perjantai 31. toukokuuta 2019

The First Person Who Opened All Bhumis with Dynamic Concentration

The First Person Who Opened All Bhumis with Dynamic Concentration

Kim's Comment: I received an email from ”CN”, who told me of her success with Open Heart practices. She briefly tells about her practice history in theravada buddhism and further progress with core Open Heart practices that she learned from the website and YouTube-videos. She is the first one who has opened all 13 bhumis without receiving tantric empowerments, by the power of Dynamic Concentration and other central exercises. I have asked CN for a more detailed account which will be published soon in this blog.

CN: First of all, I would like to thank you for making your teachings available on YouTube, the website and your books. I have benefitted greatly from them. I first heard Open Heart from the Dharma Overground website and was intrigued, I have been practising Theravadan Vipassana meditation for about 10 years and had reached 2nd path but wasn't seeing further progress. Once I started practicing with your guided meditations on YouTube, my practice became much more enjoyable and felt easier and also started to notice Bhumi openings. And I (humbly) believe that I may have open the 13th bhumi. My experience on the 11th bhumi opening lines up with several of the testimonials I have read. I have noticed other practices hinted at in the YouTube videos, so I would like to sign up for your course to learn these. I live in western Canada, , which is 10 time zones behind Finland.
Since I moved away from the Theravadan practice, I was doing a combination of Guru Yoga, Dynamic Concentration and Ati Yoga. I mostly followed the video: Introduction to Tibetan Heart Yoga: Guided Practice and the Dynamic Concentration: Buddha, Dharma & Sangha as well as others that you have available, I particularly enjoyed your recent series on Bodhicitta. Yes, opening the 11th was amazing, the natural state feels so available now.

Kim: Ah, so there it is... The effect of dynamic concentration. I am so happy to hear that you opened those bhumis with the help of these non-tantric exercises. All of my students have received Open Heart Yoga empowerment before beginning dynamic concentration practice, so you are the first one who actually opened all bhumis without empowerment. I am thrilled to hear that!

Learn more about Dynamic Concentration from 
What's Next? On Post-Awakening Practice-ebook.

keskiviikko 29. toukokuuta 2019

Requests of Formal Investigation Have Been Sent to High Lamas of Tibetan Buddhism

Requests of Formal Investigation Have Been Sent to High Lamas of
Tibetan Buddhism

Dear Students and Dharma Friends,

For several years there has been ongoing doubt and crticism online about the authenticity of Open Heart teachings, taught by yours truly. Although there has been cases like mine in Tibet where tertons have gone unrecognised until advanced age, it is customary within the tradition of Tibetan buddhism to recognise tulkus (reincarnations) and tertons (revealers of fresh dharma teachings) by high lamas of particular schools. I have personally tried to connect and meet some lamas over the past years with a request that they'd look into Open Heart teachings but I have not been able to reach lamas who would have the power to do formal recognitions, or rejections. For this reason, early this year I asked my close student Karl Eikrem to write a formal request of investigation about Open Heart and myself, and send it to several high lamas of various schools of Tibetan buddhism. These letters were sent late March 2019 and at the moment we are waiting if any of them answers it. I have decided that this will be the last effort to reach out for formal investigation. After this I will not spend any more time on this matter but of course I hope some of these lamas will look into the matter.

Open Heart is often discussed in negative light and is shunned by many because I do not have a letter of formal recognition. It is understandable because I use some Tibetan terms and descriptions in my teachings and also because Open Heart is said to be both mahayana and vajrayana path. It is understandable that followers of orthodox Tibetan vajrayana traditions question and critisize this because I do not have the type of qualification they expect to see. It is always the case that the validity of dharma and yogic teachings need to be verified first hand but since there is the Tibetan establishment with its ways and forms, it has sometimes been suggested to me to try to reach out to high lamas of Tibetan vajrayana for verification. Personally I do not feel a need for such recognition but I know perfectly well that in this world where everyone's papers and credentials is the first thing checked, having such recognition would be greatly useful and beneficial. So personally I don't feel a need to be verified by anyone because everyone can verify the authenticity from our freely and openly given teachings online or at events. However, I would be delighted to connect with high lamas with both yogic skills and power to conduct such investigations.

The biggest problem that lies on the way of this possible recognition or rejection is that Open Heart has no connection whatsoever with any lama of any Tibetan buddhist lineage. Open Heart is an outsider when it comes to the Tibetan vajrayana establishment and therefore also it might be difficult to get in touch with high lamas. It would be a different case if I was a long time student of Tibetan buddhist lama as there are many Western students, lineage-practitioners, who have been recognised by Tibetan lamas. Being a Westerner is not the problem, being a complete outsider is.

It has now been about 2 months since the letters were sent, some by email, some in snail mail. I hope we will hear of them soon. I also hope Open Heart Sangha says prayers for this purpose in their practice. I do not know how long it might take the assistants to get to our email and when we could wait for their response but I guess if any of them is going to do anything about it, 6 months should be enough time for initial reply. Now we just have to wait and hope for the best.

If an investigation by the below mentioned high lamas will ever take place and produce an outcome, whether approval or disapproval, I will make these results public.

The formal request of investigation was sent to the following lamas:

HH 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, Head of Gelug
HH 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, Head of Kagyu
HH 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje, Head of Kagyu
Jigme Losal Wangpo Rinpoche, Head of Nyingma
HH Shakya Trichen, 41st head of the Sakya
Chetsang Rinpoche, Head of Drikung Kagyu
HH Ratna Vajra Rinpoche, 42nd head of the Sakya
Dudjom Tulku Sangye Pema Zhepa Rinpoche, Head of Dudjom Tersar
Zurmang Rinpoche, Head of Zurmang Kagyu

Yours in Dharma,

Kim Katami, 29.5.2019,
Founder and Head Teacher of Open Heart Sangha
Open Heart,

In its entirety, this post may be freely shared.

Three Precious Book Gems from Open Heart By Arwen Jayne

Three Precious Book Gems

from Open Heart

By Arwen Jayne

Copied with permission from:

I'm a doing person so I don't get around as much to reading as you'd expect from an author. This week a five hour up and five hour back trip, as a passenger, gave me ample time to finish rereading Kim Katami's first book "Awake! Handbook of Awakening" and read his latest "What's Next? On Post-Awakening Practice" and "Open Heart Preliminary Practices" (linked below).

So what are they all about?

Waking up means awakening to the fact that we are more than our mentally constructed and heavily labelled selves, bound by skin and bone. We are beyond the limits of time, space and self. You can understand this conceptually or philosophically and there are certainly many on youtube and other places where people do discuss non-dual reality and experiences. The idea, however, has little meaning until it is experienced. Back in 2012 I was frustrated by all the secrecy that surrounded how to get to having experience. Many fobbed it off as something that would take many lifetimes, in the meantime just lead an ethical life and have compassion for others (not even pointing out that compassion for your own situation was important too.

Not willing to take many lifetimes I'd spent much of my life up to that point looking for practical know how. I found hints of it in the gnostic christian teachings, pagan connection to the oneness of nature, quaker teachings of listening within. Toltec shamanism teachings on love and relationship to others. I attended Satyananda yoga and learned to stare at a flame, learning to witness life as an observer. I learned Kriya yoga, pranayama, breath control etc. Tai Chi was a wonder that taught me the dance of movement and stillness. Shivasim hinted at an absolute. Buddhism entranced but seemed buried in layers, limited in its accessibility to the empowered and the ordained. Always cautious of giving my power away to others I stayed away. At least until I found Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's Bon teachings relating to dzogchen and dream yoga. Then I found Lama Yeshe's book on the clear light of bliss and authors such as Anam Thubten. But by then I'd had my first awakening. That falling away of self and the realisation of the boundless absolute. Connection to everything and beyond thing. Wanting the happiness of all the parts (people animal and things) sharing my physical existence. Wondering at the craziness of the world that chased after so much 'us and them' stuff, competing, striving, setting goals, only to fade and die leaving all at the so called end. But there was no end. Post that first wakening I chucked a heap of books from my esoteric library as they were a bunch of nonsense.

Fast forward to about three years ago. Youtube, its algorithms knowning my interest in dzogchen and the non-dual, started suggesting I watch videos from Open Heart Yoga. It was exactly what I needed at the time to deepen my practice. One of the problems of awakening is that you form an attachment to the experience you've had. You don't want to lose the insights. Yet the world starts to close in on you again. Work, family illness, world events all try to drag you back into that closed awareness of self as the only reality. For me, my way to stop that happening was to write. To journal my ideas, on this blog or hiding them in novels, hoping that most might enjoy the novels but others would see more.  It is that sharing and connecting, developing a sanga of sorts of like minded souls that gives refuge from the pervasive illusion around us.

So, Kim's books.

Possibly one should start with "Open Heart: Preliminary Practices" to lay some ground work. I never did. I came to preliminary practices rather late in the piece, long after my first awakening experience. All good commensense, which I do practise daily now. At least my own version, coloured by the teachings I have followed over time.

"Awake! Handbook of Awakening" - this is the book I wish I'd had fall in my lap much earlier in life. It would have saved so much time and work. It's all there in two easy steps. First: Scan the body and release the tension. In the space where the tension was find, well the space. Allow such spaces to connect up. Rest in that space. Marinate in it. Kim uses this term marinate quite eloquently throughout his teachings. Like what's the use of saying a mantra if you don't take time to accept its blessing, by marinating in it. The second step - well I want give any  spoiler here - read it. It's free. There are youtubes by Open Heart Fi that will explain the same if you prefer an auditory-visual approach.

The last book goes into something that isn't unique to Open Heart Yoga but rarely explained by other traditions. To be honest I initially dismissed this Bhumi model, or explaination of the degree of opening of the chakras and higher chakras as unnecessary to my path. It seemed a bit hierarchical and at danger of being a grading system for practitioners. I hate grades. But finally reading this book I realised that what it was about was extending the awareness of openness one feels upon awakening. Extending that awareness outward and upward, as well as downward, like ripples in a pond. I gave it ago. I felt it. When I looked again at the photos in the book I had an aha moment. Not crazy selfies afterall. You could really look at the change in the amount of openness in the individual as they grew in the path. I looked back through my old license photos. Greyer in the hair yes but there was no missing the inner peace that shone back at me in my latest. Having enjoyed a number of Shinzen Young's videos I appreciated the tale about him seeing a photo book and knowing what the theme of the book was, awakening in the face of great odds, from simply seeing the faces. On a practical level this can be a useful way for us to look at teachers who claim awakening, not to judge them as good or bad (we all have our worthwhile stories to tell) but as an indicator of where they're at, context perhaps.

The day after I read this book something interesting happened. I was visiting family when I met an energy healer. When she told me she practised reiki and theta healing I didn't dismiss her. I've experienced reiki a time or two but stayed away from it because it was either one extreme or the other, ineffectual or so damn strong it left me jittery for days. She made an interesting offer, to apply some reiki symbols to a ring I wear that has great meaning to me. I had no expectations. After using some water from the tap to loosen the ring off my finger I handed it two her and then ... well! While she was working I felt something strange happening between my heart chakra and my throat chakra, a tingling, a coming to life or something. I looked up later and found that this is the location of something called the thymus chakra or higher heart chakra. The website below has this to say on it "
Opening our thymus chakra enhances our willingness to forgive and to show compassion." and that "Reiki can be applied to the client’s entire energetic network or concentrated on selected chakras in spot treatments." All this seemed entirely synchronous. The day before I was exploring the higher chakras and then bam! this. So I am encompassing this chakra in my bhumi practise.


Also see:

torstai 23. toukokuuta 2019

The Meaning of Prayer Wheels

The Meaning of Prayer Wheels

For context, read Lama Zopa Rinpoche's About Prayer Wheels:

Dear readers,

Prayer wheels are something that I have grown attraction for during the past couple of years. By seeing many yogi-lamas, such as Sherab Zangmo and Garchen Rinpoche, whose teachings I have often followed, spin a prayer wheel, made me consider that there must something important to it. I have intuitively felt that the practice of prayer wheel, turning it with the heartmind of enlightenment (skt. bodhicitta) towards all sentient beings while chanting mantras, would be highly beneficial and effective. I am sure that in the minds of many, prayer wheels are seen as something belonging to Tibetan culture and Tibetan form of vajrayana buddhism. However,

Texts suggest that the prayer wheel lineage remained with the nagas for millions of years until the time of Nagarjuna, a famous Indian Buddhist scholar, philosopher, and yogi. Nagarjuna is associated with the rise of Mahayana Buddhism during the first century B.C.E. and is known as the founder of the Middle Way school of Buddhist philosophy...”*

*The Wheel of Great Compassion, Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Discussing nagas and time spans of ”millions of years” might be too much for many but I'd like to point out that Nagarjuna is the first master associated with prayer wheels, and he was Indian, not Tibetan. Actually, very few teachings, methods and practices originated in Tibet. In the case of prayer wheels, it appears to have originated from India in our human realm and later extensively exercised within the closed borders of Tibet until Cultural Revolution. Anyway, the idea of prayer wheel is more ancient than the nation of Tibet and it is in such practices that go beyond the recent history and particular cultures, where the timeless principles behind practices are found.

Sherab Zangmo, legendary Tibetan yogini, spinning prayer wheel.

Prayer wheels are tantric devices, embodiments of tantric technology, since they are filled with mantras, that are then consecrated or empowered by a tantric professional, that is, a lineage holder of a tantric lineage. Just like land areas, buildings, vehicles and all kinds of objects can be consecrated by vajrayana lamas, prayer wheels also are charged. Like in all vajrayana practice, it is consecration that makes the prayer wheel an exceptionally potent device through which one's personal mantra practice is multiplied in its power and effect. In other words, a consecrated prayer wheel is an amplifier of one's practice efforts that consequentially reaps greater benefits. This, of course, is something that any practitioner who understands the depth and difficulty of samsara, is interested about.

I began to look for my own prayer wheel 2-3 years ago but never wanted to acquire ones that were heavy, noisy or of poor quality. It is not easy to find a high quality prayer wheel but then I was fortunate to stumble upon Tibet Tech, which is an American company lead by long time Tibetan vajrayana practitioners of the Sakya lineage. They had innovated the traditional prayer wheel by using a lathe for the steel parts and replacing mantras printed on paper or microfilm with DVD-discs filled with mantras. DVD's allowed them to include many times more mantras inside the wheel than what printing allows. Usually prayer wheels contain 100 000 to a million mantras. Tibet Tech's hand held prayer wheel contains 8 DVD's with 8 different mantras, that add up to over 84 billion.

I acquired the basic hand held model from Tibet Tech and then asked one of my students to make me 8 DVD's with the mantras we use in Open Heart, so that I could use prayers that I practice, instead of using those of the Sakya lineage, consecrated by a Sakya lama.

My prayer wheel contains altogether 52.4 billion mantras:

  • Basic Prayers (both versions of Refuge, Bodhicitta and Dedication of Merit),
  • Namo Guru Rinpoche,
  • Namo Yeshe Tsogyal Ye,
  • A BA HU Mani Mantras,
  • A BA HU Tara Mantras,
  • Song of the Vajra Prayers (in both English and Dakini language), and
  • A BA HU Vajra Guru Mantras.

Once I finished the decoration of my prayer wheel with Mark Rothko's (one of my favourite painters) art, it was consecrated by Guru Rinpoche. This made it finished and ready for action.

Kim's Prayer Wheel.

Since about a month that I have had it and practiced it almost daily, I have been amazed by the power it has, and at this stage of my yogic career, I am not easily amazed. I have also asked few of my senior students to try it and all of them felt the same thing. It is truly a remarkable device of liberation.

Open Heart, our way of dharma practice, has been founded to provide Western lay people with a vajrayana path that is devoid of foreign cultural traits and language. Because we are discussing a vajrayana method, which is abound with concepts strange to the modern secular mind, it is not an easy task. Now, on top of gurus, deities, mantras and whatnot things that seem odd and excessively mystical to any, I am delighted to add prayer wheels on this list of strange things, solely because they are of immense spiritual value.

May all beings be free,

Kim Katami, 23.5.2019
Open Heart Sangha,

About Prayer Wheels by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

About Prayer Wheels 
by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Foreword from The Great Wheel of Compassion
by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche

I'm very happy that Lome Ladner has brought together here the incredible benefits of the practice of the prayer wheel from the various texts the benefits of making the prayer wheel and of practicing turning the prayer wheel. Even Tibetan texts on this subject are not easy to find. I myself had to wait to find a text on this practice.

I heard about the benefits of this practice from Geshe Lama Konchog, who spent his life in Milarepa's caves and in hermitages doing many years of retreat, practicing guru devotion and the Three Principles of the Path, and doing two thousand Nyung-nays (retreats on the Compassion Buddha involving fasting and prostrations). He inspired me about the prayer wheel, explaining that the practice of the prayer wheel has unbelievable benefits. So, I waited for many years to find texts and asked a few lamas about this. Finally, Geshe Lama Konchog told me that another lama named Kechok Rinpoche had one short text that summarized the benefits. As Kechok Rinpoche was living in Australia, I kept it in my mind very strongly that as soon as I got to Australia I would immediately call him and get the text. So, I did that. Normally I am very lazy about reading Dharma texts, but this one I read immediately. The benefits described were a big surprise and caused much faith to arise. So, I put the text on my crown and then prayed to spread this teaching everywhere, in all directions. I made this commitment in the presence of the Compassion Buddha. After that, I built prayer wheels in the East and West, small and big ones, as well as hand-held.

In 1991, my students Lome and Theresa came to Nepal, and I told them some benefits of this practice for purifying the mind and accumulating merit. They then got a small prayer wheel from the market at Boudha Stupa. They became inspired and started to produce many home prayer wheels with microfilm and paper mantras inside. They gave me one, and I offered it to the king of Nepal. The Nepalese king asked me whether he should keep it. I said "Yes, and if you have this prayer wheel next to you at the time of death, then your consciousness will be reborn in a pure land of Buddha." Because he's Hindu, bringing up this subject was a little unusual. I hope he still has it. Lome and Theresa also offered a prayer wheel to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. So I want to thank them very much for all those prayer wheels they made and gave to many people. Now they're making available in English a collection on the benefits of this practice.

The prayer wheel is a manifestation of the Compassion Buddha's holy speech. Through this practice, one then achieves the holy mind, holy body, and all the qualities of the Compassion Buddha. Some readers may find some of the quotations about these benefits difficult. For example, in the text by the Fourth Panchen Lama, I translated a section in which Amitabha Buddha says, "Anyone who recites the six syllables while turning the Dharma wheel at the same time is equal in fortune to the Thousand Buddhas," and in which Shakyamuni Buddha says that turning the prayer wheel once is better than having done one, seven, or nine years of retreat. The prayer wheel is such a powerful merit field; by doing this practice, one accumulates extensive merit and purifies obstacles. The intent of these quotations is to give some idea of or expression to the fortune of anyone who who has the opportunity to engage in this practice. Turning the prayer wheel once is more meaningful than doing many years of retreat without the altruistic mind of enlightenment [Skt. bodhichitta] and without clear generation of the deity, lacking stable concentration, and so forth. It does not mean that by turning the prayer wheel once one equals an arya bodhisattva in equipoise meditation. I do think, though, that especially if one turns the prayer wheel with bodhichitta
motivation while doing the mantra recitation, one will collect much more
extensive merit to quickly achieve enlightenment than an arhat who abides for many years in the blissful state of peace for oneself alone.

Here also we can understand the quotation from Padmasambhava, in which he says that "even those lacking perseverance in their practice, who pass the time passively, will be able to attain mystic powers [Sanskrit: siddhis ] . Those with perseverance for reciting the mantra and turning the wheel will undoubtedly attain the tenth ground [Skt. bhumi]; it instantly eliminates all the immeasurable negative karmic obscurations. Whatever mind-bound deity [Tib. yidam] you wish to practice will be achieved simultaneously. Even if one has no thought to benefit oneself, encouraging another to write the mantra and turn the wheel eliminates one's own negativity and completes one's good qualities."

So, one can understand that this practice of turning the prayer wheel is a result of the unbearable compassion of all the buddhas for us sentient beings-whose minds are so obscured and filled with disturbing thoughts, like an ocean covering a whole city, and who are extremely lazy and ignorant-to guide us to enlightenment as quickly as possible. It helps us to complete the accumulation of extensive merit and purify obscurations so as to achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.

When reading of the benefits, it may also be helpful to reflect that many human beings do not have the opportunity, the karma, even to see a holy object, such as a statue of Buddha, in their whole life. As just seeing such holy objects purifies the mind and plants seeds in the mind to achieve enlightenment or liberation, this means they don't have this opportunity to purify in such an easy way. In this world, the number of Buddhists is small compared to those practicing other religions. And even being a Buddhist doesn't mean that one is a Mahayanist. So Mahayanists are few in number, and even many Mahayanists don't get the opportunity to meet with and develop faith in this practice of turning a prayer wheel and reciting Om mani padme hum.

So those who get this precious opportunity are very few. This means you need to have a lot of merit, to be a very fortunate person, in order to have the opportunity to engage in this practice and have faith in its benefits. Even to hear the word "bodhichitta," one has to have the merit, so to be able to hear the teachings and practice, one has to have extensive merit. Why? Because this practice is the easiest way to purify all the negative karmas. Even the heaviest ones, the uninterrupted negative karmas, get purified through turning a prayer wheel. Even a fully ordained person who has broken all four root vows will get purified. Negative karmas are completely purified, one collects merit like the sky, and one especially develops compassion. It's the same as reciting the mantra-the particular benefit is that one develops compassion.

So it's very good if, while reciting the mantra Om mani padme hum, you can also turn a prayer wheel. While you are doing your daily commitment or practice, reciting malas [rosaries] of Om mani pad me hum, holding your mala in one hand, you can turn the prayer wheel with your other hand. Even a sick person lying down to sleep can turn the prayer wheel by pulling it with a string, as the Tibetans do in their homes.

Years ago in Dharamsala, I was very surprised to see Geshe Rabten Rinpoche,
a holy scholar and great yogi who was my philosophy teacher, with a prayer wheel the size of a forearm's length wrapped in white cloth which he was turning by pulling a string. I was surprised to see this because it is not common for geshes in Sera, Ganden, or Drepung Monasteries to tum prayer wheels. I think that he was doing this because he was inspired by His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, his root guru, who is also my root guru. His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche had built a prayer wheel in Marogang so that all the people there, old and young, could turn it as they passed along the road. It was built and dedicated for the purification and good rebirth of one of his attendants who'd taken care of him as a child and had passed away. So I guess that this unusual occurrence, Geshe Rabten Rinpoche turning the prayer wheel, happened because he was inspired by this root guru, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche.

Regarding the practice, it is very good while you are turning the prayer wheel every day to recite a set number of malas of the mantra Om mani padme hum. It would be good to recite ten malas-a thousand mantras-for each realm: hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, asuras [jealous gods], gods, as well as for the intermediate beings and even for the arhats and bodhisattvas who are still not fully enlightened. Six thousand mantras for each realm is very good; if this isn't possible, then try to do a thousand for each realm. If that's not possible, at least recite a total of a thousand mantras each day while turning the prayer wheel. At the beginning, you generate the motivation of bodhichitta. When you turn the prayer wheel, recall:

The purpose of my life is not just to offer happiness for myself and to solve all of my own problems; it is to free the numberless other sentient beings. The purpose of my life is to be useful and beneficial for other sentient beings-that is, to free
other sentient beings who are numberless. I will free each of them from all their sufferings and lead them to happiness in this life, happiness in future lives, perfect rebirths, the ultimate happiness of liberation from samsara, then the peerless happiness of full enlightenment.

When you think of freeing sentient beings, you must remember all the
sufferings in the minds of the hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, asuras, and gods, all the sufferings that are explained in the teachings. Therefore, you resolve to achieve full enlightenment and actualize bodhichitta, which is the door of the Mahayana path to enlightenment. What makes it possible for you to have bodhichitta is having the root: great compassion.

So, as you begin to recite the mantra and turn the prayer wheel, you resolve that you're doing so to actualize this for every hell being, every hungry ghost, every animal, every human being, every asura, every god, and every intermediate- state being. You dedicate everything, every turn of the prayer wheel and every recitation of the mantra, in this way.

Now, to give a general idea regarding the visualizations, if you recite ten malas, begin by purifying yourself. Visualize light beams being emitted from the prayer wheel. One can think of the six individual colors related to the mantra Om mani padme hum or even just of white light. This light comes from the mantras, and it completely destroys all the negative karmas and obscurations collected from beginningless rebirths. All of these are completely absorbed into the prayer wheel in the form of darkness and destroyed. Repeat this visualization a number of times. Then do this for all other sentient beings as well. One can do this focusing on all other sentient beings simultaneously or one can focus on the individual realms, reciting a certain number of mantras for the hell beings, and then going on to the hungry ghosts, animals, and so forth. Either way, one visualizes all the obscurations, negative karmas, disturbing thoughts, diseases, and spirit harms every suffering-being absorbed into the prayer wheel. Then, after this absorption, light is again emitted from the prayer wheel, which immediately purifies all beings-wherever they are, each being's mental continuum is completely purified right there. All of their bodies become completely illuminated. At the end, each being's body becomes nirmanakaya in the nature of light, and each being's mind, completely purified, becomes dharmakaya; they all become the fully enlightened Compassion Buddha.

While reciting mantras and turning the prayer wheel, one can also meditate on lamrim-the stages of the path-especially focusing on the techniques for generating bodhichitta. One can meditate on the seven instructions of cause and effect for generating bodhichitta or on the method of equalizing and exchanging self for others to generate bodhichitta. This makes one's life very rich.

The prayer wheel can definitely be used for healing illnesses such as cancer and so forth. For this purpose, the practice should be done for at least one hour every day, or for a few hours along with meditation if possible. This brings extremely powerful healing. Even if the disease or the pain isn't eliminated immediately, this definitely purifies the underlying cause of samsaric suffering in the mind-the negative imprints. Remember that the disease is not the only suffering in  samsara; it is just one small part of samsara. In the oceans of suffering in samsara, this is just one small part. So purifying the causes of suffering in the mind in this way means purifying the causes of all the sufferings of samsara. Healing this life's sicknesses is just one tiny atom among the reasons for doing this practice, which are limitless like the sky. Not only do we heal the sickness; we also receive help in stopping all sufferings, in having quick realizations of the path, and in achieving enlightenment quickly.

Now I would like to say a little about the essential benefits of this mantra, Om mani padme hum. If you recite ten malas-a thousand mantras-a day, then when you go to wash in a river or at the beach, all the water becomes blessed. Because your body is blessed by the mantra, all the water becomes blessed as it touches your body, and so the water purifies all the animals who live in the water, those who drink the water, and those who touch the water. It's the same as the benefits of the prayer wheel itself. All the animals who live in that water get purified and are liberated from the lower realms. Even those who drink that water will be liberated. Also, if you recite ten malas a day, then when you give a massage or touch others or they touch you, it purifies them. This is a great gift, much more special and important than being an ordinary healer, because it purifies the mind of karma and delusions and thus produces long-term benefits for those beings' future lives, freeing them from experiencing sufferings and making all their future lives lighter, happier, and more peaceful. By purifying their minds, it also makes it easier for them to achieve enlightenment. Furthermore, if you recite a thousand Om mani padme hums every day, then your children and grandchildren and so on up to seven generations will not be reborn in the lower realms. This is because
your body is blessed by the mantra, and as their bodies are descended from yours, their bodies also carry these blessings, which affect their minds at the time of death and thus prevent them from being reborn in the lower realms. Even when a person who has recited that many mantras every day has died and is being cremated, the smoke coming from that special body purifies other sentient beings' karma. Whatever sentient beings-animals, insects, human beings--this smoke touches all get liberated from the lower realms by purifying their negative karma.

Now for the dedication. Due to these merits-all the past, present, and future merits-especially those arising from making prayer wheels, turning them, and making commentaries on the benefits available, as well as those arising from even seeing, remembering, or dreaming of prayer wheels or these benefits and instructions, may all those beings never be reborn in the lower realms from now on, and may all the disease, spirit harm, negative karma, and obscurations be completely purified immediately. May all their wishes succeed immediately according to holy Dharma, may they achieve full enlightenment as soon as  possible, and especially may they actualize bodhichitta as quickly as possible. May they each become a source of all sentient beings' happiness, like the White Lotus of Great Compassion. And, may everyone who reads these benefits and does this very precious practice actualize the qualities more precious than the whole sky filled with jewels or billions of dollars and cause all sentient beings to achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible by purifying and collecting merit. So, from the heart, I offer my thanks to my dear students Lorne and Theresa, to all the readers, and to those who engage in the prayer wheel practice and inspire others.

Thank you very much.

tiistai 21. toukokuuta 2019

How to Receive the Greatest Gift of Reality

How to Receive
the Greatest Gift of Reality

In this text, I will discuss mahasiddha bhumis, lit. grounds of great accomplishment, and their importance in yogic practice. I have written a book entitled What's Next? On Post-Awakening Practice that I recommend for new readers.

Biographical Note: First Glimpses

As a little boy, growing up in a family that was shadowed by my father's alcoholism, I began to pray and meditate spontaneously. I often went to my room, sat down on the bedside, and suddenly the room would be filled with immense peace and light, that entirely dispersed any anxiety I had. At the time I had no idea what happened but since they gave me great relief, I kept doing it. In retrospect, I have learned that I experienced both visitations of past mahasiddhas, masters of great accomplishment, as well as a descent of grace from my own mahasiddha bhumis, as they are called in Open Heart. I have discussed these experiences in some detail in this interview.

After 4 years of arduous training in Zen Buddhism in Japan and Finland, my health forced me to find a different path. As a young samurai-spirited fool who was desperately in love with zen, I would never have thought I would leave zen but I needed to and within few months my path took an unexpected turn towards sanatana dharma, or more commonly, hinduism, and its tantric methods, kriya yoga in particular. In December of 2006, I received my first empowerment of kriya yoga and I am not exaggerating when saying that after the first practice session of kriya pranayama spiced with strong guru devotion, my life wasn't the same anymore. I am neither exaggerating when saying that the clarity and depth of mind after 30 minutes kriya yoga practice, equaled a weeklong zen retreat where one sits in quiet meditation for over 12 hours a day. For those 4 years that I trained in zen, I had sat for 8 or more hours everyday without exceptions, following instructions of my teachers to the letter, so it wasn't like I hadn't tried.

Kriya Yoga and Paravastha

Nowadays there are many kinds of kriya yoga and not all of them have to do with Babaji, the modern time founder of kriya yoga, who is mentioned in Paramahamsa Yogananda's autobiography. I started kriya yoga in a lineage that had been passed from Babaji to Lahiri Mahasaya in 1860's, to Swami Sriyukteswar (d. 1936) and Paramahamsa Hariharananda (d. 2002), and finally to the yogi who initiated me, Paramahamsa Prajnanananda. In kriya yoga, I learned something called paravastha, which is short for turiyavastha or paraturiyavastha. Paravastha literally means state beyond mind. In kriya yoga this is done after magnetisation of the central channel with deep breathing, equipped with the emotion of loving devotion. To go into paravastha, the practitioner catapults her or his attention high above one's head. I do not recall what they told beginners about the energetic principles behind this exercise but nevertheless this exercise together with sweet devotion changed my life overnight. After finding kriya yoga, I still kept practicing 8 or more hours a day. 
Tibetan buddhist monk visualises tantric deity, Vajrasattva, above his head.

I followed that lineage for about a year until I found Sivakami Om Anandi's website. We started emailing and I received initiation from her. Over time and many emails, she became my teacher and very dear dharma friend for 3 years until she passed away in late 2010. Before she passed, she asked me to continue her lineage.

Sivakami was unusual among teachers. She was an American grandmother who had retired some years before from a lifelong career breeding dogs. By the time I got in touch with her, she had moved to the island of Kauai, which is one of the main islands of Hawaii, due to very severe form of arthritis. She never allowed any of her students to meet her in person, so I never met her in person. Back then I couldn't understand or appreciate her choice but now I do. All communication was done through email or telephone calls. My emails with her add up to 600 pages.

Sivakami was a mystic and a bhakta, not a yogi. She had excellent karmic connections with nonphysical masters who taught her during her countless night time astral travels (sleep yoga) and meditation. She also met and learned many physical teachers but never clicked with them enough to become a student, which now that I think of it, is exactly how I have come to feel. When one gets a hang of tantric guru yoga with a mahasiddha, it is not an option to settle for less. That's how I feel, anyway.

One of the nonphysical teachers Sivakami met was Lama Thubten Yeshe, who at the time (1984-1985) was in between two reincarnations. Lama Yeshe offered her his teachings but she kindly refused because she was never attracted by the buddhist vibe. She had immense devotion towards Yogananda in whose organisation she started practicing in 1976. Later she got connected with widely known masters, Babaji and Thirumular, who I also worked closely with for several years.

Thirumular and Sivakami had been together in previous lives, so their connection was unique. I, by the way, never believed a word of any of the mystical stories she told me, until I checked them through my own meditation. I verified the brief connection with Lama Yeshe and her connection with Thirumular, for example, through my own meditation, and that I did, made her satisfied because I wasn't blindly accepting whatever she told me.

Riding the Mahasiddha Bhumis

I had been visited by nonphysical mahasiddhas since I was a boy and in 2007, they started to make themselves known to me in a more personal than before. I began to receive teachings, visit subtle planes and had many mystical visions. Sivakami's guidance in understanding them was immensely helpful and now I believe that not many people in the whole world would have been capable of providing such advice based on their own first hand experience.

She also taught paravastha or what in Open Heart are called mahasiddha bhumis. Connecting with these subtle centers had a central role in her teaching. In Open Heart Bhumi Model, which is one of the teachings I have received and taught, there are 7 centers above the head. These 7 can be split into two main groups: bhumis 7-10 and bhumis 11-13. That's how she taught them and called them 8th and 9th centers above the 7 chakras within the subtle system inside the body, from root center (skt. muladhara chakra) to crown center (skt. sahasrara chakra). She also called mahasiddha bhumis by the names of High Self and Oversoul, which I also used until 2013 when Open Heart switched from Sundara Kriya Yoga to buddhist tantra.

There are two chakras beyond the crown of the head.
The 8th is that part of one's soul that never incarnates.
The 9th is our connection to the Oversoul, wisdom and love.
These are not spoken about, and yet they are very important
at this time in humanity's spiritual unfoldment.”
- Sivakami Om Anandi (27.6.2008)

I believe in the next 30 years, there is going to be a push
by these Siddhas to bring back High Self... 8th and 9th chakra understanding among disciples that are ready for it.”
- Sivakami Om Anandi, (3.3.2009).

What she says in the latter quote about mahasiddhas pushing to bring mahasiddha bhumis back is interesting. As far as I know, they are taught in some forms of kriya yoga (not all) and hindu tantra, few forms of Taoism, few forms of reiki and new age healing. In Tibetan buddhist phowa, which is the technique of exiting the body at death and aiming for Amitabha Buddha's Pure Land Sukhavati (tib. dewachen), and some other visualisations where one visualises buddhas or gurus above one's head, it is taught although I have never seen it explained why exactly they are imagined above one's head. In Open Heart Yoga mahasiddha bhumis are exercised a lot, through pillars above and below the body. In a simple form, this is taught already in the Introductory Practice, under Jewel Visualisation.

Getting Back to Basic Principles

In Open Heart Yoga connection between the reincarnated bodymind and one's mahasiddha bhumis is done extensively because this is the most direct way in which our pure nature and its energy can be brought to the tainted mind. In OHY this is further fortified with breathing exercises, deity mantras and mudras. This is a highly efficient way to generate purification of mind, in our terminology, opening and perfection of bhumis.

Mahasiddha bhumis can be accessed within one's body and aura as well, through certain channels and secret centers, such as those taught in Vimalamitra's Wisdom Meditations. With specific instructions from a tantric lama this can be taken as a valid path but it is my observation that practitioners of various sutrayana paths do not systematically access this inner potential, the ground of being. Mahasiddha bhumis are also cultivated through common buddhist practices such as Refuge, Bodhicitta and Lineage Prayers but since the energetic charge accompanied with prayers almost always goes unnoticed and is not pointed out by lamas, I think it can be said that the students are not learning a correct way of practice. This is very unfortunate, of course.

These are not spoken about, and yet they are very important at this time in humanity's spiritual unfoldment”, Sivakami said. I think the reason why she said that these centers are very important at this time, is because we are in the midst of the most destructive period according to the yuga-theory. Our time in the history of mankind is marked by technological advancement but because ethics, clarity of mind, and love and compassion for others are missing, a lot of technological advancement turns against us and as a matter of fact, against the whole planet we are living on. Since the illness of mankind is strong, humanity needs strong medicine to heal. I really wish more people would be ready for the medicine I discuss here.

From what I have witnessed in my own practice and that of my students, I can say that this type of yogic exercise, connecting directly to one's own buddhanature, emulating the grounds of these attainments in one's daily practice, is undoubtedly the greatest gift there is. There is no way to remain crooked with this medicine, nor there are side effects.

Thank you for reading,


- Kim Katami, 21.5.2019
Open Heart Sangha,

*A - Seed syllable of 11th bhumi
BA - Seed syllable of 12th bhumi
HU - Seed syllable of 13th bhumi
MANI PEME – Mantric formula of the Buddha of Compassion, Avalokiteshvara/Chenresig
HUNG - Seed syllable of the karmic body, i.e. bhumis 1-10
HRI - Seed syllable of enlightened heart

perjantai 17. toukokuuta 2019

Nothing More Precious Than One's Own Beliefs

Nothing More Precious
Than One's Own Beliefs

I thought so too and worked on humbleness, kindness, compassion and perspective for countless internet messages, taking all those opportunities to practice and reflect as they arose. In the process I shed a lot of my insecurities, angers, fears and anxieties; and shed tears of a sad bodhisattva. How could anyone who has all beings in one's heart, avoid shedding tears when feeling their dread and horror that makes them endlessly terrified? This returns our heart to softness, openness and equality. We become mothers and care-givers to all beings. However, being a mother does not mean accepting everything without discrimination. There is confusion and there is liberation. These are two, although liberation is found in the midst of confusion. Lotuses, too, grow from mud.

Samsara is vast and humans who have the greatest potential, are also the biggest fools. We are experts in fooling ourselves, masters in shunning reality. When through sincerity and skillful effort, we shed traits of ignorance and ill behaviour, we access reality as it is, without the slightest bit of self-deception. Those moments and permanent shifts are the moments of being gurus ourselves, assuming the grip of Guru Rinpoche's personal vajra.

Having great amount of light results to great knowledge. It is light of knowing that should be the foundation of practice for shadow of darkness can never replace the light. Yet, as people shun the reality in all possible ways, we mistakenly believe we could replace light with a shadow, and some think their shadow is light, even if it's just a shadow. Then people go around waving the banner of dharma, shouting slogans, "This is dharma! This is what the books say!", like religionists always do. For those idiots, bodhisattvas keep shedding tears. Fortunately(!), the heart of a bodhisattva has no bottom and cannot be broken. If such stubborn and ignorant people have the immense fortune of meeting an exceptional vajrayana lama, there is hope for them, but if they waste their time with donkeys dressed up in yellow and maroon, they'll just keep occupying the wheel of existence like everyone else.

Unless we know we are confused and are ever willing to admit it, faith for dharma cannot arise. If faith for dharma doesn't arise, there will never be correct and sincere practice. If one doesn't practice and isn't hit by the thunderstrike of reality, that kills ignorance, attachment and aversion, one will remain confused and will never understand even a word of the buddhas. It all boils down to acknowledging our own confusion and the immense depth of it. Those who don't acknowledge that, will never understand the dharma. This is the reality of samsara and the destiny of those who cherish the self-view. See, if we fall under the poison of arrogance, there is nothing even the greatest lama can do, except wait.

I am not a guru nor a great lama but what I learned in my years of online debates is that for someone confused, there is nothing more precious than one's own beliefs.
-Kim, 17.5.2019
Open Heart Sangha,

maanantai 6. toukokuuta 2019

Wearing Medals

Wearing Medals

You take refuge and put a medal in your chest. You become a buddhist and put a medal in your chest. You read a pile of books that makes you knowledgeable and again put a medal in your chest. You wear a certain kind of Oriental garb and put a medal in your chest. You get a dharma name and a title, and oh that medal, it really is something special, so you smear yourself with those ideas like pigs roll in shit. ”I became a student of Mega Rinpoche, the head lama, already back in 1967”. You have that medal in your chest and those with similar mindset, who are as stoopid and ignorant, are impressed and sorry that they weren't first instead. They think you are something to look up to because all the medals you have. Years go by and you end up with an impressive resume and yet you remain more or less that same unkind self-centered asshole you were in the first place. Now, after many years of so called practice, instead of being aggressive, you are merely passive aggressive and as confused as ever about your true being. How are you different from the rest of samsaric beings who take credit and create an identity of their accomplishments? You'd fit right in, in the club of selfish businessmen, politicians, agitators and such who think they are better than the rest and deserve more than others because your mindset is the same as theirs. When practitioners look at you, how could they not feel sorry for you? When buddhas look at you, who could they not feel great sadness?

- Kim Katami, 5/2019

North Korean Generals

keskiviikko 1. toukokuuta 2019

Keep practicing!

Keep practicing!

One's bones becoming ground to dust is a fitting description. That's a graphic image. Imagine your body, flesh and bones going through a mincer... Ready for that? That is what sadhana, committed practice, does. Bumps, emotional upheaval, are inevitable and actually purposeful. Every time that happens, it reminds us about our motivation and commitment, as well as forces us to practice and master our practices. Will we get scared and run away because of some bumps? Too scary? Too hard? How well do we really know that we are confused? How much do we want it to end? It all boils down to simple questions and if you know how to answer them, the path becomes much much easier. Those who are uncertain, bitch and moan because their view of the path is lopsided or wrong. Some want to be happy but the thing is that lasting happiness comes only through great yogic hardship and if there is no willingness to experience that, it'll just be unpleasant and uncomfortable.

When the going gets tough, a real practitioner, clenches her or his fists and remembers the suffering of all sentient beings. If you look at tantric imagery, you can see many yoginis, yogis and deities not looking serene and peaceful. This is because at times yoginis and yogis need to be warriors and merely being peaceful, happy and serene just won't get the job done. One will find happiness and serenity, become a peaceful buddha, after the deadly poisons of the mind are removed but until then, better learn to fight!

In Finnish, we have a saying that "our blood is measured" through hardship. Yogic hardship, i.e. dark nights, make us mature in two ways: they release karma and kleshas but also make us mature as individuals so we develop our character. Advanced adepts have character to them. Yoginis and yogis are not sissies or bullshitters because proper practice shatters all that. When yoginis and yogis laugh, gods attain liberation and demons run away in horror!

Keep practicing,