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Everything posted by Armando

  1. Durgā: An Alternative to “Femininity”

    Recently, I read an article somewhere about the best ways of ending a romantic relationship. The author was considering various scenarios and factors. For contrast, she was also talking about the not-so-good ways of going about this. According to her, one of the worst methods of breaking up is making a drama and covering one's unsuspecting partner with a bunch of accusations. The author considers it cowardly and commonly causing months or years of continuing pain in one or both of the ex-partners. Yet this is what I see happening in so many cases, including my student's that I mentioned above. (I tend to read and ponder on such things because students frequently seek my advice in that kind of matter...)
  2. Simply going with the flow is excellent advice as long as the water is relatively calm. 😃
  3. Pornography, Energy Loss, Social Discourse

    I was told it is based on the Maithuna tradition. The idea being that you cannot reach Buddhahood leaving any aspect of your being out of the picture. Therefore, Tibetan Buddhism is a way of true self-integration. And actually, I was more than just being told about what I mentioned. More like being taken to a place that took me a full three days to recover from afterwards. 😃 Forgive me for not sharing any further details at this time, though. I was told to treat those things with discretion. And again and again, I can see the wisdom in this... As those practises are not without danger without proper preparation and guidance. And yes, there is much to explore without touching the more extreme realms of experience.
  4. Pornography, Energy Loss, Social Discourse

    Any kind of exaggerated (addictive) behaviour can be damaging to someone's energy system. And yet on the higher levels of Tantric Buddhism, we sometimes teach to indulge in the 'poison' and to use this as an opportunity for gaining insight and awareness.
  5. 'Egoistic' in common usage is synonymous with selfish, self-indulgent, etc. So I used 'egotistic' instead, as I simply meant to say 'in reference to the ego'. English is not my first language, and perhaps the two terms could actually be used interchangeably. However, I try to make subtle distinctions to the best of my ability, as I am aware that languages in general tend to be unprecise when it comes to matters of the mind and spirit - and sometimes their ambiguities and implied assumptions are tainting our perception of things. In my understanding, the 'voice' of intuitive guidance comes from the level of our own Buddhahood. That's not what I meant to say, but there is a very interesting thought in this: That what other people are telling us reflects what we are saying to ourselves on some level. If that's what you thought I might be saying.
  6. Things always tend to get messy as long as our awareness is restricted by the limits of the egotistic (NOT egoistic!) mind. We must penetrate beyond that in order to stably function from a level of undistorted and trustworthy inner information. There is a learning process involved. At the end of the day, only experience will allow us to sort out the different voices that are constantly talking in and to us from different levels of self. And even though there are no hard and fast rules, it is usually not the loudest voice that offers the best guidance. Regular meditative practice goes a long way developing our sensitivity to deeper levels of self that are tuned into universal knowledge.
  7. I agree. And there is a misconception among spiritually minded people that seeking or having power is a bad thing. It is not, if the power is used with wisdom and compassion.
  8. Aurobindo Anyone?

    While I agree that something transits through every death regardless of whatever spiritual realisation you may or may not have attained, the question remains how much of what you recognise as your identity you can take with you to another plane. And some kind of "death" exists not on the physical level alone. At least that's the view of various traditions, including the Tibetan one. And that's why we dedicate ourselves to the creation of what we call the diamond body. Paradoxically, building it up leads to the shedding of some layers of self already while we are physically still alive!
  9. Abortion

    How would this be different from killing a born child? Or an adult, for that matter? Wouldn't it be logical to say that still no murder took place? That only a, well, actual body has been disallowed? Big deal... The soul just travelled on! Where would you draw the line?
  10. very advanced energy practice

    Could you elaborate on the highlighted part, please? Cause I feel what you have described may be part of what happened in the case I described in two previous posts:
  11. BON What are your favorite practices?

    That's a method from Tibetan Buddhism that can be used for healing and transforming any kind of difficult emotion. I gave detailled instructions for it here:
  12. BON What are your favorite practices?

    It was one of the things that attracted to me to Buddhism in the first place that it doesn't teach us to run away from life's more difficult aspects, but to accept them and to use them as stepping stones towards greater awareness. As a matter of fact, Gautama's eyes were opened when he became aware of the darkness that surrounded him. @Pilgrim Have you tried Tonglen for dealing with your sadness?
  13. Durgā: An Alternative to “Femininity”

    Durga is a deity and an archetypal force respectively that can show herself in many different ways. So here I am primarily referring to what I specifically observed in my student's case. To elaborate on the specifics of that interesting case some more, based on the details she later shared: So my student and her former boyfriend had formed a strong attachment to each other, which she described to me as a mutual "addiction". This was obviously the result of certain shared characteristics and psychological needs. However, after the relationship had run into some difficulties, she eventually 'demonised' him as a vicious tempter. At the same time, she cut herself off of what she now despised as 'that needy part' of herself she held responsible for leading her into a difficult place. Outwardly, she bombarded the man she had once loved so dearly with reproaches, even and especially for things they had both enjoyed previously as a part of their togetherness. Of course, he didn't know what was happening, couldn't cope with this unexpected turn of events and reacted from a place of hurt and pain, which - not surprisingly - she took as further confirmation of her demonic picture of him. It is rather interesting that you mentioned 'shadow aspects of the goddesses' in one of your previous posts, because in cases like the one shared, to a substantial extent, it is indeed the casting of our own shadow self that will invariably taint our perception of the other person. At any rate, that way she gained emotional distance from her partner, so she felt free to explore other directions in her life. However, at the same time, she had forfeited what could have been a continuous source of joy and spiritual growth, had she been able to deal with the challenges involved. Which relates to what I shared elsewhere about the Tantric path of using addiction as a path to greater integration and depth of self. Part of that would have required both of them to work through a place of pain and difficulty, to be sure, but I believe that that couple - given their shared sense of being 'soul-mates' that my student mentioned in restrospect - would have had the potential to eventually arrive at a place of mutual understanding and harmony - including any necessary adaptations regarding the terms of their relationship. Sadly, this is rarerely the case in our modern age of fast, disposable relationships, especially in western cultures. Now I decided to talk about this particular case at some length because it exemplifies what in my observation - in some variation or another - happens in so many relationships. And while what I shared by no means defines Durga's full scope of action, it is true that once she "sticks you in her box marked 'demon' and keeps you there for a long time" (what a telling description!), invariably a part of her own joyfulness and brightness will be going into that box too.
  14. The Transformation of Emotions

    I agree. It's good to be as objective as we can regarding our more difficult emotions, and that includes identifying and defining them correctly.
  15. Hello my friends, The crucial question of how to deal with destructive emotions that keep us from acting with wisdom, compassion and loving kindness has been raised in another thread. I take the liberty to quote some of the posts that particularly inspired me to start the current topic, including my own replies to them, as this may serve to highlight some of the complexities that are inevitably involved. Let me start by presenting a simple method from Tibetan Buddhism that I like very much and that I often practise myself. But most of all, I chose this particular method because, in its simplicity and beauty, it is something anybody can use anytime, whether they consider themselves Buddhists or not. And talking about that, by no means do we need to limit this discussion to Buddhist methods. Actually, I would love to hear also from people outside those traditions about what they are doing to deal with negativity they find in themselves and in others. That's why I chose to post this topic in General Discussion rather than in the Buddhist section. That said, I do hope specifically for my new Buddhist friends to chime in. Anyway, may I present now the so-called Tonglen cleansing method. This can be used whenever you encounter a negative emotion either in your environment or in yourself and you feel the urge to do something about it. Once this has been established, you turn your attention to all the other people in the world that are feeling that same emotion. Then you inhale slowly, and while doing so, you take all that negativity into your heart centre, carefully maintaining awareness. There in your heart centre, you visualise some kind of black hole absorbing that dark cloud of negativity (or whatever form you are giving it) completely. Hold your breath for a few seconds. Allow all negativity to be transformed in your heart centre! Now as you exhale, visualise and feel all this cleansed energy emanating from a star-like spot in your heart centre, right where the black hole used to be previously. Allow yourself to bathe in this energy and send it out to your environment and all those people that may benefit from it. If you try this simple exercise, I would love to hear back from you about your experiences. Armando
  16. Durgā: An Alternative to “Femininity”

    Yes, it fits exactly! Yes, and watching her humourless callousness can be disconcerting.
  17. Cannibal

    As a peacekeeper in Nepal I learned that being at peace myself was going a long way appeasing a potentially violent situation.
  18. What do you sleep on?

    During the seven years in my monastery in Kathmandu, I was sleeping in a traditional 'meditation box', and usually for no more than four hours a night. Living in Germany again, I no longer do that, but I am content with a simple mat on the floor. And I still don't sleep very much.
  19. Durgā: An Alternative to “Femininity”

    In my personal experience, sometimes I first had to take a step back in order to go two steps forwards, though.
  20. Durgā: An Alternative to “Femininity”

    Often tough on everybody involved. Specifically, this: reminded me of a story that happened some time ago and that I feel I should share here. During a meditation session with one of my female students, I sensed another presence; it was as though somebody else was there with her. Describing my perception to her, we were able to determine that it was her ex-boyfriend whom she had left a couple of years before. She told me their story; to summarise it, the two have had a relatively short, but rather intense relationship. The way she put it, they were "addicted to each other". One day, she decided that this was intruding too much on other areas of her life, though, and that she needed to end it. "But it wasn't that you had no more feelings for him?", I wanted to know. She replied, "oh, if it only would have been so simple! Breaking up with him was actually pretty darn tough. But I decided it was necessary and would actually be the best for both of us." She was definitely using Durga's energy here. I said: "I know that a clear cut is often what is being advised in pop psychology: 'Better a horrible end than a horror without end' [as a German saying goes] , and all that. But what happened in your case? Did it really set you and your boyfriend free?" She took a moment to answer. "Well, it seems like I really broke broke his heart. I was hoping he would get over it sometime soon, but he keeps showing up at the places he knows I spend time at, even after all this time has passed. Sometimes he only looks over to me from afar; at other times, he tries to say or do something nice; and occasionally, he is even being a jerk! At any rate, he is quite a nuisance, and I try to ignore him as best I can." "And he is trying to get your attention as best he can!", I said. "But honestly, what did you expect? You shared that the two of you had once been 'addicted' to each other; and then you went cold turkey on him. No wonder he lost his emotional balance and started becoming a nuisance in his behaviour." I sensed her discomfort, but I continued: "You know, time doesn't heal every wound; some ulcerate and only get worse if left untreated. And neither him nor you can come to terms with the past and really find closure this way." "So what would you suggest I should do?", she asked with a touch of despair. "Well, you are a Buddhist", I lectured her. "Rather than reacting to the situation with irritation and by distancing yourself, why don't you try to apply compassion and loving kindness?" Trust me, the look she gave me now made me fear I was going to be Durga's next victim... However, when she showed up for meditation class again, something had changed in her emanation. I clearly felt her to be more at peace with herself and her surroundings. After the session, I asked her if something had happened. "Well, to be honest, I was really upset about the advice you had given me, and that feeling lasted for a couple of days. But then I decided I was no longer going to run away from the issue, so I just contacted my ex and asked him how he is doing." "How did he react?", I wanted to know. "He was obviously quite surprised", she said with a trace of a smile. "But he quickly regained his composure, and after a short while, he asked me if I was ready to go out for dinner with him." "And what was your reply?", I asked. "Well, my first reaction was to tell him something along the lines of, 'forget it, we're done as a couple'. But just in time, I remembered what you had said about applying compassion and loving kindness, so instead I replied, 'well, I'd rather not do that, at least not at this time. But I do wish to know how you are doing, if you don't mind telling me.' He accepted that right away and went on to tell me a bit about what was going on in his life at the moment; he asked me about myself, and I told him a thing or two in return. The conversation didn't last very long, but I felt that it set his heart at peace, and to be honest, for some reason, mine as well..." Now whatever goddess or part of her femininity respectively my student was manifesting towards her ex , it was no longer Durga slaying the demon as which she had decided to see him all that time. A different approach was in order now, and fortunately, she was able to let go of herself a bit and to adapt to that. And her courageous released so much previously stagnating energy for both her and her ex! Yes, this is why for instance in Tibetan Buddhism we are dealing with a whole pantheon of divine beings (mainly derived from Hinduism, Indian Buddhism and Bön). Our human nature is just too rich to do it justice as long as we are seeing it as an expression of only one (or even of just some very few) deities. This manifold approach is indeed enabling further consideration and exploration - as you have phrased it so beautifully!
  21. Durgā: An Alternative to “Femininity”

    Well, that description is still emphasising that ineroxable character of Durga's. Her actions may be well-intended and necessary at times, but as long as she is Durga, her kind of love is best described as "tough love". To truly understand femininity (or masculinity, for that matter), I believe you have to find all of its expressions in you (and we do have them all in ourselves, whether we are male or female). Moreover - and this is very important - you have to contemplate each Deity as themselves, not just primarily as a manifestation of another Deity. Putting too much emphasis on any one Deity in your practice will IME hamper your progress in the long run. Agreed. It can be so many things.
  22. Of course, I respect the lineages too. However, I encouraged you to share your personal experience because I knew this wouldn't touch upon any lineage questions. Your personal experience is yours alone. Where you should go from there is another matter entirely.
  23. In Tibetan spiritual practice, for certain exercises, we visualise three light channels running vertically through our body. The central one connects the groin with the crown; the two lateral ones start at the nostrils and connect to the central channel in the navel area. The picture below should make this clear. Each channel has various attributes and connections: Right channel: Red, solar, male, fire, bile, snake, anger/ill will Central channel: Blue, neutral, wind, wind (as a "humour"), rooster, greed/attachment Left channel: White, lunar, water (and earth), phlegm, pig, delusion/confusion Some of you already familiar with this scheme may have learned it with some of the attributes reversed. That's because there are different schools of thought on this. However, I believe that the scheme presented here is the correct one. Not that it would matter too much in practice, where your intent generally outweighs the details of your visualisation anyway. In this topic, let's talk about that scheme and see what it can be used for.
  24. Durgā: An Alternative to “Femininity”

    Quoting the Wikipedia article on Durga: And further down we read: So Durga cannot represent femininity overall, she just stands for a certain aspect of it. Yes, there are more inclusive ways to look at her; she can show herself as Sarasvati, Lakshmi, Ambika, Ishvari and other Goddesses. However, as Durga, she is basically only shown as a demon killer in classical Indian art. Also on a personal level, I do associate "femininity" with much more than its fiercely protective side...
  25. Nevertheless, it is interesting that you discovered these Tummo basics spontaneously by yourself during your practice. It is another example illustrating that the methods of Bön and Vajrayana are by no means something artificial and imposed on the practitioner, but that they draw on natural processes. An observation that I tend to highlight in my teaching; especially beginners in the west often find this insight helpful as they can be somewhat perplexed by some of the methods at first. But you are quite right, it is better not to try taking your Tummo practice to the next level on your own, i.e. without personal instruction allowing you to do this safely.