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...

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...

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...

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...

Peace of mind in challenging times

Most of us strive for peace in our heart and in the world at large. There are a few elements in our larger world that strive for chaos, destruction and separation when others have different views from them in the name of truth, believing they are the only ones that have the truth. Anytime people espouse truth at any cost they feel at liberty to condemn and eliminate those who hold a different truth. It doesn’t have to only be a religious or philosophical truth, it can be lineage truth, silent or loud truth, inconceivable, territorial or ultimate truth. Circumstances are always neutral, any solid attitude or constricted ideology is charged with an either/or strand that cuts deep into our identities and gives rise to righteous indignation, stand offs and a need to defend that ideology. What can we do in the face of hate, ignorance, cruelty? We cannot be silent, stubborn or do nothing; we can build stronger communities of service and compassion, with small acts of kindness for each other, realizing how precious this rare life of ours is. We can see the gifts and skills of people rather than their shortcomings, experience more spaciousness with our views of others, letting go of solid opinions and sense the inherent goodness that lies in the heart of our diverse circles of beings. We can give fearlessness by eliminating our habitual unwholesome thoughts and plant seeds of kindness, looking upon others with soft eyes, suspending hateful narratives and judgment. A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson about how he felt about the tragedy of September 11. He...
A Holistic Heath Center in the Heart of Saratoga

A Holistic Heath Center in the Heart of Saratoga

One Big Roof is a retreat and workshop center in the heart of Saratoga Springs, located at 433 Broadway, on the third floor above Putnam Market. It is an unusually, surprising, attractive, spacious, aesthetically simple 1000 square feet setting with a gorgeous wood floor for movement, bay windows overlooking Broadway and warm colored walls supporting tasteful art. As soon as one steps in, a serene feeling, warmth, spaciousness and stillness welcome any visitor or participant. The view of the city from above is inspiring and so is the vision of the center. The following article from Saratoga Springs Life Magazine, illustrated with gorgeous interior images, describes the space, workshops, and mission of One Big Roof. Click on the following link to read the full article (in PDF): Saratoga Springs Life...