29 Sep 2012

Teaching: Alan continues with his commentary on Ch. 13 of Shantideva’s Compendium of Practices on the 4 applications of mindfulness. The body is filled with impurities, fragile by nature, and subject to destruction. One who sees this body as impermanent takes the essence of life, serving all sentient beings, avoiding faulty behavior, no craving or clinging to enjoyments, etc... One views the body as a the body, nothing that is mine. One designates the body of all sentient beings as my body, wishing to bring this body to buddhahood. The ultimate nature of this body is undefiled. In sum, Shantideva uses impurity of the body to dispel craving as in the Shravakayana, but then on that basis, builds the Mahayana practices of compassion, emptiness, and pure vision which provide the framework for Vajrayana.
Meditation: practice of your choice.
Q1. What is the connection between Mahasi Sayadaw and Pa Auk Sayadaw?

Q2. You mentioned that phenomena come into existence with conceptual designation, but a person doesn’t become a fool merely through being designated as such, etc... It appears that phenomena come into existence with conceptual designation but not really. 

Q3. I’ve had lucid sleep without dreams whereby the only awareness I have is akin to awareness of awareness. Am I doing this practice correctly? 

Q4. We’ve established that a baby needs secure attachment for survival. Secure attachment appears to be biologically inbuilt for humans, being defined as a lasting psychological bond between beings. Is it possible to have healthy human relationships without attachment? 

Q5. From the time of the agricultural revolution (human population of 5 million) through the present day (human population of 7 billion), there has been a population explosion. Where are the reincarnated human consciousnesses coming from? Are lesser consciousnesses being promoted before their time, leading to chaos and degeneration? 

Q6. I’m finally starting to enjoy meditation, see changes in the quality of awareness, and detect a certain calmness in mind. I find that I’m worrying about leaving in a few weeks and losing all these gains made. How can we best make use of the time in the final weeks?

Meditation starts at 33:10

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I like to have the meditations on the final Saturday afternoon be silent and so as we look at the concluding section in this Compendium of Practices by Shantideva on the Close Application of Mindfulness of the Body.

Subscriber’s note: Just to remind Alan began to read this Compendium in the session 61 and the source is:

Chapter Thirteen: The Four Close Applications of Mindfulness, A Compendium of Practices (Ṣikśasamuccaya) by Śāntideva, Translated by B. Alan Wallace.

Let’s regard this as a kind of front-loading the meditation itself. So he’s providing us with the fuel and then we’ll run for twenty-four minutes on that fuel, okay?

So, we’re about half way through this section on the body. And now he continues, citing another sutra. So this text as a whole has many, many sutra citations so you’re always seeing where it touches down in the Mahayana teachings of the Buddha.

So, we’re about half way through this section on the body. And now he continues, citing another sutra. So this text as a whole has many, many sutra citations so you’re always seeing where it touches down in the Mahayana teachings of the Buddha.

So another sutra here:

Text (sutra):

The Ārya Ratnacūḍa Sūtra states, “Alas! One who knows that this body is impermanent, not remaining for long, and that its end is death, does not engage in antagonistic behavior for the sake of the body, but takes the essence of life.”

This phrase the taking of essence of life, we see this also in the Shantideva in the Bodhicaryāvatāra*, the essences of life, the essence of life, so where’s the juice? And while the pursuit of hedonic pleasure and the avoidance of hedonic suffering can be considered something of the husk which has to be taken into account. Nevertheless if that’s all that one does through the whole course of a life is just deal with the husk then you never got down to the core of it and you kind of never, you missed an opportunity. It’s called human life.

And so taking the essence of life of clearly is really eradicating the very, actual sources of suffering, cultivating the very sources of well-being and setting out on a true path, an authentic path to awakening. So one does that recognizing again the impermanence of the body.

* Source of Shantideva in the Bodhicaryāvatāra: The Four Close Applications of Mindfulness, Excerpted from the Wisdom Chapter of

A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life (Bodhicaryāvatāra) by Śāntideva, Translated from the Sanskrit and Tibetan by Vesna A. Wallace and B. Alan Wallace.

So one takes the essence of life (continuing the text):


(2:57) “One takes three kinds of essences: the essence of the body, of enjoyment, and of life. So considering that the body is impermanent, one agrees to be the servant and pupil of all sentient beings and strives to do whatever one can to serve them.”

When I read that sentence, I mean it’s a classic Mahayana sentence one finds that same theme of course in the Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life, but this whole notion of being “the pupil of all sentient beings”, um, just one person just leaps to mind, and it is His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

The first time he ever traveled to the West was 1973. I wasn’t with him there, I was in Dharamshala at the time. But he came just to Europe, the United States wouldn’t give him a visa, you know. Dangerous people like him, you have to be careful. And so, but he traveled to Europe, to various countries there and he was asked well, “What’s your purpose, what’s your mission here?” And one can imagine, a religious figure, he’s got a real mission, you know, convert the heathen. And he said, "Oh, I would like to come to the West, to visit the West, to meet the wise people of the West. So on that trip, I don’t know that he ever taught. I don’t think so, that he ever gave any teachings. He came first of all, to learn from the wise people of the West.

And then I’ve witnessed him now, many, many times, of course a number of these happened in different contexts, but where I’ve had a special privilege is to see him ever since 1989 in this whole series of Mind - Life meetings. Where he’s meeting with philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, physicist, biologists, and so forth, really very fine scientists, and he’s always the same. And that is, he’s always there with respect, but with this eagerness to learn. And these are very well designed, these five day meetings that we’ve held since 1989 every other year in Dharamshala. We’d have a small group of scientists, like five scientists, maybe six but one philosopher and they have a whole morning, they have two and a half hours to present.

I’ve been to a lot of academic conferences. Sometimes you get to speak twenty minutes, you know. You travel around the world and you talk for twenty minutes and then you go home, you know? Hopefully, somebody else said something that was interesting, otherwise that’s a lot of traveling for a very short time. Um, and so twenty minutes is really common, right? Well here they have two and a half hours, and their primary audience is the Dalai Lama. And I’ve seen him just time and time again, now it’s more than twenty years, and he’s listening as a pupil. He’s really there to learn, you know? And never gullibly, of course. You would never expect that of the Dalai Lama. He’s never saying, “Oh, whatever you say.” He’s listening with a lot of attention, a lot of curiosity, and what I’ve seen time and again that’s blown the minds of the scientists, is, you know some physicist is telling the cutting edge research, or a neuroscientist, and as the Dalai Lama is listening along, he has no qualms at all about jumping in and asking a question. And time and time again what’s happened is when he does that then the scientist, knowing that His Holiness has no formal Western education whatsoever, not elementary school, no middle school, no high school, no college, nothing, right? His only formal education was to become a geshe, in Tibetan, in Tibet that ended in 1959, that’s when he got his degree. And what I’ve seen is when he pops in with his questions, the expression I’ve often seen on the faces of the scientist is, “Well, it’s interesting you should ask that, because that was the next phase of research we were already anticipating, but we haven’t gotten there yet.” Or, “Oh, well we hadn’t thought of that. That’s actually, that’s a very good question, I don’t know how to answer that.” It’s just again and again he’s right there and he’s pushing the envelope on areas in which he’s had no formal training whatsoever. Okay?

So there’s a wonderfully cultivated mind. And he will refer to, and he’s done this for years now, he’ll refer to, there was a neuroscientist, a Robert Livingston, he and I became good friends. He was one of the pioneers, he’s passed away now, years ago, but one of the pioneers of modern cognitive neuroscience, and uh, lovely man, and he and His Holiness really struck up a friendship. You know? And then His Holiness would refer to him as his friend, as his teacher. Richard Davidson has now met with him now many times, another very fine neuroscientist. The Dalai Lama says, “Oh, here’s my teacher. Here’s my teacher.” I’ve never once, of course I don’t hear everything he says, but I’ve never once ever, in knowing him for forty-one years, I’ve never heard of him ever referring to anyone as his student. Never! [laughs] But multiple times, “Oh, yes, this is my teacher. This is my teacher. This is my teacher.”

So, he’s setting an example, and yet can be very critical, critical as well. Questioning, questioning, and if somebody says something not substantiated or supported with empirical fact, you know, “I heard you. That doesn’t mean I believe you.”

Oh, la so! And now we come back to this theme.


“Considering that the body is impermanent, one avoids all faulty physical behavior, including crooked, hypocritical, and contrived behavior. Considering that the body is impermanent, one does not disdain one’s own life, nor does one commit evil even at the cost of one’s life. Considering that the body is impermanent, one does not crave or cling to enjoyments, but completely offers up everything one has. Son of good family, a bodhisattva meditates by closely applying mindfulness to the body, observing it as a body.”

(9:00) So again that phrase and we’ve seen it right from early on in the one paragraph discourse to Bahiya: in the visual let there be just the visual, in the sounds, in the heard let there just be the heard. Well now view the body but what if you look at it, and it’s almost like having an out of body experience, or some kind of exotic experience, like, "Oh, interesting, where did you come from? What is the nature of this thing anyway? It moves! Wow! And just seeing it as radically other, like it’s just a body, it’s just a body. So one simply views the body as a body, a liver as a liver. Imagine if somebody took out your liver and put it together with three other people’s livers, how would you know [which one is your liver]? It’s just a liver, or sometimes, you know, women ... I know my wife, she really has taken care of her form very, very well, and has beautiful skin. But if one asks her to loan it, you know, “You have such nice skin, could you just loan your skin to my wife, just for this evening because I’d like to take her out and have her look nice?” [laughter] You know and just rolled it up, you couldn’t tell if that’s Vesna’s skin. It’s just skin. So observing it as a body designated, but now here we move on. So all the preceding one could say, well this is Shravakayana, this is Shravakayana. It’s true, that is a common basis, there’s commingling of Shravakayana with the Bodhisattvayana and now we move on:


“Designating the bodies of all sentient beings as one’s own body, one thinks, ‘I shall establish the bodies of all sentient beings as bodies of the Buddha.‘ Just as the Tathāgata’s body is undefiled, so one regards the ultimate nature of one’s own body. By knowing the quality of freedom from defilement, one recognizes the bodies of all sentient beings as having that characteristic.”

“Designating the bodies of all sentient beings as one’s own body,…


So if there is nothing intrinsically mine about this body, if it’s just a body, if the liver is just a liver, hair is just hair, skin’s just skin, and so forth all the way up and all the way down, neurons are just neurons, right, glial cells and so forth and so on. If there’s nothing here that from its own side says I am Alan’s, or I’m Chojun’s [?] or I’m Grand’s, if it’s just a body, then we see that there’s something kind of arbitrary about designating mine on something that’s not intrinsically mine rather like a pair of eye glasses, "Yeah, there are mine they do have prescription for my eyeballs, but it’s a designation. And so if this is a matter than one can impute and un-impute on one particular body then one can also, why not, designate others body as ones own body. (11:45)

After all, this happens all the time in football. I think in European football, also. But the Rams used to belong to Los Angeles, the L.A. Rams, a Los Angeles football team. You know we didn’t have a good stadium and what is it, New Orleans? No, that’s the Saints. Saint Louis, Saint Louis, right. So Saint Louis bought a football team and so then they all moved on and they’re still called the Rams. And so now the people in Saint Louis used to think, “Oh, the Rams, they’re just California, you know? Whatever. West coast hippies.” But now that the Rams have come to Saint Louis, “Our team! Our team!” Right? And in England, I think bloodshed, there’s bloodshed over, you know, Manchester United versus other teams and then, you know, “Our team, our team!. How did that happen? Only by the power of conceptual designation. Right? It’s really wonderful and how they’ll trade players, you know, yesterday he was the enemy and now, “Yay!” because you’re on our side. All conceptual designation and the passion that goes with that is quite intense so Shantideva is doing something much more significant than identifying with a football team here, [laughter] saying designating the bodies of all sentient beings just as parents will designate the bodies of their children, “These are my children, my children. Oh, these are my adopted children. These are the children of my neighborhood. These are the children of my church. These are the children..., etcetera, etcetera.” And you can impute it and you can take it off but as soon as you impute it then you really start caring about it. Who cares about the scores of other peoples football teams? Whatever! Right?

Reading again:

"Designating the bodies of all sentient beings as one’s own body, one thinks, ’ I shall establish the bodies of all sentient beings as bodies of the Buddha.'

So just as one wishes for oneself, “May I transmute my own body into a Buddha’s body.” Then identifying with everybody’s body, "Well, let’s do it just for everybody. They’re all mine.

Reading again:

So, “Just as the Tathāgata’s body is undefiled,” Oh, interesting, now he’s putting a new spin on it. “Just as the Tathagata, the Buddha’s body is undefiled, so one regards the ultimate nature of one’s own body. By knowing the quality of freedom from defilement, one recognizes the bodies of all sentient beings as having that characteristic.”

(14:10) So this whole emphasis on impurity, impurity, impurity, it can sound kind of like really a downer, like what’s wrong with these Buddhists, don’t they appreciate like the Greeks, the ancient Greeks. Look at their art. Look at Michelangelo. Look at Michelangelo’s David, the statue of David, I mean it’s an exquisite piece of art. Right? And it’s not just the marble was good, but the form, the shape. And so many women, such beautiful form, such beautiful form. And so what’s wrong with these Buddhists, don’t they get it, you know? But we’ll see, I mean, just big emphasis on the impurity of it. So why are they doing that? It’s to overcome an obscuration and that is insofar as we’re fixated on, infatuated by, there’s a really good word, infatuated by our own form. When I was training with one yoga teacher, there were mirrors around the walls, and you know, you’ve seen it, yeah? And people doing the asanas and then...[strikes a pose ... laughter] [laughs] Right? And then watching to see if it’s men, especially men, especially men, watching when the ladies come in. {striking a pose... laughter] [laughs] You know? So yoga for the sake of hedonic pleasure. Okay! Whatever! You know. But it can be a real infatuation, a fetish, a fetish for the body builders, you know. Is it a six pack or only a four pack or is it a keg? [laughs] [laughter] It’s just a keg. [laughs] So to overcome that because it’s an enormous distraction and especially as one gets older, maybe one was attractive when as young and then not so much attractive in middle age and then thinking, “Oh, hold on where is the plastic surgeon, where’s the diet, where’s the exercise, Where’s ..., what vitamins do I need to take? Oh no, I have to turn back the tide.” It can consume you right up to death. Will you have an attractive corpse? That’s the final question. That people will look at your corpse and say, "Wow, looks almost alive. [laughs, laughter] And you’ll be hovering up above in the bardo saying, “Oh, crap!” [laughs, laughter] It’s just meat! [laughs]

(16:28) So, is there something really intrinsically impure about, you know, any part of the body, and you know all of the parts? Is there anything intrinsically impure? And the answer is no. I mean, molecules are molecules, liver is liver there’s nothing inherently that’s impure about anything in the body, and anything that comes out of the body but in human view. So what they’re doing is really saying, "Hey, you humans, wake up to what you believe. So imagine going into, you know, when we go to the cafeteria this evening and see some really nice fresh fruit, maybe something really nice, you know? And you look at it and you say, “Oh!” And you take a piece, and you say, “Oh, that looks really tasty.” You know what I’m going to do. Then put it in your mouth, chew it up, and then come up to somebody else and... “Put out your hand, I want to...”{mimes spitting food out?} [laughs] {laughter] and spit the fruit out that you just ate. It was so fresh into your mouth. It’s just saliva in it. And then, "Will you hold out your hand? [laughs] [miming spitting out the fruit?} “This is disgusting! What did you spit that fruit in my...? Yechh! Where’s some soap and water? I want hot water. He spit this chewed up fruit in my hand! It’s disgusting!” Where exactly did the disgusting part come? It was just fruit. Oh, I know, it wasn’t from the fruit it was from this big peg of filth, here! That’s where it is.

Sometimes even a hair falls into a soup. The waiter’s hair falls into the soup. “Take it back. This is disgusting, did you see that hair?” You know? And so it’s just a human fact and this is in India, you know, twelve hundred years ago. [laughs, laughter] It’s the same now, you know, that if it’s somehow gotten inside the body and it comes out again, we don’t want to touch it. Right? Which implies that’s already in our view so it’s massive override since this is the human view, massive override to then look upon that as something pure and attractive.

There was an article I didn’t read, but I saw the title of it. I think it was Time magazine, and it was, the question was, “Why is that when women are sexually aroused, they’re able to do things that are really disgusting,” [laughs] “that they would never do when they were not sexually aroused?” That was the question. And then I’m sure some doctor got into that and explained why [laughter] they would do things that they do when they’re sexually aroused, that they would never do just walking down the street. [laughter] So it’s kind of a temporary insanity, isn’t it? When suddenly [one] goes into just massive override and do things afterward say, “Not me!” Walk away quietly. [laughs]

So all of that it’s skillful means, that’s all it is. It’s not to say that the body is ultimately something disgusting and abhorrent and we should destroy it and be, you know, disgusted at the body, it’s just skillful means. Bring just enough of clarity so that you completely overcome all infatuation, but not so much that you start not taking care of your health. So it’s a real Middle Way once again. Take care of the health, we want this body to be healthy for as long as possible and that’s really good, this vessel, this vessel, this is why I wish the Lamas would take better care of their bodies. They’re really precious, the authentic Lamas. Oh, I want them to live healthy and long, so I’m saddened when they get overweight, they have diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and so forth. “Oh, please don’t! You know we cherish your presences here.” So that’s not infatuation, but these are carriers of great wisdom, of compassion and so forth.

And so, I think sometimes they go overboard. Gen Jhampa Wangdü. Wonderful Lama! Hardly taught anybody. He was a yogi. Did you ever meet him? Gen Jhampa Wangdü He spent all his time up in the mountains. But I was up there with him. He actually let me move into his cottage and I lived there for months when he moved down to Geshe Lamrimpa’s [?] cottage. And, ah, such a yogi! Just yogi’s yogi of a yogi! And there was one point in his life where he said, because he always lived in poverty, and he told me, but very happily, very happily, he said, “Oh, when I was living in this especially poor period of my life, I would take some atta, some brown flour, put it in my little ceramic mug, you know, that everybody has. Pour in some hot water. I’d stir it with my finger, and that would be lunch. And then I would eat it with my finger and that would be lunch.” So, I mean perfect, perfect renunciation, but he also died in his fifties. You know? So there’s a middle way now. Maybe he would have died even if he’d had, you know excellent diet the whole time. It’s not for me to say. But it is a middle way.

(21:30) And so this whole issue that you’ll find so often in Buddhism of the disgusting qualities of the body it’s not to make us despise the body, it’s only use it like filling up a tank but not too much. Use it just enough to overcome the infatuation, the attachment, the fixation. When you’ve done that then stop, and then shift gears, and say, but now the ultimate nature of the body, is there anything impure in that? Absolutely not. And then think about moving into Vajrayana where you dissolve your coarse body into emptiness and out of emptiness you arise as a pure body and viewing the bodies of all others as pure. So all of this needs to be understood in context.

(22:05) So another Mahayana Buddha’s text:

Instruction for one that is reading this transcript as well it is being doing in others transcripts: in the text below we are including Alan’s comments in the text between the marks […].

As it says in the Vīradatta-paripṛcchā, so another Mahayana Buddhist text, “This body gradually comes into being [so there we know it, from the union of the egg and sperm] and is gradually destroyed, [sometimes suddenly, but sometimes just gradually, gradually, just fading out] it is composed of atoms, hollow inside, flexible, and discharging through nine orifices and pores, like an anthill inhabited by snakes. Like Ajātaśatru’s monkey, [I don’t know the background story on this. I just have to leave it, but like Ajatasatru, he was the prince who killed his father and he was buddies with Devadatta who tried to kill the Buddha, that one] Like Ajātaśatru’s monkey it is contentious with its companions. [so I guess he had a nasty, mean-spirited monkey, That’s the implication] Like a bad friend, it is devious. [And that is you can be treating it so well, good diet, good exercise and it can still screw you over. Right? You were taking really good care of your body. Yoga teacher! And that doggone body still split open! (laughter) It’s bugging you ever since. Bad body!] Like a bad friend, it is devious. Like a clot of foam, it is fragile by nature. [With our sixteenth inch, sixteenth, one sixteenth of an inch thick armor, fragile by nature] Like a water bubble, it arises, dissolves, and melts away. Like a mirage, it is deceptive, and like a plantain tree, it has no core when cut down. Like an optical illusion, it is misleading, like a king, it is imperious, [The body can be so demanding. Right? So demanding. Right! So demanding. Bugger!] and like an enemy, it seeks its chance. [The food here is really healthy. I’ve hardly had any problem, but just once we had some of that white salad dressing that went rancid. My body was just waiting for the chance. (snarling sound) Bad stomach for three days. Just give it a chance it will leap at it and make you sick] Like a thief, it is untrustworthy, like an executioner, it has no affection [You may love it, it doesn’t love you back!], and like a foe, it wishes you no good. Like a murderer, it obstructs the life force of wisdom, [Because if we get infatuated with it and we’re just totally lost in hedonic pursuits] like an empty village, there is no one there, and like a potter’s vessel, it finally breaks. Like a pond, it is completely full of impurities, and like a container of bugs, it excretes impurities…Like a tree on a riverbank, it fluctuates and shifts, like the current of a great river, it finally ends in the ocean of death, and like a temporary dwelling, it is an abode of all kinds of misery. Like a homeless shelter, it is not owned by anyone, and like a jailer, it can be bribed… Like a little child, it must always be cared for.

[It also states, same text,] “He who is proud of the appearance of his body, which is an assemblage of impurities has the mentality of a fool, while manifestly going about carrying a vessel of vomit. Snot drips from his nose, unpleasant odors are constantly emitted from his mouth, and his eyes are rimmed with worm-like gunk. Who would be attracted to and cherish that? Although a fool may take a piece of coal and rub it, thinking it will become white, [I... just to clean it off. I have to clean it off, more. Right? Think it will become white?] it never turns white but rubs away, for the fool’s notion is obviously mistaken. Likewise, when an intelligent, hygienic person decides to clean his body, even if he washes it by anointing it and wiping it off a hundred times, the Lord of Death will annihilate it and it will never become clean.

Thus, a bodhisattva constantly regards the body as subject to destruction, while leaking through nine orifices [Two eyes, two ears makes four, two nostrils makes six, mouth makes seven, front and back makes eight and nine. (laughter) And they all leak. (laughs) And whatever comes out of any of them, you would not want on your dinner plate. (laughter) You wouldn’t want to touch it with your finger. Imagine any of them. Somebody trudges in here, says, “Alan here’s some goop of mine from my eye. Would you like to touch it? ” (laughs) “No, thanks!” (laughs) “How about just some wax from my ear? Would you like to touch that? I gots a little bit snot going.” (laughs) Would you like to touch that? How about (spitting sound)? How about ( throat clearing sound)? Like to touch that? And we won’t go any further than that. (laughter) And the answer is always, thanks, but no thanks. Whatever is coming out. Hide it. Put on some perfume. (laughter) “Trick me.” This is what men are always telling women. “Trick me. Here, have some perfume, (laughs, laughter) and put it on.” (laughs, laughter) Because in the medieval period, that was the old way, you know when they thought that bathing was unhealthy, they would just slather on more and more perfume. It must have been really a complex odor. (laughter) So..], a bodhisattva constantly regards the body as subject to destruction, while leaking through nine orifices and he regards his body as an abode of 84,000 kinds of minute organisms. [It’s quietly, just in passing, an interesting point that... and I learned this I think first from Doctor (Tibetan name) a Tibetan doctor drawing on texts that have being around for a thousand years, it’s quite interesting, that’s according to Tibetan medicine that goes right back to Buddhism it’s been understood for hundreds and hundreds of years that there are so 84.000, thousands upon thousands of minute living organism in the body that are too small to be seen with the naked eye. Nowadays that’s just a common place we have microscopes but it’s quite interesting they came up with that same conclusion not that they saw little bits of crud, you know, impurities and so forth but actually they’re living organism. How on earth would they know that? We can’t have a conversation with them. So, but that is, that’s it. And then, you try to keep the friendly ones and expel the unfriendly ones, okay?] A bodhisattva regards the body as the food of wolves, jackals, dogs, and other carnivores that devour raw flesh. A bodhisattva regards the body as being like a contraption held together with bones and sinews. A bodhisattva regards the body as arising from food and drink and not as something independent.". [This is to be understood in detail in that text so obviously there is a further elaboration. And that brings us to the end of the discussion of the close application of mindfulness of body. So we see its root system of this Mahayana presentation in a classic Mahayana text, the root system of that whole presentation there of the body is absolutely in Sravaka soil. The whole emphasis on the impurity of the body, classic, really classic. It runs the whole monastic theme of viewing the body’s impermanence. So, young men, you know I was a young man as a monk, celibate, age twenty-three. You have desires like any other young man. They don’t go away just by shaving your head and putting on a dress, you know? (laughter) It was a good try, but (laughs) it doesn’t work all that well all by itself. And so the desires are still there. I remember when I was in Switzerland, there was one monk who came to me, I was the senior Western monk. So and I was the disciplinarian. I got to crack the whip. It didn’t crack much, but... And one monk came to me. He just had tears in his eyes. He was really weeping and he said, “Alan, the lust is coming up so intensely. It’s just driving me nuts!” So miserable! Lust, just sexual craving. And he became a monk because he wanted to practice Dharma, but it became kind of like a demon possession coming in. And so clearly, if one really wants to devote oneself single-pointedly to studying Dharma, reflecting upon Dharma, practicing Dharma and you’re looking for an utterly simple way of life without all of the myriad complexities of romance, of marriage, of children and all of that, then you really don’t want to experience lust. Other people really do. And then they go out of their way to cultivate it and consider that’s a major source of hedonic pleasure which it can be for a while. But the monastics have simply decided that’s not a route of hedonic pleasure I want to pursue. Too much baggage! And so they like to be here, but then the biological impulses, just the hormones come up. And so that’s why, because that’s what they chose, that’s what they chose. Not somebody else making them, for a true monk or a nun. Then this strong emphasis on the impurity of the body, just, it really does help. I was a monk for fourteen years. It really does help. It does the work, you know. You just start focusing on what’s really there when I’m not projecting all the desirability, the attractiveness and so forth. So it works.].

So we see Shantideva who was a monk of course, his root system is there but then he doesn’t stay there. Then he moves into compassion. He moves into identifying with others bodies, so moves the whole thing into compassion, into bodhichitta, “May I transmute the body of every sentient being into a Buddha body.” Right? And then even goes into purity from there realizing the emptiness of the body then seeing its essential nature is not impure, right, and then goes there with respect to one’s own and others bodies.

I find it because I really am doing my best to follow the Mahayana way, I find it refreshing, that I see the value of looking at the impermanence - very, very, helpful, seeing the impurity. If you don’t want to have the lust that really is helpful, but then not staying there, rising above and transmuting this all into compassion, realization of emptiness and then even pure vision, there’s kind of a freshness there, an expansiveness which I think is quite extraordinary. And then you can see how utterly smoothly, as he made a totally smooth transition from the Shravakayana, Shravaka perspective, impermanence, impurity, non-self, there is no owner and all of that, just classic Shravaka. He embraces that but he doesn’t stop there and he goes into emptiness, into purity, into great compassion. But by the time he’s gone into emptiness and purity you can see it’s going to be a completely smooth transition from there right into Vajrayana. I mean that’s not going to be a bump. So you go from a monk who is meditating on foulness and impurity of the body off to pure vision of Vajrayana and you say, "Wow! Well, that was a smooth spectrum all the way through. Quite spectacular, quite amazing!

Oh, la so! So let’s meditate.

Now we can have a quiet meditation. Practice whatever you find helpful.

Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti

Revised by Mark Montgomery

Final edition by Rafael Carlos Giusti

Posted by Alma Ayon


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