torstai 20. kesäkuuta 2019

Singing and Dancing Our Way to Buddhahood

Singing and Dancing
Our Way to Buddhahood

Versatility of Vajrayana Buddhist Training

When we think of ”meditative training” or ”buddhist training”, we often associate it with something hard and strict, something that requires great efforts and commitment from us, together with a lifestyle that might not be attractive or at all suitable for us. Well, yeah, that's how most buddhist training is, because most buddhist schools look at the path as something very hard and demanding. However, not all schools and methods are the same.

I do not mean to give the impression that there is a easy path to enlightenment because there isn't, but vajrayana in general, and Open Heart in particular, are paths that have many types of practices and in general, is light and relaxed, not heavy and strained.

For example, one of the exercises we practice in Open Heart is putting your favourite music on and dancing to it. What? Really!? Yes. Anything, including dancing to music can be excellent practice of atiyoga (tib. dzogchen) and offer as much ground for wisdom and insight, as for example, sitting practice. Read more from Open Heart Preliminary Practices booklet and get your dancing shoes!

Open Heart Preliminary Practices-booklet can be read and downloaded here:

-Kim, 20.6.2019

Becoming a Master of Pranayama or Tsa Lung

Becoming a Master of Pranayama
or Tsa Lung

Our mind is like an engine that runs on the fuel of prana (tib. lung), through the numerous pipes and bits of machinery, or channels (skt. nadi, tib. tsa) and centers (skt. chakra). Obstructions (skt. klesha) and karmic files are stored on the inner walls of channels and centers, like dirt and grease sticks to the kitchen drain. This dirt is the impulsive self-based reactions we experience in our everyday mind. Me this, me that, on and on, round and round.

Buddhist meditation adresses the existential confusion (skt. dukkha) created by this with emptiness meditation which means removing the sense of self from all and any dirt that arises. The dirt from the inner walls of the pipes is removed and in this way the fuel or prana that courses through the system becomes a manifestation of wisdom and natural liberation.

It is a somewhat common belief in the world of yoga, that this could be achieved through breathing practices, that is, pranayama or tsalung. That is not the case. In fact, anyone who has tried solving existential confusion mainly with breathing practices of any sort, knows that it simple cannot achieve that. Actually, increasing the amount of prana in the system can make one's confusion even worse, even physically and mentally ill. Imagine a greater quantity of prana coursing through the system without the reduction of selfing... That's a recipe for disaster. For this reason, in all old yogic systems I am aware of, breathing practices were never practiced separately from prayers, mantras, guru yoga and deity yoga, that cultivate energy subtler than prana, that is, energy of awareness. Energy of awareness keeps prana in check, so one who follows this principle never ends up having health problems because of pranic overload, although problems can arise from one's karma.

As a principle, mastery of prana is mastery of the mind. In other words, mastery of prana is the mastery of samsara. Only fully liberated ones have complete mastery of prana. Others don't.

Mastery of the yogic practice of pranayama or tsalung, on the other hand, I would say, is when the mind and the prana coursing through it makes no surprises anymore. By surprises I mean not having entirely new experiences, positive or negative, anymore.

In the context of Open Heart practice and Open Heart Bhumi Model, this comes about around opening of all bhumis and perfecting few of them.

Thank you,
  • Kim, 20.6.2019
Open Heart,

tiistai 11. kesäkuuta 2019

Contemplation On Pricks, Assholes and Basics of Dharma

Contemplation On Pricks, Assholes and Basics of Dharma

I wonder if Sogyal Rinpoche, when forcing his young female follower to give him a blow job, felt that he was really nailing it and magnificiently fulfilling his task as a guru, or if he felt that he was making a really bad mistake, both as a guru and as a human being. Or when he punched the nun in the gut, or when he had childish fits over, for example, of not getting the type of ice cream he wanted. I wonder if he ever took a moment to contemplate if the punches and hittings with whatever the stick it was he liked hitting people with, were OK or not. I wonder if he has realised since what a cunt he has been, that is, on top of copycating the lamas who visited and taught in his place. I wonder if he feels he accomplished his work honourably or if he is able to authentically admit that he failed in a horrible way, damaging the lives of not only those he so badly abused but also those followers in his organisation who trusted him, who trusted the lamas of his lineage, who trusted vajrayana as a path and who trusted buddhist dharma. Does he realise he crushed the hearts of all these people by demanding his dick get sucked by his female assistants? And I wonder if he realises that for him there is no other option than to end up in awful hellish realms to assume a position such as a sex slave, getting forcibly taken over and over and over again. I wonder if he ever contemplated the meaning of karma, that the numerous generations of yogis had taught. Apparently not but then him being a lineage holder and all, what made him so convinced that he got anything perfectly right. This is something I've always thought in the many cases of all the bad apples out there.

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Similarly Trungpa Rinpoche, when hitting a line of coke, already on the verge of passing out due to being so drunk, after telling his security guards to bring the young couple back from their room, ordering them to strip naked, I wonder if it crossed his mind that he had become a deluded addict, a power corrupted asshole, and simply a total fuck up or if he felt he was really helping people to realise the empty nature of mind to put an end to samsara? Or when he tortured the cat to death with a blow torch? Did it ever cross his mind that perhaps he shouldn't hurt the cat or command people to strip naked in front of him or anyone else? Or that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to drink so much votka while lecturing of dharma, as he often passed out during and right after the talk, while basically talking nonsensical bullshit for one lecture after the other? Perhaps it was his charisma and wildness that made people so enthusiastic around him that reflected back to him. Perhaps him seeing the reaction of people, made him think he was brilliantly achieving the position of a holder of wisdom. Trungpa himself said that all of buddhism rests on hinayana but it looks like he didn't spend a moment contemplating how the basics of buddhism translate to actions because a large part of his actions were spoilt.

I am sorry of the many harsh words in this post but I saw no point in being artificial and decorating all the bad things these men and others like them, did.

Love and clarity is the true nature of all living beings, though covered with thick dirt as black and sticky as tar. Somehow, in countless ways and lifes, we find and loose, and again find and loose the way to reality. Along the way, we come up with ideas and interpretations that either take us closer to the reality or farther away from it, like these two pricks did.

For this reason, those on the path, should never ever loose the sight of ethics, should always exercise common sense and should ever hold on to the feet of a mahasiddha guru. Otherwise, there is no end to reincarnation.

May All Beings Be Free,

Kim Katami,
Open Heart Sangha,  

sunnuntai 2. kesäkuuta 2019

About Psychotherapy, Buddhist Meditation and Tantras

About Psychotherapy,
Buddhist Meditation and Tantras

I've pondered about the marriage of psychotherapy and buddhist meditation lately. It is common for zen and theravada buddhists to think that it is necessary or at least highly beneficial to combine the two. I do not deny the benefits of psychotherapy and certainly encourage those so inclined to get down and dirty with it. However, my message to all those sutrayana practitioners who hold such views, is to look into tantric practices. Based on bhumi analysis, there's a lot sutrayana is not tapping or the common pedagogy is not tapping. So, my statement is that although it is said that there are three ways to liberation: sutra, tantra and dzogchen; there doesn't seem to exist a sutra group that'd really make progress in their practice, which leads them to falsely think that there'd be something lacking in emptiness meditation, which I don't think is the case at all.
My personal experience is that traumas and shadow work is part of the practice. This becomes evident after most of the mind is seen empty because we still keep having thoughts and emotions, that no longer offer material for emptiness meditation. At this point, one has much stability and it is rather easy to see how the hurtful or traumatic patterns still continue. Healing comes with togetherness and acceptance of these patterns, just like insight comes from emptiness meditation (lhaktong). I see no difference between the two, although many do. For this reason, I think it is not the buddhist paradigm but the particular schools that are lacking. I could present a more detailed criticism of zen and theravada that are nowadays often married with Western psychology but will save it for other time.

In the same vein, I've thought of all those bad boys and girls of vajrayana who willingly or being blinded by their confusion hurt and abused others. I used to put the blame on lack of ethics, lack of practice and lack of realisation. Bhumi analysis has well revealed the unfinishedness of their practice and I think that erratic behaviour of vajrayanis is much affected by these factors. But then, I began to think if there is something else to it, as well, perhaps something lacking in vajrayana buddhist training. 
What separates tantric buddhism from tantric hinduism?

There is an obvious difference of views between hinduism and buddhism. In practice, in my limited understanding and experience, it seems that long time ago, probably to make more progress in practice, buddhism started to emphasize dharmakaya, transparent-nonsubstantial-selfless-nonlocal and non-dimensional buddhanature, very strongly and de-emphasized the energetical, colourful, lively and expressive part of it (sambhogakaya). If you look at buddhist teachings, they are mostly about vipashyana, emptiness, returning self-charges into the colourless basic space (dharmakaya), with the help of compassionate motivation (bodhicitta). 
It is my observation of myself and other buddhists that the over emphasis of dharmakaya makes people emotionally flat, even spiritual bypassers. Spiritual bypassing means that one's mental and emotional habits are bypassed, and not adressed and used for practice, due to too much emphasis on onepointed concentration and calmness (shamatha). Back in my zen days, I was mostly instructed shamatha with the result that after 4 years of full time training I was emotionally pretty much as lost and hurt as I was before. That's why I left zen. As a teacher myself, I would never teach anyone like that, especially those who wish to wake up! 
More recently, I witnessed a proper out of proportions tantrum of a senior vajrayana monastic with more than 50 years of practice under the belt. It wasn't the first time I witnessed senior buddhist meditators go haywire but nevertheless from such a heavy weight, it was rather unexpected. In this persons case, this indicates spiritual bypassing, not lack of practice. Anyway. 
Most buddhist schools put a lot of emphasis on shamatha which I think is contributing to this problem, giving buddhism and buddhists their distinctive tone (of emotional flatness). I think, this is because buddhism puts so much emphasis on dharmakaya, transparent nature and awareness of all phenomena and all the energetic play is given a secondary place. Compared to hinduism, buddhism is way more succesful in yoga because of the clarification and emphasis of seflessness/emptiness (anatta/sunyata) and its meditative applications in sutra and tantra. One the other hand, this very emphasis has produced many buddhas and bodhisattvas in the history of buddhism but nevertheless it seems to me that no existing system is problem free, i.e. is complete as a system.

Hindus, on the other hand, never made the forced (and artificial) split between clearness of awareness (shiva) and energetics of awareness (shakti). These two always go hand in hand. For this reason they, myself included in my days of hindu tantra, get caught up trances, bliss and exalted states of meditation. For this reason, their recognition of the natural state is entirely false and misleading, at least from the point of view of buddhism. Because hindu yogas do not point out emptiness, is the exact reason for their little success in yoga. 
But then, hindu tantric practices of different deities, have a very different tone compared to those of tantric buddhism. I would say that hindu deities are emotionally more mature and elaborate, in other words, for one who has the view of emptiness, hindu deities can tap deeper and faster to the ultimate attainment of full buddhahood, full rainbow body, because they tap the energetic body (sambhogakaya) more efficiently. 
There are some sources that say that at one point in time, during the so called mahasiddha era, before buddhist tantra grew out of hindu tantra, yoginis and yogis didn't make such a great distinction between the two, as is common nowadays. Maybe that's why there were so many mahasiddhas, fully realized female and male masters during that era.

Teaching on the Four Immeasurables, According to Open Heart

Teaching on the
Four Immeasurables,
According to Open Heart

Teachings of vajrayana need to be technical so that we can understand what we are doing and know where we are heading but it is important to not let the technical language become an obstacle to the actual experience.
The natural state can be considered, recognised and meditated through the next Four Immeasurables.

Firstly, it is imbued with equanimity, meaning that it is peaceful in a way that penetrates our entire being, our foundations. When I say "it is peaceful", it means everyone has this bedrock peacefulness within them and when I say that everyone already knows what I'm talking about in some degree, it's not something distant or foreign to us. Therefore, it makes sense to us.

Secondly, there is or we are capable of having an immensely rich and pure sense of healing love at the heart. This is very important to experience because if we don't, we won't really understand the nature of mind or compassion which both are the core of the great vehicle towards full enlightenment. This love, softness and pureness of the heart, is something that most practitioners don't get and because they don't, the next immeasurable of compassion becomes like a bird with one-wing, that obviously cannot fly like a bird should. Love makes the whole thing matter to us, brings it alive, so if we don't experience this love, if there is no emotional connection, we simply can't care, are not able to express compassion from the deepest place within us. If this kind of love is absent, we won't be travelling in the great vehicle towards enlightenment and all we do, our whole training will be missing a loving heart. What is life or the path withot loving heart? Not much. Love also heals hurts and traumas we all have. This love who we are, it makes us complete as human beings.

Thirdly, we are capable of this immense care from our own hearts within our chest to the hearts of all beings. This is compassion, so much stressed in buddhist teachings. Compassion is cultivated because in our subtle body we are actually connected with all sentient beings around us, physical and nonphysical. When we cultivate compassion from healthy heart of love, suddenly we can feel how all beings are together, and experiencing the pain of cyclic existence. Therefore we can become a cause of liberation for other beings, become care-givers, instead of remaining in confusion, ignorance and pain like most beings. It makes a vast difference. Here we can see the seemless continuum of equanimity, love and compassion. It really is a seemless continuum, although can be artificially chopped into pieces and viewed separately.

Lastly, followed by foundational equanimity, love that fills the heart, reaching out to all sentient beings with care and interest, is what joyfulness is. The first three are what constitutes joy. This is the liberated state that is full of meaning, that is not flat, boring, indifferent, tasteless and colourless, and not made heavy with mental gymnastics on phrases such as "not existence nor nonexistence". Joy means being light, very light, being light, travelling light but not being indifferent, distracted or selfishly concerned. Those who are fully enlightened, live in this experience without a moment's break. Those who are on the path to full enlightenment, can emulate this through repeated practice and when they do it correctly, there is always an immense relief and relaxation of the samsaric death grip, caused by the sense of self.

These four are traditionally called Four Immeasurables, here expressed as taught and viewed in Open Heart. Guru Rinpoche's guideline for Open Heart is to "Bring joy back to buddhism". This is the joy he is talking about, something simple, something real, something abound with meaning. The natural state is rich, tasty and delicious, not flat, colourless and emotionally meaningless. It needs to move and touch our hearts, otherwise it has little meaning and effect.

Love! More love!