15 Sep 2014

Alan announces that from now on we will spend the morning sessions cultivating the 4 immeasurables. Whereas mindfulness, attention and intelligence are not intrinsically virtuous but can be afflictive, the 4 immeasurables - loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy and equanimity - directly lead to the cultivation of virtues.

Meditation starts at 14:29

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O la so. So for the last few weeks, intermittently I think I’ve heated up your minds and also pounded them. And the analogy would be like a blade, if you’re trying to make a blade very sharp and very durable, that won’t chip as soon as you are trying to use it, then you put it into the fire, right? Heat it up, and then you pound the shit out of it. So, everything that is, you know, any weak part chips off. And you pound it, and you pound it. And then when it’s in good shape, then you cool it off. And you make a fine blade. [0:51]

So, to engage in these practices, the shamatha, vipashyana, the cutting through, the dream yoga, and then even deeper into the thegchö practice: the intelligence-wisdom is the tool. That’s it. It’s really wisdom, wisdom all the way through, wisdom. And so, we need to take our own intelligence-wisdom, it’s the same word in Sanskrit / Tibetan, prajña, we need to sharpen it. But then as it’s sharp, and then we also need to cool it. And so we’ll spend the next... oh, for the foreseeable future, for some time now, we’ll spend the mornings very simply, there’ll not be discussion, there will just be the meditation, the meditation will be going through the cycle of the four immeasurables. [1:35]

Because the qualities of awareness, qualities of mind that we’re cultivating here, very much focused on mindfulness, concentration or samadhi, and wisdom. All three of these are absolutely crucial. But none of these: mindfulness (the ability to bear in mind, to sustain the flow of attention), concentration (like unification, focus of attention) and wisdom (intelligence, discernment), none of these are by nature virtuous. None of these are by nature, even remotely, leading us to the path. Otherwise all smart people would be happier and more virtuous. Boy, is that emphatically not the case! And so, any one of these three: mindfulness, samadhi/concentration/attention, intelligence, any one of these can be afflictive. It’s called, for example with intelligence, [Tibetan] shes rab nyön mong chan, afflictive intelligence. That means you may be a genius, and use your genius to harm people. This happened countless times in history! Where do these weapons of mass destruction come from? Were they created by stupid people or intelligent people? Highly educated people or ignorant people, you know? And that’s just one of many examples. Racists can be incredibly intelligent. Bigots can be extremely intelligent. You can be extremely arrogant and be very intelligent, right? And so, but then what’s the point? And likewise, concentration doesn’t need to be said. A sniper, about to blow somebody’s head off, can be very focused, relaxed, stable, and clear, and then [imitates the sound of a gun] put the bullet right where he wants it to. Mindfulness can be afflictive, it can be neutral, it can be virtuous. [3:22]

And so, really for practicing Dharma, it’s not enough to develop concentration, mindfulness, attention skills, or even intelligence. Or even understanding. It’s just so much out there, that people who have high intelligence, many are very arrogant, right? Many are very depressed. Many are very anxious. Many are cold and aloof. I’m not saying that it’s bad to be intelligent, because all those same qualities can also be for people who have not much intelligence, or less. They can also be aloof, cruel, arrogant, anxious, depressed... the whole point is, it’s irrelevant. Those afflictions of the mind, they are dished out liberally to people who have little education and little intelligence, medium/medium and high/high — it just doesn’t seem to help! I’ve had a lot of time, having spent, gosh, six years at Stanford, four years at the University of California as a lecturer, two years at Amherst, I hung out with a lot of smart people in the west, let alone all the intelligent people I met in the east. They are no more virtuous, no more happy than anybody else! I don’t think they are any less, but I think it’s irrelevant! Just irrelevant. So we’re not here to do something irrelevant, right? [4:41]

So in the midst of all of this, it is said so often, and it’s just wisdom, universal wisdom, that if there’s not humility, then there’ll be very little meaningful transmission, probably none. The Tibetans have an aphorism for this, and that is: If teachings are offered to a person with arrogance, it’s like water falling on the top of a mountain. It just flows off. Maybe it gets a bit damp. But it just flows off. Whereas, when water flows into a valley, where there’s fertile soil, then it can be verdant, filled with vegetation, with fruit, with vegetables, with crops, everything, but it has to hold it, right? And if we’re holding the attitude of superiority, of kind of like, “hmm, I already know, I already know”, that’s fine, do that, no problem. But you won’t get much. It will just drip off. [5:39]

So, it’s only for our own benefit. So, in order to cultivate a virtuous mind, wholesome mind, a porous mind, that can really take in the dharma, so that it seeps in right down to the core, and strikes the target, if we use the blade of our own intelligence, a virtuous blade, to cut through our own mental afflictions to discerningly see our mental afflictions when they come up. Often they are so sneaky. They come up and everybody else can see them or many people can see them, but we can’t see them. And why? Because we justify. Racists justify, arrogant people justify, mass murderers justify, everybody justifies. Rapists, I’m sure, have some justification in the mind why the woman had it coming. They must, right? Otherwise they wouldn’t do it, they would want to blow their brains out before doing something like that. But they find some way, the most horrendous, sociopathic behavior in history, people doing it always have some idea in mind, “this is a special case, this is justified”. [6:43]

And for the — there’s no sociopaths here, no sociopaths listening — you know, I think we’re all decent people at the very least. But do we sometimes let the mental afflictions creep in the back door, identify with them immediately, and then not recognize them as such. And then justify, and justify, and justify... I know I do... [laughs] I wish I were immune, I wish I was so pure that I could say, “well, you people may be still there, but you know, I am sitting on such a high mountain, that never happens to me”. I wish I could say that. If it were true, I might even say it, but it’s not true so therefore I don’t say it.[7:29]

So let’s come back to something that is clearly, universally and right at its core virtuous, good, wholesome. The cultivation of loving kindness, of compassion, empathetic joy and equanimity. We can’t go astray. So we may disagree about philosophical issues, scientific issues, political issues, ah, but people always do, what’s the big deal, you know? But where is the disagreement about the value, the meaningfulness, the cultivating, embodying and enacting these four universal virtues? Where is the disagreement? So let’s go there, shall we? We’ll spend our mornings there. We can’t go wrong. Whether it will be the best possible way we can spend the morning? I have no idea. But will we be going in the right direction? I have no question at all. So I’ll simply do my best to help guide you in the deeper cultivation of these four sublime virtues, universal virtues, which will then give rise to — if we nudge them in the right direction, it will give rise to bodhicitta, and bodhicitta is the only suitable motivation for any of the practices and teachings we’re engaging in here. The only one, right? Nothing else will do. All clear? So, here is the good ship “The Four Immeasurables” about to set sail, anybody want to come aboard? All aboard? Here we go! Okay. [8:55]

Please find a comfortable position. We start with the guru yoga, Padmasambhava, and we’ll go directly from there to the first of the four immeasurables. [9:11]

(sings 7-line prayer, three times, followed by Padmasambhava mantra)

HUNG In the northwest frontier of Oddiyana,

In the heart of a lotus

Sits the one renowned as Padmasambhava,

Who achieved the wondrous supreme siddhi,

And is surrounded by a host of many dakinis.

Following in your footsteps, I devote myself to practice.

Please come forth and bestow your blessings.



[14:05] If you’d like to switch postures, please do so now.

[14:26] [bell rings]

[15:18] Settle your body, speech and mind in their natural state, as an act, an expression of loving kindness for yourself.

[17:04] And now as we did a couple of mornings ago, as we venture into the meditative cultivation of loving kindness, bring to mind your own vision of your own flourishing, what would truly bring you happiness, a sense of meaning and fulfillment, what is your heart’s desire? Envision it clearly, vividly. What would make you truly happy?

[18:27] And now as we arouse the aspiration, the yearning, of loving kindness, I’ll teach this by way of a visualization in conjunction with the respiration. But these are merely skillful means. Simply methods. If you’d like to engage in the practice without the visualization, that’s fine, if you’d like to [do] so without conjoining the rhythm of the practice with the respiration, that too is fine. Do whatever is most beneficial to yourself.

[19:10] But having merged, in this imaginal reality that you brought to mind, the body, speech and mind of Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava, with your own body, speech and mind, then practice, to the best of your ability, from that perspective. Meditating from your heart, from the depths of your being, from that perspective. Visualize this pristine awareness, this Buddha nature, at your heart as a radiant, incandescent orb of white light. With every outbreath imagine rays of light emanating forth from this bindu, this orb, filling, permeating, saturating every aspect of your body and mind, as you arouse with each exhalation the aspiration: may I be truly well and happy. Fill your body and mind with light.

[21:34] With each outbreath, as you arouse this aspiration, arouse also the wish that that which is diametrically opposed to loving kindness, namely ill will, malevolence, enmity, may be totally burned away, eradicated, as these rays of light permeate your entire being. May I be free of ill will, free of enmity.

May I be free of physical afflictions and the underlying causes of physical afflictions. And imagine these rays of light dispelling them all.

[23:11] May I be free of mental afflictions and the underlying causes of distress and unhappiness and unrest of the mind. With each outbreath, imagine this light dispelling all the obscurations and afflictions of the mind.

[23:58] And may I be truly well and happy, in body, in mind and spirit. May I truly flourish. And with each outbreath, imagine this being so here and now.

[25:21] Now direct your awareness into the space of the mind. And in this holographic field, so to speak, bring to mind a person who is already very dear to you, for whom you feel a warmth and affection, a genuine and deep sense of caring. Bring the appearance of this person to your mind, but direct your attention now to that person. Preferably someone who is alive. So by way of the appearances of your own mind, which exist just in your substrate, attend to the person, who has his or her own continuum, quite separate from your continuum. Focus clearly, bring this person to mind as if actually present here and now.

[27:10] And with each outbreath, arouse the aspiration: may you, just like myself, just like me, may you too find the fulfillment that you seek, realize your heart’s desire. With each outbreath, imagine now the cascade of white light, of the nature of loving kindness and of joy, flowing forth from your heart, saturating, permeating this being, filling this person with joy.

[28:29] With each outbreath, arouse the yearning, may you, like me, be free of ill will, any vestige of enmity, of malevolence, may you be free! And imagine it becoming so. With each outbreath, may you be free of physical distress and its underlying causes. And as the light flows out, imagine it becoming so. May you be free of mental distress and its underlying causes. And imagine it becoming so. And may you find genuine happiness, the realization of your heart’s desire, and cultivate the causes of such well-being. And imagine it becoming so.

[31:07] Let the appearance of this person fade back into the space of your mind. And bring to mind now someone for whom you feel relatively indifferent. No particular craving or attachment or love, or hatred or aversion. You might even know this person well but have no strong feelings one way or another. See if you can bring such a person to mind, for whom you feel quite neutral.

[32:08] With each outbreath, arouse the aspiration: may you, like myself and like my dear friend, my beloved one, may you find the happiness you seek, realize your heart’s desire. May you be free of enmity. Free of physical distress and its underlying causes. Free of mental distress and its causes. And may you find genuine happiness and its causes. And imagine it to be so.

[34:23] And now bring to mind, as you allow this person to fade back into the space of the mind, that is, the appearance of this person, in that vacuity of the space of your mind, now bring to mind someone for whom there may be some negative feeling, some aversion, some feeling of discomfort, negativity. Bring the appearance of the person to mind, but focus on that individual. A human being, like yourself, with joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, mental afflictions. Like ourselves. And arouse the aspiration with each outbreath: may you find the fulfillment, the genuine happiness that is your heart’s desire, like the person for whom I feel neutral, my dearly beloved one and myself. May you too find the genuine happiness that you seek.

[36:24] May you be free of enmity, like myself and all the rest of us. May you be free of physical distress. Free of mental distress. And may you find genuine happiness and cultivate its causes.

[37:33] Release the appearance of this person, release all appearances and all aspirations, all objects of the mind. And let your awareness simply rest in its own nature.

[38:30] [bell rings three times, meditation ends]

[39:06] So, let your minds be drenched in the warm rain of dharma all day, but as far as your bodies: carry an umbrella! See you this afternoon!

Transcribed by Marc Schröder

Revised by Rafael Carlos Giusti

Final edition by KrissKringle Sprinkle


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