25 Aug 2014
Due to technical problems we apologize for the sound quality in the first eight minutes. Alan invites us to start each morning with the recitation of The Seven Line Prayer of Padmasambhava as a preliminary. We recite it in Tibetan accompanied with the visualization and mantra recitation of Padmasambhava in order to receive his blessings. Following the meditation, Alan quotes a verse of the 100.000 verses of Perfection of Wisdom Sutras in which it claims that by achieving the the fourth jhana one achieves a number of paranormal abilities or siddhis just by the power of samadhi although it is still tainted. When samadhi is imbued with vipashana it becomes untainted. Then, Alan compares spiritual development with running a business, one has to create the causes for shamatha to be achieved and not just pray to receive siddhis. Alan encourages us to practice by quoting William James and His Holiness Dalai Lama, emphasizing that it is possible to achieve siddhis in this degenerated era. Alan reinforces the importance to become lucid. If you are not lucid you are just a victim all the time. When the mind becomes empowered, then the laws of physics, biology, etc. start to melt out. However, as long as this power is not manifest, the mind is just dysfunctional. Therefore, Alan invites all of us to bring about a revolution right now!
Meditation starts at 08:08
(The audio for the first 8 minutes is poor, so the transcription is not exact.)
O la so! So I trust that now you have received the Seven Line Prayer. [?] Not yet. [?] Most of you. Alright. I would encourage you to memorize it; it’s not very long. There’s a lot of [?] we’ll definitely do in Tibetan. [0:21]
And so I think we’ll start each morning with that. We’ll simply recite the Seven Line Prayer three times and then a mala of [?] and [?] then we go around the mala once reciting the Vajra Guru Mantra, the Padmasambhava Mantra, and then we go right into the main practice. It’s not too much for preliminary[?]. I think it’s okay. [0:41]
Please find a comfortable position. [0:44]
[01:10] Now in the space in front of you imagine as vividly as you can Padmasambhava. We have a nice image here in the meditation hall. [01:22]
[01:33] Some of us have better visualization abilities, some have poorer. Not a big deal. Most importantly is simply bringing Padmasambhava to mind as best [?] as you can. But more important than the visualization, the actual image that comes to mind, is the intuitive sense of the presence of Padmasambhava. That Padmasambhava actually is in our presence. Wherever the Dharmakaya is, there is the mind of Padmasambhava. So invoke the presence of Padmasambhava. And then we recite the Prayer, the Seven Line Prayer as a direct supplication, invocation to the [?] that we may bring about spiritual transformation, realization [?]
Transcriptionist note: The Seven Line Prayer and Mantras (in Tibetan and English) and Guru Rinpoche Mantras (in Sanskrit) are written below.
HUNG ORGYEN YUL GYI NUP JANG TSAM HUNG
In the northwest frontier of Oddiyana,
PEMA GE SAR DONG PO LA
In the heart of a lotus
YAM TSEN CHOG GI NGÖ DRUP NYEY
Sits the one renowned as Padmasambhava,
PEMA JUNG NEY ZHEY SU DRAK
Who achieved the wondrous supreme siddhi,
KHOR DU KHAN DRO MANG PÖ KOR
And is surrounded by a host of many dakinis.
KYED KYI JE SU DAK DRUP KYI
Following in your footsteps, I devote myself to practice.
JIN GYI LAP CHIR SHEK SU SÖL
Please come forth and bestow your blessings.
GURU PEMA SIDDHI HUNG
OM ĀḤ HŪṂ VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HŪṂ
OṂ ĀḤ HŪṂ VAJRA GURU PADMA TÖTRENG TSÄL VAJRA SAMAYAJAḤ SIDDHI PHALA HŪṂ
[02:39] [Alan and retreatants recite the Seven Line Prayer three times]
[Alan recites the shorter Guru Rinpoche Mantra once aloud, then he and retreatants recite it silently for one mala.] [04:21]
[07:01] [Alan recites the shorter Guru Rinpoche Mantra one last time aloud]
After the invocation imagine Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava, coming to the crown of your head, instantaneously facing in the same direction as yourself. Then imagining he blissfully dissolving into mind [?], melting down through your central channel from the crown of your head to your heart. And imagine your own body, speech, and mind becoming indivisible with that of the Guru Padmasambhava. [07:48]
[07:59] In traditional [? unclear] you can begin morning practice.
If you’d like to move to the supine position, now’s a good time. [08:17]
[09:17] Settle your body, speech, and mind in their natural state.
[09:49] And then to set your mind at ease release all mundane concerns. And beyond that release all hopes and fears concerning your own spiritual practice; how your meditation will turn out. Release it all. And “give up all hope, all ye who enter here.” Just do the practice, resting your awareness in stillness in the present moment, naturally clear and cognizant. [10:24]
Transcriptionist note: Those two “ye who enter here” portions are actually paraphrases from the English translation of Dante’s Inferno. It’s the inscription over the gate to hell which actually goes, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” I just put quotes around the first use of the phrase.
[10:44] And give up all fear ye who enter here. Release all desire and aversion. Release all grasping. Rest in this utter simplicity of simply being present in the present moment without directing your attention to any object. [11:03]
[11:52] Rest your awareness in its own place and without directing your attention to the breath, to the tactile sensations throughout the body let the rhythm of the breath come to meet you. It’s already there, you’re awareness of the rhythm of the breath is already there. So simply make it explicit. But you don’t really need to direct your attention to it as you bear in mind that you can be aware of the rhythm of the breath even in a dream in which you have no awareness of your body. [12;26]
[12:41] But a core feature of this practice is to allow your respiration to settle in its natural rhythm. So on occasion as the in breath is long, you note it’s long, when the out breath is long, you note that it is long. When an in breath is short, you know that it’s short, when the out breath is short, you know that it is short. But allow the body, allow the breath to find its own rhythm.
As an analogy, when you’re settling the mind in its natural state, over the long term the sheer volume of thoughts, emotions, desires, memories will subside until eventually they all vanish into the substrate and into the substrate consciousness. For a person with a very calm and pure mind that may be quite a smooth trajectory from session to session, day to day. Just a gradual lessening, quieting of the mind until it’s totally quiet. But for those with more blockages, obscurations, then they are bound to experience upheavals. The mind gets quieter and quieter and then there’s an upheaval of some memory, desire, an emotion, but one simply continues practicing and it subsides of its own accord. [14:27]
So likewise here, as we very gently are aware of the breath or the rhythm of the breath, if there are very few blockages, obscurations within the energy system of your body, you may find a gradual, incremental quieting of the breath, the breath becoming shorter, and then over the long term an ongoing decrease in the volume of the breath. It may be quite smooth and homogenous. But insofar as there are blockages and obscurations in the body, and even after the rhythm of the breath has subsided into short breaths, on occasion they may become long again. Even when the volume of the breath subsides on occasion there may be upheavals in which once again the volume is large. Whatever it is, let it be just as in the practice of settling the mind in its natural state. The body is balancing itself from the core. So whatever the breath is, whether it’s long or short simply be aware of it, note that it is long or short, with no preference, no expectation, and no regulation. [16:03]
[16:17] And the final point, again the parallel with settling the mind in its natural state, is that the core of the practice is to maintain the stillness of your awareness in the midst of the movements of the mind which over time subside until they too become still. So likewise here, the core of the practice is to maintain the stillness of your awareness in the midst of the movements of the breath and over time stillness will meet stillness. The breath will subside. And as you may recall, in the fourth dhyana it finally subsides into stillness and the breath ceases for as long as you remain in samadhi. [17:07]
Let’s continue practicing now in silence.
[32:56] O la so! So, I’ll no longer hold you in suspense about this statement. It’s from the 100,00 verse Prajnaparamita or Perfection of Wisdom, so The Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in 100,000 Verses and here’s what the Buddha states in that sutra:
You accomplish the first dhyana and abide therein; you accomplish the second dhyana and abide therein; you accomplish the third dhyana and abide therein; you accomplish the fourth dhyana and abide therein.
[33:30] And so that whole process, having achieved shamatha, with access to the first dhyana, and you’ve fully achieved the first dhyana, second, third, fourth, and then that whole trajectory, something very homogenous is taking place and that is you mind of course is getting subtler and subtler and subtler. The volume of the breath is getting subtler and subtler until you come to the fourth dhyana and then all Buddhist schools, the Buddha himself and all Buddhist schools say at that point you get the singularity, and that is something that should be physically impossible does happen and that is your breath goes flat. There is no breath at all. [34:05]
So what happens then? Now you’ve hit a singularity in which something that should be impossible in your body is happening anyway. In other words biological laws have broken down. Right? Because this shouldn’t be possible. And then the Buddha continues, you’ve settled in meditative equipoise, you’ve really achieved the... a perfection there of meditative equipoise, of equanimity.
You have settled in meditative equipoise in the fourth dhyana and experience numerous types of paranormal abilities. You can even cause the earth to quake; [Be careful.] you transform from one to many; [You can multiply your forms.] you transform from many to one; you experience becoming visible and invisible; you pass through walls; you pass through fences; passing through mountains, you move about with an unimpeded body, like a bird in the sky. You move through space in the cross-legged position, like a feathered bird. You move up through the earth and down into the earth, as if moving through water. You walk upon water without sinking, as if proceeding on land. You billow forth smoke and blaze with light, like a bonfire.
[35:28] You know, quite exceptional claims. Karma Chagme Rinpoche who cited this in his great commentary to Buddhahood in the Palm of the Hand, he states, and I quote:
The meaning of this is that if you have cultivated faultless shamatha alone, in the achievement of the fourth dhyana, such realizations occur. They are tainted paranormal abilities. [or siddhis]
They are tainted because you’re achieving them just by the power of shamatha. You don’t need the perfection of wisdom, vipashyana, realization of emptiness, let alone realization of rigpa. That’s all surplus, just by the power of samadhi. It’s quite an extraordinary claim. It’s tainted because you’ve not cut through the veils of delusion of reification, of grasping onto the inherent existence of phenomena and then all of the mental afflictions that come from that. So it’s still tainted. [36:21]
They are tainted siddhis which are achieved by non-Buddhists, shamans, and so forth. In other words, Buddhists have no monopoly on this. You find these in contemplative traditions, shamanic traditions, all over the world. So nobody has a monopoly here. The only people who don’t have it are the people whose minds are dominated by materialism. So, we got left out. Everybody else got left in, we got left out because of this ridiculous notion, the mind is the brain. One of the dumbest ideas in the history of humanity. [36:50]
If the achievement of such shamatha is imbued with vipashyana there are untainted siddhis. [So now it’s no longer tainted by delusion.] The basis of all the siddhis and excellent qualities of the great adepts of India and Tibet is shamatha.
Do you want me to read that again? I want to. The basis of all the siddhis and excellent qualities of the great adepts the great siddhas, of India and Tibet is shamatha. So that’s pretty straightforward.
So, I know a lot of liturgies. I’ve translated quite a few of them from Tibetan Buddhism, you know, devotional practices and so forth. And so, so, so often, in one that I recite six times a day for decades now, as you’re looking to the guru, the guru’s mind indivisible from that of the Buddha, your personal deity, your yidam, you’re saying, how many times you’ve recited this, “Please grant me all mundane and supreme siddhis.” Right? How many people who are reciting that every day, thousands upon thousands of Tibetan Buddhist all over the globe, are actually cultivating shamatha? If they’re not cultivating shamatha, but everyday they’re pleading Buddha, “Oh Buddha, give me mundane siddhis. Please give me supreme siddhi. Please, please, please!” This is like starting a business and then as soon as you start the business say, “Oh Buddha, please help the business to really flourish and be a big success.” and not showing up at work. Just staying home and say, “I hope it goes well. I hope it goes well. Oh Buddhas, bless me that my business goes really, really well. Many employees, really good product, excellent, excellent benefits, and big success. Of course I’m not going to work, but may it be so.” [38:52]
Really, how stupid do you get. As if this was some hidden knowledge, you know. This is not hidden knowledge. So, balance. Do I have faith, belief that we can receive blessings, that can really bless, inspire, empower our practice? Yes, I do. But not when you’re just sitting around not doing the practice, you know. That’s silly. That’s like, you know, sending a letter to Santa Claus. So, there it is.
But those were definitely extraordinary claims. And so, what do we do with those? Because they’re so, frankly from modern perspectives, twenty-first century perspective, they’re kind of outlandish claims. Right? Like, get to a point where your breath stops, and now you can do all those things by the power of samadhi? But again, this is widely... I mean it’s all over the Pali Canon, the whole reference to the siddhis and so forth. It’s in the teachings of the Buddha in the most authoritative records we have of the Buddha’s teachings in the Pali Canon. The same statements are made. There’s nothing new there. [40:00]
The Hindus knew about these long before the Buddhists came along. Same thing, develop very deep samadhi, all kinds of siddhis come just from samadhi, let alone vipashyana. That was common knowledge at the time of the Buddha. Nobody really doubted it. I mean anymore than... How many of you really doubt the existence of lasers, you know, and holograms, and so forth? I mean, you could doubt it, but if you doubt it that just means you’ve been living in a hole and just don’t know what’s going on. Right? Because even if you don’t know how they work and so forth, if you’re just part of this society, you know, like lasers and cellphones and, you know, digital clocks - they’re all magical, you know. Lasers are completely magical, outlandish, ridiculous actually except they do exist. And so that wonderful statement by Arthur C. Clarke, the great science fiction writer, I can paraphrase it closely, is that, “Any degree, any degree of technology that is sufficiently highly developed will look like magic.” [40:55]
So if you’re a nomad in Tibet, even now or let alone a hundred years ago, and somebody showed you a laser, they’d say, “O, [ ? Tibetan] You must be a great Siddha!” Or you bring a cellphone, you know, “Waahh! You’ve got clairaudience, clairvoyance, unbelievable! What mantra brought this about?” You know? If you don’t understand it, it looks like magic. But what would you do for us, educated, modern people, intelligent, not gullible? We’re not going to believe anything we hear. Right? Even if it’s said to be from the Hundred Thousand Prajnaparamita Sutra. It’s like, that’s a bit of a stretch there. [41:36]
William James helps us out there, my good friend, William James. And he says, he wrote this, oh more than a century ago. He said, Where preferences are powerless to modify or produce things, faith is totally inappropriate, So preferences, what would you like for the... How does gravity work? Do you like the inverse square law, or would you prefer the inverse cube law? And would you like for light to travel at 186,000 miles per second or would you really prefer it goes slower, you know? Well it really doesn’t matter what you prefer and it doesn’t matter what you believe; it just doesn’t matter. Give it a rest. That’s the way it is. So there are a lot of things like that. It’s just the way it is. So you can pray for it not to be that case, or whatever you like, but, you know, faith, preference, and so forth is just completely out of place. It’s irrelevant. Whatever you think about gravity doesn’t matter. There’s something that’s already true. [42:36]
But then he says, for the class of truths that depend on personal preference, trust, or loyalty for actualization, and then I quote, “faith is not only licit that is, suitable and pertinent, but essential and indispensable. And here’s the punch line, [Such] truths cannot become true till our faith has made them so.” I think it’s exactly true what he said, exactly true, and enormously and importantly true. That’s my adamantine conviction that here... I mean there’s an underlying question behind all of this, and that is, are we too late? I mean if we accept, out of faith, the statement from the Hundred Thousand Verse Prajnaparamita Sutra that if you achieve the fourth dhyana that such extraordinary powers arise, did they occur in Tibet? The Dalai Lama said he knows of some nun who flew back and forth a valley. From her meditation hut she was flying back and forth on a regular basis. He said he knows people who saw it directly, and so forth, and so forth and so on. Oh, if you read Lerab Lingpa’s biography, this Fearless in Tibet, oh, he describes some amazing siddhis that he performed, Lerab Lingpa. Oh, read Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s, his autobiography, amazing. And he talked about, in his life and so forth, siddhis. [44:16]
So, how did we miss it by that much. You know, we were born in the late twentieth century. Did we miss it just like, “You should have been there! You should have been there! You missed India by a long shot, but you missed Tibet just by... The movie just ended.” You know. And by the time the Buddhadharma finally came outside of the kind of Tibetan domain of, you know, the Himalayan region, “Sorry, but, you know, it’s dead on arrival. But go ahead and do the liturgies and get some really good imprints, because this is going to turn out well in a future life. But you know, it’s dead because the chances of realization now are finished, you know. All you can really do is study and teach, study and teach, but realizing like they did before, well, you missed it by that much. And besides that, most, not you, but most of you, your skin color’s wrong. Yeah, you’re white. You’re screwed, I mean, you know, you’re Western. [laughter] Like you guys are hopeless, you know. You’re materialistic, you’re boorish. Many of you with your white skin believe that the mind is the brain, I mean ugh!” [45:21]
So we can believe that. There are Tibetans that believe that. There are Tibetan lamas that believe that. There are also Tibetan lamas who don’t believe that. There’s no consensus. The Dalai Lama doesn’t believe that, what I just said. Gyatrul Rinpoche doesn’t believe that. Many lamas don’t, but then quite a few do. So, which is it? That extraordinary statement, that claim from the Prajnaparamita Sutra. Is that only for old times or is it either complete fiction? Well, that’s a possibility. I don’t believe that. Or, was it only when karma was pure, people were pure, everything, the dregs weren’t so heavy, the five dregs. Which is it? [46:03]
Might that actually be possible now or might it not be? I can tell you the Dalai Lama’s answer. I can quote him verbatim. A long time ago somebody from Europe, I can’t remember what country, maybe he had a private audience, and the fellow was going on, this is like more than forty years ago, said, “Oh, Your Holiness, we’re living in such a time of the dregs. Everything is the dregs. Everything is so degenerate. Seems like realization in this world - hopeless!” And then His Holiness’ response was, and I quote him almost verbatim, and I don’t think he’s changed his mind, in fact I’m sure he’s not, he said, “Oh, very true. This is very degenerate times. Just look what happened in Tibet. That’s degenerate. Look what’s happened globally, yeah, lot of degeneration.” I’m not quoting very [? inaudible], you know, that’s a little tiny commentary. Then back directly to the quote, he said, “But if we, in this modern world now, if we practice like Milarepa, then we will achieve realization like Milarepa.” We’re not counted out, we’re not nullified because of the atmosphere, because of the year, because of other people. Other people can be as degenerate as they like. That’s their problem. How degenerate are we? That’s our problem. [47:26]
So if we purify our own minds then who says, who says that that can’t be literally true and couldn’t be realized? Who says that rainbow body is impossible? Who says? We’re going to be seeing, we’re going to be seeing... In Dudjom Lingpa’s writing, he keeps on referring to great transference rainbow body, that’s the highest level of rainbow body. Padmasambhava achieved it, Vimalamitra achieved it, very few achieved it. He keeps on referring to this as if it’s still possible. Why is he doing that when, you know, we’re the audience? Well, he wouldn’t waste his time if he thought it’s impossible, I don’t think. Why would a Buddha waste his time? Why would Dudjom Lingpa waste his time? [48:10]
So, if we don’t really believe it then it’s not true for us. And if we feel... If we come to the conclusion, “I’m not compelled to disbelieve that.” If we’re compelled to disbelieve something then, give it a rest. You know, don’t believe it. But I’m not compelled to disbelieve it. Not all the lamas think that we’re hopeless. Some do. Many don’t. Not all the lamas think such realizations are impossible. Some do, some don’t. So, therefore... And physics and all the scientists, they really don’t know the nature of mind in the universe. They have no idea, frankly, I mean literally no idea. [48:52]
What is the role of mind in nature? They don’t know. So all of psychology thus far is what I would call nonrelativistic psychology. That is, relativistic physics is a totally different way of envisioning the entire physical world, where there’s no absolute space, no absolute time, no absolute matter, no absolute energy. It’s a very, very different universe than what Newton envisaged.
But how do they know that those were in fact were never true; there was never anything such as absolute space-time and so forth? How do they know? Einstein came up with the theory in 1905 that it was false, you know. But how do they, how do they know? Well, they ran experiments and the experiments are myriad. But where the falsity of the earlier assumptions becomes really evident is when you start moving close to the speed of light. And then you say, "Oh, no absolute space, no absolute time, no absolute matter, no absolute energy. We thought it was, but that’s because we were going too slow and it looks like there are.” But approach the speed of light and then it’s just obvious. It’s not true. It was never true. It’s nowhere true. [50:06]
Thus far in the history of science, our science, our world, we’ve been dealing with nonrelativistic psychology. And that is, the only minds that are studied are minds that are moving very slowly - ordinary minds with no samadhi, psychologists who can’t focus on anything for more than three seconds at a time. And subjects, you know, if they’re really good, seven seconds at a time. That’s research at Harvard, seven seconds, it maxed out. Those are the people they study. Those are Harvard undergraduates. Seven seconds - pow - finished. Those are the minds they’ve been studying thus far. Right? That’s nonrelativistic psychology.
But how about when your mind moves more, metaphorically, closer to the speed of light; you achieve access to the first dhyana or it’s getting close? Some unusual things, relativistic things start coming up. First dhyana, second dhyana, third dhyana, ooh fourth dhyana - singularity! What he just describe there, I won’t read it again, I mean it’s available, I’m putting all my notes on the internet... Reading that, you’ll find an enormous resonance, almost like verbatim, with what the Buddha just said about the fourth dhyana and the siddhis that naturally come as a result of that, you’ll find almost verbatim. [51:29]
The kind of practices you are to do when you’re practicing dream yoga, make the one many, the many one, walk on water, walk through walls, fly through the sky, etcetera. It’s like, like you just lifted that from dream yoga. You just poached dream yoga teachings. Right? If you’re not lucid, you can’t do any of those things. If you’re not lucid, you’re just a victim all the time. "Oh, I missed my train! Oh, he was angry at me. Oh, wuh, wuh, wuh.” You know, you’re just bumping around into solid objects all the time, reifying everything, totally deluded out of your gourd, you know, with no power at all. So you’re living in a nonrelativistic dream. You can’t do nothink, you know.
And then, become lucid. And now you can transform your own body from one to many, many to one; many people become one; a forest becomes a tree; a little tree becomes a giant tree; a fruit becomes a vegetable and so forth and so on. You play, you play, you know. So it’s the same. But that’s just what’s remarkable about that, it’s just by the power of samadhi. Siddhis come by realizing emptiness. That’s kind of like, “Well, yeah, that should happen.” Siddhis come by realizing rigpa, that should happen for sure. But what’s remarkable here is this even just comes by flat out samadhi itself. [52:53]
So, perhaps our world is poised to have the first, the first absolutely major revolution in the mind sciences when we discover this kind of nonrelativistic psychology. That when the mind becomes empowered, like a laser, like a laser, becomes empowered then the laws of physics start to go into meltdown. The laws of biology: your brain doesn’t go dead if you don’t get any oxygen for two weeks. The laws of biology, the laws of chemistry, physics, they all melt down. They go into meltdown; they go into a singularity. Because the mind has always had a role in nature, always had. That mind, that mind, this little light of mind, that straight finger, that mind that is like a laser, it’s always had a role in nature. But as long as its power is not manifested and it’s just dysfunctional, you know, dysfunctional then the power is to create big buildings, and bombs, and bridges, and cellphones. That’s the mind doing all of that. Which is kind of cool but it’s never come into its own strength. Right? [54:09]
So, everybody here, everybody listening to podcast, let’s bring about a revolution. Really, it’s high time. And this world really needs it. We’ve been sucking in this Neanderthal cave materialism for a hundred and fifty years now. We’re strangling. We’re suffocating, you know, in that mind-numbing worldview that sucks all the life-force out. It’s like dementors, [Alan makes sucking sound]. They leave you as a dry husk. That’s what you get from materialism.
So, let’s not just complain about it, argue and write more books. I think I’ve written all the books I’ve done, you know. Even I’m tired of writing books against it. [laughter] Nobody’s reading them anyway. [laughter] Oh, one more book! So, let’s just do it. Let’s do it. So, that’s that.
Mindfulness of breathing, so simple, really easy. So, let’s continue.
See you this afternoon.
Transcribed by Mark Montgomery
Revised by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Final Edition by Krisskringle Sprinkle