Sunday, January 31, 2010


Nonidentification is a concept taught by the Sufi teacher Gurdjieff. The idea is also found among the Hesychasts in the Eastern Orthodox Church, who even detail four levels of identification. The idea is very similar to the Buddhist idea of nonattachment and also the Buddhist idea of "no self". When you are able to see the selflessness of phenomena, then you are in a state where you are not identified with anything whatsoever. Identification is a kind of hypnotic trance that humans are already in. The thoughts that we identify with, we have faith in, believe in, and feels ourselves to be. Each thought that we identify with has the word "I" within it, either literally or subtly. Through this subtle thought we can identify with anything, our bodies, our sensations, our impulses to do, and our emotions. When a Zen master teaches his students to "impersonalize" a phenomena, it means to not identify with the phenomena. For instance, I can feel "I am angry" or I can feel "Anger is arising within me". The former is identification with anger and the latter is seeing anger as an impersonal objective phenomena arising within oneself. When we identify with something, we give it our energy and our faith, and keep the phenomena alive in us. When we see anger as an impersonal phenomena and fully feel it, then the anger will arise, abide, change, and pass away, and we will be done with the experience. When we identify with the phenomena, then it defines us and limits us, while we sustain the phenomena with our energy. It becomes "registered in our consciousness" and becomes a samskara or thought imprint in our subconscious mind. It can then be triggered by sensory experience. The four levels mentioned in Orthodox literature are roughly, (1) temptation, (2) consideration, (3) connection, and (4) acting out. Temptation is when the phenomena arises and the reaction is felt inside us. Then we consider the possibility, have discussions in our minds, rehearsing what we are tempted to, and even run senarios. Then we decide and connect with the temptation and, intending to do whatever it is. Then we actually act it out. A person with no impulse control identifies with everything he or she is feeling inside. It seems that serotonin is a brain chemical that helps us to not identify and to do impulse inhibitation (resist temptation). In the New Testament, identification appears in the metaphor of (dreaming) sleep or the (walking) dead (as in "Let the dead bury the dead"). This trance like state is considered not really being fully awake and present to life. Saint Paul actually quotes a Christian Liturgy that is older than the New Testament in one of his letters, and has an alchemical formula for transformation:

Awake O Sleeper,
and rise from the dead,
and the light of Christ
will shine on you.

The formula actually describes three states. The first is nonidentification. The second is release of the artificial isolated sense of self called the "ego". The third is feeling the illumination of our primordial presence which is radiant awareness. This formula roughly parallels the Great Dharani in the Buddhist Heart Sutra [This is my own translation, the usual uses "gone" instead of "let go", but since the whole sutra is about releasing "clinging" and seeing that there is nothing that you can even cling to the latter seems more precise]:

Let go, let go,
Really let go,
Totally let go,
Awake, Rejoice.

The first two letting goes are practice. This is a level where we are still identified, but are trying to not be identified. If we keep on practicing, then we will have a moment where we really let go and the identification is released. This is when we have "satori" or "enlightenment experience". We temporarily wake up and feel our true nature. We then understand the Buddhist path from direct experience and we "see Buddha eye to eye". If our effort is sincere, this should happen somewhere between one week of 12 hours per a day of practice to two years of daily meditation practice of at least one hour per a day. For me, it took 4 hours per a day for 4.5 months. If it takes longer than three years, there is probably a need to evaluate what is happening. Either the method of meditation needs to be changed, some lack of resolve is present, some special need is present, like a trauma block, or there is some point in the teaching that needs to be more thoroughly understood.

There is a longer journey between "really letting go" and "totally letting go". The latter means the entire subconscious mind needs to be emptied of its tendancies to cling to experience or to identify with phenomena. It is during this phase of the process that we will feel like the walking dead or like an alcoholic who is trying to stay sober by sheer force of intention. Identification has a numb feeling to it. There is a haze over everything. When you have enlightenment experience, the color we see are vibrant and the sounds we hear are crisp, alive, and clear, and the silence we hear has a crystalline purify. Touch is also blissful and even the sensation of pain is vibrant and acute. We can wake up from the sleep of identification, but we need to slowly rise from being dead. It feels like a mass of numbness dissolving. Krishnamurti one time shared a key in saying, "Be attentive to your inattention" or "Be sensitive to your insensitivity". Our numbness is like a mass of insensitivity which can and will slowly dissolve within a steady attentiveness or sensitivity. It feels sometimes like a hot fever that is slowly going away and being replaced by a cool sanity. When we fully "rise from the dead", then we do "awake and rejoice" (bodhi svaha). The Zen Buddhists call this, "the Great Affirmation".

If you put together the various esoteric sources about identification, there are some levels worth mentioning. The level is a "samskara" which is like a potential identification lurking below the surface. There is a way to feel them as whirling energy patterns and a magnetic attraction that is actually attracting our future karmaic experiences to us. We are usually unaware of this level of our subconscious, but this kind of vortex often organizes "dream matter" and forms our dreaming experiences, and later on, usually with a little help from external events, gets triggered enough to be felt in waking life. There is a reaction that then occurs, which is the "temptation" level. We feel a reaction happening inside us. The Buddha taught people to "remain with the sensation" and not act it out. The reaction will eventually calm down. But we can move to "consideration" which is where we start thinking all kinds of thoughts. If a person at the job insults us, then we may feel ourselves saying all kinds of things in our head about them. We are acting out on a kind of mental rehearsal level and feeling emotions stirring inside us. This is a very common form of mild identification and it does wear us out, causes us to age, weakens our immune system to become more vulnerable to disease, and causes us to eventually die. There is a point where we connect our will or our intention with the impulse to do, decide to act it out. This is where we are totally identified and we become "an accident waiting to happen". This is also where the samskara "reloads" back into the subconscious mind so that it can be triggered again when the right conditions happen. The last phase is when we actually add our physical body and do it, actually have the argument or whatever. When we are deeply identified, then we might rush through all those stages so fast that we do not even know we are making a decision. Most of us start out this way. When we live this way, we are like conditioned robots doing what we are programmed to do. The programmer, too, has flipped the autopilot and has literally fallen asleep. Jesus taught people to forgive others because they "not know what they are doing". It refers to this sleep of identification, becoming a zombie robot following hypnotic conditioning. To be angry with humans who are "sinning" is like getting angry at a typewriter because whenever you hit the "g" key it types a "g" on the paper.

A mantra came from awakened mind and can cause us to wake up. It purifies us of the thoughts that we usually identify with if we persist long enough, then it dissolves back into our awakened nature. A mantra is hard to identify with, too, because its meaning requires us to be a little awake to feel. A mantra is like the Buddhist teaching of "no self", we have to be a little bit free from the self trance in order to even understand what Buddha said.

Part of meditation is to learn to see without identifying with anything and later to dissolve identification with the false sense of self (the "me" put together by thought that Krishnamurti talked about). Pure awareness naturally does not identify with anything, naturally allows phenomena to arise, abide, change, and pass away without clinging to anything and without resisting anything, and naturally is unselfconscious. We identify with what was attached to and we are attached to anything that reinforces our identifications. When Buddha taught people to notice that anger arises "without self", he wanted people to not identify with the anger, to not attach their "feeling of self" to the anger. He did this by having people focus on seeing that there is no self in the anger, no self in the fear, no self in the sadness, and then to let it wave through us. When it does not catch us anywhere, then we are done with samskara, the karmaic imprint, and the subconscious mind empties itself of this content. We have one less karma running our lives.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Ten Worlds and World Politics

In the teachings of the Buddhist scholar and Bodhisattva Tendai, based on the Lotus Sutra, he shares that there are ten worlds. This view includes the six worlds of sorrow in Tibetan Buddhism and four other worlds, that of the compassionate saint, the genius, the bodhisattva, and the Buddha. The world of compassionate saints and the genius are still part of the worlds of sorrow, but have a basis for going beyond sorrow. You could say that these worlds are in the process of being fully healed. Even the bodhisattva worlds still have some trace of sorrow, but the Buddha world does not. The other worlds are the world of demons or endless warfare and conflict, the world of hungry ghosts or endless cravings that never get fulfilled, the world of animals or compulsive habits and addictions, the world of humans or endless plans, ambitions, and goals, the world of asuras or endless intrigues, conspiracies, seductions, power struggles, hidden motives, and subtle manipulations, and world of devas or high achievements, total success, and arrogance. Together all these worlds make ten worlds. What is interesting is that Tendai taught that each of these worlds have the other worlds within them. Each of these worlds interpenetrated all the world others, making one hundred different subworlds. For instance, whenever there are wars on Earth, this is the human demon or hell world. When there are political conspiracies, bribes, manipulation, special interest groups competing with each other, and people pulling against each other with hidden motives, then this is the human asura world. It is possible to go from one world to another through the part of the world that is like the other world. Thus a person will become a human demon before he or she becomes a demon demon or a person will be a human hungry ghost before he or she becomes an actual hungry ghost. It is possible to sensitize oneself to these ten worlds in your own experience. You can feel these worlds as energies and temptations within meditation, looking within, and feeling the part of oneself that wants to become a demon and fight everyone, the part that has longings and needs, the part that wants to get caught up in intrigues and political factions, the part that has achieved many things and is proud of his or her achievements, and so on. It is also possible to feel the part of yourself that is already a Buddha and learn to manifest this more. Soto Zen meditation, based on mudra yoga, is based on this understanding. Dogen Zenji taught the "unity of practice and enlightenment". This means that when you sit in meditation, taking on the posture, breathing, and attitude of a Buddha, then you become a Buddha, you actualize this world immediately. Nicherin Buddhism also has this same understanding that when the mantra "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo" is chanted that one actualizes Buddha nature right away.

One teaching that I felt has gotten lost in Buddhist history is the teaching of historical inevitability. The simplest version of the teaching is that once a Buddha teaches in a world, leaves a fully developed sangha behind, and the living dharma is transmitted faithfully from generation to generation, then this world will inevitably and eventually become fully enlightened. It is an evolutionary necessity that we rise up to the level of the Buddha in our growth as a species, just as long ago some apes started to learn how to use their rational cortex and became human beings. It seems that some generalized prophecy also existed about how long this process would take. Nichiren talked of 500 year time periods being relevant to this process. The first 500 hundred being a kind of basic Buddhism, the next 500 years being the Mahayana revolution, the next 500 years being the Vajrayana period, the next 500 years seeing the emergence of the Zen and Dzogchen teachings and the idea of sudden enlightenment, the next 500 years being the Pure Land and Nichirin teachings about grace and rapid karma burning, and next 500 year period being the period of the "Bodhisattvas of the Earth". This is the period of time that seems related to what happens after the 2012 shift point. The phrase "Bodhisattvas of the Earth" is a distinctive teaching in the Lotus Sutra and is described a kind of harvest time, where lots of beings taught by the Buddha who had taken many forms in many lifetimes reach a kind of deep maturity in their process and being enlightened beings. These beings emergence from the Earth, come from the Earth, and are not spiritually advanced visitors from other worlds. It also suggests, too, that this next Buddhism will not really be much of an organized religion. There is a sense of a grass roots movement where the most distinctive feature is people blooming into their own enlightenment through all kinds of paths. This would be the time period of the Kusen Rufu or mass awakening of humankind. Many Buddhist groups do not hold this vision and have a more pessimistic view of progress. It is interesting that in the Lotus Sutra that some of these people are arhants, ones who fully mastered the basics of the first dharma that Buddha had taught. They get upset with the radical teachings of the Lotus Sutra and angrily leave the assembly. The Buddha then says, "Now the group is pure" and proceeds to teach what the people who remain in the assembly are able to hear. The scene has many interesting lessons. Because one version of Buddhist is meant to supercede the previous version. The future version is still true to the older vehicle, but has a wider and deeper vision. It is eventually important to embrace the widest, deepest, and fullest version of the Dharma, which means waking up to being a fully mature Buddha.

In the Lotus Sutra, the teaching of "historical inevitability" is carefully embedded in the giant story that unfolds. At first many individuals are given the prophecy of their future enlightenment. The giving of the prophecy is different in Buddhism compared to the theistic religions. A prophecy is a report given by an all knowing being through a prophet. But Buddhism has prophecies based on cause and effect and "seeing". In other words, a Buddha can see when you have set enough causes for your own enlightenment into motion that it can be seen when these causes will mature into their lawful effect which is your own enlightenment. It can be seen as accurately as many scientists can calculate and predict what will happen in an experiment. In one passage, the Buddha predicts the a young girl will become enlightened. This passage is meant to validate the power of the feminine to become fully enlightened and is stated in the Lotus Sutra to help break down the male to female prejudices of the patriarchal world. Later on, the Buddha gives the prophecy to all sentient beings. This prophecy differs from the earlier more specific ones, because it does not give when and where they will be enlightened. It suggests the time and place are still variable, but enough energy has set into motion to allow all humans to arrive at enlightenment.

The 500 year blocks are not exact. The Kalachakra teachings talk about 2024 being the start of the last 500 year period, with world peace finally happening around 2524. My sense is that the numbers may need to be adjusted to align with 2012 being the start of this last 500 year period. In astrology, there are "orbs." What this means is that the 500 year blocks of time are not airtight compartments. Even before the time period officially starts, the seeds of the next time period are already emerging. This period of emergence is the orb time. It is a future time period influencing the past to bring itself forward. The 2012 orb started in the 1980s and has been growing stronger in its influence. We are within the last 7 years before the 2012 harmonic completion. During this time, the new tone will sound forth and it will take about 500 years more to fully manifest the vision.

I find it interesting when I have mentioned this. I get a dual response. There are some who have gotten cynical and who believe that the Earth will be a place of sorrow, that it will be a place you go to workout your bad karma, and that when you are done you will go to a better place. This type just never believes that people will ever become that enlightened and that loving. Another type gets impatient and gets disheartened that it will take another 500 years. Yet for those who are awakening to past lifetime memories, 500 years will not seem very long at all. In fact, 500 years is barely enough time to make all this happen. This would seem very optimistic if it were not for the Buddha having incarnated many times and teaching everyone on the planet, both collectively and individually, gradually helping the people to learn their lessons, finish their karmas, and become fully mature in their enlightenment. It is bringing a 3,000 year process to completion, and even the advent of the Buddha 2,500 years was prepared for a very long time. There are many things that have permanently changed as a result of this process, but once something is learned, then everyone seems to feel that it has always been this way. Science has finally emerged as a valid form of thinking, democracy has emerged as a form of human thought, equal rights for men and women, and even the feeling that males and females have the same basic potential to become fully enlightened. We see that the Earth is one planet among many, rather than having a more geocentric view of the universe, and we understand universal law and see it expressed, in part, in F=MA and E=MCsquared. There is still a lot of growth yet to happen in this process. 500 years represents a complete cycle of growth in the sensory world (5=number of basic physical senses and 100=completion).

Because of the interpenetration of the 10 worlds, not everyone is going to see the process in this manner. Each of the 10 worlds is going to have its prophetic views. Each world is going to consider the other prophesies to be wrong or limited. It takes a big "stepping back" to see the larger picture which includes all the views that form all the 10 worlds and which humans are keyed into which views. We tend to be locked into our own views, but part of understanding all this is to see how your view links with the common sense of one of the 10 worlds. If you feel the fulifllment never happens, that is the common sense of the hungry ghost. If you feel that there will always be an endless struggle with evil people, that is the common sense of the hell worlds. If you feel everyone is just going to do what they always have done, follow their boring life routines, then that is the common sense of the animal worlds. If you feel everyone is making plans, having goals, getting excited or frustrating about them, then this is the common sense of the human worlds. If you feel that there is a subtle struggle with all these conspiracies trying to take everything over, control and manipulate, seduction and deception, killing key people who get in the way, then this is the common sense of the asura worlds (this is quite popular in America and many places in the world). If you feel that life is just one achievement after another, then this is the common sense of the deva worlds. If you see many loving and patient world servers gradually working to bring the "Kingdom of God on Earth", then this is the common sense of the saint worlds. If you see scientific progress, geniuses inventing things that will make life better, and overcoming ignorance, then this is the common sense of the genious worlds. If you see spiritual progress, higher and higher levels of wisdom and compassion interacting and healing with this world, then this is the common sense of the Bodhisattva worlds. If you see everyone as a potential Buddha who is in the process of awakening to the truth of who and what they are, then this is the common sense of the Buddha worlds.

I am sharing this larger view, because when people watch the news, they can interpret from the vantage point of any of the 10 worlds. You can learn a lot by "watching the watcher". You can notice which world you see the news from and how you slot everything into this perspective. Interpreting everything as a struggle between Democrats and Republicans, seeing corporate interests and special interest groups, bribing, manipulating, killing, and stealing to get ahead is asura realm stuff. Talking about Republican conspiracies, corporate conspiracies, Islamic conspiracies, Jewish conspiracies, super wealthy family conspiracies, reptilian alien conspiracies, and Christian fundamentalist conspiracies is all about the asura realm (a=without, sura=honor). What I find interesting about this particular set of views is that it overlooks what may be called a "conspiracy of light", the work of saints, geniuses, bodhisattvas, dakinis, and Buddhas to fully heal this world. This also fits the 10 worlds teaching in that inside the Asura world is all the other worlds, including the higher worlds and their "conspiracies". It seems that a world level has a hard time seeing more than one level up from where they are. Thus the asuras are jealousy and greedily aware of the deva achievement worlds, the successful rich (in the human world) who no longer need to work hard to achieve something, but can enjoy what they have manifested (until their good karma runs out, unless that are on a path of regeneration which can sustain this level by compassion). They also tend to see the success of the devas in terms that they can understand, rather than through a kind of concentration, patience, good choices, good alliances, honest trade, and effort.

It takes some time to know how to look at the world process in a way that feels the operation of all the ten worlds in human life. There is a saying in the Madyamika Buddhist texts, "Water quenches the thirst of a human being and burns the tongue of a hungry ghost. There is no glass of water that is real for its own side, but it only exists in interdependence with humans, hungry ghosts, and others. It is not that water always quenches thirst and that the hungry ghost experiences the illusion of burning. It is not that water always burns the tongue and that the human being experiences the illusion of quenching thirst. There is no objective isolated truth about the glass of water. Nor is the truth of the glass of water merely subjective and arbitrary either. A Buddha is one who sees all this.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Levels of Meditation Practice

In recent sharings, it came that it might be worth sharing an outline of the different levels of meditation practice. The Buddha had said that the process proceeds step by step, with the more advanced steps dependent on integrating and mastering the lessons of the previous steps.

The first level of meditation practice is called "samatha practice". This is a basic calming meditation. This is where you focus on breathing and letting go of thinking. There is a meeting with the basic "fact of suffering", over and over again. This direct experience of suffering is very important, because in Buddhism we do not come from any dogma whatsoever. The entire process, including the understanding of the dharma, is about what we learn from our own experience. The teachings of the Buddha are not meant to be believed because the "prophet Buddha" has said that it is true. Everything that the Buddha taught is something that we can potentially verify in our experience. If we have not yet verified it, then we are not meant to believe it or disbelieve it, but simply see it is a hypothesis that we can not confirmed and which may not be true. When the Buddha visited the Kalamas, they were confused because many spiritual teachers gave them many different teachings which contradicted each other. The Buddha did not appeal to any authority as a prophet of the "one true god" or asked anyone to take anything on faith or said that he was superior to any of the other teachers. But instead he invited the Kamalas to focus on their own personal experience and what they could learn from their own personal experience.

In the first level of meditation, you meet "suffering and its ending". You experience how suffering is related to craving, related to negativity, and related to delusion. You meet this fact, over and over again, until you get it. Then you begin to ask how can craving end, how can negativity end, and how can delusion end. These can end in when you see, moment to moment, the kind of attention you are bringing to your experience. When you are able to simply see what is, without trying to change anything, without trying to hold on to anything, and without trying to push anything away, then the momentum of all those habits of craving, negativity, and delusion start to dissolve.

On the samatha level, you notice how the processes of craving, negativity, and delusion are sustained by thinking. So you let go of thinking, except for simple practical thinking focused on doing day to day chores, focusing on simply watching the breath in meditation. You notice how much you get caught up in thinking, lost in thinking, and want to compulsively think about certain things. When you notice, then you stop thought and return back to the breath. You learn to return again and again to the breath whenever you notice that you wander.

The more relaxed and quiet our mind becomes, then the more acutely we feel our sorrow, our fears, and our anger. We learn to watch, in the beginning, with a feeling sometimes of being almost helpless to stop ourselves from feeling all our sorrow. We might be tempted to shutdown our feeling by narcotizing, by numbing, or by stimulating ourselves with pleasurable sensations (that overwhelm and cover our emotional experience). At some point we surrender to whatever we are feeling and do not fight what we fight. We do not try to make ourselves feel differently than how we feel. This kind of "surrender to what is" relaxes us deeper. We find that our emotional experience deepens and flows. We have periods appear where we experience noncraving, nonnegativity, and nondelusion. These periods are small enlightenments where we can understand the depths of the dharma, understand what Buddha meant by the "unborn, unchanging, undying". This is Samatha meditation becoming Vipassana meditation. You notice the processes that the Buddha mentioned in the Abhidharma (higher dharma). You especially notice the nidanic process where sense stimulation causes sensory experience causes a reaction of craving, resistance, and delusion, then an impulse to do, then action, and then the process becoming a habit force or conditioning that can be activated by sense stimulation again, the larger process is that all these reactions and reactions to reactions causing stress, aging, sickness, old age, and death, and these outer states becoming stimulations that cause more processes to get activated inside us. The process, in a sense, ripples in on itself, so that we are reacting to reactions of reactions, and then reacting with deep depression that we are eternally caught in the cycle of birth, childhood, adulthood, old age, death, bardo, and rebirth. It is not that birth, life, death, bardo, and rebirth is good or bad, but that the whole process is like a compulsive wheel of cause and effect that carries us along with a feeling that it is against our will or that our choice does not matter. It is the automaticity of the process, how samskaras get triggered and carry us away, that makes the cycle of birth and death feel like problem.

During this time, we feel waves of "sukha" and "dukha", waves of pleasant experience and waves of painful experience. We notice how these waves are tied to how we are craving, resisting, and numbing ourselves to various kinds of experience. We learn to just be present and to "remain with the sensation" without reacting to what is rising, but instead to simply and fully experience what is arising without feeling a need to do anything with our experience. When we are able to do this, then the old momentum of the wheel of death and rebirthing slows down and eventually ends. The three poisons get weaker and weaker, and then we find we are happier, calmer, and more grounded in our inner being.

On the level of our outer experience, we commit to wholesome and loving actions towards ourselves and others. By doing so, we set in motion good karmas that manifest a higher level of life. If we keep on being generous and compassionate towards others, then we attract more of the same to ourselves. We "use the law" to raise our life condition, rather than set up more painful experiences to undergo. In our meditation, we are noticing cause and effect, noticing how universal law in action. We become "one with the law". We use the law consciously to create our lives, rather than unconsciously set up painful experiences under the power of delusion. Everyone thinks that they are creating pleasant future experiences when they do things like lying, stealing, cheating, narcotizing, and hurting others, but all we do is create pain for ourselves, both immediately and later on. We then resolve to not do these things and close yet another gate of painful experience. This becomes "living the path with eight branches", the organic unity of the basic buddhist teachings, which represents a conscious and compassionate way of life.

After working on this level for a while, we begin to feel yet another layer to explore. There is a seeing that all our sorrow is due to "self clinging". There is a kind of self created by all the "thoughts of self", created by us identifying with the "I" thought in every sentence that we think. This identification with the thought of self loosely links all the thoughts that we think with this word within it. This creates a "network of thought". It is a loose mass of personality energy that can hold contradictions in the form of thoughts that cannot be true simultaneously. These contractions cause sorrow. The word for sorrow that Buddha used was "dukkha" which means contradiction, or "split action", two self generated actions conflicting with each other, usually taking the form of "wanting what we do not have" or "having what we do not want". On this level, sensual craving is felt more strongly and a subtle or overt arrogance appears. It is the artificial thought created self exalting itself. It is a delusion intensifying and amplifying a basic sorrow. Sensual craving is a subtle biochemical addiction that can drive us and cause deep withdrawal symptoms when not fulfilled.

The level of practice is summarized in Dogen Zenji saying, "To study Buddhism is to study yourself, to study yourself is to forget yourself." When looking at this level, the identification with the "I" thought is not continuous. There are gaps, usually 2 seconds for every 12 second period. If we are sensitive we can notice those natural "moments of freedom" and even learn to expand on them. During those gaps, we "forget self" and fall into our Buddha nature which is a silent radiant awareness presence that does not need to self reference through any thought whatsoever. If we can unify the knowing aspect of consciousness with the being aspect of consciousness, then we can experience a deep enlightenment.

There is a point where every "I" thought rises as a kind of delusion that we have believed. We become alert in a state of neither knowing or not knowing, and enter into a kind of direct seeing that is directly knowing but does not need to formulate its knowing it words, and usually in the beginning cannot. There is a kind of dullness in this "I" thought trance. We feel it lifting when we rise up in "crystal clear awareness". It is like waking up from sleep, from dreaming, or from a drunken haze.

The question arises on this level is how do we sustain this wakefulness. The more correct question is how do fall from this natural wakefulness into the ego trances that we have lived. The natural wakefulness does not need to be sustained. If we merely value this state, it remains. But we have valued many external things and have cravings and attachments to them that lead us back to sorrow. When we "do not value the valueless" then we can remain in this state for longer periods of time. Also feeling the bliss of being is not the same as understanding and knowing that we are radiant awareness. If we merely feel this state and become attached to it, then we have not yet realized that this is who we are. When we realize this, then we cannot lose this state. But if we objectify it and attach to it, then we lose it immediately.

The next level is the Dzochen level where you understand through "pointing out instructions" your primordial presence, and then immediately enter into this state. The "Anthem to Primordial Consciousness" that I had composed is one such pointing out instruction. This level is beyond any strategic effort to end sorrow. You instead realize what has always been beyond sorrow. You learn to "rest in presence" rather than to attach to the transitory and suffer when it changes. You learn to not identify yourself with passing thoughts, emotions, sensations, bodily states, and actions, and rest in the constant within your experience (awareness).

The next level is "working with energy". This level is harder to explain, but makes sense after the Dzogchen level is reached. Awareness is energy. It is a field in which the body, mind, and heart arises in. Inside this field, a lot of thoughts, emotions, sensations, impulses, and bodily states arise, abide, change, and pass away. All this is what psychotherapy calls "the subconscious mind", but are considered layers of energy that we are either aware of or not aware of. There is a way of working with all this to "refine the state" and deepen our realization of being. It is on this level that we evolve. We were already changing indirectly from all the other levels of meditation, but at this point we are evolving more intentionally and directly from a basis of living understanding that has grown within our experience. The ability to be with and accept what is becomes growing and evolving into a light body. On this level, the body becomes a "chemical factory". There is a focus on visualization of "bindus" and "seed vibrational syllables" in different locations in the body to open up energy flows, activate energy centers, and eventually shift the whole organism to a new level of functioning. The body becomes an expression of the Dharmakaya or Quantum field. In Tibetan Buddhism, it is working with the unity of appearance (body) and emptiness (Quantum field). On this level, we can invoke "dieties" and have their wisdom energy work within our field, helping us to burn away karma, and remove obscurations to fully feeling our true nature. All of us are present within the Dharmakaya as wisdom energy essences and we are interconnected with each other beyond physical form. These intentional processes need to be grounded in the other levels of meditation. Occasionally we need to be "retuned" to these other levels and learn to "bring the mind home" on those levels. The active meditation forms need to be grounded in the passive and pure awareness processes. Occasionally balance is lost and we need to retune and realign. It takes both sensitivity and intentionality to keep flowing on this level.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

From THE TEACHERS OF GURDJIEFF by Rafael Lefort (Chapter 5)

There is a movement in the world that is called "the Fourth Way" that was taught by Gurdjieff somewhere between the 1920s and 1960s. The name "Fourth Way" emerged to distinguish this path from the three traditional paths of a yogi (physical culture), a monk (emotional culture or devotion), and a philosopher (mental culture). It is a path through consciousness done "in the world" rather than in a monastic setting and which aims to integrate the mental, emotional, and physical centers into a unified functioning whole. It is considered a "path of accelerated transformation" based on a small secret called "self remembering". This is a moment where you are aware of something, anything, and then you are also "aware that you are aware". In Gurdjieff's teaching of "objective chemistry", this moment of self remembering creates a small amount of "doh 48", an actual chemical and energetic unit, useful for our biological and spiritual evolution. This doh 48 is then subject to other possible energetic/chemical transformations, some of which proceed "automatically" and some which can only proceed with "conscious intention" applied to an exact place inside us. When we are "aware that we are aware", then we are awake enough to do something more than merely play out our automatic habits and conditioned reactions to everything around us. Gurdjieff made it a point, also made by other teachers, that humanity is generally asleep and living its life in a conditioned hypnotic trance. People do not really value "self remembering" and its power, because they imagine that they are already awake and that already have an unified sense of self, when in truth people have many different selves running them and none of them are the real master who is meant to be present. These selves are different clusters of thoughts, emotions, and reactions that often oppose each other and prevent us from easily achieving what we want to do in life.

I consider the teachings of Gurdjieff to be very useful even for Buddhists to study, even though the language that Gurdjieff used is very different from how Buddhists generally talk about life. Perhaps it is because his teachings are also a highly developed system that is in many ways very different from Buddhism that it gives us "stereo vision", seeing the same basic thing from two different angles helps us understand the truth more three dimensionally. The Buddha does actually mention "self remembering" in his teachings, especially in the Sutra on the Mindfulness of Breathing and in the context of how to watch each inhalation and exhalation. This is interesting, because there is a passage in IN SEARCH OF THE MIRACULOUS by Ouspensky (one of Gurdjieff's most brilliant students, but who did break away from Gurdjieff a little too early and therefore did not receive certain teachings, like "3rd shock" and "solar self remembering", though apparently those teachings were something he may have gotten after he dies and then teaches to his successor Rodney Collin who record them in the book THEORY OF CELESTIAL INFLUENCE, though in this form it is not connected with the Enneagram). In this passage, Gurdjieff wanted his students to not do pranayama exercises or breathing methods. Many students have taken this passage to heart and have not linked self remembering to conscious breathing, even though I feel it is essential to do so to further evolve oneself. If you look a the "food diagram", you will see a "shock" (place where conscious intention is essential) that relates directly to breathing.

What is also interesting is that another student of Gurdjieff, named John Bennett, did eventually find and study with some of the teachers of Gurdjieff. Some of the teachers he met were already over 500 years old and were essentially immortals. They shared to him that the entire set of Gurdjieff's teachings were a "teaching experiment" designed to bring humanity to a higher state of development where more would be possible for everyone. The ideas that Gurdjieff taught have influenced the development of modern psychology, particularly his idea of "identification" and the idea of "multiple selves". Fritz Perls, who developed Gestalt Psychology, did meet Gurdjieff and did record the essence of the conversation he had with Gurdjieff in one of the books that I had in my library (if I still have it, I will try to post the conversation in the blog). What is interesting about the conversation is that Gurdjieff was, at the time, following a Sufi rule which is still used by some students in some of the Gurdjieff groups. This rule is to only answer the point of any question that is asked by someone, rather than to share more than a person asks for. You trust that a person does his or her own inquiry in their own way and only help them within the limits of this rule. By following this rule, it requires the inquirer to take a certain kind of responsibility for his or her process from the very beginning.

The book THE TEACHERS OF GURDJIEFF created a bit of a stir when it came out. The writer of the book, Rafael Lefort, presents himself as a seeker who is frustrated with the dryness of some of the Gurdjieff exercises and the dogmatism of some of the later Gurdjieff groups. It then purports to have also found some of Gurdjieffs teachers and puts what Gurdjieff taught in an interesting light. The reaction to this book in the Gurdjieff community was mixed. Some shared that it was a work of fiction and that the person who wrote it was ignorant of certain Middle Eastern customs. Some shared that the real writer of the book was Idries Shah who was an advanced Sufi spiritual teacher associated with the Naqsbandi Sufis and who had attained the level of a "Hadrat" (one who is established in the divine presence). Both reports are a little contradictory, since Idries Shad would know Middle Eastern customs very well. I have not been able to verify any weaknesses in the understanding of Middle Eastern customs in the book, since the floating rumor that was mentioned did not come with an exact reference to anything specific that could be tested. When I did read the book, there was not much custom either way mentioned in various passages, but some level of detail about various parts of the Middle East. One interesting rumor that appeared in one book (I think it was AMONG THE DERVISHES by O. M. Burke, but I am not sure) was that "Rafael Lefort" was code for "real effort" and that the main purpose of the book was to illuminate what was and was not happening in the Gurdjieff groups at the time. This code was linked with the idea that Idries Shah had written the book under this pen name. There is a passage in THE WAY OF THE SUFI by Idries Shah that showed that he was aware of the Gurdjieff groups and gave some advice to reorient the groups that were receptive to what he wanted to share, and also that he was aware of "third shock". In one passage he said, that beyond a certain point, "self remembering" needed to be replaced by "God remembering" (solar self remembering) or it would start to produce some wrong results. This is something that I do align with from my own practice. This is because humans already have a "delusion of self" that the Buddha wanted to dispel and it is important that this delusion does not "crystallize" into a relatively permanent feature of our feeling of who we are. When efforts to self remember are made without the medicine of the Buddha's teaching about "no self", this is likely to happen.

Gurdjieff did not teach much about 3rd shock himself, though he hinted about in the 3rd series of his writings LIFE IS ONLY REAL WHEN "I AM". The reason why he did not do so was because his approach to teaching was influenced by the Sufi idea of "time, place, and need". You only teach what students need to do and are able to do at any stage of their growth. People were not ready for the third shock, because they were too busy with the first shock and the second shock, with regular self remembering and noticing how automatic their habits were. I am confident that if more people reached a place where it was necessary that he would have taught this level more deeply. The 3rd shock is roughly equivalent of Buddhist Dzogchen enlightenment and is indirectly referenced in the Heart Sutra in the passage, "the Bodhisattva [awakened being] clings to nothing at all, NOT EVEN WISDOM [emphasis mine]."

Chapter 5 of the book THE TEACHERS OF GURDJIEFF is interesting, because it purports to be about the Sufi master who taught Gurdjieff how to breathe. It is my favorite chapter in the whole book and one which I found to be loaded with a lot of subtle hints to mature the breathing practice over the years. I am including the whole chapter here:


Back in Jersusalem I sought out my friend in the Tourist Police and asked him where I could find Sheikh Hassan.

"Every day at the Mosque of Omar and every evening at the Zawiyah Hindi hear Herod's gate. But his much I tell you; he is not a man to answer a string of questions. He is a disciple of the great Muhsin Shah the inheritor of the robe of Sultan Fatih himself. Seek him out by all means but take care!"

As a non-Moslem I could not enter the Mosque of Omar, so I located the Zawiyah Hindi, which is a rest house for Indian pilgrims; all manner of people stay t5here for short or long periods.

I left a letter there after having explained my reasons to a very obliging Indian lady who spoke English. She assured me that the Sheikh would get the letter.

I waited several days until a messenger brought me a reply. It said in English: 'You wish to see me, but what prompts you to suppose that I want to see you?'

I had discovered by this time that this is a classic Sufi technique by which means Sufis discourage random enquiries by off-putting rudeness. I replied, 'My desire to add to my knowledge prompts me.'

Back came the reply, 'Can you use knowledge?'

I replied, 'Not yet, but I aspire to.'

The answer, 'Come to the Zawiyah at sundown.'

I went.

[Rafael Lafort has, through his previous encounters with Sufi teachers, learned some humility and learned to be honest with his answers. One Sufi parable has an interesting line in it which says, "Why do you seek more knowledge when you do not use what you already have?" I remember when I had read this parable, a long while ago, that it struck a chord in me. I wrote down some key pieces of knowledge that I had gotten in an outline and realized that I was not using them fully, not applying them to my life, and yet I was seeking more! I found that when I started to practice what I had already received, it attracted more knowledge very naturally to me, like one step leading to another, and realized that the other pieces of knowledge would not even make sense to me had I not used what I already had and brought the process along enough to reach the next point.]

Hassan Effendi was sitting in the shade of an orange bush in the courtyard. A disciple sat behind him and to his left. The Sheikh was obviously a man of very advanced age, yet his face was smooth and unwrinkled, his eyes penetrating and his hands firm and rough. He wore a white Saudi robe and the pink and gold headdress of the Nakshbendi Order [alternate spelling of "Naqsbandi"].

He politely inquired as to my health and fell silent.

I broached the object of my quest.

'Know, my friend,' he replied, 'that I am a teacher of my Order, not a stimulus for your imagination or an oracle for the credulous. You comb the world looking for the teachers of Jurjizada [Gurdjieff], and here sits one of them; yet it will profit you little to pose me questions that are flooding your mind. I taught Gurdjieff to breathe. I say this and burst into a flood of how's, why's, and ifs, and buts and can I teach you? This answer is, I can but I will not.'

[In the book LEARNING HOW TO LEARN by Idries Shah and in THE BEGINNINGS OF LEARNINGS by Krishnamurti, there is an emphasis on what it takes to really learn something new, not merely to mentally capture ideas and memorize them, and how to give the right answers on tests. Many of the points that have been made so far and which will be made which have been emphasized by Idries Shah. He has communicated and illuminated about these things in his own teaching dialogue with European and American students in particular, to get beyond a certain kind of believerism and dogmatism that seems to plague our culture and which is partly implied in our educational system, where the teacher in placed in a certain authority position and where we are in some sense graded by how well we agree with the opinions of the teacher. There is another kind of inquiry where we learn directly from our experience and where the mental part is only one aspect of a larger learning process. This mental part needs to be kept in perspective. In the Heart Sutra, this mental part is negated by the Buddha in order to help reach intuitive wisdom.]

'May I ask, Sheikh, why only breathing?'

'Only! Only! Stupid question! More stupid than to have asked why or how. Do you think that to learn to breathe correctly is easy? Does your shallow panting do more than supply your blood with the minimum amount of oxygen needed to keep that portion of your brain that you use alive? One of the functions of correct breathing is to carry the baraka to the farthest recesses of the deep consciousness. Undeveloped men try to use thought or random action to affect the consciousness. Neither of these works as the dose and the direction and the intensity are not known to them. Only to breathe! Do you know how long it takes before you can be trained to take your first real breath? [italics is the author's]. Months, even years, and then only when you know what you are aiming for.

[In the Rebirthing tradition, there is something called "breath release" where the conventional ego finally releases its control grip on the breathing process. As long as we have the wish to repress our emotions and not feel them, then we are inhibiting our breathing and keeping it shallow. In the Buddha's breathing yoga, he would have students focus on this egoic control of the breathing and learn to let it go directly by learning to merely watch the breathing without changing it in any way. If a person is sensitized to this process properly, it can very rapidly lead to an experience of "no self" and enlightenment. The Buddha said that if a person could be aware of each breath [without controlling the breath] he or she takes for one hour that he or she would be enlightened. Breath release usually happens after we open up fully to our first repressed emotion and ride it to full feeling of our emotion. We can then be aware of how we always inhibit our breathing in order to not fully feel our emotional life and learn to let go of this inhibition into breath release. It takes about as much time to do this as Hassan mentions, depending on the motivation to become enlightened that the seeker has. Learning to release the breath allows us to learn how to "breathe from the breathe itself" which is the key phrase that Leonard Orr, the founder of the Rebirthing tradition used to describe the core process.]

'Gurdjieff came to me with a capacity to breathe and I taught him how to do it and how to breathe with his system, his consciousness and his entire being. You breathe to sustain your level of existence. Higher man breathes to maintain the breakthrough that he has made into a superior realm of being. Your ignorance, while not surprising, terrifies me. Gurdjieff stayed with me for twenty years. Yes, twenty years! Five months in Erzurum and the remainder of the time in rapport with me wherever he was learning to use his breath. Do you know what can be carrried into your consciousness by your breath? Do you know why a Sheikh will breathe on a disciple? Do you know why a Sheikh breathes into the ear of a newly born child? Of course you do not! You put it down to magic, primitive symbols representing life, but the practical reasons, the deadly serious business of nourishing the inner consciousness, passes you by. Flows over your head, bent as it is over physiology, psychology, causative phenomena, theoretic ecstasies. You blind yourself, life does not blind you. You call out in your pitiful arrogance for enlightenment, you claim your right to it as a birthright. You earn it, my friend, your earn it by dedication, toil and discipline. A hundred years must a body travel until it is seasoned. A seeker does not become a real Sufi until the very marrow of his bones has been seasoned in the oven of reality! Talk less of "only breathing" and how pitifully unprepared you yourself are even to approach the concept of Existence! Your capacity to profit from anything is directly proportionate to the efficiency of your system.

[There are several things about this passage that I find interesting. One is that the Shiekh calls him "my friend" which means he has taken him in and acknowledged him as a Sufi student. He is working on him behind his seeming rudeness. Many teachers, both Sufi and Buddhist, are only rough on students who have potential. Otherwise they are merely kind and do not expect the person to do much with what they are given. I personally do not use the method of "rudeness" as a teaching vehicle. It seems that we are growing out of a harsher patriarchal world where the divine feminine is making itself more felt. A certain kind of nurturing kindness and sensitivity to needs will be more dominant in the teaching style from this point on. What is also interesting is that Jesus breathes on his disciples (John 20:22-23) and shows that he was trained in Sufi breathing methodology. He transmits the power to "forgive sin" aka burn karma aka heal.]

'This is true physiologically as well as esoterically. You cannot, and you know it, expect your body to extract and process sugar if you have no pancreas, and yet, in your arrogant, intellectual way, you expect to be able to profit from the knowledge that others have bought for you. You want to use what you call the "process of thought or logic" to pick over the whole and eat the parts that you consider nourishing. At best your thought processes are surface reactions, at worst you cannot absorb a reaction or thought before it is fallen upon, diluted, dissected and malformed by the infernal process that you call academic reasoning. Reason, you call it! Do you call it reasonable to gulp down great pieces of wisdom and regurgitate them in the form of theory, the speech and the drivelling of a raw mind? The so-called Age of Reason in Europe produced less reason, less real intellectual progress, than one day's activity by a developed man.

[Here Hassan hints that you can breathe in wisdom, digest it inside oneself, and then release it into our system on our exhale. It parallels the Tantric Buddhist principle of the "unity of mind and prana" which is at the heart of the Tumo yoga. Have found that those who are used the kind of mental chewing that is part of the academic approach sometimes get impatient with Tumo yoga, because it requires attention to subtle changes in sensation that are going on in the body and how to nourish them. When we have been with the process for a longer while, then the subtle changes in sensation become waves of peaceful bliss/wisdom/love moving through our body and emanating out into the world. There is also a coordination of mind and breathing that is essential behind this. There is also the awakening and building of organs that psychically and emotionally process energies that flow within us.]

'You aspire, you dream, but you do not do! Tenacity is replaced by hair-splitting, courage by bluster, and disciplined thought by narrow, pedantic attempts at reason. Bend what little you have left of your intellect to practical activity, realising your severe shortcomings. Cease you diabolic "examination of self". Who am I? How many I's do I have? You have not the capacity at all to understand the concept of true self-examination. Follow a valid philosophy or condemn yourself to join the generations who have drowned themselves in the stagnant pools of slime that they call the reservoirs of reason and intellect!

'You have no reason, no intellect, do you understand? Even less have you of the catalytic substance that would allow you to use the reason and intellect that might just have survived the conditioning you have so warmly welcomed.

'Yes, I only taught Gurdjieff to breathe! No more, no less. If you can start to have the vaguest impression of what that could really mean, then you have promise. I am not prepared to explain to you further your incapacities, brought about by your positive, negative, and neuter selves and the control and effect that they have on your already fragmented consciousness. You may write a book about your search, but note me well. Quote me if you will, but do not interpret me. I am speaking ot your mother tongue so there is no room for impressions of or intellectual interpretation of what you may think I have said. If you cannot profit from it, do not try to "explain" it to others or attempt to expound your "feelings and emotions" and the attitudes that our talk has engendered in you. There are no hidden meanings in what I have said, you have all the necessary facts to assist you. Do not interpolate and do not parenthesize where I have done neither.

'The curse of the western world has alays een the scholar with the burning drive to interpret, comment and explain. Translation to him was a means of producing a trend of thought that had, more often than not, not existed in the original manuscript. If he, as was too often the case, did not pick up the original train of thought, he introduced his own, often deliberately, to prove a point or to use it as proff of his favourite theory.

'Due to the paucity of bi-lingual scholars in the west, these abuses went unnoticed often for centuries, sometimes for ever. Thus theories, sayings or treatises of considerable value were lost to the west. Sad? Unfair? You think so? Yet where is the blame if society has a lack of trained men? Their own or another's? To allow whole theories and traditions to be built up on the vagaries of one expert is rank irresponsibility. With your own right hand you throttle yourself while protesting that there is no one to protect you.

'Western scholarship has canonized its own saints, elevated its own self-perpetuating hierarchy of high priests, not having the critical faculty of being able to examine their qualifications. So you are stuck with them. If you overturn them now, have a pogrom and a burning of the books, with whom will you replace them? Whole schools of thought have been built on one man's aberration. You may say that that is the way scholarship operates in the West. You call it theory leading to a basis of understanding. True, yet there is dishonesty here, for why should not the translator or interpreter declare his real interest and not pass off the text as an embodiment of the real manuscript or text?

'What has this to do with Gurdjieff, you are thinking to yourself? Quite a lot.

"Those who have eyes to see, let them see the connection, those who have ears to hear, let them hear the truth from amidst the tangled skeins of falsehood, but let them first develop the faculty to know the texture of truth, to feel the truth, to speak the truth and create a climate in which truth is the accepted norm and not something out of the ordinary.

'Gurdjieff was to teach certain things for a certain circumstance. That his teaching was to be adulterated and carried out long after its effectiveness had gone, under circumstances which were in any case changed, was inevitable and predictable. His role was a preparative one, but most of the progress that was made was diluted beyond measure by the activities after his death. How, you may ask, could those who had profited continue the contact unless they were assocated with the school that he had set up? quite easily. It must have become clear as time went by that there was a lack of texture in the repetition of former activities. At that time it would have been easy to detach and follow the particles that one had absorbed.

'Activities, real activities, in the West never lost their contact, althought physically they may have appeared to do so. Malformed theories held within them the seeds of their own destruction. This is an immutable law and one which is proving itself. There are activities now that take care of those to whom real reality has not lost its taste.'

'Do you mean there are activities in Europe now?'

'I mean exactly what I say. If I had meant to add "in Europe" I would have said so. I am not given to slipshod conversation. You have you national failing of trying too hard to understand things, even to the extent of introducing extraneous facts or words into a passage to clarify it for yourself. This is an abhorrent trait and I strongly advise you to eschew it. It is not difficult and does not demand heroic effort, soul-searching and heart-burning. Just do not do it. If you have any pretensions towards discipline at all use it on yourself. If you need to cajole and bribe yourself to do a thing then better not do it, because you will only not it on the sufferance. I have little or no patience with those who are basically unprepared to take themselves in hand and take a long, cold look at themselves.

'You either can or you cannot. If you cannot it generally means that you will not. If you can then why do not do it?

'Ask me one more quesiton, my young friend, and ony one. I will answer it and then you must and may Truth be your guide!'

'Where, Sheikh, may I take up the trail next?'

Unhesitatingly: 'Haleb, if you wish. Mahmed Mohsin the Merchant will make you welcome -- Isk Bashad,' and he was gone.

[I do find that some of the focus on how we are taught to learn and how it does not serve is part of breath training. Many times, when people sit with the breathing, they will feel restless and that "nothing happened", even though a thousand things are happening, and there is a way of listening to the breath and watching the breath that can reveal the whole life story of the person and where they are heading, and even how they are aging and dying. It takes some time to shut off the analyzer so that we can get fresh impressions of our life and learn from them. When the analyzer imprints on our experience, it creates a layer of oldness over the present moment, and blocks us from learning something new. This is partly why Jesus talked about becoming converted and to become "like a child" again, so that we can learn. Many people, after sitting with their breathing during a week long Vipassana retreat begin to feel another way of learning and do meet themselves, and then can understand on a deeper level a phrase from Dogan Zenji: "To study Buddhism is to study yourself, to study yourself is to forget yourself." The thought created self, the analyzer, does not really exist, what it looks at does not exist and what it looks from does not exist. When we look inside we see a little door that swings one way when we breathe in and another way when we breathe out, and lots of thoughts arising and dissolving in inner space, then lots of emotions doing the same, as sensations become energy waves and become more refined in the body, then even the little swinging door disappears. Every thought and emotion has a kind of breath to it and as each disappears the breathing reflects this. It is interesting, too, because Buddhism has finally been getting some decent bi-lingual scholars, Tibetan Lamas whose understanding of English is getting better and American and European students who understanding of Tibetan and other sutra languages is getting better too. Much of the good translation has emerged from meditation retreats where the understanding needs to be practical to keep the process on track. It takes some actual practical understanding on the part of the translators of the actual processes mentioned in the texts in order to be able to translate well. Then they can share what they have learned within the language and culture they were raised in and keep the words alive enough so as to point to the understanding and experience that is relevant and at the heart of what is being shared.]

Friday, January 8, 2010


I had mentioned that some stories in Tibetan Buddhism are blessed in the sense that merely reading them with a reverent and receptive manner can connect one with a blessing. There was one concerning an immortal dakini in Rechunpa's biography. The following one is about a wonderful dakini named Sukhasiddhi and is known to be a blessed story. I have retranslated the story and added some notes in brackets.

SUKHASIDDHI (Dewai Ngodrup)

Om Namo Dakini Sukhasiddhi Ah.
Om Namo Dakini Sukhasiddhi Ah.
Om Namo Dakini Sukhasiddhi Ah.

[The original story had merely put a homage to Sukhasiddhi. I am giving a mantra for her. The mantra is not a traditional one, but is based on the mantric formula, starting with "om" which is the vibrational Dharma field as a whole which all the enlightened beings are one with, then "namo" which is means "I call upon", "I invoke", and "I open up to", then the title and name of the specific being, and lastly the bija mantra of the energy family that the being associates and belongs to (some of them, like Padmasambhava are initiated into all of them, but still belong to one specifically). The formula is repeated three times to generate the connection energy, eventually this by itself is enough to connect with Sukhasiddhi, once the story is absorbed. Some people will feel an energy in their head and/or belly and/or heart when repeating this devotionally right away.]

Long ago in India, in a country of 38,000 villages named Katchie, there lived an elderly couple with three sons and three daughters. They lived in one of the western villages which was undergoing a period of drought and scarcity. They lived in extreme poverty and only had one vase of rice among them.

[In Tibetan Buddhism, a gathering is considered auspicious when the genders are perfectly balanced. When males dominate the numbers, it is considered a "bodhisattva feast". When females dominate the numbers, it is considered a "dakini feast". When the numbers are equal, or near equal, then it is an "enlightenment feast". It is a good sign that in this family the balance was perfect between the genders.]

This vase was sealed and hidden, to save it for when it would really be needed. They all went out to look for food. The sons went south. The daughters went north. The father went west. The fifty nine year old mother stayed home and took care of the home.

[There is a mandala pattern in the hunting for food, but it is a little incomplete since the mother stays home rather than goes east. Fifty nine years old, in the lands near the Himalayas, is considered very old. The harsher climate seems to shorten the lifespans. This age is already a very long lifespan and it would not be uncommon to die near this age.]

While she was taking care of the house by herself, a beggar came to the house. The beggar was even poorer, hungrier, needier, and in more distress than the family. She had compassion toward his needs. She took the vase out of hiding, unsealed the jar, and cooked all the rice. She fed him with all that the family had, leaving no reserve behind.

The father eventually returned home. He was very hungry and weak. He had not found any food in his searching. He returned home in hopes of eating from the vase of rice and then leaving again to once again hunt for food. The sons and daughters also returned about the same time. None of them had found any food and all of them were very hungry. They all asked the mother get the vase of rice out and cook it, in order to satisfy their hunger. But the mother told them that she had given all the rice to a beggar who was in great need.

The family was very upset with the mother. They had experienced her seeming over generosity before and exclaimed that she had given away all their food before. They blamed her for the misery that they were experiencing and expelled her from the house. The mother left the house, moved across Katchie, and came to the western land of Uddiyana. In this new land, she found that the men were noble and courageous and the women were strong and virtuous. The vibrational field of the land allowed her to experience her natural mind, which gently became calm and clear. The land was experiencing harvest time. She took her place in this new land, obtained a bag of rice, and found a spot in the village market making and selling rice wine.

[Uddiyana seems to have been near the Afghanistan Himalayas, possibly near Pemir, where the Sarmouni existed. These were the teachers of Gurdjieff and also of Padmasambhava, who said that he came from Surmang - which is the same word when pronounced with Tibetan guttaralization. The symbol of the Sarmouni is the bee and the bee hive. They learn from all the spiritual teachers that have come to teach humanity and keep their teachings alive in their community, releasing the teachings back into the world when the world is able to hear those teachings again and when those teachings are needed for further growth in humanity. They do a special dance, much like the bees in their hives, to communicate this knowing. It is a dance of dakinis which takes over a thousand years to complete. By taking your place in the dance and feeling the slow motion movements of the dance, you can feel the whole time dance and feel a wisdom flow into oneself in the moment of harmonization with the dance.]

A very advanced meditation teacher named Birwapa (Awa Dotipa) lived in a nearby jungle. He was usually engaged in deep and profound meditation. He had a very devoted and reverent dakini companion who would go periodically to the market, get supplies and buy some wine. This dakini eventually bought her wine from the mother, since her wine was very well brewed, tasted very good, and was nourishing. The mother asked the dakini who she was buying the wine for. The dakini replied that she bought it as a gift offering for a very advanced yogi who lived in the jungle nearby. When the mother had heard this, she was inspired to give a container of her wine as a gift to this yogi and chose the very best that she had as her gift.

Upon receiving wine gift, Birwapa noticed the wonderful quality of the wine and asked where it came from. The dakini then shared where it came from and felt that the mother was a very devoted being who selflessly gave the wine as an inspired offering to him. When Birwapa heard this, he felt inspired to give her a Dharma Transmission that would liberate the mother from the three worlds of sorrow. The dakini then came back to the marketplace and invited the mother to meet the yogi. When the mother heard the invitation, her heart soared with great joy and felt a deep aspiration to embrace the gift of the Dharma Transmission, already feeling the gift within the telepathic intention of the Lama. She came to meet him with a gift of some of her best wine and with some pork to offer him.

[Original Buddhism was very vegetarian, even very vegan, but when it came to Himalayan region, not everyone felt able to fully embrace this diet and continued to eat some animal flesh, especially when food in general was scarce. Buddhism accepts people where they are and gently brings them, step by step, beyond karma and into a higher ethical ideal. Here the intention of the gift is accepted as coming from a good and sincere heart.]

When she came to Birwapa, he gave her the four secret empowerments, the path of accumulating merit, the path of completion, the meditations with form and the meditation beyond form. Very quickly her sixty one year old impure karmaic body was completely and naturally purified through her devotion, practice, and accomplishment. She reversed the aging process and became a youthful dakini who appeared to be sixteen years old.

[Again, when translating from the lifespan of people in this harsher climate into modern times, this sixteen year body in her world would be equivalent of a 25 year old body in the modern world. In short, it would be a fully developed adult body before any aging has set in. The very short time was somewhere between one month and one year.]

She was so beautiful and sensual that men who saw her would find her deeply desirable and would desire to look at her for a very long time. Her skin was luminous white and her complexion very clear. Her long hair flowed down her back. She became a dakini named Sukhasiddhi. She became a "sky dancer" [the meaning of the word "dakini"] and started to dwell always in the sky itself. Her name means "the union of bliss and accomplishment" (meaning that all the miraculous powers of a Buddha are found in the blissful energy of enlightenment). She had become completely selfless, having pierced completely through the illusion of a personality self, and became the spiritual companion of Birwapa. She presently lives beyond the cycle of reincarnation, beyond the karmaically driven rounds of birth, aging, death, bardo, and rebirth. She radiates wisdom and blessing energy to all sentient beings everywhere. She teaches all sentient beings who come to her with a pure, humble, and innocent thought intention to learn and to become enlightened. She initiates sentient beings who pray or chant devotedly to her into a secret sadhana. She gives blessings and empowerments to those who are receptive to her and ripe for those blessings and empowerments. Those who even merely hear about her story, through even these words, will experience her blessing and be inspired with devotion. After hearing this story and opening up to her blessing through this story, even hearing her name will bring the same blessing and inspiration to a sentient being.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Personal Health and Longevity Formula

A few friends have found a particular personal herbal formula beneficial and have asked me to share it. This formula has gone through a few revisions and is still in a state of evolution. The herbs that compose the formula are modular parts. I sometimes have found some parts are worth keeping, other parts may get deleted, other parts may get added later on, and other parts may get replaced by ones that do the same job a little better. Sometimes, too, I will try out an herb and remove it from the formula, because my experience is teaching me to let it go, that it is not really serving my needs the way that I thought it did.

In this formula, there is a core of three herbs that have remained from the beginning. They are Green Tea, Ginseng, and Kava. At present, I prefer the Matcha Green Tea, White Ginseng, and Whole Root Kava. I am exploring replacing Match Green Tea with Organic GABA Oolong Tea. Some Japanese researchers found that by curing Green Tea in a nitrogen environment, rather than an oxygen environment, that the natural GABA increases dramatically and two other acids are also converted into beneficial nutrients. GABA is one of the four main brain chemicals that we need in order to have "sanity" and "balance". The other three are Dopamine, Serotonin, and Acetycholine. GABA is like the earth element and helps us to stabilize and ground. Green Tea (and Oolong Tea which is from the same leaf and is the most cultured of the Green Tea family) also has Theanine, which is also a brain relaxant. It also also polyphenols which are brain antioxidants. All the benefits of Green Tea and nitrogen enhanced Oolong Tea made me decide to allow some caffeine in my diet. I was practicing staying away from caffeinated products before then, but found study after study indicating the benefits of Green Tea.

Kava also has GABA in it. My sense is that the combined GABA of Kava and the GABA Oolong tea, being a natural and plant bound source, is easier to absorb than the manufactured biochemical version. I am not against the manufactured version and have also found it useful. My healing approach, though, is called "enligthenment on a budget" and so I tend to prefer natural means because they are generally cheaper than manufactured powders and because they generally have more of the needed co-factors to utilize the main ingredients. I also feel that there is something called "plant energy' that cannot be merely reduced to biochemical factors. There is something like an herbal essence and herbal intelligence that interacts with our bodies that can produce more than what would be expected from taking a manufactured powder that has the same "active ingredients".

Ginseng is considered and adaptogen. This means that it strengthens our ability to handle stress. It seems to be a general tonic which boosts our regeneration system. This is also one of the modular parts of the herbal that I am still tinkering with. I am exploring what is the best Ginseng to use. Currently it is Panax Ginseng. Eleuthro (Siberian Ginseng) seems to be a different species and has to be considered on different merits. I used to think that White and Red Ginseng were two different types of Ginseng, but both are Panax Ginseng and are processed differently. Red Ginseng seems to have been cultured more extensively and made have more potencies as a result. There is also Panax Quinquefolius which is grown in North America and especially in Canada. This may or may not be superior to Panax Ginseng. I have yet to test this type of Ginseng. If it is equal in potency or only a little better, then it is probably not worth replacing Panax Ginseng in the formula, because it is about twice the price of Panax Ginseng. I like working with the whole root in any case and the root can be used for about five infusions.

Kava, besides having the GABA mentioned above, has active ingredients which seem to take the edge off of being anxious as well as ingredients that go heal the part of the brain most affected by emotional trauma. Kava has a very large number of alkaloids (which is the property that herbalist test for to see if a plant may have medicinal properties) and it may have many more healing properties that have been currently discovered. It seems to be a brain tonic. Some of the alkaloids are water extractable, others are oil extractable, others enzyme extractable, and others are alcohol extractable. The combination of herbs it is taken with seem to bring out different potencies. Combined with relaxing herbs like St. John's Wort and Valerian, it seems to enhance its calming properties. Combine with brain herbs like Green Tea, Ginseng, and Gotu Kola, it seems to enhance its own brain boosting properties. These two lines of research are not mutually exclusive, it can be both at the same time.

When I shared this formula with one friend, she found her menstrual cramps went away within a few minutes. Most of my friends reported some feeling of brain peace and quiet happiness from taking the formula.

The next ingredient to get added to the formula was Gingko. One of the things this herb does is increase oxygen transport to the brain as well as being a decent brain tonic. My sense is that it acts like an "anapest". This is an Aryurvedic term for an ingredient that helps transport other ingredients to where they are needed and can be used. Caffeinine is small doses also serves this function and is present in the Oolong Tea or Match Green Tea.

The next ingredient to be added was Chocolate. Most of the harmful effects of Chocolate have to with the added milk fat and sugar. Chocolate by itself has lots of antioxidants. It is also a cultured food. It has some ingredients that shift the hormones into a place where a person feels "loved". It blends well with Kava and together they are synergistic. It is important for the Chocolate to be organic cacao grade without akalis and not mixed in with all the stuff that Chocolate normally has with it.

The next ingredient is Cardamom. This herb is often used in Chai and is of the Ginger family. It has anti-inflammatory effects and seems to heal the intestines, positively affects the lung area, and does enough good things over the whole body to be considered a general tonic. It seems to also be a mild thermogen and helps burn away brown fat.

The next ingredient is Tumeric. This herb is a very good anti-inflammatory. It is used in a lot of Indian cooking and is an ingredient in mustard. Only in both these forms you do not get enough to experience its full positive effect. Tumeric makes a tasty tea by itself (with a little sweetener like Stevia).

The next ingredient is Coconut Milk. The Coconut Oil is an extractive for the medicinal potencies of the other ingredients. Coconot Milk has medium chain triglycerides which are easier to combust than long chain triglycerides (complex carbs like grains) and yet do not burn you out like white sugar (short chain triglycerides). They seem an ideal energy source. The flavor seems to synergize with Tumeric and Cardamom and make this formula taste a little bit like a Chai.

The next ingredient is Stevia. This is a sugar substitute and also a blood pressure regulator, making low blood pressure rise and high blood pressure lower. There are some sugar substitutes that claim to not be harmful, but there are only two that I have found that also claim to be beneficial and not merely harmless. Stevia is one of them and Xylitol is the other. The problem with Xylitol, though, by itself it does not always sweeten very well. Inspite of its very chemical and manufacturing name, Native Americans first used this as a sweetner and got it from some bark. It is usually extracted from corn now. Stevia and Xylitol combine and synergize well together. Xylitol reduces plaque and reduces allergies. My father was diagnosed with a plaque build up around the heart and scheduled for surgery. When he came to the surgery, they said it was too risky to operate (after telling him he needed surgery or he would die). He asked me for some advice after these two bits of bad news (one that he needed surgery or he would die and two that he could not have the surgery that he needed because it was too risky given his condition). I mentioned that Xylitol was anti-plaque and said I would research further to see what I could find that might help. I was not expecting Xylitol to cure him, but thought it was better than nothing. My father dutifully bought some Xylitol and used it in a tea three times a day for two weeks. After the two weeks he went back to the doctors who were surprised to find that he was cured and did not need the surgery at all. Needless to say my father was very happy that he did not even need the surgey and was no longer at death's door.

I usually cook up the above ingredients in a pot that holds about two quarts of liquid. I add a teaspoon of ginseng, gingko, and kava, and a half teaspoon of Kava, Tumeric, Cardamom, and Chocolate. I add about half a cup of Coconut Milk and sometimes a tablespoon of organic coconut oil. I add the coconut after the herbs have reached a boil (when it reaches a boil and turn it down to simmer for a minute and then turn off the heat). I let the herbs that are not in powdered form have a chance to have their potencies drawn out by the water first, and then add the powders. My feeling is that powders slightly clog the other herbs and so I give the other herbs a headstart. A fine mesh strainer is then used and the filtered tea is ready to be served.

Cinnamom is a nice addition to the above formula, but I do not always use it. I am also considering adding Licorice, Foti, and Gotu Kola to the formula. I have sometimes added a drop of Valerian Oil, Anise Oil, and Bergamot Oil and find them both helpful and synergistic. Valerian oil brings out the relaxing element strongly and it is probably wise to not take it unless you are near sleep time. One drop of each of these herbs is plenty. Two drops is probably too much. I feel the oils also help extract the potencies of the other herbs and therefore should be put in last and should be stirred in.

Although this formula is probably very safe, it is up to each person to check and see if it fits what is personally needed, if it is compatible with one's biochemical individuality, one's general diet, and anything else that one is taking. I am sharing this formula just to show where my research is evolving and not as a substitute for medical advice or as a replacement for any medical healing process anyone might be considering. I personally have taken responsibility for my health, healing, and longevity process and I am offering this information to those who have made a similar commitment. I expect people to test out these things for themselves and find out what works for them. In a sense, I expect people to be their own scientists and learn from their own research, experimenting, and experience.