steve

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Everything posted by steve

  1. I suspect our practices are similar, if not identical. The primary (sole) reason for all the "stuff" in our tradition is to make sure we're in the right place. It is so easy for the mind to have us convinced that we are when we're not...
  2. The answers to these questions have been the subject of every dzogchen tantra, teaching, and book throughout history. Two seemingly frivolous but completely accurate answers are: "What exactly does that mean?" It is beyond meaning "How does one do it?" One does not do it, it is a "non-doing." That said, I'll share a brief personal impression of the meaning and practice. Caveat - I'm not a master, only scratching the surface but it has changed my life profoundly for the better. In the Bön dzogchen tradition, there's a teaching known as the 21 Nails which are 21 different aspects or characteristics of the Nature of Mind to help us recognize it, distinguish it from mind, and develop complete confidence in our understanding or, more accurately, the View. The first of the nails lists specific characteristics of the mind and it's Nature or essence. There are English translations available - I would recommend this one if you are interested. Warning, they can be fairly difficult to understand and attending a teaching with a master is highly recommended. One way to think about it is with the analogy of water. Water takes many different forms - oceans, rivers, waves, streams, rain, saliva, blood, etc... All of these forms have very specific characteristics and properties but the nature or essence of each is always water. Similarly, the mind can take many different forms - thoughts, emotions, images, visions, memories, etc... even all of "external" reality in the Bön and Buddhist paradigms. All have specific characteristics but the nature or essence that underlies and connects all of the them is referred to as the Nature of Mind. The Nature of Mind is not the mind's content, it's not the thinker, it's not the perspective, it's not the person, not even the sense of self. It is considered to be all there is and yet it is completely empty, clear, usually undetectable except through its manifestations. The Nature of Mind is clear and pure, unchangeable, pervasive, and we can throw lots of other adjectives at it. It is unimputable. It is often referred to as being like space but a very special type of space, space that is self-aware. The defining characteristics are that it is empty (or open, or spacious), it is self-aware (or clear), and it has infinite potential - it can give rise to absolutely anything and everything we can experience. Resting in the Nature of Mind is essentially resting in a non-dual experience. We can experience it but to the extent that "we" are present (eg there is a distinction between the experience and the one having that experience) during that experience, it is elusive. The practice is particularly tricky because to rest in the Nature of Mind means that we cannot add anything, subtract anything, do anything, try anything. Any effort introduced takes us farther, not closer. It is similar to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, the very presence of the observer influences that which is observed. So the approach here is to release the observer, release all effort, and simply leave everything just as it is. In the Bön tradition, the Nature of Mind is most often introduced using a practice known as zhine (calm-abiding). The practitioner sits quiety and stares at an object of meditation, usually the Tibetan letter A. In the beginning it is a very effortful practice. We start without blinking, without moving, without swallowing saliva... absolutely still. It's tough. Over time we can easy up on the effort as it becomes easier for us. Eventually it is completely effortless. This does two important things - it allows us to get some degree of control of the mind that never rests and it allows us to look at that mind and get a glimpse of what it's all about. We actually look at the one who is looking and see if we can find anything tangible there. At this point in the training, one receives "pointing out" instructions from a master. This basically means that one describes their experience and the master "points to" the distinction between mind and its Nature, leading the student to develop a high degree of confidence in being able to make that distinction. Once we are confident that we know what the Nature of Mind is and what it isn't, we develop familiarity with it through seated meditation without an object. Once we are stable enough we can begin resting into this Nature off the cushion in our daily lives. Eventually, masters are able to rest in this Nature undisturbed by anything that occurs throughout the day and night and even during the process of dying. That's the path in a nutshell. All this may sound complicated and challenging but there are more accessible ways to try and approach this. My teacher created a practice in which he distilled the essence of this path into a very simple practice called the 3 Doors. The Doors are not the Nature of Mind but they are a way to access that Nature. The first door is to rest in the stillness of the body. The second is to rest in the silence of speech (eg the inner narrator). The third is to rest in the spaciousness of the heart/mind. If this appeals to you, I'd suggest you check out the 3 Doors practices of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. A great starting point is his book, Awakening the Luminous Mind. It teaches the 3 Doors in the first half of the book and the practice ilumairen posted, the Fivefold Teaching of Dawa Gyaltsen, in the second half of the book. Cheers!
  3. There's quite a bit to investigate, I suggest searching through Google scholar. Here is one example - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3879457/
  4. Resting in the Nature of Mind
  5. Weather Magick

    I just read something and thought of you... If you’re in search of a guru, the moon is taking students. She’s a subtle, powerful teacher, with ample availability and tons of experience. She charges no fees and assigns no exercises. Her illumination is literal, indisputable, and eternal, lighting the way where Buddhas are born and slayed. The ninth-century Zen master Chin Lee instructed, “if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” In his essay “Killing the Buddha,” author and neuroscientist Sam Harris examines this surprisingly violent koan, writing, “Like much of Zen teaching, this seems too cute by half, but it makes a valuable point: to turn the Buddha into a religious fetish is to miss the essence of what he taught.” What he taught, after all, is that we all are born Buddhas. Teachers may aid in this realization, but objectifying gurus just obscures and externalizes what’s only ever found within — and lost again. Each of us must reach this understanding individually and experientially, not intellectually. My saying this doesn’t mean much until you’ve sensed it to be true. So, Lin Chi wasn’t advising actual violence but urging students to be ruthless in their quest for truth and liberation. No one and nothing can grant freedom. But if they’re old school, like Lin Chi, what gurus can do is beat you with a stick so you’ll stop thinking and intuit the truth. Or, if they’re more modern in their approach, they can gently coax you into practices that enhance intuition and cultivate discipline, like meditation. Or, if they’re enduring, like the moon, they’ll just illuminate whatever path you take. In the Zen tradition, you’re as likely to be illuminated by accident as by practice. There are countless parables that highlight this fact, like the one about a man who’s instantly enlightened overhearing a butcher telling a choosy customer that every cut on the porker before her is a good one. You get zero spiritual points for avid efforts because there’s no score to keep and no one to impress. There are just experiences and the stories we tell ourselves. So, please allow me to share a tale of two moons and too much trying, which may amuse you Buddhas. Once upon a time Many moons ago, when I was 25, living in Japan teaching English, I rode a bike from the town of Inazawa to the city of Nagoya and back to practice judo. The dojo was all-male and there were no other foreigners, so mostly it was awkward and not that charming. And, often, with my head locked between the knees of a handsome Japanese youth, I wondered what I was doing. What did all this tumbling, grunting, bowing, and fighting politely have to do with me, born in Israel, raised in the US, and educated by a French mother who prohibited playing soccer to preserve my pretty knees for skirts? What did this have to do with becoming a writer or crafting an adult life (which I gathered was what I should be doing)? One night, as I was riding despondently back from practice, a one-hour journey that took me along a straight, empty stretch of road surrounded by fields, I noticed the bright moon, round and large. It was right there with me, every time, every ride, always slightly different, waxing or waning, lighter or dimmer, and I realized, laughing happily, “The moon is my friend!” And something shifted. This moment released me from the vice grip of wishing things were different. I had friends in high places, so everything was already ok. Life didn’t have be some other way… even if I did sometimes find myself with a jock clamping my noggin between his knees. It was a moment of liberation. In the 22 years since, I’ve turned to texts and teachers to help me cultivate practices to keep in touch with this feeling, or — more precisely — with whatever feelings and experiences arise. I’ve sat in Zen temples, contorted in yoga studies, studied Sufism, pondered Kabbalah, and holed up in a tiny cabin in the woods to read countless books. These efforts have informed me, providing a vocabulary for framing experience, but my most effective lessons have always happened by moonlight, when I finally wasn’t trying. In Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, the late Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa warns, “The problem is that ego can convert anything to its own use, even spirituality. Ego is constantly attempting to acquire and apply the teachings of spirituality for its own benefit. The teachings are treated as an external thing… which we try to imitate. We do not actually want to identify with or become the teachings.” In other words, sometimes we reinforce the very things we claim to be seeking to deconstruct with spiritual practice. Delusions. Ego. We’re attached to forms and notions because the substance of Zen isn’t sexy and we kind of wish it was. It’s pretty dull, really, as plain as the light of day or the moon shining at night. It’s as simple as, “Eat your rice. Wash your bowl.” We all need guidance. But sometimes we use it to hide from instead of find ourselves, accessorizing existence with attractive activities and ideas. We think that a retreat is what we need or a really great teacher or a better routine or even a cool outfit that makes us feel real spiritual (all black, all white, coarse cloth, extra soft?). Students get confused, confounding the finger pointing at the moon — externalities — with the moon itself. We ornament the days with rituals but reject the premise they are built upon; simple brilliance, totally ordinary ordinariness. We resist the very lesson we’re attempting to learn and remain lost as a result. Lost and found About five years after befriending the moon in Japan, I served in the Peace Corps in Senegal, where I had a lot of time to stare at the sky. My service took place in Goudem Ndeb, a tiny, destitute village of 43 people—30 of whom were children—deep in the bush, about ten miles from a paved road and the nearest bottle of Coca Cola. My goal had been to get away from the frantic pace of New York City. So, while I worked at ABC News, among dozens of booming televisions and hundreds of writers and producers, I planned an escape that would take me to a quieter, simpler, more spiritual place, whatever that means. It would be, I imagined, a retreat, and there I’d meditate my way to peace. The joke was on me. Village life wasn’t quiet. It was loud, stinky, hot, dusty, and uncomfortable. Every night, in my small hut in this place that appears on no maps, I’d light a candle and sit and sweat as bugs paraded across the walls and hyenas howled in the bush. It didn’t feel spiritual. It felt stupid, frankly. Because there I was, with my privileged existential struggle, trying to wrest meaning from life when the meaning of life, clearly, was survival. And I was ill-equipped to survive in this place where nature ruled and the bush ground everything to dust. I didn’t know where to collect wood for cooking, how to eat at a communal bowl with my hands, ride a horse, catch a fish, sweep a dusty compound with a bundle of sticks, or deal with the stream of kids that followed me like the pied piper. Locals came from far and wide to observe and laugh at my ineptitude which really wasn’t rude because, for one thing, I was a hoot, and also because in a place where a passing car is occasion for celebration, of course the presence of a guest from afar is entertaining. One afternoon, about six months in, I wandered off to the nearby river to get away. But when the tide changed and I was walking back, I suddenly had no idea how to reach my village. Night fell. It rained. I walked and walked and thought longingly about my squalid hut and the fine, plain, gray, sandy millet couscous that we ate in the evenings, missing the parade of children. I wished I was home. By home, I meant Goudem Ndeb. Now, you might be saying, as I did then, “What a perfect time to sit under a baobob like a Buddha.” But I was wet and hungry and scared. Mosquitoes were devouring me and hyenas howled nearby. So, after about fifteen minutes of sitting, I decided to walk with a dim moon for company, wondering if I was destined to die young and stupid and full of delusions. I didn’t know where I was going. I just hoped to find a road that would lead to a village. At dawn, after about ten hours of walking, following the sound of what I thought were barking dogs, I got lucky. Never has a ramshackle collection of thatched huts looked so luxurious! A woman hanging laundry in her yard screamed when she saw me, a pathetic, pale, soggy apparition. Yet she offered me breakfast, and afterwards her husband walked me to Gouden Ndeb, lecturing the whole way back in Serer (a West African language I didn’t realize I understood so well until his soliloquy made me wince more than each aching step). Rhetorically, he asked with a laugh, “Why wander when everything you need is at home?” Why, indeed? The depth of his question wasn’t lost on me. It’s what Zen masters have asked in a thousand different ways as students submit to teachers, and memorize sutras, and torture the truth. When we arrived in the village, there was a whole posse gathered from near and far, mournfully planning hunt strategy—how would they find the lost American? They cheered at my arrival and I fell into the arms of my village mother. We both cried with joy and relief to see each other. That night, clean, wearing dry clothes, lying happily on woven mats after a dinner of plain millet, surrounded by children, I stared skyward at my friend, the moon, and remembered what it’s always been saying—from dusk to dawn since the dawn of time. Ordinary life is just fine ~ Ephrat Livni from The Lion’s Roar
  6. I have a very similar experience at times. My teacher simply refers to it as ‘nyams’ - meditative experience, nothing to get attached to or overly concerned with. Given the pulsating nature I assume it has something to do with the vascular system, sort of the way there are times when we feel the heartbeat and times when we don’t. The eyes and brain are highly vascular and largely fluid so detecting shifts and pulsation is not surprising when we’re quiet. I sometimes lose vision altogether, or see lights, forms, visions.... all sorts of nyams. When the inner and outer stimuli no longer dominate awareness we can notice much more subtle phenomena of all kinds. I’ve read a bit of scientific research on some of these phenomena but haven’t come across anything very solid or convincing in terms of explanation.
  7. Why gendao is worth having on this forum

    Very nice to see how this turned around. _/\__/\__/\_ Imagine if we could do this with each and every contentious or strained relationship in our lives, especially those close to us. I think it’s possible if we cultivate openness and flexibility. I’m inspired to issue a challenge, or call it an invitation: Identify a troublesome relationship, preferably someone close like a family member or coworker. Take whatever steps work for you to open to them, see the relationship from their perspective, let go of expectations and the inner narrative of right, wrong, etc... Commit to getting closer. Post about it here....
  8. Weather Magick

    Me as well It takes a certain degree of maturity, humility, and internal investigation to see the truth of this. Ain’t that the truth! Although there may come a time when the kindness flows effortlessly and with utter simplicity. Getting to that point is not a trivial matter.
  9. Weather Magick

    Yes! Everywhere!! ❤️
  10. Wow! Revisiting the RIP thread made me really feel his loss again. I’m also feeling the loss of a number of former friends and members who posted there and are no longer here for whatever reason... It’s sad that we let things come between us, things that seem so important at the time. When put in the perspective of death, these things that separate us don’t seem quite so important...
  11. Weather Magick

    Or even that of non-orthodox, non- converts...
  12. Chanting Deity/Buddha names and The Cosmic Doctrine

    Makes sense to me. This is known as the path of the secret mantrayana and is used to transform into the deity in the generation stages of tantric Buddhism. No worries, the space and awareness will be there for “you” - the experience won’t dissipate as much as the experiencer and the illusion of separation between experience and experiencer. Trust the dissolution, trust the mantra, trust the deity, and more than anything, trust the space and awareness.
  13. Chanting Deity/Buddha names and The Cosmic Doctrine

    Chanting can be extremely powerful when your mind, energy, and body are ready. Sometimes even when they’re not ready! I’ve been doing a variety of mantras from my tradition, one of which is practice of the 5 warrior seed syllables and the mantras associated with long life and the Bön goddess of wisdom and love. Great stuff!
  14. What counts as Idolatry to you?

    Partly due to this thread, I've started reading a book called Gate to the Heart by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. I've barely scratched the surface but so far I'm touched by the authenticity and depth of the author's insight. If you remain interested in the potential inherent in Jewish scripture and prayer, this may be a useful resource: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UETC50K/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
  15. Weather Magick

    My knuckle buster was a shorinjiryu sai v bo form. Knuckle slicer was wing chun staff v bart jam dao form. Good stuff!
  16. Weather Magick

    I’m not as enthusiastic as I once was but I get the excitement.
  17. Weather Magick

    I didn’t mean to sound comprehensive, just referring to a few Chinese forms I know - wing chun, taijiquan. tian shan pai. Our xingyi and bagua are more close quarters. Several leg lifts in our bagua staff.
  18. Thanks Anand Sorry all, these weird winds whirled me around a bit Bye
  19. Weather Magick

    Absolutely, think naginata!
  20. Weather Magick

    I do In the Okinawan and Chinese polearm forms I’ve studied the Okinawan bunkai is definitely more one on one. The Chinese tend to be more battlefield spear applications.
  21. Sorry I know I'm being a bit of a dick... it happens sometimes It must be because it is a Fire/Fire day today on the Tibetan calendar...