Opening the floodgates of our inner virtues ( + Loving Kindness practice)

02 Jun 2010

This afternoon we started with a reflection on how many times we see people as just “flat images” or appearances arising to our minds. In the supermarket, subway, etc, we see them as obstacles or merely objects in our way. Today’s intro deals with seeing through those images and realizing that a real person is there, looking back, with their own hopes and fears, joys and sorrows. Alan also emphasizes the importance of starting with ourselves, and describes these Four Immeasurable practices as digging in search of water. At first, the practices can be very conceptual and we actually feel like we have to pour water on the ground to soften it and allow us to dig. But eventually, just following the practice, we break into the “ground water,” which just flows out unimpededly and plentifully. With this metaphor in mind, we go into the practice thinking of tapping into our hearts, and opening the floodgates of our virtue and well-being.

After the practice, we had several very interesting questions. The first one deals with the concept of “symmetry breaking,” and Alan goes into a marvelous cosmological explanation o f what this means, and describes all configurations of mass-energy as space/vacuum just frozen by grasping (coming from both the Kalachakra and from quantum field theory). He then beautifully relates this to Buddhism, culminating in the Dzogchen view. After that, we had a very interesting question from Ana Lorena on the topic of hypnagogic imagery, and Alan gave his interpretation of this phenomenon. There was then a very interesting “unanswerable” question by Elizabeth which I cut out to use for this Sunday’s bonus, and we finished this afternoon with some questions from Adeline mostly focusing on the “Four Modes of Enlightened Activity” (for more on this topic view some of the April/Early may podcasts).

As you can probably tell my creativity dwindled today and all I could think of was a picture of an actual floodgate. This can give you a rough idea of what it is like when you permanently and fully break into your inner virtues and happiness, but I think a better picture would be the entire walls just shattering into smithereens and a gargantuan flow of water bursting out. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a suitable picture for that :(

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