29 Sep 2012

Teaching pt1. Alan introduces the 3rd and deepest level of suffering called all-pervasive suffering which is the fundamental vulnerability to suffering of body and mind caused by closely holding the aggregates. Compassion requires more than just sympathy. Just as we must have a sense that there’s another source of happiness than hedonic pleasure, here we must have a sense that liberation is possible. These direct tastes provide us with a platform for attending to that very suffering in others. The cause of all-pervasive suffering is delusion, and the antidote for delusion is wisdom—i.e., the wisdom of viewing reality from the Middle Way.
Meditation: compassion preceded by vipasyana. Release awareness from the network of rumination into the space of the body.

1) vipasyana. As the cognitive basis for attending to the deepest dimension of suffering and wisdom, practice mindfulness of the body to attend to the experiences of the 5 elements for what they are. Now examine closely, can you find a referent for “my body” in any of its parts or in any of its appearances? Not just not finding the referent, but the referent is nowhere to be found. Rest in that awareness of emptiness, and view the body as space. 

2) compassion. With this awareness, arouse the aspiration “May I be free from all dimensions of suffering, including its deepest dimension caused by delusion.” With every in breath, visualize them as darkness dissolving into the white orb at your heart chakra. Imagine becoming free here and now. Turn attention outwards to those around you. “May we be free from all dimensions of suffering and their underlying causes.” With each in breath, repeat the visualization. Finally, attend to someone especially burdened by delusion and its resultant suffering, and repeat the practice.
Teaching pt2. NASA is working on a warp drive that would allow spaceships to travel to distant galaxies. In buddhism, several practices can give us warp drive on our way to enlightenment: shamatha, bodhicitta, and vipasyana. In stages of generation and completion, we collapse the space-time between us and enlightenment. In trekchö, we break through directly to rigpa which is beyond space-time and all conceptualizations.

Meditation starts at 20:30

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Transcript

Teaching pt1. Alan introduces the 3rd and deepest level of suffering called all-pervasive suffering which is the fundamental vulnerability to suffering of body and mind caused by closely holding the aggregates. Compassion requires more than just sympathy. Just as we must have a sense that there’s another source of happiness than hedonic pleasure, here we must have a sense that liberation is possible. These direct tastes provide us with a platform for attending to that very suffering in others. The cause of all-pervasive suffering is delusion, and the antidote for delusion is wisdom—i.e., the wisdom of viewing reality from the Middle Way.

Meditation: compassion preceded by vipashyana. Release awareness from the network of rumination into the space of the body.

1) vipashyana. As the cognitive basis for attending to the deepest dimension of suffering and wisdom, practice mindfulness of the body to attend to the experiences of the 5 elements for what they are. Now examine closely, can you find a referent for “my body” in any of its parts or in any of its appearances? Not just finding the referent, but the referent is nowhere to be found. Rest in that awareness of emptiness, and view the body as space.

2) compassion. With this awareness, arouse the aspiration “May I be free from all dimensions of suffering, including its deepest dimension caused by delusion.” With every in breath, visualize them as darkness dissolving into the white orb at your heart chakra. Imagine becoming free here and now. Turn attention outwards to those around you. “May we be free from all dimensions of suffering and their underlying causes.” With each in breath, repeat the visualization. Finally, attend to someone especially burdened by delusion and its resultant suffering, and repeat the practice.

Teaching pt2. NASA is working on a warp drive that would allow spaceships to travel to distant galaxies. In Buddhism, several practices can give us warp drive on our way to enlightenment: shamatha, bodhicitta, and vipashyana. In stages of generation and completion, we collapse the space-time between us and enlightenment. In trekchö, we break through directly to rigpa which is beyond space-time and all conceptualizations.

Meditation starts at 20:30

Teachings 1:

  • Summary of the session:

Alan introduces the 3rd and deepest level of suffering called all-pervasive suffering which is the fundamental vulnerability to suffering of body and mind caused by closely holding the aggregates. Compassion requires more than just sympathy. Just as we must have a sense that there’s another source of happiness than hedonic pleasure, here we must have a sense that liberation is possible. These direct tastes provide us with a platform for attending to that very suffering in others. The cause of all-pervasive suffering is delusion, and the antidote for delusion is wisdom—i.e., the wisdom of viewing reality from the Middle Way.


b) Alan’s teachings:

Oh la so! Today, this morning we return once again to the meditative cultivation of compassion, for those of you who know your lamrim well, you probably know the next phase I’d like to attend to and that is this deepest dimension of suffering. It’s hard to get a really good translation of it but the ubiquitous or all-pervasive suffering of conditioned phenomena but what it really is, I would call it existential suffering it’s not a good translation but it actually is the meaning, existential suffering. It refers to our fundamental vulnerability to suffering of body and mind and it’s most clearly illuminated by pointing to the cause of it, or what’s the very nature of it and it’s said these closely held [Tibetan], the closely held aggregates [which are the five skandhas: body, feelings, recognitions, compositional mental factors and state of consciousness]. The fact that we are so closely identifying with, “I, Me, Mine”, with respect to our bodies and mind that’s it, right there.That’s why we are vulnerable to suffering, right, that grasping, and the clinging. So we can see that this operates on two levels at least:

  • Three marks of existence

One is that which we attended to for the first four weeks here, attending to the three marks of existence and then especially the third one: of is there anything in the body in terms of the four elements, the body parts and so forth, anything there that by its own nature is “I or Mine”, that it really is “Me”, or really is “Mine” by its own nature, is there anything or not? Of course the Buddhist answer based upon investigation is no. And so in that regard as one attends to ones own experience of the body then one sees it more simply, as we say in the fundamental teachings on the satipatthana, these phenomena, one perceives them simply as phenomena, [Tibetan] merely as phenomena rather than the elaborations mixed with them of being “I and Mine” so there’s one whole dimension. And so one can simply experience the phenomena of the body arising then it’s really as if they’re orphaned as if they have no possessor, because they don’t. They’re arising in space, they dissolve back into space and with that mode of perception, from that perspective, freedom is alleviated.

  • Emptiness of the body

(3:00) But then there’s this whole dimension that we’ve been looking into for this past week going into the teachings of emptiness that not only is this body devoid of a possessor, an agent, an individual person who is autonomous and controls it, but when one looks into the very nature of the body itself, is there anything really there from its own side? And so the emptiness of the body. If one fathoms that then all the more so is one really, truly freed of suffering with respect to the body. It’s said that for arya-bodhisattavas, so those bodhisattvas who have direct realization of emptiness, they can give away their limbs. They can chop out like an arm, an elbow, an eye, whatever Aryadeva apparently gave away one of his eyes and so forth. They say an arya-bodhisattva can give away his own limbs, his or her own limbs, as easily as other people give away vegetables, you know, because they’re just there, just kind of lying around. "I have two arms, I do have a spare, would you like the left one or the right one? You know? [chopping sound] And would you like that minced or diced, or how would you like it?

And so when we attend to suffering, and when we seek to arouse compassion, a very important point brought to my attention some years ago is that for compassion, for there to be like a rocket taking off, for there to be lift off, that we don’t simply remain earthbound, in empathy, in sadness, in a feeling with of sorrow and so forth, feeling you know, sympathetic and all of that. That certainly shows some humanness there, that we’re not cold and indifferent to others plight. But if it remains only at that level, weeping with others, weeping, feeling sorrow with others sorrow, feeling pain with others pain. It just looks like one more person is in pain now. There used to be one, now we have two, you know? So exactly where is the benefit? I mean that’s better clearly than just being aloof. But then if just two people are in pain, then, "I’ll feel sorry for you if you feel sorry for me. Here’s my shoulder [crying sound], you know? Not very helpful. [laughs] Right? And so that’s not lift off. We’ve all seen those rockets. Have you seen them? They go [rrrrr... explosion sound]. They almost get lift off and then it’s just a ball of flame, you know? It’s really I’m sure very sad for the people you know who are looking for something really fun. And all they have [is] this big kaboom. That’s a kind of empathy with no compassion. It looks like lift off and then, uh, uh, maybe not. Or one of those that goes uhh..., uhh....,[laughs] over on its side and then it crashes again. So compassion is lift off, compassion is lift off, but for the lift off to occur and here is the point that I think is ever so crucial. There must be some vision, some confidence or even knowledge that liberation is possible. If that’s not there then it’s just sympathy. And so there it is.

(6:08) So if we look at these three modes of suffering, blatant suffering, or the suffering of suffering, if one can see well, there’s some people in poverty, “What could we do to help?” Then there’s a way. If people are ill and we say, “Ah, there’s a way.” And so forth, for these various modes of hedonic suffering and one sees, “Oh, help them out this way.” Then of course people get inspired, but if you look at something and you see no possibility of hope, then people when they turn off the television, turn off the news, “What can you do about it?” You know? Just turn it off. There’s no compassion. [They] say, “I just don’t want to get sad.” You know? But if you see an avenue, then compassion arises, out of compassion comes benevolent, altruistic activity, right?

And so likewise for the deeper dimension of suffering that mid-range of suffering that arises directly as a result of attachment and craving, the suffering of change. If it were true that attachment and craving, this mental affliction, not simply desire, but the mental affliction of craving and attachment, if these were absolutely hardwired, we’re just animals, this is evolutionary, we have just no escape, you know? If that were the case, then we just have to say, “Well doesn’t it suck, you know? Isn’t it too bad?” But of course that is not the Buddhist view that none of these mental afflictions are hardwired, are intrinsic, are indelible. But then to take that not as simply an intellectual stance but actually to experience, get some taste of what’s it like to experience that freedom from attachment, the freedom [from] craving. And how would you possibly do that and not just be, how do you say, apathetic or depressed? And to my mind the practical method - find another source of happiness! Because if all the happiness we know about, every single time we’ve experienced happiness it’s hedonic because something happens nice to us, a happy thought, prestige, money, sensual pleasures and so forth if that’s it, then how would you not be attached? I don’t know how you would ever do it? If you think, “If that’s the only water faucet in the house.” How are you not going to be attached to that one if you want water? There’s no place else to go. So, I don’t think it’s possible. I think you’re stuck, right?

But if through your own experience, not just reading texts or doing discursive meditation but through your own experience you really find it’s true. There’s another tap in the house. There’s another source of water, another source of happiness. It’s not stimulus driven. It doesn’t entail grasping on to and holding an object, whether that object is a person or a place or a material object, or what have you. When you tap into eudaimonia and just get a little few drops coming out. Quite a few of you have at least gotten some drops, where you say, “You know, I’m sitting there practicing mindfulness of breathing and I kind of enjoyed it. Wow! You’re weird!” [laughs] How can you possibly sit there watching your breath and enjoy that? This California guy must be hypnotizing you. [laughs] But of course I’m not, you know? In fact you find it and you don’t have to explain it to anybody else. If they’ve never experienced it they might just think, “Well, you’re just weird.” But of course this has nothing really to do with the breath. I mean that’s not the crucial point. It’s the quality of awareness that you’re bringing to the breath. The mindfulness of breathing, the quality of awareness, and finding: "Ho, when I attend to my breath and then I attend to other things I’m finding there is more of a sense of ease. One of you told me something so nice, it was very meaningful to me, in one of our personal interviews. This person just simply mentioned the other day this person had to go out to, I think a shopping area. And just sitting there felt very much at ease, you know? Coming out of this very contemplative environment and then going into the other one, which is not at all contemplative. But he said, “You know I’ve never felt so at ease, so relaxed in a public environment.” It made me really happy, really happy. Good! Good! That’s genuine! That wasn’t because you went to an especially good mall or shopping place, right? It’s the quality of you awareness you brought to it. And then you can be at ease in a situation like that where otherwise there may be a bit of tension, nervousness or what have you. Really good!

(10:25) So as we’re tapping into this eudaimonia you know drip by drip, little teaspoon by teaspoon, experiencing some enjoyment of the soothing quality, the release, the relaxation of the body and the mind, enjoying the free effortless flow of the breath and finding, “This is nice, I like doing this, I’d like to spend more time doing this.” Well you can, you don’t need to rent it. You don’t need to buy it. It’s built in, you know? One of those free ones. So as you experience this and it goes deeper and deeper and then you experience of course it’s not just shamatha, it’s cultivating the four immeasurables and finding this too, a kind of quality of well-being arises from there. It’s from the inside. It’s not because of the people you’re attending to, but the quality of awareness you’re bringing to it, right? And of course for vipashyana itself. And so as one tastes in various ways, subtle ways, by way of ethics, by way of cultivating the mind, by way of insight that,“Wow! These are real!” These three modes of eudaimonia they’re real. Then you say, "But then that means I can still enjoy sensual pleasures and so forth and so on. Why not? I don’t have to hold my nose. But I’m not really dependent on them, I don’t need to be attached to them because I’ve found something else that’s actually much better, so I’ll use them both. So in that regard one sees the light at the end of the tunnel, one sees a real possibility of freedom, freedom from that dimension of suffering, the suffering of change because you see for yourself attachment is not necessary, we can be freed of it. But I don’t think it’s possible really, I don’t think it’s possible unless we do tap into some other type of well-being. Otherwise you just become a sourpuss, wouldn’t you? “I don’t care about fame. I don’t care about sensual... I don’t care about... I don’t care about... I don’t really... I know it sucks. I know it sucks. [laughter] Uhhh...” I don’t think that’s the path to enlightenment. It’s just a path to suckiness. [laughter] But if you’ve found something else, you say, “Okay, then I can release this and go on to that.”

(12:27) And then from that platform when you attend to other people who really are very fixated on the notion, “My happiness lies in getting this!” You know? And single pointedly focused on the hedonic. Then you’ll start to really resonate with statements by Shantideva such as: “While seeking to free ourselves from suffering we hasten after the causes of suffering and while seeking to find happiness we destroy the causes of our own happiness as if they were our foe”. That’s a bodhisattva speaking. And I think you sense he’s not speaking with condescension, or contempt or [the attitude of] those people down there. There’s nothing down his nose. He’s simply recognizing, here we are, you know? We’ve all been there.

(13:06) But when you gain some elevation, some elevation, and you see well that’s one way (hedonic) but it never works out very well in the end, but here is another way and it does then genuine compassion, arises, the genuine yearning, "May you be free because you see that freedom is possible because you’ve tasted at least the scent . At least you’ve gotten a few drops on your tongue and you know this is not just some religious belief system or just blind faith. You’re the hound dog. You’ve picked up the scent. It’s a real scent and you know where to trace it to. And so then compassion, compassion because you really see it is possible. And so, “May we all be free of that suffering of change.” Because it is not necessary. And then this deepest dimension, and we’ll end on that, go to the meditation. But the suffering that comes from grasping on to, identifying, fiercely holding on to our own bodies and mind as truly and intrinsically mine. Or even at a deeper level, we’ve just begun to explore this, the deeper level, the very reification of the body as something real, independent, substantial, inherently existent. As one gains the glimmering, if it’s just even the faintest, the faintest glimmering. And number one, that may not be true, the body may actually not exist in that way and in fact I have maybe some sense of it. I think maybe I’m picking up a bit of scent there and if that were true, if I could thoroughly realize it, if I could live there. [Tibetan] If I could actually view reality from the Middle Way view, from the Madhyamaka view, if I could view reality from a perspective that neither reifies nor falls into nihilism, if I could view reality right from that Middle Way, there’d be such freedom, such freedom. I wouldn’t experience suffering by way of my body, if I realize the emptiness of my mind I wouldn’t experience suffering by way of my mind. Wow!

(15:05) And so if one has some glimmering there and then one attends to all sentient beings who are still prone to this grasping, this reification onto I am, I, Me, Mine, and the reification of phenomena as existing inherently. If one gets the glimmering that some intuition, some insight into the emptiness of all phenomena then with that cognitive basis you really have a platform for developing compassion, the aspiration, and it really could happen. We really could be free even from that deepest dimension of suffering that stems from delusion. So we have that blatant suffering, not confined to anger, but certainly strongly affiliated with it and the remedy is ethics. We have this middle one from yesterday, the suffering of change, related very strongly to attachment, and samadhi really is the remedy. But now we go to the deepest level, and this obviously is related to delusion, the kind of suffering that comes from misapprehending reality, right? And then obviously, this is now perfectly clear, the remedy is wisdom. The remedy is wisdom.

So Shantideva says at the beginning of the Wisdom Chapter all that is preceded, all, everything that comes prior to this, prior to the ninth chapter, all of this is for the sake of wisdom. Everything is for the sake of wisdom because if wisdom provides the key, knowing reality as it is, that provides the key for genuine liberation, freedom from suffering so that compassion can then celebrate that this really is possible. So this is where at this deepest level of compassion attending to the deepest level of suffering, this is where there just must be a union of wisdom and compassion. If there’s no wisdom there you’re walking around in the dark, you know. And so when there arises that glimmering, there’s real possibility of freedom here from this deepest dimension of suffering. And one arouses this yearning to be free, arouses this for oneself. “May I be free.” Because after all, I’m just one more sentient being. That’s why any notion of condescension is crazy. Just one more, out of an ocean of sentient beings, one more.

(17:18) But if I see the possibility of freedom for myself through wisdom, through insight, because I have already gotten some glimmering. That insight is authentic and there’s no need to suffer by way of the body or mind, when one realizes that they are merely phenomena and moreover they’re empty phenomena, one has some glimmering of that then powerful renunciation or the spirit of emergence, [Tibetan] this spirit, this intention, this resolve, of definitely emerging from samsara can be very very powerful. I mean really kind of all consuming, because when you get it, when you see that real possibility of freedom I have to say really nothing else matters. It really doesn’t, just nothing else matters. I mean it’s all about that in terms of your own, how do you say reality here, your own locality, your own individual presence in the universe. When you see there is a possibility of freedom then nothing else matters. Everything else is subordinated to that and so there’s renunciation, there’s the spirit of emergence, of definite emergence. Definite means you emerge from samsara and you do not just fall back. You’re not like a fish that jumps out of the water and then just goes right back in. You’re like a rocket that achieves escape velocity and gets out of the gravitational field and just takes off. I’m gone, “hasta la vista,” Never! You know? You’re gone you’re free. And that’s our ideal, that’s the Sravakayana ideal. I’m going to achieve escape velocity from this sphere of samsara and never come back.
“Thank you very much. Nothing there for me.” And then we shift over to the bodhisattva ideal, or simply to the four immeasurables. And one sees, "Oh, but wait a minute. Just hold on. I’m not the only one here. And one opens ones eyes to the world around us, and we say, "Oh, my goodness, we’re all in that same situation aren’t we. All of us, all sentient beings and therefore here comes immeasurable loving kindness, [Tibetan] immeasurable loving kindness with no barriers, no boundaries, because on this level it’s a total flattener whether people are friendly, unfriendly, evil or virtuous, whatever they are, this is more fundamental than all of those variations, all those fluctuations which we’ve all been through. We’ve all had previous lives when we were awful and had these previous lives when we were marvelous, ugly and beautiful and so forth. And so we’ve been through it all, we’ve seen it all. But when it tends outwardly in this way, from this level, from depth to depth, then there arises based upon wisdom the aspiration, “May we all be free of all dimensions of suffering including this most foundational one that is rooted in delusion but for which the antidote is wisdom.” There’s the fusion of wisdom and compassion. It’s quite extraordinary isn’t it, isn’t it? I think it’s just utterly amazing. I do, I just haa... [sighs] It makes you wonder, “How I could be so fortunate to encounter such a Dharma as that. What makes me so lucky?” I don’t know. That’s the answer, but I certainly do feel fortunate. Let’s meditate.

Meditation:

(21:40) Let’s enter into the session by tasting this sweetness of releasing the awareness from this whole network of rumination, releasing it into the non-conceptual space of the body, settling the body in its natural state, the respiration in its natural rhythm by whatever means you find most effective, settle you mind in its natural state, relaxed, still and clear.

(24:51) And now let’s lay ever so briefly a cognitive basis for the cultivation of this deepest dimension of compassion, focusing on the deepest dimension of suffering, let’s lay the cognitive basis by closely applying mindfulness to this space of the body and whatever events arise within that space, observing earth as earth, water as water and so on, observing the phenomena that arise in the space of the body simply for what they are, as mere phenomena with no owner, with no personal identity.

(26:55) And then shift to this deeper dimension of vipashyana examining closely to see whether you can actually find the referent, an objectively existing referent, that exists by its own nature for this term “my body.” Do you find it in any of the body parts individually or collectively? Do you find it amongst any of the appearances that directly arise to any of your five physical senses? Is this body truly existent, anywhere to be found? And can you not only not find it, but can you find that it is in fact nowhere to be found? And if so, rest in that emptiness, that awareness of the emptiness of the body and view it as space, an array of empty appearances arising in space and dissolving back into space.

And with such an awareness then arouse the aspiration directed inwards, we call it the spirit of emergence, many call it renunciation, the aspiration, “May I be free from all dimensions of suffering even the most profound that stems from delusion itself, may I be free from all suffering and its causes.” With each in breath arouse this yearning, with each in breath imagine the darkness of delusion being drawn into and extinguished in the orb of light, of pristine awareness, at your heart.

(32:42) And with each in breath imagine becoming free here and now.

Then turn your attention outwards in all the directions, the individual in front of you, to your left, and your right, behind you. With this full awareness that we are all in the same ocean, we’re all equally vulnerable and we all equally have the potential to be free. Attend closely to those who are around you with each in breath arouse the yearning, “May each of us here be free of all dimensions of suffering together with their underlying causes.” With each in breath imagine drawing in the darkness of suffering and delusion siphoning it into this immeasurable orb of light at your heart where it dissolves without in any way being dimmed, with no depletion. And breath by breath expand this field of compassion to embrace all those around you expanding the field with each breath arouse the yearning, “May we all be free of suffering and the causes of suffering”.

(39:18) With each in breath imagine yourself and all the sentient beings around you becoming free here and now. Boldly venture into this realm of possibility. Attend to it closely, the possibility of freedom.

You may attend especially to those individuals whom you know personally or you know only by way of the media who are especially burdened by delusion, the mental afflictions that are derivative of delusion and the suffering that stems from delusion, hatred and craving, especially attend to them and with each in breath imagine them becoming free.


(44:03) Then release all aspirations and all appearances and let your awareness rest in its own luminous and pure nature.


Teaching 2:

Oh la so! It’s Saturday, let’s hang out for a little bit, for a little while.

To take that analogy which is just for pure fun, nothing more. Because who knows whether it’s at all possible. But that analogy I gave the other day from this research being done at NASA of a warp drive. If they can’t do it, it’s still a really cool idea, [laughs] you know. The space-time in front of you you’re contracting, space-time behind you you’re expanding and then you just go into warp drive. Just travel from one galaxy to another in a matter of days, a couple of weeks. It’s a really cool idea. And it has to be, you know, serious enough that NASA wants to spend money on it. They don’t have money to throw away.

Of course you know where I’m going here, is okay, how can we find really cool analogies in Dharma. And that is for all of you who have studied Mahayana Buddhism, actually it’s Pali canon and so forth. When you’re just first starting out and you have this vision of achieving awakening. How long will it take as you gradually, you know, develop virtue, try to purify the mind. Order of magnitude, three countless eons. And as His Holiness the Dalai Lama pointed out, it’s not necessarily that quick. [laughter] He said it could take you as many as seven countless eons. [laughter] I figure after the first three, who’s counting, but you know. [laughter] But some people have very large minds. His Holiness is certainly one of those people. But to suffice it to say, I mean it’s a finite period of time, but three countless eons, we’re talking about whole periods of expansion and contraction of the universe, many many times over. In other words, don’t hold you breath, right? But then when one attends to, and this is where we really are making the segue over into Mahayana, which cognitively in terms of vipashyana we already have, this past week. And we’ll do something similar next Monday, in a couple of days.

When one gains some intimation, some sense of the enormity of suffering that’s going on right now in the world, just our planet, let alone the rest of the universe. Then a sense of urgency can arise, a sense also as Steph [?] so eloquently wrote in her note some days ago, of just feeling the ocean of suffering. And when I attend to it with my capacities right now, it just feels like you just want to start screaming, “This is not enough, whatever I can do is not enough.” To say it’s a drop in the bucket, no it’s a drop in the ocean, no it’s an elementary particle in the ocean. I mean what I can do with my capacities to alleviate the suffering right now is so miniscule that either one should start screaming or one wants to stop screaming and say, "How can I increase my ability so that I’m not so ineffectual, so impotent, so helpless in serving the needs of others.

So to take the analogy imagine you just use a conventional rocket. And I think when they escape the gravitational pull of the earth, they get escape velocity from our earth I think then they’re just cruising out there in deep space. I think it’s something like eighteen thousand miles an hour, I think something like that, eighteen thousand miles an hour. Well if you should look at a distant galaxy and say, “Okay, let’s get in our rocket and go eighteen thousand miles an hour and let’s try to get to the nearest galaxy.” Well no for three countless eons, but you know, really long. And so where’s the warp drive? Where’s the warp drive for finding liberation and awakening. How within a finite, very, very finite, a matter of decades [snaps fingers] and it’s over, of a human life span, how can one take that three countless eons of space-time and try to click into warp drive? You don’t have to do every step, step by step by step but you get some big boost that just by orders of magnitude exponentially increases your velocity, right, towards enlightenment.

Atisha gives us a great big hint when he addresses shamatha and the abilities that naturally, quite easily, readily are developed on the base of shamatha. I’ll say it again I’ve said it a couple of times already - direct quote from Atisha, Once you’ve achieved shamatha and the abilities that arise simply from shamatha let alone vipashyana , bodhicitta, Vajrayana and so forth. Just shamatha, and it’s the natural abilities stemming from that, in one day you can accumulate more merit than you can without it in a hundred lifetimes. I think we just clicked into warp drive. Merit means power, it means surging. You’re at super thrust towards enlightenment Right?

So there’s a big one. So the distance that you could otherwise travel in a hundred lifetimes you can now do in one day. It’s sounding like that warp drive, and that’s just shamatha. Right? But then with shamatha, then you’re really now well poised in so many different ways to develop great compassion, not simply boundless compassion, but great compassion. And great compassion is an immediate catalyst for arousing bodhicitta. And then as Shantideva describes so eloquently, especially in the first chapter of A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life, once you’ve developed bodhicitta, and it’s actually, the engines, the afterburners are really going. I mean it’s really going. It’s not like an old car where you turn the ignition - it goes arrr...[unsuccessful car starting sound] arrr..., arrr..., arrr... and you only get it when you’re turning the key, you know the engine turns only in it... After a while of course the battery goes dead. But actually you turn the key of your bodhicitta and then it goes rmmm...[successful car starting sound] [laughter] “Oh, the engine’s running now and I can take my hand off the ignition and I can get into gear.” So the engines running is called the spirit of aspiring for enlightenment the bodhicitta of aspiring for. Remember? And then you get it into gear, now that it’s turned on, you have genuine bodhicitta of aspiring for enlightenment and it’s turning over, it’s uncontrived, it’s spontaneous, it’s humming, it’s going, it’s there. And then you just put it into gear. And that’s the bodhicitta of engaging, engaging in the bodhisattva way of life, right, proceeding along. It’s into gear.

Well, once you’ve achieved those kinds of bodhicitta, the aspiring, the engaging bodhicitta and it’s spontaneous, it’s effortless, it’s uncontrived, the engine is running. Oh, now you’ve just... It’s another warp drive. It’s another warp drive. The amount of ... The perfect way power of bodhicitta ... He says it’s like the fire at the end of an eon, or like a supernova that just engulfs everything near it. It consumes so many obscurations, so many, so much negative karma and so forth. It’s just almost cataclysmic for the power of purification of the mind. And of course the more the mind is purified the more powerful your warp drive towards enlightenment. Right? And in terms of accruing merit, you know, now it’s just gone off the charts, you know, with bodhicitta. You’re a bodhisattva. Oh, man! That dwarfs shamatha. Shamatha’s this little dark black hole behind you. Right? You’re now really absolutely going. Well why don’t you just couple that with vipashyana. With your shamatha, with you vipashyana, with your bodhicitta then why not of course do the most important thing for which all the other teachings are designed, and that is realization of emptiness, realization of the nature of reality: vipashyana, and gain some realization of emptiness. And now, once again you’ve got a third warp drive. Boom! Now again zooming off. And we haven’t even touched Vajrayana yet. We’re still Sutrayana, but now it’s really warp drive. Finally there’s three times warp drive. Pow! Pow! Pow!

So with this motivation now one’s really ready for stage of generation and completion and on this developmental model of stage of generation and completion, that it’s really there. That you’re collapsing three countless eons into a lifetime or just a couple of them. It’s right there - stage of generation and completion. All the others, it’s still three countless eons. shamatha, bodhicitta, vipashyana- it’s Sutrayana. It’s still three countless eons which you can imagine how long it takes if you don’t have shamatha, bodhicitta and vipashyana. Your beard would get very long. [laughs] But now with those preparations, the shamatha, the bodhicitta, vipashyana now you apply yourself to stage of generation-completion. One lifetime, why not? If not this lifetime, next one, two or three, whatever, short time. That’s just now with those, with the, that wisdom, that fusion of wisdom and method that we find- that non-duality: wisdom and method, and stage of generation-completion, then it’s just like poof! Inconceivable! The fourth warp drive, the stage of generation-completion. Amazing! That’s where you absolutely collapse space-time, between where you are and enlightenment. [snaps fingers] Just collapse it down, like an accordion. Like taking thirteen billion light years and just squeezing it into, you know, a room.

Or, if you want a less elaborated way: shamatha, bodhicitta, vipashyana. Then just break through. “Break on through to the other side!” Break on through substrate consciousness right over to rigpa. And that’s just kind of a warp drive that’s just off the charts. Because now you’re beyond space and time. You’re not traveling through it exponentially, you’re just beyond it, you just stepped out of the whole system directly into rigpa. You can achieve enlightenment in one lifetime. So the imagery, the parallels are simply fun. They’re just fun, that’s all but the image that we have form modern cosmology is of the universe expanding, and of course it’s not that the... all of the galaxies have some kind of little engines on them driving themselves away from each other because they’re just sitting there, but in fact the space-time continuum in which all the galaxies and so on are so-called embedded like raisins in a muffin. In the oven where the muffin is rising, rising, rising and then all the raisins in the muffin are all moving away from each other. So if you were sitting on a raisin, in any of the raisins, in the muffin you’d look at all the other raisins and say, “Why are you leaving? Why are leaving?” [laughter] They’d all appear to be moving away from you, no matter which one you were on, they’re all moving away like, "Was it my breath? Something I said? [laughter] You know? But of course that’s because the dough itself is expanding. It’s rising, and so all the raisins are getting further and further away from each other. So that’s the present vision. Very much in accordance, I mean in principle with Buddhist vision of expanding universe. It’s right there in the sutras - expanding universe without the elegance of mathematics the technology and so forth of modern physics. And I love the modern physics. So here we have this expansion, but when I was studying cosmology I asked my professor, a very, very fine professor, I said, “What’s it expanding into, this space-time continuum, this sphere of reality?” If it’s expanding, then what’s it expanding into? Because if there weren’t any room then it couldn’t expand. It would be bumping into something, like, “Let me expand.” You know? “Get out of the way.” But there’s nothing in the way which means there must be space beyond space so that space-time can expand so there’s enough room for it, you know, like a balloon. There has to be space around the balloon, otherwise you could never expand it no matter how much you breathed into it. And he said, “Well, we just don’t have any answer for that in physics.” And that’s a fair enough answer. It’s a perfectly good answer. Given our system of measurement we just have no way of addressing that. It’s not a silly question, but we have no way of addressing that whatsoever, because all of the measurements of course are within the sphere of expanding space-time. It’s fair enough.

Every system has its limitations, right? But nevertheless the question lingers. If space-time is expanding, what’s it expanding into? How about Dharmadhatu? How about Dharmadhatu: absolute space of phenomena out of which relative space and time, matter and energy all emerge, Dharmadhatu which is beyond space and time. What if relative space-time is actually just expanding into Dharmadhatu? Well, then the path of liberation would be going beyond what Buddhists call the peak of existence, which is still within the sphere of samsara. Breaking through that to the other side, to Dharmadhatu, which is indivisible from Primordial Consciousness, which is indivisible from the energy of Primordial Consciousness. And so the path of awakening in Buddhism from the Sravakayana all the way up to Dzogchen is to achieve escape velocity from relative space and time, that you’re not just traveling across the universe. You’re getting out of this sphere altogether to a space of awareness that is beyond space and time and absolutely beyond all conceptualization. So if you’d like to experience that - shamatha, vipashyana, trekchö, thögal will do it. And relative bodhicitta says Dudjom Lingpa comes right out of rigpa, the realization of rigpa, because the realization of rigpa is ultimate bodhicitta and relative bodhicitta emerges spontaneously out of that so he says you don’t need to look elsewhere. It’s already there, it’s part of the package. So, now if you all and people listening by podcast you want to say, “Now it’s proven, Alan is definitely a space cadet.” [laughter] You’re right! [laughs] I’m totally a space cadet. [laughs] So I want to travel to the space of Dharmakaya, the space of Dharmadhatu. And I think we’ve found the right formula. Enjoy your day. See you later.

Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti

Revised by Mark Montgomery

Final edition by Rafael Carlos Giusti

Uploaded by Quinn Comendant

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