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.
By Craig Lewis Buddhistdoor Global | The authorities in China’s southwestern Sichuan Province are reportedly planning a major reduction of the burgeoning monastic population at the famed Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in the Larung Valley near the town of Sertar, Garze Prefecture. The reported decision follows similar moves in 2001, when state authorities organized a mass eviction of residents from the institute, and late last year, when further evictions were accompanied by an order to reduce admissions to curb the rapid growth of the monastic population.
Situated in the traditional Tibetan region of Kham, Larung Gar Buddhist Academy was founded in 1980 by the highly respected teacher Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok (1933–2004), a lama of the Nyingma tradition, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. With some estimates putting the population at as many as 40,000 monks and nuns, the institute is widely considered to be the largest center of Buddhist learning in the world.
“Last year, 600 members of this center were ordered to leave, and they returned to their hometowns. About 400 members aged 60 and older were also asked to leave, and they left as well,” an anonymous source told Radio Free Asia, a private, non-profit international broadcaster created by the US government. “This year, the authorities are talking about 1,200 members who will have to leave, and it is said that China has now issued a document saying that only 5,000 monks and nuns will be allowed to remain [at Larung Gar].”
Government officials were marking houses that obstructed the passage of firefighting vehicles or the construction of roads, according to the source, who added that dwellings targeted for demolition would be torn down by force if necessary. “About 60 to 70 per cent of the houses of monks and nuns are being marked for demolition,” the source said, noting that the order to reduce the number of residents at Larung Gar did not originate at the county level, “but comes from higher authorities,” with China’s president Xi Jinping taking a personal interest in the matter. (Radio Free Asia)
In 2001, government authorities had become unsettled by the rapid population growth at the institute. Alarmed by what they termed “splittist” activities, and particularly unnerved by its growing popularity among ordinary Han Chinese—at the time, Han Chinese at the academy numbered more than 1,000—the authorities sent in thousands of security personnel and laborers, who evicted all but 1,400 of the monastery’s 9,000 inhabitants and razed 2,400 dwellings. Many of the nuns and monks turned out from Larung Gar made their way southwest to the more remote Yarchen Gar monastic community, still largely hidden from the outside world by its geographical remoteness and political restrictions put in place by the government. Because of these restrictions, most of the monks and nuns at Yarchen Gar are not officially recognized and live in fear of eviction.
The site of the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy was chosen by Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok because of its historical connection to the Vajrayana tradition. It is said that His Holiness the first Dudjom Rinpoche, Dudjom Lingpa (1835–1904), stayed here with his 13 disciples. The institute was conceived as an independent center of study that would help revitalize the Dharma and revive the study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism following the devastating impact of China’s Cultural Revolution (1966–76), during which Tibetan Buddhism was suppressed and thousands of monasteries were destroyed. While the academy initially had fewer than 100 students, the monastic population grew rapidly in the years that followed.
The institute has played a key role in revitalizing the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism since China eased restrictions on religious practice in 1980, and has become renowned for the quality of both its religious and secular education. English, Chinese, and Tibetan languages and modern computer studies are taught alongside a traditional non-sectarian Buddhist curriculum. About 500 khenpos—holders of doctoral degrees in divinity—have studied at Larung Gar Buddhist Academy.
Lig, wanneer de droomstaat daagt, niet als een lijk in onwetendheid terneer.
Betreedt de natuurlijke sfeer van de onwankelbare aandacht.
Herken je dromen en zet illusie om in lichtgevendheid.
Beoefening van droomyoga vindt plaats in sommige tradities binnen het Tibetaans boeddhisme of Vajrayana boeddhisme. In de visie die ten grondslag ligt aan droomyoga, wordt een parallel getrokken tussen het proces van slapen en dromen enerzijds en de verschillende stadia van het stervensproces anderzijds.
Volgens het Tibetaans dodenboek (of Bardo Thodrol) lossen tijdens het stervensproces de vijf elementen waaruit het lichaam is samengesteld zich in elkaar op. Wanneer het laatste element, ruimte, zich heeft opgelost, gaat ons gebruikelijke bewustzijn dat gekoppeld is aan het materiele lichaam, op in wat wordt genoemd het ‘heldere licht’. Dit heldere licht wordt door de Dalai Lama omschreven als een niet-conceptuele staat van zijn, waarin er geen sprake meer is van een ervaren van het zelf. Voor mensen die geen of weinig meditatie beoefening hebben gedaan, duurt de staat van het heldere licht niet langer dan een ‘klik met de vingers’. Voor ervaren mediteerders kan het zo lang duren als ‘het eten van een maaltijd’. Deze fase in het stervensproces wordt vergeleken met het eerste slaapstadium direct na het inslapen.
En net zoals dit heldere licht slechts met grote moeite door de stervende kan worden herkend, is ook de slaper zich vrijwel nooit bewust van deze staat. Het Tibetaans dodenboek over sterven In het volgende stadium van het stervensproces doen zich, zo stelt het Tibetaans dodenboek visioenachtige beelden voor van verschillende boeddhavormen. Dit kan gepaard gaan met waarneming van zeer intensieve kleuren. Dit stadium wordt vergeleken met de droomstaat. En ook in deze fase geldt weer dat het voor de meeste mensen moeilijk is om het als zodanig te herkennen, om te weten dat ze dromen en dat de droombeelden voortkomen uit hun eigen geest.
Maar wanneer we in staat zijn om tijdens onze dromen droombeelden te herkennen als projecties van onze eigen geest is de kans groter dat we dat ook kunnen gedurende de periode die op ons sterven volgt. Deze helderheid van geest tijdens het dromen, wordt tegenwoordig in Europa en de Verenigde Staten lucide dromen genoemd. Binnen het Vajrayana boeddhisme zijn er beoefeningen die vertrouwd maken met de verschillende fasen van het stervensproces. Daarnaast kan er droomyoga worden beoefend. Juist tijdens het dromen is het mogelijk om de subtiele energie-geest te oefenen. Droomyoga is een uitstekende methode om vaste conditioneringen te doorbreken.
De concrete beoefening van droomyoga vindt plaats voor het slapengaan. Binnen de verschillende tradities van het Tibetaans boeddhisme zijn er verschillende meditatie-oefeningen om de heldere droomstaat op te wekken. De beoefeningen bestaan vaak uit visualisatie, soms in combinatie met ademhalingsoefeningen. Tijdens de droom kan iemand helpen door de dromer in het oor te fluisteren ‘Je bent nu aan het dromen’. Ook overdag kan droomyoga worden beoefend. De beoefenaar traint zich dan om alle verschijnselen als een droom te zien. Wanneer hij dat consequent doet, is de kans groter dat zijn zijn dromen zich als minder substantieel voordoen.
KHANDRO-LA – BIOGRAPHY
(Excerpted from an interview with Khadro-la conducted by Ven Roger Kunsang, and featured in
Mandala magazine, August 2008)
Ven. Roger Kunsang: Can you tell me why you left Tibet?
“I didn’t have the intention, and I didn’t have the money to travel. I followed a sign that came
in my dreams. There was a bus blowing its horn indicating its departure, and until I got on the
bus I was unaware of where I was heading. I learnt from the other people on that bus that they
were going to Lhasa and thence to Shigatse. A couple of days into the journey I learnt that
they were also planning to go to Mount Kailash.
“One day, while we had stopped our journey at Shigatse, I was circumambulating Tashi
Lhunpo Monastery when I came across an elderly man dressed in an Indian cloth doti. This
complete stranger gave me 2000 gormo. He asked me to sit beside him, and begun to tell me
many unusual stories. He told me that India was just beyond this mountain, and that I should
be meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many other lamas. He kept urging me to
head for India – and at the time it didn’t feel at all strange, although when I recall it now it
seems amazing to me.”
There was much hardship. I had no mission of my own and was just following the pilgrims. I
don’t remember very clearly how long the journey was, but I did fifteen koras round Mount
Kailash and due to my unusual actions and the words that I was speaking, rumors were going
around that I was a dakini. People began to line up to see me, even seeking blessings from
me. It was very tiring for me to deal with the crowds, but a very kind monk from a nearby
monastery took good care of me with food and drink. He even organized a better system for
the people who came to see me for blessings, etc. Many of those people expressed their wish
to go to India with me. One night, quite suddenly and without any discussion, I made up my
mind to leave for India and so a man who was our guide led seventeen of us from the bus
along the trail that leads to the border. He wasn’t very experienced and it took seventeen days
to reach Kathmandu in Nepal. It should have taken only seven days. We were in no man’s
land, and as there were no real paths or people to ask, it was impossible to tell whether we
were even out of Tibet. We had to just follow the signs I got in my dreams. When we were
confused about the way, I was instructed to go in the direction where there appeared a circle
of light. Maybe this was the blessing of the Dalai Lama or Palden Lhamo.
“Sometimes we had to walk all day without any food or drink, and sometimes we had to walk
all through the night. We were not prepared for such a long journey.
“When I arrived in Nepal, I fell seriously ill with food poisoning and could not continue with
my companions towards India. I had to stay at the reception center in Kathmandu, vomiting
blood, which made the staff suspicious that I had a contagious disease. I was left to sleep
outside the building in a field. I was so weak that I couldn’t change position. When I needed
to move, they used long sticks to push me back and forth because they were afraid to touch
me with their hands. As my condition worsened, the staff thought I wouldn’t survive, and so
asked me if I wanted to leave a last message for my family and asked for the address to deliver it.
“So I made a request for monks from a monastery to do prayers after I died and to take my
body for cremation to a peak which I later found out is the holy Nagarjuna hill where Buddha
had spoken the sutra called Langru Lungten.
“I asked them to take my urine in a bottle and give it to whomever they met first at the
Boudhanath Stupa entrance. By now I was semi-conscious, but they were kind enough to do
this favor for me. The person who took my urine met a man at the gate who turned out to be a
Tibetan physician. He tested my urine and diagnosed that I had been poisoned with meat,
prescribed some medicine and even sent me some blessing pills. My health improved
dramatically and I had many good dreams. When I recovered, I was sent to the Dharamsala
reception center, together with some other newly-arrived people.
“I arrived in Dharamsala not long after some monks from my village had quarreled with the
staff of the center – and so they had a negative impression of anyone who came from the
same area. Consequently I, too, became the victim. Since I was quite young I was asked
whether I would like to join school or did I want to have some skills training. My reply was
quite straightforward and honest. I said I had no interest in going to school and neither did I
want to learn something else. When I was back at home I always had the very strong will to
serve good meditators, and so I used to collect firewood and deliver water for the meditators
who lived around my village. I didn’t even know that Tibet was occupied by the Chinese and
that that was why Tibetans went into exile. I was not tortured by the Chinese and I didn’t
have any lack of food or clothing. My only wish was to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and
as I have a problem of going into craziness sometimes, I merely wanted to know from His
Holiness whether that was good or bad. That was all I wanted, otherwise I just wanted to
return to my own home.”
“I couldn’t get an audience with His Holiness because I was accused of having a contagious
disease which might infect him. Some said I was mad. Some even said I ought to be leaving
the center or be sent to an insane asylum. I was even banned from public audiences for
several months. Instead, I circumambulated the Dalai Lama’s palace every morning. One day,
I heard that His Holiness was coming back home, so I hid beside the road to greet him. As his
car passed by Namgyal Monastery, I saw a very bright light radiating on the front window of
the car and inside I saw him with many hands around his shoulders! It was the first time I had
ever seen His Holiness and I just jumped towards the car to prostrate, and I fell unconscious,
almost under the car.
“I was carried back to the center by a man from my village and again the shower of scolding
began. But I think a very strong change happened in me by seeing His Holiness and I never
got angry with the staff. I thought, ‘Oh! They have to take care of so many people and of
course they get upset sometimes.’
“Despite many requests, I still wasn’t given an audience with His Holiness. At a public
teaching I managed to find a seat. As he came in escorted by security personnel, I was possessed by the protector and the guards took me away from the courtyard where the
teachings were to take place, telling me to stay at the bottom of the stairs. I felt so sad to think
what evil karma I must have created in the past that now I can’t even see His Holiness.
“The teaching began with the recitation of the Heart Sutra. I could hear His Holiness
chanting, and as he was saying “no eyes, no nose,” etc., I started to have a very strange
feeling. By the time he was saying “form is empty and emptiness is form,” I felt rays of light
were showering on me, entering from the crown and filling my whole body. I felt lifted up in
the air. I had a strong feeling of joy and sentiment.
“As time went by, I came to know some meditators and came in contact with some great
lamas such as Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche and Khalkha Jetsun Dampa. I received blessing water
from them, and they, too, tried many ways to make my contact with His Holiness possible.
But no progress was made, and so I finally made up my mind to return to Tibet. I was
exceptionally sad at not being able to fulfill some of the tasks the old man in Shigatse has
asked me to do. There were some important things that I should do, such as making a long
life offering and some other secret thing, and time for all those activities was running out.
“I informed Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche of my decision, but he insisted that I did not return. He
said that he saw in me something more important than just an oracle; he could see some
specialness in me. He said I would be very helpful to His Holiness, and advised me to remain
in Dharamsala. ‘I myself will make the golden bridge between you and His Holiness.’ As I
listened to him, I wondered why such a great scholar and great lama said such comments
about me. Soon after, and out of the blue, I was approved for an audience, together with other
“There were a lot of us waiting anxiously. I saw His Holiness coming toward us and I saw
him with so much light radiating and many arms, just as I had seen him before. As soon as I
stood up to make prostrations, again I was possessed and taken away by the security guards.
Perhaps I was kicked or punched, because I found bruises on my body when I regained
“But after His Holiness granted an audience to all the other people, he asked to bring up the
lady oracle and so I was taken to him. As soon as I went to him, I grabbed at his feet and
went unconscious again. When I came back to normal His Holiness asked me about my home
and many other questions, but I was just left speechless. No words came out – I was too
overjoyed to say anything. Later I was able to tell him all that the old man had told me in
Shigatse and he heard all about me and my problems. I was confirmed as the oracle of the
protector and His Holiness asked me not to go back to Tibet. His Holiness granted me
different empowerments and instructions, and I begun to do the retreats that he advised me to
“A house was given to me by the private office within Namgyal Monastery. It’s the same
house I live in today. It was during that time when the teacher in the Dialectic School was
murdered by the group of Shugden worshipers, and there were rumors that I too would be
assassinated. The monks of Namgyal Monastery were very concerned about my safety. That’s how we became close. Actually, I tried to refuse their protection. I told them that if my
fate is to be killed, then nothing can make it not happen, but that if my karma is not to die, the
Shugden worshippers cannot harm me. The monks didn’t listen to me and they continuously
took good care of me.
“As I was very weak physically, His Holiness contacted Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche and I was
sent to France for treatment. At that time I came to know Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Indeed,
because of my poor health I came to know so many people!
“During my retreat and practice there have been some good signs and some positive
outcomes too, but I like to say that all of these are just hallucinations. Whatever good
happens is no more than the blessing of His Holiness. I myself am no better than the poorest
being among the rest.
“About two years ago, His Holiness advised me that whenever the opportunity comes, I
should give teachings or any kind of service that I can deliver to those who are in need. But I
know I have nothing to offer to others. To tell you honestly, in my mind I have a very strong
belief that the essence of life is only to have the realization of bodhichitta and emptiness.
Though it is difficult to gain, my primary wish is to achieve indestructible faith in these two
before I die. If I cannot help people to generate these things, our meeting is just a waste of
time. Other than that, I am the poorest by inner, outer and secret perspectives. The best side
of me is only that I met the best Dharma, best practice and the best lamas.”
Ven. Roger: When did you first feel that you were a dakini?
K: “I always think I am not a dakini. I don’t know who I am. Some lamas say I am Khandro
Yeshe Tsogyal, some say I am Vajrayogini, and others say I am Tara. It might be their own
pure appearances. I myself think I am nothing special.
“When I was young some people said I was mad. Some said I was dakini. I don’t know. I
have no doubt that I have very strong karmic imprints from the past, because I have been very
dear to His Holiness and many other high lamas from Tibet and outside of Tibet. Some lamas
from Tibet, whom I never knew, sent me love, respect, good wishes and often offerings and
praises. Another reason is that sometimes the words to express the view of emptiness come
out of my mouth automatically – something I have never heard and studied before – but I
can’t remember later what I said.”
The traditional view is that Atiyoga was transmitted mind to mind at the very beginning of time by Adibuddha, the Primordial Buddha Samantabhadra (Kun tu bzang-po) the Dharmakaya aspect of Buddha, to Vajrasattva (rdo rje sems dpa). This miraculously caused the teachings to emerge from the unmanifest Dharmakaya into the Sambhogakaya, but in a state of total purity unsullied by imperfections and unconstrained from any limitations. Vajrasattva communicated the prececepts through symbolic means to human and other beings who were ‘vidyadharas’ (rig-‘dzin), “those who have realised knowledge of the Primordial State”. Among the non-human Vidyadharas was Garab Dorje in a previous incarnation as a deva. Garab Dorje was miraculously born to a virgin nun in Öddiyana. He transmitted these symbolic teachings to both human and non-human dhakinis but especially to his disciple Manjushrimitra. In turn Manjushrimitra transmitted the precepts to Shrisimha who passed them on to Jnanasutra, Vimalimitra, Padmasambhava and Vairochana, the translator. These were the oral transmissions (gang-zag snyan brgyud). Transmission of Ati Yoga precepts is of three types: direct, symbolic and oral.
Called dzogchen, ati-yoga yana, upadesha, mahasandhi or shintu-naljor thegpa, this vehicle has three series of teachings, comprising of Dzogchen sem-dé, Dzogchen long-dé and Dzogchen men-ngak-dé. The sem-dé and long-dé series entered Tibet from India in the tenth century, but neither have been widely taught nor have they survived as living traditions in the better known Nyingma lineages. Practice of sem-dé and long-dé declined after the eleventh century. Men-ngak-dé was introduced later, from the twelfth century, and flourished to the present day. Men-ngak-dé is now the main teaching and practice of Dzogchen taught in the major Nyingma lineages.
The three series of Dzogchen equate with the three statements of Garab Dorje, the Tsig Sum Né-dek – ‘Hitting the essence in three points’ These three points are: direct introduction, remaining without doubt, and continuing in the state. Sem-dé is related to direct introduction. Long-dé is related to remaining without doubt. Men-ngak-dé is related to continuing in the state.
Sem-dé means the series of the nature of Mind (with a capital ‘M’). It is the series of Dzogchen with the most detailed transmission through explanation. Sem-dé equates to direct introduction. It offers explanations as direct introduction and offers methods in terms of direct introduction.
Long-dé, relates to remaining without doubt, and has much less explanation within it than Sem-dé. It bases itself on the fact that one has already had direct introduction and concerns itself with remaining without doubt. It concerns methods of returning to the state of rigpa through the felt texture of subtle sensation, in which one remains without doubt. Doubt is an experience. Being free of doubt is also an experience; it’s a state in itself. Long-dé is concerned with sensation, experiential sensation. Presence of awareness is found in the dimension of sensation. In many different teachings of the Long-dé there are particular postures using belts and sticks (gom-tag and gom-shing or gom-ten) and supports of various kinds that have the function of pressing on certain pressure points. These pressure points are used to cultivate sensation, in which one finds the presence of awareness. sKu-mNyé is another similar method. It utilises sensation by stimulating the tsa-lung system.
Men-ngak-dé relates to continuing in the state. It contains very little explanation indeed. There are simply directions for how to continue in the state. There are a great variety of methods within the Men-ngak-dé, but their character is very difficult to discuss outside the level of experience required to understand their significance.
There is some disagreement in the Nyingma School, whether Dzogchen is a tantric vehicle or whether it exists within its own category.
Atiyoga as it is taught in better known lineages lacks aspects of sem-dé and long-dé. It is the direct approach to the essential nature of the mind, which is Buddha nature (De bZhin gshegs pa’i sNying Po) through the recognition of the naked awareness state of one’s own mind. These teachings were transmitted by Vajrasattva (rDorje Sems ba) to the nirmanakaya Prahevajra who in turn transmitted them to humans teachers including Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra and Vairocana. They have three divisions: Those of Mind, Great Expanse and Instructions. The Nying ma gyud bum has 21 texts of Mind and seven of Great Expanse divisions. The Division of instructions of the Innermost Essence are contained in the 17 tantras also in The Nying ma gyud bum.
The view is established that all phenomena are spontaneously enlightened from the beginning.
Through the teaching of the natural revelation of cutting through all substantial and insubstantial phenomena (khregs.chod) to realise dharmakaya wisdom. Use the spontaneous wisdom of the sambhogakaya and achieve the rainbow body of the nirmanakaya, which are spontaneous luminosity (Thod.rgyal).
Without acceptance or rejection you recognise phenomena as the display of the dharmakaya.
Samsara is nirvana: The realisation that the spontaneous perfect state of Kuntuzangpo is ever present and that there is nothing beyond this is enlightenment.
Being a Nyingmapa, is to be open to the whole stream of practice. Although the emphasis is on the three inner tantras one is open to any or all the yanas, and you practise that under a teacher. Your teacher might teach from the perspective of Dzogchen but even so, he or she may give teachings from any of the vehicles. He or she will give guidance according to the particular needs and experience of the practitioner at that time.
Op onderstaand adres vind je een interessante studie over de Sadhanamala teksten van Vajra Tara door Tim Van Der Haegen die zo zijn graad van licentiaat bekwam in de Oosterse talen en culturen aan de Universiteit van Gent. Ik bespeurde wel een belangrijke fout . In de inleidende bespreking verwisselt de auteur vajra en bel als symbolen van respectievelijk de methode en de wijsheid , van mededogen en de leegte.
Het ‘Windpaard’ (lungta) draagt het wensvervullend juweel op zijn rug. In de hoeken staan vier wezens: twee bovennatuurlijk, en twee echte, met uitsterven bedreigde soorten: de Garuda (de mythische vogel) en de draak, respectievelijk de tijger en de sneeuwleeuw. Tussen deze beelden staan heilige mantras.”
Onze geest is zo groot als alle universa. Ze wordt door in eonen van tijd opgebouwd karma verduisterd. De boeddhanatuur is als een heldere hemel in mei.
Jij ligt in het groene gras , tijdloos , en er zijn geen wolken.Je bent een met alles en je vergeet jezelf. Er is geen dualisme meer , geen ik en jij , geen dit en dat ,
je verkeert in je ware geest die er altijd al was en er altijd al zal zijn…….. Mediteer even hierop.
Alles is leeg aan inherent bestaan , alles bestaat slechts relatief. De leegte is vol aan relatief bestaan.Het relatief bestaan is leeg aan inherent (=zelfstandig) bestaan.
We jagen , zonder wijsheid , alleen illusies na. We zien niet dat alles elkaar nodig heeft in een grote kosmische liefde.Als je de leegte van alles en jezelf ziet , zie je ook die liefde en is er maar een ding over : Groot Mededogen met alle lijdende wezens.Als je het mededogen beoefent ontdek je de leegte aan inherent bestaan.
Beide aspecten komen voort uit elkaar in het kosmische huwelijk van de mannelijke en vrouwelijke boeddha’s.(essentie van tantra).
De extase van de kosmische liefde.
Dan verschijnen er donkere wolken aan de hemel en een wind steekt op.Die wind draagt je geest naar gebonden oorden. Je voelt je pijn , je onvolkomenheid ,
je falen en je spijt. Het Zicht is weg . Er komt duisternis.Je voelt je einde naderen en de koude adem van de Heer des Doods blaast door je knoken.
De as ( pali: kha) in je leven zit scheef (dhuk) . Er is geen grote gelukzaligheid .De as (kha) zit niet meer in het midden zonder frictie (sukh).
Maar , soms is er die mens die je weer wat zicht geeft , die de wolken wegblaast als een lentebries. De zonnestralen verwarmen je koude knoken weer en er gloort hoop. Even ervaar je Mahasukkha. Grote gelukzaligheid in leegte. De partners vinden elkaar weer en gaan weer op in elkaar.
Doe iedere dag 1 negatief ding minder en 1 positief ding meer. De zon van verlichting zal weer gaan schijnen. Als je karma zuiverder wordt nemen de aanknopingspunten voor positief karma in het kwadraat toe. Je Guru is er altijd geweest en hij zal verschijnen en je thuisbrengen.
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.”
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
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).
Padmasambhava, die posthuum bekend werd als Guru Rinpoche, leefde in de achtste eeuw. Guru Rinpoche betekent “de Waardevolle Leraar”. Guru Rinpoche’s visie en onderwijsmethode wordt doorgaans geassocieerd met het esoterische Boeddhisme zoals dat in de Himalaya-regionen gestalte heeft gekregen. We vinden er echter ook sporen van terug in de Japanse Shingon-leer, en, zoals onderstaand wordt aangeduid; de Chinese Huayen voelt zich er niet door vervreemd. Wat Padmasambhava onderwees was niet identiek aan de leer van de Huayen , de Avatamsaka Soetra zoals deze is uitgewerkt in China. Maar ze is ook niet verschillend, want wat zegt de eerwaarde Hai Yün, een Taiwanees monnik die de Huayen onderwijst in een in 2004 gepubliceerde lering met betrekking tot Samantabhadra Bodhisattva: “Wanneer we het hebben over het bewustzijn als Zoheid, dan hebben we het eenvoudigweg over de essentiële aard (in het Chinees ti) van de geest. In deze essentiële aard is er noch zuiverheid, noch onzuiverheid. En omdat die geest, in zijn essentiële aard altijd al geweest is wat ze is: noch zuiver, noch onzuiver, noemen we ze Zoheid. Het andere aspect van bewustzijn (geest) is gecompliceerder omdat ze onderhevig is aan het proces van geboren worden en sterven, van verrijzen en verdwijnen. Het gewone denken heeft de neiging Zoheid in contrast te stellen met geboorte en dood, en zou overwegen dat het ene zuiver is, en het andere onzuiver. Maar dit is een heel grove manier van denken. Zoheid is noch zuiver, noch onzuiver, maar tegelijkertijd is het zowel zuiver als onzuiver. Daarom kunnen we zeggen dat zuiverheid het rijk van Samantabhadra is, maar we kunnen net zo goed zeggen dat onzuiverheid het rijk van Samantabhadra is.” (Toel.: Zuiverheid en onzuiverheid mag ook begrepen worden als ‘relatief bestaan’, resp. het absolute.)
1. Dit bewustzijn, een dat in het hele leven en in de hele bevrijding doordringt,
2. Wordt niet herkend, ook al is het onze eigen fundamentele aard.
3. Zijn flux is constant, maar we zijn onwetend.
4. Zijn lichtende en feilloze weten wordt niet gezien
5. Alhoewel het uit alles aan het licht komt.
6. De Helden hebben het niet-voorstelbare onderwezen,
7. En de totaliteit van de meest geheime leringen
8. Hebben het over niets anders dan over deze verheven realisering.
9. Hoewel de Geschriften omvangrijk zijn als de hemel
10. Onderwijzen ze niets anders dan deze geest van eenheid.
11. Deze rechtstreekse vingerwijzing is het terrein van de Helden.
12. Slechts deze vingerwijzing verschaft je vaste voet in het Absolute.
13. O, overwinning!
14. Jullie, mijn kinderen die het getroffen hebben, luister!
15. Dat “Bewustzijn”, die “geest”, dat woord dat zo bekend en onbekend tegelijk is,
16. Daar weten de wezens niets van.
17. Hun begrip ervan raakt niet aan het essentiële.
18. Deze realiteit, daar kunnen ze niet bij.
19. Vervreemd door (het concept van) individualiteit, stappen ze over de aard van het bewustzijn heen, 20. En stappen daarmee ook over hun eigen aard heen.
21. Onzeker dwalen ze rond door de drie Rijken
22. En missen de essentie.
23. Asceten en meesters (uit andere kring) zeggen dat ze ’t door hebben,
24. Maar deze schat, daar hebben ze geen weet van.
25. Als verlamd door boekenwijsheid en intellectualiseren
26. Geraken ze niet aan de ruimtegelijke transparentie van het bewustzijn.
27. Gefascineerd door (dogmas over) subject en object
28. Stappen zowel de gematigden als de extremisten over deze schat heen.
29. Door hun tantrische rituelen verwijderen ze zich er van,
30. Door hun (meditatieve) praktijk sluiten ze er de ogen voor.
31. Zelfs zij die zich in de tradities van de Mahamudra en Dzogchen weten
32. Zijn ingeperkt door hun eigen (beperkte) weten;
33. Ze dwalen rond, van dualiteit naar niet-dualiteit,
34. En nooit verder komend kennen ze het Ware Ontwaken niet.
35. Je eigen bewustzijn, dat is leven en Bevrijding.
36. Wordt niet de gevangene van een opvatting die, in een oneindige cyclus,
37. Zichzelf in de staart bijt. Geef op te wikken en te wegen!
38. Ja, laat het achter en verblijf in het vorstelijke niet-handelen.
39. En door deze lering tot uitvoering te brengen realiseer je tezelfdertijd, onmiddellijk,
40. Je Grote Natuurlijke Bevrijding.
41. Door je schouwen, door je Weten dat van alles ontdaan is, tot op het bot,
42. Realiseer je die perfectie die het Bewustzijn aangeboren is.
43. Dat Bewustzijn, in dit lichtende absolute gewaar zijn 44. bestaat en bestaat niet, tegelijkertijd
45. Het is de bron van geluk, van duhkha (ongemak), en van bevrijding.
46. De leringen hebben er namen voor: realiteit van het bewustzijn,
47. Zijn of niet-zijn,
48. Het uit zichzelf geboren bewustzijn,
49. De Absolute aard,
50. Het grote zegel (mahamudra),
51. De natuurlijke bevrijding,
52. De lichtende parel,
53. Het fundament van het gewone.
54. Deze realisering kent drie Poorten:
55. De afwezigheid van sporen, helderheid, en het ruimtegelijke.
56. De realisering die we hadden of hebben
57. Is nergens in gevestigd, is pas geboren, en onmiddellijk.
58. Haar aard is Zo te verblijven, door niets ingeperkt.
59. Door het moment simpelweg en onmiddellijk te grijpen,
60. Door zich zo in ieder moment ontdaan van alles te zien,
61. Zal je schouwen stil en doorzichtig zijn, objectloos.
62. Dat is het heldere schouwen, (zich manifesterend als) een bliksemschicht.
63. Het is de ruimtegelijkheid die niets pretendeert,
64. Het is de schitterende leegte voorbij de vormen,
65. Ontdaan van het permanente, vloeiend,
66. Het is grenzeloos, vol gloed en helder.
67. Niet een, niet meervoudig
68. Heeft het slechts één smaak –
69. Nergens ontstaan
70. Helder bewust van zichzelf
71. Is het de Werkelijkheid zelve.
72. Deze directe vingerwijzing naar de Realiteit
73. Draagt de totaliteit van de werelden in zich.
74. (Het is) het Lichaam van de waarheid, van vreugde, en van het absolute
75. Vloeit er van over.
76. Schitterend stralend is deze natuurlijke energie van bevrijding.
77. Dit is dan de introductie tot deze krachtige methode
78. Die de Werkelijkheid zelve aan het licht brengt.
79. Op dit moment is je bewustzijn deze totaliteit,
80. Is ze deze natuurlijke helderheid die door niets wordt ingeperkt.
81. Kun je zeggen: “Ik begrijp de aard van het bewustzijn niet”
82. Terwijl er, in deze feilloze helderheid van je schouwen,
83. Niets is waarop je kunt mediteren!
84. Kun je zeggen: Ik zie de aanwezigheid van het bewustzijn niet”
85. Terwijl diegene die denkt deze werkelijkheid is!
86. Kun je zeggen: Zelfs al zoek ik het, het blijft een mysterie”
87. Terwijl je helemaal niets hoeft te doen!
88. Kun je volhouden dat het ondanks al je streven aan je ontsnapt,
89. Terwijl je alleen maar in dat door niets ingeperkte hoeft te verblijven!
90. Kun je zeggen dat het je moeilijk valt in actie te komen
91. Terwijl de aard is onbewogen te blijven!
92. Kun je zeggen dat je ’t niet kunt
93. Terwijl de helderheid, je bewust zijn en het ruimtegelijke je eigen Realiteit zijn!
94. Kun je beweren dat de oefening geen vruchten baart
95. Terwijl ze natuurlijk is, spontaan en ongebonden!
96. Kun je zeggen: “Ik zoek en vind niet”
97. Terwijl het denken en de natuurlijke bevrijding er gelijktijdig zijn!
98. Waarom denken dat de geneeswijzen niet baten
99. Terwijl je eigen bewustzijn simpelweg Zo is!
100. Hoe kun je voorwenden dat je ’t niet weet!
101. Wees ervan verzekerd dat de aard van bewustzijn ledigheid is, dat nergens op steunt.
102. Je geest is net zo ontdaan van substantie als de lege ruimte –
103. Of je ’t nu leuk vindt of niet. Schouw in dat bewustzijn.
104. Klamp je niet vast aan een nihilistische visie op ledigheid,
105. Wees ervan verzekerd dat wijsheid altijd helder is geweest,
106. Lichtend, spontaan, in zichzelf berustend,
107. Als zonnestralen.
108. Of je ’t nu leuk vindt of niet, schouw in dat bewustzijn.
109. Wees ervan verzekerd dat je kennen onfeilbare wijsheid is,
110. Dat als een vlot op de stroom van een rivier deint.
111. Of je ’t nu leuk vindt of niet, schouw in dat bewustzijn.
112. Weet dat je geen reden zult kunnen vinden,
113. Want die deining is net zo substantieloos als de rest.
114. Of je ’t nu leuk vindt of niet, schouw in dat bewustzijn.
115. Weet dat alles dat zich aan je geestesoog voordoet
116. Niets anders is dan je eigen natuurlijke perceptie,
117. Vergelijkbaar met een weerspiegeling.
118. Of je ’t nu leuk vindt of niet, schouw in dat bewustzijn.
119. Wees ervan verzekerd dat alles dat verschijnt zich onmiddellijk bevrijdt,
120. Uit zichzelf voortgekomen, zichzelf voortbrengend,
121. Zoals je geest een wolk kan scheppen.
122. Of je ’t nu leuk vindt of niet, schouw in dat bewustzijn.
123. Dat schouwen is leeg, bevrijding is spontaan, het waarheidslichaam
124. is schitterend lichtende ruimtegelijkheid.
125. Realiseer het absolute door de niet-Weg te gaan,
126. Op dat moment toont zich je eigen heiligheid.
127. En zo zou je intuïtieve weten, dat ruimtegelijk is,
128. Zou deze spontane bevrijding die ontstaan is door het schouwen niet méér te laten zijn dan schouwen,
129. Zou deze diepste realisering,
130. Het onderzoeksgebied moeten zijn waar je hele wezen naar tracht.
131. Eer aan dit diepste geheim.
Bij de titel De Kashmir-traditie van de tantras, met name die van de Kaula en Spanda waar ook de naam van Shiva wordt geëerd, zou de titel van deze zang, “….dat heldere schouwen dat bevrijding brengt”, als volgt vertalen: “Zijn (Padmasambhava’s) zang over het heldere schouwen van de aard van het bewustzijn, dat bewustzijn dat bevrijding brengt.” Hier ligt dan een verschil tussen de Vedische en de Boeddhistische opvatting en praktijk. · Regels 6 en 11. De Helden. Sanskriet jina: held, overwinnaar, een aanduiding voor een Gerealiseerde. · Regel 21. De 3 Rijken: van heden, verleden en toekomst. Ook wel de drie Rijken van ongelukkige bestaansvormen, het mensenbestaan, en het bovenmenselijk bestaan dat nog steeds beneden de Volkomen Realisering ligt. En de derde mogelijkheid is: de wereld van 1/ verlangen, van 2/ vorm of materialiteit en 3/ van het vormloze — drie verschillende (meditatieve) stadia. · Regel 31. Mahamudra en Dzogchen zijn twee technieken en/of zienswijzen onderwezen binnen het Himalaya-Boeddhisme. Wanneer Padmasambhava spreekt over deze twee technieken betekent dat, dat hij Bhutan, resp. Tibet binnenkwam op een moment dat er al een behoorlijk ver gevorderde Boeddhistische praktijk was, een (monniken-) gemeenschap met leraren die een verfijnde opvatting van de Boeddha-Dharma verkondigden. · Regel 44 raakt aan de kern van het begrip over bewustzijn in Boeddhistische zin. Het woord wordt dan ook niet vertaald met “geest” omdat dan al snel de neiging bestaat bewustzijn te verabsoluteren, hetgeen zelfs in de Tathagata-garbha-leer (tekst 58, 1e noot), die ook uit Padmasambhava’s woorden put, wordt gemeden. · Regel 61: stil en doorzichtig als helder stilstaand water. · Regel 62. Als een bliksemschicht. “Bliksemschicht” is gekozen om de intensiteit van het licht weer te geven, niet het onmiddellijk voorbijgaande. · Regel 64. Schitterende – als sterren. · Regels 70 en 71 hebben het over het bewustzijn, of, meer bepaald, het bewust zijn dat gewaar is van het eigen bewust zijn – je kunt in je meditatieve oefening “zien” dat er lege helderheid is. · Regel 74. Hier wordt gesproken over de Drie Lichamen van Boeddha: de Nirmanakaya, hier satyakaya, waarheidslichaam genoemd, het Vreugdevolle Lichaam (sambhogakaya), en het Absolute Lichaam (Dharmakaya). Alle drie zijn in feite één, maar manifesteren zich al naar gelang de behoeften van de praktikanten-meditatoren. · Regels 81 tot 100 zullen met vreugde herkend worden door Zen-beoefenaars. Het verschil is, dat hier een ervaring van luminositeit het doel is, terwijl Zen zegt dat ook die ervaring illusoir is, en achtergelaten moet worden. · De kern van de regels 27, 33, 67, en 97 vinden we ook in de Lankávatara Soetra, tekst II, de toelichting bij tekst 20, de eerste noot. · Regel 119 – 121. “Wees ervan verzekerd dat alles dat verschijnt zich onmiddellijk bevrijdt, Uit zichzelf voortgekomen, zichzelf voortbrengend.” Ook hier vinden we een afwijzing van de scheppingstheorie uit andere denkrichtingen, en bovendien een bevestiging van de Enkel-Bewustzijnsleer die zegt dat alles in en uit de geest is. Lees daarvoor Deel I van de Lankavatára Soetra, tekst 1, noot 29. Het is niet gezegd dat Padmasambhava exact dezelfde opinie was toegedaan, maar het geeft een indruk. · Regel 126. Hier wordt ‘je eigen heiligheid’ gebruikt, maar het is niet zeker of het originele manuscript daarmee overeenstemt.
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.
- Karuna Bhavana and Tonglen (khalilbodhi.wordpress.com)
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
– 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
– Thank you for your interest!