/2017

Teacher of zen art, buddhist tantra and dzogchen. Amateur guitar player.

Open Heart, www.openheart.fi

See also my Soul of Sound-Facebook project about music and guitar.














torstai 12. lokakuuta 2017

Pointers to Awakening

Pointers to Awakening

Bits and pieces from various dialogues.

  • You just have to keep marinating in both modes, selfless and self-based, one at a time. The idea of the self-affirmation mode is to meet it, experience it, be aware of it, be aware of how the I feels like, what it is and how it exists. It is simply looking, seeing, feeling, perceiving, tasting how the "me" feels like. You know, just being aware of it, from the selfless space. Zoom into the I-sensations and zoom out, zoom in, zoom out. Just looking at it, not blankly, but with interest like a scientist investigates an organism under a microscope. See what is this "I" that I've thought myself to be. I am saying "What is this "I"?" This means that the I/self is being objectified. The subject self is being objectified so that it can be seen as an object in the space of awareness. It is very simple, nothing complex. It's just that this study has to be done carefully and fully through, util there is no more doubt or unclarity. There is nothing solid or permanent about the "I". It's just sensations and impressions, stuff. What is found from the center of the strongest I-sensation after affirmation? Is there anything there? Look straight into the bull's eye. This is complete instruction. Just continue.
  • The thing is that selfless awareness cognises itself. There is no me, I, self or anyone there. OK. This selfless awareness is in connection with the body and mind. Through the body and mind it can feel and act. But for action it doesn't need an "I". In essence we are selfless awareness, brimming with life and aliveness, expressing itself through this vehicle of human body. Awakening is a glimpse to that but it can take a good while to actually get to this experience 100%, so that it is uninterrupted.

  • No hurry. Being in a hurry is a great evil. Hopes and desires are useless as well. This formula will do it's thing when you keep applying it. Twist the steel wire, make these questions clear to yourself by studying what you experience. 
  • Sometimes people don't notice a special event of awakening, they just realise that "Oh, it's a bit different now. Simple. Easy". See how it is, apply the formula.
  • While using the first selfless mode, it assures that there is clarity of mind, at moments it might get quite dark and uncomfortable. This happens because the formula digs into the core of self-delusion which is a dark place. But no problemo, just be aware of whatever comes along. One small moment and observation at a time.
  • Good. The tension in the head, perceiving of that, is crucial. "Me" or "I" sits behind the eyes, inside the head, looking out through the eyes and hearing out through the ears. Be aware of that, and doing just this you objectify your "I". As this is done (or conventionally put: when you do this, although it is not really "you" who does this) revelations about the nature of this self start coming.
  • Don't try too much. An observation can be made just in few seconds. Small moments, small observations. It's sort of like taking down a pyramid one stone at a time. A mature craftsman does things one things at a time, not all at once.
  • For an awakened person, saying the "I" or "me" doesn't do anything, energies don't get stirred up, and particularly the tension inside the head behind the eyes. That simply does not arise no matter how hard you summon the self. Do this: Relax thoroughly, marinate in the selfless space with time, without hurry. Then as your mind is clear like the surface of a still mountain pond, introduce the affirmation. Do this carefully, in detail, to find out whether this tension comes up or not. If it doesn't you might be awakened already.
  • You will never get awakened. "You" will not. The awakened state is already here and there and everywhere. There is no place where wakefulness is not, except in the mnd that goes around in circles. Are you getting my point? In one sense you are your history and persona but in other sense you are not. We get fooled by appearances. You-are-awareness-without-location... "You" exist only on the level of thought. "You" are a thought! A thought! Hahaha... Isn't that funny!? Listening... no location, unbounded awareness... Seeing... so free, so direct, so immanent, so intimate! Yes?
  • Stop trying to "get it". Become a fool instead. What we are doing is not highly intelligent or sophisticated. We cannot figure out our being, because being is not thinking. OK?
  • I think that you are quite used to, or have become a bit attached to sitting practice. I am like that too. But both, recognition of the selfless state as well as self-based state can be done any time. It is smal observation of a split second or few seconds that matter. Yes, we use concentration and mindfulness in this processing but it's not like one has to stare one's breath or navel as in common meditation. Do the analysis, observe the modes a bit by bit, moment by moment. 2-3 minutes is a long time when doing this practice correctly, and such a short period can be all that is required. It is a matter of processing, keeping the water on heater for it to become warm and to start boiling. This means digging the subject-self out into open so that it can be seen in a correct way. What is the correct way? "I" doesn't stay and it doesn't have a fixed, firm, solid shape. "I" is just a bundle of stuff, emotions and impressions on top of each other. "I" is deeply imprinted contiuous associations and we *believe* it. We have a fixed belief in this entity. "I can not do this... I can do this! I am poor. I am great!" and what thought-associations have we. But this is just being identified as concepts and thoughts... Are "you" anythign else than a stubborn idea? Look at yourself and find out.
  • Reg. "more of selfless space". You are talking about three dimensional space, that between your head and pelvis. Yes, we observe the bodyspace, 3d space, but actually selfless space is zero-dimensional, non-dimensional. Selflessness means non-locational, not located in three dimensional space or time. Thoughts, such as the I-thought on the other hand are very much located in time and space. If you affirm the "I/me", make the self apparent momentarily on purpose and watch the clock, you can observe through, or based, on this illusory self, until after a moment it again disappears. So, through this experiement we can see that the "I" is bound to time and place. And yet we are dealing with a phantom because it always mysteriously disappears when it is sought after.
  • We can talk about other stuff later but now we need to take a gun, fix the aim and pull the trigger. Go back to instructions that I have given you in the first message. Then take the Awake-book and read a few dialogues from there. Then shut the door, sit down and do the two part formula. First, relax, relax, relax and recognise the open mind space... See if there is a me there or not. Look ahead and behind, left and right, up and down and the center. Am I here? Check. Then marinate in that like a piece of meat in bbq marinad. Then after the selfless is thoroughly felt through your whole body, muscles and bones, bring in the self by doing the affirmation. Punch it in: "I! I! I! I!"..." Me! Me! Me! Me!"... Some sensations will come up, then don't try to do anything, only watch at the sensations. Don't watch away from these sensations! What is this I-stuff? And where? Be deeply aware of that. Deeply! Alert! Right in the center of the strongest I-sense... Drill, drill, drill. Eventually the sensations will subside. Then start over. 
  • There is this thing called "work horse mentality" which means that some people, like you and me (before), when we learn a practice or a new thing we start working with it brutely like an animal, forgetting that we can also use reason and think logically which is the faculty that separates us from animals. I've sometimes seen people with this work horse mentality practice the Two-Part Formula until they overdo it and get stuck. And its always men, never women. So what needs to be corrected is the view and understanding of the practice. First we need to have experiential context for the technique to work properly. That is the space of mind that is selfless, me-less. You relax your body and nerves thoroughly and at some point this spaciousness reveals itself. If relaxation is not enough, jump up and down, shake it off physically, and yell loudly for a few minutes and then suddenly stop moving... And it's there. Impossible to miss it like this.
    Vipashyana means liberation through seeing things as they are, not as how we think or interpret they are. The sense of me-ness is a tight bundle of thoughts, impressions and emotions. The sharpest tip of it, subject-self, you bring up purposefully by doing the affirmation, "I,I,I, me, me, me" and it comes up. And when it does, you locate it, you feel its location, by pointing with a finger if wanted and you try to get a sense of it's shape, colour and feel of it. At this point, you will feel narrowing of vision, tightening of chest, the classic signs of the self-based mode. All this is OK, it should happen. That is what the self and self-delusion is. It feels like shit. So you bring it up, without loosing the spaciousness, locate it and then you compare the two: the space and the knot. See and feel the space.. See and feel the knot in the space... See the different feel of the two... How do they feel together? Feel the edge of the knot. Feel the open space immediately around the knot... From spacious awareness, probing into, inside the knot, right at the heart of it.
    In the beginning of the process, the subject-self may rise as sensations all around the body but eventually everyone ends up with a knot behind the eyes, inside the head. That's how we subconsciously feel, that we are this being or a little man sinde our heads, looking out through the eyes, listening through the ears and living through the body that is down there, below our sense of "I". So, at some point through doing this practice, you end up with the know in the head. This applies to what I have said above. Spaciousness is not located in the body space, nor defined by the body space. It does not have a location, shape, colour or self, me, in it. But the "I", on the other hand, is there inside the head, behind the eyes. Bring your attention there, together with the spaciousness, and repeat, work it out constructively and creatively, not like a work horse. Use muscle, yor body but also have intelligence. "Me" or "I" is jst a belief but stubborn one! Beocming aware of it like this wears off the belief. Eventually the belief, the energy bound in to the knot will release, and there will be an insight, aha... And you will see clearly. This is the outcome of vipashyana meditation getting liberated by the force of samsaric thinking. Simple as that. 
  • Awareness is present by itself. It is said to be self-cognizant which means that it cognizes itself, it knows itself, it perceives itself. This means that there is no entity, "me" or "I" to recognise it. In fact, the I, or self, cannot recognise it. Recognition of awareness/buddhanature/rigpa takes place when the self is absent and when there is knowing of that awareness. Recognition of the natural state does not happen in deep sleep because that cognizant, knowing aspect is switched off, although the usual sense of self is absent too. So, this knowingness is the most important thing. Putting one's attention to the space behind the eyes inside the head is the easiest location to get this through experience because the center of cognition is located in between our primary sense organs, namely eyes and ears. That is where it is easiest to recognise the I-less, selfless awareness, or to be exact there the sense of entityness drops off and the selfless cognizance can recognise itself. This might sound complex but actually its the simplest thing. Once you get it, there is nothing more obvious than this.
  • Here's a little exercise for you: Look at some external object in front of you. What happens here is that your attention becomes extended to that object, sort of like the energy from your eyeballs extends, reaches out to attend the chosen object. Its like aiming a spotlight on the object. It travels fast, at the speed of light to its destination, so fast that its challenging to discern it but if you get the idea, that's enough. We are very accustomed to doing this. Usually our attention constantly seeks and looks for something outside ourselves. This strikes right at the core of the way how samsaric mind works, looking for happiness from outside of us with the miserable outcome of always getting disappointed and more bound to the sense of self. But, the beam of attention can be aimed back at its source, instead of it running around in external things. Where is the source of the attention? Its behind the eyes. So do this: Instead of actively looking, actively attending that object in front of you, imagine that the beam of attention returns to the source behind the eyeballs. Then let it rest there. How is it? How does it feel? What is the condition of your "I" when you do this? How does doing this affect the mind made of thoughts and ideas? When you learn to return your attention to the space behind your eyes, and its not at all difficult to learn that, you can relax the attentiveness, relax that sharpness, relax the looking and hearing with attention. What happens with that release? We land on plain awareness, the selfless mind that is wide awake. Utter clarity, immaculate purity that is alive. Do this exercise, as many times as necessary to get to your own conclusion. 
  • Thoughts are no problem as long as we know the nature of them. Verbal inquiry about the object is fine if it helps us to understand the nature of what we are studying. Thoughts are not the enemy, you know. When it comes to the I-thought which is what we are dealing here it is the distancing from it that causes spiritual bypassing, bypassing it again and again. The outcome of this is duality between the I-less and I-based. However, if you do the 2PF properly the charge from the I becomes emptined like a ballon is emptied of air. So you need to engage with the "I" and probe into it, go into the heart of it and light a match, figuratively speaking. What is there at the center of it?  

    - When you read my instructions, let them speak to you, let them sink through your body and mind, not only mentally reading or repeating my words and then try ing to figure it out in your head. Use your body made of flesh and bones. Do the practice with your body.

    - This is vipashyana practice. It means investigation of the mind, investigating the knots that cause us to regard ourselves as separate entities, or beings. It is essential to understand that no one can "get rid of the I-feeling" like discarding clothes off. The only way to come to satisfaction is through looking into, investigating and making observations. That is the only way. So stop all that wishful thinking and gigantic expectations because they do not help. When I say to get serious about the process I mean becoming one-pointed and committed about it, you know, cutting everything else and making it a priority. I certainly don't mean loosing calmness or becoming highly emotional.

     
    Guidance to Awakening: http://www.en.openheart.fi/101
    How to Become Awakened: http://www.en.openheart.fi/113

torstai 5. lokakuuta 2017

A Look at Awakening and the Two-Part Formula

A Look at Awakening and
the Two-Part Formula



Until now the world has not known a way that would help anyone get awakened. Various teachers and traditions have offered a wide range of practices for this single purpose but very few of them actually do the job, especially within a realistic time frame and effort. I know from my own experience and from the accounts of many others that with most techniques that are said to produce awakening, only a marginal group manages to do that while for most techniques simply don't work.

The two-part formula is not a new invention. Despite of me having come up with it, I did not invent it. I merely remembered it from my previous life. The two-part formula has been taught as a preliminary exercise within some lineages of Tibetan dzogchen. Also some forms of buddhist meditation and advaita have a lot of resemblance with it, yet aren't exactly like it. Traditionally this practice would be called semdzin, which means to see or to hold the natural state (tib. semnyid). This technique has actually been practiced and used for many hundreds of years inside Tibet and before that on areas where dzogchen was taught, but because it has been guarded by the vow of secrecy, it has only been taught to few inside the tradition. I am happy and humbled to be able to help others through offering this teaching. I am well aware that the world really needs it. I have heard over and over how people have struggled with various teachings that have been said to lead to awakening, without it ever arriving even after decades of practice. I find that very unfortunate.

I have kept statistics since people started to ask me to be guided. Now when 95 people have undertaken the guidance, 93 of them ahve awoken by using it in 5 days of average. This means that 98% of those who sincerely tried it awoke. The age of these people range from 20-75 years. The group includes both men and women, from highly schooled academics and doctors to common workers from many countries. Among this group of people there were many who had never practiced meditation before. On the other hand there were many who had done extensive meditation training. The shortest duration of guidance was 6 hours and the longest was 5 weeks of continuous exchange. 9 people awakened while they were preparing for the guidance. Not getting a desired result in two cases was caused by the lack of expertise of the guide, yours truly, during the guidances early on.

For all these reasons I think that the two-part formula is suited for all kinds of people, whether spiritually, philosophically or scientifically orientated. The two-part formula doesn't belong to any religion nor does the result of awakening pertain to a particular group of people. It is applicable by anyone who suffer of the dilemma of existence. It is universal.

Self-delusion

I've been told by people that the simplicity and directness of the two-part formula became too obvious for them after the insight but before that no one ever came to think of joining the two modes of the formula. It is indeed interesting how people in the seeking mode never come to think of joining the two modes. When one begins to think about it 1. first recognising open awareness, especially behind one's eyes and 2. then comparing open awareness with the I-thought by bringing it up by thought. The term self-delusion is widely used term and still techniques where one brings back the I-thought by thinking it are very rare. The self which means our sense of me-ness or I-ness exists largely as thought. If he have no thought at all in our minds, we don't have an existential problem either. Therefore, the logical conclusion is to bring back the I-thought repeatedly and simply be aware of it, until it looses it's meaning, the charge stored in it. The two-part formula is a simple little technique that really is the selfing mechanism itself.

Selflessness

As it has been described in the dialogues of this book, when awakening happens, people tell how all of a sudden they feel freer, clearer, more peaceful, more creative, more relaxed, more healthy, less stressed and so on. Awakened people say that the shift brought them all the good things, so to speak. With awakening the investment that we have put into our self which creates our sense of me-ness, becomes deflated. With awakening, the self that is like a balloon is purposefully emptied of stale air.

In buddhism this is called an insight into the empty nature of the mind. Emptiness (skt. sunyata) or no-self (skt. anatman, p. anatta) refer to the selfless nature of any mind phenomena. It means that once we have the realisation, we no longer believe that we, ”me” or ”you”, exist as an entity, and the entityness, belief in the solidity of ourselves becomes deflated. Before the insight it is common for people to believe in the concept that they actually exist as entities that live inside their bodies. If people are asked to find where their mes are located at, people always end up pointing their fingers to their heads. Without noticing it we gain the belief that there would be this small being, me, inside our heads looking out from our eyes, listening through our ears, thinking through our brains and living through our bodies. But once we start considering this belief of there being some kind of a small being or entity inside our head, the belief begins to seem absurd.

Shakyamuni Buddha says in the Bahiya Sutta:

In the seen, there is only the seen,
in the heard, there is only the heard,
in the sensed, there is only the sensed,
in the cognized, there is only the cognized.
Thus you should see that
indeed there is no thing here.

If we listen to a sound, there is no me or I listening the sound, there is only hearing of the sound. If we look at an object, there is no me or I looking at the object, there is only seeig of the object. When we see, hear, think and live through our entityness, we inevitable become deluded and cannot experience things just as they are. Our self causes us to push and pull. Once we have deconstructed of our entityness, we are able to see, hear, think and live directly without the self twisting and falsely interpreting everything that we come to meet.

As the dialogues testify, one's life becomes freer, healthier and more spacious with awakening. The buddhist term ”emptiness” is a bit misleading but what the emptiness means is absence of selves, in whatever form they come. And once we start taking chunks of emptiness, start having glimpses and shifts of the natural state (tib. rigpa), we automatically feel freer and more natural which is just what we have beenwanting and looking for all along.


Ideal circumstances for awakening

In my analysis I have come up with five key factors that create an ideal situation for anyone to wake up.

  1. The teacher is awakened and knows exactly what it is and how it happens.
  2. He has clarity and skills to convey it through exact verbal pointers.
  3. He has particular techniques that are succinctly meant for generating awakening.
  4. There is enough one-on-one exchange between the teacher and the student so that the processing can be finished quickly.
  5. The student has recognised that his problems are essentially caused by self-delusion. Therefore he is motivated to go through the process.

The opposite of these five key factors are:

  1. The teacher does not exactly understand what awakening is or how it happens, even if he himself is awakened.
  2. He doesn't have clarity and skillfulness to convey it through exact verbal pointers.
  3. He does not know distinct techniques for generating awakening. In fact his techniques might be completely irrelevant or only vaguely relevant.
  4. There is not enough one-on-one exchange between the teacher and the student which is why getting to the result is needlessly delayed.
  5. The student doesn't have correct motivation, no real need for awakening.

I have had discussions with many teachers and practitioners from many traditions. When hearing about issues that hinder the understanding of the students or the teachers I am often reminded how fields of secular education are passed to students. For example. If we consider the above five points in the case of learning mathematics in school, we can be certain that the education system quarantees these key points. However, in spiritual education (skt. dharma), this rarely is the case. When one starts to think about it, this doesn't become as a surprise to anyone who has spent a decade or more in the dharma scene. It is absolutely certain that the old traditions have a lot to improve in their old ways.


Comments from the awakened

Here are some comments from people who got awakened by the two-part formula. These comments have been given by them one year or more after their awakening event.

Question: What awakening has meant for you? What kind of change has it made in your life?

Answer: Awakening is the most impressive and profound change in my life. There is no longer a need to imagine me being this or that. I have no need to seek explanations and relief from books, or to take treatments. I have no need to forcibly alter the ways of thinking in any way, either. There is no need to grasp at self-importance or in some way define what I am, what I like and what I don't like. It is enough to be. There is no need to seek anything. There is a natural distance to emotions, thoughts and events that formerly created a chaos in my mind. Being calm has increased in my life and the extremes from the height of blissful happiness to gloom and depression has evened out.

Answer: Awakening has brought clarity to my life. Meditation is easier. I feel more relaxed. Inner peace has increased. I understand the things happening around me better. Acceptance and tolerance have increased. I am able to notice the happenings around me in more detail as if my ability to be mindful has come better. It feels as if the state of meditation is switched on all the time.

Answer: Awakening has removed the constant and never ending search for the truth. Awakening has brought more humour, relaxation, patience, courage and also a sense of responsibility and compassion towards others.

Answer: I've stopped complaining. Satisfaction has increased. Everything I have in my life is enough and good. If there is some resistance, unpleasant feelings or even anger, the first thing that comes to mind is not that this nasty thing has to go away. Instead, this emotion may be calmly looked at, and seen from where and how it arises and how it ceases. There are no instant reactions as before, mental phenomena can merely be witnessed. It is a great relief that nothing is so serious or personal anymore. If one has lived 30 years feeling guilty and shameful, the dropping of that load is an immense relief. Awakening has made my life straightforward, natural, even easy. Meeting people has become easier as the inner voice is no longer judging myself or the other person. The other person may have his or her space. A need to control things has decreased. Acceptance and trust to life and people has increased.

Answer: After awakening, the inner peace and stability are apparet in my daily life.

Answer: Awakening has put the whole spiritual path into a proper context. In many ways it has brought lightness and clarity to my being. It is easier to experience and accept everything that arises in my experience as there is no longer a personal connection to it. There are still many sensations that make my being feel difficult and personal but they become accepted more easily. Life is what it is. If there is an embarrassing situation, for example, which previously would have felt shameful, it doesn't feel as strong anymore. Instead circumstances like this just make me smile. Old fears and all the thoughts in connection to them do arise but these are also seen as natural bubbling of the mind and they don't create despair. Seen from the outside, I may appear slightly absent but nevertheless I am not, it's just that there is no hurry anymore. In overall I'd say that my actions are more uninhibited and creative. Being with people is more direct.

Answer: Awakening was a moment among other moments but what makes it special is that it was an entry point to spiritual path. Through it I have been able to live my life more in a state of truthfulness where the conditioned thoughts don't colorize the direct experience. This means everything.

Other comments

Comment: The two-part formula is too good to be true, except it really is true! This is so wonderful. The distinction between the subject-self and the object-self is such an important distinction to make, something I never understood until I came across the book. It's really crucial to awakening. I spent 18 years working with the object-self doing vipassana which would have knock on effects on weakening the subject-self, but left it still alive and kicking, whereas after two weeks looking at the subject-self I finally woke up! I feel so grateful for this - it's been life changing for me. I don't think there are many teachers out there that understand the subject versus object self distinction. In terms of Buddhism in general, this really is ground breaking stuff. It is a blessing that awakening can be generated so soon with the two part formula (2PF). It literally takes most practitioners years to awaken with traditional practices, whether theravada or mahayana buddhism. So much of the struggle of the practitioner working with the self, and the paradox of practice is circumvented by generating awakening so early. That's why I'm so enthusiastic about the 2PF. That tool could be employed to great use in so many other schools of buddhism, since awakening is pretty much a universal goal for all dharma practitioners. A massive boost.

Comment: Awakening is still very rare, all across the world and pretty much in every tradition of buddhism. The two-part formula has literally cracked the code of awakening, something that as far as I know has never been done before.


Scepticism

by Kim Katami and Karl Eikrem

Within the various schools of buddhism that considers awakening by different terms such as stream entry, kensho (jap.) or satori, awakening is relatively well defined. However, when stepping outside buddhism, awakening gets a wide variety of meanings that from the buddhist point of view can be entirely irrelevant. The way how awakening is defined in this book comes from buddhism which clearly is the strongest, most reliable and systematic of all the religions and philosophies of the world on the topic of mind training.

One of the problems that the authors have come across while making the two-part formula public is that quite often it is met with great suspicion and disbelief. Initial suspicion has sometimes been mentioned by people who have later taken the guidance. The main reason why people might initially have such reactions lie in the present spiritual culture of the world that in it's history hasn't had a reliable way of generating awakening. When this stubbornly rooted belief is combined with all kinds of associations that one may have of the meaning of awakening, instead of pragmatical understanding, in some cases it seems to be enough for shutting themselves inside a barrier of denial. This denial is often supported by orthodox religious beliefs. However, if we honestly look at the condition of the human mind that has had the assistance of all the main religions for many hundreds of years, it really becomes evident that we have nothing to loose and everything to gain. As an attempt for understanding this scepticism, the authors have talked to several people who have undertaken the guided awakening process and asked them to share their experiences with us.

Can it really be that simple?

Karl:
When I encountered the method, I experienced some kind of instant recognition of the validity of the method and the authenticity in the eyes of those who had supposedly awakened. Still, the question whether it really could be that simple, lingered with me subtly all through the guidance. A friend of mine, MN (Case 10), told me that she simply could not believe that awakening could be so simple. She was taught, she said, that either awakening happened spontaneously to people enduring immense suffering, or gradually through long term meditation practice.
N wrote me: Everything I had read or heard about awakening previously was that it required years of strenuous yoga, kundalini practice, meditation, breathing practices and so on. And then one day, if you were lucky, POP, you would get self-realization. A simple method of self-inquiry seemed at odds with that.
This confusion can be easily explained. Engaging in practices means that we begin to do or perform some exercises that we believe at some point will do the job of illuminating our sense of self. However, when we are in the mode of seeking this always to brings about a seeker, a subject, me who seeks. The two-part formula deals directly, and exclusively with the sense of being a seeker or me, the subject for the person to see through it and have the epiphany that all seeking is futile because we do not exist the way we think we do. We may assume that our existential confusion can be resolved by dualistic means but that is actually impossible because the sense of self that seeks or engages in practices is merely an illusion. For this reason inquiry into the nature of the self, is the most direct way to go.

O
ften people with long histories in spiritual practice seem to be most sceptical to the point of not even doing research. T when explaining his initial scepticism, pointed to his years of meditation as a possible reason for it, mentioning that his practice had, ”not made promises of speedy awakening”. Soon after awakening, he says, the amazement whether it really can be that simple, lingered in his mind.
Another form of scepticism is self-doubt. Some people worry that perhaps their egos are too strong or too weak for the process, or maybe they aren't spiritual enough. P wrote she did not think the formula would work for her because she felt she had too many problems. After having gone through the process, she admited that in the end it wasn't really that complicated.
The presented statistics while indicating scientifically how well the two-part formula works, does seem to have side-effects. In some cases they seem to have lead to increased scepticism, that of scepticism to the authenticity of the statistics themselves. For people who cannot see the basic logic of the technique, the high success rate seems to tell them that is it too good to be true and therefore is not true.

In the instructions it is said:
Before you read on, I have a request for you: Drop all pre-assumptions you have of awakening and spirituality. Forget that you ever practiced meditation, read spiritual books or received spiritual teachings. This is an essential requirement. Have a totally open mind. If you can do that, then read on.
H wrote: When I first contacted Kim, I really did not even know what it was all about. I did not have any experience of meditation or spiritual development, nor did I know about the dual nature of mind. I mostly felt curious about the process and what was to come, it was diving head first. I did not have a chance to doubt my ability, as I kind of did not really know what I was doing. After awakening I was really happy to have stumbled on these valuable teachings.
N wrote: Looking back on my experiences I would say that I was wrong about what to expect – there was no great mystical experience. No trumpets and lights, no chorus of angels, no heavens opening up. It is all very ordinary, but in a profound way. It is a shift in awareness; the first step toward clarity of wakefulness. The change is a significant one in that you are suddenly free of yourself. You get a chance to deal with experience mindfully and vividly without habituated self-referencing obscuring the directness and crispness of the direct experience. In that ordinariness you discover how extraordinary life really is, this precious chance to be alive and breathing.
F reported: Afterwards the prejudices and thoughts about awakening are seen as fear of the unknown. Also the word ”awakening” itself raised prejudice in my mind. I thought it concerned only some very special, spiritually oriented people, who keep themselves higher than others. This thought has turned upside down. Awakened people are tolerant and they don’t need to bring themselves up. It feels so great that an ordinary person like me, with normal daily routines, with family and work, can be awakened. And every day I’m so happy of the change the awakening has brought.

This is an exceprt from Kim Katami's to be published book, Awake!


Guidance to Awakening: http://www.en.openheart.fi/101
How to become awakened: http://www.en.openheart.fi/113