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