sunnuntai 13. lokakuuta 2019

Daniel Brown: Developing Positive Qualities of Mind

 
Daniel Brown:
Developing Positive Qualities of Mind

In the essence traditions (tantra, mahamudra and dzogchen) the theory is that this is all about buddhanature and awakening to your true nature. Another thing that came out in essence traditions that is really strong is the appreciation that it's not all about suffering, that the positive qualities of mind are much better to facilitate meditation practice, and much better for mental health than just eradicating suffering. Eradication of suffering doesn't lead to the positive qualities of mind, you have to develop them and it's important. There is a lot of positivity in this Third Turning of the Wheel.” 

lauantai 12. lokakuuta 2019

Longchenpa: Accumulation of Merit

Longchenpa: Accumulation of Merit

This message which really opens up one's primordial condition,
Is beyond all foundations or bases; it is the core reality of pure and total presence.
It should be transmitted by those who have fathomed it,
To those who are very trusting, vigorous and committed;
Who are sympathetically compassionate and do not change their minds;
And who would offer their body, offspring, spouse and wealth
Trustingly and joyfully, yet without desire.
Such students are characterized by their trust and commitment.

Thus, being mentally unattached, all wealth should be offered to the teacher. The teacher, to complete the accumulation of merit, accepts without desire what was offered and offers it to the Three Jewels.

-Longchenpa, You Are the Eyes of the World

Longchen Rabjam




Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo: First Breakthrough

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo:
First Breakthrough


”The initial realization of the nature of the mind is the first breakthrough. It’s a very important point in all Buddhist schools. At that moment, you cease to be an ordinary person. You become in Buddhist parlance an arya, a noble one. It doesn’t mean you are finished. It doesn’t mean you are a high level bodhisattva. We can fall back from this. But still, this is a big breakthrough. We now understand what is true and what is not true. We don’t have to take it all on faith any more. It is a direct nondual experience. The point is that it is very easy. It’s not difficult, and it’s not something that can only be attained after years and years of practice.”*

It would be nice if someone would come along and find a method by which people could awaken. Even the Buddha couldn't do that.”**


I rejoice that Kim is enabling so many practitioners to get awakened in such an approachable manner. May the Dharma flourish for the benefit of all beings!”***



*Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, Reflections on a Mountain Lake, p. 191
**Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo (source)
**Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo (source)

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

torstai 10. lokakuuta 2019

Lama Glenn Mullin: Ordinary People Cannot Practice Dzogchen

Lama Glenn Mullin: Ordinary People Cannot Practice Dzogchen



Mahamudra I think is easier for the West. Just sitting in meditation and noticing the natural flow of the body and how it has natural joyful quality, play of the universe. Form is emptiness, emptiness is form, sitting between those two, can be a way of generating great bliss and so forth. These four mudras (samayamudra, karmamudra, mahamudra, and dharmamudra) often are put in reverse order in terms of who is qualified to practice successfully. In other words, ordinary people don't get much success from, much benefit from mahamudra or dzogchen practice because they're not wangpo rab (have maturity from previous lives). They can't sit between form is emptiness, emptiness is form in a way in a very stable way or conscious way. Once they go into very deep meditation everything just sort of flows into nothingness... like a sleeping marmot. So it's very difficult I think for ordinary people, meaning those who don't come with full trunk of good karmic forces from previous lives to have much success in mahamudra or dzogchen, in my opinion.” 
- Lama Glenn Mullin, Guru Viking Interview, Ep 19, 56:00.

I agree with Lama Glenn that people who might have sincerity, devotion and effort in trying to remain in the natural state, are unable to do that. I've seen it so many times how practitioners and lamas who try to practice dzogchen meditation, are actually unable to remain in the natural flow. Karma plays a part in this but as Open Heart teacher, my view of this is also different to Lama Glenn's. Eleven shifts in perception or bhumi openings, as we call them, enable anyone not only to have a brief recognition of the natural state but to rest in it without time restriction. We accomplish this mainly through Two-Part Formula and Dynamic Concentration, combined with tantra. 30-40% of our sangha has reached this stage. On some retreats where the majority of participants have reached this stage, group practice is like being in Pure Land of buddhas. I have not seen anything like this in any other sangha that I have trained with or visited. I would be curious to see a traditional lama witness our group meditations.



-Kim, 10.10.2019

maanantai 30. syyskuuta 2019

About Lower Belly - Hara

About Lower Belly - Hara

I started to watch a video presentation about buddhist meditation given by a well known American teacher. The presentation was introduced by an American lady who as she described felt very fortunate and quite emotional to have the teacher give the talk. She gave the introduction with a voice that I could describe as weak and windy, rather than clear and settled. Also the composure of her spine wavy and her breathing was up in the shoulders. Watching this I was reminded of the lower belly which is known by the names of hara or tanden in Japanese arts.

Hara is all over Japanese arts from meditation to martial and fine arts. In popular language there are many terms that use the word hara which means belly, such as hara guroi, lit. dirty/black belly, which means dishonesty. That one's posture and inner composure is built on the belly is something very important in Japanese culture.


Living in Japan many years ago I saw how Westerners would share something emotional with Japanese but there was this cultural gap between the two and the latter seemed to feel awkward about emotional sharing. It seemed like they just didn't feel it was right. When one's breath is settled on the belly, one simply doesn't go off the rails emotionally. When one is emotional on the other hand, vital energy (prana/ki) is up in the shoulders and head. We all know about the headache after a big argument.

I didn't spend that long in Japan but it seemed to me that Japanese people couldn't trust or take seriously those who had their vital energy up, even if they were sincere in Western terms. When I think about it, it makes sense too because it is difficult to know and trust people who are over-emotional, whose mind flutters like a leaf in the wind.

There are downsides to lower belly cultivation too. It develops inner power so those who have charisma can end up on ego trips as leaders. I've seen this a lot in zen buddhism and martial arts. For meditators, too much emphasis on the belly can be a cause of spiritual bypassing.

Tibetan or Indian systems of yoga and meditation do not talk about the hara, only Chinese and it's derivatives do. The only lama I've heard talk about it is Tsoknyi Rinpoche who said he learned it from his Chinese qigong teacher. Nevertheless, being physically well composed and being settled is very much part of all systematic paths, and this, even without knowing about the theory of the hara, is what hara means.

In Open Heart and dzogchen-teachings in general, groundedness, which is one of the three characteristics of the natural state, is what refers to "hara".





keskiviikko 25. syyskuuta 2019

Mahayana Buddhism Includes Psychology and Doesn't Lack Anything

Mahayana Buddhism Includes Psychology and Doesn't Lack Anything



Santiago: Approaching the understanding of mind from these two sides that humanity has developed: The ancient teachings of awakening (the Wake up line of development) and the modern western discoveries that the ancient masters didn't have access to (the Grow up line of the development), understanding how they support and compliment each other, can help solve sooo many problems, giving us a better framework for understanding why "awakened people" are such a mess sometimes, and possibly help us move counsciousness towards a more inclusive, compassionate and integrated space.



Kim: So how did ancient master become masters if they didn't have access to the modern Western discoveries of psychology? Nothing personal Santiago but this whole idea is utterly ridiculous. I'm going to offend a lot of people but I'm going to say it anyway. It is a misconception of those who are 1. poor practitioners and 2. practitioners of sutrayana. Combine the two and you end up saying stoopid shit like that.

Chris: So, Kim, do you mean to say that medicine hasn't advanced beyond the ancient Buddhist understanding of the physiology of the brain, it's chemistry and the like? Why does the Dalai Lama favor studying that same "stoopid shit?" Is he stoopid, too?

Kim: What does my comment have to do with criticising the development of medicine? Can't speak for Dalai Lama or his interest towards science but you ever heard him mention his psychotherapist?

Chris: So you aren't opposed to combining the practices of Buddhism and the discoveries and practices of modern psychiatry, neuroscience and medicine, Kim?

Kim: No. Did you get that impression?

Chris: Yes, I got that impression from the above exchange.

Kim: Things can always be improved but the mahayana/vajrayana path doesn't lack anything as it has delivered innumerable sentient beings to the other shore. I got no problem with folks combining psychology and buddhist practice but it seems to me that their 1. understanding of buddhism and 2. practice of it has severe shortcomings. That this is their understanding and that they come to this conclusion that buddhism can be bettered with the findings of Western psychology, is not the fault of buddhism and what it has to offer.

Chris: Then I'm a "stoopid" one because I firmly believe that the combination of Buddhism and psychiatry/psychology/etc. is more powerful than either one by itself.

Kim: Suit yourself. I'm just saying that even though combination of the two, sutrayana and psychology, go farther together than they go alone, it is an unproved hypothesis when it comes to anuttara samyak sambodhi.

I haven't seen a tantric lama speak of combining vajrayana and psychology but if anyone has references, please let me know. I'll then be happy to tell what is wrong with them and their bhumis, just kidding.

To be clear, I was/am looking for tantric lamas who speak in favour for combining tantra and Western psy and consider that the tantric path is doesn't go far enough.

Chris: Kim, I don't think anyone is saying quite this - that the path doesn't go far enough. What I'm asserting is that Buddhism and the science of the mind are congruent. They support and enhance each other.
Have you seen:
https://www.mindandlife.org/mission/
And:
https://www.dalailama.com/…/buddh…/science-at-the-crossroads

Kim: Yes, I understood what you're saying. I have never had much interest in scientific or psychological findings in relation to dharma practice but I am not against it, either. Each to her or his own but I just don't agree with a lot of folks who say that the buddhist system as a whole lacks anything in terms of comprehensive development. I am however highly critical about a lot of things in buddhism, buddhist paths and buddhists, and admit that for a lot of buddhists, therapy along the noble 8-fold path or paramitas, is a very smart choice. A lot of buddhist practice leaves so much untapped and rather enforces samsaric habits than releases them. A lot depends on the teacher too.

Among teachers who have turned out to be mess, there are tantrics as well but as far as I am aware none of these bad apples were practitioners which is what I mentioned in some of my prev posts. There is no way anyone, incl. a tantric lama will be able to do her or his work well, without hassles and scandals, without making sure of one's personal practice. So, I don't know of tantric lamas who were practitioners, who screwed up. All of them were nonpractitioners and therefore not actual examples or embodiments of vajrayana buddhism.

I am yet to finish the vajrayana path but maybe, when I finish the cleaning process in some distant future, I come to agree that the path of vajrayana lacks something. However, so far, I do not see the slightest indication that this would be the case.

Shargrol: It's interesting to me that I've mostly agreed with some of your statements about many of the scandal teachers not being very advanced as practioners and I've also mostly agree with statements like people who still have emotional/psychological baggage haven't gone far enough... but I've held of agreeing because I couldn't quite figure something out...

But this last post made me realize what it is: it really is more about the practioner's attitude than the practice.

If someone is honest with themselves and continues to see their blind spots, the ways they are not finished, and owns that fact and works on it --- well, then there isn't going to be much of a problem and the practice won't matter much either. If someone is doing mindfulness meditation, tantra, therapy, or centering prayer... if they stay humble and honest, they will keep seeing their imperfections. And if they stay motivated and aware of their imperfections, they will improve.

In fact, I would put my money on a dedicated non-meditator (in therapy or doing religious centering prayer, for example) over a half-motivated vajrayana practioner -- you know what I mean?

I have no idea to inspire people to have high-ideals for themeselves and their practice. It's really the only way to live, but there is no external reward. No one will give you a reward for your practice. And what having high-ideals really means, if you are doing it right, is that almost every moment and every day and every week and every year will feel like a failure. You mostly see and feel the imperfections. But every moment, day, week, year, you continue to refine yourself because you can see and feel your imperfections. That's what it means to really pursue excellence.

Unfortunately, it's clear that these scandal teachers would much rather rest on their past successes and create a mental framework where they are at a kind of pinnacle that can't be surpassed (or they might humble brag and say they are near the top) and then project any remaining shadow sides on the people around them - distancing themselves from awareness of their imperfections... until the whole thing comes crashing down.

Anyway, ultimately I don't think people can rely on any particular framework for waking up and growing up. But the path is obvious and right under our nose.

Kim: I think that attitude is very much part of the practice. It is spoken very widely about by masters of the past. Obviously, "practice" is not only sitting practice.

You hit the nail on the head with, "what having high-ideals really means, if you are doing it right, is that almost every moment and every day and every week and every year will feel like a failure. You mostly see and feel the imperfections. But every moment, day, week, year, you continue to refine yourself because you can see and feel your imperfections.".

I can identify with that. It is not "fun", if you do it right.

Remaining vulnerable and open to have one's faults pointed out is an absolute necessity. It is easy to plateau and become self-confident in a dualistic fashion without it. I'm sorry if I get on people's nerves but still, I agree with Culadasa when soon before his case broke out said that the path (sutrayana) he has followed "doesn't go far enough" and that, "As you progress on the paths of awakening, the changes of you recognising them (parts of our pscyhe) as something that needs to be purified, diminishes." It is a striking statement coming from him. From what I have seen, sincerity or bad attitude never seemed Culadasa's weak point. Actually, to me he seemed to have an admirable character which obviously had a lot to do with what he accomplished/s in his life.

A tantric would never say what Culadasa did for the simple fact that if you practice deities, archetypes of enlightened mind, there is no way for becoming blind to one's own blindspots. It is impossible because the deity doesn't allow it. One simply keeps feeling bad as long as there is something wrong with one's view or attitude.

http://openheartopenheart.blogspot.com/…/culadasa-john…

Santiago: No offense on my part Kim, I'm grateful that we live in times where anyone has a right to express their opinion (although that's also a pain in the ass sometimes :grin. I just wonder, what is your expertice on modern Western psychological discoveries? Is it big enough to make the claim that the ancient Masters understood what this science has discovered? Did they also know about quantum physics, or even general newtonian physics? I'd just say that whenever someone thinks they have the Dharma all figured out (or figured out enough to deny new approaches that they themselves don't understand well), then THAT'S an utterly ridiculous, ignorant, shitty idea.

Kim: Hi Santiago.

I am not an expert of Western psychology or sciences but if I may, perhaps a bit of an expert of meditative yoga. Yogis, such as Shakyamuni Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and numerous others sought to find a solution to remove dualistic suffering through the doctrine of emptiness and practice of various yogas. They succeeded and that's how the whole thing got started, which is why there are people who attain the same what the ancient masters did, to this date. I do not know quantum physics but I doubt anyone has ever diminished or removed their self-based confusion (dukkha) through it. Reg. healing through psychology, I am sure it happens but whether this outcome is valid as buddhist practice, is a good question. Actually, it probably is an entirely irrelevant question to a lot of people who just wish to remove their knots in one way or the other.

Dharma doesn't seek to explain all possible things, just those of our mind. It adresses a very specific problem, that of self-delusion, and I know that through these means full enlightenment can be attained. Tantric guru yoga, in which one tunes in with some enlightened master such as those mentioned above or some other, reveals this. When one spends sufficient time in guru yoga it explains a lot of the tantric path in comparison to other paths, of one's own buddhanature and about the concerned mahasiddha guru. I can agree with what the tantric tradition says that this is an extremely valuable and unique experience that cannot be acquired by any other means. From that experience I can testify that perfect enlightenment is possible and that real masters do not have shadows or unresolved psychological issues, and that they do not behave in ways like samsaric beings do. If you wish to see one in person, Amma the hugging saint is one, though not a buddhist. I'd say Rana Rinpoche is another one, though I haven't yet met him in person. Their energetic radiation is completely different from others, incl. very experienced meditators.

Sutric buddhism doesn't have tantric guru yoga, so consequentially practitioners of those paths generally do not gain this experience. It is actually possible to get the same "transmission", if you will, from chanting of the Refuge of the Three Jewels or Bodhisattva Vows, but then it is very common for sutrics to not realise that there is an element of transmission or energetic charge related to these prayers. I have actually never seen this being pointed out by any teacher of sutra but nevertheless, the same potential is there. This is a common problem in established tantric buddhism as well, although the probability is higher since the energetic charges from lineage masters, deities and prayers are more.

lauantai 21. syyskuuta 2019

Pitfall of Being Alone by Ken McLeod

Pitfall of Being Alone by Ken McLeod

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

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

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

sunnuntai 15. syyskuuta 2019

Ethics in Relation to the Depth of Awakening

Ethics in Relation
to the Depth of Awakening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

keskiviikko 11. syyskuuta 2019

Sex and Sexual Art

Sex and Sexual Art

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

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

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

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



keskiviikko 4. syyskuuta 2019

Infinite Love and Perfection of Wisdom

Infinite Love and Perfection of Wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

The three characteristics are excellent guideposts.

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

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

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

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

-Kim Katami, 4.9.2019
Open Heart Sangha,


maanantai 2. syyskuuta 2019

Dharma Porn

Dharma Porn

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

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

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

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

- Kim Katami
Open Heart Sangha,
 

perjantai 23. elokuuta 2019

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

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

See this video from July 2019: https://youtu.be/X7brJ8qrLBo?t=3404


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

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

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



Culadasa John Yates

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

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

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

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




May All Beings Be Free,



-Kim Katami, 23.8.2019
Open Heart Sangha,
www.en.openheart.fi









maanantai 19. elokuuta 2019

Have All Beings Been Our Mothers?

Have All Beings Been Our Mothers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Kim Katami, 19.8.2019
Open Heart Sangha,


sunnuntai 18. elokuuta 2019

Emptiness of Self and Phenomena in the Forms of Space and Time

Emptiness of Self and Phenomena in the Forms of Space and Time

I was listening to an interview of Leigh Brasington, an American practitioner and teacher of buddhist meditation who has background in theravada buddhism as well as dzogchen.

In the interview (https://youtu.be/o9xP28pzQAA?t=4808) he briefly discusses concepts of space and time as forms of self-delusion. I have discussed about this on many occasions but just as a reminder, felt like writing a short note.

Emptiness of Space:
From 3-D to Zero-D

Self or me, in all of its forms and expressions, is located both in time and space. Our sense of me-ness is located in three-dimensional, 3-D, space. It is easy to see how our physical body is a three-dimensional object existing in three-dimensional physical space. In the same manner, as all of our self-based confusion is in our mind, mind objects of various kinds also come and go in the same way, appearing and disappearing in three-dimensional mind space. These two bodies, physical and energetic or mind, are the two most obvious bodies we have but then there is a third body which for sentient beings is mostly hidden and unknown. This unfamiliarity (marigpa) is the root cause of our confusion and suffering. That is the body of knowing awareness or rigpa. My understanding of the three kayas is that these three in the order given above are: nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya and dharmakaya.

Bhumis

In Open Heart-style of vajrayana buddhist practice we use Open Heart Bhumi Model as our path map. In my experience, the question about the space-aspect of awareness is solved with the opening of the 11th bhumi. At this point, after 11 major shifts, rigpa becomes one's default mode of being and the confusion between three-dimensional mind and zero-dimensional rigpa-awareness is clarified. There is no way one could be confused about 3-D and 0-D after this, unless momentarily during dark night. This stage also makes one understand about the difference between mindfulness or concentration-based and awareness-based training paradigms. I have talked about this here, for example.

Dynamic Concentration

Traditional concentration practices operate under the laws and functions of the energetic body and all types of concentration practices from zen-style samadhi to theravadan jhanas happen within the samsaric mind, not beyond it. Dynamic Concentration, on the other hand, with its explosive power, cuts through all and any layers of the samsaric mind and consequentially, leaves no other option than for rigpa-awareness to show up. There is no other option that the self-recognition of it which is done by no one.

The reason why Open Heart-practitioners have so many shifts in perception so quickly is mostly because of Dynamic Concentration. Dynamic Concentration does not work on the terms set up by samsaric mind and because of this the most foundational of our bodies can be recognised so effectively through this exercise. My second book, What's Next? On Post-Awakening Practice, describes this and the process in detail through practitioners' written accounts and photographs. It even works for people who use it apart from tantric practice, as you can read here.

So, the confusion of space goes with the opening of mahasiddha bhumis. After this the self-invested concept of existence in space ceases to be a cause of confusion.

Emptiness of Time:
From 3-D to Zero-D

In my experience, emptiness of time, came with the perfection of the 7th bhumi. Prior to this event, perfection of the 7th bhumi, I hadn't given much thought to time or the idea of passing of time, although through glimpsing of the natural state I had seen countless times how different the experience of it was in comparison to the usual mind or self that exists in time and space. But conceptually I hadn't contemplated it.

So, in my practice, Open Heart Yoga mainly, I had this shift, similar to bhumi openings and other bhumi perfections, and for a moment I had to conceptualize what was it that I had un-conceptualized. Then I realized that the perception or idea of time was no longer the same it was before. The flavour of this insight was not any different than any of the previous insights into the emptiness of self and phenomena. It was just a part of my deeply ingrained self, in the form of existing in time, that was no longer there and again the living experience was fuller than it was before.

Thank you,
-Kim Katami
Open Heart Sangha,





maanantai 12. elokuuta 2019

Transmission - Heart Of All Buddhism

Transmission - Heart Of All Buddhism

 

In this text, I will discuss the topic of transmission in buddhism, particularly from the point of view of dzogchen but also sutra and tantra. I was inspired to write this after I read Tahlia Newland's blog entitled, Can you get a Dzogchen Transmission from an Unrealised Teacher?.

Since 2017, Mrs. Newland has discussed abuse and problems in Tibetan buddhism, especially those related to Sogyal Lakar (Sogyal Rinpoche) and his Rigpa-organisation. Her above linked text discusses dzogchen practice in very much the same way I have in many blogs and talks, so I felt like offering my take on these essential questions that do not concern only dzogchen but are to all forms of buddhism, and other approaches. For full presentation by Mrs. Newland, I recommend reading her original text. Questions presented here are from her text. 

 

Comment: I would like to begin my comments by expressing my deep sympathies to abuse victims of Sogyal Lakar and his former followers. I wish that all involved may heal from their traumas quickly, for liberation of all sentient beings.

 

My own experiences cannot be compared to those accounted in the letter by Sogyal's senior students but I have also experienced psychological abuse as a student of a certain person, who had authentic lineage of tantra. I have not talked about this publicly, nor mentioned the name of this abusive guru. Despite of my relatively short association with this person, in 2007-2009, as a practitioner with no first hand experience of insight and high respect towards gurus and their traditions, I was psychologically abused badly enough for me to experience high anxiety, stress and fear for several months. I could speak about this extensively but here it is sufficient to say that it was highly unpleasant. Later, I understood that I found my way out because of my commitment to ethics of dharma, namely honesty and non-harming, as well as because of Bodhisattva Vows. 

 

Positive side of my experience as abuse victim was that it completely shattered by blind faith towards traditions and their authorisations. Until then I believed in all kinds of nonsense from this yogi and other sources such as books. I believed in what I now see as unproved miracles and fairytales. I thought very highly of dharma heirs, titles and traditions; all the external prestige, but due to these events, it all came down. I no longer blindly believed anything about dharma and I started to think for myself. I could say that these negative events, set my feet on the path of pragmatic dharma and has had a huge impact on my work as the founder and head teacher of Open Heart Sangha. 

 

I wasn't happy when the outbreak happened but I am happy about it now because it brought me to a place as a practitioner and as a teacher, where I wouldn't be without it.

Question: Can you get a Dzogchen Transmission from an Unrealised Teacher?


Comment: To answer this question, we first need to understand some basics about meditative experience and especially those of spiritual transmissions. I will first discuss blessings and transmissions from the perspective of sutra, tantra and dzogchen which, according to buddhist teaching, all are valid ways to attain buddhahood.


Sutric Practice


Blessings and transmissions are all over spiritual, yogic or dharmic practices. All spiritual paths have the element of transmission in one form or the other. All buddhists paths do too, even if they don't discuss them. What do I mean with blessings or energetic charge in the context of sutric buddhism? With blessings and transmissions I refer to a very basic element in buddhist practice that I have witnessed in all buddhist events that I have ever gone to.

In sutrayana, regardless of vehicle, blessings come through daily prayers. Daily prayers; such as mantras, dharanis or sutras, have a hidden aspect to them, which is the energy or blessing that the prayers carry. Refuge prayers, where Three Jewels are mentioned, as well as Bodhicitta prayers and Dedication of Merit all carry tremendous charges. The energetic side of prayers makes the air become thick with blessings wherever they are practiced. It is also very much the case with chanting the names of lineage masters.

All buddhist prayers carry blessings and since all buddhism is based on the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, everytime prayers are exercised, it offers practitioners an opportunity to receive them, to be used for practice.
This is a gift offered by the buddhist tradition, founded by Shakyamuni Buddha and followed by numerous dharma ancestors. While I have witnessed this energetic aspect of practice in the practice of all yanas of buddhism, with only one brief exception, I have never seen it be pointed out by teachers. For several years now, whenever I have joined teachings, I have witnessed the charge without people noticing and connecting to it.

If the experiential energy of blessings is pointed out, then it can be effectively used for practice. However, in most connections the charge is never discussed about, verbally described or pointed out. Consequentially, this prevents students from getting and using it.
It is important to understand that blessings through basic buddhist prayers are available to everyone anywhere. They are not kept away from practitioners, except by one's ignorance of it. This aspect of buddhist practice is hidden but completely out in the open for anyone to receive. Unfortunately very few teachers discuss blessings or transmissions properly and because of this, blessings that could be received and experienced in one's own body, mind and heart, go unnoticed and are unused.

If practitioners of sutrayana began to recognise and absorb the blessings of their prayers, it would make their practice more effective and enjoyable. We would see more psychological change and openness of mind in practitioners who adopted this way of practice.


Tantric Practice


Tantric practice is typically marked by energywork in the form of mantras, breathing exercises and visualisations. Tantric practice also typically discusses energy centers and energy channels of the energy body which is nonphysical. Myself, often when explaining tantra to beginners simply describe it as ”energywork”.

Tantric lamas give empowerments of different deities, practices or texts. At the event of empowerment, the lama says prayers, such as those mentioned above and generates a charge through whatever mantras, visualizations and mudras that are connected with the particular practice. Even if tantra is all about energywork and energetic experiences, which are based on the same principles of shamatha and vipashyana meditations known in sutrayana, I have never heard but one lama briefly point out blessings and the energetic aspect of empowerments or tantric practices.

Do the students then receive the empowerment of the deity? Although they don't consciously recognise the charge, their subconscious mind receives it. This means that recognition of the deity, which is an archetype of the natural state, does not happen at the moment of empowerment. Through practice on one's own, one gradually gains the recognition.

What I have observed as a vajrayana teacher, is that if blessings and transmissions are discussed and pointed out for the students from the beginning, it makes the progress of the student much quicker than without it. Riding the energy of buddhas and bodhisattvas, also makes one's practice very enjoyable and fulfilling because consciously recognising, receiving and experiencing the energy of Guru or Deity is a very pleasant and enlightening experience.

As silly as it sounds, all that is needed to fix the problem of the energy not being recognised is just to begin to become aware of it and stay with it in meditation. Just feel it.


Dzogchen Practice


The main practice of a dzogchen practitioner, is to return to the recognition of the natural state, remain in it and let whatever emotional or psychological issues arise and self-integrate into the natural state. This is the dzogchen way of practicing shamatha and vipashyana, or in Tibetan, shi-ne and lhak-tong.

As Garab Dorje has defined in his Three Statements, dzogchen path begins with the teacher pointing out the natural state for the student. This simply means that the teacher remains in the recognition of the natural state and shares it with her or his student, so that she or he can recognise her or his own natural state, know oneself as an enlightened buddha. This is what empowerment means in dzogchen. Here, the student is required to understand that she or he needs to receive the pointing out, just like blessings could be received by practitioners of sutra and tantra. If the student doesn't know this, it is very likely that she will keep missing it many times, even if the pointing out is given by a great teacher. This can be understood through the below quoted example, narrated by Lama Pema Chophel:

A few months ago, one of my teachers told a story about a well-known khenpo. This is relatively contemporary, like in the last 20-30 years. Sorry, I forget the khenpo's name. This Khenpo had received pointing out instructions many times from many great Dzogchen Gurus. He had also received the oral transmission and commentary for numerous Dzogchen texts which he had studied assiduously. However, after many years he still hadn't "decided on one thing." It could be this or it could be that. Maybe it's like this; maybe it's like that. Finally he was at his wits end and he went to yet another Guru where he broke down and cried, sobbing uncontrollably. Explaining to the Guru his situation, the Guru suggested that they say some Vajrasattva mantras together. Then they sat in meditation and suddenly certainty dawned in the mind of the Khenpo.”
 
As it was mentioned above, buddhism teaches that there are three paths to full enlightenment. These are sutra, tantra and dzogchen, also known as the path of atiyoga. Now, as I have explained, each of these vehicles have the component of blessing or transmission in them.

In their quality, blessings of sutric prayers are not different from those of tantra because the Three Jewels and Bodhicitta are the body, mind and energy of the buddhas. In the same way, tantric practices of deities and mandalas are not different from pointing out given in dzogchen. Each of these paths deal with the very same principle of buddhanature of all sentient beings, including mine and yours. From this point of view, even if it is missed by most, all of buddhism is abound with pointing out of the natural state.

Finally, it needs to be said that even if practitioner has the know-how to recognise and feel blessings, transmissions and empowerments, they are not necessarily able to recognise the full scope of it. We need to understand that even if buddhanature can be momentarily glimpsed and we can have insights or shifts that stay with us, the experience of buddhanature is something that has tremendous scope, flavour and depth. Even with one shift of perception (bhumi opening), we can see buddanature and even though it is same for all, the experience of it is very different to someone who has had many major shifts and established rigpa as one's default state. This description is very fitting. Through a keyhole we can see the view on the other side of the door in some extent but if we remove the whole door, the view becomes much better seen. And further, if we remove the whole house around us, again we see the view in a very different than through a keyhole or without the door.

In this way, in the best of knowledge, I have clarified the meaning of blessing and transmission in buddhist vehicles, including dzogchen.


Perspective of Open Heart


In terms of Open Heart-teachings, one will not come to certainty of one's natural state until one has had 11 bhumi openings or major shifts. This is what Garab Dorje means with his second statement. At this stage, natural state becomes one's default mode and whatever is left of karmas and samskaras, are then integrated back into one's true body. Over third of our present sangha has reached this stage. When one has opened all bhumis and perfected several of them, certainty about one's existence as empty awareness embodied and expressed through one's bodymind, is how one lives. This is Garab Dorje's third stage. After certainty is gained, one keeps practicing until every bit of one's mind is merged with the natural state. This is how one becomes completely free.

The original question was: Can you get a Dzogchen Transmission from an Unrealised Teacher?

Basically, no. Pointing out of the nature of mind can only be given by someone who is familiar with that state. Therefore, someone who is unrealised or unfamiliar with the natural state does not abide in that state and hence, can neither pass it to others. Considering Garab Dorje's three vital points, someone who has not only recognised knowing awareness or rigpa, but also has unshakable confidence in it, who has no uncertainty about her or his buddhanature, can transmit the mind of great perfection to others, although then again it is questionable if the receiver gets it.

It needs to be understood that dzogchen transmission is not just any energetic transmission. Those who do not understand this and who have no yogic finesse, can easily confuse gross or even samsaric energies and think that they have received and recognised the state of great perfection, when they in fact haven't. It is necessary to understand that buddhist transmissions and enlightened energies have immense depth and delicacy that cannot be perceived if one's mind is gross and clouded, even if all sentient beings have buddhanature. Dzogchen transmission is all about subtlety.

Although generally in Tibetan vajrayana energies of deities are clean and pure, and therefore lead to buddhahood, sometimes even leaders make mistakes and deities that have been made part of the method, later need to be banned. I am mentioning this just to point out that to gain certainty of practices and transmissions, one needs to undergo indepth training.


Is There A Way To Measure Someone's Realisation?
- Open Heart Bhumi Model

In the question there appears the term unrealised. In general, the level of realisation of dharma teachers is a highly interesting topic for me.

I have discussed the levels of realisation of buddhist leaders publically and in retrospect I have regretted that because not all were as ready to ask this quite central question, like Mrs. Newland and her dharma friends as ex-members and students of Sogyal Lakar are. Few years ago, when I published my studies of the levels of realisation of various buddhist leaders, I was harshly critisized, simply because few were willing to consider the possibility that well known buddhist leaders might not be as highly realised as it is generally believed.

Nevertheless, in Open Heart Sangha, we still use the so called Open Heart Bhumi Model as our path map and as well as a meter of progress in our practice. I have written a book about it which is available for free so I won't discuss it in detail here.

Central to Open Heart Bhumi Model is the so called bhumi analysis. This is the act of measuring one's own or someone else's stage of attainment or bhumi. Bhumi analyses can be done in person or through photographs. For someone who is proficient in the art of bhumi analysis it makes no difference whether the person is present in person or if the analysis is conducted through a photo. Tuning into one's own or someone elses bhumi centers, that pop open along the degrees of emptiness insight, are sensed through subtle perception. After several hundred training analyses one begins to see and sense whether bhumis are open or closed, i.e. whether or not the recipient has had any, little or a lot of emptiness insight. After few thousands analyses one knows how OHBM works and can trust one's reading skills.

Question: The big issue, however, is the dzogchen teachings because doesn’t a dzogchen teacher have to have some realisation before he can introduce a student to the nature of their mind?

Comment: Above I have discussed the subtlety of dzogchen transmission in relation to the comprehensiveness of emptiness realisation or the lack of it. I would say that the minimum requirement for giving a dzogchen transmission would be to have 11 bhumis (1-11) open. At the opening of 11th bhumi, rigpa becomes stable, and although it's rainbow like palette of colours is not yet perceived, the knowing quality of awareness is stable. Prior to this it comes and goes. Based on countless bhumi analyses, I can say that the majority of those who teach dzogchen and have authorisation in their lineage, do not meet this requirement.

Question: Could Sogyal, through his devotion for his masters, have had the blessing even without the realisation?

Comment: My answer is affirmative. Many lamas do not teach from their own realisation but from the blessings of their lineages that are always invoked in the beginning of teachings. In my understanding, this was also the case with Chogyam Trungpa who sometimes gave splendid teachings and transmission with great clarity (support from his lineage) but was an addict and abusive monster (his own lack of realisation) at others.

Question: Isn’t devotion a prime key to transmission in dzogchen?

Comment: No, it isn't. This is kind of black and white but devotion and rapturous tears belong to the world of a practitioner, not to that of a vajra master. Mrs. Newland writes that, ”Before he gave dzogchen teachings, Sogyal stared at the images of his masters, his eyes moist with devotion, hands in prayer position. He aroused his devotion and taught from that state.”. This means that Sogyal made himself a channel for the blessings of his teachers and lineage to flow through him. Whether he knew or not, he was channeling his lineage, just like Trungpa did. However, I do not believe that dzogchen transmission can be channeled from past masters without the lama her- or himself being in that state because a nonpractitioner or someone who has low level of attainment, is unable to recognise the subtlety of it. Lesser states of attainment can be channeled and transmitted. This is done by many teachers of buddhism and hinduism.

Question: Was it really the nature of mind? How do we check whether or not we got the ‘real thing’?

Comment: As I have discussed the criteria of dzogchen transmissions, i.e. pointing out the nature of mind and receiving of it, I doubt students could get it without a solid foundation of emptiness insight. An example of this is narrated in the story about the khenpo above.

I do not know which practices Sogyal taught but I would assume that as a nyingma-teacher he taught semdzins, such as A and Phet. If his students learned these practices and exercised them, then the probability of correct recognition, as well as bhumi openings, are more likely.

Question: Yes, the religion says we’re supposed to get a ‘lung’ or oral transmission in order to unlock the power of such texts, but is that really so important?

Comment: Yes, empowerments for texts and deities are important because through the empowerment, the practice in whatever form it may be, reveals the mind of a buddha in the place of one's samsaric mind. However, again, if the charge, is never properly recognised and felt, there is not much use in getting the lung or reading the text. In this case it is all very superficial and therefore, ineffective.

Question: Or is it just another way to keep the gurus employed? Isn’t reading it slowly aloud in your own language better than hearing it raced through at a frantic speed in a language you don’t understand?

Comment: I am of the opinion that the Tibetan vajrayana puts too much emphasis on the role of the lama and that the lama is given so much power that the students do not seem to have much independence. While I think that spiritual mentors and especially mahasiddha gurus are indispensable on the path, vajrayana cannot be effectively taught to masses through big organisations. See Mr. Brad Warner's take on this. I do think that the Tibetan system, like all established religions, are good at keeping their lamas employed even when they are not needed or if they are useless.

Regarding the way of practice, I did a fair share of fast recitation in my days of Zen, chanting in a language that I couldn't understand and without knowing that I was actually chanting. In Zen, there are no reading empowerments, so recitation of texts is seen just as a mean to develop concentration.

While I think that fast recitation can be good to balance slow recitation, I do not see much point in chanting in language one doesn't understand. However, if the foreign text has been learned through empowerment, then the charge gives it a different spin. If the inner energetic meaning is recognised, then it is correct practice. This of course doesn't mean texts in languages other than Tibetan or Japanese couldn't be empowered.


About Dirty Faces


Open Heart Bhumi Model enables us to see how high or low someone's attainment is. With the knowledge and skill of it, we can learn to see beyond words, descriptions, resumes, ceremonies and titles, which are usually the first things that catch the attention of the seeker. I think OHBM is an immense gift for the whole culture of dharma, buddhist or otherwise.

One thing that one learns through doing bhumi analyses is to discriminate between samsaric or dirty and nirvanic or pure energies. For this reason, learning to do bhumi analyses is also a way to see if someone, despite of her or his formal credentials, is a pure hearted practitioner, a charlatan or possibly even an abusive guru. I have thought of publishing my analysis of known abusers, such as Sogyal, Norlha, Namkha, Sasaki, Shimano and others because their faces are marked by dirtiness, arrogance, suppression, selfishness and egoistic power, rather than clarity, equanimity, light, compassion and kindness.

Bhumi analysis not only helps us to see into the mind of past masters but also into the minds of our contemporaries. Needless to say, through establishing Open Heart Bhumi Model and training many dharma teachers and meditators in its use, would be highly useful and beneficial for themselves to better understand their own practice, for example, in the question of dzogchen transmission, but also to seekers who by default should be eligible to truly authentic guidance, given by actually realised teachers, rather than people who have no experience of reality.

Thank you for reading,
May All Beings Be Free,

- Kim Katami, 12th of August 2019,
Open Heart Sangha,