tiistai 20. joulukuuta 2016

Open Heart Annual report 2016

Open Heart
Annual report 2016

This year of 2016 has been a busy year for Open Heart, also a year of great shifts in several ways. Here some impressions.


This year has been big reg. bhumi openings. Altogether, roughly 120-130 bhumi openings of the sangha members has happened during this year. That is a big number for such a small group (about 60) of people. Also about 30 people have gotten awakened this year through Guidance to Awakening, guided by myself and other teachers.

When we began this year, there was not one 6th bhumi (with one exception) in the sangha. Now we have a dozen of them. By December there has also been six people who have their 11th bhumis (and more) open. Throughout the year there has been a steady stream of new bhumi openings in the sangha. This is unusual in the worldwide scale as far as I am aware. It's wonderful and we're all feeling it as love and openness. Yes!

Open Heart becoming international

A little story. Two years ago in late 2014 I felt very frustrated. I had been teaching full time for six years but felt that the work and community was not growing in number, especially abroad. It felt like something wasn't happening, something wasn't flowing. At the time there was only 1-2 practitioners from countries other than Finland. I felt this huge frustration, along with sustaining difficulties with my family's financial situation and had health problems due to having to work so much. So I made up my mind. I vowed not to continue my work unless in two years, until late 2016, there were some clearly noticeable changes happening. I was dead serious about it.

Then months passed, and gradually I started getting emails from people in other countries. During 2016 I've received quite a bit of emails from all over the world. I was also asked to go to Norway (twice) and New Zealand to teach Tibetan Heart Yoga. Unfortunately my health didn't allow the trip to NZ but hopefully it will happen at some time later.

In January 2017 we will have a weeklong retreat at Tammisaari that will be joined by people from NZ, Canada, Norway and US, along with Finns. We have also opened the first ever Open Heart Meditation Center at Tammisaari which is something that I've dreamed of for years. Our center is open for anyone to visit, to stay for practice and most importantly monthly retreats.

Along these developments the former frustration has been washed away. It flows now, like a river that has found it's way. The invitation of Open Heart is clearly out there and is heard by people around the world.

Not only that people from other countries are getting awakened through the guidance and starting to practice THY and dzogchen, in 2017, we will also have four new THY-teachers in Norway (Karl), United Kingdom (Rod), Australia (Nathaniel) and New Zealand (Sam). I feel such a relief, happy and content with these developments. Yay!

Not making compromises

Having said that, at the same time, us teachers have been discussing how the further growth of the sangha will be facilitated by the teachers. Some time ago, at Teacher's Lounge, I raised the topic of putting a limit to retreat participants, as well as limiting the maximum number of course participants. Just saying this not to give the impression that Open Heart needs to grow to become ”big”. I certainly don't want OH to become a big worldwide movement of thousands of followers because that would compromise the essentials such as one-on-one time with teacher/s which affects how the teachings are understood, practiced and whether fruits are attained. These are something that I will not, and should never be compromised. And I feel that it is this lucid and sincere attitude why our masters keep guiding the OH Sangha, like giving this group of people an extra push, a bit of special attention. You can see that directly in bhumi openings and the depth of our teachings.

I don't mean that OH would be something completely extraordinary. But I feel that 1. the method being a complete one and 2. our attitude being pragmatical without taboos or secrets, without inequality between anyone including the masters, does make Open Heart special. These two factors rarely unite in a time like this (dwapara yuga) that is marked with self-delusion in all possible ways on individual and communal levels. What in OH might seem special, I feel, should be the basic standard in any teaching.

Tapping the potential

Perhaps I'll continue with some sharing of my personal experiences.

As the first teacher and spokesperson of Open Heart, I've met not only positive response from people but also anger, doubt, jealousy and hatred. I've been publicly called crazy, schizophrenic and whatnot, sometimes by teachers of other traditions. Name calling doesn't hurt but the fact that there is a big mushroom*-factor in the dharma scene is shocking to me. In many dharma circles, if you openly share your thoughts, talk about your experiences or question the attainments of saints or lamas, people go nuts and start throwing rocks at you because there are taboos and questions that you cannot openly ask. Something that was born out of practical demands has been transformed into something largely based on religious belief. We all know the ill history of religion. Both dharma and religion begin in the mind so that's where the confusion begins. I think understanding this point well explains why old traditions of what was intended as dharma eventually brake down, becomes shattered to pieces.

* mushroom dharma: people, like mushroom, are kept in the dark and fed with excrement

Unfortunately many in the world dharma scene are not tapping the potential of our innate awareness. They are not realising, embodying, manifesting, connecting and living it. So many people despite of hard work seem not to get to the fruits. I have received emails from many people who worked hard in traditional setting but in the end felt that whatever they were being told to do was not making sense or had much effect.

The core of this problem is the lack of recognition of our natural state, awareness itself. There are many factors supporting this lack of recognition but people being people, with our limited capabilities, always seem to find ways to externally seem like they are committed to dharma, that is, the truth of our being, while actually doing a lot to avoid it. That is how people roll. The result of this is more of tumbling and turning in the wheel of samsara, in the wheel of births and deaths of indefinite forms.

For these reasons, I feel, it is important to carry on what Open Heart has started to offer some solid and rational dharma-help to beings to need it.

Open Heart Meditation Center and Retreats

Our first center at Tammisaari, Finland, has just been opened. Yes! It is located at the bottom floor of the building where our family lives with 130 sq. meters of space, two separate rooms for staying with own bathrooms, sauna and showers and a spacious kitchen. Anyone is welcome to come for a short visit or for a longer residential training with us teachers. Also Karl from Norway is living in the same building and is helping with many things, also cooking for retreats.

Since next January we will have a proper retreat schedule here with 5-7 day retreats every month and other intensive training, like the upcoming 12-hour Guru Rinpoche Kirtan on New Year. This type of training is something that I felt working towards for several years. I cannot tell you how happy I am about this place. One of my dreams come true. I hope our sangha understands the value of this opportunity. Please use it now, not later.

Tammisaari is close to Helsinki so it is easy to come here either by public transport or by car. I will still keep teaching courses at Helsinki and other cities in Finland and elsewhere but some of the activities will be transferred to Tammisaari. The center has been consecrated by Padmasambhava. You can feel a spiritual charge when you come in. Training in this place will benefit you immensely. Welcome!

Lama Tsering's visit

Lama Tsering is now visiting us from the US. For several months we have been ”comparing notes” with him, so to speak, trying to make sense of all of this dharma drama. And I think we are on to something.

He will teach courses here in January and February. He is a mahasiddha and thoroughly trained in Tibetan buddhism, dzogchen and several other traditions. He has known many of the greatest Tibetan lamas personally and considers lamas such as Dudjom Rinpoche and Sakya Trizin to be his close friends. Having the connection and him here is a unique opportunity. Come see him and join his events!

Best wishes

I wish you all the best in your efforts and life in general. Whether you are part of the Open Heart Sangha or not, please keep up with your efforts. Essentially we are presence itself in all the beautiful things. Let's make it clear, a living reality.

May the New Year bring us all health, comfortable circumstances and leisure time, so that we may know ourselves as awareness... of love, connection and kindness.


Kim, 20.12.2016

Open Heart,

tiistai 6. joulukuuta 2016

Metta Meditation with a Dzogchen Spin

Metta Meditation with a
Dzogchen Spin

Metta or loving-kindness is widely practiced form of buddhist meditation. The idea is to wish happiness and relief of all forms discomfort to oneself, to one's friends and people who are experiened to be difficult and challenging. Although some schools of buddhism say that metta only concerns wishing happiness and health to the person or people meditated upon, personally I think that the motivation of compassion is metta as well.

(Click below to listen Dzogchen Metta-Guided Practice)

Dzogchen rigpa and loving-kindness

The essence of all spirituality is nondual awareness. Dzogchen-tradition calls this awareness with the name rigpa. Rigpa is both calm and self-empty awareness but it is also imbued with life. Rigpa brims with liveliness. This liveliness is what the mind-masters of all traditions have described as love, kindness, compassion and bodhicitta.

Loving-kindness in common metta meditation practice is applied through 'silent repetitions of phrases like “may you be happy” or “may you be free from suffering” (1.)'. This is a wonderful way to break self-based bondages and to open one's heartmind.

But as noted, from the dzogchen perspective, from the perspective of rigpa as an actual experience, it already contains loving-kindness. This can be understood on a experiential level quite easily.

Human-related traumas

Us all have lived innumerable lives both in human and other forms. If we look the humanity at large, we can instantly see that people are hurting and have ill-will towards other people. This trait is deeply imprinted in our psyche. Even though (fortunately) only few of us make careers out of it, i.e. indulge in harming others, for most of us it is only momentarily. But even short moments of self-deluded violence, either as an initiator or as a target, can and does make our lives immensely difficult emotionally. Psychological tension and trauma is created which is then stored into our energy bodies, that is, minds. This is then carried from life to life, unless the traumas aren't untangled.

This is a simple example, not to even think of previous lives as conquerors, soldiers, robbers, killers and murderers that we all have been. The human kind is deeply traumatised by these actions, both karmically and from generation to generation transmission.
This is where spiritual practice, metta and recognition of the natural state comes in.

Healing of human-traumas

When we grow in the recognition of rigpa, at some point it happens that rigpa becomes a prevailing state. By this I am referring to opening the 11th bhumi as taught in Open Heart-teachings. At this point we naturally come to understand the classic texts of the ancient masters yet have no need for them, at least not because of the same reasons as before.

In my personal experience, the above mentioned stage gives a whole different spin on dharma, buddhas, guru, meditation, path, spirituality and especially on being a human being. This opening into our natural state, to our home, at least for myself, has brought up a need for healing.

Buddhas as humans

One thing the nondual meditative traditions in general do not use is physical touch as an aid for psycho-spiritual practice. Usually physical contact is discouraged, it is not thought of as something that could be useful. But it is. Physical touch and bodywork is utterly human and for this reason very beneficial.

Here's a simple technique for metta meditation with a dzogchen spin.

  1. If you are still having momentary glimpses of rigpa and have not yet opened your 11th bhumi, practice atiyoga for some time. Recognise the natural state and embody it by going through the embodiment sequence.
  2. Continue with a pair. Sit against each other with a fellow practitioner, woman or man, make physical connection by holding hands and by looking into each others eyes. Remain in the state of dzogchen/atiyoga together.
  3. For the practice not to become too emphasized in the ultimate aspect (two truths), move your body, arms, head and eyes every minute or so. The point is not to forget the relative condition of the bodymind but the opposite, to practice bodymind-based metta very humanly from the ultimate point of view.
  4. Be honest and open, don't hold back. If and when traumas come up, let them come, don't try to hide or hold them back. This is common meditation instuction.
  5. Sit together for at least a few minutes or longer, up to 30-60 minutes.
  6. Share your experiences verbally or simply smile and move on.

I feel that even though we are humans only momentarily, we can benefit of this a lot by using our human condition. This is the beauty of being a human in the first place. There is so much potential to tap.

Even though I have great limitations myself and certainly do not have the brightest of minds, I'm always interested in studying, analysing and updating the old ways of practice by digging into the root principles of our bodies, minds, heart and awareness. I hope this text is of some use and benefit to you.

Thank you for reading,

- Kim Katami, 6.12.2016

Open Heart,

keskiviikko 23. marraskuuta 2016

Bhumi Study Series, Part 7: 11th bhumis

Bhumi Study Series, Part 7
11th bhumis

Bhumi Study Series presents information on many of the contemporary gurus, lamas and spiritual teachers, and their respective spiritual attainments, or bhumis. This study has been conducted by two founding teachers of the Open Heart-method, Kim Katami and Pauliina Katami on the basis of photographs available about the concerned persons. For more info on Open Heart, go to http://www.openheart.fi

Familiarizing yourself with the Open Heart bhumi-system is recommended, in order to understand what this series is about. Read "Stages of Spiritual attainment" and go through Kim Katami's video documentation on the topic to get a better picture of what bhumis are. Studying and understanding bhumis in this manner is a deep subject which requires meditation and analytical skills. One may or may not be able to discern the outcome of this study series without extensive practice experience. On the other hand, the differences are quite easily seen when studied attentively and when the information is offered in context as has been done here, where one may compare between teachers, right next to each other. The study has been divided into several categories. As the Open Heart-bhumi model is universal, it applies regardless of possible differences in methods used by distinctive traditions.

This Bhumi Study Series has been made public in order to bring awareness, lucidity and clarity to the present spiritual culture of the world by explaining and showing what many of our well known teachers have actually been able to attain. There is much confusion about this topic, so we wanted to clarify this matter from our part, for the benefit of all.  

May this study help and serve many in their understanding and study of the path of mind training.

Bhumi Study Series

Bhumi Study Series, Part 1: Before and after awakening, and 2nd-5th bhumisBhumi Study Series, Part 2: 6th bhumis with notes
Bhumi Study Series, Part 3: 7th bhumis
Bhumi Study Series, Part 4: 8th bhumis
Bhumi Study Series, Part 5: 9th bhumis  
Bhumi Study Series, Part 6: 10th bhumis
Bhumi Study Series, Part 7: 11th bhumis 
Bhumi Study Series, Part 8: 12th bhumis
Bhumi Study Series, Part 9: 13th bhumis  
Bhumi Study Series, Part 10: From Zero to Mahasiddha Bhumis
Extra: How to do Bhumi Mapping

11th bhumis

You can find pictures of some of the people below in their lower bhumis from the previous episodes of the Bhumi Study Series.

maanantai 21. marraskuuta 2016

Intention - Attention - Awareness

Intention - Attention - Awareness

Intention (one-dimensional) - Attention (three-dimensional) - Awareness (zero-dimensional/beyond dimensionality)

I feel these three are a continuum. They are both practices and principles. In intention and attention there is effort (practice) which are absent from awareness. I feel it is the effort which make the two former feel burdensome. That effort begins to feel something extra and needless the more awareness that is not a practice becomes flesh. But because the psychological mess is great and compulsive, is the reason why the principles of intention and attention, the practices, are needed and useful.

Awareness is home. As the Tibetans I've called it rigpa but it is foreign language which brings in the element of "Ooh, something mystical and exalted". But it is actually very natural, extremely natural. It is so natural that at first it feels amazing because we've used to having a messy and confused. 
Anyway, I think too much emphasis on "emptiness", "transparency" and "no qualities" can and does actually give artificial colouring to the experience itself. Yes, awareness is empty of self and transparent but it is also brimming with life. Being aware is like living in a jungle, in a rain forest. There is so much life in a rain forest! Alive! As is rigpa. Not dead, not dull, not blank. If we connect with awareness from the head space only, it is clear, transparent and pronouncedly empty of self. But the aspect of aliveness, or love, makes a connection with the rest of the body, especially the heart space, without excluding the head. Head and heart together. Clarity and aliveness joined. Manjushri and Avalokiteshvara having a party together.

lauantai 19. marraskuuta 2016

Buddhist meditation and surrender

Buddhist meditation and surrender

Vipashyana, or investigative looking, is a form of buddhist meditation. Investigative meditation consists of various types of techniques. Also the target of investigation can vary from the usual elements appearing in the mind to subtle energies to awareness itself. The result of vipashyana practice is to see any appearing phenomena as impermanent and without self-entity.

Traditional vipashyana

This type of meditation is analytical, even calculative, by it's nature. This depends of the way it is applied. The idea is to look and observe one's mind, from the subject-self to many kinds of object-selves. Analytical looking, analytical investigation is reason or logic-based and has a mental flavour to it. It has everything to do with looking and seeing. Looking and seeing in turn are related to the physical area of the head, especially the eyes.

Here, I'd like to present an alternative way to apply vipashyana. This can be applied to any sort of mental, emotional or energetic phenomena. This can also be used in two-part formula that is used in Open Heart-method to produce awakening.


When you affirm I-ness or when any type of self-based mental content arises, just surrender.

That's it. I'll explain this a bit.

Surrendering is more than relaxation although they are closely related. Relaxation can be done by the self, or me, but surrendering transcends the self. Transcending the self means entering selfless awareness. In this technique surrendering is done while experiencing self-based reaction. This is not about surrendering to buddhas or gurus but surrendering to fear, anger and pain, while not being identified with it. This is so because awareness or rigpa cannot identify with dualistic confusion. Surrendering cannot be done in an investigative manner from the head space. Surrendering is an all-encompassing experience. And this is the genious of using surrender in order to produce insight. Try and see what happens.


A simple analogy of how surrendering feels like.

Imagine taking a shower with clothes on. Having clothes on in shower is something that is usually not done. At first it feels awkward and weird, as it feels foreign to release all self-based control, that can surely hide there with investigative looking, and surrender to pain and discomfort. However, as you are standing under the raining water, there is no point to fight it or resist it. Just release the effort together with all hopes and surrender fully to this new experience.

This is a simple technique but actually contains a lot. I think this is much better than the calculative ways of vipashyana. Just surrender to pain, wherever and however the dualistic delusion arises.

Thank you,

Kim Katami,

sunnuntai 9. lokakuuta 2016

Four doorways to home (rigpa)

Four doorways to home (rigpa)

Five years ago I wrote a book called Four Houses of Enlightenment which is an explanation of the so called four dantiens (ch. dantien, jap. tanden) known from Taoism (and it's various practices), and their relation to natural awareness (rigpa). Since then, my understanding of these four doorways has changed and developed. This text is a concise version of this topic.

Inside the space of the physical body there are three (non-physical) areas that act as doorways to natural awareness. I like to call this natural awareness, or rigpa, simply as ”home” because that is what it is, our home as clear, calm, loving and knowing awareness, devoid of me, yet having a will.

Each of these doorways are areas about the size of one's own fist. First is at the lower belly, slightly under the level of the navel, deep in the gut. Second is deep inside the chest and is sometimes referred to as the ”spiritual heart”. Third is inside the head at the level of the eyes. Fourth is not inside the body (and is not the size of one's fist) but relates to the three highest of the seven chakra-centers above the head. These three chakras also relate to what in Open Heart Bhumi Model are known as mahasiddha bhumis. Through all four of these one can access home, if the instructions are correct. I say that the instructions need to be correct because there are many teachings that basicly teaches about this and yet doesn't.

The way how one can use any of the doorways is to bring one's attention to the mentioned location and just be openly aware of what happens in one's body and mind. The doorways are sort of like balls or bubbles that one's awareness has to penetrate and unite with. This is something that cannot be done with force, but rather with gentle attention. The way how you know ”you're in” is that seeking, questioning and selfing stops. Your mind becomes clear, lucid and subtle brimming with life. At first it will be short moments until it grows on you but even short moments make a difference.

In the beginning it doesn't matter which door you choose as your main doorway. Essentially all the doors ”get you to the same location” even though they have subtle distinguishing characters as well. In the long run, I feel, it is importat not to get stuck in using only one doorway because this has the potential pitfall of onesided interpretation.

The four doorways are not four separate things, but one underlying whole. As is taught in orthodox dzogchen, there is one special energy channel (tib. kati, skt. amrita nadi*) that goes from the eye balls to the crown and to heart, similarly there are these four doorways. These doorways are not ”made of” ordinary energy channels but of extraordinary ones that are beyond cause and effect. These areas do not store karmas but are ever pure and clear. They are doorways to home for anyone. And everyone is invited.

*according to Machig Labdron

When we are talking about these four doorways, we are really talking about the most profound essence of all yogas. This is the teaching of great perfection or dzogchen. There is nothing more profound than this.

About two years ago I was taught a series of meditation practices by mahasiddha Vimalamitra. This series is known by the name of Wisdom Meditations or Vimalamitra sem dzin in Open Heart-teachings. We have an ongoing 3-year meditation course that focuses on these practices.

However, I have to admit that regarding the mentioned first doorway, I didn't understand it until very recently. You see, the way I understood this doorway was how it is cultivated and applied in Japanese rinzai zen buddhism. I trained in that tradition for a couple of years back in the day and always remained a big ”tanden” or ”hara” fan. However, at some point I started to feel that essentially it is mistaken to teach about the energetic tautness of the lower belly or hara because then one is really stil working with the ordinary channels and energetic sensations arising from them. I feel that the way it, gut practice, has originally been in zen buddhism must have been the way I am presenting it here but whether this is historically true or not doesn't make a difference. When going in through the doorway of the gut, there is no tautness and there is no need to cultivate or build a ”strong hara” with special kind of body posturing and breathing techniques as the Japanese traditions say. One is not working with ordinary pranic energies here. Therefore, I feel, that at some point in history some mistakes lurked in into zen buddhism and probably taoism also. But gee... The zen-priests of the ancient times must have been amazing if they applied the gut-door the right way. You know, zen-people sit hours and hours on end on daily basis. This cannot but have a great and tasty fruit.

Regarding the second and third doorways it is necessary to emphasize that they are not the heart and forehead chakras that are commonly known. These two centers, again, are made of ordinary channels and therefore they don't do so well as doorways. If you are working with the ordinary channels, you mind keeps busy with thoughts, forms and lights and there is no profound clarity of home. In both cases one has to go deep inside the body to access them. Deep inside the chest, deep inside the head.

Fourth of these doorways is a bit more tricky to locate because the mentioned centers are high above one's crown, floating high up there. It is not impossible but one needs to have very good concentration and attention skills to be able to differentitate between the higher centers. But a simple and functional way to do go in through this door is to relax, open up and surrender to it. Tibetan Heart Yoga has techniques for this, as well, but essentially all one needs to do is to surrender to the rain that falls on you.

Here, as with all doorways, it is important to recognise the three characteristics: 1. calmness and clarity, 2. aliveness, lovingness, compassion and 3. knowingness, cognizance that is selfless.

So there. I hope you found this useful.

Thank you.


perjantai 16. syyskuuta 2016

Pureland and buddhahood by Gyatrul Rinpoche

Pureland and buddhahood

by Gyatrul Rinpoche

Always try to see where you are as a pureland. We think that someday we will arrive in the pureland, that it is someplace we have to go. Actually, the pureland is something you train in, something you recognize... Appearances change continuously. So if you die, it’s nothing much. It is just appearances, changing a bit. In terms of your body, maybe death seems like a big change, but in terms of appearances, it’s not a big deal, because appearances are changing all the time anyway. Watch how they constantly arise, constantly change – whether waking or in dreams, morning and night...If you die but to you everything is a pureland, then you are still in the pureland. Sentient beings’ experiences are changing, but it is all your pureland. You don’t need to buy a ticket to the pureland. You just need to recognize what you have right now. In your pureland, all happiness and suffering are liberated. They call that quality “all-encompassing purity.” “All-encompassing” means it is even, evenly pervading everything. “Purity” means all obscurations are purified, like the syllable “sang” (“purified”) in the Tibetan word for buddha, “sangye.”

At the same time, that purity is inseparable from compassion for sentient beings. All appearances are all-encompassing purity, but beings don’t recognize this. Instead, they suffer in the realms of samsara. Thus, they are naturally objects of compassion. That purity is also manifesting unceasingly. You think that Vimalamitra and all the great masters of the past came and then they went away? No! They are present, here, now. These manifestations are but the expression of the qualities of all-encompassing purity, your buddha nature. They emanate and appear in all different forms in response to the needs of beings. They are made by the mind, and the mind can do anything. It can appear in any way... In the future, if you have learned many things and then you pop up, thinking you are something special – that means you blew it! It means you couldn’t give up the afflictive emotions, the five poisons. You didn’t get real method or real wisdom. You don’t need to go anywhere; you already have it. What you need is to study and train in pure appearances. Then, your grasping to ordinary reality, grasping to
this and that as good or bad, grasping to subject and object as impure:
all these will decrease slowly...

We think we need to go to the pureland today, but we don’t know how to get there. Actually you don’t need to go there, you don’t need to “go” anywhere, in any ordinary way. Recognize that right now you are already there, in the middle of it.

We think, “A pureland, wow, sparkling! Someplace special, I want to go
there!” No, it's not like that. If we need to go to a pureland, we need to slowly, slowly understand the purity of appearances. Then all the buddhas are with us. Understanding the purity of appearances is understanding the nature of the buddhas. If you understand the nature of refuge in the buddha, then you know that the nature of the dharma is the same, and the sangha are just the emanations of that same buddha.

Guru Rinpoche is, too. He is the emanation of the forms of all the
buddhas. He is also the emanation of their speech, mind, qualities, and activities. They say there are eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche, but actually there are countless emanations. When we awaken, the benefit of others will manifest like this, and we don’t need to be kissing and
hugging everybody to try to benefit them.

Kuntuzangpo is the primordial buddha, and he is called that because he has never strayed into confusion about appearances. He has always understood their nature, and thus he has never had any learning or training to do. That accurate and unchanging understanding is the ultimate teacher. It is our own nature. In fact, all the buddhas have that nature, and so do all sentient beings. So you can see, the buddhas are not something far away, out there; all their qualities are present, evident, and manifest. If you know them, that’s enlightenment. If not, that’s samsara.

- Gyatrul Rinpoche


lauantai 10. syyskuuta 2016

Good and bad devotion

Good and bad devotion

Devotion is important. Devotion can be understood in several ways. I like to think of devotion as something that has to do with the opening of the heart, like loving devotion. Devotion is essential in many kinds of spiritual approaches, both buddhist and otherwise.

We can use loving devotion, in the form of feeling love in our hearts or by praying to God, guru or our own essence, both in good and bad ways. A good or spiritually valid way is to use that emotional surrender as a stepping stone, use it and then discard it, not dragging it along. Just say the prayer, feel it having the effect of your biased mind opening up from the heart-region and then forgetting it. A bad way to use the same technique would be to keep the attitude of surrendering our egos, limited minds or dualistic problems and never let go of it. The point is not to remain inferior to whatever it is that you are praying or surrendering towards. The point is not to stay below or separate of your spiritual ideal. If you do, you end up being caught in the dichotomy of self and other, ”me” and the chosen ideal. Were you to keep this view, you only end up being as miserable as before.

When we pray, ”Heart, heart, heart... Love, love, love... Master, master, master...” or however it is that you pray, it is done because loving surrender is perhaps the most powerful way to bypass the self-based mind and with the help of that mechanism to go beyond the dualistic mind and enter rigpa. Now, if we insist and stubbornly stick with the idea, with the conceptual thought of ”heart”, ”Love”, ”guru” or ”God”, this will not happen. The point is to use a concept to go beyond it by applying loving surrender which is emotion. For a beginner, it is possible to experience bliss and overwhelming love, and this can be good because this can heal a lot of hurts, but from the point of view of our true self, rigpa or home awareness, this is not really the point. The point is, by applying the emotion of loving surrender, to reveal our true nature and become it, instead of becoming a self-biased fool. Rigpa is subtle, transparent, and there is no one there. There is no God or buddha there. You are not there either. Home or rigpa is nonspatial, non-dimensional and entityless. Just the openness, brimming with subtle power and life. You don't ”feel” rigpa. You don't and cannot ”recognise” it. Our home is beyond our self, beyond our minds. Home knows itself, it is self-cognisant. So, I feel, that loving surrender is correctly applied when it transcends itself and our knowing awareness (rigpa) is recognised. This is not rocket science. This is not ”highly spiritual” or something ”very evolved meant only for experienced meditators”. No, no. You don't have to create this barrier of difficulty and then pursue to go beyond it. Anyway, loving surrender or devotion can be useful.

Something important. The thing is that if you have never tried this, it is likely that you aren't aware of the emotional aspect of yourself, i.e. you can have a great of territory in your bodymind that you've never even become aware of. One can become a very skilled meditator, like a surgeon's scalpel, that can follow the breath for hours on end and perform analytical meditation like a machine but this doesn't mean that one has recognised one's truen nature, or arrived home even for a moment. Don't become a ”skilled meditator”. Open up. Lighten up!

What can be discovered with this application is that as our minds become clear and transparent, and we really see with the eyes, hear with the ears, feel with the bodymind, is that our problem is self-caused and the solution is never away. The solution is sort of ”here and now” but if you look for something that is ”here” or something that is in the ”now”, you are again playing with concepts and getting caught by them. Our home is beyond concepts. That's the thing. Pray and open your heart and see for yourself.

Loving devotion is as handy a technique as the diamond cutter mantra phet is. The first uses our emotional aspect to access rigpa and the latter applies our power of concentration brought to a momentary maximum combined with energetic power to access rigpa. It would be idiotic to keep shouting ”Phet! Phet! Phet!” on the top of your lungs all the time. You'd only end up exhausted. A few phets will do to cut through. It's the same thing with prayer. And ultimately it's the same thing with all techniques. Praying is enough when the heart and our whole being opens up. Opening up means becoming subsumed by rigpa. That is our home, our true nature, us as buddhas. This is not radical. This is how it actually is. Be practical. Don't romantisize. Try.

- Kim Katami, 10.9.2016

Open Heart,

perjantai 2. syyskuuta 2016

Wisdom air and other secrets

Wisdom air and other secrets

Clarity of mind, or in other words recognition of rigpa, is in direct connection with channels and energies, or traditionally "winds" that blow through the channels. Channels which number up to many hundreds of thousands (I do not think it is possible to count them all, they are so many) are the energetic representation of our being. This energetic representation is the same as "mind" or energy body. In this short text I won't go into channels and centers but wish to mention a few things of the connection between the physical body-to-mind-to-rigpa. Several bits that I am going to say are held secrets of a couple of distinguished meditation traditions. Personally I do not think there is need for over-protecting secrecy.

Wisdom air

A friend of mine mentioned that one of his Tibetan lamas, said to keep one's mouth open during atiyoga. The lama had said that keeping mouth open makes it "wisdom air". What this actually means was not explained. Here's my take on this.
Dzogchen atiyoga is the king and queen of all samadhis and meditation practices. To really "get it" one has to have a lot of "battle experience". By battle experience I refer to calmness and clarity of mind, insights to selfless nature of self and mind content, as well as valid practical conceptual knowledge of the structure and different functions of the mind. 
Atiyoga is rigpa practice. Rigpa refers to knowing awareness, knowingness that is not self-based. Rigpa is not an experience, nor it is perceived. I hate to use such a foreign term like ”rigpa” because peoples minds, such as mine, are so easily caught by such attractive designations, but I use it because it really refers to something distinct. Mind is so multilayered and obscured. I do not think anyone really knows oneself as rigpa without extensive training.

Rigpa-genic areas of the body

The word ”erogenic” is used for areas of the physical body which when stimulated cause sexual arousal. In a similar way there are areas in the physical body which are helpful in making our minds clear. Ultimately the whole body is a ”rigpa-genic” area but it's not that obvious to have this insight. I've seen many not so experienced meditators glimpse this but due to their limited practice history and conceptual orientation they usually are not able to understand the core of it. So, some areas a more helpful than others in silencing our minds and in recognising rigpa. Breathing through the mouth can also be helpful.

Central channels

In general, breathing through ones mouth while meditating, abiding as sky (three dimensional sky gazing, shamatha meditation without concretic support), has the effect of activating one or several of the central channels. The central channel which runs from the pelvic floor, though the spine to the top of the head has several layers. It's like an electrical wire with an outer, middle, inner and innermost layers. When any of the central channels becomes active it instantly affects the mind. To a beginner of meditation these moments are precious discoveries. He or she may think, ”Now I found it!” And in one sense this is valid, even though he didn't get to the innermost core. So, keeping one's mouth open can and does directly stimulate the central channel. The same can be done by a bunch of different means.

Just by being aware of the central channel, by doing deity practices, breathing practices, mudras, bandhas and so on. This can also be done by sensing the centers above the crown.

If you wish to get to the innermost of them, you can visualise the channel of hair's width made of transparent jewel. When you do this, *subtly pay attention*. If you have the battle experience, you will notice the difference. If you don't have it, you will not notice anything.

Master glands

Many years ago, when my teacher Sara Sivakami was still alive she taught me a secret practice that she gave only to a few close disciples. She'd be fine me talking about this on a general level.

Sara was really skilled in mystical skills. She was a master of astral projection and lucid dreaming. She met and received many teachings like that from many teachers, including Lama Thubten Yeshe, a famous gelugpa lama, who at the time was in between reincarnations.

Once, she told me, when she had lied down for the night's rest, when she was subtly picked up by a particular mahasiddha who took her to a cave in the Himalayas. She recognised this cave as her abode of a previous life. She went inside the cave, or a network of caves, and was re-initiated into a very specific type of spiritual practice by gulping down a few drops of potion that was hidden. She knew where to look for the drink. When she drank these drops, she remembered these particular teachings again that she had practiced before. This happened during an astral projection.

This practice has to do with master glands inside the head, the pituitary and pineal glands and the tube connecting the two.

Now. At the back of the mouth there is something called ”soft palate”. Check it up to see what it means. By feeling the breath touching the soft palate, the pituitary gland becomes activated. When pituitary gland becomes active, the mind becomes clear and there is a possibility to recognise open awareness (rigpa) and abide as rigpa. When the activation of pituitary gland is joined with the activation of the pineal gland, it is hard to miss rigpa. The mind, with all it's layers becomes so thin and weak, while transparent rigpa-awareness becomes dominant. I am not talking about dharmakaya (body of all kinds of mind phenomena) only rigpa.

Interestingly I've heard of orthodox dzogchen practice called ”yangti” which is very secret. It is clear to me that an essential part of this practice has to do with pineal gland.

So, when the lama said that keeping mouth open makes it ”wisdom air”, it might have something to do with this. And even if it doesn't, what I have said above is valid in regards to recognition of rigpa.

Turning off the radio

Another point that came to my mind about keeping one's mouth open has to do with ”releasing body, speech and mind” as taught in Tibetan buddhism meditation. Inner speech refers to that part of our mind that is like a radio with a constant program on it: stories, ideas, comments, music, memories... This involuntary radio can be turned off simply relaxing the area of the mouth and jaws. If you keep your mouth relaxed and slightly open with a floating tongue, the radio-function stays off. This doesn't concern breathing through the mouth but it is useful and meaningful when calming the mind and when recognising rigpa. This can also be called ”wisdom air”, in my opinion.

These are some of my thoughts on this topic, mouth, breathing, rigpa and ”wisdom air”.


Kim Katami

torstai 25. elokuuta 2016

Dudjom Lingpa & Heart of Great Perfection

Dudjom Lingpa &
Heart of Great Perfection

Although I practiced in that way, when I encountered even a minor issue, I would lose my own grounding in the nature of existence and revert to ordinary states. For example, when I was alone and naked in the wilderness, if I were to become frightened when various ferocious animals and savages let out terrifying roars, I would be no different than an ordinary person. In that case, there would be no way I could be liberated in the intermediate period by way of such meditation. But with heartfelt faith and reverence I prayed to my guru, the Lake-Born Vajra, “Please grant me right now practical instructions for handling such circumstances!” Falling asleep with immense devotion, in a dream I had a vision of Orgyen Dorjé Drolö* appearing from an expanse of blazing fire and light, and he chanted the lyrics of this Hūṃ song: [479]

*Orgyen Dorjé Drolö refers to Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava

Hūṃ Hūṃ! Supreme being, Vajra of Pristine Awareness,
Hūṃ Hūṃ! do you understand the common thread of the three realms of saṃsāra
Hūṃ Hūṃ! as dualistic grasping at the apprehender and the apprehended?
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Do you understand both the object and the subject
Hūṃ Hūṃ! as two thoughts?
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Do you understand the joys and sorrows of this life and future lives
Hūṃ Hūṃ! as delusive experiences?
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Do you understand daytime appearances, nighttime appearances, the physical world, and its sentient inhabitants
Hūṃ Hūṃ! as experiences of light and dark?
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Do you understand the joys, sorrows, environment, and friends of this life
Hūṃ Hūṃ! as dream experiences and delusive appearances,
Hūṃ Hūṃ! and know that they are equally unreal?
Hūṃ Hūṃ! As vast as the physical world and its sentient inhabitants are,
Hūṃ Hūṃ! they do not extend beyond the expanse of space.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Although space has no periphery or center,
Hūṃ Hūṃ! it does not extend beyond the expanse of pristine awareness.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Buddhafields and excellent buddhas
Hūṃ Hūṃ! are the face of your own ground, the nature of existence.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Do not mistake the buddhas as being autonomous.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! I shall cut off the errors of the māras above.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Enemies, demons, bad companions, and your surroundings
Hūṃ Hūṃ! are delusive experiences of conceptual, dualistic grasping.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Do not regard them as anything other than reification.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! I shall destroy the errors of the māras below.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Daytime and dream appearances
Hūṃ Hūṃ! are reified and clung to as names and things. [480]
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Even though you know emptiness for yourself,
Hūṃ Hūṃ! do you understand thoughts as aspects of your own nature?
Hūṃ Hūṃ! While you understand all of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa
Hūṃ Hūṃ! as the primordial expanse of the absolute space of the ground,
Hūṃ Hūṃ! do you understand them as nondual displays [of pristine awareness]?
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Appearances of these creative expressions slip into the essential nature of uniform pervasiveness,
Hūṃ Hūṃ! releasing themselves into that expanse.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Do you understand that there is no practice of meditation?
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Inwardly there is the bondage of grasping at the “I.”
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Outwardly there is grasping and clinging to objects.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Meditation in between is immaterial.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Do you understand that the gateways of
Hūṃ Hūṃ! outer and inner conditions obscure the face
Hūṃ Hūṃ! of the Great Perfection of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa?
Hūṃ Hūṃ! First, by investigating, understanding will come.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Next, by meditating, experiences will arise.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Finally, by resting, realization will come.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Once realization has occurred, it is nondual with simultaneous liberation.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Objects and subjects together
Hūṃ Hūṃ! are awakened in the mother’s space of the great expanse.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! My emanations and I
Hūṃ Hūṃ! have never been separated.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Their essential nature is the illusion of my own creative expressions.
Hūṃ Hūṃ! Like the dissolution of the apparitions of an illusionist,
Hūṃ Hūṃ! they are nondual in absolute space. Phaṭ Phaṭ!

With those words he became nondual with me, and an experience arose of my great appearances pervading all of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. From that time onward, [481] due to this sign, I knew that these were pith instructions for collapsing the false cave of appearances.

To expand on this just a little, (1) seek out the source of names, (2) destroy grasping at the permanence of things, and (3) collapse the false cave, which is primordially liberated within your own mindstream, by knowing and realizing all of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa.

1. Seek Out the Source of Names

By investigating and analyzing the tenacious grasping of saying the name “I” and grasping at the thought “I am,” you find that the basis of designation of everything—including the flesh, blood, and bones, throughout the exterior and interior of the body, and from the crown of the head down to the soles of the feet—is nonobjective and empty. Then continue to expose the error by also seeking out each of the specific names of the head, feet, arms, joints, and so on. As for the way to investigate all manners of establishing names and conventions in the external environment, by seeking out the name house, for example, in terms of its exterior, interior, upper, and lower areas, and its clay, stones, and so on, it disappears by itself. Earth becomes pottery; and the names of the upper and lower sections of stones, the tops and bottoms of trees, and so forth naturally disappear from where they are, and through transformation and modification they become water mills, stoves, pillars, and beams. Water becomes tea, fire becomes the flame of a butter lamp, air becomes a gust in a bellows, and so on. Reveal the fallacy in each of these cases that the bases of designation of such transformations, cessations, and disappearances [482] cannot be ascertained.

Translation by Alan Wallace