torstai 29. huhtikuuta 2021

About Academics, Practitioners and Yogis - Existential Specialists


About Academics, Practitioners and Yogis - Existential Specialists

This morning I watched some videos of a buddhist seminar where some academics, monastics and lay practitioners had given their presentations about various dharma-related subjects. It's not the first time I see such presentations, and also this time, as previously, something poked me from those lectures.

Regarding academic study of yoga, dharma and buddhism I never understood why someone would put more time and effort in the theoretical study of it, over practical study. I never understood why one would spend more time with second hand information about existence when you could get first hand knowledge directly from your own mind by doing the practice. Listening to academics, who often give their representations about various types of information that they have accumulated from second hand sources, to me it feels like driving a car that has flat tires. There is something essential missing there. It is just superficial information, exciting and fascinating thoughts and theories. Without practice, these ideas makes it even worse because there grows a gap between practice and its actual benefits, and purely theoretical information.

To be clear there is no problem with information or academic study, I just never understood about this kind of priorisation of things. If you know you are deluded by your sense of small self, and you know about the availability of various traditions and their practices that can help you to get out from that delusion, why would you not make solving that existential problem a priority in your life?

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche:

When buddhas look at samsara with the eyes of their omniscience, they do not see it as an enjoyable place. They are acutely aware of the sufferings of beings, and they see how senseless are the pointless, temporary goals that beings try so hard to attain. It is important to become more and more clearly convinced that the only thing worth achieving is supreme enlightenment. Contemplating the sufferings of samsara, you will naturally develop a strong wish to be liberated from it."

In this light pursuing academic studies of yoga, without practice, is just another samsaric distraction.

I always say that we need professional yogis here in the West, and actually everywhere in the world because priests, doctors, psychologists or academics cannot help people with their existential confusion. Only highly trained specialists of the "teaching of reality", i.e. yoga and dharma can do that.

For this reason, especially in these dark times, those who hear the call in their hearts, should make the attainment of supreme enlightenment for the sake of oneself and others, the foremost priority in their lives above anything else.

In relation to this, I was also reminded of this short text by Jon Norris:

-Kim, 29.4.2021

tiistai 27. huhtikuuta 2021

About Dzogchen and Direct Introduction


About Dzogchen and

Direct Introduction

Ugi: Topic suggestion:

Pointing-Out Instructions / Giving direct introduction

I think it would be very helpful to discuss this essential topic with the group and also dicuss the practicality of it. Maybe discussing some of its traditional aspects (in Dzogchen/Mahamudra/Tantra) aswell as the way Rinpoche is doing it in Pemako.

Kim: Even those who have one bhumi open can say "something" about the natural state but we have to remember that in atiyoga, which is the speartip teaching of all yogas and tantras, "something" is not good enough.

Writing this I recalled one of the famous dzogchen masters of this time, who gave direct introductions/DI's on regular basis, say that his rigpa "lasts 3 seconds" at a time. The problem of this is instantly apparent because you can't really be a dzogchen master, a master of the natural state, unless you have stabilized it, i.e. live in the recognition at least half of the time. Few second recognitions is a sign of not having stabilized it. This also reveals the meaning of having mahasiddha bhumis open because if they are open, recognition takes place more than half of the time. Few seconds of recognition at a time happens when 9th or 10th bhumis are open. So, strictly from the point of view of dzogchen atiyoga, my stand is that anyone who hasn't stable recognition cannot give DI's... but there is another way, that of tantra.

In tantra, the teacher or instructor in question hands over the reigns to the lineage masters who then, through blessings and empowerments, has responsibility of the passing on of the nature of mind. This is excellent way to reveal the basic state and bring seekers to help but to be clear this is tantra and tantric guru yoga, not dzogchen.

There is always some sort of transmission taking place when anyone teaches. Anyone who posits her/himself in front of others is instantly in a position of influence verbally, physically and energetically. But, like I said, DI's are a very very specific thing in the whole world of yogic and tantric practices.

I've seen some zen people say that there is/was no difference when they were in the company of their zen masters and then with dzogchen masters. Well, in that case, I don't think they got the DI. Mahayana comes close to the results of vajrayana but close in these things means worlds away. Someone on bhumi 10 has actually dualistic samsaric vision while someone on 11 doesn't. Even having cleared up 99% of the karmas on 1-10 bhumis is subtle but vast difference to a 11th bhumi mahasiddha. A drop of poison in a large tank of fresh water spoils the whole body of water... The difference gets greater and greater the farther back we go in bhumi perfection.

Because Mahayana schools don't make use of the subtle energy charge of the lineage and refuge, it all is really dependent on the particular teacher and her/his degree of insight, whether or not their transmission is valid from the point of view of dzogchen. There is partial knowledge coming from partial amount of experience and absolute knowledge coming from full enlightenment. Having a vajrayana lineage assures that the empowerments and transmissions, in whatever form or way they are given, is complete, 100% legit and covers the whole range of bhumis, as well as the realisation bodies of enlightenment, known as trikaya. It is because of this aspect why a single vajrayana empowerment and instructions from a legit lineage holder can really change everything in one's life (for the better!). 


Even though sutra and tantra methods have the same result potentially, potential and the actual result are two entirely different things. All beings have buddhanature, right? Well, how many actually realise it in full? The statistics are dramatically different between sutra, tantra and dzogchen, and even between different methods within tantra or dzogchen. But to reach good connection in dharma that can fully tap all of that inner potential, one has to have excellent karmic connections and significant ripeness or readiness which is what merit means.

In the big picture, things ripen really really slowly... but that's just how it is for most people. Some who meet those requirements might jump out of the whole vast wheel of samsaric transmigration in few short years of practice and attain buddhahood by purifying the subtle body of 10 bhumis. That is something to consider, isn't it?

perjantai 16. huhtikuuta 2021

Forms and Principles of Yoga Practice


Forms and Principles

of Yoga Practice

Hello ashtangis :) I'd like to share my thoughts about the form of yoga practice, specifically about strictness of form and growing out of it.

Most yoga methods, including ashtanga yoga, are taught through well and clearly defined forms and sequences. This is true in both external (asana, hatha, astanga) and internal (meditative, tantric) yogas. A well defined form gives beginners a foundation to learn about and to rely on. For this reason, for beginners, strict forms are very useful. In asana practice, one not only strengthens the body and makes it more flexible, but also the defined sequence makes it easier to feel the body and be mindful of its various sensations. What is also very important aspect of form-based practice is learning the structure and connectedness of the body, both in stillness and in movement. So for beginners, there's a lot to learn through the form. This is both a very joyful process of learning about oneself, as well as internally empowering.

There comes a point however when the strict form has delivered the benefits and turns into a barrier. This stage comes after perhaps a few years of intensive practice. One begins to feel bound by the strict form and intuits that it would feel better to change the postures, movements or mix the sequence to make it new somehow and to keep it fresh. Following a strict form, doing the same form over and over, no longer feels right.

It is at this point when one comes to ask oneself what have I learned from my foundational practice. Have I learned enough about my body and do I understand asana practice well enough to be able to trust my intuition of letting it begin to grow on its own? Wondering about these questions might take a while, perhaps another few years. Hopefully one can share these thoughts with likeminded practitioners and senior teachers who are able to support the direction one's practice is taking. Sometimes, unfortunately, these kinds of contemplations, when shared with others are met with doubt or even negative emotions. The reason for that may be that the doubters haven't yet reached the same point of wanting to break out of the confinements of the form, or the strict form is believed to be so important or even holy that it shouldn't be changed and should be followed to the letter.

Third Fetter

It is here that we come to a very important point about internal, nondualistic awakening, which yoga practice is all about(!), as defined in the Ten Fetters in buddhism. The meaning of the word fetter here means a sense of me-ness that binds the mind and makes it miserable. The third fetter is seeing through the attachment to strict forms of rites and rituals, or in the context of ashtanga yoga for example, the asana sequence. This doesn't mean to replace attachment with detachment but to see through the sense of me-ness or self that sticks to strict forms and thinks that they are special. Feeling special is always a problem in yoga because it directly shows there being a small ”me” or ”I” in the play. Believing in strict form without questioning is what is common to all religions, isn't it? The most essential point of any yoga practice is to look and investigate one's self-based beliefs (citta vritti) to at one point reach a state that is entirely without them (nirodha). This internal contemplation and process of inquiry should be part of asana practice as well, because without it there is little hope for other progress than physical. So, one way to support the growing out of strict form is to think what this dropping off of the belief of rites and rituals means.

A different way to support this stage is to understand that no form can ever cover or include everything, even if we wanted so. If we think about this in terms of physical movement, for example the range of movement of the arm from the shoulder, the arm moves full circle of 360 degrees in vertical direction and simultaneously, depending on one's flexibility, a varying degree also horizontally. Now, if we only move the arm in one or two ways, it literally leaves endless amount of other angles unused and therefore the range of movement and exercise becomes limited by the form. Then if we consider that the whole body is made of joint after the joint after joint, connected by a vast number of bones, muscles and tendons, we come to realise that one or two types of movements cannot possible cover the endless variety that the body could move.

In the context of pranayama and tantric yoga, this point becomes very clear when comparing focusing on just a few channels, (usually left, center and right) and all of them, which number up to hundreds of thousands. It is good to begin with few channels but few channels cannot possible cover hundreds of thousands of them, so similarly, the beginning form must and should be broken at some point so that one may keep learning and growing in knowledge. This is the reason why I teach ”masterclasses”. They are meant to help the students understand the principles behind the form. Once the practitioners understand the underlying principles, it is profoundly empowering to start practicing from the principles, rather than repeat the forms.

Perhaps I'll end this short text by encouraging people to be brave and to follow one's gut. If and when we understand the basics, we can be confident of following our internal voice.

I wish you a great day of practice,

Kim, 16.4.2021

keskiviikko 14. huhtikuuta 2021

Claims of Enlightenment Made by Ancient Dzogchen Masters


Claims of Enlightenment Made by Ancient Dzogchen Masters

Over the years I have repeatedly written about the principles of pragmatic dharma. Once again, here is Vincent Horn's article for those who are new to it. Last time I wrote about this was just a week ago in this text. This blog continues on the theme of claims of attainment, this time not made by myself or other contemporary teachers but by ancient masters of the dzogchen lineage.

Two days ago, for the first time ever, I opened a book entitled ”The Supreme Source, Kunjed Gyalpo, The Fundamental Tantra of the Dzogchen Semde”, translated by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche and Adriano Clemente. This book was first published in Italian in 1997 and in English in 1999.

Vairo Drabag

As I was reading the first few pages of the book I found a section entitled Vairo Drabag that gives brief biographical descriptions of the founding masters of dzogchen teaching, namely Garab Dorje, his direct students and those further down the lineage.

As I started reading these short stories about the lineage founders, to my amazement, I found most of them making claims of having attained buddhahood! In the text that is part of the traditional dzogchen semde-teaching, transmitted within the dzogchen-lineage, it states in plain words how many of the ancient practitioners, several of them direct disciples of Garab Dorje, who according to traditional sources is estimated to have lived soon after the passing of Shakyamuni Buddha, state to have attained buddhahood. What amazes me is their directness. They do not give vague hints of having perhaps attained something, nor do they shyly deny of having attained nothing, nor do they leave the question unanswered. They say exactly how it is. Not having read this book before I am stunned how direct the statements are!

1) Then Mañjuśrimitra perfectly understood the meaning of the primordial state and expressed his realization thus:

I am Mañjuśribhadra!

Continuing the practice started in previous lives,

I have realized my wish, cutting mind at its root:

Now I no longer have any doubts that the fruit of perfect enlightenment

Is not something other than my state!

2) Then Nāgārjuna perfectly understood the meaning of the primordial state and expressed his realization thus:

I am Nāgārjuna!

Beginningless dharmakāya, not being composed of aggregates, is happiness.

The voice that is without interruption and transcends the very concept of "voice", not having material

characteristics, is happiness.

The mind of wisdom that transcends the very concept of "mind," not having either birth nor death, is


I have understood that bodhicitta is total bliss!

3) Then Nödjyinmo Changchubma perfectly understood the meaning of the primordial state and expressed her realization thus:

I am Nödjyinmo Changchubma.

Enlightened from the origin,

Mind itself is Bhagavan, the great spontaneously-arising state:

Samsāra has always been utterly pure.

Understanding mind, I have discovered the state of enlightenment!

4) Then Lui Gyalpo perfectly understood the meaning of the primordial state and expressed his realization thus:

I am Lugyal Gawo.

Without needing to be forsaken, the emotions are the five great wisdoms.

Without needing to be removed, the three poisons are the perfection of Body, Voice and Mind.

Without needing to be eliminated, samsāra is the path that leads to the bliss of bodhi.

Thus has the state of knowledge of the Buddhas of the three times arisen in me.

5) Then Rabnang perfectly understood the meaning of the primordial state and expressed his realization thus:

I am Khenpo Rabnang.

From the great emptiness of the nature of mind

Arise all animate and inanimate phenomena,

Nevertheless, mind does not increase or diminish.

I have understood that great dharmakāya is the spontaneous arising and abating of phenomena!

6) Then Atsantra Āloke perfectly understood the meaning of the primordial state and expressed his realization thus:

I am Atsantra Āloke!

Having perfectly mastered the method of "elimination," I have interrupted the flow of birth.

Having perfectly mastered the method of "union," I have severed the limit of cessation.

Having perfectly mastered the method of beneficial deeds, I have realized the absence of effort.

Having perfectly mastered the method of the siddhis, I no longer depend on the outside.

Having perfectly mastered the method of meditation, I remain in my state without correcting it!

7) The prince Thuwo Rājahati perfectly understood the meaning of the primordial state and expressed his realization thus:

I am Prince Thuwo Rājahati.

Understanding that bodhicitta is pure presence that has no origin,

I have become the holder of the transmission of Samantabhadra Vajrasattva.

Without undertaking the path, I have attained simultaneously the three levels of enlightenment.

My state is equal to that of the Buddhas of the three times!

Here's another account by Lingchen Repa, student of Kagyu forefather Phagmo Drugpa. It's from the book "The Supreme Siddhi of Mahamudra":

Homage to the precious guru!

Lord, you told me to meditate on the innate essence,

And meditate is what I did; It so happened that meditation and meditator simply vanished,

And there was no post-meditation to uphold.

Through the experience of the torch of samadhi,

I realized the mind as the dharmakaya, free of elaborations.

Thus, clinging to experiences simply vanished,

And there was no straying to eliminate.

Through none other than the mind resting as it is -

Without altering with remedies -

Doubts about is it" or "is it not" simply vanished,

And there was no sense of discomfort left.

Like meeting a person known from before,

By recognizing thoughts as the dharmakaya,

Grasping to them as faults or qualities simply vanished,

And there was nothing to reject or accept.

Like the sun dawning upon darkness,

Realization arose from within.

Thus, philosophical assertions simply vanished,

And there were no words to speak.

By realizing that the guru and the buddhas of the three times

Are not different from my own mind,

Ordinary perception simply vanished,

And there was nothing to long for.

The bubble of illusory body is always destroyed.

As I realized that the mind is unborn and immortal,

The fear of death simply vanished,

And there was nothing to grieve about.

If we meet, I am in the presence of the lord.

If we do not, I wander aimlessly through mountain hermitages.

If hungry, I go for alms without attachment.

If cold, I warm myself with the heat of tummo.

If sad, I sing a song of spiritual experience.

If sick, I balance the elements.

I slash experiences of happiness or sorrow on the spot,

And go about my everyday life as I please.

Apparently, the ancient adepts and masters of the lineage had no problem whatsoever in stating what they have attained. I cannot help wonder happened along the way because in the present dharma culture this very act would be and actually is seen as an indication of heightened delusion, ignorant boasting and charlatanism. I would assume the ancient practitioners neither would have had a problem stating if their attainments were lesser. What we see in these accounts is a marvellous display of pragmatic dharma.

I cannot speak on behalf of the ancient masters but it is good to ask why these accounts were given in the first place and included within the lineage teachings for many centuries. Surely the accounts would have been left out if they were meant to be kept only between teacher and student or small communities. Thinking about it, I am actually surprised that they had not been edited out.

Whether public statements about one's attainments was widely practiced in history I cannot say but it should be acknowledged that these people are the first ones to practice dzogchen in this time on Earth and that they are the lineage holders in most dzogchen lineages alive today. If they openly stated what they reaped from their practice, maybe we could consider following their example and think about the benefits of doing this.

As I have stated, we do this in Pemako Buddhist Sangha. Also Lama Daniel Brown has made public statements of realised buddhas in his sangha. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, there are not other examples of this in tantric/vajrayana buddhism.

Surely there are many people who would benefit immensely of open, unsecretive and transparent discussion about attainments for transparency itself is an expression of the buddha within and a sign of its realisation.

-Kim, 14.4.2021


Advice to Pemako Teachers and Instructors


Advice to Pemako Teachers and Instructors

I'd like to offer you some advice for your dharma teaching activities. These are few simple advices that come from my years of teaching. They describe in brief how a good teacher should be. However, as no one is perfect it is expected that sometimes you make mistakes. That is OK as long as you're learning from them.

I wish that you excel as teachers and benefit many beings by teaching them the dharma of the buddhas and mahasiddhas.

-Kim, 14.4.2021

  • Your job is to teach the dharma. Let people know that this is all you are expected to do as a dharma teacher. That's all. At the same time, you should be yourself in doing this and not change yourself in whatever way when teaching. Be yourself and find your own way. Encourage others to do the same.

  • Dharma teachers are not entertainers or comedians, even if events are enjoyable and a lot of fun. Don't forget why you and the participants are there. You are not there to make jokes or to keep people entertained.

    Your job is to teach the dharma in the form of explanations and taught practices that can help the participants to remove their self-delusion. This is the sole purpose of dharma.

  • Be honest about your own lack of understanding and personal difficulties in practice. Don't give the impression that your knowledge is perfect and that you wouldn't have problems like everyone else in samsara, unless you have attained buddhahood and no longer have these issues. If you don't know something, be honest about it and admit it. It feels good to say, ”I don't know” because that is an expression of truth. People will feel that honesty and there will be healthy honest foundation to your relationship. If you start making fairytales, that is a severe problem for both teachers and practitioners. Reality is expressed through truthful action, delusion as lies that don't fit or make sense.

  • Remain open and understanding to people's issues and problems. People come to you because they expect that you could help them through dharma. Understand that this is a leap of faith on their part. Handle that leap of faith with integrity and respect.

  • Remain open and vulnerable, even if you had anxiety and had to use coping strategies. Be understanding on yourself for still being unfinished in your own training. Again, remember why you are there and what is it that you are to accomplish.

  • Don't try to impress people with complex theories, foreign terms or by name dropping. If people don't understand you and yet you keep bombarding them with verbal acrobatics that only you can understand, they will want to turn away from dharma. Teaching dharma means serving people by helping them understand themselves. You cannot accomplish that if you create distance between people and the teaching by making it too complex and not understandable. First and foremost, Pemako teachers need to teach from their own firsthand experience, not from books or hearsay. The teaching is not difficult.

  • Focus on what is most important in dharma: emptiness realisation. There are all kinds of out-of-this-world miracles and displays of miraculous powers in the legends of yogis but all these, whether they are real or not, are inferior to emptiness realisation. Don't lead people astray by telling them about miraculous stories. There is no greater miracle than to remove self-delusion of a samsaric being.

See also our Safeguarding Policy:

tiistai 13. huhtikuuta 2021

Living in the Cities, Living in the Mountains


Living in the Cities,

Living in the Mountains

Ben: Guru Rinpoche, in various teachings such as the Jewel Spiked Testament for example, directs us to live in a place that will not promote desire and aversion, to be away from those who reject the dharma, to not live amongst savages, and to live in simplicity and even in isolation (these are not direct quotes). To me, the big western cities are exactly what he warns against. And I can understand why.

I personally feel a longing to follow this direction, and am trying to move my life towards it. If the sangha ever moves to a small mountain village somewhere, I think I would go.

Anyone else?

Ben: >the big western cities are exactly what he warns against.

Kim: -On the other hand, that's exactly where dharma should be as visible as possible. Many seekers among large crowds.

>If the sangha ever moves to a small mountain village somewhere

-That's the plan but our sangha is not yet big enough yet to start a center. It is costly and requires lots of effort to run a place like that so it needs a bunch of residents to run it and many visitors too. Maybe 2-3 years down the line the situation is different, hopefully anyway.

>I also was hoping to hear people's thoughts on the fact that Guru Rinpoche specifically directs us to do this.

-Even though GR's advice is good I think that like most advices, it is not an absolute statement for all times and places, and therefore not a rule. This is a time when the world is on fire because people are so ignorant. It is not difficult to attain buddhahood through Pemako teachings, so don't worry about it too much. It comes quickly in few years to a decade. What then? Bodhicitta in action, reaching and connecting with people. You can't do that in a remote village.

>I am realizing more deeply that the only real way to help myself, others, or the "world" is to become realized. It doesn't help me or others engaging in samsaric activity since I am not a mahasiddha yet.

-Yes the only real way to help others is to become realised, at least a bit but having said that I taught many years before even getting awakened and it helped people a lot... so one's own practice is one thing, sharing the dharma another, both equally important actually.

>Also trying to take seriously the difficulty of the task of realizing buddha nature, and the short human life. Isn't any delay inherently selfish and egoic in nature?

-No, it is not difficult. Don't believe everything they say in the books. Methods differ and therefore so do the views about the attainment.

sunnuntai 11. huhtikuuta 2021

Advice to Someone with Fear and Anxiety About Energy and Kundalini


Advice to Someone with Fear and Anxiety About Energy and Kundalini

Kim: Hello,

I read your email, all of it. I understand your problem/s. You've gone a long way with these issues and unfortunately you haven't met anyone before who could help you out with your problems. I am looking at your past and present experiences as a whole, and even if to you it might look like an endless mess that you cannot get out of or make sense, it is actually not that complex or difficult.

What you need is 1) a clear view of the path and its experiences, incl. energetics and 2) practices that help you to remove and pacify your fears, anxieties and whatever mental-emotional issues are there. You do not have psychotic features so all this is actually easy to manage, if you have the right tools and view. I've had similar issues myself back in the day and have students who have had similar things as you, so nothing what you have experienced is unique to your case. Perhaps you can feel some relief knowing this.


-You are over-concerned about sensations. If and when there is nothing wrong with you medically, it means that 1. it's all energetic and 2. you are just anxious and paranoid about it. It is common to different types of subtle sensations. None of what you describe is uncommon. They are not dangerous or weird in themselves. They are just sensations and energetic events. It is only when you don't know this simple fact is because you get anxious and scared about them. The only thing to pay attention to is the fear and anxiety, which are a form of self. Your problem is your "you" that gets scared and anxious. With this point we enter the world of buddhist meditation. I don't know if you practiced buddhism before but my impression is that you didn't, and that's part of the problem because you don't have clear view of these things. -We have three types of bodies: 1. physical, 2. energetic/mind and 3. awareness/buddhanature. Main part of your problem is that you are disconnected from your awareness/buddhanature and this makes you get extra-lost in that prana/energy/fear/anxiety stuff. So you should establish clear awareness in your being. This is actually very easy to do by tantric means. Read this and do the practice described in it:

The practice uses guru mantras that are explained. In tantra we turn to gurus who are fully enlightened masters for help. All we need to do is to be sincere in our request to receive their help that come in the form of blessings. This is guru yoga and it is the heart and soul of all tantric methods. You will notice that when you chant the mantra, your mind becomes clear and fearless, while you feel a warm soothing and pleasant energy fill you up. Don't worry, none of this is strange or scary. You can trust it, relax and just enjoy the ride. Try. You are also welcome to join any of the guided sessions lead by our acharya's or retreats taught by myself:

These will solve your problems for good. You will see the positive benefit from your first session. Then you just keep taking the medicine. If you need advice, I'm here. * You either didn't listen or understand what I wrote to you before, so please go back and read my previous messages. When I say that it is safe, I mean it. When I say that energetic experiences are normal and that you do not need to be alarmed of them, I mean it.

You do not need to take a "leap of faith into the unknown" or anything like that but if you keep following the habits of fear and anxiety like before, it will take unnecessarily long time to sort this out. So!

Take it easy. Relax. When I give this simple instruction to relax, it means that you really need to relax. Relax your body, take a few deep breaths and let your breathing become relaxed. Your mind will calm down also. Within this relaxation you say a prayer request in your own words and invite Guru Rinpoche to you, or you can use his mantra to invite him over to you. Either way, he comes to you in person. A fully enlightened master actually comes to you in nonphysical form. There is no greater healer than that so please take advantage of that to your own great benefit! Little by little you learn to know him and trust him. Everytime you feel his presence, you can ask yourself whether it feels safe or not. He will give you great help to pacify your mind and its many fears and anxieties. This helps you to grow up spiritually.

perjantai 9. huhtikuuta 2021

Harvest Is At Hand


Harvest Is At Hand

All beings have buddhanature. All humans have buddhanature and of course, all practitioners have buddhanature. However, despite of this basic fact it is uncommon for practitioners to truly come to know themselves as perfectly fresh beings devoid of any delusion, abound with love and compassion.

It is a simple fact that very few people out of tens of millions of practitioners worldwide become graduates, fully enlightened buddhas, in a single lifetime. It means that from the methods that many people follow, most get small benefits while only few get great benefits. Instead of the majority of sanghas becoming fully enlightened buddhas or awakened to a mature degree, there arise one or two people who become to be considered as outstanding practitioners who are then seen as special. Yet, at the same time more than one or two people have a deep yearning to become enlightened.

This means that there is a gap between the innate potential and revealing it. This question has been burning in my mind since I became disillusioned about old, traditional, ”timetested” methods of yoga and meditation that actually didn't work well despite of backbreaking efforts. I know many who have had the same problem.

First of all, if you want to get true benefits of your practice (through recognising yourself as a buddha), you need to keep asking questions. This is something most people don't do because they trust those timetested methods along others. Practices, when practiced correctly, need and are required to deliver glimpses and insights of recognition on continual basis from the very beginning of practice until the final goal of buddhahood. As long as practice is continued, there should be no plateuing but if practice is continued and plateuing still happens, there is something very wrong with the practice! This is common sense.

Pragmatic Dharma

I teach and practice pragmatic dharma (See Vince Horn's article Core Features of Pragmatic Dharma). This means that in Pemako Buddhist Sangha we discuss openly and publicly about our meditative and spiritual experiences, incl. awakening experiences and enlightenment. Dr Daniel Brown, who has made public statements about the advancement of his students, incl. that two people in their sangha have attained buddhahood, is also an example of this. This is out of the norm in buddhist culture, though it has been done historically as well. We do this for the simple reason that it is highly beneficial for the whole community, and hopefully as beneficial to dharma culture in general.

For many years myself and our practitioners have talked and given written accounts of their awakening experiences, or technically bhumi openings and bhumi perfections. If I remember correctly, I started announcing awakenings (1st bhumi opening) of my students in the Spring of 2014 which is exactly 7 years ago. Since then I've kept giving brief monthly or bi-monthly reports about the advancement of our sangha members in Facebook. We do this in more detail in our closed Facebook group that is only for sangha members. 


We have a strong sangha of 70 people worldwide most of who attend several retreats each year, on top of their daily home practice. I began this post by discussing the gap between the innate potential of buddhanature and lack of knowhow to access it, so perhaps I'll say a bit more about that.

The Pemako method has several unique features. Not only is our method pragmatic, that alone gives a very different feel to it in comparison to secretive methods, we do practices that no one else in the whole world does, literally. I have discussed all of this on regular basis for many years so I won't repeat what I have said before but I'll remind that we haven't invented anything new, just reshaped and refreshed the form of our practice. It is the way how the foundational principles are formulated into exercises and how these exercises are understood and practiced, what makes the difference.

When people write me and tell about their training in other styles and then Pemako, one of the things they often communicate is their frustration of not getting anywhere. This stuck happens because people are not taught the basics well, in a simple language that they could easily understand. Then a whole new world opens for them when they meet Pemako teachings and learn the basics of tantra and dzogchen, taught in simple and no-nonsense manner. Opening of a new world means repeated recognitions of oneself as a buddha.

So, without exact knowhow the distance between the potential and lived experience of it, becomes impossible to catch up. Also from this basic problem many other problems germinate which is how yogas turn into religions. Vice versa, when the method allows recognition from the start many positive features come from it, such as harmony in the sangha (which is a rarity) and the journey from unawakened state to fully enlightened state becomes swift.


Last month I wrote a blog about Long Cessations: How Buddhahood is Actually Attained. For context, please read it if you haven't.

In few years time I will be able to give detailed statistics on this, based on 8-10 cases, but at the moment it looks like earnest Pemako practitioners attain buddhahood, perfection of 1-10 bhumis, in 6-8 years on average. Soon and during this year, I will probably be able to break news of a handful of practitioners who have reached full fruition in their practice, including some personal details. Due to the uncommon nature of this information, the accounts will be anonymous for the public but as openly celebrated as any other awakening experiences within our sangha. Harvest is at hand.

May you be filled with the grace of the buddha within,

-Kim, 9.4.2021

maanantai 5. huhtikuuta 2021

Only Positive Qualities

 Within everyone of us, there is pure being that only has positive qualities. This pure being is buddhanature. It can be recognised by becoming aware of awareness itself. It feels very good and natural. Through repeated recognition, this buddha within can be stabilised in one's everyday life. You begin to see, taste and live it. Finally, all small-minded selfing can dissolve into it. This is exhaustion of all phenomena. Then we discover ourselves as fully pure and radiating beings of love and kindness, and we can't say, think or do no harm to anyone. We become buddhas,fully aware and entirely without a negative thought, living in our very bodies. This is simply becoming who we really are. It is wonderful.

-Kim, 5.4.2021

sunnuntai 4. huhtikuuta 2021

What is Awakening on the path to Enlightenment? - Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche


What is Awakening on the path to Enlightenment?

I just found this lovely elaboration on Awakening by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche. The only part that I respectfully disagree with is the notion that seeing through the self takes a long time. With the most effective instructions like the Two-Part Formula ( and the proper determination, Awakening can be achieved within days or weeks. - Ugi

»Although this is called the Sravaka stage because it represents the heart of the Sravaka vehicle, one should not assume that it is unimportant in the other vehicles of Buddhism. Milarepa, the great Vajrayana master, taught his disciple, the shepherd boy, the Sravaka meditation on not-self after the boy had shown signs of having great natural meditation ability. It is said that on being told to meditate on a small image of the Buddha he went straight into meditative absorbtion (samadhi) for a week without noticing the time. When he came out of samadhi it seemed to him he had only been meditating a few seconds.

At this stage one does not consider the emptiness of all phenomena but only the emptiness or lack of self in the person. The importance of this is that it is the clinging to the idea that one has a single, permanent, independent, truly existing self that is the root cause of all one's suffering. One does not need to have an explicit or clearly formulated idea of self in order to act as if one had one. 'Self here means the implied self which might also be regarded as implied in the behaviour of animals. Animals, just like us, identify themselves with their bodies and minds and are constantly seeking physical and mental comfort as they try to avoid discomfort and assuage pain. Both animals and humans act as if they have a self to protect and preserve and one regards this behaviour as automatic and instinctive as well as normal. When pain or discomfort arise the automatic response is to try to remove it. It is extraneous to the self and the implication is that the self would naturally be happy if all pain and suffering were removed.

Strangely, however, when we try to analyse our behaviour in relation to this self, we realize that we are very unclear as to what this self really is. Non-Buddhist thinkers have defined the self variously as resting in the brain, blood or heart and having such qualities as true or transcendental existence in or outside of the mind or body. To have any meaning such a self has to be lasting, for if it perished every moment one would not be so concerned about what was going to happen to it the next moment; it would not be one's 'self anymore. Again it has to be single. If one had no separate identity why should one worry about what happened to one's 'self any more than one worried about anyone else's. It has to be independent or there would be no sense in saying 'I did this' or 'I have that'. If one had no independent existence there would be no-one to claim the actions and experiences as its own.

We all act as if we had lasting, separate, independent selves that it is our constant pre-occupation to protect and foster. It is an unthinking habit that most of us would normally be most unlikely to question or explain. However, all our suffering is associated with this pre-occupation. All loss and gain, pleasure and pain arise because we identify so closely with this vague feeling of selfness that we have. We are so emotionally involved with and attached to this 'self that we take it for granted.

The meditator does not speculate about this 'self. He does not have theories about whether it does or does not exist. Instead he just trains himself to watch dispassionately how his mind clings to the idea of self and 'mine' and how all his sufferings arise from this attachment. At the same time he looks carefully for that self. He tries to isolate it from all his other experiences. Since it is the culprit as far as all his suffering is concerned, he wants to find it and identify it. The irony is that however much he tries, he does not find anything that corresponds to the self.

Westerners often confuse self in this context with person, ego or personality. They argue that they do not think of the person, ego or personality as a lasting, single, independent entity. This is to miss the point. The person, personality or ego as such are not a problem. One can analyse them quite rationally into their constituent parts. The Western tradition has all sorts of ways of doing this. The Buddhist way is to talk of the five skandhas, the eighteen dhatus or the twelve gates of consciousness. The question is not whether or not the person, personality or ego is a changing, composite train of events conditioned by many complex factors. Any rational analysis shows us that this is the case. The question is why then do we behave emotionally as if it were lasting, single and independent. Thus, when looking for the self it is very important to remember it is an emotional response that one is examining. When one responds to events as if one had a self, for example when one feels very hurt or offended, one should ask oneself who or what exactly is feeling hurt or offended.

If you are not convinced that you behave emotionally as if you had a lasting, single and independent self, then it is important to address yourself to this issue before moving on to consider the doctrine of not-self. Think carefully about pain and suffering and ask yourself who or what it is that is suffering. Who is afraid of what will happen; who feels bad about what has happened; why does death seem such a threat when the present disappears every moment, scarcely having had a chance to arise? You will find that your thinking is full of contradictions, inconsistencies and irresolvable paradoxes. This is normal. Everyone (exce'pt, perhaps, the insane) have a common sense notion of what or who they are which works (more or less) and enables them to function as normal human beings.

However, when the meditator addresses himself to what or who this self is, he cannot find it. Then gradually, very gradually, it dawns on him that the reason he cannot find it is that it is not there and never was. There is tremendous emotional resistance to this realization so it takes a long time to break through, but when it does there is an immediate release of tension and suffering. The cause of it has gone. The cause of it was a mental attachment to something that was not there.

Sometimes the resistance to the realization takes the form of irritation. One is used to being able to explain things to oneself rationally. Experience of the 'self is so direct and in a sense so obvious, there seems to be no reason to include it in one's rational explanation of things. On the other hand, when one does try to explain it to oneself, the whole thing is so irritatingly subjective it seems one could never reach any satisfactory conclusion. Instead of letting the mind rest in the actual experience of that paradox, one gets frustrated and irritated at not being able to form a water-tight explanation of what the 'self is. It is important to notice that and be aware of it. If one tries to just push that irritation out of one's mind, one will never have a deep realization of not-self.

Clinging to the idea o( self is like clinging to the idea that a piece of rope in the dark is a snake. When the light is turned on and one sees that there is no snake there, one's fear and suffering that arose from clinging to it as real dissolve. The snake never existed in the· first place, so it was simply one's clinging to that idea that caused the suffering and nothing "else. The wisdom that realizes not-self is like the light that revealed the rope was not a snake.

Clearly, in order to end one's own suffering, there is nothing more important than to realize that when one acts as if the body and mind constituted a lasting, separate, independent self, one unthinkingly attributes to them qualities which they simply do not have.

Nothing in the whole stream of mental and physical phenomena that constitute one's experience of body and mind has the quality of separate, independent, lasting existence. It is all change and impermanence, moment by moment and so none of it can be 'self and it is one's persistent effort to treat it as if it were, that makes it a constant stream of suffering (duhkha).

Realizing not-self is the first step to realizing the empty nature of all phenomena. That is why the first teachings of the Buddha concern the Three Marks of Existence i.e. suffering, impermanence, and not-self.


The Buddha often used the example of a dream to illustrate his teachings on emptiness and this example can be applied with increasing subtlety at each stage of the meditation progression on Emptiness. It is a good example for showing how the two truths, relative and absolute, work together. In a dream there is a sense of being a person with a body and mind living in a world of things to which one feels attracted or averse depending on how they appear. As long as one does not realize it is just a dream, one takes all these things as real and one feels happy or"sad on account of them.

For example, one may dream of being eaten by a tiger or being burnt in a fire. In the absolute truth no-one is being eaten or burnt, but still in terms of the dream one might really suffer as if one had been. The suffering arises simply by virtue of the fact that one identifies oneself with the person in the dream. As soon as one becomes aware that it is only a dream, even if the dream does not stop, one is nonetheless free to think, 'It does not matter; it is only a dream. It is not really happening to me.' The person that was suffering in the dream only arose as a temporary manifestation dependent on the condition of one's not being aware that it was only a dream. It had no separate, independent, lasting 'self of its own.

Understanding this intellectually is not enough to free oneself from the strongly ingrained habit of clinging to one's mind and body as a separate, independent, lasting self. One has to examine the stream of one's mental and physical experience again and again, reflecting on what one does or does not find until one reaches total conviction and certainty. Having become convinced of what is the case, one then has to meditate, resting the mind in this new-found knowledge until the veils caused by one's habitual patterns of thought have finally dissolved. At this point direct, unmistakable realization of not-self arises and it is this genuine experience that actually liberates one from suffering.«

-Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche