THE SUBTLE ENERGY UNDERLYING THE PROCESS OF TRANSFORMATION

In the Tibetan Buddhist traditions the subtle energy is called “lung”, energy-wind, subtle body or vitality and underlies the functioning of all physical, emotional and mental processes. We have three constitutional aspects: the physical body, consciousness,and the energy-wind body which facilitates an interface between the other two. It is instrumental in translating physical experience into consciousness and vice versa. There is a relationship between each energy-wind and consciousness, it’s like a relationship between a horse and its rider, which is why it has been given the name “wind-horse”. Subtle conscious/energy-wind relates to inner subtle feelings and emotional undercurrents in the unconscious. Extreme subtle consciousness/wind-energy relates to the clear light nature of the mind, innate wisdom, Buddha nature empty of dualistic confusion. It is known as the “life supporting wind”, the vehicle of consciousness and life. Therefore when our mind is disturbed the energy wind is gross and agitated by normal daily life events and thought processes, worries, anxieties, emotional turmoil, consciousness will also be agitated. When our mind is cam and stable, soft and smooth, experiencing feelings of love and contentment, the quality of consciousness equally corresponds. If we are emotionally distressed, our nervous system, digestive system, heart rate, breathing, etc… are affected. If we suppress the disturbed nature of these energy winds, they become absorbed in the body and affect our physical health. Blocked, disturbed or polluted energy winds manifest behavior that is unwholesome, and if these energies are freed from defiled states their innate quality is released and deep peace manifests. Being aware of the “wind-horse energy” and working with it, allows us to adopt a view...

Meditation revisited

  Meditation is more that just a relaxation technique, it is a precision tool for exploring consciousness and for centuries has been for contemplative practitioners a practice for discerning and reporting findings on inner reality and it’s connection to outer phenomena. Most practitioners discover that it helps one to attain calm, experience a serene lifestyle and definitely shows positive effects and improvement for mental and physical health. We know that it is for many a means to improve one’s life, a way to achieve deep insights into the nature of the mind, our identity and consciousness, which results in unprecedented well- being and as a primer for genuine altruism and compassion. It brings us close to what it’s like to be a human being in this journey we call life! It is an expedition into the frontiers of the mind. The Latin word expeditio, has the connotation of “coming out,freeing oneself”, extricating ourselves from a place in which our feet are stuck. The expedition is about first recognizing that we are stuck in old schemas which lead nowhere and then taking the steps we need to free ourselves from those habitual patterns. So we sit, find a time out, just sit fully alive in our body and mind and drop into states in which we are actively aware of and focused on the reality of the present moment, accepting and acknowledging it without getting caught up in thoughts or emotional reactions to the situation. When we eventually become aware of being hijacked or lost in the contents of the mind stream and internal mental chatter or self talk, we...

UNCONDITIONAL PRESENCE

  Most of us live in a state of continuous contraction and constricted awareness that forms a nucleus of avoidance, attachment or both. Often we develop an identity and view of ourselves and the world based on rejecting experiences we don’t like or grasping onto others. In order to hold on to this identity we develop stories about the way we are or what reality is, stories which in essence are just mental interpretations of our experience, a way of organizing our beliefs and opinions but not the experience itself. Unfortunately one story tends to reinforce another story which creates an increasingly distortion of reality. How do we move from constriction and partial views of reality? One way is to engage in being present with our experience, with what is, in the moment. We call that beginners mind. Often though we have become experts at being ourselves, in the process loosing our ability to be open in a fresh, open minded fashion. The totality of our present experiencing is much larger and richer than anything we can know or describe about it at any given moment. What we notice in meditation practice sometimes are the islands of thoughts where our mind lands in the stream of consciousness, gaps between our thoughts. These gaps can appear to be scary, because they represent absence of control. However these gaps are entry points into non conceptual awareness that is always present. When we can settle into this awareness we are free to be with what is, open, curious, bearing witness(not having any agenda) to our larger unconditioned nature; this is what is...

What is all that fuss about mindfulness?

  Mindfulness has become a buzz word and for some a movement that has strong reservations or objections against it. Mindfulness classes, events and retreats abound in many circles: in some pre-schools, elementary and higher education, work places, corporate and not for profit agencies, jails and federal prisons, health systems, congress, (well, one took the course), the armed forces and of course on many phone apps. As with anything that draws attention and a certain velocity, praises as well as much criticism are abundant. Many articles have been written lately, not always favorable ones,  by three main factions; some who never took the time to experience classes, some by those who have had long time meditation practices, as well by some Buddhist practitioners, all wondering about the current surge of interest and most of them  challenging the purpose and validity of the practices of mindfulness. The typical critical arguments and negative charges about mindfulness programs from these three groups are as follows: “Mindfulness is another fad. Mindfulness classes only reduce stress marginally. The teachers use scientific research and neuroscience to justify its use but it has very little scientific validity. It is another modality being marketed to vulnerable folks for greed. Some Buddhists, claim that it is and unconscionable practice without the ethical focus as the primary foundation. Meditation can be a dangerous practice for some. Some teachers are not qualified and make unsubstantial benefit claims or use them for marketing benefits. It is a program geared to white middle class people or for those who have money.” I am going to address these comments one by one, but first...

Gratitude

  The word comes from the Latin word “gratus” which means “thankfulness and pleasing”. This is the time of Thanksgiving, the practice and celebration of gratitude for food, gifts, connecting with people and engaging in conversations. Everyday is a time for celebrating gratitude in small measures because it leads us in an experience of being alive, preventing us from exhaustion or killing the mind of compassion. Gratitude enables us to realize that we are part of a larger context in which our personal stories are unfolding. It softens our heart, directs our view towards what is meaningful and builds greater capacity for forgiveness and appreciation for the interdependent nature of our existence. We often tend to focus on the negative aspects of our experiences which can lead to a distorted view of what is actually happening, undermining in the process any attempt of empowerment and literally deadening the realm of possibilities. Gratitude is a powerful antidote for our emotional chaos, occasional despair, depression, self defeating feelings and behaviors. It also gives us strength to be with people who habitually tend to only notice things that go wrong or the abundant deficiencies that occur, maybe for a short time only… Meditating on gratitude helps us drop the feeling of loss, envy, scarcity, even jealousy and releases us from the fear of always wanting more than we have. Reminding ourselves of what we are grateful for doesn’t deny life’s daily difficulties and challenges on our planet, troubled times, uncertainties about the future as well as disappointments and betrayals. However the practice will lift the veil of gloom and doom and shift...

Gate of sweet nectar

“Calling out to hungry hearts Everywhere through endless time You who wander, you who thirst I offer you this Bodhi Mind. Calling all you hungry spirits Everywhere through endless time Calling all you hungry hearts All those left behind Gather round and share this meal Your joy and sorrow I make it mine.” We are being one with the Buddha’s in the ten directions We are being one with the Dharma in the ten directions We are being one with the Sangha in the ten directions Being one with all the formless forms throughout space and time Being one with great wisdom Being one with great compassion Being one with great action Being one with Prajna Paramita, the mother of all perfection Being one with the unconditioned Being one with the boundless Being one with the inconceivable May I extend all my love to my own being, friends, enemies, family, community and all creations for so much done on my behalf May all those who practice continue to empower, enrich and enjoy May all creations receive loving benefactors May we always have the courage to bear witness, to see ourselves as Other and Other as ourselves....

Facing Cancer with an Attitude

  It’s been over thirteen years since I was diagnosed with a stage four transitional cell carcinoma and was given four months to live. Often people ask what factors do I attribute to recovering from cancer. I am not sure as to what determinants were effective, there were probably as many as there are variables for so many of us being diagnosed with the big C. One assumption, funda-mentally, I dare say, has lot to do with attitude. What I mean by that is that there are correlations and cause and effect between the mind, the body and the immune system and how they function or become dysfunctional. We all have cancer cells in our body. The questions then become: which particular people have cells that become malignant, what gives the impetus for those to propagate and how do they vanish or come back with a mission after remission? Edwin Friedman in his book “A Failure of Nerve” explains that normal cells have a specific identity and gravitate towards other cells that have similar functions; they specialize in order to contribute to the overall functioning of the larger body. They communicate with other cells in a mutually reciprocal network that regulate each other’s growth and behavior and they become cooperative. They know when to quit and have a gene for self destruction when they are dangerous to the host, which is a formidable altruistic phenomenon, build in bodhisattva cells! Malignant cells differ from normal cells in all the respects mentioned and they lose their capacity for self definition, they are un-self regulating, reproduce uncontrollably, compete and instead of self...

Everyday DZOGCHEN practice, part 1, Dilgo Khyentse

“The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete carefree acceptance, an openness to al situations without limit. We should realize openness as the playground of our emotions and relate to people without artificiality, manipulation or strategy. We can experience everything totally, never withdrawing into ourselves as an rodent hides in its hole. This practice releases tremendous energy which is usually constricted by the process of maintaining fixed reference points. Referentiality is the process by which we retreat from the direct experience of everyday life. Being present in the moment may initially trigger fear. But by welcoming the sensation of fear with complete openness, we cut through the barriers created by habitual emotional patterns. When we engage in the practice of discovering space, we should develop the feeling of opening ourselves out completely to he entire universe. We should open ourselves with absolute simplicity and nakedness of mind. This is the powerful and ordinary practice of dropping the mask of self protection. We shouldn’t make a division in our meditation between perception and the field of perception. We shouldn’t become like a cat watching a mouse. We should realize that the purpose of meditation is not to go deeply into ourselves or withdraw from the world. Practice should be free and non conceptual, un-constrained by introspection and concentration. Vast un originated self luminous wisdom space is the ground of being, the beginning and the end of confusion. The presence of awareness in the primordial space has no bias toward enlightenment or non enlightenment. The ground of being which is known as pure or original mind is the source from...

Everyday DZOGCHEN ,part 2 from Dilgo Khyentse

  This is the dance of the 5 elements in which matter is a symbol of energy and energy a symbol of emptiness. We are symbol of our own enlightenment. With no effort or practice whatsoever, liberation or enlightenment is already there. The everyday practice of DZOGCHEN is just everyday life itself. Since the undeveloped state doesn’t exist, there is no need to behave in any special way or attempt to attain anything above and beyond what you actually are. There should be no feeling of striving to reach some amazing goal or advanced state. To strive for such a state is a neurosis which only conditions us and serves to obstruct the flow of the Mind. We should also avoid thinking of ourselves as worthless persons-we are naturally free and unconditioned. We are intrinsically enlightened and lack nothing. When engaging in meditation practice, we should feel it to be as natural as eating, breathing and defecating. It should not become a specialized or formal event, bloated with seriousness and solemnity. We should realize that meditation transcends effort, practice, aims, goals and the duality of liberation and non liberation. Meditation is always ideal: there is no need to correct anything. Since what arises is simply the play of the mind as such, there is no unsatisfactory meditation and no need to judge thoughts as good or bad. Therefore we should simply sit. Simply stay in your own place, in your own condition just as it is. Forgetting self conscious feelings we do not have to think “I am meditating”. Our practice should be without effort, strain or attempt to...

Settling the Mind in its Natural State

This practice has been emphasized in the Mahayana tradition before spreading to Nepal and Tibet. It means that we steadily observe virtuous and non virtuous thoughts arising in the mind without desire or aversion, letting thoughts subside of their own accord and awareness arise without any object other than itself. Chokyi Gyaltsen explained it this way: “Whatever sort of thoughts arise, without suppressing them, recognize what they emerge from and what they dissolve into; stay focused while you observe their nature. By doing so , eventually the motion of thoughts ceases and there is stillness…each time you observe the nature of any thoughts that arise they will vanish by themselves, following which, a vacuity appears. Likewise, if you examine the mind when it remains without movement, you will see an unobscured, clear and vivid vacuity. That is called the union of stillness and motion”. Dudjom Lingpa said; “Eventually all coarse and subtle thoughts will be calmed in the empty expanse of the essential nature of your mind and consciousness comes to rest in its own natural, unmodified state. That experience is soothing, gentle, clear , limpid consciousness that is neither benefited nor harmed by thoughts, and you experience a remarkable sense of stillness without needing to modify, reject or embrace anything.” Settling the mind in its natural state is an effective way of knowing the mind and healing the mind. We can remove mental habits by realizing : That thinking the thoughts and images we experience don’t exist outside of our own mind, That compulsively responding to mental events with craving and aversion are not intrinsically pleasant or unpleasant...