sunnuntai 31. heinäkuuta 2016

Eyes, Channels and Dzogchen with Aro lamas

Eyes, Channels and Dzogchen
Interview with Aro Buddhist lamas
Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Dechen

Ngak’chang Rinpoche: In sKu-mNyé there is great emphasis on the eyes. This is the case with many practices of Dzogchen. The eyes are kept wide open and unmoving whilst engaged in the exercise, and in the meditation that follows. Sweeping movements of the torso, arms, and legs are quite characteristic; but the most unusual aspect is ‘circling’ the head. 
Q: I believe there’s head rotation in Hatha Yoga?

Khandro Dechen: Yes, but the head circling in sKu-mNyé is kept extremely small. If you imagine tracing a circle with your nose – the circumference should not be more than an inch (2.54cm). It’s difficult to keep it that small, because the tendency is to make larger circles. Unmoving eyes in conjunction with circling takes time to perfect, but it’s made easier by the ability to focus in space. Focusing in space needs to be explained. It does not mean going ‘out of focus’. Focusing in space means you are in focus, but that there is no tangible object or surface to act as a reference point upon which your focus rests.

Q: That sounds really quite difficult. I imagine that you would have to spend a long time in training to be able to do that. What purpose does circling have in sKu-mNyé?

KD: There are two active principles involved with circling. Firstly there is the Dzogchen gaze. The method of Dzogchen gazing disorientates the conceptual mind. Secondly, there’s circling. Circling massages the rTsa, the spatial nerves, but it does so through movement rather than through control of the breath. When conceptual mind is disorientated, we become open to perceiving extraordinary experiences, which are released through massaging the rTsa. There are numerous rTsa in the neck that connect with the eyes – so circling activates the rTsa and opens up a subtle dimension of visionary experience at the same time.

Q: So you might start to see in an unusual way?

KD: Possibly, but in terms of Dzogchen the word ‘vision’ applies to all the senses. Initially there would be tactile visions. Then the other sense fields would gradually follow until visual experiences began to occur. It might sound difficult, but anyone can experience their rTsa rLung energy if they have enthusiasm and application. You do have to push through sensations of dizziness and vertigo – but these sensations tend only to arise when you’re not focused in space. Learning to focus in space is crucial to sKu-mNyé, so it’s very important to practise the gaze first. You have to do that in order to keep your eyes from seeking forms upon which they tend to settle.

Q: This must be a valuable aspect of Dzogchen.

KD: Yes. This is something which is central to Dzogchen long-dé. The eyes are important in all the Dzogchen systems. The eyes always relate to what is happening at the level of mind and the nature of Mind. You see, it’s not really the eyes that seek out forms – it’s the conceptual mind that seeks them out. In fact, the conceptual mind seeks out forms through all the senses.

NR: In terms of Dzogchen, we train through the senses and the sense-fields rather than through trying to let go of thought. We learn to fix the senses. We keep the senses unmoving in relation to the external world. We employ the natural phenomena around us to become part of the process that leads to the dissolution of reference points. We accomplish this through the Dzogchen practices of integration with the moving elements: water, fire, and air.

KD: This is because we are always attaching to reference points. We grasp at reference points in order to feel real; but this actually saps the vitality of our being and obscures the vividness of our perception.

Q: So how would I practise this integration with the moving elements, say, with the water element?

KD: You would sit by the sea. Or you would sit by a river. You would focus on the surface detail of the water, so that you saw it very clearly and crisply. You would then fix your gaze. You would achieve that by keeping your eyes from moving. The eye muscles habitually track movements by flicking backwards and forwards along the line of movement. This is what stops everything from becoming a blur when you look out of the side window of a car.

Q: Yes! I’ve seen that! When you look at someone who’s looking out of the window of a car, their eyes dart rhythmically. They seem to hop forward in the direction the car is taking, and then flash back again. And that’s obviously completely unconscious, isn’t it?

KD: Yes. But with sKu-mNyé that habit is brought into consciousness. You become aware of that darting movement, and you continually attempt to freeze it – to fix your gaze. You know when your gaze is fixed because the water blurs – the scenery from the car window blurs.

Q: So you could practise this on the way to work every day.

KD: Quite.

NR: But it is especially important to remember that the blur is a speed blur and not an ‘out of focus blur’. So, in terms to gazing into the water, the water would blur because your eyes were fixed.

KD: This wouldn’t be because you weren’t focussing on the surface of the water. It would happen because your eyes were not moving. This is a specific of many Dzogchen practices.

NR: The impression you would receive would be like a photograph taken at a slow shutter speed. This is one of the best ways to train in fixing the gaze.

KD: The way to train in focusing in space, in terms of Dzogchen, is to learn to feel comfortable when your eyes have no object of focus. This seems challenging at first, but it is by no means difficult. It is, in fact, easier than learning how to fix the gaze. There is a fairly simple method. You stretch out your arm and focus on your index finger. Then, when you have settled your focus, you lower your arm and maintain the gaze. Every time you find your eyes settling on distant objects, simply raise your arm again and re-focus on your finger. You just keep repeating this process until focussing in space becomes a simple muscular reflex.

Q: Could that ever be bad for the eyes?

KD: [laughs] No, it is actually very good exercise for the eye muscles.

NR: Especially when you develop the ability to fix the gaze and focus in space. In sKu-mNyé you do both at once, so it is good to practise both before attempting circling.

NR: Prana, or rLung in Tibetan, is the subtle breath or ‘spatial wind’ that flows in the ‘spatial nerves’ of the subtle energetic body. These ‘spatial nerves’ or rTsa form a pattern that spreads throughout the body.

KD: There are rTsa all over the body: in the armpits; the ‘elbow pits’; the inside of the wrists; the palms of the hands; between the fingers; the soles of the feet; behind the knees; the inner thighs; the stomach; the neck; and in general, in all the areas described as erogenous zones.

Q: Are rTsa like acupuncture meridians?

KD: Yes, in some ways, but the pattern is sometimes very different from that of the acupuncture meridians, and functions in different ways. sKu-mNyé stimulates the rTsa and causes stagnant rLung to move. When rLung begins to move, people tend to come alive or wake up in surprising ways. To use the analogy of acupuncture meridians, you could say that sKu-mNyé was like a system of acupressure. Rhythmic physical movements affect the meridians, rather than pressure.
From here.

lauantai 30. heinäkuuta 2016

Zazen and Dharma by Kodo Sawaki

Zazen and Dharma

Quotes from Kodo Sawaki,
a representative of Japanese soto zen buddhism

Kim's comment: I have always felt that the simple and often striking teachings of the zen buddhist masters, both from Japanese rinzai- and soto-schools, describe well what spiritual practice is ultimately about. The approach of the soto zen-school is very direct and simple, and therefore often difficult to understand conceptually. What is interesting however, is that the dzogchen-adepts say the same things. However, the greatest difference between zen and dzogchen, I feel, is that the latter uses concepts, techniques and pointing out instructions as tools in going beyond concepts, stages and so on in order for the practitioner to realise the empty nature of mind, while zen doesn't. For this reason the quotes I've gathered below might not be easy to understand. However, I feel, that they give valid advice to one on the path of dharma. At the end, I have also included a recommendation of another soto zen adept to study dzogchen. Perhaps this recommendation was given because skillful theory, mapping and study, together with committed practice, can make a real difference.

People love emotional confusion... Buddha-dharma means not putting yourself at the mercy of emotional confusion. In the world, on the other hand, a big fuss is made over nothing.”

If it’s even the slightest bit personalized, it isn’t pure, unadulterated zazen. We’ve got to practice genuine, pure zazen, without mixing it with gymnastics or satori or anything. When we bring in our personal ideas – even only a little bit – it’s no longer the buddha-dharma.”

In true dharma there’s nothing to gain. In false dharma there’s something to gain.”

The way of buddha means that there is nothing to seek, nothing to find [mushogu-mushotoku]. If there’s something to find, no matter how much we practice, it’s got nothing to do with the buddha-dharma. If there’s nothing to find [mushotoku], that’s the buddha-dharma.”

What’s zazen good for? Absolutely nothing! This “good for nothing” has got to sink into your flesh and bones until you’re truly practicing what’s good for nothing. Until then, your zazen is really good for nothing.”

You say you want to become a better person by doing zazen. Zazen isn’t about learning how to be a person. Zazen is to stop being a person.”

As long as you say zazen is a good thing, something isn’t quite right. Unstained zazen is absolutely nothing special. It isn’t even necessary to be grateful for it... Without knowledge, without consciousness, everything is as it should be. Don’t stain your zazen by saying that you’ve progressed, feel better or have become more confident through zazen.” 
We only say, “Things are going well!” when they’re going our way.” 
We should simply leave the water of our original nature as it is. But instead we are constantly mucking about with our hands to find out how cold or warm it is. That’s why it gets cloudy.”

If we don’t watch out, we’ll start believing that the buddha-dharma is like climbing up a staircase. But it isn’t like this at all. This very step right now is the one practice which includes all practices, and it is all practices, contained in this one practice.” 

If you do something good, you can’t forget you’ve done something good. If you’ve had satori, you get stuck in the awareness of having satori. That’s why it’s better to keep your hands off good deeds and satori. You’ve got to be perfectly open and free. Don’t rest on your laurels!” 
Even if I say all of this about the buddha way, ordinary people will still use the buddha-dharma to try and enhance their value as humans.” 
You study, you do sports, and you’re fixated on satori and illusion. So that even zazen becomes a marathon for you, with satori as the finish line. Yet because you’re trying to grab it, you’re missing it completely. Only when you stop meddling like this does your original, cosmic nature realize itself.”

You’ve got it backwards if you talk about stages of practice...”

Master Dôgen doesn’t expect anything from us that’s not humanly possible. It’s simply a matter of becoming natural, without empty thoughts or peculiarities. Buddhism in general doesn’t demand anything special from us, only that we become natural. Some verses in the sutras might seem special to us, for example, 

“The white hair between his eyebrows illuminates the 3,000 worlds.” But that’s only a literary symbol for the samadhi that is the king of all samadhis.”

Master Dôgen’s whole life was one uncompromising, penetrating inquiry into himself.”

A bodhisattva is someone who awakens suffering beings. He’s an ordinary person who has the goal “buddha” clearly and decidedly in sight.”

When you talk about Buddha, you’re thinking of something far away that’s got nothing to do with you, and that’s why you’re only running around in circles.”

Ordinary people and buddhas have the same form. Awakening and illusion have the same form.”

You lack peace of mind because you’re running after an idea of total peace of mind. That’s backwards. Be attentive to your mind in each moment, no matter how unpeaceful it might seem to be. Great peace of mind is realized only in the practice within this unpeaceful mind. It arises out of the interplay between peaceful and unpeaceful mind.”

Translation of Kodo Sawaki's teachings by Jesse Haasch and Muho Noelke, found here.

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

keskiviikko 27. heinäkuuta 2016

Discover Your Innermost Awareness by the Dalai Lama

Discover Your Innermost AwarenessBY THE DALAI LAMA


In his teaching on the essence of Dzogchen, the Dalai Lama describes the shock that naturally accompanies an experience of innermost awareness, which is actually the basis of all reality.

”I have great interest in the statement by many wise persons in all the orders of Tibetan Buddhism that their systems come down to the same final principle, and I feel that this is what I should and must explain. Such an exploration may be controversial, but in any case, these great scholar–yogis say that all these systems come down to the same final basic insight, the same principle, because there is indeed a final basic experience on which they all alight. There is no way they would say this just to be polite.

In texts we inherited from India, the basic principle is sometimes called the “fundamental innate mind of clear light” or the “fundamental innate wisdom of clear light,” these two terms having the same meaning. In other texts, it is called the “space-diamond pervading space,” while in yet others it is called the “jewel mind,” as, for example, when it is said, “Separate from the jewel mind, there is no buddha and no sentient being.”

Then, in Tibet, in some texts, it is called “ordinary consciousness” and “innermost awareness.” These terms are used in the context of speaking about freedom from thought, which is psychologically and experientially described as “self-release,” “naked release,” and “unimpeded penetration.” The innermost awareness is said to be the basis of the appearance of all of the round of suffering (cyclic existence) and also the basis of liberation (nirvana). Everything, without exception, is complete in the continuum of innermost awareness. It is even said to be naturally arisen, since it has always been and always will be.

All of the phenomena of cyclic existence and nirvana are, when you come down to it, not newly produced by causes and conditions but integrally complete within the nature of primordial, naturally arisen innermost awareness; everything is contained within its sphere, within its scope. On the low end, the basis of the dawning of all of the phenomena of the world of suffering is this diamond mind of clear light; on the high end, the basis of the dawning of all the pure phenomena of liberation is just this innermost awareness, also called the diamond mind of clear light.

This is a topic well worth exploring for the sake of furthering our inner peace by opening our minds beyond our usual stream of thoughts. We should look into this with the aim of creating more peace with our neighbors and throughout our world.

Innermost Awareness Pervades Every Type of Consciousness

No matter what kind of consciousness we might consider, the clear light of innermost awareness pervades it. Ice, even when it is solid and very hard, does not pass beyond the nature of water. In the same way, no matter how gross, tough, or coarse conceptions might be, the place from which they dawn and the place into which they vanish when we no longer think about them does not pass beyond innermost awareness.

Conceptual awareness appears from within the sphere of innermost awareness and finally dissolves into the sphere of innermost awareness. Since this is the case, as the early twentieth-century scholar–yogi of the Old Translation (Nyingma) School Dodrubchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima says, just as oil pervades the entirety of sesame seeds, so clear light pervades all consciousness. He concludes that therefore even at the time of the manifestation of the coarser levels of mind—both during thinking and during the operation of the sensory consciousnesses associated with the eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body—it is possible to identify, through the force of a lama or guru’s empowering blessings* and quintessential instructions, a subtle feature of clear light that pervades each of these consciousnesses. 

*Added note. Lama Alan Wallace, Dalai Lama's direct student: "(There are) two approaches to identifying the mind. We can receive pointing out instructions from a qualified master, or we can just do the practice".

Practicing the Path Right Now

How can we take innermost awareness into the spiritual path right now? It is through being introduced to and identifying—in experience—the clear light that pervades all types of consciousnesses and one-pointedly meditating on this, sustaining attention to it within nonthought, nonconceptualization.

Then, as the clear light becomes more and more profound, the types of coarse thoughts diminish more and more. This is why this practice is called “the essential path through knowledge of which all states are released.” Coming to know this single innermost awareness in our own experience, we are liberated from all sorts of tense situations.

To identify innermost awareness, the most difficult part is to make the distinction between mind (sems) and innermost awareness (rig pa). It is easy to talk about this difference, to say, “Innermost awareness has never been infected by mistake, whereas mind is under the influence of conceptualization and polluted with mistaken thought.” This is easy to say, but in terms of actual experience in our own mental continuum, it is very difficult. Dodrubchen said that although we might fancy that we are meditating on innermost awareness, there is a danger that we are actually, in fact, merely maintaining concentration on the clear and cognitive nature of a more superficial mind, and so we need to take care. It is helpful to do the latter, but it is not so profound.

The Innate Mind of Clear Light

All Tibetan systems, in their final view, emphasize the fundamental innate mind of clear light. In terms of the center of these systems, all of the phenomena of cyclic existence and nirvana are the sport, the effulgence, of the fundamental innate clear light. Hence, the root, and foundation, of all of that is within the scope of cyclic existence and nirvana is the fundamental clear light.

This being so, when practicing the spiritual path, there is nothing else needed to purify these impure appearances—which themselves dawn from within the context of innermost awareness or clear light—than to turn the fundamental innate mind of clear light itself into that through which you practice the spiritual path. Manifesting the fruit of practicing the path, the fundamental innate mind of clear light itself, when separated from all obstructive defilements, is the resultant omniscience of buddhahood, a state from which the greatest benefit to others can be effected.

Introducing Innermost Awareness

I will now explain the first section of the text Three Keys Penetrating the Core, from the mind of the great adept Dza Patrul Jigme Chokyi Wangpo (1808–87). Patrul Rinpoche’s teaching, and thus his poem, is organized around three keys for uncovering innermost awareness, the Great Completeness. The essential meaning of how to place yourself in the core of reality is cast into three sets of quintessential teachings for the sake of severing the life, so to speak, of self-ruinous mistake. Here, I will discuss the first key:

The view, the multitudinous expanse,
Is cast in practical essentials of three keys.

I.First set your own mind in a relaxed state,
Not emitting, not withdrawing, without conceptuality.
In this relaxed state of total absorption,
Suddenly shout PAT, striking your awareness,
Strong, intense, short. E MA HO!
Not any thing, astounding.
Astounding, unimpeded penetration.
Unimpeded penetration, inexpressible.
Identify innermost awareness of the truth body.
Its entity is identified within yourself—the first essential.

I will try to provide a little commentary.


The initial introduction to the view of naturally arisen innermost awareness cannot be made while you are involved in constantly generating many conceptions, such as thinking about good and bad and the like. For instance, it is difficult to identify somebody you don’t know well in a huge crowd, but once you have been introduced to a person and come to know him or her, it is easy to identify the person even in the midst of a big crowd. Similarly, even though innermost awareness pervades every moment of consciousness, including every single thought, it is not possible to bring out innermost awareness in its nakedness without being introduced to it first, because it is bound and obscured by conceptual thinking. However, after you have identified it, you can see it even in the midst of a multitude of thoughts.

Therefore, without making any adjustments to your mind, such as by conceptually working at analysis, leave, among the various phenomena of the world, whatever appears to your mind—people, buildings, mountains, your work, your friends, your problems, and the like—as just an appearance, and do not get involved and polluted with identifying it and thinking, “This is such-and-such.” Since a state of mere appearance and mere awareness needs to be sustained, do as the author of the poem says and “first set your own mind in a relaxed state,” not allowing the busy state of a multitude of thoughts.

Stop Thinking for A While

Naturally arisen innermost awareness naturally exists within you; it is naturally there, not newly generated or constructed by superficial conditions. Rather, it is original wisdom, naturally flowing awareness whose continuum is itself fundamental, uncontrived. For it to become evident to you now, do not allow new superficially fabricated conceptions to develop. Do not emit new thoughts, and even when you notice that conceptions have been produced, do not exert yourself thinking that they have to be withdrawn; just let them disappear. As the poem says, “not emitting, not withdrawing, without conceptuality.” Rather, vividly stay completely within the self-flow, the natural flow of nonconceptuality. On the spot, let go of all conceptual thinking altogether.


Still, it is not sufficient just to keep your mind from diffusing and scattering. Even if bliss, clarity, and nonconceptuality dawn in meditative experience, these interfere with being introduced to and identifying naturally arisen innermost awareness. You need to avoid even bliss, clarity, and nonconceptuality. You have to get beyond all of these.

Therefore, in this relaxed state not affected and polluted by the tightness of conceptuality, suddenly shout PAT (pronounced “pat” with the tongue curled to the top of the mouth behind the front teeth while saying the final “t”)—strong, intense, and short—for the sake of immediately clearing out any and all of the commotion of thinking It is so-and-so, It is like this, It is like that. The sudden sound of PAT will strike conceptual thinking out of your consciousness: “In this relaxed state of total absorption, suddenly shout PAT, striking your awareness, strong, intense, short. E MA HO! Not any thing, astounding.”

Old thoughts have stopped and new thoughts have not yet been produced. For example, when a boat moves quickly through water, the water is moved to the two sides with an empty place right then and there in its wake at the back of the boat.

At the point of shouting PAT, between when you are unable to think your former thoughts and before you are able to produce new conceptions, in between those two, when you cannot make conceptual distinctions, there is astonishment, clarity, vividness, mere knowing.

If you have faith and keen interest, as well as a guide’s quintessential instructions, then remaining in place of the sudden removal of thoughts will be a sense of shock that cannot be identified as anything, this or that. The clothing of thought suddenly thrown off, you will be left in a state of wonder, feeling astounded, astonished.

There are several types of shock. One is like having your eyes closed and being unable to think anything; another is a state of nonconceptuality in which the mind is free from the pollutions of the mind being either too loose or too tight. There are also others. At this juncture, the emitting and withdrawing of conceptuality has stopped to the point where you are in a state of astonishment, having lost the power to recognize objects as this or that.

With a shock, mental activity suddenly halts. For example, when a dog suddenly barks near you, you can be shocked into being unable to think anything. Here, in this practice, you are released from the varieties of thought, from the binding confines of the groups of adventitiously generated new conceptions, but still it is not as if you have fainted. Rather, the perspective of your consciousness is vividly clear.

Texts speak of making evident a state in which the usual underlying consciousness has lost its intensity and conceptual apprehension cannot get started, and thus during this interval naked innermost awareness can manifest for a period. The great Tibetan scholar Mangto Lhundrub Gyatsho cites many scriptural sources, such as:

Between earlier and later conceptions, the continuum of the clear light of innermost awareness remains unbroken.

In the space between two thoughts, there is an easy opportunity for identifying this moment of innermost awareness.

Therefore, this state of shock is not just astonishment, but also has, as Patrul Rinpoche says, “Astounding, unimpeded penetration.” The nature of this is to be known, just as it actually is, in the context of experience, and is otherwise indescribable in words, so he says, “Unimpeded penetration, inexpressible.” Though called innermost awareness of the truth body, it is inexpressible as any of the poles of being existent, nonexistent, and so forth. This innermost awareness of the truth body must be identified in experience.

Unless you can identify it, there is no way to sustain the view of the Great Completeness in meditation. This type of meditation, in which you are sustaining the experience of innermost awareness, is a case of remaining within the experience of what you are meditating on, rather than meditating on an object.

Beyond this, as is clear in Dodrubchen’s writings, if you are able to recognize all phenomena as the sport, vibration, or effervescence of this naturally arisen innermost awareness, this allows you to easily see that phenomena do not exist in and of themselves, independently, and are only set up by conceptuality. When you identify innermost awareness, also called ultimate truth, and ascertain that all the phenomena of cyclic existence and nirvana are its effulgence, then along the way you understand that all pure and impure phenomena are, as the philosophical texts say, only nominally existent. You understand that all appearing and occurring objects of knowledge are adventitious and essenceless, that although such phenomena have, from the start, not been established under their own power, they nonetheless appear to you to have their own autonomous nature, whereupon you adhere to this sense of seeming existence from their own side. You further understand that this misapprehension leads to engagement in various good and bad actions and the accumulation of those predispositions, leading to still more entanglement in cyclic existence.

To identify innermost awareness and properly sustain it in meditation, it is important to have previously reflected on from where the mind arises, where it abides, and that into which it ceases, as well as other analytical techniques. For these practices, the reasonings as they are laid out in the great texts are helpful.

If you can cause all these phenomena to appear as the vibration of innermost awareness, not deviating from the sphere of that mind, you will not come under the influence of conventional conceptions. When you identify your own basic entity yourself and directly ascertain its meaning continuously and forever in meditative equipoise, then even though acting in the world, you are enlightened.”

This article is adapted from the Dalai Lama’s new book, The Heart of Meditation, translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins from oral teachings, published by Shambhala, 2016.

maanantai 18. heinäkuuta 2016

What to do when the world goes down hill

What to do when the 
 world goes down hill
An answer to an email.

P. had a similar peak of anguish because of the Paris attacks which is interesting from the viewpoint of "collective" subconsciousness (krishna yoni), which is your main job now. Of course, this kind of worried or frustrated reactions are nothing new to spiritually inclined people who often since childhood feel the pain that humanity inflicts on itself and on other beings. I know it too. This might sound a bit indifferent but I think that even us who are empathetic and try to be compassionate towards other beings, shoud not be too concerned about what is going on in the samsaric world. I think it is not good to be too bothered, troubled or burdened of what is going on. This planet with human beings in the lead is largely a place of blind action. That is how it is. I doubt, and I am not saying this negatively or cynically, that it will ever change from being like that. I hope it would change but at this point I am not too troubled about it or loosing my night's sleep because existentially blind people keep doing what they have done for ages and what they no doubt will keep doing in the future. I am saying this from a practical point of view. It doesn't mean I am indifferent to the pain and suffering of so many innocent victims of all these violent terrorist acts out there, I am not. But let's be smart about this and look at the core issue of it.

We who are on the yogic path, we try to understand our minds with the help of some meditation and mind training practices. We who have the possibility and circumstances to do this, are in a unique position because it is the ultimate way to eradicate that very existential blindness which causes hate, intolerance, fundamentalism and violence. I think it is the responsibility of us meditating yogis to practice what we have been taught, which is a priviledge that most people of the world do not have, and actualise the teachings. A politician will do his job, a police officer his, a soldier his, a doctor his and a lawyer his. Us yogis should do ours. Why? Because it is in the mind of ours where the causes of these terrible actions lie at. If you are just a bit angry  with some strong religious views in this life, maybe it doesn't seem so bad now but what will happen to this seed of anger and sectarianism in the next life or the life after that? Floods are created by small drops of water. We might end up like religious terrorists doing terrible things to others, violating our very own nature of wise compassion because of taking thoughts too seriously. We really should realise the dharma teaching. This is important. The matter of samsara and nirvana is serious for people who understand this because they realise that actions have consequences. But for others, it may not be so serious, they just act after their thoughts and ideas whatever they may be. Only person him- or herself knows what is best to him because it is all relative. From the absolute point of view, a yogi should be able to say what is wise and what is unwise, what is helpful and what is harmful, but we cannot make anyone accept our views because ours is the "right view" or the "only view". Earth as a realm is like that and human beings, often within their worlds of limited options, can and should be allowed to do what they want. It is like a big samsaric pot of many sorts of ingredients affecting each other. Life on Earth can be heavenly or hellish to people depending on their karma. Initially, it all comes from former tendencies and as we make further use of options available to us, we stir the pot, each in a way that we see as best. We all try to get to permanent happiness. I don't think anyone really attempts to lengthen their confusion, pain and suffering. No, we all try to get to happiness. But we are confused and do not know what happiness really is. There are so weird conceptions of what it is. What is crazy about humans is that you can take basically any weird thought-pattern and create a religion out of it. And get many followers! That is how poorly humans at large know themselves.

I think it is logical to think that planet Earth is not the only place where dharma-teachings are available. Surely not. We are not that special, although us humans would like that thought a lot, wouldn't we. Ha! No, I don't think we are that special. Human life is special because it has enormous spiritual capacity, enormous potential. But to tap it one needs to have liberating karma which means connections to teachings and teachers, plus circumstances to practice in order to release and make use of that potential. How many people in the world or in your city do practice meditation daily? It's a tiny portion of the whole population. Tiny. It may not have a great instant impact on the world or our city but it makes all the difference to ourselves, doesn't it? And when the karmic weather and the factors are there, yes, it is possible to tap all of that spiritual potential and become buddhas and christs.

We are human beings now so let's make the best of our lives and the circumstances we are in now. However, being human is just a temporary condition we are in at the moment. None of us is going to remain as a human for ever. None of us is going to be here in these same bodies after 100 years (or maybe few newborns will). To be a human now, with a human body and a human mind, with human circumstances and human friends is temporary. We have not always been humans and will not always remain as humans. At some instant, we will shed our bodies. As children we might be able to remember past lives as humans or in other forms, such as animals or in subtle form as spirit beings. But when we grow up, we usually forget about all this and become identified, locked, to being a human. However, this is just a temporary condition and if our minds becomes locked to believing that all we are are these bodies with four limbs, walking on two feet with an erect spine, talking and thinking about whatever it is that humans talk and think about, well, that's just another way of locking ourselves in a cage. An actor rehearses and acts different roles. Sometimes a master actor may have difficulty in shaking off of a role but in general actors know that they are acting a role, they do not really believe them being the acted character. I assume Sylvester Stallone always knew that he was acting Rocky Balboa and he didn't continue to talk and behave as Rocky when the film was done. However, us people do really come to believe all kinds of things, including that we are essentially human beings with 70 kg and 170 cm bodies doing all the stuff we do. But it's just a momentary role. How seriously you want to take that? Essentially, in the most profound meaning of the word, we are not limited to human body or the human mind. Essentially, we are colourless, shapeless, centerless, perfectly pure, transparent and selfless awareness. We are buddha nature. We are clarity itself. We are love itself. We are kindness itself. We are connectedness. We are not merely the relative condition we are in as human being with physical bodies, thoughts and ideas. We should know who we really are. That is what you should do, if that is something you want to do.

When we mature in this view, we should make this knowhow available to others. Share and guide others who have recognised the same problem. That's the way to go about it.

- Kim Katami, 18.7.2016

Open Heart,

sunnuntai 10. heinäkuuta 2016

Cessation by Culadasa John Yates

Cessation by Culadasa John Yates

Quoted from ”The Mind Illuminated” by Culadasa John Yates

The Mind-System model and unification process help us understand one of the most profound Insight experiences, the
cessation event. A cessation event is where unconscious sub-minds remain tuned in and receptive to the contents of consciousness, while at the same time, none of them project any content into consciousness. Then, consciousness ceases—completely. During that period, at the level of consciousness there is a complete cessation of mental fabrications of any kind—of the illusory, mind-generated world that otherwise dominates every conscious moment. This, of course, also entails a complete cessation of craving, intention, and suffering. The only information that tuned in sub-minds receive during this event is the fact of a total absence.

What makes this the most powerful of all Insight experiences is what happens in the last few moments of consciousness leading up to the cessation. First, an object arises in consciousness that would normally produce craving. It can be almost anything. However, what happens next is quite unusual: the mind doesn’t respond with the habitual craving and clinging. Rather, it fully understands the object from the perspective of Insight: as a mental construct, completely “empty” of any real substance, impermanent, and a cause of suffering. This profound realization leads to the next and final moment of complete equanimity, in which the shared intention of all the unified sub-minds is to not respond. Because nothing is projected into consciousness, the cessation event arises. With cessation, the tuned-in sub-minds simultaneously realize that everything appearing in consciousness is simply the product of their own activity. In other words, they realize that the input they’re accustomed to receiving is simply a result of their own fabricating activities. This has a dramatic effect. The sub-minds of the
discriminating mind have the Insight that everything ever known, including the Self, was nothing but a fabrication of the mind itself. The sub-minds of the sensory mind have a slightly different Insight: the only kind of information that ever appears in the mind that isn’t purely mind-generated is the input coming to them directly from the sense organs.

If the sub-minds are receptive but there’s nothing to receive, can a cessation event be consciously recalled afterward? It all depends on the nature of the shared intention before the cessation occurred. If the intention of all the tuned in sub-minds was to observe objects of consciousness, as with popular “noting” practices, all that’s subsequently recalled is an absence, a gap. After all, if every object of consciousness ceases, and there’s no intention for the sub-minds to observe anything else, then nothing gets imprinted in memory. However, if the intention was to be metacognitively aware of the state and activities of the mind, we would remember having been fully conscious, but not conscious of anything. We would recall having a
pure consciousness experience(PCE), or an experience of consciousness without an object (CWO).

To be clear, there is no actual “experience” of “consciousness without an object” during the cessation event, nor could there possibly be. That experience, like any other, is a construct of the mind, and in this case is generated
after the cessation event has already ended. How the memory of a cessation event is interpreted retrospectively takes many forms, depending on the views and beliefs held by the person whose mind is doing the interpreting. Thus, the cessation event itself is not a mental construct, but the subsequent interpretations are entirely constructed.

Regardless of what does or doesn’t imprint in memory, every sub-mind tuned in to consciousness during cessation must assimilate the event into its own representation of reality. As with any Insight experience, the new information forces a reprogramming of how all future experiences are interpreted and responded to. Realizing that all phenomenal experience, including the Self, are mere mental constructs, and therefore “empty” of any real substance, radically transforms how the mind functions. We understand, more clearly than ever before, craving and suffering as the grasping after mere mental constructs—and the more sub-minds are tuned in during the event, the stronger that understanding will be. Of course, it’s not that hard to acquire a conceptual grasp of these truths. Many have done so. But only Insight can establish this understanding at a deep, intuitive level.

The transformative power of a cessation event depends on how unified the mind was. Unification determines the overall size of the “audience” of sub-minds receptive to events in consciousness. Only the parts of the mind-system that were tuned in during the cessation are affected. If the mind were
completely unified, then every sub-mind within the mind system would be affected simultaneously, and there would be a complete Awakening of the entire mind-system. [Footnote: nirodha-samāpatti]

However, if the mind was only
partially unified, there are two possibilities: no transformation, or incomplete transformation. This is because a certain degree of unification is needed during the event to reach enough sub-minds to make any tangible, lasting difference to the whole mind-system. With too little unification, a person may have a very memorable peak experience, but with little or no lasting effect. However, if the critical threshold is reached, the second possibility is an incomplete transformation of the mind-system, limited to those sub-minds that happened to be tuned in at the time. Complete transformation must await subsequent cessations or other Insight experiences that have a similar impact on the remaining parts of the mind-system. This incremental process of transformation explains why Awakening is traditionally described as occurring in a series of stages.

Pointing out instruction by Alan Wallace

Pointing out instruction
by Alan Wallace

...Mindfulness of breathing is marvelous for this, settle body speech and mind at ease, and then mindfulness of breathing, full body awareness, let your awareness permeate the whole field of the body.

And in the midst of that, let’s already take a little step toward Dzogchen, the Great Perfection. And that is, while attending to the sensations corresponding to or correlated with the respiration, throughout the entire body, kind of the flow of energy through the whole body, corresponding to or related to respiration, while attending to the movements within the body, corresponding to the respiration, attend to this from a place of stillness. Your awareness, your mental awareness, resting in stillness while simultaneously attending to the flux, the ebb and flow, of the sensations of the breath throughout the body - stillness and movement, stillness and movement simultaneously.

As you calm, as the mind stabilizes, as the clarity of mind, like the sun rising over the horizon, the clarity of mind becomes clearer and clearer. Then make a segue into a practice that is called by various names, one is simply observing the mind, again from a vantage point of stillness. 
Direct your attention now single-pointedly to one out of six domains of experience, the domain of mental events, of thoughts, of memories, mental images, the same domain in which dreams arise at night, but also subjective impulses, like desires and emotions. And from the vantage of stillness, clarity of stillness, awareness that is at ease, still and clear, observe the theater of the mind – the comings and goings, thoughts, emotions, memories, fantasies and so forth. Coming and going, arising in the space of the mind, dissolving back into that space. And observe it in an ongoing way from that vantage point of stillness without, what psychologists call Cognitive Fusion, without getting caught up and carried away by the memories, the desires, the emotions and so forth. 
And then as you go deeper, look to the intervals between thoughts, attend to the very space of the mind itself. And attend clearly, discerningly … observe what is the nature of this space. Is it physical space? This is the space of the mind. Does it have color? Does it have shape? Does it have a center, a periphery? Does it have form? Does it have any physical qualities whatsoever? Observe it closely, the very space of the mind. 
And then as we move along the strategy, this is a very condensed course, as you are able to maintain that flow of clear, discerning, awareness, the space of the mind, And observing also how thoughts emerge from that space...

...Alright. So observe the space of the mind and now do something very clever. Withdraw the vector of your attention and withdraw it right into the very nature of being aware itself. Have no directionality, no vector. No object of attention outside of awareness itself and simply rest in an ongoing flow of awareness of being aware - consciousness of consciousness itself...

Observe consciousness, nakedly, without mediation. We’re almost there – that’s called Shamatha, it’s the subtlest and most profound method of Shamatha there is in the whole Buddhist tradition: the awareness of being conscious itself.
And now one step further and we’ll step into the domain of Dzogchen. Now carefully, incisively observe that which is observing. We call it the mind. Observe the mind. We call it awareness. Observe awareness. Observe that which is aware, that which thinks, that which intends. Observe the observer. And cut through the mind, right down to the very ground, which is Rigpa. 
And Dzogchen meditation is nothing more or less than cutting through to pristine awareness, Rigpa, and viewing reality from that perspective. And that right there is the view of the Great Perfection. 
So in your practice, - I just gave you enough to keep you busy for at least a few days – in your practice, when you come to the end, when you’re coming to the, where you’re able to sustain the flow of awareness of awareness, and then you cut through the flow of awareness of awareness to, the penetration to, that which is aware, you note a distinction between the awareness that gets distracted, and gets dull, and gets centered, and gets distracted again …. And that’s the mind.

But as you cut through to that which is aware, you may cut through to a dimension of awareness that is unborn and unceasing, that never moves, because it is not in time. It is unchanging and you can never wrap your conceptual mind around it. Because this baseline, this ground of awareness, from which all conditioned states of consciousness emerge. Transcends the very parameters of existence and non-existence. It transcends all conceptual categories. It can be known. It is not an ultimate mystery. It can be known directly without mediation, but only by itself. It can know itself. But your conceptual mind cannot grasp it. It is beyond its pay grade, it is beyond its scope.

So this Rigpa, this pristine awareness, it is present right now. It is where your awareness is. It is where your thoughts are, it is not something separate. It is not somebody else’s, it not God’s or Buddha’s or some other person’s. It is the ground state of your own awareness. And I’ll end on this note: hidden and in plain sight. So try that and see what happens. Thank you so much.

This talk can be found from here.