Monday, September 27, 2010

Every Exhale is a Letting Go

Buddha became enlightened with an exhale (nir=out +vana=wind = nirvana). Jesus tore the veil of separation with an exhale (pneuma fyi john 19:30) and entered into unity consciousness. Every exhale is a microsurrender into the Divine and causes a micro-wave of relaxation that can be seen/felt. The only thing that prevents it from being total surrender are resistant thoughts that we are attached to and still identify with. What would happen if we concentrated so deeply on the natural mantra of breathing that all resistant thoughts were let go moment to moment with each exhale until we reached "no thought samadhi" (complete absorption without distraction in the object of attention aka breathing)?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Amritayana Kundalini Pranayama I

In my study of the Immortalist spiritual traditions, there are several themes that recur. One is that the practitioners were vegetarian or vegan, used herbs, did fasting and cleansing rituals, had good hygiene, and did some gentle physical exercise that helped energy to flow through their bodies. They all meditated everyday. Some meditated for 8.5 hours a per a day (Kriya Yoga), some for 2.5 hours per a day (Yogi Bhajan's Kundalini Yoga), and some for at least 1 hour per a day. They used mantras and mudras to help move the energy up the central spinal channel. They all practiced some kind of pranayama or conscious breathing. They had a spiritual philosophy of life, lived in harmony with nature, and trusted life to take care of them, and therefore lived without fear or anxiety.

In this writing, I would like to offer a version of the pranayama and call it "Amritayana Kundalini Pranayama". The combination of elements that form this yoga or practice is relatively unique, but all the elements have come from various immortalist traditions. I am emphasizing the internal elements necessary to make it effective and efficient. The goal is to empty the subconscious mind or alaya vijnana of all the samskaras (thought impressions or potential conditioned reactions that can be triggered by sensory experience). The physical body is an expression of the samskaras which are stored in the subconscious mind and when we transform our subconscious mind by emptying samskaras or physical bodies vibrate to a higher energy frequency and experiences light shifts, eventually becoming an immortal light body beyond aging and death.

Unlike some of the older traditions, I do not recommend padmasana or the lotus posture. There are several reasons for this. We are used to sitting in chairs and when we go into the lotus pose we do not do it correctly and this puts stress on the spine. I have tested a number of people during bodywork sessions, some of them leaders of various kinds of meditation groups and some of them just students of various meditation traditions. Whether they are the leaders or the followers, all of them, without exception, could not do the lotus posture correctly. It is not about discipline or will power, but that our bodies are usually unable to sustain a loose and erect spine well while sitting. The sitting in the Lotus posture is actually doing some harm. If a person feels called to do Padmasana, then I would recommend that one study and learn how to Hatha Yoga very well, and systematically stretch with great sensitivity, awareness, and breathing until the body is able to do this well. I would also recommend regular chiropractic adjustments with a chiropractor who preps the body before making the adjustments and also getting some massages and/or subtle bodywork. There is a lot that can be learned about how to exist in a human body, fully inhabiting our life on Earth, and how to be a loose erect spined biped who is able to flow with life. One of the primary causes of aging, to me, is that gravitational stress on the body from poor posture, poor function, and poor movement, with Tai Chi and Chi Kung teaching people how to correctly move and flow with life all the time. When we learn how to flow with life, use gravity like a sail boat uses the wind to glide across the ocean, stay dynamically centered and balanced while in motion, breathing in coordination with the extention and retraction of our arms and legs, then we will not experience gravity as an enemy but as a friend. When the body is free from this kind of stress, then its starts to gain the regenerative capacity to live a long and healthy life. Eventually, I think it would be good to be able to master Padmasana, but until we do, it is more of a growth goal than something usable now for our breath mastery.

What I feel is better to do is Shivasana aka corpse pose. This is lying down on the ground with spine loose and erect. There are several checks needed to do this asana correctly. It is deceptively simple, but it is not about merely dumping the body on the ground and having it go limp. Once lying down and checking the looseness and erectness of the spine, you want to bring up your knees and flatten the lower back to the ground, taking some deep and full breaths, letting all tension relax via the subtle stretching of the lower back, letting each exhale be a letting go. Once the lower back relaxes, then to gentle slide the legs back down to the ground, extending them, with toes gently pointed outward, away from the center line. The neck is then checked to see if it is holding any unnecessary tension, then the jaw, then the shoulders, and then to see if any vertebra in the spinal column are tight. The arms are to the side, with palms facing up, and the thumb and index finger tips touching each other. This hand mudra forms a valuable energy circuit that helps regulate the flow of internal energy. There are many hand mudras that are helpful, but this one is very usable in the long term. The palms up position encourages the shoulder/heart area to gently open up a little more, helping to release tension in the pectoralis muscles.

There are asanas which play off of Shivasana, which help deepen the pose, which help to release unnecessary tension from this pose. Many of the leg stretches are helpful. Almost all the lying down poses of Hatha Yoga can help to deepen Shivasana. Some of them should be done during each meditation session. It is also possible to use some massage tools to relax the muscles as well as various pressure point tools. Dzogchen Buddhist masters are seen in some murals pressing various meridian body points with their thumbs (and intoning "ah" while doing so) often with the assistance of an asana (pose) which helps an area to open up. There is a book called ACU-YOGA BY Michael Reed Gach (paperback, Japan Publications, Fifth Printing 1986, ISBN 0-87040-489-X) that is helpful and understanding Hatha Yoga from a meridian and energy flow awareness of the body. I could teach many classes on various still and moving asanas to help the kundalini pranayama to activate and move through the channels and circuits of the energy body. Right now, I can only give an outline of the practice and give some idea of the depth of relaxation necessary to be fully accomplished in Shivasana.

The inner aspect of Shivasana is that it is about deeply and fully letting go of all effort and tension. It is the mudra of surrender. You surrender so deeply that you become a corpse. You die to all your problems and issues. A dead person literally does not have any problems. The opposite of this conscious dying surrender mudra is "self clinging" which in the deep analysis of sorrow that the Buddha did is the source of all sorrow and all pain. The Sufis have a saying, "Die before you die," to summarize this yoga. They talk about "fana" (extinction/dying) and "baka" (resurrection/rebirth). There is more than one level of dying. Immortalist practice is paradoxical in that totally surrendering and dying to everything allows us to regenerate everything and live an immortal life.

One of the teachings of Kriya Yoga is that breathing is a mantra. Every breath has a sound. It is aspirated in the movement of the inhale and the exhale. This means that every breath, especially the exhale, is a form of chanting a mantra. Every exhale is a micro-surrender into the Divine or Quantum Field. Every inhale is a receiving of Grace or Quantum Aliveness from the Divine.

Notice your inhale and exhale, imagine that you are aspirating the sound "ha" on the exhale, like a soft whisper of the sound into the ear of a friend. Notice how this shapes the breathing. See if you can source the sound from the belly relaxing back into the spine, rather than sourcing the sound from the jaw. I recommend aspirating the sound with mouth breathing, rather than nose breathing. It is easier to get the feel of the breathing this way. Most of us underbreathe and need more air volume. When we only breathe through the nose, we usually keep our underbreathing intact. One Rebirthing saying is "Mouth breathing is energizing, nose breathing is balancing." If we start with nose breathing, then we have nothing to balance. If we start with mouth breathing, we will rapidly energize our bodies. It should quickly tingle with energy if we are doing it right. Then we can switch to nose breathing if we want to balance the energy flows.

Rebirthing breathing has these characteristics:

(1) In and out through the mouth or through the nose, but never a combination of the two (never in through the nose and out through the mouth or visa versa).

(2) Inhale and exhale connected into one smooth circle of breathing with no pauses between the inhale and exhale. This makes the breathing slightly faster.

(3) Inhale expanding the belly and exhale relaxing/softening the belly.

(4) The exhale is never forced or forceful. If we are pushing on the exhale, then it usually means we are moving into fear breath and need to make an adjustment. Fear breath is pushing something away.

I would also add these elements to Rebirthing breathing:

(1) Visualize receiving the energy of love, wisdom, and creativity from the atmosphere that surrounds us, imagine and feel that we are never alone, but are always in this energy.

(2) Visualize surrendering into this energy with each exhale, imagine that you are sinking deeper into gravity, the embrace of the Earth, and are allowing yourself to feel safe and held by life.

(3) Notice how the intention to receive on the inhale deepens the inhale, making it fuller, eventually expanding (without strain) the belly and rib cage into full lung breathing.

(4) Notice how the intention to surrender on the exhale makes the exhale softer and smoother. This is very important, because every exhale is a literal letting go into the Divine when done rightly. When we are consciously exhaling, then we are consciously letting go. This is especially true when our minds are focused on each breath and are not wandering in thought land (and thereby staying in ego control). Every exhale is a dying to ego control. If we concentrate our focus and intention this way, each exhale will very rapidly move us into the Divine Domain.

(5) As the body relaxes, the repressed emotional experiences stored in the chronically tense muscle tissues will surface. You want to "not cling, not resist" whatever is flowing upwards. Ideally it will pass through the third eye viewing screen and be gently released. If we get hooked into the thought flow, we can get lost in an ego drama and play out a karma, rather than finish with a karma. Getting hooked in is when we react with clinging or resisting to something in the emerging experience. This is the inner yoga. If we stay focused on the breath, stay in the exhale, stay in the let go, then the thoughts will flow out the crown chakra and be released and we will be done with whatever it is. This the gentlest way of healing karma and releasing samskaras or healing everything. Our dying to what arises is our gesture of trusting Divine Grace to do all the release work and karma burning work for us. The thought flow is "digested" by each chakra and then passed upwards until it is blown out the crown and done.

Shivasana is also ideal because it literally requires no effort to be in this state and the idea is to surrender even any other subtle effort we are doing until we reach deep trustful not doing of anything, completely trusting the Divine to do everything for us. This means that we can easily sustain this breathing meditation for many hours. If we are in a deep healing process, it is good to have time to continue as long as possible. I have gone many times for as long as 14 hours straight, not feeling hungry during this time, and then often only eating a light soup, herbal tea, and salad afterwards (or just one of those items).

It is also possible to come to "suspended breath" which is where we stop completely and with our bodies so deeply oxygenated that we do not need by breathe for a long pause (without any strain). It is a Nirvakalpa Samadhi experience, where deep cellular regeneration can happen. Some yogis in the past tried to do this through breath retention (holding) for long counts (Earth Element Breathing). But I found that Rebirthing breathing does it more strainlessly and naturally by just having each breath be a full and efficient prana generator for the body. When it first happened, I found I was not merely not breathing, but felt no pressure, need, or urge to breathe. It lasted for about five minutes. There was a serene kind of eternal silence, but unlike a deep space I had reached in Zen meditation, it was more grounded in the physical body.

There is another experience called "breath release" where our ego does temporarily and completely die, and releases its control of the breath. To me, this is when we enter "nirvana" (nir=out, vana=wind aka out wind or exhale or surrender). This is also, I feel, when Jesus "breathes his last" (exhales, breath releases) and tears the veil of separateness apart to enter into unity consciousness, and says, "It is finished". Breath release completes something very deep and ends something relatively permanently (there are more egos stored in the subconscious mind and need to also be surrendered). When we do breath release, we shift from Water Element Breathing (Rebirthing) to Space Element Breathing (zero ego control breathing).

Staying in the Mudra of Shivanasa, without fidgetting, staying aligned, or re-aligning when we notice we are off, helps deepen the surrender into the Divine. Part of Zen practice is the unity of practice and enlightenment, when you take on the posture or body of an enlightened being, then you also take on the mind of an enlightened being. The Mudra of Shivasana allows us to take on the surrender of an enlightened being to the Divine.

One powerful way of working with all this is within Tanran Reiki energy healing, where the receiver is holding Shivasana mudra and a Reiki practitioner is "opening the flows" so that every cell can participate in the surrender process. The Reiki practitioner lays hands on any blocked area and runs energy through this area until it opens up. This can accelerate the pranayama process and make more efficient use of our time.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh

I wanted to write a more informal sharing about my favorite mantra: "Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh". I first encountered the chant to Amida Buddha when I was in college, over 30 years ago from today. There was a book called THE LIGHT OF A THOUSAND SUNS which touched upon many religions and mainly looked at their devotional side. There were two pages about the Pure Land sect and about Amida Buddha. The mantra struck a chord in me. I was transitioning, at the time, out of Christianity. Part of why this was happening was because of an experience in contemplative prayer where I went very deep into the heart of life and felt unconditional love at its core. When I felt this conditional love, for me and for everyone, I knew without any doubt that this energy could not even prick someone with a pin or cause them even mild hurt, and therefore could not throw nonbelievers into eternal infinite daily torture in a hell realm. I also had an experience where Jesus appeared in a vision and told me to become a Buddhist. The experience happened in a charismatic Christianity church where everyone was speaking/chanting in the tongues of angels. It felt very sweet and I saw Jesus descend upon the minister and shine healing light upon him. The minister then said that he felt a healing presence. After Jesus had established that he was more real than just an internal vision, that he was felt by another, and by all who were present in a general way (the congregation saying a gentle "amen"), he came directly to me and said for me to become a Buddhist. I was puzzled by this and only found out later, about 5 years later, why he had done so. I was then in Florida and was walking to the beach, contemplating a Sufi "koan" about alleviating the sorrow of the Divine. My ordinary mind could not solve it and yet I was determined to solve it, and something reached deeper than my ordinary mind, into my depths. A memory surfaced of my past lifetime with Guatama Buddha, in the memory was him chanting the Heart Sutra in Sanskrit. The memory was so deep and so vivid, that I was temporarily thinking in Sanskrit, could hear and feel the intonations of the syllables, the duration of each syllable, and even the mudra that Buddha was in (third eye lock in padmasana). The memory had the solution to the Sufi koan and also the answer to why Jesus had gently commanded me to become a Buddhist. He saw with his own spiritual inner eye that I was one of the original monks following the Buddha and needed to complete my journey with the Buddha, all the way to enlightenment, and even beyond this. I saw that there was no competition between all the religions, that a higher being like Jesus wants what is best for everyone, and guided me back to my original teacher. In a general sense, all the religions teach the same truths. Sometimes they also teach different things, but the lessons are compatible with the same growth, our evolution into a higher being who is more compassionate, more creative, happier, and wiser than we are now. I also got that some versions of Christianity and some of its teachings had become narrow, rigid, and dogmatic, and were not part of this more universal vision. Some branches of Buddhism also have this kind of flavor as well, but are less intense about themselves. It seems that the dogma of eternal damnation for nonbelievers has a lot of ill effects on consciousness when it is believed. It is the exact opposite of unconditional love, and confuses love and violence together. I do not think that Jesus believed this idea, but talked of a Divine Presence that caused the sun to shine and the rain to fall on believer and nonbeliever alike, upon everyone equally, that this loving energy forgave instantly whatever anyone had done, and that we are meant to emulate this energy as part of entering into a living oneness with this energy ("Be you merciful as your heavenly parent is merciful."). Many Christian saints have, in their own way, saw through the dogma of eternal damnation and saw that it could not be true about unconditional divine love.

In any case, the chant to Amida Buddha in the book mentioned was "Namo Amida Buddha". This represented to me an unconditionally loving divine energy, completely gracious, completely forgiving, that was free from the dogma of eternal damnation. I found that when I chanted the mantra, in a kind of gregorian plainsong fashion, while walking around the college campus late at night before going to sleep, that I felt better. I did not chant with any conscious idea of getting inner peace. I just chanted like Shinran had said, in gratitude for the energy blessing me without anything required in return and healing me, day by day, in its own time and in its own way, as I was able to receive. I just noticed that I would always feel better after I had done so. My chanting was not "scientific". It did not have any special subtle chord structure to it, no particular meter, and no particular intonation. It was just a devotional act in plainsong. I found that the shortest sutra in the Patanjali yoga sutras is only two words long, "Devotion frees". There is simplicity to devotion that links to the mysteries of unconditional love. Chanting allowed me to open up to and link with the blessing energy of Amida Buddha. It did not matter about the number of repetitions. The recited of the mantra so many times is just an excuse to stay immersed in the energy. The power of the mantra is in the being behind it who empowers its use. The mantra itself does make some difference, because it is the link.

I found in another experience, when I was doing a fair amount of lucid dreaming, that a wolf in dreamtime had leaped for my throat. As the wolf was coming to me, I found that I spontaneously chanted one just repetition of "Namo Amida Buddha" and the wolf dissolved. Although I did not understand mantras as well as I do now, this was a significant event. When a mantra penetrates into the subconscious mind and starts to operate there, then a deeper healing happens. Until this is reached, the mantric reflex is superficial and only produces a certain level of change. When we spontaneously chant it in dream time, then a certain deep letting go into the energy of love has become second nature, has transformed us and will continue to transform us.

Somewhere after this, the mantra started to shift even the outer world. It did not merely make me feel good inside. I would often chant with homemade mala beads. I found that after many repetitions that the mala would get charged with energy. I would often give them to people in sorrow and depression. The mood of depression would at least temporarily lift when they wear the beads. I kept chanting and charging the beads in meditation, and would end up giving them away. At present I do not have any more malas, but may get another one. It seems that love wants to share itself with others and healing them. I am quite certain it generates good karma to do this too, but it seems natural to give away love charged mala beads as part of how Amida Buddha wants to convert Earth into a Pure Land, how the very matter of the Earth is meant to be infused with loving energy.

During one transition, I was feeling a bit down when I was living in Seattle and delivering pizzas for Dominos. I started to chant to Amida Buddha and I got three times the amount of tips that I usually got. My brother was also working there and started chanting some when I mentioned this. It was not that I really needed the money. I had enough coming in and have always been frugal with money. But the money was a symbol that Amida Buddha could reach into our Earthly lives and touch it in tangible ways, raise our life condition through synchronicities, and more. A person could rationalize that I may have been in a better mood when chanting the mantra and people felt inspired to tip me more than usual as a result. But I was in good moods often and never noticed a triple increase in tips. Regardless of how the event is analyzed, some shift happened in feeling first and then manifested as a higher life condition with actual material changes happening too. I also saw that Amida Buddha did not care if you started chanting from greed, as long as you opened up and let yourself get transformed. The motivation would naturally purify if you continued.

Another event happened where a friend got a negative entity inside his heart. It was due to karma, to something unresolved with his mother, to something to do with misusing drugs, and with lying to and manipulating females in order to have sex. Much as I would prefer otherwise, there are demonic like entities that can enter into human life when certain karmaic thresholds are crossed. This entity was so fierce that it lifted out of my friend and tried to attack me. I chanted to Amida Buddha and this powerful light appeared in the room. The entity left the heart of my friend and my friend felt a dark cloud lift from his heart. He did not notice the radiant light in the subtle world, but did notice the effect of the light gently causing the entity to leave. It reminded me of Saint Catherine of Genoa, a Christian contemplative mystic, who said that God does not throw anyone into hell ever, but that some beings will run away from love into hell. Although love does not condemn, it illuminates the situation in truth, sees things exactly as they are, and forgives them. In self judgment, we may run away from that loving light, rather than be healed by that light. Negative entities project their own fears on this light and run away (or they let themselves get purified by this light and become free).

During the next phase, Amida Buddha appeared in dreamtime. I saw Sukhavati, the homeworld of Amida Buddha, with its radiant trees with luminous microspheres of light, with beautiful pools of water surrounded by rainbow colored rocks, with meditators in spheres floating in the sky, meditators on giant lotus blossoms floating on the pools, and meditators on the ground peacefully meditating. The weather is not harsh at all, so there are no buildings and no roofs. This world is said to have arisen, karma free, from the meditation of Amida Buddha. It was, in short, visualized into existence. Some Buddhists are horrified at the literalism of Sukhavati, of how birds will chant dharma verses from Sutras, of how many teachings become symbolically materialized into the landscape. But what I learned from this is that Earth is also strangely literally too, but in another way. Knifes, swords, and weopons are symbols of anger and fear. Buildings and walls are symbols of a harsh world where sorrow still reigns. In some way, even this world arises from a contemplation, but it is still under karma, carried from the past, held in the subconscious mind, and projected into our present experience. Sukhavati is meant to be visualized with Amida Buddha to transform our minds and raise it beyond karma. When something is a pure creation of mind, then it does not come from the causation of the past and therefore ends the chain reaction of sorrow that emanates from the past.

During this phase, Amida Buddha taught a lot of things directly, one of them being to add "Om" to the beginning of the mantra. He said this because he wanted the mantra to be for nonbuddhists as well. He wanted the mantra to be universal. He did not want the people who used the mantra to have to abandon whatever sacred path that they were on, but only to "add this advantage" if they wanted it. I remember meeting up with someone who was an open minded Christian and who still had a conditioned aversion to "Eastern Religions". Many branches of Christianity still actively condemn all other religions and do instill a sense of subtle fear about learning anything from them. But I asked this Christian to tune into and feel Jesus and he did feel something warm inside him. I then asked him to chant to Amida Buddha just ten times and then tune into Jesus again. He found that the strength of the contact grew manyfold. Amida Buddha had gently burned away some obscuring karma and helped deepen the connection to his own path. It was a kind of signal boost.

Amida Buddha taught about "meeting people in agreement". He said to focus on what people agree with, to notice where people already agree, and to expand from there. In this world, people often focus on what is disagreed upon and conflict with each other. If you listen sometimes, a vast amount of communication is about disagreeing with others. There is a kind of tension energy that appears when we do so. These disagreements are still part of what is, part of what happens here. We do not have to disagree with disagreement. But we can focus on the harmony already created and expand upon this. When there is disagreement, there is something like a logical contradiction. All thoughts are interconnected. If a person agrees with us on one point, they actually agree with all the other points by a kind of logical consistency. This means that they are holding a contradiction inside when they are disagreeing with us. We can either reinforce the place of conflict or link to the place where we agree and indirectly challenge the disagreement from within them, from the place of agreement. The second way is more peaceful.

In another dreamtime communication, about a year and a half later, Amida Buddha instructed me to add "hreeh" to the end of the mantra, the fire syllable. This addition symbolized that behind the chant is an experience of tingling energy in the body, a sign of karma being literally burned away, and that the action of the mantra is beyond mental theories and religious beliefs. Since then the mantra has taken its "final" form, stabilized, with no additions. But later on a visualization was added to the mantra where the seed syllables are placed as such "om" in white in the head at the third eye, "ah" in silvery blue at the heart chakra in the center of the chest, and "hreeh" in fiery neon red at the sacrum. The Tumo yoga mixing of bindu exercise is done similarly from this base. When this visualization is done, it accelerates the healing action within the subconscious mind and also empowers the mantra to go deeper when it is merely chanted.

Over the years, the mantra has worked faster and faster. Before it would take about 1,000 repetitions to notice a change. Now only 100 repetitions and I am in bliss. I find I am lifted into a deep space where I can send energy telepathically to friends. Sometimes only one repetition is needed to shift me. I usually head my emails with this mantra to remind me to keep operating from a raised life condition and not to fall into a certain kind of conflict with others. I notice that people, even thinking the mantra clearly and intentionally just once will have their auras slightly brighten. I can see how even one repetition always has its scientific result, but that humans need to repeat the mantra so that "brightness builds on brightness" until we feel it. One repetition usually has too subtle an effect for us to notice. This is not the fault of the mantra. Humans have dulled their energetic and emotional sensitivity so as to not feel so much pain. Their sensory threshold dulled so that they can live in a world which bombards them with a lot of intense messages from the media, from all kinds of pamphlets, fliers, books, videos, door to door preachers, from church pulpits, and even political rallies. All this information has desensitized humans to a very large extent. This is why it is good to go out in nature and be renewed. If we hang out too long in nature, meditating serenely and deeply, however, we do find the ordinary human world to be harsh and intense. It takes us some time to adjust. If we stay in the loving energy we tuned into when in nature, then we can slowly sustain this raised sensitivity and not be overwhelmed by a world which is driven by addictive craving, condemning negativity, and obscuring delusion.

The Pure Land sect focuses on having faith and reliance on Amida Buddha to cause you to be reborn in the Pure Land of Sukhavati when you die. But the Amitayus sutras focus on the other aspect of Amida Buddha which will cause us to experience health and long life on Earth. I call it the double insurance plan or "Amida Life Insurance". I do get that Amida Buddha wishes for the Earth to be a Pure Land where aging, disease, death, poverty, earthquakes, tidal waves, and harsh storms all come to end. There is a vision of physical immortality behind Buddhism that is not so well known. Padmasambhava, once broken from the cycle of death and rebirth, now lives in a light body that is not subject to aging and death. There is a realism, too, about all this, that if we do not pull it off, then we can be reborn in Sukhavati and continue our inner work. And if Earth is too harsh and difficult for us, then we can also leave and go to Sukhavati. It is wiser to hang out here, work through the karmas that are presented to us here, and continue to grow. We can serve and help others at the same time. The Divine Grace or Blessing Energy of Amida Buddha is such that, even if we die, we can continue to heal. We do not have to fear death at all and it may not even happen. We might "gently lay down our bodies" if we want to go further in our growth beyond the Earth or transform it into a light body and take it with us. The latter is the most ideal, but it may take some time to master this. Life continues.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I would like to start this sharing with a play on words, that the word "transcendence" can be seen as "trance-end-dance". What this implies is that we are already in some kind of trance, some kind of mental, emotional, and sensory experience, and that this experience can end. I think that Buddha would have called this trance by the name "the trance of self", while the Hindus would have called it "ahamkara" (the self created by activity or doing). Inside this trance is a certain kind of "feeling of self" and this self feels that it is isolated and separate from other selves, and longs for companionship, kinship, or unity with other selves. This kind of self deeply longs to bond with another self in a loving romantic relationship to feel a very deep unity with another being, to not feel alone, and when such a loving partner dies, such a self can feel deeply alone, abandoned, in pain, and even end up dying from the feeling of loss.

Part of what Buddhism is has to do with "meditation", with entering this trance with "beginners mind" or what the Taoists call "the mind of a child or newborn babe". This is a mind without preconceptions, able to look without conditioning, and see things for what they are. I consider this approach the path of science. I would say that science is a philosophically precise formulation of looking and learning without any mental conditioning whatsoever. My favorite way of defining the stance of science is a mind that seeks to understand the world through an experimental process. If you take any assertion about the world and call it "A" and if you take the negation of the assertion about the world and call "not A", then what observation, experiment, or test can you do to determine which is true. What observation can be made to determine whether A is true or not A is true? There has to be something, some difference, between the assertion and negation that can be discerned. Otherwise the scientific principle of the "identity of indiscernibles" applies. This principle states that if you cannot tell two things apart, then they are the same thing or at least must be treated as the same thing. This principle is what we use to assume that we are meeting the same person each day.

Behind science is this simplicity, of checking with observed experience to see what is true, of looking at a thought that asserts something about reality, and pondering what kind of observation can make a difference to determine whether it is true or it is false. If I hear that "the car Joe drives is green in color", then I can determine this thought's truth or falsehood by looking to see what color the car is. Even when I cannot check this directly, I can check indirectly by seeing what is consistent with this assumption. Even though I may not have gone to Africa, I can assume it exists, because maps are drawn which include it and other places that I have been, because friends or friends of friends have talked about going there, and these people talk about the place in consistent ways, sometimes even naming favorite locations, places worth avoiding, and even a particular cafe which serves a particularly good beverage. Occasionally some inconsistency of testimony may appear, the testimonies do not have to be completely consistent to be accurate. For instance, some can mention a place and omit the mentioning the cafe on the same street that others had experienced it. In this case, some reason is sought to explain this contradiction. In one case, maybe, it may be "time indexing" that the cafe ceased to exist after a certain time, that it closed down and opened up under new ownership with a new name, and no longer had the delightful beverage that appeared in the earlier time indexed stories of the market street.

Behind this way of thinking is a sense that experience is somehow consistent, that it is logical in the sense that it does not have unresolvable contradictions. It may have paradoxes, which are seeming contradictions, but they can be understood, their deeper consistency felt, and do not pose a long term issue. One paradox is the Buddhist idea that prosperity can be created by being generous with possessions, rather than hoarding possessions. There is an egoic logic that believes that when we give something away that we always lose. There is a deeply logic that can see that when we share that more wealth is created for everyone. This is because when I share an experience I still have it and now you have it too. The experience in some sense doubles by sharing. If I own a boat and let you enjoy it with me, I feel more prosperous. The boat seems more valuable because you are enjoying it too. There is a sense in which you own the boat with me for the time that it is shared and are richer because of this. The boat is also valuable, because it shares in the ocean, the sunlight, the waves, and the air. It relates to all these things that freely give themselves and it freely gives itself to them, dancing along the surface of the water. It is like I agree to take care of the boat because it is my possession and my responsibility, that I take care of it for others too, and others are doing the same with their possessions. When wealth is shared this way, then one boat becomes many boats with many owners. If it is hoarded, then everyone must labor to buy a boat and is poorer as a result, since they cannot earn and spend enough money to own very many things. Sharing is a faster and greater way to increase wealth.

I mention the above example, because the scientific mind can be both precise and flexible. Sometimes the scientific mind has been rigid and has not been able to tackle issues like whether or not a supreme personal god exists. I think that it can deal with such issues and also that if you are on the path of science that you commit to determining whether or not such a supreme entity exists by using the "scientific method". If you take the two assertions, "god exists" and "god does not exist" what observation could make a difference and tip the scales in favor of one being true or the other being true? I find this question interesting, because a lot of humans inquiring about this have sometimes drawn a blank. Yet here is what should be a very big difference. Here is the idea of some being who is all knowing, all seeing, present everywhere, all loving, creator of everything, and able to do anything imaginable in a single thought instant in the form of a miracle. It seems that determining whether or not such a majestic being exists should be easier to determine than whether Joe's car is green. There should be some difference between this being existing and this being not existing. If you take the atheistic assertion that there is no god like this and that the universe is an accidental creation of impersonal forces, that life on Earth appeared by random chance and might get snuffed out by random chance, by anything from a meteor crashing into it, a plague wiping out all humans, another species superceding us the way that we superceded other species, the sun eventually going out, planetary resources getting exhausted, or us just dying in our own pollution, that the two viewpoints should be discernable from each other. There should be some fairly obvious observation or test to determine which of these radically different views is true.

The approach that the Buddha took, however, was to jettison both these assumptions, and, indeed, all speculative views about the universe and just look and learn without them. There is a Zen Koan that goes, "Does god exist? If you answer 'yes' or 'no' you lose your Buddha nature." While this koan puzzles some academic scientists, it is a strictly scientific koan. All of the koans of Zen are really pure science, but this science evolved through learning how to look, how to see, through the trance of ANY assumption. The mind gets very attached to views, even kills for the sake of a "right" view against a "wrong" view. Religious wars have been the most intense wars of history, and even when religion has not been the issue in a war, then wars have took on at least the rationalizations of a religion, often setting in motion the first battle in the name of some personal god and hearing the name of a rival god being shouted from the other side.

There are some who have thought that Buddha was atheistic. Indeed, a true scientist does not start with assuming an assumption as true. The Buddha started even earlier than an assumption. He jettisoned all assumptions. But he did not disbelieve in god either. He came to an "I do not know" and stayed with it. But once free from both the "theistic trance" and the "atheistic trance", from having any belief as a reference point for looking, free from looking without needing to even prove or test any assumption, then what did he see? When you do not even hold the idea of testing whether or not a supreme personal god exists, and just look at life, then what is seen? When a child is playing with things and just experiencing life, what is the nature of this curiousity? The child is free to learn a lot of things. The inquiry is open ended. It is not intentionally directed at proving anything in particular. This creative state was felt to be valuable in its own right. This is the first learning of the Buddha. He then directed his attention to watching the movement of human sorrow to see if it could naturally come to an end, to understand how and why it arises, and if it is necessary for human life. After looking, looking, and looking for 40 days and 40 nights, sorrow simply vanished of its own accord. It needed to be kept alive by "the three poisons of the mind", by addictive craving, resistive negativity, and obscuring delusion.

What I have found interesting is that what Buddha found is often debated in religious discussion in questions like "is sorrow necessary", "sorrow has value", "I have no intention of ending sorrow," etc. When such debates go on, the mind is simply coming from its assumptions, beliefs, and religious stances. It is not a scientific mind that is looking into the present moment of experience and learning. The scientific mind really does not debate, does not clash one opinion against another, but looks at reality to learn from it. Any assumption whatsoever is put aside to look and see. Even when a scientist makes a mental conclusion, he or she can put it aside to look again, to test again, and sometimes he or she gets a different answer. It is not that the old observations and conclusions must be invalid. Sometimes further observation may refine the seeing, deepen the sense of the principle, find new nuances in the how reality works. The assumptions form a "model of reality" or "a map", and the map can gain more refinement and detail, new roads, new cities, new elevations and new geographic features can be added to the map. There is also the need to update the map for temporal changes. To update the map for account for changes in roads, people moving out of or into a city to change its population, and even natural activity like earthquakes and volcanoes radically changing the landscape. Having a rigid belief system, having faith in this belief system, is like having a map that you do not ever plan to change or update.

What I found interesting is that Madhyamika Buddhist philosophers and Quantum physicists think similarly, in some way, about the nature of reality. Both the Buddhist philosophers and Quantum physicists are very sensitive to any questioned assumptions that are made about reality. Sometimes we make an assumption that influences what we see and what we are testing for. This is why Buddha did not even want the "lens" of "does god exist" determining what he was looking for. It is, in some sense, a very specific and strange thing to look for. In some ways, this god is obviously not existent. If you look at what people have believed this god to have wanted them to do, like burning heretics at the stake, torturing people for not believing in a certain religion, and rumored to throw all nonbelievers into hell, then this god does not seem to be very loving, seems very prejudiced against people who do not believe in it. People, too, do not seem to agree very much about what this god wants them to believe, which book or religion it says is the true and right testimony it gave to the world, etc. Empirically, even though every religion believes that god could have done it, this god seems to always work through humans, rather than simply drop a definitive book from the sky or teleport a book into the hands of everybody. All the books do not agree on anything. Even though this god is rumored to be perfect, there are logical contradictions, primitive moral rules that look barbaric or arbitrary to us in the 21st century, and even different versions with different books and parts included and excluded from them. It is really quite a mess. Most philosophers who are inquiring about whether or not a god exists, usually are forgiving for this "human level" of religion, and look beyond it. The concept has to be purified of all this stuff, some more scientifically accurate definition of god needs to be asserted. But when this happens, we have a problem here too. There are many different opinions here to. Is this god pure spirit and totally immaterial? Is this god part of creation? Is creation part of god? Is this god loving or impersonal? Could such a god punish anyone? Does this god even care? Can this god be personal enough to write a book and require obedience to it on the threat of punishment and still be loving? Would we come up with such an idea if we did not have all these belief systems surrounding us, endlessly trying to convince us that they are the one true way to salvation? There is still a mess even on this level and many philosophers have arrived at different conclusions regarding all these things.

Some people throw up their hands and give up on trying to figure out all these things. Other wade through all the beliefs and try to test them, try to find out what makes each viewpoint tick, to see what can be proven and what can be disproven. Others look at why people believe in any of these views. Sometimes the answer is just "faith". But it is curious to a scientist that most people have faith in whatever religion their parents had. Some people do have a conversion experience, usually at the hands on an evangelical religion, but sometimes they are relatively alone and unpressured. Some people have more than one conversion experience and assume only the last one is real. Some people get converted back and forth. Rarely are such conversions a rational process. It is usually some emotional and social experience. This is not to discount those experiences. It is just to look at how and why people get faith. In philosophy, if an argument "overproves", then it is invalid. By overproving, it means that the same argument can be used to prove various contradictory viewpoints. If the same argument proves both "A" and "not A" then it cannot be used to distinguish which one is true. Since "faith" is used to prove Christianity (A) and Islam (not A or visa versa), then it cannot be used to prove either. Some relevant difference between faith-a and faith-b needs to be distinguished. Whatever that difference is becomes important, not "faith".

What Buddha did, to me, is that he "just stayed in the seeing". Trying to arrive at a conclusion was less important than eliminating every assumption and having an seeing that is not obscured by them. I remember one friend who was studying meditation with an advanced Tibetan Lama. She exclaimed one time, "I have realized emptiness (aka freedom from concepts)!" The Lama then said, "What would your experience look like if you even peeled off this label?" We can be in any concept and try to look for the corresponding experience to this concept or we can look without the lens of any concept. It is tricky, because we can have subtle concepts behind our seeing, including the concept of having no concepts behind our seeing or even imagining that there is a "self" doing the looking, somehow standing behind the looking and doing the looking, yet this self has never been seen or verified to exist, and no one knows what this self would even look like if it did exist. It took 7 years of meditation for Buddha to finally and truly look without any concepts and yet still hold an intention to understand what sorrow was. Even then it took 40 complete days or 960 hours to see what was sorrow. During this time, part of what needs to be done is to "tune the lens", to open it up to see what is relevant to what sorrow is and to close out what is not relevant to what sorrow is. He opened up enough to include the activity of consciousness, thought, emotions, sensations, and body interacting with the world through sensory and motor experience. He opened up to different levels and kinds of consciousness, some of them free from sorrow and some of them not free from sorrow. He saw sorrow as caused by the three poisons of the mind and then saw the three poisons of the mind were tethered to an illusory sense of self which fed them and kept them alive. If one ended this illusion, then the three poisons also ended, and then sorrow ended. The sorrow itself was not a "thing" that one could eliminate, but was a process or activity that was dependent on certain conditions for its arising and in its turn was a cause for other conditions to arise (like sickness, old age, dearth, bardo, and rebirth). It was related to how a sense object joins a sense organ to produce a sensory experience, how the experience is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, how this experience activates a conditioned reaction of avoid, attach, or ignore, and how these basic reactions become craving (attach), negativity (resist), and delusion (ignore). He advocated "remaining with the sensation" (pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral) and letting go of any conditioned reaction and all the "I" thoughts, volitional intentions, that drive us to do things, seeing that all these thoughts have a kind of pretend self that is not us. When we are in "empty self", then a "first thought" arises, which is not conditioned and which is therefore free from the karma, or chain reaction, of sorrow. This "empty self" is unconditioned, and is part of the "unborn, unchanging, and undying". This "reality" is what Buddha might call "god". If you take the word "god" as an "empty label" for some all pervading sacred reality that is fairly free from concepts about what it may or may not be. It can be felt. There is a quality of emptiness of concepts, crystal clear silence beyond the traffic of thoughts, assumptions, arguments for and against endless numbers of positions, a bliss that is not related to any sensation at all, and a sense of presence which is what we are and which does not feel like a personality self constructed by having mental and emotional opinions about everything. The empty self is "cool" because of the fever of speculative thought has come to an end, it feels like the brain cells can finally calm down and not have to analyze anything. The trance of the personality self has come to an end and then life becomes a trance-end-dance.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hypothetical News Network 2


Scientists and poets are grateful that the sun still rises each morning for the last 4 billion years.

"Strictly speaking," said one scientist I interviewed, "The sun really does not rise in the morning, but simply radiates its light in all directions. The rotation of the Earth combined with our position on the the surface of the Earth causes an 'event horizon' that allows us to see the sun rise." The scientists interviewed went to describe how they measured the timescape of the Earth and how they came to the conclusion that the Earth is approximately 4 billion years old.

"Atmospheric conditions differed in the early days of the Earth," said another scientist, "We are still debating when the blue sky appeared and which atmospheric gases cause which kind of color sky, and further how they affect the colors we see during sunrise."

"Just think," said another scientist, "If the sun suddenly turned off, the Earth would start to become a frozen ball within about 5 minutes. The sun has been very reliable over these billions of years, maintaining the basis for life and evolution all this time."

"Best news I heard all day," said a fellow reporter, "In fact, without the sun we would have no day to have news to talk about." Further discussion went into various sun worshiping songs, including one called, "Here Comes the Sun." A few people even shared poems they had written about the sun and one religious person commented that once a week we have a day dedicated to the sun.

"I guess we sometimes take for granted something as reliable as the sun," said one person, "Perhaps we should have a sun gratitude today. Maybe the ancient sun worshipers had the right idea about occasionally focusing attention on the sun and honoring how important it really is to us. The sun rising each day is always good news. Life continues. The sun rarely gets much press unless something is eclipsing it."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Core Affirmation of the Heart Sutra

through Tenabah, c2010

I am letting go, letting go,
really letting go,
totally letting go,
even letting go
of the effort to let go.

letting go of craving,
letting go of negativity,
letting go of delusion,
deeply letting go
of all self clinging,
seeing that
what I had thought of
as my self
to be a creation
of thought and fear.

relaxing into seeing
the material world
as transitory, interdependent,
empty of solid existence,
empty of separate objects,
subject to cause and effect,
and ultimately unreal.

relaxing into seeing
thoughts, emotions, and sensations
as also transitory,
empty of solid existence,
subject to cause and effect,
empty of self,
and ultimately unreal.

relaxing into floating
in the movement of the now,
no longer clinging to anything
for security,
no longer resisting anything
to protect myself,
no longer identifying with anything
to define myself,
and simply trusting life
to take care of me.

no longer needing to analyze sorrow
no longer needing to walk the path
no longer needing to become enlightened
not even clinging to the path
taking refuge only in life itself.

not even holding on to
the wisdom that sees
all this

but moment to moment
simply flowing with life,
breathing freely,
arising in unity with all life everywhere,
and loving all sentient beings

awakening to freedom,
awakening to bliss,
awakening to the eternal,
awakening to my true self
which is pure awareness
and simple presence,
far beyond thought
and sorrow,
so be it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Difference Engines and Convergence Engines

In the borderland between Quantum Physics and Science Fiction, there is something called a "difference engine". Much scifi has speculated about time travel to both the past and to the future. Some have believed that time travel is not possible, because of the "grandfather paradox". If you went back in time and killed your own grandfather, then you would not be born. If you were not born, then how could you go back in time and kill your grandfather? This paradox is resolved by positing alternate time lines with events from alternate time lines affecting other time lines. In the Star Trek series, there is something called the "temporal prime directive". While the usual prime directive is to not interact with any pre-warp planetary culture (with warp necessary to go into outer space and colonize other worlds), the temporal prime directive has to do with any time travellers not affecting the integrity of the timeline.

These speculations led to what may be called "difference engines" and "convergence engines". A difference engine is something created and organized, driving through history, that changes the integrity of a timeline. It creates an entirely different branch of time where everything is significantly different than the previous timeline. A convergence engine, which is usually built into every timeline already, is something organized to do the opposite, to maintain the integrity of a timeline. A convergence engine means that most of the decisions that we make every day do not make Earth changing historical change. Whether I buy a glass of orange juice for breakfast or have a cup of tea will usually not change the character of my day. It will proceed pretty much the same. Whether or not I say, "happy to see you" or "good afternoon," to someone will also not change even the conversation I am having very much. In other words, events tend to converge and form other events in a way that shapes the integrity of the timeline. This means that there is something like fate at work. It is not so rigid as to be doomed to happen, but it is also not so loose that the timeline can go in any direction. There is a convergence engine driving every timeline forward and manifesting a line of events. This kind of timeline is both mutable and fated to happen. It is not really about "predestination" and "freewill". These ideas relate to a more rigid idea of causality that Quantum Physics has moved beyond. Our free choice does matter, does shape our lives, but there is also habit force, beliefs, values, karmaic laws, and conditioning that also shape how the time line unfolds. Our free choice does modify our timeline some, but any single decision we may usually does not have much power to shape our timeline to a different outcome. Usually we are living out a pattern of choices that remains about the same. There is a subtle set of repetitions behind our way of life that keeps manifesting our history and our unfoldment.

The Fourth Noble Trust of the Eightfold Path is interesting in this regard, because it is trying to create a "difference engine". In the three previous Noble Truths, the Buddha outlined that "sorrow exists", "sorrow has a cause", and that "sorrow has an end (in nirvana)". When I first studied this, I wondered why the Fourth Noble Truth is even necessary. Why does it take a path to implement the Third Noble Truth. Why not just apply the remedy, end sorrow, and simply go on with your life? Indeed, Buddha often talks in just this manner. He talked of his teaching as a medince you just take and then throw away the medicine. He likened his teaching to a raft used to reach another shore (the other shore of enlightenment or nirvana) and that when we reach the other shore then we are meant to throw away the raft.

But merely trying to apply the remedy meets with all kinds of challenges. It is, unfortunately, not as easy as simply applying the remedy and getting free from sorrow. The three poisons of craving, negativity, and delusion are so woven into our lives that merely deciding to end them is not enough. The Fourth Noble Truth is about creating "difference engine" so that our timeline evolves in an entirely different direction. The reverse, the wheel of sorrow, the wheel of cause, effect, and karma, and wheel of samsara, our ordinary lives, is a convergence engine that makes us manifest a life pattern that has its own integrity and fate. We are in a sense doomed to repetition unless we make a series of interlocking decisions and build up another temporal engine in our lives.

To further explore this, and scifi and mystical literature have both explored this, there is something called "the butterfly effect". This metaphor is based on something that I think comes from the writings of the Taoist master Chuang Tzu. It posits a butterfly churning is wings that slightly changes the course of the winds, which in turn move a storm system to rain in a different location, and then changes the direction of an empire. Little changes can add up to big changes. For instance, in the above example, usually drinking orange juice or tea in the morning is not going to change anything. But less us say that I am very acid sensitive and the orange juice from a can of frozen concentrate that melted and refroze in a truck on the way to the grocery store. It is slightly spoiled as a result. I get sick and have to quit working later on that day. I reschedule my appointments. One person who is in immediate need for a session goes to another healer, while another person later on that week, who is travelling through town, is able to take advantage of a schedule opening that otherwise would not have been there. Let us say that this person has a break through they were ready for and later on even studies the same healing modality, becoming a healer herself. This person later on heals several people who feel very optimistic about their lives. One of them divorces a person to break free of an unhealthy relationship. The person who is divorced goes through his own crisis and quits being in politics. Another person gets elected instead who brings in new policies. From one glass of spoiled orange juice, a lot of big changes start to ripple through many interlocking individual time lines. These changes first diverge and then converge. For instance, I could be in the district where the new person gets elected and I will be, in turn, affected by the new person. People may or may not like the changes. Some might get cynical about politics as a result and need sessions. Others might get happier if they like the changes and feel less need for a session. The overall character of the timeline will be similar and different from the other timeline where a drink tea instead. Usually the differences are not historically significant, though individual timelines can be drastically different, with some people living and dying, some people have children together and others not having children together, and affect whole communities. Yet these changes are less impactful than, let us say, an atom bomb blowing up and wiping out an entire city, possibly three generations of families, completely off the temporal map. Given the reality of reincarnation, though, many of these people might incarnate in other families, and what arises is a blend of what they bring with them and what they get from the new family line. Some things might converge back into something similar that might have happened if the city was not blown up. A person may be karmaically attracted to being with someone and meet them lifetime after lifetime now matter what. They are likely to pull children from a similar pool of souls. In short, there are factors that "correct the timeline" and move it back on track.

In Buddhism, when a person has created a difference engine, through his or her commitment to the spiritual path, through the sincerity of their intention, and through all their work to live their intentions, not matter what they were (so that having an intention is not a helpless wish that does not change us), there is a timeline shift. A Buddha, initiating another into the spiritual path, sometimes "gives the prophecy" of the eventual enlightenment of a sentient being. They can see this timeline and notice that the person will reach enlightenment. They can often see the details of the event. The actual event may be a little different, because time is very alive and undergoes change. But there is also something I call "lock in". This is where we are locked into a timeline and can know it will manifest. Some lock ins are very good and some are very painful karmas manifesting. Usually when a lock in is strong the convergence engine that drives the event cannot be stopped. It still may be theoretically possible to switch to a different time line, but for all practical purposes the timeline integrity is so airtight that it is not possible to alter it. This was called "fate" in previous cultures.

The Eightfold Path is a difference engine that can even alter fate. It can have a person switch from a timeline of repeated sorrow in the samsaric universe to a meaningful life that ends in the bliss of nirvana and even continues beyond this. In Sufi language, you would shift from fate to destiny, with the latter being always good and being under different formative laws where more freedom exists. One teacher called this kind of difference, "a difference that makes a difference".

The teachings of physical immortality, too, are a difference engine that can make a difference. It is moving beyond the pattern of sickness, accident, aging, poverty, and death. This pattern has been changing over the thousands of years of human history. If you look at the historical pattern individual histories and apply a bell shaped curve and look at the age marker where it is certain that 90 percent of the people of the culture have died, then the age marker has moved from about 40 years to about 80 years. It might be pushing past 90 years now. It depends on how you form the numbers and whether you only include death by old age or include accidents. But whatever factors are used, the age marker is pushing later and later. This is partly because of the difference engine called "science" which has been increasing its influence in shaping our world and rippling out vast changes in the timeline in the form of new technologies and new understandings of religious history as well.

Another difference engine is "democracy" which has replaced "monarchy". This has organized human life differently. There are many friends that I have that feel we do not really have a democracy, that some hidden special interest groups or conspiracies are really in control. But whether or not this is true, the very idea itself of democracy has shaped the timeline. It is has implemented something that has had at least a partial illusory existence, just as behind a monarchy might be hidden democratic processes (where debate, discussion, voting, parties, and alliances shaped events even with an overt monarch seeming to rule). Even humans thinking that they have more power to choose their leaders has been difference engine which has changed the timeline. The idea of democracy, too, while being a difference engine is also changing with the changes it brought into existence. It is not remaining static. I do not think the early Greeks, the Romans, the Feudal Lords, and the Founding Fathers could have envisioned such a complex high tech civilization emerging out of their early contemplation of the idea of democracy. Perhaps Padmasambhava did see the timeline, since he predicted that Tibet would get invaded "when metal birds fly across the sky" (which to me is a good way of referencing airplanes to a pre-airplane culture). This was approximately 1,000 years ago.

In the Lotus Sutra, Buddha makes the prophecy that all sentient beings will become enlightened. Before this, only some individuals received the prophecy when they created, through their initiation to the spiritual path, a difference engine that locked them into a time line where their enlightenment could be seen. I take that the prophecy of everyone eventually getting enlightened is different. But it involves seeing a massive convergence engine that has computed all possible timeline deviations and corrects them so that everyone does become enlightened. This fits in with the "teaching of historical inevitability" which asserts that when a Buddha teaches in a world, then the world must get enlightened. It is not a question of "if" but simply when. The possible time lines and time branches might realize this outcome through a different amount of years. But the "end points" of each time branch has enlightenment as the outcome.

There has been some flavor among Buddhists that is cynical about the final enlightenment of all sentient beings, even though all Bodhisattvas and Dakinis vow to help bring this very process to completion. This cynicism shows up in long time spans where things actually get worse until another Buddha has to incarnate and put the planet back on track. Part of this is due to how much cyclical time has shaped Asian philosophies. There are exceptions like Mencius, who felt that humans were progressing and that doing evil was like swimming upstream, against the current, and that it would eventually fail. He was actually describing a positive macro convergence engine shaping all timelines. His vision would fit the Lotus Sutra. I call this positivity "metaphysical optimism". It is not merely optimistic about life, but it is intrinsically optimistic. Some people are only optimistic because they interpret the thrust of events as going in a good direction and they will get pessimistic when events seem to turn sour. A metaphysical optimist will stay optimistic no matter what, because he or she understands that there macro positive convergence engines driving life forward and that these engines are driven by a universal field of energy infused with unconditional love, intuitive wisdom, and infinite creativity. This kind of positivity is implied in the "gift of faith" that comes during Sufi initiation as well as being a cure for the second poison of the mind (negativity).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Four Steps to Freedom

The following steps are based on the Uttara Tantra in Buddhism, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and the Fourth Way teachings of the Sufis through Gurdjieff. I have removed any special terminology from those systems to make the process easier to understand. The process of enlightenment does not need to slow, difficult, or stressful. It can be easy, rapid, and peaceful, though we may have some challenging karmas to work through that may make the process more difficult, slower, and stressful than it has to be. Chanting to Amida Buddha and visualizing the "hreeh" symbol at the base of the spine, feeling the grace and fire coming from the Amida family through Pandaravasini, and yielding to the process can accelerate the burning away of those karmas from the subconscious mind. Mastering breathing also helps this healing process.

STEP ONE: Concentration on an external object

Choose a pleasant object to look at. Place your attention on the object and hold your attention there. Let go of any mind wandering and just look. If you notice distracting thoughts, merely label them, "thinking", and return back to looking at the object. Do not stare too hard, because you will introduce strain. Have the soft eyes of Bodhisattva, the look which we naturally give to a smiling infant. If you are honest with yourself, you will notice that your concentration is imperfect, that the mind constantly pulls your attention away from your task. Noticing this is a good thing. Whenever you wander, simply return back to the object of your attention.

Even at this level of practice, you can realize something about the nature of the self, your true identity. Is it your thinking mind? If it is, then why does your own mind pull you away from your own intention to stay focused on the object? It will feel like something different than yourself when you feel it struggling to think while you are sincerely intent on just holding attention on the object. The mind is obviously related to who and what we are, but it will not feel like our core identity. Most people identify with their minds and you are feeling something deeper than the mind, attention itself, operating.

Patanjali recommends doing this exercise until you feel "absorption in the object". You will feel one with the object. This naturally happens when the mind has become completely silent. It is a degree of freedom from sorrow to be able to do this.

For the sake of this series of exercises, when you can keep stable attention on the object for five minutes, then you can proceed to the next exercise. You will most likely experience all kinds of shifts in your experience with this practice. You might see the object shift into the fourth dimension, shimmer with light, and suddenly disappear. Your ordinary thinking mind will attempt to rationalize these shifts as some kind of optical illusion or cellular fatigue. While this might be happening as well, when we use penetrating awareness to look into the nature of matter, we will notice many things. Much of what we see is a construction. Different eyes see the world in very different ways. Different animals have different ranges of color awareness and motion awareness. An eagle can spot its prey from very high in the sky. Bulls cannot see red. Many humans are color blind (most not noticing that they see any different from anyone else for a very long time). Which way of seeing sees the real world?

STEP TWO: Doubling attention

Still looking at the same external object, feel attention like an arrow. Look at the object and then feel like you are looking backwards to feel the source of the arrow of attention. One side is on the object. The other side is in our brain. Notice the thoughts, emotions, sensations, and reactions going on inside the brain. Then go back to the object. Shuttle back and forth, not too rapidly, but fast enough so that you are spending about 15 seconds with each focus. After a while, see if you can be aware, simultaneously, of the internal bundle of thoughts, emotions, sensations, and reactions on one side and the object of attention on the other side.

Most humans do not live in this double awareness. They are either caught up with what is happening inside or outside. If your attention is mainly inside, dominated by internal experience, then you are an introvert. If you attention is mainly outside, then you are in extrovert. Many effective business people are extroverts, very attentive to external events, news, prices, transactions, maps, and details, but they do not always know how they think and feel. They are impatient with introspection, looking within, to see what is real there. Many psychotherapists are introspective, very sensitive to what is going on inside of themselves, sometimes very wrapped up and lost in those internal contents. To be aware of both simultaneously is necessary to see how karma works, how sense organ and sense object cause a sense experience, how there is a pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral sensation, how our mind interprets the experience, how our emotions react to the experience, a reactive impulse to do comes from the experience, and how our bodies carry it out. Karmas are stored as little bundles of conditioning in our subconscious mind and get triggered by external experiences, and sometimes even internal experiences start to react to internal experiences, causing a chain reaction of thoughts that carry us away. When we meditate more deeply and fully, we can notice how these karmas stored in the subconscious mind is not merely passive land mines waiting to be triggered, but are actively attracting their fulfillment through inspiring us to choose one thing over another, and causing synchronicities to happen to bring experiences to us.

When engaged in this practice, the third eye may start to glow and life may start to feel like a dream or an illusion. You may have lucid dreams or remember the future. A certain energy is doubling in the brain and causing new circuits to form and evolve. You may find that just by putting attention at the third eye that you automatically double your attention. The mind may become more silent too. Sometimes our level of tension increases, because we normally avoid feeling our emotions for a sustained time. We use the outer world as a distraction so that we do not have to feel our emotions deeply.

If we are very sensitive, we can notice that the entire chain reaction that loops between the inner world and the outer world has no self. There is no me in the thoughts, emotions, sensations, and reactions that are happening. There is no me in the body either. It is clear that something like a self is related to all this, some kind of identity that is related to all this stuff that is going on. But you do not find it in anything that is examined. Noticing there is no self in thoughts, emotions, sensations, reactions, memories, and external experiences, or in anything that we look at, releases "identification" with all these things. It produces another level of freedom and inner peace. We feel more impartial inside. Internal and external phenomena, both, become more objectified and are taken less personally.

How long a person wants to stay in this doubled awareness state can differ. If you are learning a lot from all this, then just continue. When you are able to go through a day where you maintain relative stability with doubling awareness, when you feel your daily life differently as a result, or when you notice that you are awake in some way and that people look like wind up robots running reactive programs that are repeating more than they realize, then you can pass on to the next exercise.

It is recommended by the Sufis not to hang out too long in doubled attention, because there is an ego tension that can actually get a little stronger if we are not careful. The illusion of self is only partly dissolved. We can also reinforce the feeling of self and get stuck in it more, since more attention is going inside now.

STEP THREE: Noticing the space surrounding the objects

As you shuttle between the internal subjective contents of thought, emotion, sensation, and body reaction and the external object, notice the space between the two. It is, in a sense, between the eye and the object. It is mainly empty space. It probably also has some air in the space too, but it is hard to notice air. This empty space is filled with awareness. If we are aware of the empty space, then it is at least filled with our awareness. Notice how this awareness filled space really contains the external object and contains the subjective contents. It is larger than the contents. There is a curious sensation that is felt when we touch this space. It is naturally silent of thought, even if thoughts are running amok inside. It is like a mirror that reflects everything without getting caught up in what is reflected. It is like a movie screen that peacefully reflects both happy and tragic scenes without getting caught in either. On this level, you have in some sense tripled your attention. Notice how this changes your experience. When you have done this for a few days (or longer if you are learning a lot doing so), then proceed to the next and last exercise.

STEP FOUR: Dropping duality

There has been an illusion that none of the three previous exercises has challenged. The illusion may have softened or it may have gotten stronger. But in the last exercise, after noticing that our mind is not self, our thoughts, emotions, sensations, and reactions are not self, and nothing we look at is self, we challenge, hopefully, the last trace of self illusion. This is the feeling that there is a "looker". We imagine that there is something looking at something, that behind awareness is some seer, some observer, some silent witness. The mind will feel a need to attach a noun, a reference, to the verb "looking". X is looking at Y. We create a feeling sensation of a looker who is using awareness to see something else. This looker does not exist. We are the seeing itself. We are pure awareness. Our thinking mind creates this feeling of a self standing behind pure seeing. If you put attention to this feeling of a self, you will notice that it is an illusion. It is just more content to awareness. It can and does dissolve in awareness. The self that we normally identify with does not abide, but comes and goes with the thoughts, emotions, and sensations that compose it. When we fall asleep, it disappears. When we dream, another self seems to act out in our dreams, and when we awake up this self vanishes. When we are in nondreaming sleep, both the dream self and the waking self vanish. Yet there is a part of us that is always aware, even aware of being unconscious, even simply aware in nondreaming sleep. We are normally not aware of this awareness. We can be aware of awareness as awareness. What is needed is to let go of this reference point, let go of the feeling of a looker behind the looking. To see that this self does not exist. We are one with pure awareness and when there is no thought at all this is simply obvious. Without thinking, the illusion of the looker cannot be maintained. We usually go unconscious when the looker disappears and do not notice that the looker is both an illusion and is not always present. When we watch a sunrise in nature, we sometimes feel one with all of nature. The looker is usually gone in those moments or is at least more subtle and transparent.

There are levels even beyond the "pure seeing identity". If we hang out a long time in being pure seeing, then then it becomes a feeling of warm presence. The Tantric Buddhists call this "luminous emptiness". When we are in this state, we are beyond sorrow. When we are here, we can truly say, "I AM". It then no longer references a bundle of thoughts, emotions, and sensations or a mental construction.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hypothetical News Network


Scientists at Nalanda University discovered today that there is an energy field that is infused with infinite love, infinite wisdom and infinite creativity. It seems that this field is the creative source of the entire material universe.

"The implications of the existence of this field are staggering," said one scientist, "It seems that we could solve all our problems, heal every illness, completely end poverty, and even end the need to age and die, just by tapping into this field."

When asked how we could tap into this energy field, the scientist smiled and said, "This is the strange thing. It seems that this field of energy WANTS to be tapped into, but is completely nonviolent, never imposing its will upon anything. It seems that by a simple THOUGHT INTENTION we can download this energy through a series of step down transformers called "chakras" that are already wired into the endocrine gland system of our bodies. The key is to consciously breathe while holding the intention to receive and allow this energy to operate in our lives."

Another scientist said, "What this means is that the whole idea of energy scarcity is really an illusion. The power struggle to fuel our whole civilization on the liquid ooze of long dead animals is completely unnecessary. The need to have battles to struggle for limited resources can now be seen as completely foolish."

When asked if this energy can be abused in any way, like creating an atomic bomb and blowing up a city, another scientist said, "It is not possible. This energy seems only able to support an intention that is truly harmless and truly positive. This energy does not support any wish for any kind of revenge, power domination of another being, animal or human or otherwise. We have found that the energy simply shuts down and does not flow when asked to support a hostile intention. We are calling this energy "nonpolar" as a result. It seems that entropy, aging, and death are the result of shifting to a polarity based energy system that can support hostile intentions. These intentions can latch on to existing stepped down energy sources and use them, but they also must exhaust themselves and run down to zero."

One reporter at a conference sarcastically asked, "But can this energy power our homes and cars? Can it put actual food on the table?" To which one of the scientists smiled and said an affirmative "yes".

"Not only can this energy provide for actual needs, but it is already doing so through step down transformer relays, like the galactic nebula, and all the suns, the atmosphere of the Earth, and all the plants in the biosphere," said the scientist, "But I believe it can also be done directly and could even be used to power "quantum engines" that can harness energy to power everything, provided that we have no intention to use the power to harm anyone. Strangely enough, it seems such a quantum engine already exists within our bodies."

"Why are we not aware of this loving energy field?" asked another reporter.

"This is an interesting question," replied another scientist on the panel, "It seems that this energy is so nonviolent that it does not force its presence to be known. But it seems that there is a process called "harmonization" which allows us to "attune to this field". The more loving we are, the more we let go any violent thought whatsoever, then the more we harmonize with the intention and wish of this energy, and the more we feel it pervade the universe."

"With such a powerful energy," asked another reporter, "then why is there any evil, war, disease, poverty, pain, and struggle in the world?"

"The answer is in understanding how this energy is completely nonviolent," said another scientist on the panel, "We are learning how to work with this energy. It requires us to be completely honest with our own intentions, because if our motive or intention is to harm in any way or impose our will on something, then it shuts down and does not do anything. If we have the slightest fear or resistance, then this also limits the action of this energy. There is a kind of faith, reliance, and trust in this energy that allows it to function optimally in our lives. We are still learning how to do this. The discovery has been very recent. It seems that our human species has been very used to a kind of "might is right" attitude."

Someone mentioned that Jesus talked about, "The meek, harmless, and humble shall inherit the Earth" in one of his sermons. One of the scientists nodded his head, "A lot of what Jesus reportedly said fits into the framework. Blessing those who curse us, praying good wishes upon everyone, turning the other cheek, loving everyone unconditionally, all this seems to be about "harmonization and attunement" to this energy. His choice to not retaliate but to let himself get crucified, resisting any temptation to abuse the power of this field, and trusting the field to overcome death itself, seems to be keys to why he may have shifted into a light body, another kind of body, which is totally harmonized with this field."

"We are still working all this out," said one scientist, "The discovery has been recent and immense, but it does seem to help us understand a lot of saints and even why they performed miracles. We are humbled by what we found, because it shows us that we need to change our way of seeing and doing things to harness it. More than any other energy that we have studied, this one seems to be sensitive to our thought intentions."