25 Aug 2014
Alan starts off talking about shamatha as a contemplative technology. It is about making the mind serviceable and refining our mental awareness. Shamatha is healing and it becomes a path to exceptional health and mental balance. For the first time, Alan gives instructions of a different technique to use before the shamatha meditation. It has been used by many yogis in the past and also has spread widely nowadays. It is called the nine fold expulsion of the residual prana.
After the meditation, Alan emphasizes the importance of ‘mindfulness of breathing’ by quoting the Perfection of Wisdom sutras in 10.000 stanzas. Alan elaborates on the meaning of the last sentence “…by dwelling with introspection and with mindfulness, eliminates avarice and disappointment towards the world by means of non-objectification...”. Alan reflects on sukkha and the genuine sources of happiness versus hedonic pleasure.
It follows by two questions from the participants: - Clarification of the answer Gyatrul Rinpoche gave once to Alan regarding the practice of Dzogchen: “view it”. - A retreatant comments on her preference to short breathing.
Meditation starts at 23:35
O la so. So we return to Shamatha, and I’ve commented many times in the past something I firmly believe, and that is shamatha can be well understood or put into a framework, or classified as what I would call contemplative technology. It’s not a matter of whether it’s true or false, it’s a matter of whether it works or not, because it’s really that – it’s does it work or not? And so there’s no such thing as a pure, what is a pure, sometimes people speak of pure dharma, impure dharma, I’m not going to debate that. But the notion of pure shamatha method versus impure shamatha method, that’s like a pure way of developing a laser versus an impure way of developing; or a pure way to bake a cake, and an impure, maybe that’s not even a good example, you can throw dirt into it, but you know what I am getting at, it’s just a matter of does it work or not, does it make the mind serviceable? And so it’s technology in the sense that make the mind serviceable, reliable, so that when you’re making an observation, you have confidence, and a reality based confidence, that what you are witnessing is something really that is reality revealing itself to you, and not just some projection, fantasy, delusion, what have you. So really that’s the point, to be a little bit, I don’t think really simplistic, I think just simple. It’s a major reason the introspection of movement collapsed, failed; completely failed in the West 1875 – 1910; that was pretty much its longevity. They thought – well let’s study the mind from a first person perspective, introspectively, they had no Shamatha, none at all, they had not a clue, even with the great William James – didn’t think attention could be developed, could be trained, because he saw no evidence, what can you do? [00:05:12]
And so if you don’t have a mind that is stable, that’s clear, then why on earth would you, you know, place a lot of credence in your observations, when your observations whether internal or external can be so clouded, veiled, confused with your projections, your biases and so forth and so on? So the Shamatha really has a dual aspect to it, and I’ll use a little bit elegant terms – epistemic, epistemic - about knowing that we’re refining, refining our mental awareness, our attention skills, executive control - nice term; so that when we’re making observations we can do, we can make valid, sophisticated, replicable observations that other people with comparable training can replicate for themselves. And they may be bold insights! So on the one hand –epistemic, that we can really start using introspection as a rigorous, sophisticated and replicable mode of observation. It doesn’t exist in modern psychology, not as a sophisticated mode of observation. It’s ignored, it’s avoided, it’s marginalized, but they never use it main stream as William James pleaded that they should. So on the one hand - epistemic and then the other one is, you can call it therapeutic or pragmatic, and that is the practice of Shamatha when done well – it’s healing. It calms a troubled mind. It relieves anxiety and depression, and nervousness and boredom and so forth. It brings about, well with the dissipation, with the subduing of the five obscurations, and the natural emergence of the five dhyana factors, it’s really a path to exceptional mental health and balance. It’s not a stand-alone practice, but boy it’s a pretty important feature. [00:06:57]
So those two and then those two are not simply two independent variables, as if they’re just kind of two totally independent emergences from; but the more mentally balanced, healthy, clear, serene, focused you are, of course that mind’s going to be very good epistemically, and the more sharp you are, stable, vivid and all of that, that’s going to enhance your mental health and wellbeing, so the two are profoundly interrelated.
But having said that; so it’s all a matter about does it work or not, that’s really it, so whether it’s a Hindu technique, a Christian technique or a technique from modern psychology, they can come up with methods, maybe they’re very useful. They’re working right now on feedback devices, the head of one corporation gave me one, a little EEG band you put on your forehead, it’s quite cute actually, it’s rather stylish, with four little EEG nodes on it to try to pick up your brainwaves, it’s EEG, and it’s interactive, and the whole idea is maybe this will give you a little boost. I spoke with the CEO of the corporation, at MIT a couple of months ago she said – you know we are not suggesting in creating this and marketing this that this is going to be a substitute for deep meditative practice, but a little leg up, a little helper to get people in stride when their minds are so whacked out with restlessness and so forth. So it’s a very early stage of technology, I think the jury is out whether it’s really beneficial or not, but I think it’s well motivated and there’s nothing wrong with it, nothing wrong with it at all. And so having said that – and we’re about to go to, I’m going to introduce a little method that might be helpful, but having said that, in the course of practicing Shamatha and then when one eventually achieves Shamatha, might you not only achieve this fine technology of a very balanced, clear, finely honed sharp mind, which could be then useful epistemically, and also a wonderful degree of mental balance, mental health; but might you in the course of your practice also make some legitimate discoveries? You know, just by the by, and the answer is, yeah, yeah. Especially if you’re focusing on an element of reality that’s already there like consciousness, might you have a clearer and clearer experience, insight, knowledge of what consciousness is the old fashioned way, by gazing at it, examining it very, very carefully for a long time? And might you have some very strong insights coming out of that and get a strong conviction of what consciousness is and is not? [00:9:32]
So I make no claims about that I’ve realized some high degree of anything, so if I make no claims then you can’t refute me. I just make no claims at all, but I would say it’s something like 40 thousand hours I’ve spent in meditation, something like 5 years in solitary, it wasn’t punishment you know, it was voluntary [laughter]; but when I sometimes, and I think I do err, no, I don’t think I know I do err, sometimes I just get a bit too pejorative, that’s just because I’m so exasperated and tired of like – when’s it ever going to stop? You know I read the media day after day, mind brain interchangeably, train your brain, your brain’s doing this, your brain’s doing that, and I think, “Oh would you please cut the crap, you know, this is pseudo-scientific bullshit.” Oh would that be pejorative? I think that might be. Like, please at least if you’re going to say that at least show some evidence that it’s true, you know, and they don’t. And when you do have some glimmering – I think I’m not entirely in the dark about the nature of consciousness, you know they’re just barking up the wrong tree, you know. They’ve just got it fundamentally wrong and it’s hard to be respectful of a view that you know is just fundamentally delusional; as much as I respect many people who hold that view. I know people with cancer, I respect them as human beings, I don’t respect cancer, and so forth. TB, it’s a disgusting disease but people who have it can be totally noble individuals; I regard materialism more as like a mental disease, than something not to be refuted but to be healed, I really do.
And so the question becomes - can legitimate discoveries be made through such practice as settling the mind in its natural state, awareness of awareness, merging mind with space? The answer is definitely yes. So to quote Lama Zopa Rinpoche – and I’ve quoted him before on this point, he was asked once, “Is it necessary to believe in reincarnation to achieve enlightenment?” He said, “No, no, you need to know reincarnation, you need to know it for yourself, you need to investigate not just believe.” Belief is cheap, frankly belief is cheap. You read something in the newspaper – some scientist discovered such and such. “Oh cool, I believe that.” That was easy, that was easy; but then knowing it is something else. So, there we are.
So now a little technique, it’s definitely an optional, it’s not integral to the practice, but many of the yogis of the past for many hundreds of years now, in Tibet and I am sure it goes back to India, have taught this practice and I just received this past spring when I was in Bhutan, I received some really crystal clear instruction on it by a man who had spent 9 years in retreat and that is Gangten Tulku Rinpoche. And it’s the practice some of you are familiar with but I thought I’d teach it because many people find it helpful, and if you don’t, don’t worry about it, just set it aside because this is technology. If it doesn’t work then why do it? We are not here to do a ritual that doesn’t give any benefit. And so the practice is called in Tibetan* Lung Rupa Tuk,* Lung Rupa Tuk - The Nine fold expulsion of residual prana, stale, stale prana, that’s what it is, you know, and it’s very often practiced by Yogis especially in the Tibetan tradition. When you’re just first starting, first sitting down you may do this before you do any other kind of devotional practices like we did this morning, you may do it right afterwards, it’s your choice, but I thought we’d just do it once, just do it once. [00:12:53]
And probably not here again because it’s a little tiny bit noisy, and so if a few people are doing it and others not then you’ll be kind of like, be startled by other people, it sounds like they’re blowing their noses. So we will do it once here and then beyond that if you’d like to do it in your own room, that’s fine, and if you don’t find it helpful as I said then don’t worry about it, it’s not essential. But it’s called the Lung Rupa Tuk as I mentioned and for this you want to be sitting upright, you do not want to be lying down, it’s not so useful, and what I will do is, why don’t we do it entirely before the session and then we’ll just do the straight session, okay? So I’ll talk about it a tiny bit first but just the instruction.
And so you are sitting upright, putting your thumbs at the base of the ring finger, it’s said that somehow there’s a kind of a flow of prana related to kleshas through the ring finger, and this gives a little bit of block; I have no idea whether that is true or not but I was told that by Gangten Tulku Rinpoche so I’m not going to refute it. So, with both hands, you put your thumb at the base of the ring finger and then you close your fingers around it, it’s called the vajra fist – and so then you can just place both hands on your knees if you like. And then, the nine fold explosion of residual prana, or air, entails first of all that you just make your right index finger straight, pointing it, and then when you’re doing the practice you first close the left nostril, and you breathe in. Now you’re not setting breath in the natural rhythm, you breathe in slowly but deeply, almost to full capacity, you do that and now I am going to give you the whole, the enriched version, and you can follow the enriched version if it resonates with you, if you like doing it, if you don’t like doing it the enriched version you can do a simpler version. The enriched version is with visualization, good, I wouldn’t teach it otherwise, but you can also do it without the visualization and that’s also fine, okay? Or not do it at all; so here it is.
You breathe in through the right nostril, as you block the left nostril and if you’d like to do the enriched version then as you’re breathing in you imagine all the blessings of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the form of a light blue light, light blue light; and it comes into your right nostril and it comes up and around, up, up into the head and then around, it does a U turn and goes down through the center of your torso, down below the navel and then like one sleeve tucked into another sleeve, you imagine that the right nadi or channel is tucked into the left one, and so you breathe in through the right, breathe in this light blue light and breathing in of course down into the belly, and then as you’re breathing out then you just bring your right index finger over, block the right nostril, and then you just gently, fully, breathe out through the left nostril and as you’re breathing out then you breathe out, obviously you’re breathing the air out, but you visualize this as red light, as red light and symbolizing the mental affliction of craving and attachment, okay? So light blue light in through the right nostril, red light out through the left nostril and as you’re breathing then you imagine the prana’s coming through that left channel, up and around and out through the left nostril and then just dissipating into space but in the form of red light, so you do that three times.
[00:16:14] So let’s do it, I’m going to talk through the whole thing, it’s not that complicated, and then you can remember it. So it’s three times breathing in through the right, out through the left; in through the right, out through the left, three times; and then again, your left hand just remains there, resting on your knee, and then you block the right nostril, you’re breathing in, breathing down into the belly, breathing in fully, and once again it’s this light blue light coming in, up and around, down through the left channel, now the sleeve tucked into the right channel, and then it’s coming up through the right channel and out through the right nostril; it’s breathing in once again the light blue and breathing out white light symbolizing anger, aggression, hatred, hostility, that whole package, okay. So in through the left, light blue, out through the right, white, coming out, dissolving into space, and so that’s three times, okay. And then finally, so this is nine fold so we’ve just done six, so finally then you’re just breathing in deeply, just breathing in through both nostrils, but this time once again you imagine this light blue light coming in, around, and now the two side sleeves are tucked into the middle, the avadhuti, the middle channel, the middle nadi, they are both tucked into there and so you’re breathing in this light blue light and then as you’re breathing out through the central channel, up and around and out through both nostrils then you are breathing out dust colored, dust colored light, so greyish light, just the color of dust, that of course symbolizes ignorance and delusion. But now here’s the final point and that is you’re finishing, and you have to see this visually and I will try for the people listening by podcast, I’ll simply describe it. And that is you’re coming to the final, ninth breath, just breathe in, then you’re breathing out and when you come right toward the end of your final exhalation in this nine-fold breathing, breathing out then you go [ Alan makes a squeezing expelling noise]. The hands which were in the vajra fists, both of them, they just go straight out, the fingers straight out, and then you, from your belly you just really forcefully expel, really kind of like completely, like squeezing a sack and having all the air come out [ Alan makes a forceful breathing sound] breathing out through the nostrils, forcefully expel it and that’s kind of like the final cleansing or expulsion of old air, or old residual prana. The word is [19:04 Tibetan] in Tibetan which means corpse, corpse breath. It sounds pretty awful but it’s just old stale, residual blocked energy and this whole idea is to expel that completely, and so it’s just nine breaths and then you go right into your main practice. I would like to do the practice then with no talking through it, so conceptually is that clear? So if you just remember the first one is to block the left and then everything else will flow, right, blocking the left then blocking the right three times then no blocking both hands just resting on the knees in the vajra fist until the end of the final exhalation and then the forceful expulsion. All clear? Yes, Michael? [19:47 Student asks a question] Alan responds – in three times, first one red light symbolizing attachment, then white symbolizing anger, and then dust symbolizing yes - the three poisons. All clear? Good, okay let’s do that first and then when we finish then I’ll sound the timer and then we’ll just go into the main practice. Okay? All good? [20:09]
[A video of Alan Wallace teaching this breathing method]:
So let’s begin now.
[20:19 Alan and retreatants practice the nine breaths]
Then just breathe normally afterwards. [23:08]
And now let’s begin the session, if you’d like to go supine, now’s the time.
Once you’ve learned how to settle body, speech and mind in the natural state you may find you can do it quite quickly, quite naturally step by step. And the culmination of that process is where your body is at ease still and vigilant, your breathing unimpeded, effortless; your mind at ease, your awareness still, ready to be put to use, ready to focus on whatever you wish to focus on, or you may just let it stay at home.
Dudjom Lingpa says – that when you achieve Shamatha there’s a sense of wellbeing, like sitting by a warm fire, by a warm fire on a cold winter night. So to extend that a little bit, imagine this unflickering candle flame, source of illumination of your awareness, illuminating the space of your mind and as you’re simply resting there, quiet, clear, alert, very much at rest, at ease, loose, so the thoughts don’t pick you up and carry you away, just for a moment have a visualization of sitting there in your warm cabin, a nice fire burning away, but wind howling outside, rain battering against the window panes, you don’t have to especially focus on the sound of the wind or the rain on the windows, it comes to you. It’s there on the periphery of your cabin, you’re aware of it, you don’t have to focus on it, it impinges upon your awareness. So likewise, when you’re just resting your awareness in its own place, not directing your attention here or there, within this space of your awareness, the rhythm of the breath impinges upon your awareness, without your giving any special effort. You’re aware when the breath is flowing in, when it’s flowing out with no particular directionality, no special effort. So while primarily resting your awareness in stillness, in its own place, clearly cognizant, give just enough attention to the rhythm of the breath in such that when it is long you note that it’s long, when it’s short you note that it’s short. But with no commentary, no conceptualization needed, it’s so simple. You don’t need to think about it or label it you already know it before the conceptualization or labeling occurred. [00:27:29]
Set the rhythm of relaxing deeply, more and more deeply with every out breath. Gently arousing and focusing your awareness, stabilizing your awareness with each in-breath. [28:02]
[28:44] Periodically check up on your face and especially the eyes, the muscles around the eyes, see that it’s all soft and relaxed. See that there is no impediment with breathing, unimpeded – in and out, effortlessly.
And now let’s continue in the practice silently for the remainder of the session. [29:08]
O Laso. [00:48:34]
So rather than reading further in the Vajra Essence, let alone the Natural Liberation, I thought I’d just read one very short passage about mindfulness of breathing, this time from a Mahayana source, we’ve not had any time, for a couple of days now, to have any really extended time for discussion, question and answer, so I thought we’d leave some time for that today and then tomorrow we’ll finish off the section in the Vajra Essence and then move on what would be Wednesday then move into Natural Liberation, and the presentation there. [49:16]
So I mentioned earlier that the teachings of mindfulness of breathing is taught not only In the Pali canon, not only strongly emphasized in the Theravada tradition but it’s also found in the Mahayana. And here’s a nice simple quote, it’s from the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in Ten thousand Stanzas, so ten thousand verses; so in this one it’s um– [49:35]
The Buddha says,
Shariputra, [speaking to his great disciple] take the analogy of a potter or a potter’s apprentice, spinning the potter’s wheel – if he makes a long revolution, he knows it is long, if he makes a short revolution he knows it is short. Shariputra similarly, a Bodhisattva, a great being, mindfully breathes in and mindfully breathes out. If inhalation is long, he knows the inhalation is long, if the exhalation is long, he knows the exhalation is long. If the inhalation is short, he knows the inhalation is short, if the exhalation is short, he knows the exhalation is short. [Sounds familiar?] Shariputra thus a Bodhisattva, a great being, by dwelling with introspection and with mindfulness, eliminates avarice and disappointment toward the world by means of non-objectification, and he lives observing the body – as the body, internally. [50:38]
That last sentence is a special, a very rich bonus, it’s not there in the Pali canon that I see in any way, I’m no Pali canon specialist, but dwelling with introspection and mindfulness, there you know, you all know, those are your two primary faculties that you are utilizing and refining in the practice of Shamatha and then you use them, you really use them and in the process we find them further as you venture into Vipashyana, whether the four applications of mindfulness or any other type. Right? But he says - by dwelling with introspection and mindfulness such a being eliminates avarice and disappointment towards the world, by means of non-objectification. It’s very rich, and obviously lends itself to multiple interpretations, but I think it’s worth a few minutes because I do find it enormously meaningful. [51:27]
Avarice, avarice is this craving, this clinging this grasping for stuff outside in the world – that would make me happy – I wish I had that - I wish I had that; basically disempowering ourselves, empowering other people, places objects and stuff, thinking that will make me happy, because after all I look in my own resources and I got nothing! But maybe you can help. And then we don’t get it or we’re hoping, hoping, hoping. And so for example wealth, “Oh if I only had more money I would be so much happier.” And then avarice comes from that and then we don’t get it because not everybody who strives for wealth succeeds. Right? Then you don’t get it, disappointment. Or you do get it, and some people really enjoy their wealth, and if they don’t expect too much from it they can continue to enjoy it for the rest of their lives. But if they really were thinking that’s going to make me happy, then it’s one of those lose-lose situations. You have disappointment if you don’t get it and then disappointment if you do get it. So how many rich people are there just living on Prozac or other kinds of antidepressants and so forth; and I say that with no, I hope you know, no condescension, anything. If I hadn’t met lamas I think I would be a wreck or dead, speaking very seriously I would be a wreck or dead, couldn’t stand it, right. So if I have any greater insight than rich people who are living on Prozac, that’s not because I am smarter, just more fortunate, I met wonderful teachers, wonderful Dharma, that’s the only reason. So if I feel anything, the only realistic response is simply gratitude because there’s nothing special here. I am just one more smart guy, big deal, they’re a dime a dozen – smart dudes. [53:08]
And so, by dwelling with introspection and mindfulness, and just practicing mindfulness of breathing, and simply know it, to give it a nice analogy – the potter’s wheel – long and short and so forth, it’s so simple, that it eliminates avarice and disappointment towards the world by means of non-objectification. That can be understood in two ways at least – couple of interpretations – non-objectification – where can I go that will make me happy? Who can I meet, who can I partner up with, what can I own, how can I look? What kind of reputation might I have, how many people could love me? If more people loved me, admired me, appreciated me, acknowledged me – then I’d be happy. Tangibles and intangibles, all of that. That objectification - that the source of my happiness, my fulfillment, my sense of meaning in life – it’s out there somewhere, somewhere and I’ve just got to find it. That’s objectification. Where you’re totally missing the target, barking up the wrong tree, you’re looking in the wrong place.[53:54]
And this is why I feel frustrated when it comes to materialism, but the flip side of materialism of course – look outside, because materialists only believe in matter and the emergent properties of matter so where else they going to look? In the inner resources of their own spirit? Which they think is mere function of brain activity. So it undermines any deep, transformative spiritual practice. I weep. You see what you see sometimes is exasperation, frustration, and I don’t know, what else, but it just comes out as sadness. That people are looking in a place that’s hopeless to understand their own minds, their own identity and to find genuine happiness, it’s hopeless. Hence strong visceral reaction! There are people who believe the universe is 7000 years old, how often have you heard me refute that? Do I believe it, not for a second, but big deal maybe the universe is 7000 years old, that’s not going to ruin your day, you just have a silly belief. So what, there are a lot of silly beliefs they don’t do much harm, it just kind of lops you out of the whole scientific world view, but you know, things could be worse. [55:03]
So objectification, objectification, thinking that the source ones of happiness lies outside, and then you are set up for avarice – got to have it, got to have it, and then disappointment sooner or later. If you get it, how long are you going to keep it? You get to old age you’re going to lose it, whatever you had, you’re going to lose it. It’s just a script for a tragedy, it always turns out that well, that way. And so this then, what is the verb, he said, it eliminates avarice and disappointment toward the world by means of non-objectification, you’re not looking outside for the source of your happiness, fulfilment, meaning, joy and so forth and so on. It’s not there to be found, you kind of woke up and smelled the daisies. You woke up and say, “That’s not the right place to look. If I’ll ever find happiness, meaning, fulfillment it’s going to be by transforming my own mind, my way of life, fathoming the inner resources of my own spirit, going down all the way to Buddha nature, perhaps. And then whether you’re living like Gen Lamrimpa living on 10kgs of brown flour, living under a rock for a couple of years and saying those were the happiest years of his life, I mean that is desperate poverty, I mean his belly wasn’t bloated, okay, it wasn’t like that, it wasn’t that intense, but never the less, it was filled with brown flour, you know. And so happy, so, so happy. So he looked in the right place. He very simply looked in the right place, and he died of cancer, so peacefully, gently and then -spph!- into the clear light of death. [56:36]
Where’s the tragedy? He didn’t lose a battle with cancer, he saw his body was worn out, he said, “Ok, whatever” He’s got a nice young one now, nice new model, about seven years old and so forth. [56:54]
So there it is, it’s so interesting this mindfulness of breathing, it’s so simple, it’s so fascinating, that if for 20 minutes a day, you’re going to retreat, a weekend retreat, a week long retreat, 8 week retreat, longer; and if you can get into the flow of mindfulness of breathing, on the one hand it’s so simple, almost like simple minded, you don’t have to have a high IQ to do it well, right. But if you can abide there, and just be breathing in and breathing out, and again not doping out, not spacing out, not getting dull, not just sitting there with a wandering mind but actually doing the practice authentically, if you can slip into that and just have a sense of contentment, simply have a sense of contentment that – this is okay. Yep, I’m not restless, I don’t want to stop. There is a nice English phrase – peace of mind. There’s an inner calm, and a serenity, and I prefer this to watching television, reading, garbage stuff you know, junk food for the mind, I prefer this to other stuff, I’d rather just be present here and cultivating this inner balance, and finding a very simple, gentle, nothing to write home about, type of sense of wellbeing. If you can do that you’ve made a major step on the way to recovery from addiction to sensory stimulation, work, and so forth, which are the endemic addictions, those are the ubiquitous, some people are addicted to alcohol, some to drugs some to sex some to gambling, and then we have wonderful therapists to help them through that, it’s a wonderful thing, no sarcasm at all it’s a wonderful thing. But the ubiquitous addiction is the addiction to that we always have to be active, stimulated, action stimulated, work, work, work, entertainment, entertainment, - comatose. Work, work, work, entertainment - comatose. Addiction to that, that cycle? Oh I love Lilly Tomlin, “Even if you win the rat-race, you’re still a rat”. There it is, so you are kind of un-rat-ifying yourself by learning how to practice mindfulness of breathing. You’re not scurrying around in a circle, panting away, panting away and making yourself breathless, exhausting yourself in the addiction to activity, entertainment, stimulation and so forth. And if you can be, just find a gentle sense of well-being, a sense of ease, a sense of looseness, a sense of inner calm, then we’ll call that sukha. Sukha – a sense of wellbeing. And then slowly or quickly, people differ, and out of that sense of – I’m enjoying this, I don’t want the chime to go out, I hope it’s not coming soon, the chime, or –I’ve got 15 minutes, oh boy, I’ve got 15 minutes before the next appointment, oh good, oh boy – you’d rather do that than just, I don’t know – piss away your time on stuff that will give you no benefit whatsoever, just time killed. Just surfing the internet for no particular reason like oh what’s up, or something I refuse to do, and it’s not superior but Facebook, Facebook, Facebook – I won’t have one because I’m going to die soon, I don’t want to die checking out my Facebook. I really don’t. Although I know it’s very meaningful. So I’m not being pejorative. It’s just that I’m not into it, that’s all. I’m an old geezer, I think I’ve just proven my geezerhood. [1:00:38]
So there it is, eliminates avarice and disappointment towards the world by means of non-objectification and finally very simply, he lives observing the body as the body internally. For those of you who know the Mahasatipatthana Sutta, the Buddha’s great discourse on the four applications of mindfulness, you know that he says – attending to the body as the body, feelings as the feelings, events of the mind as the mind, phenomena as the phenomena, right, for each one it is always there, it’s a refrain, the body as the body, which means, it’s so simple but it’s also not trivial, you are experiencing the body as a body rather than experiencing it as you. Looking into the mirror and saying – oh I’m looking good, oh I look terrible, oh I’m too fat, oh I’m too skinny, oh I’m getting old – I, I, I, you’re not seeing the body as a body you are seeing the body as you, it’s not. [01:01:36]
And then feelings, we do it all the time, the cognitive fusion with feelings – I’m feeling sad, I’m feeling depressed, I’m feeling, I, I, I. We’re not observing feelings as feelings, a total unconscious, involuntary, cognitive fusion with feeling and it’s simply – I feel, I am; I am happy, sad, depressed, what have you. And then mental states, the whole array of them, I’m thinking, I’m feeling, I’m hoping, I’m fearing, I’m, I’m, I’m, we’re not seeing mental states as mental states, I’m thinking, I’m thinking – I’m not seeing mental phenomena as mental phenomena, it’s exactly what happens in a non-lucid dream, exactly what happens in a non-lucid dream. If you’re having a dream and you recognize the dream as a dream, it’s called a lucid dream, right? If you’re having a dream and you don’t know it’s a dream then you’re not recognizing the dream as a dream which means you’re in a non-lucid dream which means fundamentally you’re deluded. Bad idea. [01:02:29]
And then finally phenomena at large. So he’s couching, as the Buddha does in the Pali cannon, he’s couching the mindfulness of breathing within the context of the close application of mindfulness to the body, internally. Now externally is attending to other people’s bodies, like Paul Ekman’s marvelous work, attending to facial expressions, being able to read, draw strong inferences about the emotions people are experiencing based upon the subtle movements of the muscles in the face, right? That’s attending to the body as the body, externally. Right? hen there is attending to the body internally and externally, and that’s observing the whole dynamic of your own experience of your own body, so it’s fascinating for you, wouldn’t it be, Michael with all your background with working with the body, that I know you and many of us here are very sensitive to your own body, attending to it a lot, for the moment what we attend to is reality. We’re really attending to – what is it to be embodied internally? You get a really good feel of that, and then if you’re a behaviorist, you’re another kind of people maybe a therapist, you’re really attending closely to other people’s facial expressions, their tone of voice, how quickly they’re speaking, their body language, facial expressions and all of that, that’s attending to the body as the body, externally. Right? It’s wonderful. There science has made a lot of progress with respect I say, but then there’s this whole dynamic that we’re not just these independent little pods, these little entities that are bumping into each other once in a while, but rather in every dynamic, so [1:04:04] Marta came from the meeting today and there we were talking back and forth, she’s talking, I’m talking back, as we always do, you know, nothing special, but there it is – that my words, my body, my facial expression, my body language and so forth, that’s influencing her facial expressions and body language. She speaks, that’s influencing mine, so then you see the dynamic internally and externally, you say, “Oh, these are not two things that just bump into each other, this is now a whole dynamic of two people having a conversation.” And there’s this mutual interdependence, inter-influence you know, I’m influencing her mental events manifesting by way of facial expression, body language and so forth, she of course is doing the same thing to me. So you have a system there, a system called a dialogue, a conversation between two people; but it’s a system, it’s an integrated system. Observing the body internally and externally kind of hyphenated. This is not two things that just got slapped together, in that context these two people are arising relative to each other from moment to moment. And that’s in any conversation, an argument, a friendly conversation, talking with a policeman, a border customs patrol and all that kind of stuff, whatever it is, it’s always there. So that’s what the Buddha’s getting at. [01:05:15]
But the final note on this is that is we can really cultivate this ability, attending to something that is not by nature really interesting and entertaining, arousing, novel, really cool – you know, which we’ll pay for, that’s what movies and music and television and so forth are for, to entertain us to arouse us, giving something novel, something we really enjoy, something enjoyable is happening, just like tasting good food and so forth. Here we’re attending to something that’s not by nature painful, not by nature interesting, arousing novel and so forth. So therefore we’re not getting any hedonic feed, right? We’re not getting something from the object. This, “Oh I like that don’t stop.” It’s well I don’t want to stop breathing but it’s not because it’s so pleasurable, right. And so as we are turning off the valves of hedonic stimulation, just like turning the tap off, you’re not getting any, nothing painful, you don’t want this to be painful but there’s nothing really pleasurable there like eating ice-cream or something like that, so you’ve turned off the valve, just sh, sh, sh on the hedonic stimulation and now you’re just getting even, neutral, neither pleasant nor unpleasant, and if a sense of well-being arises, and then over time that’s sukha then priti - priti, the sense of enjoyment. Then that can eventually manifest as bliss of course, if that arises, then you’re well on the way to recovery, then you’re finding a path, you’re moving towards a path, really towards a path, then you link that shamatha with vipashyana and then you find your path and that’s why I am here, to find a path and help other people find a path. [1:06:59]
O laso, so that’s it, that’s all I wanted to share with you this afternoon, we still have 25 minutes so since this time is so precious for practice, we could be living downtown in a major city, in a university, we could have all kinds of interesting conversations about the philosophy of mind, this aspect of Buddhism and this school and that school, and this theory and that theory and we can do that in the midst of a very busy, active way of life, taking out time and have a seminar and talk all the way through it, you know? So we don’t need a special environment to have very interesting theoretical conversations, and I’m not putting that down at all, I’ve spent a lot of time doing it myself, but now we are in this very special environment, that is so conducive to practice, I mean really extraordinarily conducive. So I am not putting a ban, I’m not a language policeman, but let’s at least prioritize, put it that way - let’s prioritize questions, topics of discussion and points of clarification first of all about practice, right, and then if we have some time left over, then we can always go to theory, it’s useful. Okay? [1:07:56]
But this is Padmasambhava’s path, it’s Panchen Rinpoche’s path, let your view come out of your practice rather than having years and years of training, of theory, theory, theory, and having the theory come in and then finally get to meditation afterwards. [1:08:15]
Questions, comments, observations insights? We’ll start with Rosa.
Rosa: Could you elaborate a little bit on the answer Gyatrul Rinpoche gave you about what to do with the noise. View it. .
Alan: View it, yeah. It really was almost like a Koan, but I had been training with him for a couple of years by then so it didn’t give me just- what? Kind of like huh? Like that. He threw the arrow at the target and he hit bulls-eye. And what he was saying is – look, I don’t remember how many months or years it was that I had been really training with him, translating for him, pretty close encounter of a very good kind with Gyatrul Rinpoche when he just gave me that pfff, like throwing a dart, you know? I think probably a couple of years and that means a couple of years of Dzogchen because that’s pretty much what he taught me all the way through, and so “view it” he was clearly referring to the Dzogchen view. Okay, he’d taught me and taught me, I’d translated orally, I’d probably done, I had, I’d started translating texts by then, and so he’d really imparted, he’d shared Padmasambhava and others’ teachings on the Dzogchen view with me. It’s not just something to believe in or to remember you know, to memorize, but it really is shifting your axis on the way you view reality. Right? So I’m not going to now give a whole teaching on the view of Dzogchen, I mean Padmasambhava will, I’ll try to pass that on when we get to that in this eight week retreat, but it’s a way of viewing reality where you are doing your very best to approximate viewing reality from the perspective of rigpa. Insofar as you’re viewing reality from the perspective of rigpa – that is the Dzogchen view. The Dzogchen view is nothing more or less than that. So Dudjom Lingpa for example, or Padmasambhava in the Vajra Essence said - first of all you must establish the view, you must gain some access to it. Meditation, Dzogchen meditation, specifically trekcho, is then nothing more than sustaining the view. So let’s linger there just for a moment, because this is practice it’s looking ahead a bit, but the question as Kim raised a couple of days ago, it’s going to be a recurrent questions, I mean it’s absolutely core, but we can phrase it in different ways, what’s the difference between shamatha without a sign, which we will learn about very shortly, and some of you, many of you already know, what’s the difference between that and Dzogchen meditation? What’s the difference between substrate consciousness and rigpa? A lot of the words are similar, and sometimes wonderful Lama’s like Tsoknyi Rinpoche, his younger brother, his older brother Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, and so forth will sometimes say simply - nature of mind, nature of mind, and then you’re kind of going – okay? Which aspect are you talking about? Is that substrate consciousness, is it nature of your coarse mind? Because that’s certainly worth looking into. Is it ultimate nature of mind – emptiness? The emptiness of the inherent nature of the mind, is it rigpa? So sometimes it comes in a bundle you know, sometimes it comes in a bundle, the nature of mind. But boy, I’ve not been on one of his retreats Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and so on, but boy so many of my friends, dharma friends, some of them my students go and they’re just deeply moved, transformed, something very, very meaningful takes place in getting pointing out instructions right, and they get some insight. So when it comes to viewing, gaining access to the view, identifying the view, ascertaining the view, comes to [ ? 1:11:59] different phrases, I would say because it just happened, it came up in meditation this afternoon, I won’t try to be inclusive as if I know all the ways that it can happen. I don’t, but one thing that does happen, sometimes it happens spontaneously, it just happens, go figure. Why then, why at that time but then suddenly a breakthrough and you really do have, as Gangten Rinpoche said, you have some insight into an aspect of rigpa, not to say you fully realize it but you got something authentic, you got something authentic. It was not other than rigpa, it probably wasn’t the full realization of rigpa but you’ve got something authentic, that’s generally what happens when receiving pointing out instructions, something authentic takes place. And so sometimes it happens spontaneously, what can you say? It does, but it does, so that’s one way, another way is pointing out instructions, you know, from a person who has profound realizations, skillful means, and knows how to transmit, they sometimes call it mind to mind transmission, but however one phrases it whether it’s often in a verbal teaching or a guided meditation or there can be more extreme measures, a slap on the face with a sandal and so on. And that’s where there is, we’ve all seen photos of Mount Everest, which is very, very often the peak is very, very often covered in clouds, but then sometimes the clouds open up and then you get like, “Whoa – oh,look, look, look the clouds have opened up, look right there you can see the very summit of Mount Everest, oh it’s going, okay, it’s gone.” But for the moment you actually saw it and then the clouds come over, that tends to be what happens when people receive pointing out instructions. And as I really emphasized what two days ago, this is not the same as simply having some hedonic pleasure like a great ocean voyage or a wonderful meal, not the same, not the same at all. But it is transient, but something is sown, something is sown in the mindstream, that you now have seen something that you cannot and do not want to expunge from your mindstream, this kind of a hook, a wonderful hook that you know something now you didn’t know before and you know where to look. So that’s another way. [1:14:15]
The challenge then if one has received pointing out instructions, and that is very, very meaningful, something of a breakthrough experience, the challenge then is how do you bring that forth again, how do you sustain it? How do you dwell in it, how do you sustain the view through all the activities and not simply have a marvelous memory that you’re wondering how do I get there again? Shall I just buy a whole bunch of airline tickets and just follow the lama all over the place and get my next fix, or do I start cultivating some foundation that I can actually, you know, sustain it myself?
So that’s a challenge, but I think it’s a wonderful thing frankly, I think it’s a wonderful thing that such lamas are giving pointing out instructions, they inspire so many people they really do, you can’t put any price tag on that. You can’t say - oh it’s worth this much.
It’s not the only way, not the only way it’s happened historically. Sometimes people will be, number one they will prepare the mind, cultivate the mind, they’ll be studying, they’ll be reading, and especially when you have an oral transmission, have oral commentary and you’re reading something, it’s kind of full of life because you’ve received the transmission and the commentary, and so it’s more like an I - thou relationship with the text, rather than just reading a book, you know it’s dead and you’re just plucking things from it. It’s more like a conversation and you read it twice, and you read it five times and ten times and twenty times and the conversation continues, it’s not a broken record, you’re not getting the same thing. Unless you’re not practicing. If you’re not practicing you may get the same thing, but if you are practicing you keep on coming back to the well of teachings by great adepts, there’s so many I won’t give names, there’s so many. But you may be reading, having prepared well and as you’re reading and then you set it down, you go into meditation, you may have a breakthrough right there without a lama catalyzing it just by drenching your mind. And then there’s the approach that Padmasambhava takes in Natural Liberation, and that is without necessarily having been introduced to the view either by way of pointing out instructions or by way of having really significant textural instruction, oral commentary and all of that, just number one purifying the mind one way or another, there’s no one and only way you know, we’ve had that conversation. There’re the classical preliminary practices, they are very good for many people, other people it leaves them cold. What can you do, scold them? You really* should like doing prostrations, you really *should like doing, what are you supposed to do if people really don’t want to do them? Say you’re a loser, get out, find another tradition? Or be skillful in means – and well maybe the Four Immeasurables will work for you, maybe bodhichitta, more maybe reading Bodhicaryavatara, maybe, you know, maybe some shamatha could be helpful, maybe; there’s all kinds of things, there’s so many ways to purify the mind, so many ways to accumulate merit that it’s wonderful that we have this kind of format of the preliminary practices and it’s also I think it’s incredibly important not to be rigid about it – as if that’s the only way. Otherwise the Buddha would have gone to Sarnath, and said - okay everybody, hit the deck, one hundred thousand prostrations! Get back to me when you’re finished and I’ll teach you the Four Noble Truths, but not until you’ve finished. He didn’t do that. [01:17:23]
So, different ways, different ways, but Padmasambhava’s approach here is – purify the mind one way or another, develop some inspiration, momentum, merit whatever you call it, then he takes you right to, but actually, I was just checking the text that I translated, the whole preliminary section, detailed, detailed, I don’t know, eighty pages of teachings on the preliminary practices, those aren’t from Padmasambhava, in Natural Liberation, they’re not from Padmasambhava, those were by a disciple of Karma Lingma who lived in the 14th Century and they were added on, which is a good thing, but it wasn’t taught by Padmasambhava. Padmasambhava starts with shamatha. He must have forgot something, right? [laughter] And of course they’re just different ways of approaching it, there’s so many different ways. Imagine if a person had achieved shamatha and generated authentic Bodhichitta and had some realization of emptiness, right, and then came to receive Dzogchen teachings do you think the Lama would say – oh no, you merely have Bodhichitta and realization of emptiness and shamatha, you’re not ready, hit the deck I want to see 100,000 prostrations? Might say that, but might not. So there it is, there it is, multiple approaches to it. But the approach Padmasambhava takes here is- purify the mind and then go into shamatha and then finally when it comes to that shamatha without a sign, he says – here’s the place, you going straight into shamatha, right, if you go straight into shamatha and the practice remains shamatha then you’ll discover something called the substrate consciousness, that’s not small change, that’s not trivial. It’s not emptiness, it’s not rigpa, but it’s not insignificant either; but as he says – doing the same method, exactly the same method you may cut right through and realize rigpa. In which case we have called it shamatha without a sign and it turns out to be Dzogchen meditation because it did what Dzogchen meditation is designed to do. [1:19:35]
So the view may then come not from pointing out instructions, not just spontaneously, not from very extensive reading and reflection, reading and reflection, the teachings of Longchen Rabjampa and so on, it might come right out of your shamatha practice and then the view emerges from the inside out and then lo and behold you come out of your meditation and you’re viewing reality from the perspective of rigpa, that too can happen. So there may be many other ways as well, I don’t know but I thought that was a nice short list. Okay? Good. Anything else coming up? Yes. Emerson. [01:20:10]
Emerson: Thank you. In your instructions about observing the length of the breath, be it a long breath or a short breath, I’m having trouble not preferring short breaths to long breaths. Just because as you’ve talked about as your meditation progresses, and as you calm down, then your breathing gets shallower and shorter and shorter. So, I’m trying to, you know, have equanimity between long breaths and short breaths but right now I’m really thinking, “Ooh, short is better.” [1:20:48]
Alan: “If this were working out well I would have shorter breaths. [laughter] And when I have shorter breaths I’m going to keep them, I’m not going to give that up!”
I totally understand and I’ll give a nice parallel. [1:20:59]
I am sure many of you and perhaps all of you have received teachings over podcast or whatever on settling the mind in its natural state. So there’s no secret there, you start out, it’s like a cascading waterfall, it goes to a mountain brook it goes to a river through the valley it goes to the ocean of waves and winds up at Mt. Meru. Right? And so you know what’s supposed to happen and as just the volume of thought, images all the turbulence quiets down, quiets down, quiets down and then it’s quiet and all you are left with is the empty substrate devoid of the activities of the coarse mind entirely so we know that, right, so when you’re doing the practice, same thing, right? If my practice is going well then I’ll have fewer and fewer, and then, “Boy I’m making progress, good I scared them all, I scared them away.So, I’m looking, good you’re quiet.” It’s so easy there, but that’s grasping, that’s grasping. Right? And so that’s why I made the point this morning, and I made it during the session so you couldn’t take notes, and that is if you’re doing settling the mind in its natural state and you approach it with that preference, if the practice is going well I’m going to have fewer and fewer thoughts, emotions and memories, images and so forth, it’s all going to calm down, because that’s the nature of the path, and then you exert that little bit of influence, of preference, then you’re not settling the mind in its natural state, you are suppressing the mind which means you are not doing the practice at all. You are just doing it wrong. Right? In which case it’s not going to deliver the goods. That’s not how you do that practice. Right? And so you recall, if one, hypothetically it probably happens on occasion, one comes to the practice with just a glowingly serene, benevolent, compassionate mind with virtually no mental afflictions, and there are people like that, and they go to this practice, I’m hypothesizing here but I think it’s very, very possible. They sit down and they’re just going to find from day to day to day less and less and less, less and less, you know volume of activities of the mind, very few spikes, the upheavals, few because they’re just not bringing much in the way of obstacles you know, obscurations and so forth. So they’re not having any big upheavals of depression and lust and bla, bla, bla, it’s just kind of getting quieter and they achieve shamatha. That delightful autobiography by Shabkar Rinpoche that Matthieu Ricard translated, lovely translation, it was one of those exasperating, delightful and exasperating at the same time, accounts I’ve ever read of somebody practicing shamatha, remember? He went into solitude, great Dzogchen master right, he went into solitude and he said - and then I went off to practice shamatha, I went into solitude, I practiced shamatha and I realized bliss, luminosity and non-conceptuality. Could you say that really slowly, please, unpack a little bit, how was it? Did anything happen in between, you sat and you achieved, veni vidi vici, you know, I came, I saw, I conquered. Julius Caesar what, conquering some place. Okay that’s cool but for the rest of us it’s a bit more complicated. Have a really pure mind, it’s simple, but most of us don’t have that. [01:24:09]
So the authentic practice then is that you don’t try to calm the mind, you don’t try to mess with it, modify it, make it calm down because that’s the whole idea, you let it be and that means that sometimes you’re going to have some really spikey days. Be it upheavals of weird stuff happening in the body and that’s what should be happening on that day. And on other days it’s going to be emotion and on other days it’s going to be boredom and on other days it’s going to be lust, and on other days it’s going to be bliss and on other days it’s going to be faith and gratitude and that’s what’s supposed to happen. And then you’re there, all the way through it, let it be, attending, attending, and that’s how it happens, that’s how the mind heals, that’s how all these blockages in the psyche - our emotional blockages, suppressed mental afflictions, memories of trauma and so forth, that’s how they release themselves. Not by being suppressed, or steamrolling them on the way to shamatha. In that practice you let it all come up, be present with it without reification. Reify it - you’re stuck. But if you can just let it be and release itself, that’s how it happens!
[01:25:14] But that means even there up on stage 6 which is pretty darn advanced, you’re going to have the biggest upheavals of your whole trajectory, I mean you’ve read it you know, it’s going like better, better, better and it seems like you fell into a crevasse when it’s stage 6, like that was worse than stage one! You know, like how can this be happening? That’s because you’re dredging deep, much, much deeper than stage 1, 2, 3, 4 much, much deeper that’s why you’re bringing up the deep stuff now but if you can get beyond that, and not by suppressing it, or by turning it back off you know, but allowing it all to flow out, then from 7 on it gets, you don’t have the big upheavals, then the challenge is subtlety. Because the imbalances from then on are just subtle excitation, subtle laxity. And that you need to be really sharp, that’s where some people stagnate, not because they’re having a bad day, it’s really super-fine tuning, really fine tuning, it doesn’t take a lot of effort, it takes a lot of subtlety. To recognize subtle excitation – difficult but not extremely. Subtle laxity – that’s really difficult, really difficult not to just settle there and say, “I’m fine – I’m fine, this is good,” you know, and then you just hit a ceiling at stage 7. So the parallel is very strong. I know I’m giving very long answers but I think these are two very rich questions so there’s no reason to hurry. So that was a big analogy but a very strong one and that is - as long as we’re embodied the body and mind are profoundly entangled, every, Antonio Damasio points out, and I think he is certainly right by the way he states – every emotion you ever experience, there is going to be something, some correlated somatic experience in the body and it’s going to happen every single time. Of whatever emotion, sadness, anxiety, grief, joy, surprise, anything! There’s going to be something, it’s entangled, and so what does this say on a subtle level is your nervous system, western physiology, first-person physiology – the whole prana system, the whole prana system, that it is so profoundly entangled with, or moving together with, in synchronicity so to speak – with your mental states, right, that as there are psychological blockages, that psychologists know a lot more about than I do, but they are certainly there. Where you just can’t look at something, you know, like um, the elephant in the middle of the room, that would be called a big psychological blockage. Right? Well as there are psychological blockages some very coarse, some very subtle, some very deep that you may only be unearthing, bringing to the light of consciousness in stage 6 in the path of shamatha, if that’s true psychologically then a very, very strong hypothesis from Buddhism, and Hinduism, and probably Taoism because they have their own sophisticated understanding of prana, called chi, of course, is that if there are blockages in your psyche that can be released through the practice of settling the mind in its natural state – there will be blockages in your body! On that energetic level, the prana level, and the prana in the body is related to the breath, strongly. Sometimes we use the same word for prana and breath, we often do. Right? And so this means that in our in our bodies right now in so far as there are psychological blockages there will be pranic blockages. [01:28:36}
Pranic blockages, though, can also come though not only by having a traumatic experience or what have you, it can also come from injury. Injury, that can clearly happen. The pranic body, the energy body there is also enmeshed with ligaments right? Ligaments and tendons and muscles and so forth and so on, and so injury could also, or bad habits physically, bad habits physically can also create blockages that are not really psychological, they are more physiological but on a subtle level and they too can influence your mind. So we’re seeing again and again, I read the, I am following this fairly closely, but study after study has shown that just getting good healthy exercise improves your intelligence, productivity, creativity, which are psychological functions but just getting out and having healthy exercise, that’s good, but that’s straight physical, total physical, physical, to something that’s influencing the psychological, well it’s clearly true. Does diet influence, of course it does. And so the point here then to sum up and our time is just about out here, but it’s a very important point, I’m glad you raised it, is that in this practice of mindfulness of breathing, it is to the breath what setting the mind in its natural state is to the mind. We’re giving it our attention in this practice, we’re giving it clear attention but we’re not messing with it, we’re not regulating, preferring, when doing correctly, and in so doing the way this should turn out, unless and there are people that have just impeccable prana systems, I’ve heard from the news, and this is hearsay, that Fred Astaire the dancer, apparently people who are extremely adept in yoga whatever, said he had a glistening prana system. Like he was just so, phew, like that, when he moved his feet would hardly touch the ground, he and Ginger Rogers, big team. But dancers like that, I mean professional dancers and some athletes also, the prana systems are just sleek. By karma, or whatever it was, some people have really, really nice flow already without any meditation. [1:30:54]
And most of us don’t, that’s why most of us are not movie stars dancing on the screen and aweing everybody. And so for most of us we have the blockages in the subtle energy system, the prana system and one way to allow those blockages to self-release the natural way, self-release, therefor natural, is mindfulness of breathing. But this means that whatever comes up, just as in settling the mind if on occasion you have deep breaths, let it be deep breaths. If they’re short breaths let it be short breaths if it’s big volume breaths, there you are, you could be meditating for an hour or two hours and then in the midst of your session, [1:31:31 Alan takes a big breath] and you’re not freaking out, you’re not having a panic attack, the body just wants more air, don’t say, “No, no, no he said short breath is good. [laughter] I’m going backwards now.” [laughs] Let it be big volume and sometimes you’ll be breathing so subtly somebody outside couldn’t tell you’re breathing at all, hardly and you’re not doing anything special, for the time being 5 minutes, 10 minutes, for a day, two days you slip in, hardly any, so subtle, but when you’re just resting there, here’s my mudra – when it’s just resting still, you are aware. But you have to be very quiet, those subtle little perturbations, oh yeah, breath is still going. So do the practice properly – means total allowance and knowing that’s the best. And so the trust here, there is an element of trust, as in settling the mind in its natural state, but we’ve known each other for years, so maybe you have some reason to trust me, that I’m not a total stranger, right, but this is much deeper trust. Some of you don’t, we are meeting for the first time, so why should you totally trust a guy you’ve never met before? I wouldn’t do that. Trust where? You know where, your body-mind, rooted in Buddha nature and that’s where I really say it, body-mind rooted in Buddha nature. Buddha nature Is the source of healing, fundamental ultimate source of healing your own Buddha nature, so that’s what you really trusting. As you rest your awareness in your best approximation of rigpa, that’s what you’re doing, your best approximation of rigpa, just present, no objectification, no reification, no excitation, no dullness, just resting in its own place. And from that perspective, just allowing the breath to flow and then allowing the whole system to sort itself out, in anyway, so it’s just like you give it ongoing approval, whatever comes up. Short breath, cool oh now it’s long breath – thank you. Deep breath happy with that, shallow breath –very cool. Like whatever you say – just, you’re just doing so well. [laughs] That’s the way to do it!
So whatever’s coming up be happy with it, including all the fluctuations because they are to mindfulness of breathing what the upheavals are in settling the mind. And if no upheavals happen as you’re practicing, especially in retreat, if no upheavals happen? One of two conclusions can be definitely drawn – one is you have an incredibly pure mind, and the other one is you’re suppressing it which means you’ll not go very far in the practice because what needs to come isn’t because you’re not allowing your sensory, you have a sensor border there is saying, “Oh, oh, oh, not that - edit that one out, that one goes. Okay, now a nice one now you can come in.” That’s fine but then that’s not this practice. Okay? Isn’t it cool? I love this, the only thing I love more than talking about it is doing it.
See you tomorrow morning at 9, enjoy your day.
Transcribed by Cheri Langston
Revised by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Final edition by Mark Montgomery