torstai 30. heinäkuuta 2020

Generosity - The Foundation of Mahayana Buddhism by Kim Katami

Generosity - The Foundation of Mahayana Buddhism

I was just talking with my teacher about money and generosity. To me and her, money was always means to do something, not something to accumulate or to hoard because there'd be no point in that for us. I give away money all the time for good purposes, like animal shelters, and people who need it. I am generous because that's who I am and that's who I want to be. I am not rich though and here's the thing: Why are people who have lots of money, so attached to it? It is always people who have lot of money, who are the most stingy. Vice versa, people who don't have so much money, give it away easily without reservations. There are of course exceptions to the rule but in general wealthy people seem to be attached to their money. From the point of view of humanity, this is embarrassing. From the point of view of dharma, this is a major pitfall.

Mahayana & Generosity

The first foundational guideline (paramita) of mahayana buddhism is generosity or dana. Why did the masters who constructed the mahayana buddhist doctrine, set generosity as the basis of mahayana buddhist practice? This clearly suggests that this is something important, though I always find it surprising how little dharma practitioners give thought to it.

Mahayana buddhism teaches that all beings have buddhanature and that it is possible to attain it. In this way mahayana buddhism empowers us by telling and giving us the tools how full enlightenment or buddhahood can be attained and actualised. Mahayana teaches wisdom (prajna) and compassion (karuna) as means to realise our innate wakefulness. Simultaneosly both wisdom and compassion are the two main characteristics of our buddhanature which means that someone who has some or complete first hand experience, is both wise and compassionate in terms of existencial matters. Wisdom means absence or lessening of self-based ignorance and compassion is the lively flowering of that wisdom that cares for others, I would say primarily from the perspective of mind-based suffering (dukkha) but also from the perspective of common suffering, such as poverty and illness.

The opposite of wisdom and compassion is self-based ignorance that only thinks for itself. In ignorant mind there is a lot of energy or power in the "I" thought. This is samsaric mind, which repeats the same thoughts and confusions again and again based on the deeply ingrained belief that there is "I" or "me" and "others". According to buddhism, this is the root of existential confusion that makes life a confusing and unsatisfactory experiece. Thinking in terms of me and other also creates separation and inequality between people. That is not normal or healthy in any way. This is duality and duality is pain.

So, ignorant mind thinks, talks and acts in ways that are selfish and narrow minded, and it is this deeply rooted habit of self-based ignorance that generosity is designed to break. Imagine what happens in a mind that begins to think, talk and act for the welfare of others, rather than oneself. This is the medicine of dharma that uproots our self-belief and removes the gap between me and others, lettin the buddha within to shine through as understanding and love.

Generosity is actually a geniously designed practice because money is related to our basic safety which in turn relates to our root chakra. A wise man knows the difference between real safety and illusory safety. That is really the only difference between someone who is caught up by samsara and who is liberated. Giving money away can change your life. It literally has the power to liberate you.


Vajrayana is the tantric interpretation of mahayana buddhism. Tantra that involves gurus, empowerments, deities, mantras and such, is or should be built on solid understanding of both mahayana and hinayana teaching. In the context of this article - generosity - this means that one cannot reap the promise of vajrayana, which is to attain buddhahood in this life, without the foundation of mahayana. Without genuine care for others - bodhicitta/compassion - one cannot reap the benefits of either mahayana or vajrayana. This downgrades vajrayana into a hinayana practice. It is not bad but it is not how it should be because tantra is not designed for that.

The three vehicles of buddhism: hinayana or small vehicle, mahayana or big vehicle and vajrayana or tantric vehicle, can be compared to woodwork. A carpenter takes a piece of wood that has the potential to be made into a fine work of art. In the beginning it's just a block of wood with bark on it. First, the carpenter makes a sketch of his sculpture on the wood, and begins to work on it with rough tools, like axe and chainsaw. After applying some skill and effort, he manages to make a rough outline of the design that already looks a lot like what the design is about. It is like a Lego-man compared to a fine work done by an Italian master sculptor. This is hinayana. Then the carpenter takes finer tools, like big and small chisels and continues to work with those. After some more applied effort, we really begin to see many details. We can also see a great difference between the former stage and present stage. This is mahayana. Then finally, the carpenter takes out a collection of sandpapers of various roughnesses and continues the work. He keeps working and finally... the finished sculpture looks so beautiful that we are amazed! This is vajrayana. We cannot expect to understand the fineness of vajrayana if we never even tried the foundational practices of mahayana, such as generosity.

The point with this analogy is that all three stages – vehicles – follow each other. Gross, middle and fine are all part of the same process and if any of them is missing the sculpture cannot be finished. This explains perfectly the progression from hinayana to mahayana to vajrayana teaching, and their corresponding practices and levels of insight. Not understanding this progression also explains why practitioners of the higher vehicles sometimes have lesser insight and understanding than those of lower vehicles. If vajrayanis don't have a solid foundation from gross and medium level insight, they cannot possibly understand the subtlety and fineness of vajrayana.

Jesus by Gian Bernini


The sole purpose of dharma is removing our self-based views from our subtle nervous system or mind. The meaning of dharma is not in making our lives better, happier or more pleasurable while remaining arrogant and selfish. Committing to a dharma practice necessarily stings a bit but for someone who is fed up with self-created nonsense, this is both necessary and unavoidable. To such a practitioner, the process that gets lighter and easier with every insight and moment of practice. For someone who doesn't understand this and is in it only to make ones self-based life better, dharma is like ripping one's hair off one by one, that is, highly unpleasant. Such practitioners should look into the teachings of hinayana and mahayana because they are not ready or prepared for vajrayana.

Beginning to think about the welfare of those around us is a good place to start.

May you come in contact with the Buddha within,

-Kim Katami, 30.7.2020


Pemako Buddhism

torstai 16. heinäkuuta 2020

Physical Dynamic Concentration in Other Traditions

Physical Dynamic Concentration
in Other Traditions

Dynamic Concentration

The idea of Dynamic Concentration (DC), as has been explained in the previous chapter of this book, is to cut through all layers of the self-based mind and in consequence access one's pure wakeful nature. This type of yogic exercise is done with sudden explosive yet purposeful and controlled force. It can be done solely on the level of the mind but easiest way to apply it is through shout, often as repeated shouts.

Physical Dynamic Concentration

Dynamic Concentration can also be done physically. In Pemako Buddhism this is known as Physical Dynamic Concentration (PDC). Find Physical Dynamic Concentration with simple tantric mantra of Guru Rinpoche and Yeshe Tsogyal taught in this video, under the name of Vajra Body-exercise.

The idea of Physical Dynamic Concentration is to tense all muscles of the body at once in a controlled yet forceful manner while being fully aware of it. Because tensing of the muscles is so engaging, during this type of concentration it is very difficult for the mind to start drifting and therefore PDC also accomplishes very well what the practitioner intends to do, which is to access and establish one's wakeful nature. Flexing is kept for few seconds, usually while holding the breath, with tantric elements such as mantras and visualisations, and then relaxed. As in the above video instruction, PDC should be done at least few times before a brief pause (half a minute or a minute) before second (-third-fourth) series of repetitions. Same idea of several repetitions (up to 100 in one series) and few sets (usually 2-4) is used with both DC and PDC in Pemako Buddhist practice. This is because many repetitions and sets works more effectively and accomplishes the task splendidly in comparison to just few repetitions.

Physical Dynamic Concentration in Other Traditions


Probably the most widely practiced form of PDC, is Paramahamsa Yogananda's Energisation Exercises. Yogananda is famous through his Autobiography of A Yogi. He is one of those who brought a type of hindu tantra called Kriya Yoga to the West beginning in 1920's. See from this video how he formulated PDC, together with prayer and breathing practices.

According to Swami Satyananda, Yogananda's childhood friend and dharma brother, Yogananda got the idea of PDC from a book on gymnastics by a German physical educator in the early 1900's. According to Swami Kriyananda, Yogananda's close disciple, Yogananda practiced Energisation Exercises twice every day of his life until his passing. See a photo of Yogananda taken just an hour before his passing in 1952, at the age of 59. I find his energy and appearance quite impressive.


Another, though much less known, tradition of hindu yoga that uses PDC is the lineage of Shyam Sunder Goswami. Goswami published few books and was the founder of the Sweden-based Goswami Yoga Institute. His Advanced Hatha Yoga introduces PDC as ”Carana Yoga”. See these pictures of Goswami students practicing ”yogic bodybuilding”.


The only buddhist tradition that uses PDC exactly in the same way as Pemako Buddhism and the other examples is the Shaolin-tradition from China. Shaolin monastery is considered to have been founded by Bodhidharma, the yogi who brought Zen from India to China.

Over the past 1500 years, the training system of Shaolin temple has developed into a three-way system: 1. kung fu, 2. chi gong and 3. meditation (c. chan). Roughly speaking, kung fu refers to martial arts training, chi gong refers to conditioning of the body, focusing of the mind and cultivation of breath energy (c. qi) and meditation refers to cultivation of mindfulness. These three can also be explained as physical cultivation (c. jing), cultivation of breath energy through intention (c. yi) and cultivation of wakeful nature (c. shen).

The Gift of Physical Dynamic Concentration

People arrive and have glimpses of the natural state accidentally, as a side-effect and purposefully. The point of DC and PDC is to have a reliable and mechanical tool that enables recognition of one's wakeful nature anywhere and anytime to anyone, with or without a tantric empowerment.

Thank you for reading and many blessings,

-Kim Rinpoche, 16 of July 2020

Pemako Buddhism,

* This text is additional material to What's Next? On Post-Awakening Practice