Friday, February 25, 2011

Om Namo Amritayana Dharmakaya Hreeh

I had a dream a few nights ago which wanted me to share and empower a mantra for the healing, transformation, and evolution of sentient beings. The mantra is the title of this writing and is as follows:

Om Namo Amritayana Dharmakaya Hreeh.

If you look at various Tibetan and Sanskrit mantras, especially in the Vajrayana tradition, they have a similar structure to them. They always begin with "Om" which is the universal energy field that permeates space, time, and matter. Not all of them have "Namo", but all of them imply this word. It means, "I call upon, I invoke, I open up to, I take in, I surrender to." It is the pure thought intention that activates a connection with the universal energy field. Some spiritual teachers share that mantras do not really mean anything or that they are a higher understanding that can be put into conventional thought. But "Namo" is meant to be understandable in simple human terms, it makes the mantra into a scientific prayer, and focuses consciousness within a pure thought intention. It is the repetition of this intention that purifies the mind of all samskaras, since inside every samskara is a thought intention that we once gave energy to and is the basis of our karmaic habits and reactive patterns. Samskaras are thought impressions within the subconscious mind which are activated by sensory experience and is how karma is stored within us. This "Namo" through repetition purifies us of all adverse karmas or "bad karma".

"Amritayana" translates into "vehicle without death". Early Buddhism is consider "Hinayana" or "small vehicle" because it is meant to carry one person to enlightenment, a solitary meditator who has renounced the world and chosen to live to attain nirvana. This person has renounced worldly ambition and worldly desires that entangle one with the world. It is why in this vehicle there is the ideal of celibacy, because sexual love entangles you with the world through linking with one person and through this person everyone. It is possible to "remain nonattached", to still enjoy a loving relationship, and still remain unentangled with the world, to be, as Jesus taught, "In the world but not of it." But the difference is that you do not look to another to complete yourself, you look within and release the self to find fulfillment in nirvana. Later Buddhism called itself "Mahayana" or "great vehicle" which could carry more people to enlightenment. It emphasized compassion (mahakaruna) towards all sentient beings, renouncing nirvana to stay in the world and serve others.

There are some who make it sound like Hinayana is an inferior path, but in some sense we all have to start there. We have to get our own life in order and oriented toward enlightenment. It is enough to learn how to take care of ourselves and handle a small vehicle. When we have mastered this, then we can share with others something that might help them. In my early meditation practice, I focused more on "not being a problem to others" and "not adding to the sorrow of others". I was not trying to liberate the world, but not contribute to its demise. I was learning how to be a truly harmless and gentle person. It was more work than I realized. While it is relatively easy to not lie, cheat, steal, kill, abuse sexual energy, or eat a pure diet, easy to not violate the precepts in a big way, it takes time to master the teachings on a more subtle level. For instance, the whole precept is "not to lie, but to speak kind and truthful words". It means being very clear and honest with everyone, yet also be kind. This is especially true when you point out the faults of another. It needs the motivation of compassion. There is a learning, too, of when to be silent. We can point out faults that are real and feed our own tendency to be negative, the second poison of the mind that binds us to the wheel of sorrow. The intention to speak both kind and truthful words prevents us from using true words to put another person down and condemn them. The feeling inside when we align with this, when we do this enough, feels very clean inside. When a person takes what we say in a bad way, feeling hurt by what we said, unless we are very clear and kind inside, we will feel guilty, ashamed, and anxious about what we said. Sometimes people will feel hurt by what we say no matter what we say, but we will feel bad about what we said unless we have a kind intention. We can be silent about something and not say something. It is important that when speaking about faults that they are put in a constructive context, where the pointing out of the fault helps a person to heal and grow. It requires us to be psychologically aware and to listen differently to others. It is also realizing that words have a lot of power to them, to heal and to harm. If we are unconscious, we could accidentally say something that could tip a suicidal person over the edge and make him or her want to commit suicide. While we are not karmaically responsible for him or her killing herself, we were one cause among many for the event happening and do accumulate a certain amount of karma. Right speech is about being sensitive on this level to what we say and even what we do not say, since silence sometimes has its consequences too. Sometimes it is important to say something that might also stop a person from committing suicide. It is a delicate equation we work with, since to be attached to these outcomes also entangles us in the world more. It is generally wise to let each person have their own process, their own life, and leave them alone. If we cannot allow everyone to have their process, then we are too entangled in their life to help them. The right kind of compassion gets cultivated in this vehicle and deepens our meditation.

The vehicle is "Mahayana" which emphasizes compassion and selflessness. There is a point where we begin to feel that merely taking care of ourselves does not transcend a certain kind of selfishness and clinging to self. This subtle level of sorrow shows up in a kind of indifference and nonfeeling about the plight of others. There are four words used for love in Buddhism, (1) metta, (2) karuna, (3) mudita, and (4) upekkha. I prefer to translate them as (1) kind friendship love, (2) sensitive empathic love, (3) joyful contagious love, and (4) eternal unconditional love. The fourth one has sometimes been translated as equanimity. It is a kind of unattached love that accepts things as they are, wishes beings to be free from sorrow, does what is possible, and accepts that sorrow will still arise in sentient beings for a long while to come. I feel it is a mature love which does not get excited when things go well and does not get depressed when things go badly. It has learned to be steady and constant. Because of this, it is not attached to results. It is confident that it always does some good, but that the harvest cannot be hurried. It allows everyone to own his or her process and arrive at enlightenment when his or her process matures to this point. The main love that is cultivated in Mahayana Buddhism is sensitive empathic love, though the other loves mature around this naturally. Through sensitive feeling and caring for others, a certain kind of selfishness and dullness burns away. We are more peaceful and happy as a result. With a group of people helping each other, a community, the interactions with each other form a kind of field that accelerates our growth and maturity. Love is profoundly interpersonal and how we interact with each other is a cause of healing or sorrow. Collectively we form a larger healing vehicle that carries each other to the other shore.

The next vehicle is "Vajrayana" which emphasizes the "indestructible" aspect of enlightenment, how we are beyond sorrow. This path is sometimes called "the path of accelerated transformation" or "buddhahood in one lifetime". There is a deeper psychology and highly structured meditation processes behind this. It requires that we have some mastery of the samatha (calming) practice of the Hinayana and the vipassana (insight) of the Mahayana, because the structured meditations need the "big sky mind" to function rightly. There must be enough ability to just be with our inner experience without trying to force it to be what it is not. Simple passive accepting awareness watches our experience without interference and without judgment. In this quiet receptive place, insight flashes across the open mind and we are healed. Then the structured meditations of the Vajrayana can deepen this "big sky mind" and establish our life force within this.

The Amritayana vehicle continues, in some sense, where these paths leave off. There is an even deeper psychology which understands the psychosomatic equation of our lives. It is implied in the earliest Buddhist teachings about the interdependence of the five skandhas of consciousness, thought, emotion, sensation, and body. It touches upon the idea that the Buddha had conquered aging and death, and had an immortal physical body (which he later sacrificed by taking on a measure of planetary karma and burning it within his body, heart, and mind). It looks upon aging and death as a kind of karma that we can transcend. Whether we choose to remain on Earth or not, whether we choose to keep our bodies youthful, alive, and involved on this planet, or gently set it aside when we are done with our use of this body, we see aging and death as not necessary and as the result of causes and conditions that we can ultimately learn to control and take responsibility for. We do not see aging and death as something that merely happens to us. We see our karmaic part of how and why it happens. The Medicine Buddha sutras talk about the connection of the three poisons of the mind, addictive craving, resistant negativity, and obscuring delusion, and how these cause imbalances in our physical body. Aryurvedic medicine is based in this kind of awareness. The implication is that if we take care of ourselves and purify our minds of the three poisons, then our bodies will not have to age and die.

That humans do age and die is not contested by Amritayana Buddhism. All the many forms of Buddhism are really scientific about life. The research tool is awareness, the laboratory in the human body, and the teachings give us an idea of what to investigate, what to notice, and what to do with what we see. They teach principles that can be verified in our experience, methods that we can use to heal ourselves, and assert that certain results can be attained by certain practices. Buddhism is not a tradition that is afraid to look at death. There is a very detailed analysis of death in terms of what happens in the body, what happens after the release of the body in the various bardos, the different ways that one can die, and what one can do. In the first noble truth, the truth of sorrow, there is a list of the different forms of sorrow that we can experience as a sentient being, sickness is sorrow, aging is sorrow, death is sorrow, losing people we love is sorrow, interacting with intense negative people is sorrow, poverty is sorrow, and accidents are sorrow. The first noble truth is a simple and clear observation of how humans suffer. It is meant to be accepted that this is true. It does not deny that there is also happiness, but happiness is not a problem for most people.

In Amritayana Buddhism, aging and death are looked at more deeply, to the point of seeing its deepest causes in the three poisons of the mind, but following the chain of cause and effect to the point where it manifests in the body as illness and imbalances. This allows our bodies to give us feedback on our spiritual path. Our body can then be a mirror that people on other paths may not want to fully look at and look through. One can imagine that one is very spiritually advanced, when the body is telling us otherwise and telling us that some mental poison is still being held by us and that it is hurting our bodies to hold it. The body then becomes a basis for humility, helping us to imagine we are spiritual hot stuff when we are not. When we understand this, we "kiss the Earth" and become an ordinary gentle human being and dedicate our lives to burning away adverse karma until there is none left, realizing that "it takes as long as it takes".

When the word "Amritayana" is chanted, we dedicate ourselves to this kind of understanding, process, and path. We also connect with the principle, wisdom, and power behind this path, which is in the universal field of "Om". We dial into this aspect of the universal field and its wish for us to be healed of everything, including aging and death.

The next word is "Dharmakaya". Buddhism does not believe in an anthropomorphic supreme personal g-d. In part of the Madhyamika texts, there is a refutation of this idea, based on the lack of interdependence between the creator and created when you assume this separation is real. When a certain kind of understanding of interdependence reaches its deepest level, then the idea of a creator g-d standing apart from its creation is seen to be impossible. For this reason, many theistic religions are uncomfortable with the almost agnostic and atheistic flavor of Buddhism. Yet this kind of view, which many Buddhists actually have, is not true either. If we were to use theistic categories to define Buddhism, it would be pantheistic in flavor. It would affirm there is there is a holy sacred infinite field of energy called the Dharmakaya which permeates all of space, time, and matter, and in which all matter is a temporary expression of. If material things have an illusory separateness from each other, then they must have a real unity with each other. This living unity is the Dharmakaya. We are always within this living field of energy. It is the "unborn, the unchanging, and the undying" that we experience when "nirvana" happens, when, even for a moment, the three poisons cease to operate inside us. The word "nirvana" literal means exhale. It means "exstinguishing the self" so that it no longer ever happens again. This teaching has been severely misunderstood as a kind of nihilism where our self goes into total annihilation at death. But our real self is completely untouched by this annihilation. The self that ends is the most subtle level of the three poisons of the mind. When we go deep enough into meditation, we see a subtle sense of self is keeping the three poisons alive and visa versa. This subtle feeling of a separate self is a construction that we unwittingly keep alive through how we think "I" and attach it to objects through all the sentences we speak. This subtle feeling of "I", that we identify with deeply, are attached to, and cling to, keeps the three poisons alive, keeps the pain of anger, fear, and sadness alive, causes the thousands of daily stresses we experience each day alive, wears out our bodies through aging, and kills our bodies through death. Parinirvana is the final and complete extinguishing of this false self, totally and completely, so that it never gets reconstructed and never causes sorrow for us ever again. I do find it interesting how there are some Buddhists that are not clear about this. In the ending of the three poisons and the subtle sense of self and the web of thoughts and emotions that the subtle self holds together and uses to define and establish itself, nothing eternal or truly real ends. What we have always been becomes conscious and aware of itself and we are free.

In a sense, the word "Dharmakaya" links with every word before it. The Dharmakaya is the "Om", the universal energy field. It is also the wish and compassion behind the Amritayana path, the place where the blessing energy, support, and grace that heals us comes from. The word part "dharma" means universal law, what orders and structures all the events in the universe so that there is order, regularity, an order so precise that it can be expressed in mathematics and scientific laws, that very accurate predictions can be made from these laws, no matter where you are in space and time. I find it interesting that many scientists do not wonder why the mathematically precise laws that they find work everywhere in the universe. Why does "F=MvA" work everywhere and everywhen? Why do we have so much faith in this order? So much so that we will assume we miscalculated if the predictions do not tab up or suspect some factor is interfering with our prediction (and even find this factor or miscalculation). The simple conclusion is that there is some "something" that is everywhere and everywhen that allows universal laws to work with such consistency and regularity. Even the compassionate blessing energy within this field has a mathematically precise and reliable way to access its energy and bring it into our lives. Certain exact conditions must be met. The key is that this energy is nonviolent and needs our genuine permission to be allowed to work in our lives. The slightest resistance from us and it honors our choice and stops. We need to keep giving permission every moment of our life, need to make this openness, sensitivity, wisdom, and permission a consciously created habit in our lives and remove all the unconscious habits from our lives, formed over maybe millions of years of lifetimes. So "Om" represents universal energy, "Amritayana" represents "universal wish", and "Dharmakaya" is "universal basis". It is why everything works the way it does. It empowers our path of liberation and explains why we must eliminate karma, since cause must produce effect.

The last word "hreeh". It is a seed syllable whose very sound is meant to produce change. It is related to the Sanskrit word for conscience. The soft aspired "h" sounds signal that the mantra rides the breath, the exhale. The "ee" sound raises energy up the spine. The "rr" sound activates a purifying fire. The remorse over uncompassionate deeds that we have done in past lifetimes burns away the samskaric imprint that they leave in our subconscious mind. Images will flash up in meditation and remorse will burn them away. We have a deeper alignment with the precepts of the Buddha, we vow not to kill anything, not even a good feeling in someone else, not to steal anything or even want to take anything from another, etc.

The "hreeh" sound vibrates within us and purifies our perception, our awareness, of clinging, resistance, and identification, until we see the world as it is, not as we projected with our minds and our illusory self. What emerges is another world, a new Earth, which is pristine, radiant, translucent, and beautiful, and since our perception arises interdependently with the world around us, our very act of seeing it differently changes what we see. "Hreeh" is the catalyst. It brings the energy down to Earth, in our experience, in our life, and uplifts our life, raises our life condition, and brings us home, back to primal luminousity, to the Dharmakaya, the ground of being, the unborn, unchanging, and undying, our true refuge that will never let us down and always be peace for us.

Most the mantras are related to enlightened beings who have reached the "Siddha" state, the 12th consciousness, where they can perform miracles. It is good to invoke them. I use "Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh" for this kind of activation. There are many such mantras. They all work provided that the name is of a real Siddha and not merely 10th consciousness enlightened being, and that this Siddha has empowered the mantra to be an access for him or her. It helps, too, if there is an alignment with the basic teachings of this being, since the teachings are the first grace or blessing of this being. Then we need to really commit to chanting the mantra 111,111 times. We really only need to chant the mantra 100,000 times, so that extra chants are part of a psychological realism about humans. 10 percent of the time we will "go robot" and chant without consciousness and intention behind each and every repetition. So we need to chant 10,000 more repetitions to cover those lapses in the 100,000 repetitions we commited to (and then 1,000 times for the lapses in the remedial 10,000, etc.). The whole practice takes about 3 to 6 months. It will transform one.

The advantage of this mantra is that it does not invoke any Siddha, but the Dharmakaya itself, through its Amritayana aspect (aka grace, healing, and blessing energy versus its universal order which supports the law of karma aspect). Since the Dharmakaya is our real home, we invoke it immediately and directly, and feel its wisdom, love, and creativity as primal luminosity (Om). Because of this, the mantra is more universal and generic. It can be used by all sentient beings to liberate themselves without needing for them to commit to or align with any particular enlightened siddha, and therefore can be chanted by different seekers without violating their yidam relationship to whatever diety they are working with. We directly chant our way back to our original home and take our mind, heart, and body with us.

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