Categorie archief: ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEXTS

Great Ancient Masters

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      Jampa in Nalanda India                                                                               foto : jampa
 
Great Ancient Masters ( many of whom taught in Nalanda )

The wisdom teachings of the Mahayana are contained in three primary sets of writings. The first and oldest of these are the Prajnaparamita texts, which date to the beginning of the current era. These wisdom texts go beyond conventional understanding and speak directly to one’s innate enlightened nature. They are the first pointing out texts –transmitting the transcendent wisdom that sees the emptiness of all conceptualized views of reality.

Later, Nargarjuna applied the insights of the Prajnaparamita to classical Indian philosophy and through his articulation of the nature of emptiness beautifully and impeccably dismantled prevailing scholastic views on the nature of reality, establishing the primacy of the inexpressible as the heart of the Buddhist path. In the Mahayana tradition Nargarjuna is seen as the primary spokesperson of the Pranjaparamita literature.

These teachings were united with the meditative and devotional traditions of Mahayana by a brilliant set of teachers from Gandhara, Asanga and Vasubandu, whose works are the culmination of the early Mahayana movement. The school that held this transmission tradition was Yogacara, which became the leading philosophical school in India during the 3rd to 5th centuries, at the same time that Neoplatonism was the leading philosophical school in the Classical Western World. Yogacara teachings still form the philosophical core of the great Buddhist contemplative lineages such as Zen, Mahamudra and Dzogchen. In a similar manner Neoplatonism underlines Western contemplative lineages.

Yogacara translates as “practitioners of yoga” emphasizing the school’s commitment to meditation as the essential nature of the Buddhist path. It is also known as the Consciousness Only School for their central teaching that all reality is a display of consciousness.

Asanga 

According to the Tibetan tradition, Asanga was born in Purusapura, the capital of Gandhara, of a Brahmin woman who was herself a considerable adept in the teachings of Buddhism and who taught him the “eighteen sciences” which he mastered easily. He became a monk and for five years applied himself diligently, memorizing one hundred thousand verses of dharma each year and correctly understanding their meaning.

He then left the monastery to practice the Arya Maitreya Sadhana in a cave at the foot of a mountain. For three years, not a single good sign appeared, and he became depressed and decided to leave his retreat. Emerging from his cave he noticed a bird’s nest by the mountain where the rock had become worn just by the brushing of the bird’s wing as it flew back and forth. Realizing his perseverance was weak, he returned to his cave to practice. For three more years he meditated, but again not a single good sign appeared. He became discouraged and left again. This time he saw a rock beside the road that was slowly disintegrating because of the trickle of single drops of water. Inspired by this, he returned and practiced another three years.

When again no signs appeared, he left his retreat a third time. He encountered an old man who was rubbing a piece of iron with a smooth cotton cloth. “I am just finishing this needle,” the man said to Asanga. “I have already made those over there” and pointed to small pile of needles lying nearby. Asanga thought, “If such effort is put into a mundane task such as this, my effort so far has been merely a trifle.”

He returned and meditated for another three years. Although he had by now meditated for 12 years on Maitreya, he still had no signs of favor. He became extremely despondent and walked away from his cave. After awhile he came across a half-dead dog lying beside the road, infested with maggots, crying out in pain. Asanga thought, “This dog will die if these worms are not removed, but if I try to lift them out with my hand, I will crush them.” So using his tongue so as not to hurt them, and cutting off some of his own flesh for them to live in, he bent down to remove them. At that moment the dog vanished and Maitreya appeared, showering cascades of light in all directions.

Asanga burst into tears and cried, “Ah, my sole teacher and refuge, all those years I made so much effort in my practice, exerting myself in a hundred different ways, but I saw nothing. Why has the rain and the might of the ocean come only now when tormented by pain, I am no longer thirsting?” Maitreya replied, “In truth, I was in your presence constantly, yet because of karmic obscuration you were unable to see me. However, your practice has purified your karma and removed your obstacles. Now by the force of your great compassion you are able to meet me. To test my words, put me on you shoulders for others to see and carry me across the city.”

Asanga was overjoyed. Lifting Maitreya onto his shoulders carried him into town, yet no one saw Maitreya. One old woman saw Asanga was carrying a dead dog and that brought her endless good fortune. A faithful servant saw Maitreya’s feet and found himself in a state of samadhi which granted him all the siddhis. Asanga himself realized the samadhi called “Continuum of Reality”. “What is your desire now?” Maitreya asked him. “To revive the teachings of the Mahayana,” Asanga replied. “Well then, hold onto the end of my robe.” Asanga did this and together they ascended to the pure land of Tushita where they stayed for fifty years. Here Asanga mastered the teachings of the Mahayana and received the famous Five Texts of Maitreya, each of which opens a different door of samadhi.

Dedicated to actualizing these teachings, Asanga returned to the earth and built a small temple in a forest. At first only a few students came to learn teachings from him, but gradually the fame of his doctrine spread and the Yogacara School was established. He became the abbot of Nalanda and lived to be well over 100, but always had a youthful look, with no gray hair or wrinkles.

He compiled many important Mahayana works including what has come to be known as The Five Texts of Maitreya. These include the Abhisamayalamkara (Ornament of Clear Comprehension), the  Mahanaya Sutralankara (Ornament of the Mahayana Sutras),  the Madhyanta-vibhanga (Discourse on the Middle between the Extremes), the Dharma-dharmata-vibhaga, and the Uttaratantra (The Peerless Continuum). His Mahayana-samparigraha (Compendium of the Mahayana), Abhidarma-samuccaya (Compendium of Higher Doctrine), and Yogacharabhumi-shastra (Treatise on the Stages of Yoga Practice) are also famous.

According to the Tibetan historian Taranatha, Tantric teachings were handed down in secret through the Yogacara lineage from the time of Asanga. In the Tibetan canon are several Tantric works ascribed to Asanga including a Maitreya Sadhana and a Prajna-Paramita Sadhana.

Vasubandu

The cofounder of Yogacara, Vasubandu, is traditionally said to be the younger brother of Asanga. He was also born in Purusapura in Gandhara and became a monk of the Sarvastivadin school. He went to Kashmir to study their teachings including their renown Abhidharma works. He also was said to possess a complete understanding of the Tripitaka and the tenets of all the Hinayana schools.

Vasubandu wrote Seven Branches of Metaphysics, an encyclopedic work clarifying the main points of teachings of the early Arhats, The Four Oral Traditions of Vinaya on Buddhist discipline, and the most famous compendium of Abhidharma teachings in the Buddhist tradition, the Abhidharma-kosa and a commentary to it called the Abhidharma-kosa-Bhayasa. The Kosa describes the Buddhist path to enlightenment by categorizing and analyzing the basic factors of experience called dharmas.

Impressie uit Nalanda hd from jampa gyatso on Vimeo.

Already famous for his intellectual understanding of Buddhism, Vañsubandu came to Nalanda University and was converted to the Mahayana by Asanga. According to a traditional account, Asanga summoned Vasubandu under the pretext that he was dying. When Vasubandu arrived and asked the cause of his illness, Asanga replied, “I have a serious disease of the heart which arose on account of you.” Vasubandu asked, “How did it arise on account of me?” Asanga replied, “Because you do not believe in the Mahayana and are forever attacking and criticizing it. For this wickedness you will be reborn in a miserable existence. Grieving for you has brought me close to death.” Vasubandu was surprised at this and asked Asanga to expound the Mahayana to him. Upon doing so he became convinced of the truth of the Mahayana and asked his brother what he could do to overcome the negative karma he had accumulated. Asanga answered, “Since your skillful and eloquent speech against the Mahayana earned you this negative karma, you must now use your skillful and eloquent speech to propound the Mahayana.”

De ruines van Nalanda , Bihar , India                                                                                                                           foto : jampa

Vasubandu went on to write many works which systematized the Consciousness Only teachings including On the Three Natures, the Twenty Verses, and the Thirty Verses, perhaps the most famous of the Consciousness Only texts. He also wrote devotional hymns and commentaries on Mahayana texts, including works of Asanga. He is also credited with being the founder of Pure Land Buddhism.

According to one Tibetan account,

Vasubandu was in the habit of reciting daily the Perfection of Wisdom in 8000 Verses. Once a year he would sit in an iron cauldron filled with sesame oil and for fifteen consecutive days and nights would recite five hundred Hinayana sutras and five hundred Mahayana sutras. After Asanga passed away, he became abbot of Nalanda. Every day he taught 20 classes on various Mahayana Sutras and constantly met in debate and defeated the false views of other teachers. For over 100 years he traveled in India and Nepal establishing the dharma and teaching the Mahayana doctrine.

Many of his debates were with Samyka teachers, a school like Yogacara based on yogic experience that flourished at that time. Other debates were with proponents of yoga as reflected in Patanjali’s famous sutras.

After a long life, Vasubandu eventually left this world to reside in the Tushita heaven with Maitreya.

Stirmati

Stirmati was one of the famous disciples of Vasubandu. He was born in the southern Indian city of Dandakaranya of low caste parents, and studied with Vasubandu from age seven. He wrote commentaries on Abhidharma and the works of Vasubandu, including the Trimsikabhasya (Commentary on The Thirty Verses).

Dignaga

Dignaga, another disciple of Vasubandu, was one of the most respected Indian philosophers. Born in the southern Indian city of Simhavakta to a Brahmin family, he became a monk with a Hinayana teacher, but dissatisfied with the Hinayana teachings went in search of further instruction and met Vasubandu.

Every day he would recite 500 Mahayana sutras. From a tantric master who was an emanation of Heruka he received the empowerment and the “Method of Actualization” of Manjushri. By practicing this, he received a vision of Manjushri, and from then on received teachings from Manjushri whenever he wished.

Dignaga is known as the founder of Buddhist logic. He wrote over a hundred works on logic and other matters including Arya Prajnaparamita -samgraha-karika (A Verse Compendium of the Noble Perfection of Wisdom), and the Pramanasamuccaya (The Synthesis of All Reasoning). The later was such a profound and timely text that according to the Tibetans when Dignaga wrote the salutation to the work, “Homage to him who is Logic personified…”, the earth shook, thunder and lightning flashed, and the legs of all the heretical teachers in the vicinity became as stiff as wood. Using his skills at logic, he became famous as a debater. He was also famous for his miracles and had many disciples. He traveled throughout India establishing Mahayana, and spent many years in Kashmir. He completed his life meditating in a remote cave in the jungles of Odivisha.

Gunaprabha

Gunaprabha, one of Vasubandu’s closest disciples, is famous for his mastery of Vinaya. He was born in Mathura of a Brahmin family. He studied the Vedic teachings, and the Hinayana teachings in addition to receiving Mahayana teachings from Vasubandu.

According to the Tibetan accounts, he recited the Hundred Thousand Vinayas daily and resided in a monastery in Mathura called Adrapuri that had 5000 monks, all of whom kept the Vinaya rules perfectly.

He composed the Vinaya-Sutra, Basic Teachings of the Vinaya and One Hundred Actions. His Aphorisms of Discipline are one of the “five great books” that form the basis for the twenty year study program in Tibetan monastic colleges.

Vimuktasena

Vimuktasena was another close disciple of Vasubandu. He is famous for his mastery of the Prajna-Paramita sutras. He was born in Jvala-guha in south-central India. He was a devotee of Maitreya and received both advice and teachings from the celestial Buddha.

He wrote a text called Twenty Thousand Lights on the Prajna-Paramitas. Towards the end of his life he became the spiritual guide of a king in South India and supervised twenty-four temples where he widely taught the Prajna-Paramita Sutras.

Dharmapala

A disciple of Dignaga, Dharmapala became the head of Nalanda after his teacher died. After that he went to Bodhgaya and became abbot of the Mahabodhi Monastery. He died at the age of 32. He wrote a number of original works and commentaries most of which have been lost.

Dharmakirti

Dharmakirti was born in the southern Indian town of Cudamani to a Brahmin family. At an early age he became learned in the arts, the teachings of the vedas, medicine, grammar, and the tenets of the various sages. Then becoming inspired by the teachings of Buddha and the lineage of Pure Consciousness, he took ordination as a monk from Ararya Dharmpala and studied the Tripitaka from beginning to end. Every day he recited 500 different sutras and mantras.

He became a great adept at logic, equal to the master Dignaga himself, and wrote a famous commentary on Dignaga’s Synthesis of All Reasoning. He also wrote Seven Treatises of Logic. His works became the basis for debate training in the Tibetan monasteries. He himself was said to be such an excellent debater that the population of Indian sages of other schools was quite depleted by his efforts, since after losing they had to convert to Buddhism or throw themselves into the Ganges.

Silabhadra

A disciple of Dharmapala, Silabhadra was born to a royal Brahmin family in the East Indian city of Samatata. He was conversant with the teachings of all sects, famous for his mastery of Buddhist sutras and commentaries, and became head of Nalanda where 104 years old, he taught the Chinese Master, Hsuan-Tsang, the Consciousness Only doctrine through his exposition of Asanga’s Treatise on the Stages of Yoga Practice.

Paramartha

Paramartha was one of the great translators of Buddhist texts into Chinese, Paramartha was already a master in India when he traveled to China in 546 at the age of 47. At the request of the emperor of China, he settled in the capital and began the translation of texts. Political instability in China forced him to move quite often, but he was still able to translate the important works of the Yogacara lineage into Chinese including the Abhidharmakosa, the Mahayana-Samparigraha, and various works of Vasubandu. He is also famous for his translation of the Diamond Sutra. All together, Paramartha translated sixty-four works in 278 volumes. His translations made the later success of Yogacara possible in China and inspired Hsuan-Tsang several generations later to travel to India for additional texts and commentaries.

Hsuan-Tsang

Hsuan-Tsang in de Hsuan-Tsang Memorial Hall in Nalanda, India foto : Jampa

 

Hsuan-Tsang was a remarkable spiritual pilgrim who became one of the most famous Chinese Masters. The son of a poor Chinese official, he left home at the age of 13 to study Buddhism. According to a traditional account,

During those early years of study, if there was a Dharma Master lecturing on a Buddhist text, no matter who the Dharma Master was or how far away the lecture was being held, he went, whether it was a Sutra lecture, a Shastra lecture or a Vinaya lecture. He listened to them all. Wind and rain couldn’t keep him away from lectures on the Tripitaka, to the point that he even forgot to be hungry. He just took the Buddhadharma as his food and drink. He did this for five years and then took the Complete Precepts.

In 629 at the age of 27, having been a monk for fifteen years, he secretly left China and made the dangerous journey across the silk road to India. Sixteen years later, having learned Sanskrit and studied with the best Indian teachers, he returned with an incredible collection of 657 Indian texts, a number of statues of the Buddha and various relics. He was acclaimed by the Emperor who supported him the remainder of his life so he could translate the texts and convey the Mahayana teachings to China. On his deathbed he dedicated his merit so that all present would be born again among the inner circle of Maitreya in Tushita Heaven

De reis van Hsuan-Tsang in de Hsuan-Tsang Memorial Hall Nalanda India                                  foto : Jampa

His Cheng Wei Shih Lun (Treatise on the Attainment of Consciousness Only), a compendium outlining Yogacara doctrine, became the standard text for the Consciousness Only schools of China and Japan.

He translated many other Sanskrit texts into Chinese including the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, which filled 600 volumes, Asanga’s Treatise on the States of Yoga Practice, the Master of Lapis Lazuli Radiance Tathagata which established the practice of the Medicine Buddha in China and the Far East.

Yogacara Masters After Hsuan-Tsang

Kuei-Chi (638-682 A.D.) was Hsuan-Tsang’s most prominent Chinese student. He systematized the Yogacara teaching and established Yogacara as a distinct school in China, called Fa-hsiang. He also wrote commentaries to Hsuan-Tsang’s Yogacara works including the Fa-yuan-i-lin-chang and the Wei-shih-shu-chi.

Hsuan-Tsang also had several notable Japanese and Korean students. Dosho (628-700) studied with Hsuan-Tsang for ten years sharing a room with Kuei-Chi. When he left to go back to Japan he was given sutras, treatises and Yogacara commentaries to help him establish Yogacara there which he did, teaching at Bwangoji monastery. His most famous student is Gyogi (667-748). A Korean student Chiho studied with Hsuan-Tsang and also went to Japan to teach. His pupil Gembo went back to China in 716 and was instructed by Chih-Chou, a pupil of Kuei-Chi. Another early Japanese student who studied with Hsuan-Tsang was Chitsu. “Thus,” as Junjiro Takakusu wrote in his Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy in 1947, “Japan received the orthodox teaching sacrosanct from first-hand authorities of the Indian and Chinese Yogacara School and with the Japanese even now it is the chief subject of Buddhist learning.”

Hosso, the Japanese name for Yogacara, thrived during the Nara period and today several prominent ancient temples are still functioning. Yogacara proper in India and China did not fare so well. The Yogacara School in India became part of a Yogacara-Madhyamika School which thrived in the last centuries before Buddhism disappeared in India under Islamic persecution. This school became influential in Tibet through Santaraksita, one of the first Buddhist Masters to teach in Tibet, and today all Tibetan sects have a strong Yogacara component. This is especially visible in the more contemplative Kagyu and Nyingma practice traditions. Several Kagyu teachers have supervised English translations of Asanga’s works in recent years.

An example of the respect Tibetan teachers have for Yogacara is this appreciation taken from a dharma talk by the Venerable Traleg Rinpoche,

People have generally ignored how Yogacara philosophy influenced Buddhist tantra and its development. Even though it’s quite patent in the writings of Buddhist tantra… Yogacara philosophy itself developed as a reaction against too much theorization. It came to emphasize individual experience and practice,hence the name Yogacara, meaning practitioners of yoga… You could not theorize about Yogacara philosophy without meditating. In fact, you could not be a Yogacara philosopher unless you meditate. When we look at the writings of Yogacara philosophy, we discover many tantric concepts mentioned.

The Fa-hsiang School suffered under the general persecution of Buddhism in China during the middle of the 9th century and gradually disappeared. However, its works are still preserved, and it was revived in the 20th century by several Masters including Ou-Yang Ching-Wu (1871-1943), Abbot Taiuhso (1889-1947, and Hsin Shih-Li (1883-1968), who wrote A New Doctrine of Consciousness Only in 1944. This revival led to the Hsuan-Tsang’s Cheng Wei Shih Lun being translated into English for the first time in 1973 by Wei Tat, a member of a Hong Kong Yogacara group.

Perhaps the greatest success of the Yogacara teachings was in Gandhara where it Third Turning was revealed. There Yogacara became the foundation for Dzogchen which flourishes today in Tibet as the summit of Buddhist philosophy. That is no small honor for the remarkable work the early Yogacara Masters accomplished in clarifying the essence of the Mahayana path.

 

The Prayer to Guru Rinpoche

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dü sum sangyé guru rinpoché
Embodiment of buddhas of past, present and future, Guru Rinpoche;

ngödrup kun dak déwa chenpö shyap
Master of all siddhis , Guru of Great Bliss;

barché kun sel düd dul drakpo tsal
Dispeller of all obstacles, Wrathful Subjugator of maras

solwa depso chingyi lap tu sol
To you I pray: inspire me with your blessings.

chi nang sangwé barché shyiwa dang
So that outer, inner and secret obstacles are dispelled

sampa lhun gyi druppar chin gyi lop
And all my aspirations are spontaneously fulfilled.

Discovered by the great terma-revealer Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa, from the right-hand side of the Sengchen Namdrak rock on Mount Rinchen Tsekpa, ‘The Pile of Jewels’. Because the blessing of this prayer, one intended for this present time, is so immense, it should be treasured by all as their daily practice.

Feeding your demons

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Tsultrim Alione

Tsultrim Alione brings an eleventh-century Tibetan woman’s practice to the West for the first time with FEEDING YOUR DEMONS, an accessible and effective approach for dealing with negative emotions, fears, illness, and self-defeating patterns. Allione-one of only a few female Buddhist leaders in this country and comparable in American religious life to Pema Chodron-bridges this ancient Eastern practice with today’s Western psyche. She explains that if we fight our demons, they only grow stronger. But if we feed them, nurture them, we can free ourselves from the battle. Through the clearly articulated practice outlined in FEEDING YOUR DEMONS, we can learn to overcome any obstacle and achieve freedom and inner peace.

What is a Demon?
“With a loving mind, cherish more than a child The hostile gods and demons of apparent existence,And tenderly surround yourself with them”

Machig Labdrön (1055 – 1145)

Demons in the sense that we are using the word are not ghosts, goblins, or minions of Satan. When Machig Labdrön was directly asked by her son Tönyon Samdrup to define demons, she replied this way: “That which is called a demon is not some great black thing that petrifies whoever sees it. A demon is anything that obstructs the achievement of freedom…. There is no greater devil than this fixation to a self. So until this ego-fixation is cut off, all the demons wait with open mouths. For this reason, you need to exert yourself at a skillful method to sever the devil of ego-fixation.”

Machig’s understanding of demons was remarkably sophisticated. She asked, What is the real evil? What are the real demons? Isn’t egocentricity, whether on a personal or collective level, the real demon?
Fears, obsessions, addictions are all parts of ourselves that have become “demonic” by being split off, disowned, and battled against. When you try to flee from your demons, they pursue you. By struggling with them, you become weaker and may even succumb to them completely. For example, someone who struggles with the demon of alcoholism may eventually die of liver disease. Someone who struggles with the demon of depression may eventually commit suicide. We need to recognize the futility of this struggle and begin to accept and even love those parts of ourselves.

An Example of a Demon and the Demon Process

The following example is an excerpt from the book:

Kate had very critical parents who, indirectly, were always telling her she was not worthy of love. Not surprisingly, she began to hate herself. Although she grew up and married, eventually her husband left her. Kate couldn’t keep a job. She felt deeply unworthy of love, and acted self-destructively.
Her inner voice constantly told her she was not good enough, that she was a loser, and that she should just give up on life. This was her “self-hate demon,” which was running rampant. Although she remained unaware of how much it influenced her, it disrupted everything. The voice did, however, provide a kind of negative security, familiar but toxic. Here, in brief, is how Kate dealt with her self-hate demon.

Step 1. Find the Demon
After generating an altruistic intention for her practice, Kate closes her eyes and sinks into awareness of her body, trying to locate the feeling of worthlessness and self-loathing. She remembers an intense attack of negativity that triggered her self-loathing. After being fired from a promising job, she had called her mother hoping for sympathy, but instead of supporting Kate, her mother blamed her for losing the job. Filled with anger and self-hatred, Kate had cut her arms for the first time. Recalling this event she suddenly feels an intense sensation in her heart. She experiences it as cold, blue-purple, and lacerating, like a shard of shattered glass. It’s piercing and painful. Her heart aches.

Step 2. Personify the Demon and Find Out What It Needs
Kate now imagines the embodiment of this feeling. It takes the form of a tall, thin male figure. He’s ice blue and his bony arms end in claws. He’s looking at her with disdain. His teeth are pointed and yellow, and his mouth opens as if he’s going to bite her. His eyes are small and fierce. When she takes a second look, she notes that the surface of his body is covered with fine, spiky blue thorns.
Kate asks him aloud:
“What do you want?”
“What do you need?”
“How will you feel if you get what you need?”

Step 3. Become the Demon
Before he answers, she changes places with him, occupying the chair opposite her own, and takes a moment to become the demon, to live in his skin. She pauses a moment to share what he is feeling before answering the question. Inhabiting his body she realizes that he’s incredibly bitter, and he feels threatened and battered himself. To the question, “What do you want?” he replies, “I want you to suffer, because you are so worthless and stupid.”
To the question, “What do you really need?” he answers, “I need you to be with me, and to stop trying to escape from me. I need you to accept me and love me.”
To the question, “How will you feel if you get what you need?” he answers: “I’ll be able to relax. I’ll feel love.”

Step 4. Feed the Demon and Meet the Ally
Returning to her original seat Kate sees the self-hate demon in front of her. She now knows she needs to feed him love. She imagines her body melting into an infinite ocean of loving nectar, and then imagines that the demon takes this nectar in through every pore of his icy blue body all at once.
As he absorbs the nectar, the demon’s appearance changes. His body softens and his color fades. After a while he turns into a gray horse with soft nostrils and gentle, dark eyes.
Kate asks the gray horse if it is the ally. When it nods its noble head she asks how he will help her in the future, how he will protect her, and what pledge he will make to her. She then changes places with him, and becomes the gray horse. She hears herself reply, “I will carry you to places you haven’t been before, where you can’t go alone. I will lend you my strength to do things in the world. When things are difficult, come see me and rest your head on my neck. I will protect you by giving you strength in yourself.”
Kate returns to her seat and, gazing at the horse in front of her, receives his strength and takes in his pledge. As it flows into her, she feels joy rising inside her heart. Eventually the horse itself dissolves into her completely, and she feels a vast surge of strength within herself. Then she and the ally both dissolve into emptiness.

Step 5. Rest
At this point Kate feels peace. She rests, allowing herself to relax in that state of open awareness. She doesn’t need to “practice” the fifth step, even though she doesn’t normally meditate. This is not a state that she thinks herself into; it is the natural spaciousness that comes with the dissolution of the demon and the integration of the ally.

The reality of War by HH the Dalai Lama

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The Reality of War

Of course, war and the large military establishments are the greatest sources of violence in the world. Whether their purpose is defensive or offensive, these vast powerful organizations exist solely to kill human beings. We should think carefully about the reality of war. Most of us have been conditioned to regard military combat as exciting and glamorous – an opportunity for men to prove their competence and courage. Since armies are legal, we feel that war is acceptable; in general, nobody feels that war is criminal or that accepting it is criminal attitude. In fact, we have been brainwashed. War is neither glamorous nor attractive. It is monstrous. Its very nature is one of tragedy and suffering.

War is like a fire in the human community, one whose fuel is living beings. I find this analogy especially appropriate and useful. Modern warfare waged primarily with different forms of fire, but we are so conditioned to see it as thrilling that we talk about this or that marvelous weapon as a remarkable piece of technology without remembering that, if it is actually used, it will burn living people. War also strongly resembles a fire in the way it spreads. If one area gets weak, the commanding officer sends in reinforcements. This is throwing live people onto a fire. But because we have been brainwashed to think this way, we do not consider the suffering of individual soldiers. No soldiers want to be wounded or die. None of his loved ones wants any harm to come to him. If one soldier is killed, or maimed for life, at least another five or ten people – his relatives and friends – suffer as well. We should all be horrified by the extent of this tragedy, but we are too confused.

Frankly as a child, I too was attracted to the military. Their uniform looked so smart and beautiful. But that is exactly how the seduction begins. Children starts playing games that will one day lead them in trouble. There are plenty of exciting games to play and costumes to wear other than those based on the killing of human beings. Again, if we as adults were not so fascinated by war, we would clearly see that to allow our children to become habituated to war games is extremely unfortunate. Some former soldiers have told me that when they shot their first person they felt uncomfortable but as they continued to kill it began to feel quite normal. In time, we can get used to anything.

It is not only during times of war that military establishments are destructive. By their very design, they were the single greatest violators of human rights, and it is the soldiers themselves who suffer most consistently from their abuse. After the officer in charge have given beautiful explanations about the importance of the army, its discipline and the need to conquer the enemy, the rights of the great mass of soldiers are most entirely taken away. They are then compelled to forfeit their individual will, and, in the end, to sacrifice their lives. Moreover, once an army has become a powerful force, there is every risk that it will destroy the happiness of its own country.

There are people with destructive intentions in every society, and the temptation to gain command over an organisation capable of fulfilling their desires can become overwhelming. But no matter how malevolent or evil are the many murderous dictators who can currently oppress their nations and cause international problems, it is obvious that they cannot harm others or destroy countless human lives if they don’t have a military organisation accepted and condoned by society. As long as there are powerful armies there will always be danger of dictatorship. If we really believe dictatorship to be a despicable and destructive form of government, then we must recognize that the existence of a powerful military establishment is one of its main causes.

Militarism is also very expensive. Pursuing peace through military strength places a tremendously wasteful burden on society. Governments spend vast sums on increasingly intricate weapons when, in fact, nobody really wants to use them. Not only money but also valuable energy and human intelligence are squandered, while all that increases is fear.

I want to make it clear, however, that although I am deeply opposed to war, I am not advocating appeasement. It is often necessary to take a strong stand to counter unjust aggression. For instance, it is plain to all of us that the Second World War was entirely justified. It “saved civilization” from the tyranny of Nazi Germany, as Winston Churchill so aptly put it. In my view, the Korean War was also just, since it gave South Korea the chance of gradually developing democracy. But we can only judge whether or not a conflict was vindicated on moral grounds with hindsight. For example, we can now see that during the Cold War, the principle of nuclear deterrence had a certain value. Nevertheless, it is very difficult to assess al such matters with any degree of accuracy. War is violence and violence is unpredictable. Therefore, it is better to avoid it if possible, and never to presume that we know beforehand whether the outcome of a particular war will be beneficial or not.

For instance, in the case of the Cold War, through deterrence may have helped promote stability, it did not create genuine peace. The last forty years in Europe have seen merely the absence of war, which has not been real peace but a facsimile founded dear. At best, building arms to maintain peace serves only as a temporary measure. As long as adversaries do not trust each other, any number of factors can upset the balance of power. Lasting peace can assure secured only on the basis of genuine trust.

Heart Sutra – Sanskrit-English

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Translated by Zuio H. Inagaki

Namah sarvajnaaya
-Adoration to the Omniscient!    
Aaryaavalokiteshvara-bodhisattvo gambhiiraayaam prajnaapaaramitaayaam caryaam caramaano vyavalokayati sma: panca skandhaah; taamshca svabhaava-shuunyaan pashyati sma.    

-When Holy Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva performed the deep practice in the Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom, he contemplated that there were five aggregates but observed that they were devoid of essential nature.
Iha Shaariputra ruupam shuunyataa shuunyataiva ruupam, ruupaan na prithak shuunyataa, shuunyataayaa na prithag ruupam, yad ruupam saa shuunyataa, yaa shuunyataa tad ruupam.    
-In this case, Shaariputra, form is voidness and voidness is itself form; voidness is not different from form, and form is not different from voidness; that which is form is voidness, and that which is voidness is form.
Evem eva vedanaa-samjnaa-samskaara-vijnaanaani.    
-So it is for perception, conception, volition and consciousness.
Iha Shaariputra sarva-dharmaah shuunyataa-lakshanaa, anutpannaa, aniruddhaa, amalaa, na vimalaa, nonaa, na paripuurnaah.    
-In this case, Shaariputra, all things have the characteristics of voidness; they neither arise nor perish; they are neither defiled nor pure, neither deficient nor complete.
Tasmaac Chaariputra shuunyaayaam na ruupam na vedanaa na samjnaa na samskaaraa na vijnaanaani.    
-Therefore, Shaariputra, within the voidness, there is no form, no perception, no conception, no volition, nor consciousness.
Na cakshuh-shrotra-ghraana-jihvaa-kaaya-man aamsi.    
-Neither is there eye, ear, nose, tongue, body or mind.
Na ruupa-shabda-gandha-rasa-sprashtavya-dha rmaah.    
-Neither is there form, sound, smell, taste, touch nor concepts.
Na cakshurdhaatur yaavan na mano-vijnaana-dhaatuh.    
-Neither is there realm of sight, etc., until we come to the non-existence of realm of consciousness.
Na vidyaa, naavidyaa, na vidyaa-kshayo, naavidyaa-kshayo, yaavan na jaraa-maranam na jaraamarana-kshayo, na duhkha-samudaya-nirodha-maargaa, na jnaanam, na praaptir apraaptitvena.    
-Neither is there wisdom, nor ignorance, nor extinction of wisdom, nor extinction of ignorance, etc., until we come to the non-existence of old age and death and the non-extinction of old age and death. Neither is there suffering, cause of suffering, extinction of suffering, nor the path leading to extinction of suffering. Neither is there wisdom nor acquisition because there is no grasping.
Bodhisattvasya prajnaapaaramitaam aashritya viharaty acittaavaranah. Cittaavarana-naastitvaad atrasto, viparyaasaatikraanto nishtha-nirvaanah.    
-Depending on the bodhisattva’s Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom, one dwells without any mental hindrance. Because of the absence of mental hindrance, one is fearless; freed from delusory thoughts, one will reach Nirvana.
Tryadhva-vyavasthitaah sarvabuddhaah prajnaapaaramitaam aashrityaanuttaraam samyaksambodhim abhisambuddhaah.    
-All Buddhas dwelling in the three periods realize the highest, perfect enlightenment depending on the Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom.
Tasmaaj jnaatavyo prajnaapaaramitaa-mahaamantro mahaavidyaa-mantro ‘nuttara-mantro ‘samasama-mantrah, sarvadukha-prashamanah, satyam amithyatvaat, prajnaapaaramitaayaam ukto mantrah.    
-For this reason, know that the Great Mantra of the Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom is the Great Wisdom Mantra, the Unsurpassed Mantra, and the Unequaled Mantra. It extinguishes all suffering, and is true and real because it is not false. It is the Mantra proclaimed in the Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom.
Tad yathaa gate gate paaragate paarasamgate bodhi svaaha.
-Namely, “Gone, gone, gone to the other shore;
Gone completely to the other shore.
Svaha.”
Iti prajnaapaaramitaa-hridayam samaaptam.    
-Thus ends the Essence of the Transcendent Wisdom Sutra.

China’s new directive on controversial Shugden

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China’s new directive on controversial Shugden spirit in Tibet in bid to further discredit Dalai Lama

  • The Chinese government has issued a new directive on propitiation of a controversial Tibetan Buddhist spirit in a bid to further discredit the Dalai Lama.
  • The document, couched as protecting freedom of religion of the Tibetans under China’s Communist Party control, nonetheless uses this pretext to project the Dalai Lama as the wrongdoer. This demonstrates that the Chinese authorities are aligned with protestors in the West who propitiate Shugden and have been denigrating the Dalai Lama when he travels to the U.S. and Europe.
  • Describing the Shugden issue as “an important front in our struggle with the Dalai Clique,” the document, obtained by ICT, could be the first such set of overt official guidelines from inside Tibet.
  • The Dalai Lama has repudiated the propitiation of Shugden (also known as “Dolgyal”) for its sectarianism, among other reasons.
  • The Chinese authorities for several years have been promoting the propitiation of Shugden inside Tibet as a part of their campaign to undermine the Dalai Lama.
  • Following the official advisory, which was circulated last year but has only just reached ICT, two Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region have been imprisoned – one for ten years – for allegedly discouraging propitiation of the Shugden ‘protector’ spirit in Tibet.

READ ALSO THE LATEST BY REUTERS 

http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/china-dalailama/

A copy of the document, entitled “Some opinions on dealing correctly with the ‘Gyalchen Shugden’ issue” and issued by the General Office of the Communist Party Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region, is translated below from Tibetan into English. It was released on February 20, 2014, but has only just reached ICT due to restrictions on information and the dangers of sending such documents outside Tibet. The document states that the issue “should be given a high degree of importance, and clearly recognized as a deceitful ploy by the 14th Dalai’s Clique to split the country.” This characterization of the issue indicates that Tibetans who encourage others not to propitiate the spirit in accordance with the Dalai Lama’s advice could face criminal charges and imprisonment. The Dalai Lama, who himself had propitiated Shugden at one time, has said that after thorough investigation there were “profound historical, social and religious problems associated with it.”[1]

In December 2014, a Tibetan man from Chamdo (Chinese: Changdu) named Uyak Tulku Lobsang Tenzin was sentenced to ten years in prison, because he urged residents of his home town to follow the Dalai Lama by not participating in Shugden propitiation, according to Radio Free Asia Tibetan service.[2] In early June 2014, four months after the document on Shugden was issued, a 77-year old Tibetan man, Jamyang Tsering, also from Chamdo (Chinese: Changdu) was imprisoned after encouraging a group of students to follow the guidance of the Dalai Lama and to always “hold to their pride in being Tibetan. […] He had also advised as many people as possible in local gatherings not to worship Shugden.”[3] According to the same source, Jamyang Tsering, who suffers from abdominal disorders, diabetes, and high blood pressure, among other ailments, was sentenced to a year and a half in prison.

The ‘Opinions’ document indicates that the Chinese authorities are politicizing an internal Buddhist matter as a divisive weapon in a systematic ideological campaign against the Dalai Lama that attempts to sever connections between Tibetans in exile and those inside Tibet. It can also be viewed as a means of diverting attention from oppressive Communist Party policies against religion by attempting to drive a wedge among Tibetans. In the document, the Party Committee does not only blame the Dalai Lama for “instigating the self-immolations” that have swept Tibet since 2009,[4] but it also blames the “Dalai Clique” for using “the Gyalchen Shugden issue to stir up divisions and instability in Tibet.”

Followers of Shugden – led by Westerners from the “New Kadampa Tradition” (“NKT”) now operating as the International Shugden Community – have organized strident demonstrations against the Dalai Lama in global capitals where he travels.[5]

Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “This document on Shugden opens up a new front on the cultural battleground targeting Tibetans for their loyalty to the Dalai Lama, in a political environment that is already deeply oppressive. It also provides confirmation that the Shugden supporters in the West are aligned with the Chinese Communist government’s agenda on Tibet, which threatens the very survival of Tibetan religion and cultural identity.”[6]

Some counties in the Tibet Autonomous Region have followed the guidelines in imposing similar regulations. A harsh new set of regulations in Driru (Chinese: Biru), Nagchu (Chinese: Naqu) prefecture included one provision that stated there will be punishments for “those who stir conflicts among monastics and lay believers over belief in […] Shugden out of malevolence.”[7] The same ban has been imposed in Chamdo (Chinese: Changdu), an area that has been subject to a dramatic tightening of security and on the “frontline’ of the ‘patriotic education’ campaign as Tibetans continue to resist repressive measures imposed after protests that began in March 2008.[8]

Inside the PRC, officials have long used Shugden propitiation to create divisions between Tibetans, often encouraging Tibetans to propitiate Shugden and offering financial inducements to do so, as part of their objective of undermining the Dalai Lama. Shugden statues have been installed in monasteries in different parts of Tibet, often against the will of resident monks.[9]

In some cases, even small monasteries connected to Shugden have had large amounts of funding from the government compared to much larger monasteries with a higher population of monks where Shugden is not propitiated. In 2008, thousands of yuan were allocated to a relatively small monastery in Amdo which propitiates Shugden. In contrast, the much larger monastery across the river in Takstang Lhamo had its school closed down and struggled for funding after monks participated in a peaceful demonstration, asserting their Tibetan identity.[10]

In one small monastery in Chamdo, the entire population of 21 monks was forced out when they refused to install a statue of Dorje Shugden. According to Tibetan sources, the authorities then appointed eight other monks and the statue was installed.[11] Last year, also in Chamdo, a young Tibetan stabbed himself to death when police attempted to detain him over the dismantling of a Shugden statue six years ago, according to a report by Radio Free Asia.[12]

Similar incidents of resistance to the imposition of Shugden statues have been reported across Tibet. A Tibetan prominent in the Western Shugden movement, Gangchen Lama, urged monks to be ‘patriotic’[13] and to show loyalty to the PRC, on a visit to Gangchen monastery in Shigatse, the Tibet Autonomous Region. Subsequently, local government officials arrived at the monastery to instruct monks to propitiate Shugden and to respect Gangchen; monks who did not were threatened with arrest, detention and imprisonment.[14]

gangchen

Gangchen Lama is a frequent and regular visitor to China and Tibet who has applauded the Chinese authorities for improving conditions in Tibet and keeping Tibetan culture and spirituality alive.[15] The “Dolgyal Shugden Research Society” states that: “Gangchen has proven a useful tool for the Chinese in their attempts to reshape Tibetan religion into what they consider a more ‘culturally acceptable’ form: on meeting the Chinese Panchen Zuma or ‘False Panchen’ Lama,[16] whose first official photos on his investiture coincidentally featured him seated before a somewhat overbearing image of Dorje Shugden, Gangchen stated: ‘It was my long-cherished dream to meet his [the Tenth’s] incarnation. Now, my dream has come true, and I was glad to see that the 11th Panchen Erdeni is wise and benevolent.’”[17]

guru

Gangchen Lama

The new opinion on Shugden is in the context of a harsh political climate in the Tibet Autonomous Region and Tibetan areas. Campaigns directed against the Dalai Lama’s influence, Tibetan culture and religion, mean that in recent years almost any expression of Tibetan identity not directly sanctioned by the state can be branded as ‘separatist’, and penalized by a prison sentence, or worse. Communist Party officials in Tibet Autonomous Region have been punished for taking part in ‘separatist’ activities linked to the Dalai Lama, following scrutiny by a disciplinary official work team linked to Xi Jinping’s politicized drive against corruption. The developments follow stern warnings of “punishment” for Tibetans “who have fantasies about the 14th Dalai Clique,” effectively acknowledging the Chinese authorities’ failure to eradicate loyalty to the religious leader in exile, even among Party members.[18]

Footnotes
[1] His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Advice Concerning Dolgyal (Shugden) http://www.dalailama.com/messages/dolgyal-shugden/his-holiness-advice

[2] Radio Free Asia cited a Tibetan source saying that Tenzin was detained “sometime in June [2014]” in Lhasa, where he had retired after working as a driver and tour guide. The same source said: “At some point, he returned to Dzogang county in Chamdo and began to advise the lay public and the monastic community to obey the instructions of the Dalai Lama and abandon worshipping Shugden, as this would be in the best interest both of individuals and the community.” Radio Free Asia report, ‘Another Tibetan is Jailed For Discouraging Worship of a Controversial Deity’, December 17, 2014

[3] Radio Free Asia report, ‘Elderly Tibetan is Jailed For Discouraging Worship of Controversial Deity’, December 12, 2014. The same report quoted a Tibetan source saying that Tsering suffers from abdominal disorders, diabetes, and high blood pressure, among other ailments, and that: “He himself says he has done nothing wrong and has no regrets. His only concern is for his wife, who is 86 and was left behind in [the regional capital] Lhasa after he was detained.”

[4] More than 130 Tibetans have set fire to themselves in one of the biggest waves of self-immolation as political protest worldwide. ICT factsheet: http://www.savetibet.org/resources/fact-sheets/self-immolations-by-tibetans/

[5] ICT statement on Shugden demonstrators: http://www.savetibet.org/the-international-campaign-for-tibets-statement-on-the-shugden-demonstrators/ The New Kadampa Tradition currently operates as the International Shugden Community. Even former members of the community have condemned the demonstrators. The following statement was released by ex-practitioners, who describe themselves as ‘survivors’ of what is recognized as a cult: “We, the undersigned, as former members of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), and ex-practitioners of Dorje Shugden, are appalled and saddened that those who were once our NKT sangha now demonstrate against and defame His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Inaccuracies and distortions of what we know to be the truth have been published as fact. The New Kadampa Tradition currently operates as the ‘International Shugden Community’ (ISC). Many allegations and insults are made against His Holiness which are completely unwarranted. At demonstrations and on numerous web sites and Facebook pages, the NKT/ISC viciously attacks the reputation of His Holiness. We have tried to address inaccuracies with the group, but without success. We believe it is time to speak out with one voice.” The full statement is published at: http://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/2014/09/26/revised-declaration-from-new-kadampa-survivors-concerning-the-demonstrations-against-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama/, posted on September 26, 2014

[6] Among other inaccurate claims made by Western Shugden groups is the accusation that the Dalai Lama has ‘banned’ Shugden propitiation. As Robert Thurman writes: “The worship of their chosen deity was not ‘banned’ by the Dalai Lama, since he has no authority to ‘ban’ what Tibetan Buddhists practice. ‘Banning’ and ‘excommunicating’ are not Tibetan Buddhist procedures. Although they are Buddhists who should focus on emulating the Buddha, members of the cult are free to worship their chosen “protector deity,” whom they call Dorje Shugden, as much as they like.” (‘The Dalai Lama and the Cult of Dolgyal Shugden’, by Robert Thurman, http://tibet.net/dolgyal-shugden/the-dalai-lama-and-the-cult-of-dolgyal-shugden/).

[7] ICT report, November 20, 2014, http://www.savetibet.org/harsh-new-rectification-drive-in-driru-nuns-expelled-and-warning-of-destruction-of-monasteries-and-mani-walls/

[8] Chamdo is treated by the authorities as “a strategic bridge between the Tibet Autonomous Region and the neighboring provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Qinghai.” (Tibet Daily, April 17, 2009). ICT report, December 2, 2009, http://www.savetibet.org/determination-to-resist-repression-continues-in-combat-ready-chamdo-frontline-of-patriotic-education/

[9] Further information on Shugden is available at the Dalai Lama’s website (www.dalailama.com), the Central Tibetan Administration (www.tibet.net), and the Tibet Houses (www.dalailamaprotesters.info/)

[10] According to Tibetan sources known to ICT, and a French newspaper article ‘Chronicle of oppression in a village in Amdo’, April 8, 2008, http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/monde/20080404.OBS8253/chronique-de-la-repression-dans-un-village-d-amdo.html (in French).

[11] Tibetan Review, January 23, 2008, http://www.tibetanreview.net/new-shugden-image-reigns-as-ancient-statues-stolen-from-monastery/. The Pashoe Naira monastery in Pashoe (Chinese: Basu) County of Chamdo Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, located about 300 kms (186 miles) from the prefectural capital, had 21 monks till about 1998, when authorities forced them out after they refused to install the statue. The monastery had no previously history of worshipping Shugden, the report added.

[12] Radio Free Asia report, December 12, 2014, http://www.rfa.org/english/news/tibet/worship-12122014152106.html

[13] The reference to ‘patriotic’ means that Chinese Communist Party requires monks and nuns to be loyal to the Party state first; political allegiance is an official prerequisite for registration at monastic institution and to be considered by the state as a ‘religious’ person. This is an inversion of the priorities of a Buddhist practitioner.

[14] Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (June 2000) Human Rights Update and Archives ‘Forceful Evacuation in Gangchen Monastery’ http://www.tchrd.org/publications. The incident is cited in ‘Dolgyal Shugden: A History: The Real Story behind the Shugden Cult’s Campaign against the Dalai Lama’ by the Dolgyal Shugden Research Society, published by Tibet House, New York, US, 2014, distributed by Hay House, http://www.amazon.com/Dolgyal-Shugden-The-Research-Society-ebook/dp/B00KSP5K20/. The same book also reports that similarly, in the autumn of 2005, the monastery of Labrang in Gansu province received an unsolicited proposal from Gangchen for him to fund the construction of a new dormitory for its monks. The offer was accompanied by generous personal donations to the monks themselves. However, the proposal was conditional: in order for it to happen, the monastery would have to agree to the construction of a Shugden shrine within the monastery. Despite pressure from local government officials charged with ‘supervising religious affairs’, the offer was ultimately refused. (TibetInfoNet (31st May 2006) New details on the Ganden Incident http://www.tibetinfonet.net/content/update/20)

[15] http://www.capdtc.org/en/en-lunwenzhy/t20061018_164160.htm

[16] ‘False Panchen’ is the term the majority of Tibetan exiles use to refer to the Chinese candidate, who was recognised by the government after the arrest of the then five year old child the Dalai Lama had recognised in 1995. Gedhun Chokyi Nyima’s whereabouts is still not known, 20 years later, despite requests from numerous governments and official representatives to meet him in order to be assured of his welfare.

[17] From the book ‘Dolgyal Shugden: A History: The Real Story behind the Shugden Cult’s Campaign against the Dalai Lama’ by the Dolgyal Shugden Research Society, published by Tibet House, New York, US, 2014, distributed by Hay House, citing Z Yangzoin (July 2005) Lama Gangchen and his Self Healing Therapy, China Tibet Magazine, http://www.tibetinfor.com/english/zt/people/..%5Cpeople/200402004511164405.htm

[18] ICT report, January 28, 2015, http://www.savetibet.org/communist-party-officials-punished-for-supporting-dalai-lama/

– See more at: http://www.savetibet.org/chinas-new-directive-on-controversial-shugden-spirit-in-tibet-in-bid-to-further-discredit-dalai-lama/#sthash.NAW4YiHM.dpuf

Seven Point Cause and Effect Meditation

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from Geshe Wangyal’s Door of Liberation

1 – Recognising all beings having been our mothers

 

To conceive the spirit of enlightenment, you first must develop equanimity toward all beings, and then contemplate the sevenfold cause-and-effect spiritual instruction given by Maitreya to Asanga. First imagine before you a being who has neither helped you nor harmed you. Think, “From his own point of view, he wants happiness and does not want suffering, just like everybody else. I will free myself from attraction and aversion. I will not feel close to some and help them while feeling distant from others and harming them. I will develop equanimity toward all beings. Lamas and gods, enable me to do this!”

Once you feel equanimity toward that neutral person, imagine a person who attracts you. Try to feel equanimity toward that person. Think, “My Partiality is due to my attraction. Since I have always desired attractive beings, I have been reborn constantly in the miserable life-cycle.” Thus restrain your desire and meditate.

Once you feel equanimity toward that attractive person, imagine an unattractive person. Try to feel equanimity toward him. Think, “Because there has been discord between us, I have developed an aversion to him so lack equanimity. Without it, I cannot conceive the spirit of enlightenment ment! ” Thus restrain your aversion and meditate.

When you feel equanimity toward that unattractive person, imagine both persons together. Think, “These two are the same in that each, from her own viewpoint, wants happiness and doesn’t want misery. From my viewpoint, this one who seems so close now has been reborn as my enemy countless times. This one toward whom I feel hostile has been reborn as my mother countless times and has cared for me with love. Which one should like? Which one should I hate? I will feel equanimity and free myself from attachment and aversion. Lamas and gods, please enable me to do this!”

When you feel such equanimity, extend it to all beings. “All beings a the same. Each wants happiness and doesn’t want misery. All beings are relatives. Therefore I will learn equanimity and be free from attachment and aversion to near and far, helping some and harming others. Lamas and gods, help me to accomplish this!”

Once you have developed the mind of equanimity, implement the first of the seven causal instructions for attaining the spirit of enlightenment. Visualize the lamas and gods before you and contemplate: “Why are all beings my relatives? As there is no beginning to the life-cycle, there has also been no beginning to my rebirths. In passing through these countless lives there is no form of life which I have not adopted countless times, and there is no country or realm in which I have not been born. Of all beings, there is not one who has not been my mother innumerable times. Each has been my mother in human form countless times, and will become my mother many times again.”

2 – Recalling the kindness of others

When you have fully experienced this truth, contemplate the kindness which living beings have shown you when they were your mother. Visualise the lamas and gods before you, and imagine clearly your mother of this life, when she was young and as she grew old. “Not only is she my mother this life, but she has cared for me for lives beyond number. In this lifetime, she lovingly sheltered me in her womb, and when I was born she lovingly put me on soft pillows and cradled me in her arms. She held me to the warmth of her breasts, and suckled me with her sweet milk. She welcomed me with loving smiles and looked at me with happy eyes. She cleaned my snotty nose and wiped away my excrement. My slightest ailment gave her worse misery than the thought of losing her own life. Scorning all affliction, torments, and abuse, not considering herself at all, she provided me as she could with food and shelter. She gave me infinite happiness and benefit, and protected me from measureless misery and harm.” Contemplate her very great kindness. Then, in the same way contemplate the kindness of your father and others close to you, for they have also been your mother countless times.

When you have fully experienced this truth, meditate on beings toward whom you feel impartial. “Though it now seems that they have no relationship to me, they have been my mother times beyond number, and in those lives they protected me with love and kindness.” When you have experienced this truth, meditate on those beings who are now your adversaries. imagine them clearly in front of you, and think: “How can I now feel that these are my enemies? As lifetimes are beyond number, they have been my mother countless times. When they were my mother they provided me with measureless happiness and benefits and protected me from misery and harm. Without them I could not have lasted even a short time and without me they could not have endured even a short time. We have felt such strong attachment countless times. That they are now my adversaries is due to bad evolutionary actions. At another time in the future they will again be my mother who protects me with love.” When you have fully experienced this truth, meditate on the kindness of all beings.

3 – Resolving to repay the kindness of others

Then meditate on repaying the kindness of all beings, your mothers. Visualize the lamas and deities before you and contemplate: “From beginningless time these mothers have protected me with kindness. Yet as their minds are disturbed by the demons of addictive passions, they have not obtained independence of mind, and are crazed. They lack the eye to see either the path to the high states of humans and gods or the path to Nirvana, the supreme good. They are without a spiritual teacher, the one who is the leader of the blind. Continually pummeled by the discord of wrong deeds, they slip toward the edge of the terrifying abyss of rebirth in the life-cycle, especially its lower states. To ignore these kind mothers would be shameless. To return their kindness I will free them from the misery of the life-cycle and establish them in the bliss of liberation. Lamas and gods, enable me to do this.”

4 – Affectionate Love

Then meditate love. Imagine a person to whom you are strongly attached, such as your mother. “How can she have undefiled happiness when she does not even have the defiled happiness of the life-cycle? What she now boasts of as happiness slips away, changing to misery. She yearns and yearns, strives and strives, desiring a moment’s happiness, but she is only creating the causes of future misery and rebirths in lower states of being. In this life as well, weary and exhausted, she creates only misery. She definitely does not have real happiness. How wonderful it would be if she possessed happiness and all the causes of happiness! May she possess them! I will cause her to possess happiness and all its causes. Lamas and gods, Please enable me to do this!”

When you have gained experience of this, continue to meditate, first imagining other persons who are close to you, such as your father, then imagining a person toward whom you feel impartial, then an adversary, and finally all beings.

5 – Compassion

Then do the meditation of great compassion and universal responsibility: “My kind fathers and mothers, whose number would fill the sky, are helplessly bound by evolutionary actions and fettering passions. The four rivers, the river of desire, existence, ignorance, and fanaticism, sweep them helplessly into the currents of the life-cycle, where they are battered by the waves of birth, old age, sickness, and death. They are completely tied up by the tight and hard to break bonds of various kinds of evolutionary actions. From beginningless time they have entered into the iron cage of holding the concepts ‘I’ and ‘mine’ in the center of the heart. This cage is very difficult for anyone to open. Enshrouded by the great darkness of ignorance, which obscures judgment of good and evil, they do not even see the path leading to the happy states of being. Much less do they see the path leading to liberation and enlightenment.

6 – The Special Intention

“These wretched beings are ceaselessly tortured by the suffering of misery, the suffering of change, and the all-pervasive suffering of creation. I have seen all beings, my mothers, wretched, engulfed in the ocean of the life-cycle. If I do not save them, who will? If I were to ignore them, I would be shameless, the lowest of all. My desire to learn the Mahayana would be only words, and I could not show my face before the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Therefore, no matter what, I will develop the ability to pull all my kind sad mothers from the ocean of the life-cycle and to establish them in Buddhahood.”

Think this and generate a very strong and pure universal responsibility.

7 – Spirit of Enlightenment

Finally, meditate the spirit of enlightenment. Ask yourself whether or not you can establish all beings in Buddhahood, and reflect, “I do not know where I am going; how can I establish even one being in Buddhahood? Even those who have attained the positions of disciple or hermit Buddha can accomplish only the minor purposes of beings, and cannot establish beings in Buddhahood. It is only a perfect Buddha who can lead beings to full enlightenment. Therefore, no matter what, I will obtain peerless and completely perfect Buddhahood for the sake of all beings. Lamas and gods, please enable me to do this!”

My standard reaction on negative comments

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wpid-SaraswatiBuddhist.jpg

My standard reaction on negative comments on Youtube or other fora is the following :

Do not propagate your religion. Only those that have a real karmic relation with buddhadharma can understand it. Buddhism has three aspects :

1 it’s a gift to mankind : the science of mind
2 it’s a gift to mankind : the philosophy based upon natural laws
3 it’s a practice , only for those that see it as their religion.
Do not judge other religions ! Do not try to convert ! Practice love and compassion and you will find deep wisdom.

Based upon HH the Dalai Lama’s Teachings

Ambrosia for the Mind

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Ambrosia for the Mind..

A Prayer of the Seven Points of Mind Training

by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo

In commenting upon these seven points of mind training, a pith instruction of the precious Kadampas who upheld the teachings of the seven divine dharmas, in the tradition of Chekawa Yeshe Dorje, there are three main parts.

Part One, Good in the Beginning, which is divided into two

1. The Title of the Prayer

“Ambrosia for the Mind, A Prayer of the Seven Points of Mind Training.”

2. Homage

I bow down before the spiritual guides of the supreme vehicle,

The source of all that is positive in samsara and nirvana.

May the precious masters grant their blessings

So that my mind is purified through the three kinds of faith.

Part Two, Good in the Middle: the Main Subject of the Text, which has seven subdivisions

1. The Preliminaries, the Basis for Practice

May the precious masters grant their blessings so that I may train thoroughly in the preliminaries,

Recognizing how hard it is to gain the freedoms and advantages and how easily they are lost,

So that I strive always to act in accordance with the laws of karma, adopting wholesome deeds and avoiding what is harmful,

And develop genuine renunciation for samsara.

2. The Main Part, Training in Bodhichitta

May the precious masters grant their blessings,

So that I may always cultivate the two aspects of bodhichitta,

Purifying my dualistic perceptions, which have no basis in reality, into all-pervading space,

And practising the profound exchange of my own happiness for others’ suffering.

3. Transforming Adversity into the Path to Awakening

May the precious masters grant their blessings,

So that whatever adversity and sufferings may arise

I see them as the wiles of this demon, ego-clinging,

And transform them into the path towards awakening.

4. Applying the Practice Throughout One’s Life

May the precious masters grant their blessings,

So that I may focus upon the essence of the practice throughout my life,

And always apply the five strengths of pure thought and pure deed,

Gathering merit, purifying obscurations and making prayers of aspiration.

5. The Measure of Mind Training

May the precious masters grant their blessings,

So that with joyful self-assurance and freedom of mind,

I may bring all adverse circumstances onto the path,

And everything may become a remedy to ego-clinging.

6. The Commitments of Mind Training

May the precious masters grant their blessings,

So that I may keep my promises without hypocrisy,

And always remain impartial, and free of ostentation,

Guarding the lojong commitments as I do my very life.

7. The Guidelines for Mind Training

In short, may the precious masters grant their blessings,

So that I may genuinely follow all the guidelines

For increasing the two aspects of bodhichitta,

And within this lifetime gain the realization of the supreme vehicle.

Part Three, Good in the End

1. Dedication

Through the merit of this heartfelt aspiration

To practise the seven points of mind training,

The heart-essence of the incomparable Jowo Atisha and his heirs,

May all beings attain the level of perfect awakening.

2. The colophon

This one-pointed prayer was made before the precious statue of the glorious Atisha at Kyishö Nyethang by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, a carefree yogin who wanders throughout the land and is extremely devoted to the precious Kadampa tradition. May it be accomplished.

The section headings were added by Mangala (Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche).

The practice of tonglen

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In order to have compassion for others, we have to have compassion for ourselves. 

In particular, to care about other people who are fearful, angry, jealous, overpowered by addictions of all kinds, arrogant, proud, miserly, selfish, mean —you name it— to have compassion and to care for these people, means not to run from the pain of finding these things in ourselves.

In fact, one’s whole attitude toward pain can change. Instead of fending it off and hiding from it, one could open one’s heart and allow oneself to feel that pain, feel it as something that will soften and purify us and make us far more loving and kind. 

The tonglen practice is a method for connecting with suffering —ours and that which is all around us— everywhere we go. It is a method for overcoming fear of suffering and for dissolving the tightness of our heart. Primarily it is a method for awakening the compassion that is inherent in all of us, no matter how cruel or cold we might seem to be. 

We begin the practice by taking on the suffering of a person we know to be hurting and who we wish to help. For instance, if you know of a child who is being hurt, you breathe in the wish to take away all the pain and fear of that child. Then, as you breathe out, you send the child happiness, joy or whatever would relieve their pain. This is the core of the practice: breathing in other’s pain so they can be well and have more space to relax and open, and breathing out, sending them relaxation or whatever you feel would bring them relief and happiness.

However, we often cannot do this practice because we come face to face with our own fear, our own resistance, anger, or whatever our personal pain, our personal stuckness happens to be at that moment. 

At that point you can change the focus and begin to do tonglen for what you are feeling and for millions of others just like you who at that very moment of time are feeling exactly the same stuckness and misery. Maybe you are able to name your pain. You recognize it clearly as terror or revulsion or anger or wanting to get revenge. So you breathe in for all the people who are caught with that same emotion and you send out relief or whatever opens up the space for yourself and all those countless others. Maybe you can’t name what you’re feeling. But you can feel it —a tightness in the stomach, a heavy darkness or whatever. Just contact what you are feeling and breathe in, take it in —for all of us and send out relief to all of us. 

People often say that this practice goes against the grain of how we usually hold ourselves together. Truthfully, this practice does go against the grain of wanting things on our own terms, of wanting it to work out for ourselves no matter what happens to the others. The practice dissolves the armor of self-protection we’ve tried so hard to create around ourselves. In Buddhist language one would say that it dissolves the fixation and clinging of ego. 

Tonglen reverses the usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure and, in the process, we become liberated from a very ancient prison of selfishness. We begin to feel love both for ourselves and others and also we begin to take care of ourselves and others. It awakens our compassion and it also introduces us to a far larger view of reality. It introduces us to the unlimited spaciousness that Buddhists call shunyata. By doing the practice, we begin to connect with the open dimension of our being. At first we experience this as things not being such a big deal or so solid as they seemed before. 

Tonglen can be done for those who are ill, those who are dying or have just died, or for those that are in pain of any kind. It can be done either as a formal meditation practice or right on the spot at any time. For example, if you are out walking and you see someone in pain —right on the spot you can begin to breathe in their pain and send some out some relief. Or, more likely, you might see someone in pain and look away because it brings up your fear or anger; it brings up your resistance and confusion. 

So on the spot you can do tonglen for all the people who are just like you, for everyone who wishes to be compassionate but instead is afraid, for everyone who wishes to be brave but instead is a coward. 

Rather than beating yourself up, use your own stuckness as a stepping stone to understanding what people are up against all over the world. 

Breathe in for all of us and breathe out for all of us. 

Use what seems like poison as medicine. Use your personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings.

Pema Chodron

9 Round Breathing / Clarity of the Mind

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Mandala

Have your eyes either open a little bit or closed, which ever is better for you.

Relax your shoulders, have your hands on your lap with the right on top of the left; two thumbs touching; arms slightly away from your sides, hanging loosely by your sides.

Your mouth and jaw relaxed.

Chin tucked in a little bit.

Place the tongue on the roof of the mouth behind the upper teeth and breathe normally with a natural, steady rhythm.

Now let’s start the nine-round breathing exercise.

Using your right hand, your right index finger blocks off the left nostril while you are breathing into the right nostril.

Just let your breath come in slowly and steadily, pause for a moment, then block off the right nostril and breathe out the left nostril.

Slowly and steadily do the same three times,

in through the right and out through the left.

Focus completely on the breathing, on the sensation of the nostrils as you are breathing in and out.

For the next three breaths keep your right nostril blocked and breathe in through the left and then move your finger to block off the left and breathe out through the right.

So breathe in through the left and out through the right, three times.

For the last three breaths bring your hands back to your lap and breathe through both nostrils evenly, slowly and gently.

Pause for a moment and then exhale through both nostrils, keeping your mind fully focussed on the breath, on the sensations, as you breathe in and out.

Continue to breathe normally and bring into your mind a positive motivation for doing the meditation.

Think, ‘I am going to do this meditation in order to work on my mind, to be a more positive, beneficial person for others, for the world. May this meditation bring more peace and happiness to others, to the world’.

Once you’ve generated a positive motivation bring your awareness back to your breathing and just be aware of each inhalation and exhalation of breath.

Let your attention ride or float on the breath similar to the way you would float on the surface of the ocean where there are gentle waves coming and going.

Stay floating on the surface flowing with the wave, coming and going, flowing in and out, just let your attention rest or float on the gentle rolling rhythm of the breathing.

Now move your attention away from the breathing to the mind itself, that which is aware of breathing.

In other words instead of being aware of the breath, which is the object of your mind, the object of your awareness, become aware of the mind itself, the awareness itself, that which is observing the breath, experiencing the breath.

The mind is like space or like sky, completely clear, not solid, and vast, spacious and unlimited.

Try to get a sense of how your mind is like that, like this clear, vast, spacious sky.

The things that we are aware of, the thoughts, images, memories and so on, are similar to the clouds that pass through the sky.

They’re not always there but they appear and after a while they disappear.

If there are thoughts appearing in your mind while you are sitting here doing this meditation, thoughts, memories, images, or if you hear sounds or feel sensations in your body, think that these are just like clouds, passing through this space or clear sky of your mind.

Let them come and let them go, realise that they are only momentary and not solid, they just come and go.

Let them go and return your awareness to the mind itself, which is like the clear spacious sky.

See if you can get a sense of identifying with this clear space-like nature of the mind.

In other words feel, ‘this is the real me, this is my real nature, who I really am’.

Rather than identifying yourself with the temporary clouds of thoughts and emotions that past through your mind see if you can realise those as mental events, things that come and go in the mind.

They are not you and not who you really are.

Let them go and identify with the clear space like nature of your mind, your awareness, so that you are the sky, not the clouds.

Before opening your eyes mentally dedicate the merit or positive energy for doing this meditation.

In the same way you motivated at the beginning, may this meditation be beneficial for others, may it bring greater peace, happiness, and benefit to other beings, to the world.

So dedicate the effort that you made and the positive the energy you’ve created from doing the meditation to that goal.

This meditation has been made available with gratitude from the Foundation for the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) “How to Meditate” module of their Discovering Buddhism Home Study Program. click here

5senses[1]

Mahamudra

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This is a very condensed and precious explanation of what Buddhism is all about.

So take your time to read this text bit by bit and repeatingly.

When you clearly analyze and feel able to accept the meaning, you more or less hold the key to understand most other Buddhist texts and (very important!):
the main purpose or goal of meditation, whatever technique or method is used (e.g. shine, deity yoga, awareness).

This teaching by HH. Kalu Rinpoche
should be printed in gold letters and illuminated with sparkeling rainbows of enlightenment!

The Mahamudra.(1).experience and approach is perhaps the quintessence of
all Buddhadharma.(2). In order for this quintessential approach to be
effective, we must have some understanding of the nature of the mind that we
are attempting to discover through the Mahamudra techniques.

Mahamudra has three aspects: foundation, path, and fruition.Foundation
Mahamudra is the understanding which is based on our appreciation of the
nature of mind. This must be augmented by the process of path Mahamudra
which is direct experience and acclimatization to that nature of mind through
meditation. Finally, there is the fruition or result aspect of Mahamudra,
which is the actualization of the potential inherent in the nature of mind.
This actual aspect of transcending awareness includes the Dharmakaya.(3),
Sambhogakaya.(4), and Nirmanakaya.(5) as the facets of completely enlightened
experience. It is not beneficial to speak of Mahamudra lightly; we must not
ignore any of these three aspects of the Mahamudra approach.

Foundation Mahamudra implies a deep appreciation and understanding of the
nature of mind. When we say that this is the correct view, we do not use the
phrase in a casual sense. Very often, we say, “Well, in my view, such and such
is the case,” but this does not necessarily mean that we have understood it at
all. We may say, “I believe in previous existences,” or, “I don’t believe in
future existences,” but very often our talk is not based on experience and
appreciation, but merely on an idea to which we give lip service. What is meant
in foundation Mahamudra is a thorough appreciation of the nature of mind
itself, the mind with which we are working, and the mind which we are
attempting to discover.

To get a deeper understanding of the nature of mind itself, we can quotes the
authority of enlightened masters of the lineage as a guide. The third Karmapa,
Rangjung Dorje), wrote a prayer of aspiration for the realization of Mahamudra
in which he said, “It is not existent because even the Buddha could not see it,
but it is not non existent because it is the basis or origin of all samsara.(6)
and nirvana.(7).” It does not constitute a contradiction to say that mind
neither exists nor does not exist; it is simultaneously existent and non existent.

Let us consider the first part of the statement that the mind does not exist.
We take into account that the mind is intangible. One cannot disscribe it or
find it. There is no fixed characteristic that we normally ascribe to things
which we can ascribe to mind. Consciousness does not manifest with any
particular color, shape, size, form or location. None of these qualities has
anything to do with the nature of mind, so we can say that the mind is
essentially empty of these limiting characteristics.

Even the fully enlightend Buddha Shakyamuni.(8).could not find any thing that
is mind, because the mind does not have identifying characteristics. This is
what Rangjung Dorje meant when he said, “It does not exist because even the
Buddha could not see it.”

So, then, is mind nonexistant? No, not in the sense that there is nothing
happening. That which experiences confusion, suffering, frustration and all the
complexity of samsaric existance is mind itself. This is the origin of all
unenlightened experience; it is within the mind that all unenlightened
experience happens.

On the other hand, if the individual attains enlightenment, it is mind
which is the origin of the enlightened experience, giving expression to the
transcending awareness of the various kayas.(9).

This is what Rangjung Dorje meant when he said, “One cannot say that it does
not exist, because it is the basis for all samsara and nirvana.” Wether we are
talking about an enlightened state of being or an unenlightened one,we are
speaking about the state of experience that arises from mind and is experienced
by the mind. What remains if mind neither exists nor does not exist?
According to Rangjung Dorje, this is not a contradiction, but a state of
simultaneity. Mind exhibits, at one and the same time, qualities of
non existance and qualities of existance. To state naively that mind exists is
to fall into one error; to deny the existance of anything at all is to fall
into another error. This gave rise to the concept of what is called the Middle
Way or Madhyamika. Finding a balance between those two beliefs, where there
is simultaneous truth to both, is the correct view, according to the Buddha’s
description of the nature of mind.

When we hear a guru make the statement, “Mind does not exist;mind does not
not exist; but it is at the same time existent and nonexistent, and this is
the middle view,” we may say, “Fine, I can accept that,” but that is not
enough. It is an idea that may appeal to us, a concept with which we are
comfortable, but that kind of understanding lacks any real spirit or depth.
It is like a patch you put on your clothes to hide a hole. One day the patch
will fall off. Intellectual knowledge is rather patchy in that way.It will
suffice for the present but it is not ultimately beneficial.

This is not to say that intellectual knowledge is unimportant.It is
crucial because it is that which gives us the ability to begin to develop
personal experience of what is being discussed. However, mere understanding
on a superficial or intellectual level should not be mistaken for the direct
experience. We can only arrive at that through meditation and the continued
analysis of our own experience. The value of intellectual knowledge is that
it is a springboard to deeper, more intuitive experience.

First, then, we say that mind is essentially empty, that is not describable
as some thing. Other than using the label mind., there is no thing that could
be further described in terms of form, shape, size, color or any
distinguishing characteristic.

Beyond this essential emptiness, we can make the statement that mind is
like space. Just as space is all-pervasive, so is consciousness. The mind
has no problem conceiving of any particular place or experience. While we
have attempted to describe the indescribable by saying that mind is
essentially empty, that is not the complete picture. We are speaking of
something that is obviously qualitatively different from simple space.We
need to remember that when we are using these terms, we are attempting to
describe something that is indescribable. However, that does not mean that
it cannot be directly experienced. The person who is mute is still able
to experience the sweetness of sugar without being able to describe it to
anyone else. Just as the mute person has trouble describing the taste of
sugar, we have trouble describing the nature of mind. We search for examples
and metaphors that will give us some idea of what is being experienced.

Another aspect of the nature of mind is its luminosity. Normally we think
of this term in a visual sense. We think of a luminous body like the sun or
the moon which shines and gives off light. However, this is merely a
metaphor to give us some idea of what is being hinted at. To say that the
mind is luminous in nature is analogous to saying that space is illuminated.
For example, we can have empty space and there might be no illumination;
then the space would be obscured. There is space, but no ability to see
clearly; there is no direct experience possible in complete darkness.
Just as there is clear vision in illuminated space, so in the same way,
while mind is essentially empty, it exhibits the potential to know,which
is its luminosity. This is not a visual experience per se, but the ability
of mind to know, perceive and experience.

In our continuing attempt to describe the nature of mind, to discribe the
indiscribable, we next speak of the unimpeded or unobstructed dynamic nature
of mind. It will be useful to divide this element of unimpededness into a
subtle and a gross aspect. The most subtle or fundamental level of the
unimpeded quality is an awareness of the emptiness and luminosity of the
mind. The mind is essentially empty and has this illuminating potential to
know and experience.

The coarse or gross aspect of the unimpeded dynamic manifestation of mind
is conscious experience, which does not depart from emptiness and
luminosity, but is the experience of, for example, seeing and recognizing
form as form, hearing and recognizing sound as sound, and so forth.This is
the ability of mind to experience the phenomenal world, to make
distinctions, to make value judgments based upon that discrimination.

We may utilize a metaphor here. The Emptiness of mind is the ocean; the
luminosity of mind is the sunlit ocean; and the unimpeded dynamic quality of
mind is the waves of the sunlit ocean. When we take the waves of the sun lit
ocean as an event or situation, it is not as though we are trying to seperate
ocean from waves from sunlight; they are three aspects of a single
experience. The unity of these three aspects forms the seed or potential
for enlightenment. They are the pure nature of mind; the impurity of
obscurations, ignorance and confusion overlays what is inherently the
nature of mind itself.

There has always been the pure nature of mind and there has always
been fundamental ignorance in the mind. The essential empty nature of mind
has never been recognized for what it is; the luminous nature of mind has
ever been experienced for what it is; and the unimpeded or dynamic
manifestation of mind, this consciousness, this awareness, has never been
directly experienced for what it is. Because this level of ignorance is so
subtle and so fundamental, and because it is co-existent with mind itself,
it has been valid as long as mind itself has been valid. We speak of it as
co-emergent ignorance.

Just as there are subtle and gross aspects to the dynamic awareness of
mind that we noted earlier, there are subtler and coarser aspects to the
ignorance of mind. We have already spoken of the fundamental level of
co-emergent ignorance, the lack of direct experience of the empty,clear
and unimpeded nature of mind itself, and this is the subtle aspect of
co-emergent ignorance.

There is second level of ignorance that we might distinguish which is
termed labelling ignorance; it is a more conventional or relative ignorance.
Not only do we lack direct experience of the essential emptiness of mind,
for example but we substitute the self or ego for that experience.The
individual mind as something ultimately real is a distortion that has taken
place, due to a lack of direct experience, and this is an example of
labelling or relative ignorance. Likewise, due to a lack of direct
experience of the clarity and luminosity of mind, there is a projection of
something other than the mind, an object other than the subject. This is
again a relative level of ignorance. Rather than being a simple lack of
direct experience, there has been a distortion into something.

So the second level of obscuration in the mind is the aspectof ignorance
which begins to label things as I and other. Lacking direct experience,
the distortion takes place on a coarser level of dualistic fixation between
subject and object.

Once we have this dualistic framework, of coarse, emotionality develops
and action takes place. Karmic tendencies are reinforced by actions based
on the emotional confusion which springs from dualistic clinging. All of it
is based upon the fundamental ignorance which is the lack of direct
experience of the nature of the mind itself.

The nature of mind is like empty space, like the sky, which at present is
filled with clouds and fog and mist and periodically has all kinds of
activity such as hailstorms, snowstorms, rainstorms and thunder and
lightning. This activity does not change the fact that the empty space is
still present, the sky is still there. However it is temporarily obscured
by all these activities. The reason the Buddha presented his teachings,
which encourage basic moral choices between virtuous and nonvirtuous
actions and encourage the practice of meditation, is to eliminate the
obscuring and confusing aspects of our experience. This permits the
inherently pure nature of mind to become more obvious and be discovered,
just as the sun becomes more obvious as the clouds begin to dissipate.

As the most effective means to bring about that transformation rappidly
and directly, the Mahmudra approach has no equal. It gives us the most
powerful methods to turn the balance, to eliminate obscurations and allow
that manifestation to take place. Our present situation as unenlightened
beings is due to the victory of ignorance over intrinsic awareness;
Mahamudra speeds the victory of awareness over ignorance.

When we are concerned with foundation Mahamudra, then, we first and
foremost need to be exposed to ideas. This should take place in the
presence of a teacher who holds the transmission and can accurately
introduce us to the concepts which are the theoretical underpinnings of
the Mahamudra approach. After we receive the teachings and understand
what is being said, we take them home with us and begin to apply them
to our own experience. We say to ourselves, “Well, mind is empty,
clear and unimpeded. What do I experience when I experience mind? Does
it exist; does it not exist?” We check with our own experience. That
is very beneficial for developing a kind of mental construct from which
we can work, though it is not the ultimate experience. Conceptual
understanding is only a springboard, because the theme of Mahamudra is
spontaneity and uncontrivedness, and it is still a very contrived
situation to think of the mind as being empty. To directly experience
the nature of mind itself requires meditation.

So on this foundation level of Mahamudra, the analytical approach is
followed by, and interwoven with, the more intuitive approach of relaxing
the mind in its own natural state. The particular skill required is that
it must be a state of total relaxation which is not distracted or dull.
It is not an objective experience of looking for the mind or looking at
the mind. On the other hand, it is not a blind process; we are not
unaware. There is seeing without looking; there is dwelling in the
experience without looking at the experience. This is the keynote of the
intuitive approach.

While the mind is poised in the state of bare awareness, there is no
directing the mind. One is not looking within for anything; one isnot
looking without for anything. One is simply letting the mind rest in its
own natural state. The empty, clear and unimpeded nature of mind can be
experienced if we can rest in an uncontrived state of bare awareness
without distraction and without the spark of awareness being lost.The
pure nature of mind calls to mind an image such as the sun or the moon,
a luminous body. The unimpeded nature of mind permits the act of
thinking of this form in the first place, and we can rest in the bare
perception of that form without any further elaboration; we dwell in the
bare awareness of that form.

Thus one’s approach in developing the foundation aspect of Mahamudra
is, at times, an analytical or conceptual approach of examining the mind
from the point of view or trying to locate it, describe it or define it,
and at other times an intuitive approach of dwelling in the experience of
total relaxation of mind, an uncontrived state of bare awareness which
allows the experience of the nature of mind to arise.

The third Karmapa wrote a prayer in which he said that confidence comes
of clearly establishing the parameters of practice by defining the nature
of mind precisely. Then the confidence of actually experiencing and
appreciating it on an intuitive level completes the foundation. The prayer
describes meditation as remaining true to that experience by refining
through continual attention to and absorption in that experience. Path
Mahamudra is the refining of and attending to the basic experience of the
nature of mind and refine it, then at a certain point, an automatic
quality arises; the experience happens without one generating it or
discovering it. The mind is subject to very little distraction at all.
When this occurs, one has entered into the level of path Mahamudra which
is termed.one-pointedness.or focus on a single thing. In this case,the
focus is on a single aspect of experience, the experience of mind nature.
Traditionally there are three degrees of this one-pointed experience:
a lesser degree of intensity, an intermediate, and a very intense degree.

As meditation continues, the next clearly definable stage is a certain
spontaneity, where the experience is no longer the result of any particular
effort; to think of meditation is to have the experience. One begins to
discover the incredible simplicity of the nature of mind, absolutely free
from any complication and this, in fact, is the name given to the second
phase of experience,.simplicity, the freedom from complication.
Traditionally this phase also has three degrees of intensity; a lesser
degree, an intermediate degree, and a very intense degree.

In the beginning, one is meditating for short and frequent periods of
time rather than attempting long periods of forcing the mind. But as
experience accumulates and simplicity arises, one’s meditation naturally
begins to be longer and longer duration. Soon the phase termed one flavor
arises, which is the experience of the essential quality of all aspects
of phenomenal experience. Soon, seeing form, hearing sounds, smelling
smells, tasting tastes, feeling textures, thinking thoughts, formless
states of awareness and form states of awareness all have the same flavor.
One perceives the underlying essential nature of these experiences,rather
than being concerned with the superficial content. This is the third phase
of the experience of path Mahamudra, the unique flavor of all aspects of
one’s experience, and again, it has different degrees of intensity forming
a spectrum of experience, rather than clearly defined steps.

The spontaneity of the experience will take over completely so that there
seems no need to meditate at all. The experience arises without there being
any particular thought of meditating. This is a glimpse which itensifies
further to become the actual experience of the nature of mind without there
being any thought of meditation. The most intensive degree of this stage is
that meditation and being become one. At that point there is no longer any
distinction between meditating and not meditating because one is always
meditating. The full experience of this is the most intense degree of the
fourth phase of path Mahamudra which is termed beyond meditation..The
sustained experience of this phase is the result of all one’s efforts,
Mahamudra. It is the quintessential experience, the pinnacle experience in
terms of the attainment of enlightenment and realization.

It is important to identify the context of the Mahamudra experience.
Tradition assures us that any approach, other than one’s own efforts at
purifying and developing oneself and the blessing that one receives from an
authentic and qualified guru.(10), is stupid. Of course, at a certain
point, the practice becomes spontaneous and the efforts to purify oneself
and to develop devotion to receive blessings from one’s guru become second
nature. However, this does not become spontaneous until the intense level
of the simplicity experience, the second phase of Mahamudra practice,when
the practice of meditation becomes one’s purification, one’s development
and the receipt of blessing from one’s guru. The fundamental identity of
the guru’s mind and one’s own mind begins to be directly perceptible;
one’s deepening awareness assures further development of merit and the
further purification of obscurations and negativity; there is no necessity
to formally supplicate one’s guru, meditate upon one’s guru or generate
devotion in order to receive blessing, because the meditation practice
carries one along.

Up to that point, however, the efforts that we make to purif yourselves,
to develop our devotion and open ourselves to the guru’s blessing are
absolutely crucial. Only present exertions will convey us to the time when
they are no longer necessary; the practice of meditation becomes the process
of purification, the process of development and the process of receiving
blessing.

– This teaching was given by Ven. Kalu Rinpoche at a meditation retreat in
Marcola, Oregon, USA, in 1982 and edited from tapes by a team of
translators. It is part of the book: H. E. Kalu Rinpoche ‘The Foundations
of Tibetan Buddhism’ (Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, NY USA).

– Some Annotations
(1).Mahamudra = Great Seal (Sanskrit) ~ (2) Buddhadharma = teachings
(dharma) of the Buddha ~ (3) Dharmakaya = enlightened mind  of pure light
and emptiness (our immament etheric Buddha nature of light and sound;the
formless and  non-dualistic ‘reality’) ~ (4) Sambhogakaya = the mind in a
various dreamlike form-body’s (like during sleep or having visions of e.g.
deities, ghosts, various magical emanations) ~ (5) Nirmanakaya = the mind
in a physical body (physical ‘reality’) ~ (6) Samsara = world of illusion,
ignorance and karmic restrictions (our obvious ‘reality’). In the Buddhist
view even the worlds of highly realized gods and goddesses are not free of
illusion and karmic restrictions ~ (7) Nirvana = state of emptiness
(beyond illusion, ignorance and coarse karmic restrictions / our hidden
‘reality’) ~ (8) Buddha Shakyamuni = the historical Buddha ~ (9) kayas=
embodyments/states (Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya, Dharmakaya) ~ (10) guru=
spiritual friend, experienced practitioner and teacher (p.s. in case you
don’t find such a person, try to visualize a radiant golden Buddha in front
of you or sitting on top of your head, blessing you with radiating golden
or rainbow-colored light, becoming your personal guru, and by melting into
your heart).

– Thank you for your interest!