23 Aug 2014
It is crucial for our progress to be able to distinguish the qualitative difference between the clarity of substrate consciousness and the lucidity of rigpa.
In the practice of Mindfulness of Breathing, awareness illuminates the field and notices fluctuations in the field produced by the rhythm of the breath. The fluctuations become more and more subtle as continued practice produces a decreased volume of the breath.
By following the simple instructions of the Buddha to maintain stillness of awareness while noting that the breath is long or shot and by attending to the entire field of the breath, the practice can lead to the the complete cessation of breathing at the singularity of the fourth jhana of the form realm.
Meditation starts at 42:26
Meditation starts at 42.30
Olaso. So, Doug raised an issue in one of our, in our private meeting here which is not at all personal, it’s just a matter of Dharma - and it has to do with a point also raised by someone else... Hm. Kim. Where’s Kim? Is Kim here? Who’s Kim’s buddy? There’s - you’re Kim’s buddy? She’s not here? [laughter] [jokingly] Not so good buddy! [laughter] Try to find out afterwards, OK? It’s not a matter of policing, it’s just - is she OK? Is she passed out? Is she awake? And so, there we go. But Kim raised a point, and it’s related to the point raised by Doug, and that is, I think, a theme we will come back to again and again in these eight weeks. And that’s the distinction between the substrate consciousness, alayavijnana, künshi namshe; and rigpa. Right? If you, as Dudjom Lingpa himself says, or Padmasambhava by way of Dudjom Lingpa says: if you confuse those - fuse them together, can’t distinguish them - you’ve lost the path. You’re not going to move ahead. Right? And so you really must clearly distinguish them. So, I’m not going to be able to make it totally clear with one phrase, probably. But we’ll have eight weeks to try to get clearer and clearer on this point. And where Doug chimed in was that we both attended some marvellous teachings - very short, incredibly dense, quintessential teachings on Dzogchen - from the Bhutanese lama, Gangteng Rinpoche, just a few weeks ago. And he drew a distinction between two terms. One in Tibetan is selcha [01:56 ?], translated as clarity, very commonly; luminosity; vividness - they’re all correct. And then the other one was [02:04 Tibetan]. And it came up already in our text, in the Vajra Essence. Alright? Already came up. And this morning at two o’clock, I changed the translation. [laughter] Because something just became very clear. And that is, the word limpid - I always translated it as limpid, limpid - it’s a nice word, not used much, but it’s a nice word, because it implies transparency, luminosity, ‘the limpid pool of water’ and all of that. It’s a nice word, and I’ve been content with it for some years. And then this [? 2:33] in the morning at two o’clock: newsflash! And that is, that Gangteng Tulku - as you know, Doug - Gangteng Tulku said, Gangteng Rinpoche said, that the term selcha [02:46 ?] - the luminosity, the clarity - this pertains to relative mind. Remember? Relative mind. What’s the essence of relative mind, on the relative level? It’s substrate consciousness. The relative essence, relative essential nature, [03:00 Tibetan]. It can be ultimate, it can also be relative. The [03:05 Tibetan] of mind on the relative level is the substrate consciousness. And it’s by nature luminous, we all know that. Right? And there’s that word - luminous, luminous, selcha, selcha - it’s directly relating to that. Now... But Gangteng Tulku - really with this finessing, this very, this precision teaching that I love and try to absorb and then transmit - he said there’s this other term, though, an entirely different term: [03:29 Tibetan], which is a noun, and I was translating it as limpidity. But then... And he was saying: this is a quality of rigpa. It’s quite distinct from the clarity, the brilliance, the brightness, the freshness and so forth of substrate consciousness. Or, just being really bright, you know, really having a very clear mind, you know. It’s different - it’s qualitatively different. It’s not more of the same. So this fine young translator - I have only praise for him - Andre, the polish translator, who was Gangteng Tulku Rinpoche’s, his interpreter; he translated it as brilliance. That would just imply more of the same, that is, it’s luminous, and the brilliance - ok, more of the same. But I knew that wasn’t right. It didn’t capture it, right? I thought limpidity was closer. But then... Something really obvious. And this will nail it. And that is... What’s the difference between a really bright, clear, vivid, high definition dream - in which you’d really characterize it as selwa; as clear, bright, luminous, high acuity, high definition - right? You all know what that’s like. What’s the difference between that, and a lucid dream? Cognizance. In a lucid dream - whether it’s bright, or it’s dull, or medium - you actually know it’s going on! And you can be in the midst of an extremely vivid, detailed, high resolution dream, and be delusional! Thinking this is a waking state, and responding emotionally, and every other way, as if it’s waking - and you don’t know the most important thing about what you’re experiencing. It’s a dream! Right? That nails it. That is, it doesn’t give you direct realization of rigpa - clearly, it’s just giving an analogy. But it’s an incredibly powerful analogy.
[05:25] The difference between a clear dream and a lucid dream, between clarity and lucidity - and lucidity is... it is also clear, but it’s a cognitive clarity. And it’s a knowing clarity, it’s a cognizant clarity. You actually know - welcome Haggai, good to see you again! We have one more person who will be coming in in a couple of days - Maria Elena. [poetically] Maria Elena Dela Puente. [laughter] Poetry is for Spanish, Spanish is for poetry. Even a person’s name, like Maria Elena Dela Puente sounds so nice, like oh... Let me sing to you! [laughter] So, in any case - back! I’m getting distracted! But, good to see you Haggai, glad you’re back. So, but you see the point, isn’t it? So this word I’ve been translating for, I don’t know, ten years, fifteen years, as limpidity - not bad, it’s not wrong - it’s lucidity. And I checked it out in a dictionary. I said whoa - it was exactly that. And it even spoke of a lucid pool of water, or something like that. So lucid, there it is. And now I don’t need to say anything more. If you either know about, or you’ve had lucid dreams, you know that is... There’s a discontinuity there. That is, you can be cruising along, non-lucid in a very bright, clear, vivid dream, and then suddenly - [makes crashing sound] - this radical discontinuity, this abrupt shift in perspective on the dream; and now you’re seeing it from the waking state. Right? And now it’s a lucid dream. Right? But it’s not just brighter. It’s not more of the same. It is qualitatively different. So, you remember the wonderful account, I’ve said, I’ve told it so many times, of the wandering ascetic, Drona. You remember him? Tracking the Buddha, looking at his footprints, tracking him, finding him; then - wow. I mean really being impressed by his sheer presence. And wondering, oh... I mean, he really kind of got it. This person is not ordinary. Remember what he asked? He said, are you a god? The Buddha said no. Are you a celestial being, like an angel, or something like that? The Buddha said no. Are you an elemental being, like an earth spirit, or something like that? The Buddha said no. And then, the most interesting question. Remember? Are you a human being? And the Buddha said: No. Whoa... That one really catches my attention. His daddy was a human being, his mommy was a human being, his wife was a human being, his boy was a human being - I would pretty much say he’s bracketed. He’s bracketed, right? Mum and dad, wife and children all human beings - and he said no. Then Drona said: Then who are you? What are you? And he said: I am awake. OK? He’s lucid in the waking state! We think we are. Psychologists think they are. You know, philosophers think they are. They’re all sleepwalkers - unless they’re awake! We’re sleepwalkers. I’m not putting down a profession, or academia. But, you know, we tend to think - it happens a lot in psychology, that you just simply assume you’re sane; Ok, ok, whatever I am, that’s ok. And now, you’re down there. Right? And never looking up; Oh... [laughter] Compared to you, I’m... [jokingly] cuckoo! You know?
[08:52] So that’s it, it’s really a very close analogy. You may have incredible vividness by shamatha. You’re just unveiling the natural luminosity of your own substrate consciousness. And, it’s been reported so many times in the past, because how many thousands, tens of thousands of people have achieved shamatha; let’s not make too big a deal out of it, like oh, it must be so difficult. Few people practice - few people attain, you know. So, what’s the big surprise there? You know. But what’s it like when you achieve that, and that is not only when you’re resting in meditative equipoise - is there’s this enormous sense of brilliance, clarity, vividness, luminosity - but also in between sessions. You venture out into the world, and it’s kind of like you went from a hundred watt bulb, to a thousand watt bulb. Everything is clear, brighter, more vivid. And why? Because your mind is less veiled. The natural luminosity of your own awareness is less veiled. So, everything you’re experiencing is just... You know, if it were music, it would be high fidelity music. I mean it’s really clear. Right? But you’re still deluded. If all you have is shamatha. You’re still seeing all appearances as existing from their own side. You’re still probably grasping onto them as existing from their own side; grasping onto yourself as from your own side; which then gives rise to craving, hostility... So, you’ve come into a nice neighborhood of samsara. It’s one of the better neighborhoods, more elite neighborhoods, you know. But your lease is going to run out. You didn’t buy a house there, you leased it. Right? And you’re gonna be in Skid Row as soon as you stop breathing. Back, you know - there you are.
[10:33] So... but in utter contrast to that: if you’ve realized rigpa, or even some glimmering of rigpa - if you’ve had pointing out instructions from some qualified lama who really is giving you that mind transmission - and let alone becoming a vidyadhara, you have some authentic taste, some cutting through... Then you know, that’s not just being clear. It is a shifting of the axis of your perspective on reality, so that it’s coming more in alignment with viewing reality from the perspective of rigpa. Right? Now, once again, Gangteng Tulku Rinpoche made a very helpful comment. I’d never heard it articulated with quite such precision. He said on the one hand there is this cutting through to rigpa, like when... Who was it? When Tilopa whacked Naropa, you know, with his sandal, and suddenly - pow! - he really got it. I mean his whole axis shifted, right, and he’s viewing reality from the perspective of rigpa, mahamudra, rigpa. That’s really deep. And the man was so prepared, he was so primed, that I don’t know the details, but he may have very well become a vidyadhara right there. Full, unmediated, nonconceptual, nondual realization of rigpa, right? But when most people go to some of the wonderful lamas who are travelling about teaching nowadays, giving pointing out instructions, you know - sometimes to complete beginners - and I’ve heard so many times; people receiving it and having some very meaningful experience. Really meaningful, authentic. Does that mean they’re vidyadharas? Nobody’s claiming that. The lamas giving the pointing out instructions - they’re not claiming that. The people receiving it, if they know what’s going on - they don’t say oh yeah, I went for a weekend retreat, now I’m a vidyadhara. I’ve never heard anybody say that. There’s no baloney here. But they do get what Gangteng Rinpoche called... You’re not fully realizing rigpa, but - remember what he said? - you’re getting an aspect. You’re getting an aspect of rigpa. And that’s like picking up the fragrance. Like when you step out, when you go around about there, at six o’clock, you go around there. Right? Pick up any fragrance? From the kitchen? Right. You’re not eating, but you might already know what they cooked. Right? And then if you trace that scent to its source - well, of course you’re gonna trace it to the food. And then you can chow down, and really have the full meal. So when you gain, through a pointing out instruction, when you gain some glimpse, some... You get the fragrance, you pick up the fragrance, the taste of rigpa. Most likely you’ve only gotten an aspect. But an aspect is not something mistaken. It’s not something in the opposite direction. It’s an aspect, and if you follow that to its source, it just gets clearer and clearer.
[13:23] So that’s one way that people will follow the path of Dzogchen - by having kind of a rocket launch, to the top of the mountain. You know, like: [impersonates object flying fast] phieow - and then: [impersonates object falling and hitting ground] eeee, oooo, pow. You know - you get up there, you are there for some seconds, and then gradually, you’re fading back, into ordinary... How do you say? Ordinary state of consciousness. But it’s not simply like having some hedonic pleasure, like, you know, a really good meal, or a fantastic vacation, or seeing an incredibly good movie. Those are nice; there’s nothing wrong with them. But when it’s over, can you really say you are transformed? You know, by some hedonic pleasure? That you’ve moved along the direction to perfect enlightenment, by seeing a really good movie, or an outstanding, you know, meal, etcetera etcetera? You know, all the, you know, hedonic pleasures. The answer, I think, is pretty much clearly no. You are exactly where you were before. You just had a little spike of pleasure - now it’s over, it’s become a memory, and the memory will fade. And that will be gone. So, welcome to samsara. Forever? You know. Whereas, when one has such a kind of a peak experience, you have an authentic lama; you’re ripe, mind transmission takes place, and you pick up the aspect of rigpa, there is some lingering kind of aftershock, a reverberation, that if it’s gone deeply enough into your awareness, then it will hook you - in the very good sense of the term - and you’ll know: aha! I have to follow that. I have to follow that. You know. I’m no longer there, but it’s not just a memory, like a memory of the hedonic pleasure. Qualitatively very different. So, enough of that. So that’s now my new translation. And I wrote to Andre. He was really happy! He was really happy. He said; I wasn’t happy with that translation - brilliance - either. And... That’s exactly it! Ya, lucidity, it’s exactly it, it’s really... It really captures it. So, clear clear clear clear, and then: discontinuity! Lucidity! Different, it’s different. It’s not more, it’s different. Here we are - finished.
[15:36] Now another good question came up today. This one.... Ah, I’ll keep it private. By and large, you must know, and I’m telling you, that our personal meetings, they’re private. They’re private. But if you have some really interesting experience, that I think would be helpful for other people to know, I may cite it, but know I will give people no way of knowing whose experience it is. And of course, if it has to do with a family member, so, you know - private is private. This is like doctor - client, psychiatrist - client. I’m not a doctor or a psychiatrist, but this is private. But, when it’s simply a point of dharma... then Dharma, Dharma... You know, there we are. So, one more - one further point. And now we’re in a... This is a segue to the practice we are about to return to - mindfulness of breathing in this moment. And I would really say it’s the minimalist approach, a minimalist interpretation of the Buddha’s teachings, right there in the Pali canon. Because everything else seems... not wrong, but just more. Attend to your nostrils - Buddha never said that, attend to… etcetera, etcetera. So you know what I’m talking about. But here’s the question. And that is, when you settle into the flow of the practice, and you’re there, resting your awareness - again, my little mudra comes up, this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine... [laughter] I went to Sunday school - still, clear, unflickering, unwavering...right. You’re resting there. But you are aware of, vividly, the - I’m gonna use this word, and it’s not new agey, it’s just the best words I can find - the fluctuations in the field. That is - your awareness is not confined inside itself, right? It’s not inside a little tiny box, where it’s aware of nothing other than itself. It’s like a candle flame in a room, and it’s illuminating the space around it. So, even when you’re very still, and you’re not deliberately really trying to draw your awareness in upon itself to the exclusion of all else - you’re simply still, without explicitly directing your attention here or there - then of course, it’s illuminating the field right around you, and one of the things that it picks up - or is aware of, illuminates - is the fluctuations in the field, the fluctuations in the field of your experience, the fluctuations corresponding to inbreath-outbreath. Quite clear, right? There’s nothing mysterious about this, nothing difficult about this. If you’re sitting quietly, like right now, without changing your posture... And you simply rest in that mode of awareness... You don’t have to do something special to be aware of what is already going on, you know of which you are already implicitly aware at least, and that’s the fluctuations. The fluctuations in the field, the field of your experience, right? So, that’s all kind of repeat. Nothing new so far.
[18:29] But then when you’re in that field, and you’re still, relatively free of laxity, relatively free of excitation: how, if you really want to follow the path of mindfulness of breathing, to take you to shamatha and even beyond - first dhyana, second, third, fourth, because that’s the way the Buddha taught it. He didn’t say, ‘Get to shamatha, now you have to switch to another method.’ He said, ‘No, mindfulness of breathing, to the fourth dhyana.’ That’s what - he taught it! Right? And in Buddhaghosa’s great commentary, that’s how he interprets it. Right there at the beginning of the Satipatthana sutta, as a prelude to vipashyana, he teaches mindfulness of breathing - the tetrad - and then, in the Buddhaghosa’s commentary, he just tracks out the four dhyanas. Whoa! You know. And so... How do you move along, how do you move along the path, when you’re resting there, in this approach, minimalist interpretation, most literal interpretation, how do you then... How do you experience less and less laxity, less and less excitation; greater and greater stillness, greater and greater vividness? Well, let’s just go right back to what the Buddha said. And now, again, a bit of repetition. Breathing in long, one notes, the inbreath is long. Breathing out long, one notes, the outbreath is long. Clear. And then - obviously, intuitively, and also just rationally - you need less air, so, the volume of air is going to be less, and you won’t have to breathe so long. That is, you just... Gradually, the whole body, the whole body-mind system needs less air, and so; Breathing in short, one notes, the inbreath is short. Breathing out short, one notes, the outbreath is short. The whole thing’s just settling down. So the volume, the volume of air decreases, but now as that happens - quite naturally, intuitively and kind of obviously - the fluctuations in the field get subtler. They get subtler. Right?
[20:38] A little bit tongue in cheek, but forgive me - I’m corny! - but we’ve all seen Star Wars, right? And Yoda saying something like; ‘A disturbance in the field there is!’ [laughter] You remember? Like, when they blew up a whole planet? A disturbance, what was it... Anybody quote verbatim? It’s pretty close, but... Ya, pretty close. [impersonating Yoda] ‘A disturbance in the field there is.’ That’s pretty good, eh? And in any case, you know what he’s getting at. This is a guy really sensitive, and he’s picking up the field, and he just figured out: ‘oh, I think five billion people just died’. You know, fluctuation in the field. But it’s something - I’m not being really silly here, it’s... Was he targeting with clairvoyance - 'Oh, I see that planet there, oh, I see a lot of anguish’? - No. And I think it’s not silly that there was a perturbation in the field of his own experience; something dramatic has just happened. Well, the drama’s getting subtler and subtler. The perturbations in the field of your awareness - and it’s your mental awareness, because we know you can be aware of your breathing rhythm in a dream when you’re not aware of your body, right? That’s kind of breakthrough important information. What happens here is the perturbations, the fluctuations in the field, that you know to be the fluctuations corresponding to inbreath-outbreath, they’re getting subtler and subtler. Now we know, also with common sense: they can’t be getting shorter and shorter and shorter, that is, the inbreath-outbreath. It just doesn’t make any sense. I mean it’s not possible. Can you imagine a person deep in samadhi going [panting fast and shallowly]. [laughter] That ain’t gonna happen, right? That’s crazy. So we know it’s not going to get shorter and shorter and shorter - it would just be winding, a hyperventilation, which is not going to be the case. So if it’s not getting shorter and shorter and shorter, what is getting subtler? It’s going to be the volume. Not the frequency, but the volume - how much air you’re taking in. Right? And this is widely known, especially in the Theravada tradition, where mindfulness of breathing is so strongly emphasized for at least 1500 years. And that is a unique quality of this particular method, among dozens of methods of shamatha... is that in mindfulness of breathing, whatever technique you’re following, the more you progress along the path, approaching dhyana and then beyond, the subtler the object of mindfulness becomes. For everything else, as your stability increases, vividness increases, the meditative object gets clearer and clearer and clearer. Like in the method of visualizing a Buddha image. At first it’s very very vague. Right? Blurry, hardly even there. And then: ascend to stage four, five, six and it just gets clearer, brighter, brighter, brighter, until when you get to stage nine, it’s like you’re looking at it with your own eyes, right? And that’s likewise true for other methods. Because your awareness is getting clearer, then the object appears more and more vividly, more obviously, right, more and more manifest. But in contrast to that, uniquely - as far as I know, I think it is unique among all the shamatha methods Buddha taught and that were taught by later generations of Buddhas - mindfulness of breathing the object of mindfulness gets subtler and subtler and subtler. Right? And so at some point... So, what’s going to happen here, is that although the frequency of the breath presumably stabilizes at some point - you know, it doesn’t go to hyperventilation, but the volume is going to get less and less and less. Which means the fluctuations in the field are going to get very very subtle. Right?
[24:22] What’s that going to call for, Karl? What’s that going to call for? Greater vividness. If you’re going to remain engaged with fluctuations that are really minute, and then get minuter and minuter and minuter, and you’re not going to just lose them and say ‘I don’t think I’m breathing anymore’ - which means then you just lost it, because your awareness is this sharp, and your breathing is this subtle. Then - not getting anything, right? You have to stay connected. If you’re going to stay connected, remain in that flow of nonconceptual cognizance - crucial point, right? - if you’re going to maintain that flow of nonconceptual cognizance as the perturbations and fluctuations in the field are getting subtler and subtler and subtler, because you’re hardly taking in any air at all, for the very simple reason you don’t need it. You’re not starving, you’re not fasting on breath. It’s not an austerity; let’s see how little I can breathe! That’s crazy. Nobody should do that, you know. But when the body doesn’t need much air, don’t give it more than it needs. Right? So that’s the answer to your question. And that is, the fluctuation in the field gets subtler, and subtler, and subtler. Now when you’re getting into that flow, where... There’s a certain rhythm there. And you’re following exactly what the Buddha said, literally. When the breath flows in short, I note, the inbreath is short. When the breath flows out short, I note that it’s short.
[25:49] Then we move to the third tetrad - I’m going to finish all four of them right now. That will give the big picture, all the way to shamatha, and beyond. Right? So - big picture. So, what’s the next one? It’s good to memorize. It’s really easy. Experiencing the whole body I breathe in. Experiencing the whole body, I breathe out. That’s the third tetrad. Right? Well - that can be understood in two ways, and both of them are very sensible, and one of them is very literal. When you say you are experiencing the whole body, are you really talking about bones and sinews and ligaments? Vertebra, brain matter? Doesn’t make any sense, does it? Because that’s not what’s coming up. You’re not visualizing your body, right? So when it speaks of the whole body - attending to the whole body, I breathe in - what’s it gonna be? It’s going to be this field; this field generated by the body, that you’re getting in first person. You’re attending to the whole field. And within the whole field, you’re also - here’s the Theravada interpretation - you’re attending to the whole body of the breath. And that is, you’re not pecking at it. You’re not getting the inbreath, and then taking a vacation for the outbreath. Or getting the outbreath, and skipping the inbreath. You’re there for the whole - it’s a full time job. Right? You’ve heard me say that before. Full time job, mindfulness of breathing. And that is, for the whole course of the inbreath, you’re there all the way. Whole course of the outbreath, you’re there all the way. Inbreath - all the way. That is, you’re just continually engaged. And that’s the challenge he gives you. After you’ve worked through, allowed the body to settle down from the long inbreath - long outbreath, and it’s settled down, to more of a flow of short inbreath - short outbreath, and then it’s just getting subtler, and subtler, and subtler, in terms of the sheer volume of your breath; perturbation getting subtler and subtler. What’s your challenge now, what’s your practice? To see that you’re not just stagnating, because it’s very easy to stagnate. Well, here’s how not to stagnate. Let the whole system calm down. Breathe more and more egolessly. Because if you let your preferences, regulation, control come in, that will screw everything, that will just... That will stop it. Show over. Right? You have to be releasing, releasing, releasing. Very Dzogchenish, isn’t it? Really subtly releasing. Not even a little bit of preference, not even a little bit of help. Just... let it be! [28:20 Tibetan] - let it be. Big phrase from Dzogchen. But now, [28:24 Tibetan] - let it be with respect to your respiration. Be very mindful of it - don’t mess with it at all. And in that way, the whole system calms down, and now, in this third phase, you have one task: attending to the whole body, I breathe in. Attending to the whole body, I breathe out. Continuity! Continuity. At this point, you may just throw out - it’s now no longer useful - what I inserted in from Padmasambhava, and that is the arousal - release, arousal - release. It may no longer be useful. At some point, it certainly won’t be useful. Maybe now! Because you’re in a flow. It’s steady. You are clear, you are... still. So you don’t need to fluctuate anymore. That was a preliminary exercise. And it wasn’t there in the text. Now it’s just, attend to the whole body breathing in, attend to the whole body breathing out. Right? But it gets subtler, and subtler, and subtler.
[29:16] And then what happens as a result of that: Calming the composite of the body, I breathe in. Calming the composite of the body, I breathe out. That’s the word. Calming, soothing... We’re talking here, very obviously - this is not an interpretation, this is kind of like, this is what it says - equipoise. Samahita. Equipoise, that meditative... The whole system - he says, the composite of the body, or nicely: the system of the body. It’s a nice word, very close. It’s a good translation - the system of the body is getting calmed. An ocean which is unmoved by wind becomes calm, even glassy. You may be able to see the reflections of the stars and planets - a classic analogy from Tibetan Buddhism. Even in the ocean you may be able to see, if it’s extremely calm, no wind - remember, wind was the analogy of excitation and anxiety - when there’s no wind, then that’s calm. They call it a dead calm, right, in sailing. You know, when you’re in the doldrums, and it’s dead calm, there is not even a whisker of wind - dead calm, right? Well... The ocean has become a mirror. Right? Your body has become a mirror. It’s settled. It’s calm. Soothing, calming. Right? That equipoise. And then there’s equipoise, and then there’s equipoise. And that is, when you’ve achieved shamatha, access to the first dhyana - well, that is really very very good [30:46 inaudible], free of even subtle excitation, free of even subtle laxity.
[30:53] But since we already know scientifically that you can be aware of the rhythm of the breath even when you’re not explicitly aware of the body at all - as in a dream, right? - then, to extend a little bit, then what’s to prevent you, once you’ve achieved access to the first Dhyana, what’s to prevent you from just staying the course, doing the same practice? And now you just stay right there, just as Padmasambhava says, at the end of shamatha without a sign, after he’s gone through the different preliminary phases, then he said, now, just release your mind into space. And then he doesn’t say for one day, three months, six years - he just says, do it, until your mind is settled in its natural state, right? That is what he says. But there’s no more instruction, because there’s no more method. That’s the method - now just... call me when you’re finished, and we’ll go to the next chapter. But call me when you’re finished. Because you’re really not ready for the next chapter, really, until you have done that.
[31:48] And so... if we just go back to simple shamatha... just rest in awareness. And in the field surrounding your awareness, this dharmadatu, this space of mental experience. And there, you’ve not stopped breathing - when you’ve achieved shamatha you haven’t stopped breathing - it’s just gotten very subtle. But now, what happens, as you move on to the first dhyana, the full achievement of the first dhyana, second dhyana, third dhyana... what’s happening - and this has been corroborated by I don’t know how many thousands of yogis for hundreds and hundreds of years - the breath should become subtler and subtler and subtler! More subtle than access to the first dhyana, more subtle than shamatha. Subtler in the first dhyana, subtler in the second dhyana, subtler in the third dhyana - that anybody looking at you from outside, if they weren’t a doctor, if they were just looking closely at your body... Not breathing! Yes you are. But only you would know. It is so subtle, you’ll probably see no outward sign. I’m not even sure about a mirror. Right? Maybe a tiny, tiny bit, because you are breathing. Right?
[32:54] But then - the anomaly. The singularity! Singularity is a very cool term in mathematics and in physics. A singularity, is when there is a zero in the denominator, which means that... It doesn’t make any sense, you can’t say anything. It’s just simple fraction - if there is a zero in the denominator, it’s not equal to anything. Not infinity, not nothing, and nothing in between. It’s not anything at all. It just does not compute. There is a singularity - and I studied cosmology - and there is a singularity when you go back in time to the big bang. If you are one nanosecond after the big bang, you find intensely high temperature, intensely high density, intense - incredibly supersupersupersuper high, when you go just one nanosecond after the big bang. But if you go one nanosecond earlier, to time equals zero, well that zero winds up being in the denominator. In which case, it does not compute. Then it’s just... This is no longer physics. Because we can’t talk anymore. This is where you can’t say anything, because whatever you say is not relevant. Well, there’s a singularity, which breaks all the laws of - not all the laws of physics, but it breaks some pretty big laws. And that’s when you’ve achieved the fourth dhyana. If you’ve achieved the fourth dhyana, the breath has just incrementally gone subtler, subtler, subtler, subtler. The volume is just getting subtler and subtler. You get to the fourth dhyana - zero. It’s flatlined. No breath. Not little breath - no breath. That sounds like you should die within about three minutes. Your brain won’t get any oxygen. Three, four, five minutes, and then you’re… the brain is so severely damaged you’ll never recover, or you’re just dead. It doesn’t take many minutes of no oxygen flow to the brain... I don’t know how many, but it’s very few. Right? And so, that should be your prize when you achieve the fourth dhyana, is you get to experience it for a few minutes and then you’re dead, you know. Happily, that’s not the case. Unusually, we have an incredible anomaly here. And that is, when you achieve dhyana - just look at Buddhaghosa - but it’s common! Everybody who studied Buddhism - Chinese Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism - they say exactly the same thing: then when you achieve dhyana, the fourth dhyana, the breath stops, completely. Everybody knows, any good scholar knows that. The yogis actually know it, but the scholars know... That’s what the Buddha said, that’s what everybody says. But what’s interesting about that, is that now, it’s said you’ve achieved... In the Theravada tradition, they say you’ve achieved now the perfection of equanimity and the perfection of mindfulness, and you can remain in that meditative equipoise for a week, two weeks, with pure samadhi, no breath, completely disengaged from the environment around you. Buddhaghosa says something like, if a bullock train passes right by your meditation cushion, with a hundred bullocks, and so forth and so on, you will pick up nothing. You may as well be on a different planet. Right? You’ve gone into the pinnacle of the form realm. And your breathing has stopped, and it can stop for weeks, while you’re remaining in samadhi. Now you come out, and we’re walking around, having a cup of tea - then you breathe again, of course. It’s not like you never breathe again. But while you’re in samadhi - while you’re in samadhi, no breath at all. That already, any biologist will say, that should be impossible. I mean, totally impossible. Even if you somehow survived it, you should come out vegetative. That would be the best shot, you know, but really you shouldn’t be able to be alive at all. And of course, the Buddhas didn’t invent this. This was old news before the Buddha came along. The hindus had already mapped all of this out. They knew all about this. So the Buddha added techniques, methods and so forth, but they already knew about this. This was the primary contemplative civilization on the planet 2500 years ago, the best place for Gautama to go. Not Central America, or North America, or Africa, or China - uh uh. Go to the hub, where they’ve nailed samadhi, you know. And so, an anomaly, it’s a singularity. It’s really a singularity.
[37:17] And I might share with you later - not now, because time is passing so quickly - but I was recently just polishing a translation I did of the first... Yes, it was the first teaching that Gyatrul Rinpoche ever had me interpret for him. I’d met him, I’d received some wonderful dream yoga teachings from him, made the connection - he was my lama... [37:38 ?] And then I became his interpreter. He said, Alan, I’ve been asked to go down to Los Angeles, to teach at a Shambhala center, and... come with me, I want you to interpret for me. I said well... ya! And so, we went down there, to the Hollywood Shambhala center... I remember, it was 1991 or so, a long time ago. Were you there!? Whoa. [person in audience, inaudible] Yeah. Long time ago, 1991, no later than 1991, probably 1990. And he chose this text. And it’s by Karma Chagme, but it wasn’t included in Spacious Path to Freedom, or Natural Liberation - excuse me, Naked Awareness. It’s not that text, it’s another text, called his commentary, his great commentary - Karma Chagme Rinpoche, this great scholar, adept of the Mahamudra and Dzogchen tradition from the 17th century - and it’s called his great commentary to Buddhahood in the Palm of the Hand. Right? And Rinpoche just reached into it. He didn’t start from the text, because he was only there for a weekend... And he just reached into the text, and he... It’s just the first chapter he plucked out was... [jokingly] Oh, you’ll never guess. The chapter on shamatha! Chapter 16 I think it was. Do you think Rinpoche had some mission for me or something, I don’t know? Go figure. But there he is, he plucked that one out, and as he was teaching it, my mind was just going [mimics explosion] pow, pow pow. And I knew I had to translate the text, so I did. And then he went on, and he taught the vipashyana section too, there on that same weekend. And so that was the first time that I translated for him. So I translated both of these chapters, but I was just reviewing and polishing my translation, which I did more than 20 years ago - almost like, 24 years ago - of the chapter on shamatha. And Karma Chagme Rinpoche, this great Dzogchen and Mahamudra master, when he’s talking about shamatha, he actually talks about all the four dhyanas. And then he says, when you’ve achieved the fourth dhyana... very unusual things that will happen, but I’m going to keep you in total suspense. [laughter] Because I don’t want to paraphrase it when I can just read it. Because you won’t believe me. But you might believe Karma Chagme. Not this old California dude! You know. Quite amazing. Maybe we’ll get to that next week. So don’t die! [laughter] Don’t die before Monday, anyway! It’s really cool. I’ll do my best, too. But what it is, is a singularity, because the laws of physics - for you - the laws of physics just start breaking down all over the place. Like a house in which you threw some TNT, and - [mimics explosion] pow! Laws of physics falling apart. Things that should be absolutely impossible, are possible, from the fourth dhyana. Quite interesting! And that’s by the sheer power of samadhi. It’s not by the power of realization of emptiness - that breaks things apart! Not by the power of realizing rigpa - whoa, that really breaks things apart. But sheerly by the power of samadhi. That’s interesting! From a scientific perspective, that’s really really interesting. So, there it is.
[40:46] So, the mission plan is clear then, right? Breathing in long, breathing out long. Breathing in short, breathing out short. Attending to the whole body, calming the system of the body. And there’s the complete trajectory, from where you are today, to the fourth dhyana. The fourth dhyana, where you hit the singularity at the end, where the breathing... There isn’t anymore. And then you just rest in that ocean, that limitless ocean of equanimity. And then you’re right on the cusp to entering into the formless realm, that may be not so useful. He doesn’t mention it. I wouldn’t spend time... Life is so short. You might... You can save yourself some time. You don’t need to really... You can get to the formless realm after you’re a Buddha. Pick it up as a tip. Don’t spend any time earning. OK? Olaso. Clear? Good.
[41:39] Let’s go then, let’s go into practice. And I won’t need to say much, we’ll simply continue on course. [addressing participant] Kim! Are you ok? Yeah? Ok, good. No problem, I just was concerned for you, that’s all. Very simple. But I think... Because I was actually addressing a question you raised, in the very beginning, so you might want to check out the podcast. I think you’ll find it interesting. It’s the difference between substrate consciousness and rigpa. One word nails it. Olaso. Good. Find a comfortable position.
[42:57] Now with very few words, settle your body, speech and mind in their natural state.
[44:41] Most importantly find that stillness. Find the stillness by releasing all that deprives you of the stillness, that sets your awareness in motion, scurrying off here and there. Release it all, and what’s left, in the absence of grasping is the stillness of your awareness, by nature - clear, luminous, bright. Rest in that natural, uncontrived, effortless stillness and clarity of your own awareness.
[46:07] And then, without focusing your direction here or there, be simply explicitly aware of what you’ve already been aware of, whether implicitly or explicitly, and that is the fluctuations in the field of your awareness that correspond to the in- and outbreath. Then simply follow exactly what the Buddha said, with no interpretation. Be literal. When the inbreath flows in long, note that it is long. When the outbreath flows out long, note that it is long. And then, whether incrementally or whether there’s a sudden decrease in the duration of your breath - either way, whatever happens, without preference, without expectation - as the breath either incrementally or suddenly becomes shorter in its duration... When the inbreath is short, note that it is short. When the outbreath is short, note that it is short. And when, at least for a time, you’re in that mode, like a sinusoidal wave, a smooth rhythm, a smooth oscillation, but in which the breathing is relatively short - then take up the third challenge presented by the Buddha in this tetrad: attending to the whole body, I breathe in. Attending to the whole body, I breathe out. Continue there. Keep it simple. Don’t second-guess yourself. Let’s continue practicing now in silence.
[1:07:33] Olaso. So, we have just a few minutes. So, I will read a little bit more of the section on the transitional phase of living.... O ya. So I continue. Oh, and by the way, I think probably by now, or very shortly, Sangay will send you this text [participant speaking]. You already have it. Oh, good, then she sent you everything. She’s so good. Olaso. So, we continue. As for the etymology of transitional phase - or bardo, bar do, what does it break down to, just in terms of the word itself? - this term refers to the arising of unstable, delusive, dream-like appearances, in the intervals after a prior state of existence, and before a later state of existence occurs. So that’s why, you see, I can’t just call it intermediate state, because it’s always in transition - it’s after something; prior to something else. But these adjectives are enormously important and extremely accurate. Each of these transitional phases - of living, of dreaming, and so forth and so on - they’re all unstable. We may grasp onto them as stable. We may feel that we’re no longer in a transitional phase. Well, we got that one wrong. They are by nature unstable. They’re delusive. It’s a little bit different than deluded. A person becomes deluded, but appearances are delusive, in the sense that they invite you to become deluded. They’re misleading, they’re devious, they’re tricky! Right? They lead you in the wrong direction. So, therefore, delusive. Things appear in a manner in which they do not exist, exactly as in a dream. Everything seems to be totally there from its own side. Well, it’s not - but it certainly seems to be. That’s delusive. And then dream-like - well, very powerful metaphor. So, it refers to the arising of unstable, delusive, dream-like appearances in the intervals after a prior state of existence - such as your last death, or your last bardo - and before a later state of existence occurs, such as your dying process. Here are the classifications of the transitional phases. So these are the six... The first one you’re familiar with by now: The grasping transitional phase of living, or the transitional phase of living that’s strongly characterised by this deeply ingrained habit of grasping. The contemplative transitional phase of meditation - we’ll see what that’s about. The delusive transitional phase of dreams - delusive again because dreams are misleading. And those are the three we’ll be focusing on for these eight weeks. And then the other three that we will not be attending to: The gradual transitional process of dying; the inconceivable transitional phase of ultimate reality - or dharmata - and the karmic transitional phase of becoming - that’s the classic intermediate state, that is often referred to as simply - bardo. Bardo. He’s referring to the sixth bardo. So there are the six.
[1:10:42] So now we focus in on the first one, and that’s what will occupy us for the next couple of weeks or so. First, the transitional phase of living is like a little bird on a treetop. For in this transitional phase you cannot remain for long before you must move on to another world. So it’s kind of a charming image! We’ve all seen it. The Tibetans have a different word for ‘bird’, and a ‘little bird’. A little bird is [1:07:09 Tibetan]. [Tibetan] and [Tibetan]. So a [Tibetan] could be a crane. If a crane lands on a big tree, it might hang out there overnight. But a little bird? A [Tibetan]? You know, they just don’t hang out, they just [mimics birds flying to and fro]. Like they’re all hyper! It’s only a matter of seconds probably! Like that. That’s where we are right now. We’re hunkering down, ready just you know, go for the long haul... and he said, you’re like a little bird on a treetop. Don’t get too comfortable! You’re about to fly away. Tweet tweet! [giggles] So, It’s like a little bird on a treetop, for in this transitional phase you cannot remain for long before you must move on to another world, into another transitional phase. By pondering the nature of this process, you abandon the attitude of preparing to remain in this world for a long time. As if, really, pragmatically speaking, you’re kind of counting on immortality, you know. And it sounds like, totally ridiculous, you have to be totally insane - who’s immortal? But then look for how many people are actually living as if they’re immortal. They acquire things as if they can really keep them for the long term, as if they have some kind of a guarantee - at least another fifty years, or at least my death is so far away I don’t need to think about it... You know, I’m not like those sick people. You know those other ones? They get cancer and have strokes and have accidents and... I’m not like those people. I’m one of the long life people. You know? And having that confidence, we all smile. Until we think, maybe we are doing it ourselves. And then we kind of look stupid.
[1:12:42] So, Then, like a bee in pursuit of nectar, you first cut through mistaken notions by means of hearing and pondering the Dharma. So here really is a sequential, it makes eminently good sense. If at some point there is that turning point in your life, and you really find a need - not just you’re interested, but a real need; you need something more. You know, something more than what many people appear to be satisfied with, or simply don’t have the imagination to transcend. And that is, something more than the pursuit of hedonic well being. You know, something more. Right? Get to that point where you really feel, I need to find a path. I need to find some Dharma. Then, what he’s saying here’s, you know, you’re making a big step here. This is much bigger than marriage, or deciding what college to go to, or what city to move to, or what kind of job to get. This is much much much much bigger. So any sensible person, before you get married, you know, you really... If it’s an arranged marriage, your parents really check it out carefully. If it’s a modern type of marriage, you check it out carefully. Don’t be an idiot. You know - just oh, she’s pretty, let’s get married, you know. Don’t be a dope. But this is much more important than that. Or taking ordination. That’s a big deal. But this is actually even bigger than that. Ordination, of course, is for the sake of practicing Dharma, but if you’re going to choose a Dharma, then really consider very carefully. Because the stakes could not be higher. Right? Choose a crappy Dharma, you’re gonna be really screwed. Choose a good one, you’ll be really blessed, for the long term, way beyond the context of this life. Monastic ordination is only for one lifetime. When you’re dead you’re no longer a monk or a nun. Right? When you’re dead you’re no longer married. In fact, the Tibetans have a nice phrase: there’s no such thing as dead people. Dead people, as in human beings. It’s really... It comes out of our basic debating in the courtyard. There’s no such thing as dead people, because by the time you’re dead you’re no longer a people. [laughter] You know? It’s kind of like simple, but then, why are people going to graves and saying hey grandma, how are you? They’re looking at fertilizer, you know. I mean really, they’re looking at mault. They might just as well go to the, you know, the [1:14:53 ?] and look at a bag of manure, and say hello grandma, how are you. And put a flower in it. It’s very strange, we’re such a superstitious society. Looking at fertilizer, and thinking oooh... I miss you. Very strange, isn’t it? So, there it is.
[1:15:10] But so, he says, Cut through mistaken notions - get clarity. Cut through mistaken notions! If you hear about anything, whether it’s Buddhism, or Marxism, or Sufism, or anything, you’re bound to get some misconceptions. Because, you know, blah blah blah, just the word on the marketplace is hardly ever really accurate. It’s slogans. You know, the buddhists think life is suffering, you know, they’re really pessimistic. You know. I mean just these slogans, so if you hear about it, cut through misconceptions. Cut through, cut through. Almost like taking a - sorry for the vegetarians - but cutting through... Getting a big chunk of meat, just cutting off all the fat, so you get what is the actual meat, what... When you get actually to it, what’s really there? That you’re not mistaken by culture. Tibetan Buddhism is so Tibetan. I love Tibetan culture, but that’s not my Dharma, you know. And so you have to cut through that a bit. If you’re Tibetan you don’t need to, because your culture and Dharma totally merge. There’s no problem. Eventually, one day, there may be really a Western Dharma. It’s kind of in an embryonic phase right now. But sooner or later you are going to have to recognize the difference between culture and Dharma. And then, is the Dharma really a path for you, is this your Dharma? Is this authentic? You have to hear it, you have to study, you have to think about it, you have to check it out, you know. That’s what he’s saying here. Cut off misconceptions.
[1:16:22] And when you are practicing... So first of all, hearing and thinking, and then there’s the meditation, and actually putting into practice. He said: when you are practicing, you must cut off uncertainties and hesitation as if you were a swallow entering its nest. He’s going to unpack this metaphor. It’s really lovely. But I’ve been emphasizing this for years, right? I’m just echoing words of wisdom that have been around for centuries. When you’re practicing - I’ll give you the pith right now - when you’re practicing, practice correctly. But that’s not enough. Know that you are practicing correctly. You know the difference, ya? You can be practicing correctly, and be second-guessing yourself, and doubting, and uncertainty... And waffling and wavering, and driving yourself nuts. And you say, ah, caramba! You were doing it right already! But you didn’t know it. So it’s not enough to practice correctly. You have to know that you’re practicing correctly. And then shut up! Know the little nagging doubt - yeyeyeyeye? - shut up! When you know... If there’s good uncertainties - you really don’t understand something... How do you progress on the path of shamatha? By mindfulness of breathing. How do you develop better clarity? That’s a good question. What’s the difference between substrate consciousness and rigpa? That’s a good question. You don’t say that to shut up. You get clarity first. But now he’s talking about practice - when you’re practicing, learn well how do practice. Practice well. Know you’re practicing well. And then you continue, without that afflictive uncertainty, the afflictive skepticism - doubt, that’s one of the five obscurations. Right. Really important! Really important. You can make yourself so unnecessarily unhappy, by nagging doubts which really have no grounding in reality. He’s... I’m going to unpack this, and then I’ll stop, for the evening and for the week.
[1:18:10] For, Among birds, the swallow is especially skilled at inspection. When it first builds its nest, it carefully observes for a long time whether or not there might be disturbances or harm from other creatures. After this is determined, it builds its nest. So, I’m a birdwatcher. I know about birds nests - robins and sparrows and a whole bunch of birds, they just find a good tree, start gathering a little straw and so forth and build it. It’s for one season only. They lay their eggs, chicks grow up, they fly, they never look at the nest again. You know, and then the wind blows it off, and ok, no problem, I was only here for a little while anyway. Anybody ever see the swallow’s nest? American San Juan Capistrano? You know how long that, the mission, you know how long that swallow’s nest has been there? Like two hundred years, right? Really! And the swallows keep coming back every year, to the same nest. You know, they’ll do a bit of patchwork here, maintenance, but you know, they’re building like the, kind of like the padres built. They’re building their missions there to be there for several hundred years, you know. The swallows do the same thing. But that means before you make your nest, that twenty generations of your kin will be using, you know, over the coming centuries, you’re going to do this. You’re not going to be like the swallow, or the robin, or what have you - oh, that’s a good enough branch, let’s just build it there, because it’s only for one season. No, you’re thinking... Whether you’re thinking of it, it’s probably biologically programmed, of course, evolution, genetics and all that but nevertheless, they really do inspect carefully. This is good, this is good, you know, bird biology. And that is, they check out very carefully, is this a place to build a nest for the long term? Predators, weasels, hawks, people and so forth and so on. So, it’s really good, you know. This is good observation. It’s true. They check it out. When they’ve carefully determined that - this is the hearing and thinking phase. Really check it out, before you invest your life, before you make a commitment. Any Dharma - be like the swallow. Right?
[1:20:08] And so, After this is determined, it builds its nest. Once its nest is built, from then on it goes straight to its nest, like an arrow, without any uncertainty or hesitation. So when you really know your path, when you know your practice, then you go straight to your meditation cushion - pow, like an arrow shot to a target. You go to it, you start practicing, and you do it sharp, clear, and you know what you’re doing. And you’re confident you know what you’re doing. Right? So, and a little bit more commentary on this, because this is so enormously important. It is not just a cushion. You can put your cushion down in a place that is utterly unconducive to practice, especially shamatha practice. Right? So, in this regard then, we human beings, we’re not slaves, and not serfs, which is another type of slavery, right? That we’re not tied to one land, we’re not tied to... we’re not anybody else’s possession. They can’t tell us - you cannot leave. In some totalitarian governments, yes they can. But not us. Otherwise they wouldn’t have let you come here. I’m a subversive, you know. [laughter] And so, we have the freedom to choose our environment. That’s one of our greatest freedoms. Really, it’s one of our greatest freedoms, that if we’re stuck in an environment - whether it’s a country, a state, a town or a home, a house, a neighbourhood - that really is unconducive to our practice - we cannot flourish - and I’ve been, rarely, but I have been in such environments, where I can’t flourish. It’s not that it’s evil, it’s just that I can’t flourish. If I were a better practitioner I could, but I’m not. There’s the reality - I can’t flourish here. I’ve been, I won’t elaborate, but yeah, I’ve been there. I can’t flourish! I’m not up to it. Then get out! Or if you can gently, harmoniously change the environment - nice! But sometimes you can’t. Where I was, I remember one occasion - I couldn’t change that environment, I had no power whatsoever. They didn’t want my suggestions, I had no power to implement my suggestions - nothing. So I got out. So that’s really enormously important. If you’re in an environment where you cannot flourish in your Dharma practice, time is passing. And once it’s gone it’s finished, you know, you will not get it back. So make sure - it’s one of our great freedoms, for those of us who do not live in totalitarian governments, where you’re basically owned by the state, you know... To choose - really important. Find a good Dharma, but also, find a conducive environment for practicing Dharma, so there’s no regrets. No regrets about the Dharma you chose, no regrets about the environment, the way of life that you chose. No regrets. Milarepa said: What’s your aspiration? To die without regret. Right? He didn’t mean anything trivial by that. The Dalai Lama said the same thing.
[1:22:53] So... Likewise... So there is this beautiful metaphor. I’ve remembered it for years now. The swallow and its nest. You know? Likewise, by first devoting yourself to a qualified teacher - so, you better check out! Go to any teacher, that teacher will probably say he or she is qualified. You know. They’re trying to make a living - I’m qualified, I’m qualified. You know. Maybe so - maybe not. But it is a bit of a problem. Because I was just with a psychotherapist in Australia, and he’s been practicing psychotherapy for like thirty years, and he still is coming up for audit. He still has to be examined by the state to show that he’s still up to snuff, that he still gets, you know, licencing. He’s almost my age! But they still check. Right? Medical doctors - same thing. You will go to jail I think - at least a big fine, but probably go to jail if you say, I’m a medical doctor, and you’re not. O ho, look out! Look out. Maybe in some countries you can get away with it, but not Europe or America. Forget about it. You’re in deep trouble! So psychotherapist, psychiatrist, medical doctor, and many other professions you cannot practice unless your are qualified, trained and certified. Right? Very common. What kind of qualification, certification do you need to become a Dharma teacher? Nothing! But now, what has a bigger impact on your life: your medical doctor, your psychotherapist, your architect, you plummer - they can’t practice without getting certified. Your plumbing or your Dharma practice? You know, which has a bigger impact? So we’re living in a bit of a crazy world. Not that, you know, I want to be a dictator and say, you’re qualified, you’re not qualified. But just the reality of it is anybody who says, I can teach meditation, you can put out a mat and if you’re popular, you’re charismatic, you give a good talk, you’ll get followers. And you’ll totally, if you’re unqualified, you’ll really harm them. You know? So that, we have to be... It wasn’t such a concern in a place like Tibet. Because if somebody was really a bozo, the ones who’d know would say, that guy’s a bozo, what are you going to him for? He’s a, it’s a total twerp . They would know, you would really... you wouldn’t have to check out much. Because there were so many qualified teachers, that if somebody cropped up who was just a jerk - huh! He would never... he really wouldn’t get much headway. But in America? Europe? Or for that matter India nowadays? You know, there are a lot of quacks. Walks like a quack, quacks like a quack... But if you don’t know Dharma already, then you can easily be misled. So there we go. So, find a qualified teacher.
And by acquiring broad learning and deep understanding, you should be able to proceed to the essential points of the path by your own power, without error. Boy, he can save you a lot of time with that paragraph. OK, I’m going to stop there.
[1:25:39] I was asked to make some brief comments - and I’m going to make them very brief. It’s dinner time in a minute and a half - because I won’t... We won’t be collecting, gathering together of course until Monday morning. Dream yoga will begin in something like two weeks or so, but I found, to my great joy, when I got to know Stephen LaBerge, and started studying literature and then receiving a lot of teaching from him - we taught our six ten-day workshops together, in California and in Hawaii... And, actually, yeah, same period... 1992, we had a sleeping, dreaming, dying conference with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. And then Lucid Dreaming was represented. It’s a beautiful book, edited by Francisco Varela. But in any case, the theories and the practices, the methods of this very modern discipline - it’s only about thirty years old - of lucid dreaming... And, I don’t think you get better than Stephen LaBerge, at least he’s the one I really know. He’s really really good. And now there are some new books coming out, that are very very very good, by people who know Dharma well, and who really know lucid dreaming as well. So there’s a number of good books come out in just the last year or two. But the point being that dream yoga by itself, if you just take it right out of the six yogas of Naropa, or right out of the six bardos, it looks like a pretty steep hill to climb. You know, the visualization and so forth. I first received teachings on the six yogas of Naropa in 1978. And it was just like I was looking at clouds about 30 000 feet above. [laughter] Wow... one day, maybe, I’ll be there... But I knew, completely, clearly - boy, am I not there, you know. And I was right. But we were given seeds, we were given imprints for later. That was 1978... Twelve years later, Gyatrul Rinpoche gave me guidance, that actually then connected, on dream yoga. The point being here lucid dreaming gives you some little, little ladder. A little ladder that’s not too difficult, not awesome, doesn’t make your jaw drop down - I’ll never get there...
[1:25:40] And so, simple point before we head off for dinner - and for our one day of total immersion in practice - as Stephen LaBerge - I’m going to quote him a fair amount; he’s good, he’s a dear friend, and he’s very articulate, very insightful, and tons of experience; not only his own, but he’s done a lot of research, perhaps more than anybody else in lucid dreaming. And his website, by the way - lucidity.com. In any case, Stephen makes a very good point when he said, if you don’t remember your dreams, the even if you have a lucid one, you won’t remember it. And that’s just straight logic. It’s true. So you could be whining, I never have lucid dreams - you may have one every two nights, but then if you don’t remember your dreams, you won’t remember you had a lucid one! Right? So the first step... The first step is start to remembering your dreams. Some people already have very good dream recall, with no effort, and other people feel they hardly ever have dreams. Which what they’re saying is, I hardly ever remember my dreams. Because unless there’s some real... probably a brain disorder or something, just normal people have five to seven dreams every night, right, of varying duration. And so, to take a greater interest in the dreams, to make some effort prospectively to remember the dreams... And the easiest thing, now that we have, you know, that these things are so ubiquitous... writing down a dream, I’ve done it, it’s kind of laborious. And if the dream’s not all that interesting, it’s kind of like, boy, do I really have to do this? You know, it just takes so much time. And I tend to be very stingy with my time. I don’t want to do things that I don’t find really meaningful. Talk into your cell phone! You know, just turn that on, and record your dreams that way, you know. But the point is to... That is the easiest way to do it, and you’re done in three minutes - pow pow pow - depending on how long your dream is. So that’s an easy way to develop a dream chronicle, you know. But to start remembering your dreams, chronicling your dreams, dream diary... Good step in the right direction. Just... because you’re giving interest to it, and then it’s almost like, if you give interest to a child, the child will start perking up and give more attention to you; oh, that adult is interested in me, then, oh, then you know... The same thing. Start paying attention to your mind, or your dreams - they’ll start rising up to meet you. And so, do so. Start giving more effort to remembering your dreams, even if you find them trivial, uninteresting, not meaningful. Well, they’re not going to stay that way. A dream journal would be good. Pick up ten, twenty, thirty.
[1:30:07] And then, a simple point before we break, and that is a simple technique, really simple. Not hard. And that is, prospective memory. To remember to know something and do something - those are the two things. Stephen LaBerge. Prospect memory for lucid dreaming has to do with knowing something - and that is, remembering to know something when it occurs, and remembering to do something. Knowing and doing. OK? Knowing and doing. So what’s a prospective memory? As you’re falling asleep, then have a resolve, a prospective memory - remember to do something in the future. And that is, after you’ve fallen asleep, at some point, you’ll start to wake up. And so, the prospective memory about knowing is, prospectively launch this missile into the future, this anticipation, and that is: as I start to wake up, I will recognize as quickly as possible that I am waking up. Not know that you’re waking up when you’re going [stretching and yawning], like that, you know, like you’re totally... You’ve been awake for three minutes or something. As you’re waking up, try to know it - just like, with introspection, like, a little bit of excitation is coming in; you know it as quickly as possible. When you’re waking up, try to get it as early as possible, and not when you’re full blown totally awake and it’s irreversible. When you’re waking up. Right? Try to recognize that. In anticipation; when I’m waking up, I will recognize that. That’s knowing. And then when you know, you’re kind of like this... I’m kind of lifting out of wherever I was. When you’re right there, now that you’ve known it... I’m kind of awake, I’m kind of... not quite yet, but ya, I’ve been moving in that direction - you’ve just known something. Now do something. Be still. Be still. Don’t move your body. Breathing, of course. Don’t move your limbs, don’t open your eyes, don’t... Remain still. Remain still. Do remain still. It’s doing something affirmatively. Do remain still. Right? Maybe a little bit better than don’t move. Do remain still. So there you are. That’s the first thing to do.
[1:32:24] And the second and final thing to do - and then it’s dinner time, which it already is - is, there you are, you’re kind of like - I’m going to cartoon it a little bit - but there you are. And then, rather than launching forward, launch backwards. Rather than launching forward into the day and fully waking up and attending to your daily activities, I won’t say launch, but I’ll say slip backwards. So there you are, kind of like, ahh... And then, the cartoon is like... Let your awareness drift back. And pick up: what was your last memory? An image, a video clip - what was the last thing that was in mind? And maybe - not always, but on many occasions, you’re just waking up from a dream. So where were you? Where were you, you know, one minute ago? That is, what was appearing? And then, as if you’ve set down a novel - you know, just suddenly, right in the middle of a chapter, you set down a novel - your tea’s on, and you have to pour the hot water for your tea, and then you’re coming right back to your novel as the tea is brewing. OK, now where was I? Where was I - oh yeah. there it is. And then you immerse your mind right back into the novel. You pick up the story line. Do the same thing. And that is, you’re waking out of a dream, which means you broke the chapter. Right? Well then don’t wake up fully if you can. See if you can just slip back, and then pick up the last image, and maybe there’s even a story there, a narrative, a situation. And if you’re not really fully awake, maybe you can just kind of drift back, slip back, right back into the same dream. Like the chapter you interrupted, and then picked up reading again - see if you can slip right back into that dream, and slip back in lucidly. Because you’re quasi-awake, so go back, and recognize the dream as the dream. It’s called a DILD, a D I L D. No no, sorry! A WILD, a W I L D - a waking induced lucid dream. You’re kind of awake, and from that waking state, it’s a waking induced, that is you have enough wakefulness to note, if you’re going back, you’re going back into a dream. So it’s a WILD - waking induced lucid dream. See if you can come within that quasi-wakeful state, and slip right back into the dream, but be lucid upon entry. And then pick up the narrative, and then just have a lucid dream. OK? Now, you may not succeed the first time you try, but do try the other ones. Try to increase your dream recall, and keep some dream journaling, and then we’ll pick up later, later on. That’ll keep you at least busy for a day or two. OK? Good. All right. Well, enjoy your meal. Enjoy tomorrow. I shall. And I’ll see you Monday morning.
Transcribed by Helena Ringnér
Revised by Cheri Langston
Final edition by Rafael Carlos Giusti