perjantai 20. maaliskuuta 2020

Sailing the Seas of Samsara

Sailing the Seas of Samsara

Hi all!

I hope you're all doing fine and practicing well during this time of global hardship. Coronavirus has taken us all by surprise but really there is nothing new in it as a samsaric occurrence. It is good time to contemplate transitoriness of life and to re-kindle our motivation for mahayana buddhist practice. Hardships like this can be great catalysators for dharma practice because when samsara becomes concrete, veils of illusion drop like drops of water from ducks feathers. The good in hardship like this is that our lazyness, distractedness and nonsensical excuses disappear like mist in the sun. So, please do make use of the opportunity and think about these occurrences in the light of dharma. Without dharma, we'd all be drowning. With dharma we can keep our noses above the water and learn to swim.

When we feel and take into our hearts the confusion and disorientation of people and all beings (really palpable these days!), we become bodhisattvas and things start going click in our mind. Layer after layer, click, click, click, calcified views of our self and existence burst open. That's the bhumis opening and perfecting, indications of correct practice, the ultimate medicine in action. So, please remember that the vow, literally, the *vow* of a mahayana bodhisattva is to personally "I vow to liberate, all sentient beings". Without deeply feeling this motivation, one will not attain the mahayana path to buddhahood and is not likely to have indications of correct practice either. When the course of a boat is right, it is easy to go ahead and sail the seas but if the course is wrong, sailing becomes difficult and you just keep hitting the reef. Bodhisattvas, even though they take a serious and compelling vow, travel with light feet. Bodhisattvas learn to sing and dance on the fields of fire and turmoil. 

This world of human beings and animals, by definition, is a samsaric realm. There is never a time when all beings on this planet do not have a need for support. However, during times like this this need is even greater. People are drowning in this ocean of suffering, scared and confused, and yet so many do not have the ripeness and fortunate karma to meet with dharma in one form or the other. But again, our own contemplation, developing of compassion - bodhicitta - and dedicating merits of our practice for all beings is what increases readiness for others. The more we feel the vow of a bodhisattva, the more it gets personal and emotionally binding, the more our practice helps others. Without emotional energy of love, care and devotion our practice becomes reduced to lifeless words and forms. This loving emotion keeps us nourished along the way.

Finally, our gurus, Guru Rinpoche and Yeshe Tsogyal, are fully enlightened and magnificient beings. They are beyond samsara. They have fulfilled their bodhisattva vows and became buddhas. They have done it like we are doing now. They have open invitation for everyone. "Here, grab my hand, I'll pull you to the shore. Just grab it!". When we turn to them for help, we find a safe place in all of samsara. We find a refuge, a safe place where we can come to understand what the heck is going on here. Day and night, we can grab their hand: Namo Guru Rinpoche, Namo Yeshe Tsogyal Ye, Namo Guru Rinpoche, Namo Yeshe Tsogyal Ye, Namo Guru Rinpoche, Namo Yeshe Tsogyal Ye. Spin that mantra with love, for the sake of all sentient beings, and especially for the sake of those around us who are now in deep trouble. Take refuge and share it. Keep taking refuge and keep sharing it!

May all beings be free!

-Kim Katami
Pemako Buddhist teacher,

keskiviikko 18. maaliskuuta 2020

Fear, Mortality and Coronavirus

Fear, Mortality and Coronavirus

I don’t think I have that many friends who don’t do somekind of spiritual practice but I would like to post this short instruction to be shared by my friends as an attempt to help anyone who might found her- or himself overwhelmed by strong emotions due to fear of illness and death caused by coronavirus. Please share this on your wall.

I am a teacher of buddhist meditation. Some might think that ”buddhism” is something religious but I personally view buddhism as a practical philisophy that through different kinds of exercises can help us with our existential and emotional issues. You can think yourself, use your own reason and try the exercises I am about to suggest to you.

So. Coronavirus triggers fear and anxiety in the minds and hearts of many. We can feel this anxious energy that fills the air, even if we are not in the immediate presence of other people. It is kind of natural to be afraid in this life threatening situation. It is kind of natural for us to react to this impending danger by becoming fearful. However, we do not necessarily need to be bound by fear.

It is a simple fact of life that what is born will also die. There is not a single lifeform on Earth that is born and keeps on living. All kinds of beings are born, live for some time and then pass away. This includes everyone, you and I included. This simple fact is something that people forget, even though it is inevitable. Think about it.

Our Western culture does not discuss death openly so when something unexpected happens in life, like we get into some accident or get badly ill, we get very scared because we have forgotten our mortality and are therefore in shock. Then in shock, not understanding the situation, we are gripped by the fear of death or illness and we try to grab onto something that could keep us safe. This is what hoarding is, a primitive subconscious reaction to try get to a safe place. Sure we need food and toilet paper but if you think it through nothing in life can make us perfectly safe.

We can have relative safety through family, friends, insurance and wealth but if you think it through when the moment of death dawns or we get a fatal illness these things are unable to quarantee our safety. This is common logic.

Buddhist meditation teaches you to know yourself. Knowing oneself means becoming aware of what goes on in our mind. Instead of becoming gripped by fear and anxiety, we can learn to notice how the emotion of fear arises, comes into being. We can be aware of it rather than dictated by it. This becoming aware of emotions makes us become free from their negative power. This changes the way how we react and experience things. Learning this is more precious than gold because it helps us to find our true fearless and non-anxious being that cannot be pushed by emotions and reactions. We all have that fearless, peaceful and grounded potential, it just needs to be recognised.

Through this simple exercise we can find safety that does not depend on external factors or other people.
If we contemplate our mortality and become aware of our arising emotions, we will not try to find safety and happiness from things that can’t provide it. This doesn’t mean we need to get rid of any of these things. Actually to have a loving family, trustworthy friends and money is a great blessing. It’s just that through basic life contemplation our way of being and our way of seeing things changes.

Even in difficult circumstances we can remain calm, clear minded and sincerely joyful. Even at the moment of death we can smile and enjoy, and not be scared. Many people are terrified by death because they have not prepared and acquired understanding. This is merely a matter of knowing who we are and what is going on in our mind.

There are many forms and traditions of buddhism, meditation, mindfulness and meditative yoga out there. Please help yourself and seek instructions and guidance from proficient teachers and organisations.

The point is not to join a religion or a group. The point is to acquire first hand knowledge of ourselves. The point is to make sense of life, to reduce and eradicate unstudied confusions, fears and psychological contraction in our minds.

Thank you for reading and sharing this message. Let’s put an end to the pandemic of fear.

Kim Katami
Pemako Buddhist teacher,