forestofemptiness

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Everything posted by forestofemptiness

  1. Mantras

    It is fairly common knowledge in Vajrayana, and can be found in most beginner books and is often mentioned in live teachings. A simple Google search will produce a variety of sources, from Khenchen Thrangu to Tsongkahpha.
  2. Mantras

    You can practice it, but I imagine being a sutra method, the Vajrayana view would be that such practices would take three countless eons.
  3. Mantras

    The traditional explanation I have heard in Shaivite and Buddhist tantra is that one must receive the mantra in person from some one who has successfully “activated” the mantra—- i.e practiced it to fruition.
  4. Qigong techniques for better, longer, deeper sleep?

    Have you tried non-qigong techniques? Such as: limiting/eliminating caffeine; shutting down all electronics at least an hour before bed; adjusting the temperature of the room; meditating before bed, wearing an eye mask; etc.?
  5. Daoism as a Practical Philosophy

    For me, what distinguishes Daoism from other spiritual philosophies is the focus on the embodied aspect of the teachings. Understanding wu wei is one thing, but having a felt sense of wu wei in the body is another. The kicker is that wu wei is actually the only way to really go. Considering the cosmos as a vast and interconnected set of relationships, there is no way to resist that--- it is like a fly trying to hold back a Tsunami. Even more so, all the thoughts and impulses we have, including the thoughts and impulses to resist, spontaneously pop up on their own. We don't sit at a work bench and mold them like an artist might mold clay cups and vases.
  6. Chidabhasa

    From time to time, I like to vary my learning up by learning about Advaita. Usually these days, this means listening to Swami Sarvapriyananda. One thing that has come up again that doesn't make sense to me is the idea of chidabhasa, reflected consciousness. The way it is described by Swami S is fairly in line with how it is presented by Swami Chinmayananda and Swami Dayandanda, and others. Basically, the idea is that the subtler part of the mind somehow "reflect" the universal consciousness. Swami S usually related the chidabhasa to "the awareness which we feel right now." The analogy is typically used on the single sun reflected in many pots of water. To me, this doesn't really make sense for at least a few reasons: we are using physical objects to stand in for a non-physical, non-object (a common issue); 2) it implies that our present awareness is somehow illusory; and 3) it would mean that our awareness somehow "changes" from what it presently is to something else later on. Thoughts? For some one interested but doesn't know what I am referring to, here is a fast outline. He talks about chidabhasa around the 6:25 mark.
  7. Chidabhasa

    I didn't say it was illogical. I said I couldn't make sense of it. In this case, I mean phenomenologically, i.e. as a matter of experience. Analogically, perhaps the best metaphor to use is space given it is unchanging, attribute-less, etc. It seems to me that the term "chidabhasa" can be applied differently: 1. To "pure awareness" or "pure consciousness," i.e. the unchanging, objectless, awareness that is ever present like a golden thread connecting all experiences, and yet never apart from any object or experience which arises; or 2. Some sort of object. This could be the mind, the "I am," the ahamkara, etc. My feeling is that it is pointing to #1 in an effort to reconcile our experience with the proclamations found in the Vedas. Our experience is never universal. For example, I may experience a waking state centered on my body-mind; a dreaming state centered on a fluid body-mind; or deep sleep that is not centered on any body mind. However, I never experience looking out from some one else's eyes. Nor have I ever had the experience of looking out through all body-minds. So I suppose I would say that it appears to be saying Brahman + upadhis = jivatman = chidabhasa. In other words, Brahman under the limitations of ignorance is not really Brahman (the sun) it is a pseudo-Brahman (the reflection). However, you all seem to be saying that it is pointing to a #2. Commendation
  8. 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.
  9. Thoughts on Energy Arts / B.K. Frantzis

    Well, I decided to take a chance. I just finished the first week. The other night, I came home fairly late. My wife asked how it went. "Well," I said, "It was something I haven't had at these classes for a long time." "What's that?" she asked. "It was--- fun," I said. "You never say that," she said. It's true. I have taken different MA classes over the years, and with the exception of a kick boxing class in college, none of them have been any fun. They may be fun at some parts, but certainly the entire experience is more work than fun. Some have been informative. Some have been useful. But none of them have been any fun. Usually, they are hard work. Or boring. Or a bit of both. It was also easy. They have obviously put in a lot of thought on how to teach people. And also multi-layered, with a heavy focus on meditation and mindfulness of the body. The teaching seemed pretty in line with what I have encountered at some other reputable schools. Obviously, it just started, but just thought I would share some of my initial impressions. I may have a different opinion in a few months.
  10. From a bio-evolutionary perspective, we as humans tend to develop stereotyped, abstract thoughts because it is quicker and more efficient than conducting a thorough individual analysis. So when we see something that looks gross, we don't eat it. The gross thing may be high in nutrition, but we would rather reject too many things than ingest something bad. One odd result is the phenomenon of seeing faces in things, like Jesus in a tortilla. We are wired in some ways to see faces, even if there aren't any, because it is better to see a face that isn't really there than to miss one that is really there. So do we see patterns because they are there, or do we impose patterns because it makes it easier to navigate the world?
  11. Well, there are some fairly clear connections between the political right wing and occultism. Gary Lachman wrote a book all about it, talking about the "occult" influences with Trump and Putin. Many occultists have been a part of their inner circle. Steve Bannon was (to my surprise) a vocal supporter of Julius Evola. Putin has Alexander Dugin. Both Trump and Putin promote a chaotic, "truth is what I say it is" combined with an sense of absolutism that is useful in implementing a strong, facist type of government. This is not to say that they are practicing occultists in the traditional sense, but Trump traces many of his ideas to Norman Vincent Peale, who presents a sort of "occultism" for the masses. Mitch Horowitz out the occult influences on America in his book "Occult America." Both books are fairly straightforward examinations of occult ideas on modern culture and politics. https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Star-Rising-Magick-Power/dp/0143132067 https://www.amazon.com/Occult-America-Seances-Circles-History/dp/0553385151
  12. Death of Sogyal Rinpoche

    Just to toss it out there, in Tibetan Buddhist circles it is considered extremely poor taste to speak poorly of the dead during the 7 week bardo period.
  13. IMA and Awakening

    What is the criteria by which to evaluate that a person is awakened?
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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?
  17. 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.
  18. Thoughts on Energy Arts / B.K. Frantzis

    @Walker, tall tales aside, do you have any thoughts on his methods? Legit or bullshido?
  19. 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…
  20. 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.
  21. Thoughts on Energy Arts / B.K. Frantzis

    Denver, but not far from Boulder.
  22. 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?
  23. 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.
  24. The Importance of Anatman/Anatta in Buddhism Many people question whether the Buddha secretly taught a self. Although the vast majority of Buddhists suttas and sutras deny the existence of a self, some people believe that this is a provisional teaching and not to be taken as an ultimate teaching. I offer some conceptual thoughts on the matter, understanding that concepts cannot really capture the teaching. After many years of study with great masters, I have come to realize that not only is no self important to Buddhism, it is at the very heart of the teachings. I encourage people who are really interested to find a proper teacher and practice to fruition. 1. From a Mahayana point of view, the self is empty. People often mistake “emptiness” and think “nothingness.” In English, when we say the glass is empty, we mean nothing is in the glass. But this is not what the Buddhists mean. Buddhist usually explain emptiness in one of two ways: a. Emptiness means the lack of an independent, unitary, permanent self. b. Emptiness means that what appears is not graspable. These two are not opposed. If something is graspable, then it would have an independent, unitary, permanent self. Likewise, if something has an independent, unitary, permanent self, it should be graspable. If we can grasp something, it should be fixed and findable. 2. The first consequence of emptiness is change or impermanence. Because nothing is fixed, everything changes. If things has fixed, permanent selves, they would not change (i.e. they would be permanent). In other words, ice would always be ice. Atoms couldn’t change position or move. Our bodies would never age, grow sick, or die. From a spiritual point of view, this is good news. If a person is ignorant, such a person would always be ignorant. If a person is bound, such a person would always be bound. But because these things are empty, this is not the case. Freedom is possible. Even more important, creation is possible. From a Buddhist point of view, because there is nothing fixed, anything can arise. In this case, the universe has arisen. 3. The second consequence of emptiness is dependent origination. Dependent origination means that everything is interdependent. Remember, emptiness means there is no independent self. If things were independent, they could not have any effect on one another. An ice cube in a glass would never melt, or cool the ice because the ice would always be ice and the water would always be water at a certain temperature. Consider all the causes and conditions that led me to write this and you to read it: first we need a universe, a sun, the earth, a body, parents, civilization, etc. Everything has come together to produce this moment. Emptiness allows for relationship. Without emptiness, two things would never relate to one another. Things would either be permanently the same, or permanently different. There could be no interaction. 4. The third consequence of emptiness is karma. Actions have consequences. If people had fixed, permanent, immutable selves, then there would be no point in spiritual practice. One would be as one is, and there is nothing that can be done about. There would be no problem with murder, theft, and lying. 5. The fourth consequence of emptiness is dissatisfaction, or dukkha. Because nothing is permanent, nothing can give us permanent satisfaction. 6. The fifth consequence of emptiness are the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble truths state that there is suffering, there is a cause for suffering, there is a cessation to suffering, and there is a way to end suffering. From a Buddhist point of view, the problem is clinging and grasping. However, because things are empty, we cannot cling or grasp onto them. This fundamental ignorance is the cause of suffering. Accordingly, we try to cling and grasp onto what cannot be clung to or grasped. The solution in this case is to see things are they are (empty) and cease clinging and grasping (cessation). 7. As stated, emptiness is also not nothingness--- this would be nihilism. So how to things appear? The typical Buddhist examples are to compare the mind to space and phenomenon to a dream. a. The mind is compared to space. It has no fixed characteristics. Because it has no fixed characteristics, anything can appear. Unlike space, the mind has an ability to know the objects that arise within it. Some people are unable to understand this, because they think that one prevents the others. If the mind knows, it must have a self. Or if it is empty of characteristics, it must know. However, experience shows that this is not the case: the mind is empty, and yet it knows. Consider the electron that can appear sometimes as a wave and sometimes as a photon. Things don’t always fit into tidy boxes. b. Objects are compared to dreams. When we dream at night, we may have bodies, eat, swim, run and play like we would normally do. The substance of dreams and the substance of the waking state are the same: we experience colors, sounds, sensations and so on. However, it is easy to see that a dream is completely unreal. Accordingly, the doctrine of emptiness is woven very deeply into Buddhist teachings. If we eliminate emptiness and no self, then the entire teaching is incoherent. There is a lot of resistance to some of these Buddhist teachings. One of my teachers has said that when we find resistance to a teaching, we often find the ego trying to steer us away from teachings that threaten it. And there is no more threatening teaching to the ego than no self. I know other paths take other approaches. I am not putting forth the Buddhist path as the supreme or only path, but only as one possibility.
  25. 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.: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/01/03/5-facts-about-crime-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: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/analysis-why-its-time-to-stop-blaming-video-games-for-real-world-violence