10 Sep 2014
This morning we were listening to Bob Newhart’s “Stop It” skit that Alan had talked about a while ago. So everybody out there with wandering minds, low self-esteem and all the like, take this advice to heart. As for today’s practice, Alan was front loading the session again with Padmasambhava’s pointing-out instructions, giving us the seeds for the silent, non-discursive meditation. Your own distinct awareness is pristine awareness, don’t look outside of yourself, but give up all attachment to and identification with your own body and mind. After the meditation Alan discussed the two strategies to deal with distractive thoughts, emotions etc. in shamatha practice. In Taking the Mind As the Path, you just let them self-release. The other strategy is that, when these distractions come up, to just cut them right off. You can do the same in lucid dreaming when something unpleasant happens. Finally Alan compared the images used by Dudjom Lingpa in his Vajra Essence when describing how sentient beings emerge from the ignorance of the ground with the way Roger Penrose describes light rays.
Silent meditation cut out at 26:00 min
O la so. So for people listening on the podcast, we’ve just had airing of Bob Newhart’s skit on, it’s called Stop It. So for concern of copyright issues, we’re not going to be broadcasting this on the podcast, but if you go onto YouTube and go for ‘Bob Newhart Stop It’ then you can hear what we just heard here. When I run these things at the beginning, they’re not just for entertainment. Even the music the other day, it wasn’t for entertainment, so it’s not just for fun and games. Every time there’s a meaning. So it would be good to come out of the rain and listen. So there was, imagine the scenario a dharma student coming to a lama, a Dzogchen lama and saying [complaining], “Oh I have so many mental afflictions coming up into my mind, a lot of craving coming up, a lot of hostility coming up. Then I sit down and try to practice shamatha and my mind is wandering all over the place and then it gets really dull and I get quite crabby on occasion. And I have a lot of low self esteem. Oh lama, please give me your advice.” And do you know what the lama said [?] “PHET!” That’s the Tibetan translation for “Stop it.” [Laughter] Just give it a rest, you know. The whole notion, even conventionally, of being a sentient being is optional. That’s a really outrageous proposition. That you really don’t have to wait three countless eons, it actually is optional. But you have to see it as a choice. And then you can make a choice. And as long as you don’t know there’s a choice, you can’t. So, there it is. So, [jokingly] don’t be surprised from now on if our weekly meetings are a bit shorter [laughter]. It’s going to make my job a lot easier. O la so. So, I must say I really enjoyed that. I listened to it this morning and I said, “Oh yeah, I’ve got to share that.” [2:40]
So we will move on in Padmasambhava’s magnificent treasure here and the commentary will be very short. I think the more we go into this the less I need to say. Padmasambhava, the tantras that he’s citing, say it all. So I’ll return very briefly to the text and we’re going on page 131 now. So again this passage, and this is another citation from the Tantra of the Three Phases of Liberation by Observation — liberation by seeing. So it begins,
O Lord of Mysteries, give me your undivided attention!
There’s nothing mysterious about that, except that it does kind of point to shamatha and the same old theme. I know I’m a broken record, but that’s what broken records do, is that we’ve got to bring a mind that’s a suitable vessel to these teachings. If you can’t even pay attention, if you can’t sustain your attention, then you know, you’re pouring in the nectar of Dzogchen and it’s just leaking right out of the bottom. So this is why here for these eight weeks, I really quite passionately encourage you, people listening by podcast, people here, to keep coming back to your shamatha. You haven’t outgrown it until you’ve achieved shamatha. Once you’ve achieved shamatha, you don’t have to practice shamatha anymore. Just go in there for a little rest once in awhile and then come out, but then you’re really in expedition mode, you know, whether it’s vipashyana, bodhichitta, stage of generation and completion, whatever you’re doing. But we have unfinished business. Unfinished business. In Tibetan, it’s called Ley Tro. Ley means karma, tro means leftover. Some work that’s got leftover, that hasn’t been finished yet, not used up. Ley tro from a previous life is if you start some venture… I mean bodhichitta is all about ley tro really. Ley tro Karma residue, karma momentum, but tro is something leftover, spilled over, not yet finished. So this is the difference between following the path of an arhat and following the path of a bodhisattva. An arhat wants out. That is, a person following the Śrāvakayāna wants out. Sees with penetrating insight that samsara really is actually all suffering. And that includes all the good stuff. All the bounties of samsara. It’s still dukkha. It just never gets outside of dukkha. Just like in Dzogchen, we say nothing is outside the realm of rigpa. From this perspective, from the Shravakayana perspective, and it’s a very deeply authentic one, nothing in samsara is outside of suffering. Shamatha, form realm, formless realms, bliss, money, wealth, sex, you name it, it’s all in the realm of dukkha. [5:47]
And so the person on the Shravakayana is seeing this, this says there’s just nothing here I want. And annihilation is not an option. Therefore, I want out. And out is, I want to go linear. I want to go from here to nirvana with no remainder. That’s what it’s called. With no remainder. Right? Oh yeah. So then you’re finished. I mean that’s the ideal. Then you’re finished. You wave goodbye on your way out. You’re a dying arhat [who says], “bye, I’ve done what I need to do, now it’s your turn. You want to do it? Do it. I can do it. You can do it. So good luck. I might even write a book or two, but now I’m gone.” Whoosh! You know? “Be an island unto yourself. I was.” You know? And wish them luck on the way out. The bodhisattva, oh dear [says],
For as long as space remains, for as long as sentient beings remain, so long shall I remain to alleviate the suffering of the world.
You have ley tro. You have unfinished business until all sentient beings are free. Whew! Thank goodness, you, the you that has unfinished business, isn’t you. Isn’t your course mind. Isn’t your substrate consciousness. Otherwise, I think we’d just all have a heart attack. So forget it. But as long as the you is the same one that’s arousing great compassion, right? I, without relying on anybody else, will relieve, will free all sentient beings from suffering and its causes. OK, there’s one perspective for when that’s just not deranged or incredibly just catastrophically, massively, forget about it. So that’s ley tro. But until on just the little micro level, until we’ve achieved shamatha, in terms of following a path, we have some ley tro. We have some unfinished business, right? So this is why I’m encouraging you here in this eight weeks definitely as for when we’re going with the morning sessions which you’ll start in a little while, we’ll go right into the practice, Dzogchen practice, right? But keep on coming back to attending to the unfinished business, that finally soon or later, right? Sooner or later when the outer mandala, the inner mandala are right then just finish the business! And then you can really think seriously about following the path in this lifetime. Without shamatha, forget about it. I don’t care who you are. You can be a tulku, a Rinpoche, Christian, Buddhist, Shravakayana, Vajrayana, it doesn’t matter, if you don’t have shamatha, you don’t have a mind that is a suitable vessel for these teachings. So we’re not wasting time in entering into these before shamatha, but all of this is designed to be synergistic, that is, whatever understanding, whatever flavor, whatever taste you have of the Dzogchen practice, this will inspire, invigorate, give power to your shamatha practice. And your shamatha practice will turn around and do reciprocal service. So ley tro. So he says, Give your undivided attention and not just for three seconds, right? For as long as he’s speaking. So you ready? Undivided attention, that’s what he’s asking for. [9:25]
Your own distinct conscious awareness is the Buddha, so you are not to seek for the Buddha elsewhere.
[Laughs] Your own distinct — isn’t that interesting? Distinct. Not that there’s some cosmic awareness out there in which you somehow participate in this cosmic galactic super duper consciousness is Buddha it’s your distinct, it’s Marta’s and Daniel’s and Martin’s and Amir’s. Distinct.... distinct conscious awareness. Nothing other than Buddha. So, own what’s yours. Right? Don’t pretend you don’t have it, own it. Your own distinct, he says it again, [10:15]
Your own distinct flickering awareness is constantly clear.
So for the Buddha Dharmakaya there is no meditation to be accomplished. That’s Buddhahood without meditation. Your own awareness, he keeps on saying that, doesn’t he? Because this is a very literal translation. Your own awareness. Right? Not somebody else’s. [10:43]
Your own awareness, the Dharmakāya, is without birth and death, so in terms of action there is no virtue or vice.
From that perspective, no birth or death. So simply give up all attachment to and identification with your body, your mind, you know that one, the one arising dependent upon the brain, and so forth. It’s not yours anyway, you know, any more than this chair. I mean it really is the same. This chair, nobody else gets to sit on it. You don’t sit on it do you? When I’m not here, is anybody sitting on this chair? Better not [feigned irritation]. My chair... for eight weeks [laughs]. Eight weeks, boy, you know, on whatever that Thursday or Wednesday night whenever it is that we all say ‘goodbye, farewell.’ Suddenly my endowed chair has expired. I no longer have any endowed chair. So that’s it, then it won’t be my chair anymore. It began to be my chair on the night I started teaching here. And then it’s just going to be a chair. Just a chair. Not a dharma throne, just a chair. It could wind up in the sports hotel. And somebody else is going to sit on it. Undoubtedly. I don’t think they’re going to enshrine it, ‘Alan sat here.’ I don’t think that’s going to happen. It’s just a chair. And your body is just a body. It’s no different. Your body has no more of a personality or a personhood, a self, than this chair does. And your mind’s just a mind. It arises in dependence upon all those chemicals and electricity in your brain. How personal is that? Because it really does arise in dependence upon that, we know that, strong correlations. So it doesn’t sound like it’s mine if it’s arising... if my mind, so called, is arising in dependence upon the chemicals and electricity in my brain, and they’re not really mine, after all, magnesium is magnesium, sodium is sodium, electricity is electricity. It’s not my sodium, my magnesium, my neurons, my glial cells, whatever they do. I don’t even know what they do. And I think a good portion of my brain is made of glial cells, right? It’s unknown territory. It’s like the Louisiana Purchase. Whatever is there is mine. But I know it’s there [laughs]. [13:20]
So how can something that arises in dependence upon stuff that I don’t even know about be mine in any significant way? It’s mine, yeah, like this chair... this body, this mind...but just give it a rest you know. Just release it. Release that mind into space, release your body into space. And then when you release all attachment to and identification with that which wasn’t yours in the first place, then you don’t die. Which is kind of cool, because we kind of fear death, right? But then you don’t die. For a very simple reason, nothing really weird about it, but you’re not identifying with anything that does die, and therefore you don’t die. If I fiercely identified with this chair (I know it’s silly, but I sometimes like to use a symbol)... if I really identified with this chair, kind of go a little bit crazy (more crazy than I am right now) and I start thinking this really is an endowed chair, this is the dharma throne, it’s the Alan Wallace dharma throne, and I really start making this as part of my identity: “This is where I live, this is my home, this is my natural abiding place.” And then somebody burns it, they yank me out of my room, yank me in here, and then they torch the chair. I’d be going, “NOOOO! NOOOO! It’s my only chair!” [Laughter] It would be torture. “You’re ripping my heart out. This is my home. I’m a dharma teacher. How can you be a dharma teacher with no dharma throne? You’ve ripped my very identity out of my heart.” Because I’m identifying with it and that’s it. [15:07]
So that’s what he’s talking about. This awareness...is without birth and without death If you’re going to identify with something, why not with that one? It’s a better bet. It’s a long term investment. Really long-term investment. Body/mind, short term investment and you know it’s going to go bust. That’s one of those companies you just know... especially when you get to Rosa’s age, oh my goodness. This is a company that’s going to fail. You look at the body, it’s just getting wrinklier, and wrinklier, and wrinklier. If you do time lapse photography you can see that black hair turning grayer and grayer... snow white. This is a company that’s going down! Right? True? [Laughter] She’s laughing there, like “Why should that be my concern?” [Laughs] It’s just a body. She doesn’t care. If you’re not really deeply invested in the firm, it goes bankrupt, you say, “Well, easy come, easy go.” No big deal, right? [Laughs] I saw a little bit of a raise of an eyebrow, maybe she hasn’t quite shifted her portfolio from the investment in this body, this mind, over to total investment in buddha-nature. It’s a much better investment. Long term gains are outstanding. Really, really good. [16:30]
O la so. A little bit more. I like the way this one starts. Oh Lord! [with a southern accent, laughs] A little bit of southern Baptist evangelical in here.
Oh Lord! Just this unceasing distinct, clear, and present awareness of yours is the Buddha. Since it is inseparable from this unceasingly clear awareness of yours, for the Dharmakāya there is nothing on which to meditate. You may recognize that this distinct and clear awareness of yours is the Buddha. [17:24]
Boy was that a nice compliment to Bob Newhart. What he’s saying in that funny skit was, “You do have a choice here.” You can think of yourself as, 'I’m in a box, I really don’t like it, I’m terrified, I’m claustrophobic” and so forth. You can maintain that rut, that grind, and make yourself unhappy. Or, [?] “PHET!!” And that’s your choice. But you actually do have a choice. And that’s what Bob Newhart is saying. Buddha Bob. No, that’s Bob Thurman, that’s somebody else... that’s how he’s affectionately called, Buddha Bob Thurman. One of my teachers. But there it is, we have a choice. That’s the biggest choice we have, I think. Isn’t it? Is there a bigger choice than that one? To practice Dharma, not to practice Dharma. That’s a good one. But to choose whether to continue identifying yourself as a sentient being or not, that’s a pretty big choice. And that’s what we’re invited to do here - to make a choice. And then follow through. You can follow through with continuity if you develop your attention skills and continue. [18:42]
Consider in America, I don’t know in how many other countries this is true, some people I think still make New Year’s resolutions? The start of a New Year, start afresh, be born anew. And if you have some old bad habits, then now is the time to make a New Year’s resolution, an enactment of prospective memory. Remember that one? To remember to do or not do something in the future. So it’s kind of a nice ritual, some people do it. In order to be able to make a New Year’s resolution, it’s not enough simply to have in mind what you’d like to do, make a decision, and then implement it on January 1st. You actually have to maintain the awareness that that was your decision for the next 364 days. And not make a decision and then one day later, forgot that you ever made the decision. And so when we’re about to have a twenty-four minute session, you make the decision at the beginning, right? This is going to be twenty-four minutes of meditation. Make that decision right? And then how many minutes or seconds is it before you can’t recall having made that decision? Your new session resolve or resolution has been forgotten. So we just keep on coming back to that. And in this approach, we keep on coming back by way of release. It’s so easy, especially in modernity, which has so much to do with ego, to think, “I know how to do this. I’m going to clench both fists and I’m going to grit my teeth and furrow my brow and I will, I will remember, I will remember, I will remember to relax.” [Laughter] It’s like trying really, really hard to fall asleep. Oh, that works out well. O la so. So let’s have our beginning chanting and we’ll do directly to the meditation.
[21:24 chanting of The Seven Line Prayer and Guru Rinpoche Mantras. Followed by silent meditation, which was not recorded.]
Transcriptionist note: The Seven Line Prayer and Mantras (in Tibetan and English) and Guru Rinpoche Mantras (in Sanskrit) are written below.
HUNG ORGYEN YUL GYI NUP JANG TSAM HUNG
In the northwest frontier of Oddiyana,
PEMA GE SAR DONG PO LA
In the heart of a lotus
YAM TSEN CHOG GI NGÖ DRUP NYEY
Sits the one renowned as Padmasambhava,
PEMA JUNG NEY ZHEY SU DRAK
Who achieved the wondrous supreme siddhi,
KHOR DU KHAN DRO MANG PÖ KOR
And is surrounded by a host of many dakinis.
KYED KYI JE SU DAK DRUP KYI
Following in your footsteps, I devote myself to practice.
JIN GYI LAP CHIR SHEK SU SÖL
Please come forth and bestow your blessings.
GURU PEMA SIDDHI HUNG
OM āḥ hūṃ VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI hūṃ
Oṃ āḥ hūṃ Vajra Guru Padma Tötreng Tsäl vajra
SAmayajaḥ siddhi phala hūṃ
[26:02] O la so. A brief comment about shamatha, back to shamatha. And that is when these thoughts, emotions, all the distractions come to mind, I suggest we basically have two strategies and both of them are legitimate, authentic, and can be effective. And one is to, for example, in taking the mind as the path, as thoughts and so forth come up, just let them be. You know, and they will self-release, they will release all by themselves. So you know about that one. But do bear in mind that there’s another technique as well, taught by great Mahasiddhas like Maitrīpa and Tsong-kha-pa and so forth and that is when they come up, just cut them. Just cut them right off. Like a door to door salesman that’s coming to sell you something that you already know you don’t want. You don’t start a conversation with them. You don’t let them give their spiel, and go on and on and on [saying], “But wait a minute, I have more…” Just, “No thank you,” or [?] “Phet,” whatever you like, whatever works. I heard a wonderful analogy of this not long ago, one of you reported on a dream. And it was a lucid dream, and when unpleasant things happen in a lucid dream, it’s the same thing. It’s the same thing. If you’re lucid in the dream and something really unpleasant happens, well, you don’t need to be upset, it can’t harm you, so you just let it be and it will release itself, right? But that’s not your only choice in practicing dream yoga. You can just let it be, unravel, no problem, you can do that right? But another possibility is, you just cut it off. So here’s the story. It was one of the most delightful stories I’ve heard since I’ve been here. One of you was having a lucid dream and a man appeared in the dream and his skin was covered with snakes. Just covered with snakes. Really kind of disgusting, very unappealing. And the person, who happened to be a woman, she looked at this man, that she just found, ‘Yuck.’ She knew she was lucid, so you know what she did with the man? She ate him. [Slurping sound. Laughs.] And he was gone. I love that! Reminds me of a mother guppy. I raised tropical fish when I was a little kid and with guppies you have to be very careful. Because a guppy gives birth, they sometimes eat their own young. They come out one end and they take it in the other. So you can imagine if you’re a mother guppy and you’ve just given birth to a really ugly baby [laughs], you just turn around and [slurp]. The snake covered man came right out of the substrate… slurp! Right back into the substrate [laughs, laughter]. So thank you for sharing that, I really love the image. Next time I see a snake covered man, I’m going to eat him too [laughs]. [29:05]
All right, I want to end on a very profound note, it’s also a lot of fun, but it is profound, and entails two quotes. And one is from Padmasambhava, the Lake Born Vajra from The Vajra Essence. It’s short, so try to focus.
The emergence of sentient beings out of ignorance of the ground [the ground of being] is like the sun. The emergence of conceptual mental processes from the mind is like the rays of the sun. The emergence of appearances from mental processes is like the light of the sun.
A powerful metaphor. And I told you my mind is unified, it actually is. It doesn’t mean enlightened or anything, it just means we all talk to each other. Here’s something I just read yesterday from Roger Penrose, who I think many regard as the most brilliant mathematical physicist alive. And here’s what he states, hold the two in mind if you can. [30:20]
[Note from Transcriber: See this link for what may be the source of the text Alan references below: http://tonyrobbin.net/pdfs/P%20and%20B.pdf, page 10. If this is the source, it seems this quote may be attributable not to Penrose, but to Tony Robbin, who is writing about Penrose. Or perhaps not, but just a heads up so someone can verify for accuracy].
…light rays [should] be thought of as projective elements. [What does that mean?] …a light ray has a direction, but no fixed length: from its point of view [that is if you were a light ray], from it’s point of view, it is wherever it was and where it will ever be at the same instant. Of course, slower-moving observers see things differently. I see a photon that was created in a nuclear explosion on Alpha Centauri that traveled 4.37 years until it is absorbed, and destroyed, in my eye, but for the photon itself no time has passed, no distance was traveled. Light rays are projective points and make the space of special relativity a projective space.
[31:32] It’s poetry. The relationship between the two is poetry. That when we consider all of the magnificent theories that have emerged, I have the most appreciation maybe for physics. That’s the way I was trained. All of these theories, beautiful theories actually, theories of quantum field theory, that all configurations of mass energy emerge out of space and space is permeated by it’s own energy the zero point energy of the electromagnetic vacuum, you know. These elegant theories, and actually really beautiful theories. Where did all the theories emerge from? Your own substrate. Deeper down, where did they emerge from? Rigpa. They’re all metaphors. They’re all metaphors, coming from the same source. They’re all metaphors of seeking to understand reality given the tools we have at our disposal. If you’re a mathematician, that’s what you say. If you’re Padmasambhava, that’s what you say. But Roger Penrose is Padmasambhava. You know. Together with Isabel, and Catherine, Fran…all coming from the same place. So it’s quite wonderful. Good. So. Our meetings this morning will be five minutes… [pauses] late. [Laughs] I had you going [laughs]. Enjoy your day.
Transcribed by Cynthia Laurrell
Revised by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Final edition by KrissKringle Sprinkle