27 Aug 2014
Alan encourages those following the retreat through the podcasts to obtain a copy of his translation of Natural Liberation, our text for the remainder of the retreat. The meditation that Alan guided is found on page 105 of the text.
The familiar quality control monitor of introspection is not mentioned in shamatha without a sign practices because there is no vector for awareness. In this practice the oscillation between the arousal of the intensity of awareness and its release will by itself dispel laxity and lethargy.
Between sessions, as you move through the day, try to maintain stillness of awareness amidst the motion of appearances.
Meditation starts at 11:42
Alan Wallace: O la so, so now am I also right in assuming that everybody here has here in Phuket, that all of you here have a copy of Natural Liberation? Everybody does! Oh that is good. From today on, this is our textbook so to speak. And what we have here in the text is not only the teachings of Padmasambhava but really a very, very clear, and often just a very clear and very helpful commentary, oral commentary from Gyatrul Rinpoche and so I really strongly encourage you to get a copy and speaking to the people listening by podcast, if you’re just kind of casually dropping in once in awhile, no problem. But if you’d really like to be following these teachings, then I strongly encourage you also to get hard copies and then you can always be referring to the core teachings, the root text as well as the commentary as we move through these 3 bardos so I think it will be a very, very helpful support for your practice. And so there’s that. O la so. [00:01:03]
I think, as you know, we have finished the presentation of the first of the 6 bardos, the bardo of living in the Vajra Essence. Finished that this morning but you’ll notice that he didn’t really go into any of the particular practices for the bardo of living but it becomes very clear elsewhere as in this text that the core practices to be followed within this bardo in other words take this bardo of living, here we are as human beings and use this as a launching pad for achieving enlightenment. Right? Well, the two core practices that are discussed, extremely obviously here and it’s not a matter of interpretation they are shamatha and vipashyana. Okay? So there’s the backbone for all of the other meditations, through all of the other bardos. The backbone is here you start here because clearly he is writing this for people who are alive. You know, because that’s where you’re starting out and then in the course of time you’ll be dreaming, in the course of time then he may go may go deeper into meditation and that brings us to the ‘tregcho’, or the cutting through to pristine awareness and then beyond that into the other 3 bardos. And so there’s the general framework. I think I will give a little more of the context, not a whole lot, but so we will not cover much of the text. I am going to do something I have not had the opportunity or made the opportunity to do in the past. I have taught this material many, many times since Gyatrul Rinpoche taught it to me about 20 years ago, taught it to me, that is I was his interpreter, teaching to about 50 people.
And just a tiny bit of context, we’ll go to the practice very shortly but this was again 20 year ago, about 1984, no 1994, 20 years not 30, about 1994. He was teaching this in San Francisco at a center there called Orgen Dorje Den, which has since then moved to the East Side of the Bay, to Alameda. There were roughly 50 people or so attending on a very regular basis. He taught it very systematically from start to finish and I had the opportunity to interpret for him for the entire teaching and then as so often happens to me I got so inspired, I asked him would you like me to translate the text and he said, ‘Yeah, go for it.’ and then well how about your teaching, Yeah, go for it.’ And so then we have the book. But what was really quite exceptional in terms of this particular teaching was, Gyatrul Rinpoche, this is 1994 - he had been teaching in the West for more than 20 years by that time and years before had been appointed as the Representative for North America by Dudjom Rinpoche, the head of the entire Nyingma tradition and I just recently learned, from somebody who saw it himself, exactly when that occurred. Dudjom Rinpoche, he may have done it more formally, he probably did, but symbolically, many years ago, something like 40 years ago, Dudjom Rinpoche came to the United States, was giving teachings. Gyatrul Rinpoche, being a very close disciple was with him in the entourage. And then Dudjom Rinpoche is about to... He’s getting into the car, to drive off and fly away some place. And, he’s about to get into the car and then he took off his shoes, he took off his shoes and he gave his shoes to Rinpoche. He said, ‘Here, you are stepping into my shoes’ and a friend of mine who just told me this because he’s an old time student of Gyaltrul Rinpoche, when he literally turned his shoes over to Gyatrul Rinpoche, he said, ‘Gyatrul Rinpoche just turned white!’ [laughter] [4:49]
So, clearly there must have been an enormous amount of trust on the part of Dudjom Rinpoche for his disciple Gyatrul Rinpoche and Gyatrul RInpoche, then 1994, having been teaching, then he came to Canada, to North America, 1972 and was teaching and then shortly thereafter came down to the United States, made that his base of teaching. But there in 1994, so 22 years later, he chose the text to teach and he did something I have not heard any other lama do and that is as he began the teaching, or maybe even before, but right at the beginning he said, ‘Now we’ll go through this text, start to finish, we leave out nothing and that includes tregcho’, core Dzogchen practice and then togal, the culminating phase which is generally taught only to small groups of people, that you’ve very, very carefully groomed and, you know, assessed that they’re really ready for the teachings and then you give, you know, but it’s generally... it is not a public teaching; not one that is given to large groups of people at a time. That’s the way it has been historically for a long time and Gyatrul Rinpoche told this group of students who came, a number of them, very old time students of him, who had been studying with him, practicing with him, for 10, 20 years. He said ‘All right well, these teachings now as we go through this text…anybody who has the faith to come to these teachings, that’s so with faith, with the true aspiration to put the teachings into practice, with an open mind, with sincerity and devotion, you are welcome to come, you are welcome to come.’ He didn’t say nothing about you have to have an empowerment. He didn’t give an empowerment for this. He made no reference to any empowerment nor did he say ‘Oh you have to have finished such and such preliminary practices’. And moreover he said ‘You don’t have to be Buddhist’. ‘If you come here from whatever background, with a really sincere interest to put these teachings into practice, you have faith, then whether you are Buddhist or not Buddhist, you are welcome to attend’…and lo and behold there were about 2 Christian nuns who attended very regularly the entire teaching.
[7:00] So um, he over the course of time... I spoke with Sangye Khandro, who just during a 7 year period, she stepped back and allowed me to step in, that means, just simply put, for 7 years I got to be his primary interpreter but for years before that and after she has been his primary interpreter and clearly his closest Western disciple, closest disciple, I think. But she told me among the range of lamas, because she may be the most... she together with Matthieu Ricard, the most savvy Westerner who has just immersed herself in the Nyingma tradition, for more than 40 years now, and she, I don’t know, just total immersion. I think she probably is the most Tibetan Westerner I know, in a very good sense of the term. There is nothing phony about it, nothing contrived. She is not pretending anything – a very sincere practitioner and has translated for so many great lamas-it’s kind of unbelievable. But in any case she was saying,knowing really, I think she knows the full spectrum of Nyingma lamas of the last 40 years. Among the spectrum some of them are very, very conservative, very, very conservative, by the book, boom, boom, like that. And she said well, ‘Within the spectrum, Gyatrul Rinpoche’s – he’s very open, he’s very open.’ Just that – that’s what she said. And it is certainly true. The fact that he would give these teachings to people, who would simply... that’s all he asked ‘Come with respect, Come with devotion, Come with faith, Come with the wish to put these into practice and you are welcome to come’.
And so he basically finished the teaching as he had done with me with earlier texts that he’s taught, and practices, he authorized me to teach the entire text and so, I have taught it on a number of occasions in Santa Barbara, many years ago, as weekly evening sessions, - ‘The Wednesday night lectures’ they were called, long, long time ago – almost 20 years ago. And then I have taught this excerpt on the ‘Shamatha without a Sign’, many, many times but almost always within the context of a 1 week retreat. What we’ll be doing this time is we will follow exactly what he says now we will pick up in ‘Shamatha without a sign’. I won’t have you looking at stones, and sticks and flowers – you’re welcome to do that, kind of these coarser practices leading up to….But there are no novices here, none of you are coming here like this is your first retreat, don’t have any idea what’s up, what is Buddhism after all, you know? To varying degrees you’ve all been practicing for some time and so it’s not even remotely like, I feel that everything that comes up to, preceding ‘Shamatha without a Sign’, is somehow not important. That is absolutely not the implication. But the implication is that I feel you’re coming in with a lot of practice…some of you for decades and that one way or another, explicitly or implicitly, you’re already familiar with it, you know. You have some real familiarity with the material that comes before, which is very important. But again just to make a simple point [10:00] we are going to now have a very short teaching session; the teaching session will be my reading the meditation directly from Padmasambhava. And he gives the teaching and as you will see when we do the session, he says ‘Do this for one day’. Then we will do it for one day, how about that? Why don’t we just do what he said? Whereas I am leaving this in the 7 day retreat then we do it for 1 session then we’re moving on to another practice. When I lead 1 week retreats people say it’s like trying to drink from a fire hydrant you know and there’s a lot of truth to that. But here it’s more spoon feeding, you know; day by day, day by day – hopefully not overwhelming. So I will be reading directly from the text and so I invite you now to, if you are very comfortable in the sitting position, that is, if there is such a thing, as a comfortable cushion for you where you can sit, cross-legged for 24 minutes – excellent. If not, that is what the supine is for. So please find a comfortable position.
[11:10] [Alan tells a couple of retreatants to check their email]
[12:05] As you have done before, now you should be very familiar with: Settle your body, speech and mind in their natural state.
[13:44] Many of you find it helpful to count breathing. Rest your awareness in its own place. And as we have been practicing for the last several days; maintain this peripheral awareness of the rhythm, the flow, of the in and out breath. Count the breadths on to twenty-one, with one brief succinct count at the end of each inhalation. Those of you who find the counting a bit distracting, cluttering up the mind, then no need to do that. Just for a couple of minutes, calm the discursive mind as you arouse and focus your awareness with each inhalation. Relax, and releasing thoughts, images and memories with each exhalation, let your mind settle in a relative state of equipoise as a preparation for the main practice [14:40].
[17:43] And now we move to the main practice:
Padmasambhava begins with the statement:
[Text below quoted from Natural Liberation (in the chapter, “Natural Liberation of the Foundation” pg. 105) ]
Position your body as before. He’s explained earlier that you settle your body in its natural state, in this context: the cross legged position, the seven point posture of Vairochana. You can easily read about that in the earlier pages and I think most, if not all of you, are already familiar. So settle your body there relaxed, still, without any fidgeting, if you are indeed sitting upright; your spine straight. And then he continues:
Then while steadily gazing into the space in front of you without meditating on anything, steadily concentrate your consciousness without wavering, in the space in front of you.
Some commentary: As clearly implied, your eyes are open, you bring your awareness out in the space in front of you, but without meditating on anything, that is you’re not focusing on any visual object, any shape or color and not even focusing on space as an object. You’re simply bringing your awareness out into space and resting it there.
He says: Steadily concentrate your consciousness, sustain the focus. But it is a focus with no object, no target. Simply a resting your awareness in space.
He says: Steadily concentrate your consciousness without wavering. [19:56]
But absence of wavering comes about by a core, deep sense of looseness, of ease, of releasing all grasping. It is grasping that agitates the mind. A bit of further commentary: Many Dzogchen practitioners find when doing such practice there is greater sense of unimpededness, of looseness, of openness if your mouth is slightly open and you allow the unimpeded flow of the breath in and out of your mouth, rather than breathing through the nostrils. This is not imperative. It’s not mentioned here in the text but you may experiment; see which gives you the greater sense of looseness, openness; breathing through the nostrils or gently, effortlessly breathing through the mouth. Experiment. [21:19]
Steadily concentrate your consciousness without wavering in the space in front of you. Increase stability and then relax again. So this is Padmasambhava’s signature technique. It comes up again and again; this oscillation of arousal and release, of more intensely focusing, stabilizing, stilling your awareness and then utterly releasing your awareness but without dulling the flow of cognizance. Arouse and release. He makes no reference to the breath here but as a preliminary exercise, in order to facilitate this practice, help you get into the flow of the practice, if you find it helpful in the early phases to conjoin this oscillation with the in and out flow of the breath, you may certainly do so as we have done before. As the breath flows in, you concentrate, you focus, you stabilize your awareness and as the breath flows out you relax. [22:48]
[23:45] He continues:
Occasionally check out, “What is that consciousness that is concentrating?” Steadily concentrate again and then check it out again. Do that in an alternating fashion.
Commentary: As you are simply resting there releasing your awareness into space without focusing on any object not even the space of the mind like right now. When your attention is not fixated on any object, then the subjective experience of being conscious arises more and more vividly. Focus right in upon that experience of being aware. The very consciousness that is concentrating and let your awareness illuminate and know itself and then release, arouse in the spirit of inquiry. Arouse your awareness focusing in, on the very experience of being conscious. Release again. [25:24]
[25:51] We’ve moved one step away from mindfulness of breathing, that is with no interest in the duration of each in and out breath. If you are attending to it at all, it’s just a timekeeper. It just sets the rhythm but virtually all of your awareness is right there; awareness resting in its own place, knowing itself. [26:18]
[27:31] Whatever thoughts arise like clouds that briefly pass between you and the sun but just move right on, are soft cloud formations that appear in the sky and dissolve back into the sky. Without doing anything about them, without trying to modify them, simply let them be without giving any attention to them deliberately. Let them come and go and with this core sense of relaxation, grasping will not occur and will not carry you away. When they do, relax, release whatever moved your attention away and let your awareness once again mount its throne, rest in its own place, knowing itself. [28:32]
[29:30] Again he writes, to repeat:
Steadily concentrate again, and then check it out again Do that in an alternating fashion. Even if there are problems of laxity and lethargy, that will dispel them. In all your activities, rely upon unwavering mindfulness. Do that for one day..
Let’s continue practicing now in silence. [30:00]
[36:18] [Some practical discussion on sound problems, feedback, downloading, etc.. which is not transcribed]
[37:49] I would like to make just a couple of comments here. As usual this is extremely dense, not dense as in terms of difficult understanding but just very compact. And so I think a lot of this is utterly clear and you are familiar with it already. I simply want to highlight the end of this were he says having set out the method which is very simple, he said: Even if there are problems of laxity and lethargy, that will dispel them. So there’s the first point. For those of you who’ve studied shamatha a lot, you’ll notice something is flagrant for its absence, that is strikingly absent and that is there is no reference here to introspection. But in all the classic teachings, I mean, these are the two pedals of the bicycle to shamatha land, you know, mindfulness, introspection; mindfulness, introspection. There is no reference here anywhere and it doesn’t come up later in ‘Shamatha without a sign’. It’s not there. So what’s up with that? Well there’s just a factual statement; it’s not there so now an interpretation. When you are practicing any type of shamatha with a sign, which is kind of like all the other methods; all the other methods have a target, you are attending to something: your thoughts or even the space of the mind, a stick, a bindu of light, a Vajrasattva image, a Buddha image…whatever it may be, then there’s a vector to your attention. It’s called: here is your awareness, here is your object, right? I’m holding up two fingers here for podcast people. He says the rope of mindfulness that connects your awareness, your attention to the object of mindfulness. ‘The rope of mindfulness’, very, very common metaphor. Right? Now the rope can get too slack, it can also get so taut it might snap so that, mindfulness you want to make sure it’s the right tension, not too tight, not too slack. And in terms of the flow of mindfulness you want to make sure that it’s not just falling into laxity and dullness but also that excitation is not just carrying your rope away, you know, like some eagle that comes down, swoops up and carries your rope away and now here is your awareness following into the sky, following the eagle. And so when there’s that vector of ‘here is your awareness and here is the object you are attending to’, there needs to be some quality control to monitor the mindfulness. Is it too tight? Is it too slack? Right? Are you being carried away by excitation or are you falling into laxity and dullness?
[40:34] So this is what just popped up into my mind yesterday to connect this. Remember I spoke just a day or two ago of the 5 faculties that can become powers when I spoke of faith and how to balance it with attention. Well then we have samadhi and the other pair is samadhi and virya actually, samadhi and virya. It just struck me right now. I’m just kind of like, “Thank you mind; you give me a lot of good stuff here; good material.” Virya isn’t just effort. In fact it doesn’t really primarily mean effort. It’s primarily enthusiasm. That’s really its definition, you remember, yeah. It’s that taking delight in virtue whether it’s your meditation, act of generosity, devotions, whatever it may be. It’s that taking delight. Right? So we have these 2 to balance, the taking delight in which of course does entail some effort; you’re really focusing. It’s sometimes called enthusiastic perseverance; not a bad translation. But to balance that: the introspection with samadhi. Right? Those are the 2 balancing things. And so introspection is there to maintain the balance, to maintain the balance. And so whether it’s faith and intelligence: crucial! Discussed that yesterday, no need to go again. To maintain the balance between that real single-pointedness but also the enthusiasm, mindfulness is in the center, mindfulness and together with that, implicitly, is introspection. Monitoring the flow, monitoring the flow, but that’s when there’s this vector, this target. But now we’re at ‘Shamatha without a Sign’; there’s no target, there’s no vector, there’s no rope. What would a rope do; go around your neck? You know there’s no rope because there’s is no here and there. As he said, you’re starting of by not meditating on anything. That’s how you get into this practice by resting without a target, without doing anything. And then again, just that immediate, unmediated experience of being conscious rises but there is no from here to there to it. It’s just immediately present. But then he has this oscillation. The oscillation of the arousal, one can say the intensification, the heightening intensity of awareness. That’s actually a pretty good term, heightening of intensity. What it is not is a contraction, like coming into the pineal gland or something, like some contraction inside your head and then like, you know, balloon head, and then pinhead, balloon head…really bad idea. Ok? So don’t do that. It’s not a spatial expansion and contraction. It’s an intensification which doesn’t imply any geometry. Right? No geometry in intensification. It’s an intensification and then a softening, you release. Intensification, so if there’s a mudra, it’s not this, it’s intensification and then release. [Alan demonstrates with hands] But intensification is simply highlighting the sheer luminosity of your own awareness. And you keep on coming back to it like a moth to the flame. And it’s that very oscillation itself, that repeated coming back to that intensification of the awareness just holding its own ground brilliantly. That burns away the mist of laxity and dullness. So you don’t need something outside to be monitoring, it’s an inside job. It’s taken care of inside. So there is no outside antidotes. ‘What to do? What shall I do if I have dullness? Well, should I focus on a bright light? Should I do this? Should I do that?’
[44:27] He said… This is a different approach and that is, this really is, it’s my words but boy I have a lot of confidence in them, this is a matter of discovering shamatha rather than developing it. A matter of discovering the innate luminosity; the brilliance, the radiance, the clarity of awareness. Discovering it, unveiling it rather than seeking to arduously cultivate it. Right? And likewise it’s not so much a matter of cultivating stability, cultivating the stillness of awareness, but rather releasing all grasping and in the absence of grasping, awareness is naturally still. So you’re discovering shamatha, you’re discovering luminosity, discovering stillness and how are you discovering it? By relaxation. Loose. So that’s what I think he is getting at.
I’ll read the sentence again. It’s a simple sentence: Even if there are problems of laxity and lethargy, that will dispel them. [45:30]
Because you are coming right into the fire, right into the luminosity itself and you just can’t bring laxity or lethargy into the fire. You can’t bring dullness inside a flame. Something’s gotta give either you’d have to snuff out the flame or else the dullness has to just [clicking sound]… vanish and that’s what happens. Okay? So there’s that.
I‘ve been teaching this for many years and began practicing it seriously in 1980 when I was in Sri Lanka actually, having almost burnt myself to a crispling, really, really difficult visualization practice and I almost just...what’s the phrase? I got my knickers into a twist. [laughter] And I said, ‘I can’t do this. You know, I’m just gonna burn out doing this.’ And so then I thought back to teachings Geshe Rabten had given me 5 years earlier from the Panchen Rinpoche’s teachings on Mahamudra and Mahamudra shamatha and, lo and behold, this is it with just a bit more elaboration. And I just want to say this, I want to put the seed in your mind just so that you don’t have to repeat errors I made. You remember the Dalai Lama’s comment – Is it necessary to have a guru to achieve enlightenment? You remember right? And he said, “No but it can save you a lot of time.” Okay? So, as I have said, and I absolutely mean it, I am here as a spiritual friend. If I can save you some time – good. So here is something not to do. Now there I was, I was sitting in my little grass hut in Sri Lanka, in a hermitage with some other monks. I was a monk at the time. And, I was really drawn to this practice. I was intuitively drawn to it before I’ve figured, ‘Now’s my chance.’ You know. Meals were taken care of once a day, the villagers would come up bring us a big meal, big alms bowl full of food. So everything is taken care of. Quiet, up in the jungle and I started doing this practice. And a number of you have seen me do this before but I’m going to say it anyway because the imprint needs to be there. I remember so vividly; here’s how I practiced [pause – Alan demonstrates]. [47:58]
You might note something there; I wasn’t breathing [laughter]. I was too busy to breathe. I had a full time job and I didn’t want any disturbance from ‘in and out breath, in and out breath…like shut up – I’m really busy here. I’m trying to concentrate so SHHH’. That didn’t work out very well. If you have already achieved the fourth dhyana – no problem but I had not and so this is why I have been emphasizing all along, and boy do I mean it. When you are doing this practice it’s pretty intense. You’re coming right into the very nucleus of your awareness; in the relative domain there’s nothing much more intense than that. This is a powerhouse, this is one of the forces of nature, not just some little effluent from your brain. This is something really core. When I was speaking with one of you a couple of days ago, just yesterday actually. When you enter into this practice, you start doing it, it’s like going to that... There’s a trench off the coast of Japan that’s going incredibly deep – remember the name of it? But it’s really, really deep. It’s like one of the deepest places on earth. It’s like 5 miles deep, you know. The ocean goes down. It’s very famous. But it’s like swimming on the surface of the water there and you’re on the surface. I mean you just started practicing, and there you are, you’re on the surface of your mind. You’re not suddenly gone transcendent but if you just stay there and allow yourself to descend; you’re gonna go a long way. You’ll descend right through your mind, right down to the ground of the substrate and if you keep on releasing it doesn’t stop there; you will break right through to the rigpa. So allowing the breathing to flow unimpededly, effortlessly, loosely, with utter relaxation. Really core, really, really core. [50:07]
So just occasionally check up to see that you’re not bearing down too hard and in anyway giving rise to contraction in the body or any type of suppression or constriction of the respiration. Really important. Save you a lot of time. I am persuaded that a lot of people doing sadhanas and visualizations and shamatha focusing on an image and so forth, I am persuaded they are letting their respiration go off: tight, impeded, breaking the flow. And then lo and behold they start having all these prana disorders, you know. Why are we surprised? The method itself is making you sick. [50:46]
That is not the method like Tsongkhapa taught something bad, or somebody else. No, not that at all, not even remotely but our modern hyper mind taking practices that were really good for Tibetans 500 years ago, easy-peasy. But we’re not Tibetans 500 years ago so we are either hopeless or else we have to modify and take into account that we are bringing different minds and different nervous systems into the practice, which doesn’t mean concocting some brand new dharma. It does mean that we really have to learn how to release, to emulate, this much more spacious, more relaxed mode of being. And I don’t mean to idealize Tibetans, they shouldn’t be idealized but it’s a simple blunt fact that if you’re living as a nomad a 100 years ago in Tibet, the lifestyle is different than living in Chicago nowadays, really different and that’s not speculation. So there we are. So that’s the point, that would be my interpretation of why there’s no reference to introspection here; why he’s saying this practice alone may be quite sufficient for dispelling one of the two imbalances of attention: the laxity, the lethargy, the dullness and then we have this one final sentence, really simple: [51:58]
In all your activities rely upon unwavering mindfulness. So this is now… We’re now in… I don’t think it gets much more ideal than this; and even our food is taken... they even wash our dishes, they even, you know, just put your dirty clothes in a bag and lo and behold they come back clean; and they clean up our rooms. It’s not that common you know in retreat centers and so everything is taken care of for us here. So there’s nothing from outside to prevent us from just going into a flow of practice.
And what he says, Do this for one day.
That’s what I would suggest. We’ve now just finished or basically we finished one week of the retreat so one eighth has already gone by. Right? [Alan makes clicking sound] Right? So not a day to lose. And so, we’re starting here in the afternoon and I would encourage you now, because we are going to move on to the next paragraph tomorrow afternoon, this will be history. You should have been there, you know. That for the next 24 hours as much as you can, practice always. Maintain unwavering mindfulness in all your activities. Now it’s not simply the mindfulness that is taught in Vipassana, modern Vipassana tradition. I have no criticism of that at all but it’s not that. It is not eating the raisin mindfully and eating slowly and walking slowly and being very aware of the environment and so forth. That’s all good – I have no criticism, zero, none, nothing. It’s just not the same. It’s not the same practice. For those of you who attended Gangteng Guru Rinpoche’s teachings just a couple of weeks ago in Santa Barbara, he gave one day of Dzogchen teachings; really core, right to the essence of it in one day. It was quite breathtaking actually. And when he discussed the method, the practice, having introduced the view. Then he spoke, What do we do for method? Well the method was just right next door to this. It’s on the cushion and between sessions: awareness resting in its own place. And not only resting in the awareness of awareness, but as we’ll do tomorrow, so don’t jump-start this. Don’t jump ahead, we’ll get to it tomorrow. We have a full day of 24 hours just doing that 1 paragraph. But I will say right now that in addition to this ongoing flow of unwavering mindfulness, the awareness of awareness which is different than being aware of eating and talking and moving and extending limbs and aware of the clouds and the chirping of the birds. All that is fine. It’s good, it’s called coming to our senses. It is really a very good… Frankly, I will just give now my interpretation: it’s very good pre-school for shamatha. It’s not vipashyana, there is no element of inquiry. It’s not shamatha because it’s not selective. It’s not Mahamudra or Dzogchen. There’s no Dzogchen view or a Mahamudra view. So it’s none of the above, this modern mindfulness, very beneficial to so many people. So I don’t want to criticize something really helpful. Why should we criticize? And in many cases, really good motivation. I know Jon Kabat Zin. He’s got a good heart; helped so many people. So what can you do besides praise? But in praising that does not mean you have to make incorrect statements and so it’s not shamatha, it’s not vipashyana, Mahamudra or Dzogchen. But I would say it is a way of coming to your senses, that if you’ve really done that, releasing rumination, being very present in the present moment. If you move from that to shamatha practice, that’s a really good preparation. And the shamatha to authentic vipashyana entailing the spirit of inquiry and then on you go.
[55:47] But now the type of unwavering mindfulness here is not simply being aware of what’s coming to mind, coming to the senses and so forth. The central theme, central feature of this unwavering mindfulness is you are continuing to do what he just said ‘in between sessions’. So you give to the world what it needs. If you’re walking, doing a little walk around here; go for an evening walk as I normally do – of course don’t bump into things. Be aware of the environment as much as you need to – no problem but in the midst of the motion as we were previously aware of the motion of the in and out breath, the duration of each in and out breath. In the midst of the motion, the stillness. Right? Absolutely core. Likewise when you are out you walk to the cafeteria, you’re eating, you’re going for a walk, you’re lying down…whatever you’re doing…In the midst of these moving appearances; the visual, the auditory and so forth as if you are sitting in a theatre; a 3D Imax where you are surrounded by the imagery, the sounds of the movie but you are not getting out of your chair. Right? And you are aware of the stillness of your own body, the stillness of your own awareness. Right? It’s not the same of course; only as an analogy. Stillness while even all around you there are appearances arising and passing; the sense of movement but in fact the awareness isn’t moving anymore than your chair is moving in the Imax theater, the 3 D theater. Of course not. But in a similar way, this is a close analogy. Just as you may have a sense of moving. Years ago, one of those… I can’t remember what it was, but they mounted the camera on a rollercoaster, and then woooo you go down. They had that, ooh, like that, people were in the movie theatre, ooh like that, you know. Because you had the sense of being in motion but that’s because you’re grasping. Right? Otherwise you just see a lot of images coming up. And so there it is, that stillness of awareness even as the images are coming, and coming, and coming. And you can do everything you like, everything that needs to be done you can do in the world, but your awareness is still. That’s what he’s referring to and that is, ‘For one day maintain unwavering mindfulness’. It’s awareness resting in its own place, this stillness simultaneous with the awareness of motion: visual, auditory, tactile, change, change, change…When we reify, when we grasp, there is change and the awareness is moving right along with it. It’s going here, it’s going there, It’s going up, it’s going down, it’s getting sad, it’s getting happy and so forth and so on.
[58:43] One of the synonyms for sentient being in Tibetan is dowa which means going…..you’re going, going, going, going…you know. This is stillness. Right? So that’s the type of awareness that is entailed here. Now... And I’ll leave it at that because Gangteng Tulku said something further for the Dzogchen method but there is no reason to say it now. We have our hands full and I’ll say that tomorrow because he said something in addition to that. So that’s the practice for one day, it’s quite clear. I want to go back. I’m not going to read much, pretty much like 1 sentence here but as I reviewed and kind of pondered ‘Shall I give the oral transmission to the earlier part?’ and then finally decided ‘Don’t think necessary’; not on this occasion. I might do it on some other occasion but not this one. There was…let me see if I can find it pretty quickly here. So the actual, the beginning of the teachings on shamatha, my translation is quiescence. I did this translation 20 years ago. So it’s not quite the same way I translate [now]. Some words here and there are different. The actual teachings on shamatha itself began on page 95 but there is something before that that really got my attention. And this is where at the beginning of the whole section on quiescence which begins unsurprisingly with ‘Settling body, speech and mind in their natural states’.
[60:00] I want to read just this first paragraph and that’s all I am going to read, the rest of it I think you can read and I think you will understand it is quite clearly but something will not jump out at you and so I am going to read this on page 90. Just one practice right at the beginning of the chapter. By the way the indented is the root text and the text that is brighter that is Gyatrul Rinpoche’s commentary. So Padmasambhava says:
For the practice of the instructions on the transitional process of living [and which are] (practical instructions that are like a swallow entering its nest, which are for cutting through outer and inner superimpositions), …
our projections upon reality.
For this practice of the instructions on the transitional process of living which consist of shamatha-vipashyana.
For this: there is an establishment of the foundation consciousness, and the first of three parts is settling the body in its natural state. Now this will throw you because foundation consciousness is my earlier translation of alayavijñana. Not an incorrect translation, kun shyi means foundation, or all basis. It’s a literal translation, but as the years went by I shifted over to substrate and I have stuck there. But it’s the same word. So I just want you to know that we said, that there is an establishment of the substrate consciousness, translated in that way for years now. But it’s… I find it very interesting and significant that this is the very first thing he says for this whole transitional phase or process of living. That for this practice, in order to really venture into and succeed in the practice, this transitional process of living there is an establishment. Now establish means you need to determine, establish means to determine, to ascertain, to understand clearly, to recognize substrate consciousness. That’s core, that’s your basis. And then the first of the 3 parts for doing so; settling body, speech and mind in the natural state is setting the body in its natural state, well you know about that so then I don’t need to give further commentary there. But I think this is very significant here. That’s all I’ll do of the text for today. He keeps highlighting this right on, right off the bat. The first thing he says is that for this whole phase of practice, in order to let this transitional phase or process, they are both good translations, the bardo of living; in order for this to be an effective launching pad to achieve liberation, awakening in this mode, in this living mode that because the first thing to do is to establish, to determine substrate consciousness. It’s quite interesting. The Tibetan once again is skye gnas bardo, transitional phase of being born, then becoming. Like you throw the dice and then they roll. Well it’s not a bad analogy; in the Buddhist understanding we’re thrown into this life. It’s called [? penshe gile], propulsive karma, propels us from lifetime to lifetime if you are an ordinary person. If you are a bodhisattva, a vidyadhara, a great being you are not thrown anywhere. The power of your aspirations, your prayers or you simply you direct your attention as you would in a lucid dream. Not even the power of aspirations and prayers, you simply say, Okay, go there.’ So there’s no propulsion, but for ordinary beings who are not lucid then how do we get where we get? If you’re born in Africa, Australia, born as a human being, some non-human being – how did you get there? It’s this propulsion by karma – our own karma, nobody else has done it to us. But to understand, to fathom this transitional phase that we call human life then it would be to understand that, to fathom that and be able to enable that, to be your launching pad, your basis for proceeding along the path and achieving awakening then it certainly makes a lot of sense to know where did this come from? Where did this current existence-here I am as a human being. I happen to be a man this time and so forth. And then this one was born in California, etc. Where did it come from? Where did it come from because 66 years ago, I was not Californian, I was not a human being at least not this one. And so where, where from? That’s the substrate consciousness, substrate consciousness. It’s the beginning and the end. It’s the book ends, it’s the book ends of this novel that we call this human life. It starts with the substrate consciousness, it ends with the substrate consciousness and in between is what you call your life. The transitional phase of being born and then becoming. The novel rolls itself out as we write our own novels because nobody else has written it for us. [65:05]
So I found that very significant that he is really highlighting this and immediately having said that the first thing he talks about then is ‘Settling your body in its natural state’ then settling the speech in its natural state, settling the mind in its natural state as a preparation for venturing into these formal practices of shamatha which he sets forth step by step. Now final point, I think, and that is having taught this for some years, quite frequently, there are some people that, having taught it, done the guided meditation as I’ve just led, they come afterwards and said ‘I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t do it. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t follow the instructions, have no comments at all. That was just too abstract, too subtle, I couldn’t do it. I think I am going to go back to the breath’. [66:13]
The difficulty is only in their minds, it’s not in the practice. I’ll probably bring a quote tomorrow from Padmasambhava, it’s really juicy on that theme. But for right now, I’ll just be brief, and that is, I’m going to use the Russian doll analogy again and that is, let’s start with this, what they call open monitoring, open monitoring or simply bare attention, Jon Kabat-Zinn style, vipassana style just being discerning, intelligently wide open, attending to whatever arises from moment to moment. Much, much better than just being caught up in rumination, anxiety, compulsive ideation and so forth. This is definitely a step in the right direction, right? And so imagine you start there: your senses wide open, clear, not carried away by rumination and so forth and so on – a good place to start. Coming to your senses literally, right? So it’s not shamatha, not vipashyana and so forth but this is good though; this is a good place to start. You are kind of present and not crazy-that’s good. So there you are wide open to the environment; other people in the environment, your body and so forth and then we’ll start a process here, a process, one you’re very familiar with so I am just going to put words on something you are already very familiar with and that is you start to practice mindfulness of breathing, right? Which means then that you have just engaged in a very significant step of retreat, and that is you’re withdrawing from, retreating from the sensory environment, other people, the outside world, basically everything outside your skin. There is a lot happening out there, in fact almost everything is happening out there, the rest of the universe, but you’ve just done a major step into retreat – away from everything in the universe outside your skin. Right? That’s a big retreat. And now it’s selective attention, now you can start talking about shamatha. And so there you are-let’s imagine you are doing the Asanga style full body mindfulness of breathing, aware of the flows of energy throughout the body as you’re breathing in and breathing out and throughout the entire field, not only the abdomen, the nostrils, the chest but also the flows of energy as you’re breathing in and out and recognizing those pulsings, those movements that are correlated with the in and out breath and you are stabilizing that and you are focusing then on the sensations of movements of prana within the body related to the in and out breath, noting when they are long, they’re short and so on. Well before you are doing that you are already breathing. And before doing that you’re probably implicitly aware of breathing –it’s not some mysterious, hidden entity, right? And so you are already breathing, number 1 and number 2, you probably had some peripheral or at least some implicit awareness that you weren’t holding your breath, you know. So what you are doing there is you’re continuing to do what you are already doing, breathing. And you’re making an awareness that might very well have been implicit explicit. But that’s not hard – it’s not hard to know breathing coming in, breathing coming out and to directly perceive the flow of sensations, the flow of prana and so forth in the body as that happens. Right? [69:35]
So there’s the first step but now if you are doing the practice correctly, fully, you are not just focusing your mindfulness on the sensations of the breath, now there’s a rope, there’s your awareness and the sensations of the breath in your body. So there’s a rope of mindfulness which means introspection. Good! You must be monitoring that flow of mindfulness, recognize whether excitation or laxity have set in and if they do then you need to apply the remedies. But if you are applying introspection there, introspection necessarily means in this context that you are aware of what is going on in the mind to some extent. If your mind is wandering on telling a whole story you need to be aware of that, right? If your mind, your awareness is getting dull, spaced out, you need to be aware of that. Not just aware of the breath, aware of the mind that is aware of the breath which means that you’ve retreated from the entire universe outside your skin, you’re explicitly focusing your awareness primarily on the sensations of the breath but secondarily and very importantly you are also introspectively aware of what’s going on in the mind to the extent necessary - to maintain clear, continuous mindfulness of breathing. All very clear isn’t it, familiar, yeah? That was one big step of retreat.
[70:49] Now we’ll do another one and it’s also so familiar – it should be kind of comfortable. You think probably you know what I am going to say; isn’t that comfortable? Settling the mind in its natural state- taking the mind as the path. Now you’re going to go deeper into retreat because now you are going to withdraw your awareness that is the deliberately given awareness – you no longer going to deliberately give your attention to anything in the body, pleasant sensations, unpleasant sensations, tingling, vibration, whatever it is…It may grab some of your attention but you don’t give any of your attention to it. You are withdrawing your attention away from the now all 5 of the 5 physical senses, very much including, you are withdrawing your attention away from the sensations throughout this entire somatic field. You are focusing the full force of your mindfulness now in just one out of 6 domains of experience; the mental domain. And you are attending to that domain, the space of the mind and whatever comes up in it single pointedly. Oh, and I should mention also, I have to backtrack a tiny bit. I’m going to backtrack two steps just because it’s important. So pardon me, a little bit of disorganization. When you are just coming to your senses, being wide open, right.You are probably implicitly aware of your body. If you’re really there you are also aware of your thoughts because you are not blocking those out but also as you are just aware, like just right now, just being aware of... You’re also right now, before I said anything, you are aware of being aware. You are not oblivious to that fact even though you may be looking at an insect or eating or raisin or whatever. So you are aware of your surroundings, aware of your body, implicitly probably aware to some degree of your breathing, aware to some degree of what is going on in the mind. Are you happy, sad, bored, what and also in the midst of that some awareness of being aware, some. And then there’s this withdrawal into the body; explicitly focusing your mindfulness on the sensations of the breath, secondarily on the activities of the mind but there also as you are practicing mindfulness of breathing without trying to do anything more just by the sheer fact that you’re practicing mindfulness of breathing you are aware of being aware. Yeah? So now I have caught up – I had to bring that in. And now you come to taking the mind as the path. Right? So you have withdrawn from the body all the five physical senses focusing on the space of the mind, activities in the mind. But as you are doing that and you are maintaining that stillness of your awareness in the midst of the movements of the mind, you are aware of being aware. It comes with the territory. How can you not be, you know? You are aware of being aware but there’s still a vector, directionality of your attention to the space of the mind, whatever arises. Even if you focus on the space of the mind and you’re not even attending to the comings and goings just focusing on that space, there’s still a vector. You are still attending to something, right?
[73:55] And then we move to this practice and it’s a further retreat-it’s right in the same line, the same continuum as what you’ve done from the beginning, when you’re just in this open presence, or open monitoring but now we withdraw the awareness even from the mind - no longer interested, no longer interested, my mind, my personal history, my thoughts, my emotions [sound of Alan feigning a yawn]. Man, I’ve seen that movie so many times [laughter]. It’s got nothing more to tell me. Man, especially I mean youngsters there might be something still interesting, you know, maybe something. But boy when you’ve had a mind for 64 years, it’s like that’s an old marriage. Like, ‘Hello honey.’ [laughter] [Alan chuckles] Like, boy, we’ve been together a long time, you know. And so there’s nothing much new there, you know. [You say] alright, you’ve had your time. I’m taking a retreat. [laughs] Take care of yourself, be well, whatever. Give your secret handshake, but, buzz off. And you withdraw from your own mind. You don’t deliberately give any attention to the space of your mind, thoughts, emotions, bla, bla, bla – none, give it none. It will take some, but don’t give it any. Now you are just resting in the awareness of awareness. You see the point here is all a process of subtraction. So to come to this final one that we’ve just done today and say you can’t do it –makes no sense. What you can’t do is something hard that you’ve conjured up in your mind which is probably impossible to do anyway and then you come and say, ‘I can’t do it.’ But what you can’t do is some conjured up way of mis-practicing because you’ve been doing it all along and so now you are just doing less. So it’s not doing something more that’s really subtle, really difficult and esoteric. It’s kind of like you just stopped doing everything else; this is what’s left but it was always there, right? And so that’s why he just says ‘Rest your awareness in space.’ And then as you’re doing that, not deliberately giving attention to anything, then after some seconds or minutes, you may ask yourself, ‘As I am now not deliberately focusing on any object whatsoever, neither sensory nor mental, am I aware of anything?’ It’s a real good question.
[76:30] Am I clearly aware of anything when I’m not focusing on anything? Nice question. I will say it again: Am I clearly aware of anything when I am not focusing on anything? And rather than answering that question intellectually you just look closely and it really, I love the verb, it dawns on you! Yeah! Yes definitely yes, absolutely yes with total certainty; I am aware of something. I am aware of awareness. I really, really am. And that’s something. So that’s the practice. So I will read a nice quote up, if I remember, I think I will, from Padmasambhava. When he’s really kind of almost scolding people, chiding people when they say ‘ I can’t t do it- this is too hard, too hard’. Down with that. So anything else? I think that’s it, yeah. So I saw you moving about. Mathieu, any question or comment? Looks like you had something, looks like you were bubbling over with something [laughter] No? It simmered down. Looked like some milk with might boil over. Maybe you turned down the stove…uuuh [laughter]. Is it all clear? Cool…Yes go ahead Joe, microphone coming. Oh! We have one here? Go ahead Rick, you go ahead. There’ll be time for two. [78:27]
Question: So I was wondering just for clarification, when I am looking to do between formal sessions is… I’m not doing the intensifying/ relaxing.
Alan : No need for that; very good point, yeah, no need to intensify, release, intensify. That’s really for the formal practice on the cushion. In between sessions it’s softer, that is you don’t want to be getting uptight, straining, straining. ‘Oh, this is too hard, I’m getting totally exhausted here.’ It’s not that. It’s very relaxed. But you’re quite right. No oscillation needed but maintaining of a kind of a stillness, a clarity within, in the midst of the movements.
Question: And second clarification just to see if my conception meets what you are talking about… I just imagined being dead, the good old fashioned, materialistic way which I did a lot when I was a child.
Alan: You did it a lot?
Student: I imagined being dead because I was afraid of it and so
Alan: It’s hard to imagine being dead. It’s very interesting – It really is hard to imagine being dead because you are conscious of being dead which means the materialist isn’t. Carry on! It’s very interesting what you are saying.
Student: So that’s actually my question is the thing that I can’t imagine not being there [Yeah!] is that the stillness or is that part, maybe it’s probably too much already but I guess is that a approximation?
Alan: Kind of. But there was something in the back of my mind that I wanted to share tonight and then you’ve just triggered what it was. And so I’m going to pull it out of the back drawer that I was planning to say anyway and it may very well relate to your question. If it doesn’t you can come back. The practice is subtle, certainly it is subtle. It’s not like looking at a stone, a stick or a flower. That’s coarse compared to this. So here’s the crucial point and it may answer your question. And that is how do you know when you are doing it correctly? And is it possible to do this practice incorrectly? The answer is yes it is possible to do this practice incorrectly and if you do it will not serve you well. Ok?
[80:47] So let’s look at how you do it incorrectly. Okay? I’ll say now of course there are many, many ways but simply, and right to the core: you’re sitting there and your intention is to follow the instructions and there you are sitting very still. I mean there are many things you could be doing, fidgeting and so forth, but imagine you’re giving a pretty good shot and you are sitting there and your mind is just wandering and wandering and wandering then you are not doing the practice. I mean it’s not that you’re doing it incorrectly, you’re just not doing it. you’re mind wandering. So that’s not it. If you’re sitting there and thoughts are coming up and you’re just following after them, following after them, then that’s fine, but you’re actually not doing any practice at all. You’re just sitting there with a wandering mind. Ok? So that’s not that. So there’s one extreme. Okay? Being carried away; it’s called distraction. Now the other one and I think now you can anticipate – you’re sitting there very quietly. Your mind is very quiet, there are no thoughts coming up; your mind is blank and it’s just blank. You are kind of emulating a potato! [laughter] I don’t know what it is like to be a potato but you’re just sitting there kind of vegging out – kind of just spaced, and not knowing anything... Here’s the cartoon. [Alan demonstrates] [laughter] You know, not knowing anything, just sitting there with a blank mind, not knowing anything at all, not that you’re aware, or anything else. That’s just dullness. That is stupor – not to be cultivated because it will, turn the noun into an adjective, and you will become stupid. It really will- you will become stupid. If you cultivate that, sustain that you will become stupid and, you know, I can imagine more enjoyable ways of becoming stupid than this one. What’s that?
[82:52] [Question without microphone]
Alan: You would if you didn’t follow his instructions but if you followed his instructions; did the oscillation, that’s not going to happen. That oscillation that is number 1, he said, read it again. I’m not scolding at all – It’s a great question but read it again.
He said, Ask yourself - what is that consciousness that is concentrating? that’s a question. If you’ve lost the question, you’re sitting there in a stupor then you are not following what he said. Because it’s launched with a question: What is the very nature of that consciousness that is concentrating? Check it out he said. Well if you’re checking it out you’re not sitting there in stupor. You’re not sitting there in laxity, dullness, getting spaced and so forth. If you are checking out those can’t happen. And that oscillation, so you are not checking it out and getting really high-strung, tight, wound up cause you’re checking it out, your arousal, this intensification but you know that each session is so short, each session will just be the duration of your respiration, you know, or whatever you like. But that’s what dispels that- it is that question –that probing into, that intensification of the awareness of being conscious and then once you get it, then releasing. What came to mind right now is a passage from the Bhavanakrama- by Kamalashila where he’s not teaching this practice, he’s teaching another practice but he makes a comparable point teaching shamatha. And he says find your object, meditate, like a visualized object, whatever it may be. I think he was teaching actually a visualized object. He says find your object get a lock on it just like right now. You can clearly see I am attending to you but now I don’t need to attend to you like this [Alan demonstrates] [laughter]. I am gonna burn out here really quickly. Right? It doesn’t need to be a relentless flow of maxing out on intensity. That’s what I was just doing. Like I’m going to bore a hole through your head. You know like laser beam. Find the object. Ok I am attending to your face right now; it’s clear, it’s clear, so I will try to do the cartoon I have found you though, I’m not spacing out, I’m not getting confused. I’ve found your face so I found it and now… [Alan demonstrates] That was a cartoon. I don’t know what displayed but I know what I felt. I was clear all the way but it was soft, relaxed. I wasn’t holding on to you. I wasn’t gripping, I wasn’t concentrating with full intensity the whole time. I found you and then I eased up a bit. And then I can continue that, I can continue that a long time because the body’s relaxed, the breathing’s relaxed. But I’m not lax or excited, neither laxity nor excitation. So he says find your object and then soften a bit, not to the point of dullness but so that you are not wiping yourself out with the intensity. So that’s what he’s saying here is, that is, you come and make a really close encounter, a real sharp, vivid ascertainment of awareness and having gotten that then… But what he’s not suggesting is now space out. He’s saying now that you’ve found it, now you can relax a bit because you have found your home. [86:14]
You found, you have come home so now you can relax, but if you keep up relaxing, relaxing, relaxing then probably you will get diffuse. So well then arouse it again. Now this will be finite, you don’t do that indefinitely all the way to shamatha but you do that for as long as it’s helpful. That arousal is you really get a good sharp lock on the nature of the practice but once you have found it then, [Alan relaxes with an outbreath to demonstrate oscillation] like that, that oscillation. That just knocks out laxity, knocks out dullness, knocks out stupor, knocks out kind of going blank minded. Can’t happen – not with that practice. That’s why he makes no reference to introspection. Ok? So I want to finish the thought. It’s already six o one so... [quick undecipherable chat on logistics with someone] But here’s the point and it’s a nice one. At least I find it really useful. We know the 2 extremes, right? They are not that difficult, bluh, bluh, bluh, or spacing out becoming stupor. Right? If you are resting there and also then focusing on an object like some people say, Oh, I know how to do it, I just… I’ve taught this practice, people say Oh I’ve got it, what I did was I anchored my visual attention right on the floor and then I could do it really well. [laughter]. Well let’s start from the beginning again not that! You are not anchoring your attention anywhere. I understand why people want to do it but then you’re not doing the practice, you’re doing just the opposite of what he said. He said ‘Do not focus your attention on anything. Do not meditate on anything and certainly don’t drop your anchor in the visual field. You’re doing it wrong. Right? So not that. In other words, don’t focus. If you are focusing on something with a vector, you are doing it wrong. If you are being carried away, you are doing it wrong. If you are doping out or getting dull, losing clarity, you are not doing it correctly. And now, process of elimination. What’s left over? You remember what I said before you find the middle way by identifying the extremes and when it’s neither this extreme or that extreme, what’s left over is the middle way. I will say this: if as you are practicing, you can see, you can recognize or know immediately you’re not focusing on some object, check. You’re not being carried away by some thought, image, sensory impression, check. You’re maintaining a flow of cognizance, of clear knowing, without falling into dullness, loss of clarity and so forth, check. What’s left over is doing this practice correctly. And it entails doing virtually nothing. What it does entail is being aware. And then with this little addition of the oscillation, your oscillation, for a while. Does that answer your question? Ok good, excellent.
Question: Is space the object?
Alan: No, space is not the object. Good question, and absolutely not. That’s back to settling the mind in its natural state. That’s what you wind up with as you come to the end of the journey and all the contents have kind of vanished, dissolved into the space of the mind. Then you are attending to the space of mind. This is not that. Because that also is a vector, it’s attending to something. There’s no vector. Ssssp! Sitting on your throne-I like the image of a king or a queen sitting on the throne. This is where I belong. This is my home. I’m staying here. Oh, yeah. So that’s our practice we have now 24 hours. At 4:30 tomorrow afternoon we’re going to move on to the next phase. Not now – it will have to be later-unless it’s urgent - is it clear?
Alan answers a question Oh yes always, always, always, yes it can be done supine. Everything we are doing for the whole retreat can always be supine. It is so important the body is comfortable.
[Someone asks what the question was]
Alan: The question is, ‘Can this be done in the supine position?’ In fact, I’ve already sent you and I will share with other people some quotes to show you this is not flaking out or some kind a soft, kind of a ooshy-gooshy modification for Western flakes. It’s not that, it’s not that. And I will show sources to show that this is not just some, you know, California watered down version for the people who are not macho enough to sit upright. [laughter] I have to defend my masculinity here! [laughter] So enjoy the next 24 hours and make it full…full of Dharma. Let your mind become Dharma!
Transcribed by Helga Portanier
Revised by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Final edition by Mark Montgomery