keskiviikko 27. kesäkuuta 2018

CR Lama's Unholy Style

CR Lama's Unholy Style

James Low talks about his teacher Chimed Rigdzin Rinpoche, also known as CR Lama:

"My main teacher is the late Chimed Rigdzin Lama, also known as CR Lama. He was a married lama who lived with his family and, when I knew him well in India, he taught in a university. He was a great scholar, a very powerful person, and he was not at all holy. He was very ordinary in his way of life. His qualities showed themselves without his making special claims about himself. In the lineages of Tibetan Buddhism there are many different styles of practice. Some lineages display themselves as being very pure and holy; that is to say, they set themselves in the domain of the sacred and create a mood which is separate from ordinary life. When you encounter that kind of setting you have the opportunity to experience something which is not like ordinary existence. Such settings tend to be ritualised and choreographed so that everyone knows their place and what they are, and are not, allowed to do. My teacher was, however, very much in ordinary life. He was very fond of university politics, supporting his friends and attacking his enemies. This is not holy activity. But oh, so very pleasurable! For many years I was his secretary, and I had to write, on the basis of his special English, very insulting letters. In order to enter his world I had to let go many of the assumptions I held about how to live in a proper way. In the end, in order to practise, we each have to find a style which is in harmony with the energy of our potential as it responds to each unique setting in which we find ourselves. Being in the mandala, or environment, that Rinpoche created was very disturbing, and yet it was also liberating. It opened the space to see that our world is indeed a construct of our beliefs and assumptions. Freeing ourselves from relative truth, from truth based on comparing and contrasting, involves a leap of faith. Encouragement to make this leap was Rinpoche’s wondrous gift."

lauantai 9. kesäkuuta 2018

What is Emptiness? How to Make Sense of Emptiness?

What is Emptiness? How to Make Sense of Emptiness?

Emptiness in sanskrit is shunyata. Emptiness is also called selflessness, I-lessness or me-lessness (anatman, anatta). Emptiness and selflessness refer to the self-empty nature of mind. This is the basis of buddhist thought and practice. One who has seen his mind to be completely without a self, has mastered the teaching of emptiness, is fully awake, that is, a living buddha.

The main reason why we suffer is the sense of self (skt. atman). We have thoughts, emotions and reactions within our mind and because of the accumulation of the self-thought, I or me, these mind elements make us convinced that we exist independently as separate entities. This is the basis of delusion and suffering (dukkha).

The buddhist path is concerned with interruption and putting an end to cyclic existence (samsara) through proper understanding of the nature of suffering and through proper yogic effort. Particularly insight meditation (vipashyana), also called by different names such as lhaktong or prajna, is what is unique to buddhist meditation. According to the teachings of buddhist masters vipashyana, lit. clear seeing, is the key to removing existential confusion (dukkha).

Buddhist teachings on emptiness such as the Heart Sutra famously states that, ”Form is emptiness, emptiness is form”. What is the meaning of this? Form refers to any sort of relative phenomena, physical or nonphysical. Relative phenomena occurs in one or two ways: 1. external phenomena reflected on the mind and 2. internal mind phenomena. If all phenomena are experienced empty, there is no cause for confusion to arise. If any phenomena appearing in the mind is not experienced as empty, and hence causes selfing, self-based reaction, this impulse can and should be used as fuel for vipashyana practice.


Emptiness cannot be properly understood by contemplating the existence of external things, such as a chair or a desk. The only way to have a liberating insight is to see that selfing happens in the mind, not somewhere outside.

Emptiness needs to be understood through emptiness. Even though impermanence (anicca) and suffering (dukkha) are the other two pillars of buddha dharma it is the insight into the empty nature of mind that liberates, not the other two.

Understanding emptiness through insight is crucial for all buddhist meditators, and in fact to all who suffer of existential confusion.

Meditation on emptiness is not difficult or lofty, but simple, grounded and easy-to-understand when taught and applied correctly. If the instructions are vague and lack clarity, there will be no result or it will take unnecessarily long time. Without emptiness insight it is impossible to make sense of any buddhist teachings. This is so because all buddha dharma is built on realisation of emptiness (insight, awakening, kensho, semngo tropa). If the foundation of emptiness is not solid, there is nothing to build a stable house on.

In the long run, not having a proper insight leads to twisted dharma that is harmful and misleading. The importance of direct insight has been stressed by numerous buddhist masters throughout the existence of buddhism. Without insight, the noncausal paths such as of zen, dzogchen and mahamudra are impossible to understand.

On societal and cultural levels the lack of experiential understanding of emptiness leads to great numbers of lost practitioners who are unable to have real faith about the buddhist path. For this reason the mahasangha of all beings doesn't reap true benefits through interconnectedness. All practitioners should first and foremost make sure that they understand emptiness through direct experience.

How do I know if my understanding of emptiness is right?

Insight, awakening or kensho means that part of one's deluded self-based mind becomes permanently deconstructed of the sense of self, me or I. Figuratively speaking, an insight makes a lasting hole in the wall through which the sight on the other side of the wall becomes easier to see. Without the hole one is shut behind the wall of self-delusion. An insight has a liberating effect. It makes a notable difference to have even a small hole in the wall, instead of having none, because looking through the hole instead of looking at the wall are two very different experiences.

Consecutive insights (bhumi openings), after the first one, keep making the hole bigger and bigger and in consequence it becomes easier and easier to see what is behind the wall. When insights are combined with regular daily practice, the outcome is that the separating wall becomes entirely deconstructed.

Also ”glimpses” into the self-empty nature of mind are needed. The difference between a glimpse and insight is that glimpse is not permanent.

When the hole is there our everyday life becomes a significantly different. A part of our narrow minded selfing has been permanently removed so this cannot not have an effect on our lives. Social relationships, work, creative work and other things in life are met from a more open minded and less opinionated place. Because selfing no longer happens the same way it used to, how the mind used to think, feel and react according to the self-based habits, life becomes more direct, more fresh and more intimate. This is the most profound change we can have.

There is nothing that can replace selfless insight because nothing else will deconstruct the sense of self. A simple indication that one matures in insight meditation is that one feels clear minded, open hearted, fresh and less reactive in everyday life.

Practical advice

In Open Heart vipashyana is practiced in both sutra and tantra forms. Sutra vipashyana refers to the Two-Part Formula for the first awakening and object-vipashyana instructions after that. Tantra vipashyana refers to Open Heart Yoga which because of the unique aspects in the practice has the power to generate a whole series of awakenings, bhumi openings, within a relatively short period of time. These awakenings (bhumi openings) are matured (bhumi perfection) by regular practice over a longer period of time.

A practice hint: When selfing happens, pay attention to tensions in the head space. The area inside the head, pre- or post-awakening, is the place where the impulse can be effectively seen through. 

-Kim Katami

Open Heart Sangha,

perjantai 8. kesäkuuta 2018

Taoist Master Attains Rainbow Body

Taoist Master Attains Rainbow Body

From book ”Qi Gong” by Baolin Wu

Du Xinlin, known as the Master of the Purple Luminescence, was an extraordinary modern seer. From his earliest childhood to his mystical passing from this plane, he lived his life as something more than a mere man. Tales of his feats of divination, martial artistry, and healing are recorded within the annals of both the Purple Cloud and White Cloud Monasteries.

At the age of 116, Master Du left the earthly plane. He lived his life as a towering mystic and master of the Taoist arts and had decided to dedicate his passing to a demonstration of the truth of his lifelong beliefs. What he accomplished was a manifestation of the power of Oi Gong few have ever attempted and no one had ever truly succeeded at in the modern era. His accomplishment is a significant event in Chinese cultural history. To present the inner teachings of 9 Palaces Microcosmic Orbit Oi Gong is a testament to his attainment and the fulfillment of his last living wish.

Du Xinling in 1988, photographed by Patrick Kelly.

A few years before, when Dr. Wu was still living with him, Master Du told him that he believed that Lao Zi, Wang Chongyang, and all his other teachers were waiting for him in the Nine Central Heavens. As Lao Zi's disciple, he was ready to join him there. He told the young boy about the Rainbow Body that a worthy believer could cultivate inside his mortal body and that if his righteousness  merited it, it could leave the body with consciousness and spirit intact, instead of physical death, to fly up to Heaven in a rainbow of light.

Transubstantiation and eternal life that bypasses corporeal death has a long tradition in the East. It is known as hong hua, literally a form of the word "rainbow" that can be used as a noun or verb: The Rainbow Body is cultivated within a righteous person's physical body at the moment in passing. Taoist and Tibetan Buddhist tradition is peppered with stories of famous monks, hermits, and high lamas who attempted this feat by devoting their lives to meditation, training, and saintly acts. The ones who attained the RainbowBody were revered forever as saints and Immortals. Those who tried to pass over by "rainbow-ing" but did not succeed in leaving the world without a trace of their physical remains left behind were still venerated , the remnants of their bodies kept enshrined as holy relics. One such relic had been housed in the White Cloud Monastery when Dr. Wu was a boy there. It looked like a tiny, shriveled little man about a foot and a half high, covered in leathery, age-darkened skin. It was explained to him that if there were any portions of the Rainbow Body practitioner's body that had not been properly purified beforehis or her attempt, it would be left behind in a shrunken, desiccated form.

Master Du told young Wu the day and the hour he was going to Rainbow and made him swear to be there to watch his attempt, no matter what. Soon he became so focused on his future that he would spend the whole day quietly whispering, "I'm going, I'm going" to himself. In the beginning, the boy thought, "My teacher must be too old ... what is he talking about, all day long just saying, 'I'm going, I'm going!' Toward the end, when he had to return to Beijing for his studies, he remembers pleading with his master to stop worrying and continuously talking about it with him, assuring him that he would skip school and do whatever else he had to do to be there and watch him when he was ready to leave. Even with his childhood of Taoist training, the teenage Dr. Wu was still skeptical of his master's unconventional ways and crazy ideas. But when that particular day finally came to pass, Master Du attained his Rainbow Body. Ever since, Dr. Wu deeply believes.
The day before he was set to make his attempt, Master Du called his young student to his side. He told him, "Tomorrow I will be rainbowed. I am goingto my place in the Ninth Level of Heaven to do my practice there. I am going to continue my studies with my master Lao Zi and sit at his feet, learning what he teaches, but from now on you are going to have to study by yourself. You're going to have to work hard. Of all my students, you have learned much, but I am worried for you. You don't study hard, you are skeptical in your practice, and yet you absorb my teachings so well. All that I know, I must pass to you because none of my other students have the wisdom and insight that you barely realize that you possess. Because of the troubles in China, there is no time or place to find someone better than you to pass these traditions to."

As he sat in a tub of hot water strewn with fragrant flower petals, being washed by his student, he talked to him at length about the key points of 9 Palaces and 5 Centers Qi Gong. He told him of the real meaning of martial arts, When you learn martial arts, you are not going after specific movements, or their proper visual form, or if your hand moves correctly or not. You have to have the feel of a natural force living within you. If you feel it rising inside you, then you can bring it out with power and dynamism. Why does it take more than one person to catch, control, and subdue an insane person? They have left behind all the things that have separated them from their original abilities. Within your own original abilities lies your power. Why was Wang Xiangzhai (the founder of yiquan) so successful in his martial arts? Because he was able to bring out his own personal essence, his own unique force. There are special trainings to accomplish this. If you just focus on supple movements it might be good exercise, but if you really want to learn true striking power, true healing power, true energetic power, the basic foundation is Qi Gong.

They talked together like that all night, the student bathing the master, the
master transmitting his last words of wisdom, from eight o'clock in the evening to five the next morning. When Master Du had said all that he could,he faced his apprentice seriously. "I know you question what I have taught you, but tomorrow I will show you the reality of this knowledge. Of all mystudents, you are the one with the most doubts. You have difficulty trusting in me or believing in the teachings. But I believe, because I believe my owneyes. I believe in myself. I know you are a good student. You're a very smartperson. You have good comprehension and understanding, you can see things through, clearly and quickly. You have your own measure of wisdom. If tomorrow I fail to attain the Rainbow Body, all I ask is that you bury my remains in the place I have directed you. You can go on with your life and never think about Taoism again. I have high hopes that if tomorrow you seewith your own two eyes that I have indeed succeeded, you will vow to teach the 9 Palaces nine hundred and ninety nine times in honor of the truth you have been witness to."

That day, the temple was decorated with flowers and auspicious banners. Monks with musical instruments played continuously. Over one hundred people were assembled, including silent monitors from the Communist Party. Master Du sat in complete stillness and silence on a silken meditation cushion embroidered with dragons. At high noon, the moment for the transition had arrived. At first he remained immobile. At his side, Dr. Wu momentarily grasped his shoulder with a small shake. Suddenly his teacher flared with a burst of energy. Still enclosed in profound contemplation, his body began to levitate, spinning straight up from its cushion, rising by itself and revolving faster and faster. Turning so fast his body was a blur, he hovered for a fleeting moment just above the heads of the stunned onlookers. The solidity of his form shifted, became indistinct. His outline evaporated into red smoke; a piercing ray of red light shot straight through the center of the sun, transfixing him; and at once, the Master was gone. He had departed. No trace was left, except a pleasing fragrance that filled the courtyard for hours after.

How can this be understood? How can it be explained? For the rest of the afternoon, Dr. Wu and his companions were lost in wonder and shocked
speechless. They had been witness to proof of the heights a lifetime's study
in Qi Gong could achieve.

Receiving a Practice from Sakya Sri

Receiving a Practice from Sakya Sri

by Lama Karl Eikrem

Hidden treasures, or mind treasures (tib. terma) are teaching that are concealed by a mahasiddha, such as Guru Rinpoche, for later discovery by yogins with karmic connection to the master. The reason for this is to make sure that authentic teachings, suitable to particular cultures are available for generations to come.

As impermanence also applies to the physical forms of dharma, teachings that have been in circulation for a long time, for example in old lineages, have a tendency to loose their efficiency because they get (1) outdated; that is their form is no longer suitable to a particular culture, mind set, paradigm etc., or (2) they get modified by teachers lacking in sufficient understanding of the underlying principles of dharma, rendering the teachings impotent or less effective.

Sakya Sri.

Hiding termas to be revealed within future cultures is a brilliant way of avoiding this.

In this text I would like to write about my own experiences with receiving termas, particularly the first teaching I received from the wonderful 19th century mahasiddha Sakya Sri. 
To conclude I would like to present a quote from Kunzang Dechen Lingpa, as stated by his close student Acharya Malcolm Smith:

My late teacher, an important terton, said if you want to be a terton, the only real requirement is faith in Guru Rinpoche. If you supplicate him strongly enough with genuine compassion for sentient beings, then you might be able to reveal terma.” 

Find out more about Sakya Sri here. This text can be viewed as a video lecture by Karl Eikrem with additional notes by Kim Katami here


In September 2017, my teacher Kim Katami and I did a short casual retreat at a cabin in Eastern Finland. One evening, as we were about to meditate, Kim showed me a picture of Sakya Sri on his phone. As soon as I saw the picture, my being was flushed with a warm presence and the room lit up with powerful blessings that clarified our minds. After a while of sitting and taking in the blessings of Sakya Sri, Kim said to me:

If you now ask for a teaching, advice or an instruction, you will get it.”

Being unfamiliar with the experience of receiving teachings from non-physical masters, I asked the mahasiddha to make sure to remove my doubts by making it obvious that this was not a product of my own imagination. 

A moment after passing the request, my body started feeling very hot. In my mind's eye I saw a fireball, a bright burning star forming above the crown of my head. At first I was taken back a little by the sudden change of the inner environment, but I kept watching the ball as it took on a life on its own.

First it slowly descended from above the crown, through the skull and down the central channel within the spine stopping at the perineum. As it was moving, the ball of light was illuminating the central channel. I could see and feel it very clearly.

After sitting at the base of the spine for a few moments, the fireball started slowly going back up again, but this time it stopped at the crown inside the skull. Then the light started expanding upwards, splitting my skull open to form a sort of upside down cone of light emanating from the top of the skull. It felt like a volcano eruption from the top of my head. After that the whole central channel, still glowing, expanded to cover my entire aura, or energy field, an area of approximately 3 meters in diameter around my body. After a while the intensity slowly faded, until there was nothing but spacious awareness left. I remember experiencing an afterglow that lasted the entire rest of the evening, as well as a feeling of euphoria due to not having purified all karmic patterns.


During the time that has passed since this evening , I have received a few teachings from different masters, all of which have been less intense experiences. I actually realized that I have received teachings before the one described here, but because I had no framework with which to understand and make sense of the experience, there was no way for me to interpret it and make use of it.

Although some tertons, such as Dudjom Lingpa, seem to have been gifted with the ability of unlocking termas from childhood, it seems to me that most people need a framework to do so. This idea has lead to believe that receiving termas isn't necessarily that rare an experience, it's just that most people and cultures don't have this framework. Because of this, very few people are able to making use of these universal experiences.

I hope that the writing and publication of this short text, will be a small contribution to the general acceptance of the fact that human beings have the ability to communicate and receive teachings from non-physical beings, and that this again will help us move towards a more mature culture, one that embrace all the principles of dharma.

May all beings be free!

Dharma Sun Visualization of Shakya Shri

  1. Sit down, relax and recognize the basic space.
  2. Ask Sakya Sri to give a blessing for yourself, for it to benefit of all sentient beings. Receive it and feel it for few moments.
  3. Then visualize a bright sun above the head. See the bright light, feel the warmth of it. Bring the sun down the central channel, through the top of the skull and down to the base of the spine. Notice that it illuminates the central channel as it moves. Then, feel the light erupt from the base of the spine, shooting upwards through crown, like a fountain of light. See that, along with this eruption, the central channel expands to a diameter of 2½ to 3 meters so that it covers the whole aura. Feel it in your whole being.
  4. Leave the active visualization and enjoy the natural state for as long as you wish, at least 10-15 minutes.
  5. Give thanks to the master and dedicate the merit of the practice session to all sentient beings. 
    Lama Karl instructs this practice on this video:


An Illiterate Attains Rainbow Body

An Illiterate Attains Rainbow Body

When I went to my master Changchub Dorje, I was educated up to the hilt in the intellectual sense. My mind was filled with everything I'd learned in the monastic colleges. I thought that to receive transmission of the teachings, elaborate ritual initiations were essential and I asked Changchub Dorje to give me a certain initiation. I asked him every day for days and days, but he always refused.

'What's the use?' he'd say. 'You've already received so many of those initiations from your other masters; initiations like that are not the principle of the Dzogchen teachings. Transmission isn't only received in formal initiations.' But no matter what he said, I remained fixed on the kind of perfectly performed ritual initiations other masters had always given me. I wasn't satisfied with his replies, and I wanted him to put on a special hat, prepare a mandala, and pour a little water on my head, or something like that. That was what I really, sincerely wanted; but he always continued to refuse.

Finally, I insisted so much that he at last agreed. He promised that about two months later, on the day of Padmasambhava, the tenth day of the Tibetan lunar month1, he would give me the initiation I wanted, the empowerment of Samantabhadra and the peaceful and wrathful divinities of the Bardo. This initiation is actually not very complicated, and a master skilled in such things
could have completed it very quickly. But Changchub Dorje had never received a formal education, and he was not used to giving initiations. When the long-awaited day finally came, the initiation took him from about nine in the morning till midnight. To begin with, he had to prepare himself by performing a rite of self-initiation. This took him until mid-day to complete. Then he began the initiation for me. But, not being formally educated, not only couldn't he read the text himself, but on top of that I could see that he didn't know how to do all the ritual things he was supposed to do. He wasn't that kind of a master.

So Changchub Dorje had a disciple present as an assistant who was himself an expert teacher, and it was he who prepared all the mandalas and ritual objects. Then this disciple began to read the text to tell the master what he had to do next. But when he read out that a certain mudra, or gesture, should be done by the master giving the initiation, Changchub Dorje didn't know how to do it, so they had to stop while he learned it. Then there was a whole long invocation that was supposed to be chanted, invoking all the masters of the lineage, and while chanting it, the master is supposed to sound a bell and a damaru, or small drum. Someone who is used to rituals can perform all this very quickly, but Changchub Dorje wasn't used to such things, and the whole situation became outrageous, a complete farce.

First of all he worked out with his assistant what was written in the notes to the text. 'Ah!' he said. 'It says here that you have to sound the bell!' So he took the bell, and for about five minutes all he did was sound it over and over again. Then it was read out to him that you have to sound the damaru. So he sounded the little drum over and over for about another five minutes. Then he suddenly said: 'Oh, now I see! You have to sound the bell and damaru together!' So he did that. But by then he had forgotten what it was that he was supposed to chant, so he had to go through it all again with the help of the disciple who could read.

Changchub Dorje himself hadn't had the kind of education that involves study, but was a practitioner who had manifested wisdom and clarity through the development of his practice, and it was because of this wisdom and clarity that he was considered to be a master. So he hadn't received the kind of monastic training that would have prepared him to give all the various kinds of formal empowerment, and he stumbled through the initiation he gave me taking all day and a good deal of the evening to do it. By the time he had finished, I was almost in a state of shock, as, given my own background, I knew very well how an initiation should be done, and it was nothing like this.

But by then it was nearly midnight, and we were all very hungry. We sang the Song of the Vajra together many times. This is a short, slow, anthemic chant, characteristic of the way Dzogchen works with ritual, that leads the practitioner into contemplation through integration with its actual sound, the structure of its syllables and melody ensuring deep, relaxed breathing. Then we recited a short Gana Puja offering, and we ate. After the meal the master gave me a real explanation of the true meaning of initiation and transmission, and I realized that despite all the formal initiations I had received at my college, I had never understood or entered into the true meaning of them.

Then, without interruption, for about three or four hours, Changchub Dorje gave me a real explanation of Dzogchen, not teaching me in an intellectual style, but talking to me in a very straightforward and relaxed, friendly, conversational way. Despite all my education, this was the first time a master had really made such a direct attempt to get me to understand something. What he said, and the way that he said it, was exactly like a tantra of Dzogchen, spoken spontaneously, continuously aloud, and I knew that even a very learned scholar would not be able to speak like that. Changchub Dorje was speaking from clarity and not just from an intellectual understanding.

Copied from Crystal and the Way of Light by Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche.

Nyala Changchub Dorje was Dzogchen master renowned as the teacher of Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. He was born in the Nyarong region of Kham and studied with Adzom Drukpa, Nyala Pema Dündul, his student Nyala Rangrik Dorje and the Bön master Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen (1859-1935).
Nyala Rinpoche led a community of Dzogchen practitioners in Nyalagar in the Dedrol area of Kham. He attained the rainbow body. Copied from here.