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About forestofemptiness

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  1. Mixing systems

    First, I would be careful about being too quick to judge teachers --- they will typically not live up to our book/movie conditioned expectations. Teachers aren't perfect. I wouldn't reject some one because they had a cough. Second, I worked with open source Kriya in the past. I have been the definition of a spiritual dilettante, jumping from practice to practice. I think there is a lot of wisdom in picking and staying with a single practice, but the problem is uncovering what that practice is. Some people pick a practice that doesn't really suit them, and so don't do it. The reason I became a Buddhist isn't because Buddhism is the best, greatest, etc. It is the practice that I kept doing, day in and out, over a long period of time. All other forms of practice eventually fell away. In my opinion, I think there could be a conflict. First, the visualizations are different. Kriya is more based on classical Indian models whereas qigong is based on Chinese models. While there is some overlap, when conditioning the mind into the tradition, it may introduce an element of confusion. I don't think this would be same if you were well grounded in one tradition, and then learned another. Second, the methods may be quite different. Classical India concentration practices may be more focused, excluding, and active than some Chinese models. It is possible that these would work at cross-purposes. So you may be building skills in one that you undo with the other. Again, I think this is less likely with a strong grounding in one practice. One way to experiment is to try one method for a short period of time--- two weeks or a month. Then try another. See which one you like. Some models suit people better than others and appeal more than others. No technique works in a vacuum. A final point is that if you really want to go deep into these practices, you will need guidance from a live teacher. So availability of a teacher may be another factor to consider.
  2. Thoughts on Energy Arts / B.K. Frantzis

    I think there are two aspects of Daoist arts that we mix up: martial arts and spiritual arts. Personally, I am more interested in spiritual arts. I have spent a number of years in various fighting-based clubs. I am always unsure what to think about CMA (Chinese Martial Arts) students who talk about fighting ability. As I recall, in the heady, madcap 1990's the Gracie family decided to put to the test which martial art was the best. As it turns out, it is probably a combination of Western boxing, Brazilian jiu-justu, and Thai kickboxing. Usually CMA people who I have known to be fighters are already scrappers, but I have almost never heard of some one using CMA against an aggressive and unwilling opponent. Nor have I heard of a CMA initiate putting the slap down on well-trained MMA fighters. If that were the case, professional fighters would be training CMA. In addition, most people who actually fight a lot (i.e. police and military) tend to take up MMA rather than CMA. Most of the fighting discussed in this thread appears to take place between two CMA practitioners in a limited environment. As I recall, Bruce Lee realized this as a limitation of CMAs and adjusted his own fighting accordingly by drawing on other fighting styles. The only exception to this for me was a person who trained under Mike Patterson. He allowed for fairly free flowing sparring in his classes which often degraded quickly. A nth degree Tae Kwon Do black belt/instructor took a hit to the face and never returned. The teacher however, could take on MMA guys half his age. He had ability, but it only came with years of hard, full time training and exercise. I have heard of CMA folks who also fight, but it is not clear to me whether they were utilizing their CMA or if they were just brawlers. In addition, they seem to be looking for fights (most adults do not ever get into fights), which suggests that their spiritual development is lacking. And given that most people do not get into fights, many of these "in the world fights" may be against untrained, out-of-shape people.
  3. Interesting. I was raised Catholic and actually became quite deeply involved with Christianity in my late teens. I took refuge as a Buddhist about 15 years ago. I still like to dip into the Christian pool from time to time, especially the works of David Bentley Hart. I like the mystics, but I can no longer understand the lay believer. But I was listening to an old high school friend who is now a pastor on a podcast. He was meeting with another pastor. The first thing they said was "Well, what do you believe?" It seemed so strange to me. They then proceeding to discuss their beliefs intellectually, referring to the Bible. The whole thing struck me as surreal. Usually, when I meet other spiritual practitioners, we typically talk experiences. It seemed weird to hear people discuss things that were so far from their daily experience (such as whether Jesus did such and such or Paul said so and so). They spent a lot of time discussing whether the Bible taught whether people were chosen to be saved or not. I don't know about that. When I was a young Catholic, I felt guilty a lot. A LOT. As a Buddhist, I never feel guilty. I may feel ignorant, or non-compassionate, or detached, or miserable but not guilty. As a Catholic, that mankind was inherently impure and could only be cured through the sacrifice of God's blood. As a Buddhist, I have come to realize that people are inherently good, and that right or wrong are a matter of perception. It is not a matter of sin but of ignorance. I'm sure there are some Buddhists who fall in the same sort of Catholic line, but not the ones I have known. When I took refuge, the nun explained that if you were trying to quit drinking, and you cut down from drinking 7 beers a day to 6, you were making progress. As a Catholic, a sin was a sin. End of story. So I would warrant that you're reading "sin" awfully broadly. Every spiritual system identifies an issue--- even the Daoists. Otherwise, what is the point of cultivating?
  4. Thoughts on Energy Arts / B.K. Frantzis

    That sounds interesting. Too often in internal arts circles it seems to set the person against the flow of the world-- absorbing, expanding, dominating. The emphasis on surrender sounds very appealing.
  5. Thoughts on Energy Arts / B.K. Frantzis

    @Walker, tall tales aside, do you have any thoughts on his methods? Legit or bullshido?
  6. Thoughts on Energy Arts / B.K. Frantzis

    From her Facebook: Since my Yigong teacher passed away, I can say now that I am the Yigong lineage holder, but so what? I am many things with countless encounters in this world; it does not mean I have to take every encounter to be my responsibility. All the practices, if there are true practitioners out there and take their practice seriously, there is no practice will be lost. You will be taught in unexpected ways. A teacher will be looking for you. If all the practices are out there but no one in their heart has any of its essence, that practice has already vanished from this world. Form does not mean much without essence and its manifestation. What people want is one thing, what people can give to obtain it is another. A spiritual practice is not a wanting method to soothe one’s momentary needs. Who cares one’s changeable needs? That is a root of suffering. All existence is based on needs and conditions. I learned by my own experience. If you are ready, you will not be passed over. Even humans do not see you, a higher being will find you, because your causal body is glowing which cannot be missed. Be a good practitioner. First of all, try to possess a good human quality: be honest, sincere, truthful, devoted, dedicated, trustworthy, kind and wise and persevere…
  7. Thoughts on Energy Arts / B.K. Frantzis

    To fill out my internet research, I would point out that SF Jane (i.e. Jane Alexander) stated that she cured herself of serious mental illness using Frantzis' methods. There are some reports online of healing as well. Over at rumsoakedfist, some people were impressed with him and some were not. Many of his detractors indicate that he has some ability. I am surprised that he has been around for so long and there is so little on him. The class I would take is with one of his students. You are right--- I may have to decide for myself and provide a report. He is also a Dzogchen practitioner and appears to be focusing more on meditation/healing, which is appealing to me. Sifu Jenny has stopped teaching completely and now only practices Buddhism. Some people have asked her to pass down the arts she knows, but she is not interested.
  8. Thoughts on Energy Arts / B.K. Frantzis

    Denver, but not far from Boulder.
  9. Thoughts on Energy Arts / B.K. Frantzis

    Well there appears to be quite a split. He does seem like a polarizing figure. Some folks spoke well of him in the early days of TTB. He does strike me in some ways as being overtly commercialistic and often arrogant, but I also feel there may be something there. Maybe not. Well, the intro is qigong and wu tai chi. I have had a taste of Tai Chi and Xing Yi, but I am not going to spend enough time practicing to really get any benefits. To be completely honest, I haven't found qigong to be useful either, but that may be due to laziness or lack of good teaching. I know that there's something there, but it is hard to find. May I ask if this is from personal experience?
  10. Thoughts on Energy Arts / B.K. Frantzis

    After a long hiatus, I have been considering taking up qigong again. As it turns out, B.K. Frantzis has moved into my area. His center is offering ongoing classes with senior instructors. Has anyone worked with B.K. Frantzis or one of his instructors long term? Thoughts? I am primarily looking for qigong work to supplement my meditation/dream yoga practices.
  11. Dzogchen Teachers

    The issue with paths is that they need to be taken on their own. I think there is a fine line between finding a path that fits you, and trying to fit a path into one's preconceived concepts. Buddhist meditation practices, at least according to my teachers (inc ChNNR), developed within a Buddhist framework. That means a strong emphasis on emptiness and not self, which can be subtle and quite difficult. So difficult that the Buddha almost didn't even teach. ChNNR did have a lot of respect for Bon Dzogchen. He also had a lot of respect for Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, who has at least three sons who carry on his style. Arranged from most to least traditional, they are Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche, and Tsoknyi Rinpoche. In addition to TWR, you may want to check these teachers out. Chokyi Nyima allegedly did a webcast pointing out last year, but I did not receive it. The other two require in person pointing out. I actually think if you are serious about this, it is better to get pointing out in person in a retreat setting. I also cannot explain it, but there does seem to be something transmitted by taking a formal empowerment in a Buddhist tradition. If you have an established Platonic outlook, I think there may be issues down the road if you try to reconcile Plato with Buddha. The closest thing you find in ancient Greece to a Buddhist outlook in Pyrrhonism. As far as I know, Pyrrhonism formed the basis for Skepticism, which pretty much overtook Plato's academy in its later years and forced neo-Platonism out. However, Buddhist and Hindu Tantra developed around the same time and area, and took off in separate directions. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of realized teachers who teach non-dual Shaiva Tantra, but there are some and they may be worth checking out. The most accessible non-dual tradition from the Indian matrix that is still alive, outside of Buddhism, is probably Advaita Vedanta. If you are at all interested in Advaita, you can start at home with the large body of videos by Swami Sarvapriyananda.
  12. Does the soul know the difference?

    I'm at a certain age now to have lived through several moral panics. The following have all been blamed for violence in my lifetime: - Dungeons & Dragons - Heavy Metal - Rap music - television - movies - video games Usually, the culprit is often linked to thing young people like to do. Quite frankly, by now the world should have been destroyed by millions of psychopaths who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s. But instead, violent crimes are down in the U.S.: Maybe video games lead to decreased violence? It appears the whole thing is a myth. It is an easy talking point to deflect from the real issue, in my opinion, which is gun control:
  13. Tantric Buddhism and Archetypes

    Well, I don't really want to push an argument with other Buddhists. So rather that pursue the argument, I want to tell a story. The whole self/no-self issue has been at the core of my spiritual journey. When I started as a Buddhist, I spend quite a lot of time at Bhante Gunaratana's retreat center. They have a giant wooden Buddha with a sly smile of his face in their meditation hall. One of my early teachers said "the purpose of the Buddha's teaching is to trick the mind out of the mind" and "there is no subject knowing an object, or an object known by a subject. There is only knowing." I did not know what he meant, but I was sure that the teachings on anatta (anatman) were false. They had to be false, right? I mean, what could be more obvious than our own existence? Cogito ergo sum. Or more precisely, ego sum. He also said there comes a time when you develop complete faith in the Buddha's teaching. It is one of the fetters in Theravada. But I had doubts. But every time I tried to find the self, I felt haunted by the sly smile of the Buddha. And I searched high and wide to get to the bottom of this issue. Since having a self was so obvious, why did the Buddha deny it? And why make it so central to his teaching? I sat with, studied, harangued, and harassed any number of lamas, roshis, acharyas, khenpos, bhikkhus and spiritual friends. I saw red robes, brown robes, black robes, and plain Western clothes. I sat many retreats and practiced. I investigated koans. I just sat. I took many teachings and read many books. Here and there, I would find a glimmer of self--- the tathagatagarbha perhaps, a strange Zen statement, an occasional monk. There are Buddhists who don't want to take their anatman maximum strength, and try to find a compromise. But when I talked to teachers I really trusted, they all said the same thing: THERE IS NO SELF. Finally, I stopped looking for a self, or for a no self. Rather, I relaxed and followed the teachers instructions. Instead of looking for answers, I asked questions. Instead of questioning teachings, I applied them. And what I found: THERE IS NO SELF! YOU WERE RIGHT YOU STUPID OLD BUDDHA! So when you say there is a self, or that the mind is real and so on, you might as well tell me I have two heads. While I am very far from Buddhahood, or even the first bhumi, I have no doubt about what the Buddha taught. I can look as see the truth whenever I want. In addition, I have complete faith in what my teachers have taught me. Finally, I have confidence in the lineage.
  14. Merging and guru yoga

    I don't think there is anything wrong with asking questions, or even questioning Buddhism. My personal, subjective sense of your posts was that you were not so much interested in learning about Buddhism, but rather you wished to fit Buddhism into a model you had already constructed. The tricky thing about Buddhism is the language and the many traditions. The same words mean different things in different contexts. In other words, there is a type of secret code that is usually only explained in person by a teacher. Not only that, but the meanings are very contextual--- words don't stand by themselves. They are a part of an interconnected web of meanings. One reason why Tibetan Buddhists study so many Buddhist philosophies is to tease apart these meanings and avoid the numerous pitfalls to spiritual practice. It gets even more confusing with the same word is used by other traditions. For example, atman in a Yogacara Buddhist context merely refers to the (illusory) subjective side of experience. But in Vedanta, the meaning is much different-- atman is Brahman for example. In addition, atman can also just mean the mere "I" as in "I walked to the store." Some people hear the Buddha in the Pali Canon saying atta (Pali for atman), atta and think that means he is obsessed with a permanent soul! Many Vedantins and Shaivites that I've known and studied with have taught that emptiness is Buddhism is roughly equivalent to the experience of the anandamaya kosha or causal body. Yet this would be roughly equivalent to the alaya vijnana in Mahayana Buddhism, which is clearly a state of ignornace. But then vijnana is Vedanta may refer to something else--- a specific part of the mind for example (vijnanamaya kosha). Then the alaya vijnana may mean something else entirely in Kagyu Mahamudra. And it gets even more confusing in Pali, because the equivalent for manas, citta, and vijnana are all mixed up, but these have precise definitions in Vedanta. So you can see, it can be quite challenging without the guidance of an experienced teacher. And given the ambiguity of the words, it is easy enough to read what we want into them. [snip]
  15. Tantric Buddhism and Archetypes

    You're welcome and I thank you for your forbearance. Of course, it really isn't for you--- I am sure that you have thoroughly vetted your views with your teacher(s) before publicly proliferating them. But there are people on the forum who are interested in Buddhism but have not yet engaged in a teacher, or do not wish to. In addition, many members here seem eager to find evidence that Buddhism teaches a permanent, true, soul. In addition, copying the words of teachers I admire is always an education for me.