01 Oct 2012
Teaching pt1. Alan revisits the 3rd of the 4 immeasurables, empathetic joy. One of the early lamrim meditations is recognizing precious human rebirth (or literally, body) imbued with leisure and opportunity. This body—especially the subtle body of prana, chakra, and bindu—is likened to a wish-fulfilling gem.
Meditation: empathetic joy preceded by settling body, speech, and mind.
1) settling body, speech, and mind. Let awareness descend into the space of the body and rest in the empty appearances of the 5 elements. Release grasping onto the body, sensations, and feelings. Release the breath, also empty appearances without owner or inherent nature. Release the mind. Release fully with each out breath, and relax more and more deeply without losing clarity.
2) empathetic joy. Consider what value you place on this lifetime/opportunity with leisure to progress along the path to liberation and awakening. Rejoice in this immense opportunity, and resolve to take its essence for your own and others’ benefit. Turn your attention outwards to others who have found such an opportunity and are taking full advantage. With every out breath, shine light of appreciation, and rejoice in their virtue.
Teaching pt2. Times were already degenerate at the time of the Buddha who taught mindfulness of breathing more than any other shamatha practice for those prone to rumination. Breathing out long may be associated with the peaceful. Breathing out short may be associated with the sublime as the pranic system settles. The whole body (of the breath) may be the flow characteristic of the ambrosial dwelling. Once shamatha is achieved, any unwholesome thought is dispelled. In the 19th century, Dudjom Lingpa taught taking appearances and awareness as the path for those whose mind is coarse and nervous system shot. Don’t look for clarity in the mind. Discover clarity by releasing everything that isn’t. Awareness is by nature clear. Just stay at home, and relax in the present moment where it’s real, without losing the flow of knowing. Don’t strive or hope for anything. The present moment and luminosity will rise up to meet you, until awareness is all that remains. There is nothing to achieve, nothing to meditate on. For the substrate consciousness and rigpa, simply release all that obscures that which is already there.
Meditation starts at 13:15
Alan revisits the 3rd of the 4 immeasurable, empathetic joy.
This morning we return to the next of the four immeasurables, empathetic joy.
The emphasis there in the Pali Canon of course is taking empathetic joy in the virtues, the joys of others, but since the overall orientation of shamatha practice just for starters, is to be viewing our own body and mind from the perspective of our substrate consciousness, a continuum of consciousness that carries through from one embodiment to the next, then it actually makes quite good sense to practice from that perspective, with empathetic joy for ourselves. That is empathetic joy for this particular incarnation, this particular embodiment with this very fleeting body that is here just for short time and frankly this very fleeting mind that arises in dependence upon - that is configured by - the body. Both of them are very short stories, in some cases they are merely a poem, there is good poetry and bad poetry, all they have in common is they are short.
(2:15) But the perspective from the substrate consciousness, that’s our home in samsara, we are like homing pigeons, we fly off to one embodiment and then come back and roost for while in the substrate consciousness, and then we fly off to another embodiment thinking each time, thinking this will last, this will last, but we are like the yo-yo that always comes back to the palm, sometimes we sleep a little while. Remember Sleeper? Hangs out but always comes back.
(2:37) So to view our own present existence from the perspective of substrate consciousness is in a way to view our present existence from the perspective that has seen it all. You know if we can really tap fully into our memories, that are conventionally speaking stored within that continuum of consciousness, within the domain of samsara, there is really nothing we haven’t experienced, we can just say, been there and done that, from the highest to the lowest and everything in between: Been there and done that.
So there is tremendous amount of wisdom. Plato, referring to this transmigration, he said everything that we know is really, everything we have a sense of learning, it’s really simply brushing off knowledge we have from past life, past lives, that is within the mundane context.
(3:34) So as we venture into empathetic joy this morning I’d like to bring forth, or highlight a practice many of you are familiar with, because it is right there, right towards the foundation, right towards the beginning of the Lamrim. And that is focusing clearly in upon, what in especially in Indo Tibetan is called - this precious human rebirth, this precious human existence, life actually they say - body. So what is so precious about this body, everybody has got a body? My body is not very especial, old, I mean that is not very special, there are a lot of old bodies around, right? Some of us have better bodies, some of us have worse bodies, but even better bodies get worse. So then that kind of levels us all out.
But the body is the basis. In dependence upon which arises, the mind we can use now, and in that regard, this coarse body, but more importantly the subtle body, the subtle body is the flow of the prana, of the channels, the nadis, the bindus, that makes this kind of a special body, not so cheap, not so easy to acquire. That is just a human body. Well, there are 7 billion of them on this planet a lot of them don’t look all that precious. It is just hard when we see the number of people living in poverty, struggling in one way or another, so many struggle, so many challenges, it doesn’t seem like that great a deal just to have a human body in and of itself, I would have to say that is true, so many people they are born, they struggle, they die.
(5:42) But when we figured Deshung Rinpoche, this precious human rebirth, imbued with leisure and opportunity, and that is that for those of us right here in this room right now and I suspect people listening by podcast, we are so enormously fortunate that we have actually proven it by the fact that we are here, or even now listening back to the podcast , we already have demonstrated by that fact that we don’t have to spend every single moment of our waking hours just trying to survive, because you would not have time to listen these podcasts, right? You couldn’t spare the time, you’d say - I am sorry I am too busy, just too busy. Now many, many people are just too busy just seeking more and more hedonic pleasure. From the hedonic perspective, it’s just the opposite of dharma, it is really quite remarkable, from the hedonic perspective when it comes to the two types of wellbeing, hedonic and eudemonic, when comes to hedonic there is never enough. There is never enough, there is always something more, even if we have some acquisitions we want that something more, something more, something more to our last dying breath, a little bit (trying hard to have one more breath), a little bit more, a little bit…ah (and die), you know it really won’t stop.
But when it comes to eudemonia nothing is fine - thanks I am already full, thanks no problem I do not really need that. So when comes to eudemonia we are completely satisfied already with none, that is the hedonic perspective. It is never enough with the hedonic, but eudemonic, ah, none is ok, because the hedonic is working out pretty well.
And the dharma perspective is just the opposite of that, the monastic ideal: be satisfied with that which is merely adequate for all of the hedonic, be satisfied. Be satisfied with that which is just enough and it is really enough, again enough is different from different people, if you have children it is not enough to not have enough for them, right? If you are in ill-health it is not enough to have no medicine and so forth, different countries, different places, different contexts means enough is different, widely different. But then when you see in your circumstance you have enough, then be content.
(7:44) But when comes from the dharma perspective when comes to eudemonia, genuine happiness following the path - there is never enough. As Tsongkhapa said: when it comes to learning and practice never be satisfied, never be satisfied, be a dharma “preta”. Never satisfied - never enough. So even when you are dying even when you are breathing your last sigh, I not finished, I not finished, so you may have my final breath, I not finished, I am still practicing dharma, I not finished I’m never finished until enlightenment.
(8:37) So precious human rebirth. It is precious because one has found the leisure, one does not have to spend all of one’s time as an animal just surviving and procreating, and one has the opportunity to actually find genuine happiness, that requires of course outside and inside, it is not enough to have the longing, but one must find then, ok, who can help, where is a light that can shine the path, illuminate the path, where’s there some companions? It is hard to do on your own.
(9:10) Individuals like Dudjom Lingpa I think he can by his own. He came in turbo charged. He can get it all directly from his own rigpa, that is rare. For the rest of us having teachers, having spiritual friends, having the outside support, when all of those have come together , the outer mandala and the inner mandala have come together, the yearning to find the path, and then meeting all that is needed from outside to find a path, then that forms which is called the wishing fulfilling gem, and it’s basis is this body, and to recognize that if you have found such a gem, to recognize that first and then recognize in its broader context the rarity of it and that is an empirical fact. There is no point that I am saying here - now you just have to believe, have to believe just because the Buddha said so, authority, tradition, no! Look for yourself - how rare is that? And then just use your imagination, again no blind faith, how precious, how precious. Such a life or having all the wealth of a Bill Gates, which is more valuable? Or having the fame of a Steven Jobs or some movie star something like that, which is more valuable? Which? It is a simple question you can answer yourself, then you see.
(10:31) So once you find such a body, such a life with such opportunity, then if you are a perceptive person then you see: Ah, then this must be cherished. Sometimes that which I am cherishing is very difficult, the body can be very difficult, the mind can be very difficult, better to be very difficult than not have it at all.
(11:29) So let’s not be like the ancient mariner of Tibet of Indian legend, the ancient mariner who went out to great ocean in search of a wishing fulfilling gem, an actual gem, some kind of a high tech device maybe left by some people from UFOs, I don’t know, but a wish fulfilling gem, an actual entity, this is believed widely in classical India, believed by many traditional Tibetan Buddhists, but there is such thing as they say, whether it is literally true, it does not matter so much to us now, but some gem, where if you can find such rare, rare device, you can simply polish it off, you clean it up, you treat it with respect, and then you just focus your intention, you do not need Samadhi, you just focus your intention: may I have this – and any of your mundane desires - wealth, fame you know is the Genie in the bottle , but it doesn’t give you three wishes it gives you as many wishes as you want. You just focus your intention, on some super high tech device maybe from some other galaxy, who knows, but just by focusing your intention, whoa, then it comes out. And any mundane you want, you want women, you want men, you want money, wealth, fame, whatever you want there it is, why not, you know. So wish fulfilling gem, that’s a wish fulfilling gem.
(12:57) And so the ancient mariner, this Tibetan in the old Indian legend, goes out to the great seas and years and years go by, always looking, especially in the ocean. How do you look for them? I don’t really know. But after a long, long time the ancient mariner drops his nets down, and lo and behold, he finds it! He pulls it up and says - Oh, I got one, I got one, I found one, I found what I have been looking for all these years, I got one! And he tries it out, is it really a wish fulfilling gem? Yeah, wow, I’ve got a wishing fulfilling gem. He takes one long look at it, recognizes it, throws it over his shoulder and says - I hope I find another one!
That is us if we do not value this life.
So let’s begin there and extend outwards, empathetic joy.
(14:28) As an expression of delight, of satisfaction taking full advantage of this present opportunity, let your awareness descend now not into the body, not into this mass of flesh, or this field of feelings, pleasant, unpleasant and neutral. Let your awareness descend into the space of the body, and come to rest in these empty appearances of tactile sensations, of the earth element, as substantial as a cloud or rainbow, a mirage. Let the light of your awareness fill this empty space in which empty appearances arise and pass, let you awareness illuminate the entire space. As you release your body, release all grasping onto the body, release all grasping on the sensations arising in the body, release all grasping onto the feelings arising in the body, let it all go and release the grasping that there is a body, really there, and that there are really feelings arising in the body. All of these arise in dependence upon conceptual designation - withdraw the conceptual designation and the reification together with it.
(16:50) And likewise release the breath, the sensations of the breath are more empty appearances, devoid of an owner, devoid of a controller, devoid of inherent nature, appearances of movement - arising in space. Release with your body, speech and mind with every out breath, as if it were your last, total surrender. And once you have given it all away, this out breath, if a breath flows in of its own accord, receive it as a gift, receive just what is offered without taking more and without inhibiting what is given.
(19:00) Let the breath flow in and out without an owner, with no one in charge.
The mind itself can be such a burden, so heavy, so claustrophobic, so harsh, so let’s release it, together with all of its cares and concerns, and all of its ruminations, resting in the flow of awareness release your mind, let it dissolve away, you don’t need it for now, maybe later. And take as a very essence of the instruction for this practice - with every out breath - relax more and more deeply, find fuller dimensions of release and letting go. You’ve not come to the ground yet, there is more to let go, with every out breath relax more and more deeply and simply, without losing clarity, with nothing to be achieved, simply don’t let the natural clarity of your own awareness be obscured by dullness.
(21:58) And now from this perspective of relative stillness and clarity, as if you are having an out of body experience, and an out of mind experience, you with your own intelligence, with your own powers of discernment, what are the opportunities that lay in the palm of your hand in this lifetime with this body? What value would you place on it?
This life in which there is leisure and there is opportunity not only to practice dharma, but the opportunity to venture onto a path, a path of irreversible transformation, maturation, liberation and awakening. How rare and how precious is that? As if we are practicing pure perception in Vajrayana, we look through the veils of hedonic suffering, the challenges that rise up to meet us objectively, we see through that to a deeper reality, a reality of immense opportunity, precious beyond all reckoning.
(26:14) And rejoice in the opportunity that lies in the palm of your hand, cherish it with the resolve to take the very essence of this life, by putting the body and mind to the greatest possible use for your own and everyone’s else benefit.
(27:30) And then turn your attention outwards, avoid any possibility of any sense of elitism, of superiority insofar as we have a special opportunity the only realistic response is gratitude and a sense of responsibility. And turn your attention outwards to others who also have found such leisure and opportunity. And with each out breath, breathe out the light of your heart, a light of appreciation, of satisfaction, of joy at the flourishing of others, especially those who take full advantage of the opportunity that lies before them, and take the very essence of what means to be human being, this precious fully endowed human life.
(30:48) You may attend to those who lived in the past who took the essence of this life, found the path and followed the path, some even to its culmination, to those in the present who are doing so, and those in the future, as if we stand up and give them a standing ovation, applause, delight, rejoicing and with each out breath embrace them with the light of gratitude, rejoicing in their virtues.
(36:00) Release all appearances, and release all effort to extend your awareness out to any object, total release of effort, and let your awareness come and rest in its own nature, naturally still and naturally clear. .
Times were already degenerate at the time of the Buddha who taught mindfulness of breathing more than any other shamatha practice for those prone to rumination. Breathing out long may be associated with the peaceful. Breathing out short may be associated with the sublime as the pranic system settles.
(37:22) Already during the time of the Buddha 26 hundred years ago, it was already said then, from the Buddhist perspective, that was a degenerated period. The other bodhisattvas said oh, too degenerated for me, I am staying up here, but this one - Gautama said - I come, so he came down, 26 hundred years ago, degenerate India. And within that society, within that time and place, he identified those who were especially strong in rumination, of course he recommended and taught more than any other practice during those times, according to the pali canon - mindfulness of breathing, which in a way is so effortless, I mean we don’t have to try to breathe, just be with what is already there. And he laid out those four stages, attending - breathing in long - one note – I’m breathing in long, breathing out long, so you remember, but then and I also noticed just this morning that he gave four descriptions and it just suddenly struck me, oh they’d have to be a match, that they have to be a match.
(39:08)He said - in that analogy, when he said - this mindfulness of breathing, when practiced and developed, remember when he said – it was like a great cloud out of season, that suddenly expels and vanquishes all the dust and grime and smog in the air, just in an instant , poof, like that? And then he said, - this practice, when developed and cultivated, it’s peaceful, that’s the first thing he said, it is peaceful. And that it is soothing, it’s relaxing, it is like, ah… Breathing in long one notes I breathe in long, breathing out long one notes the long exhalation, ah…, after all the hurly burly, after all the agitation, all the hectic-ness of the outside world, that’s peaceful. And then as a number of you already found gradually the whole system settles, your whole pranic system your whole breathing system settles in natural state, you may suddenly kind of drop down a floor.
Breathing in short one notes breathing in short and breathing out short one breathes out short and the Buddha said - it’s sublime, it’s sublime, he just knocked it up a notch, you really want do this, I don’t want to stop. Strangely enough I am really enjoying breathing, who would have ever thought?
The whole body (of the breath) may be the flow characteristic of the ambrosial dwelling. Once shamatha is achieved, any unwholesome thought is dispelled.
(40:37) And then attending to the whole body when one breathes in and attending to the whole body one breathes out, you get into flow. Whether you are attending to your whole body as Asanga suggests, whether you are attending the whole body of the breath as Budhaghosa suggests, both are fine. But you get into that flow and then he said this is an ambrosial dwelling - just want to go with that flow. And finally you come to the culmination of this practice where your pranic system settles in its natural state, your mind settles in its natural state, the coarse mind dissolves in the substrate consciousness into, to use Pali terminology, into the bhavanga, the ground of becoming, your home in samsara, which is by nature pure and luminous only adventitiously or temporary obscured.
(41:26) And when you come to that stage, breathing in long, breathing in, one soothes, one calms, one settles the composite of the body, in other words the whole system, the composite, and breathing out long one settles, one calms, one soothes, one rests in equilibrium, in its natural state, the whole system of the body. The body has been brought to balance and you’ve achieved shamatha. And at that point he (Buddha) says, in reference to his metaphor of the cloud - a cloud burst, the rain coming and purifying the air, he said - and it dispels in an instant any unwholesome thoughts that might arise - in other words your body mind is becoming pliant, the mind becomes clear, the mind is free of the five obscurations, so even if some little creepy crawly mental affliction or some unwholesome state should arise, it comes up, and then you just can’t stand it, and it just floats downstream, it doesn’t have the oomph.
(42:32) So once you have achieved that, let alone the actual dhyanas, let alone the four immeasurables, let alone vipashyana, stream entry and all of that, once you achieved that, just that, if you are living in a degenerated era during the time of Buddha, you are no longer are living in a degenerate era because your home is not in your body which is in a degenerate era, your home is not in your mind which is heavily conditioned by your degenerate era, your home is in your substrate consciousness which is not in that time or in any other time, it’s the keeper, it’s the one that carries through all the times, good times and bad times and by nature - luminous and pure, that’s your home.
(43:14) So it doesn’t matter what time you are living in, and does not matter what place you are living in either, because that is not what the substrate is. All of those times and places those are the appearances arising to the substrate, but you’re home. So now whatever characteristic there may be about your time and place - no longer relevant, not your business, at least not for you because your perspective, your home now is not there.
In the 19th century, 1860, Dudjom Lingpa taught taking appearances and awareness as the path for those whose mind is coarse and nervous system shot.
(43:49) Let’s jump to the 19th century, 1860, Dudjom Lingpa out there in the wild lands of nomatic Tibet, wild cowboy country, really sparsely populated. Speaking to his nomadic fellows, living in a tent, he never even had a monastery, living in his yurt. And he speaks about the methods of shamatha, visualization methods for focusing on a bindu at the heart or a Buddha image and so forth, very good no problem but he said he said you know if your mind is coarse , if you are really prone to prana or problems that is imbalances in the nervous system, then really applying yourself to such practices, such shamatha methods may make you just go catatonic, which is exactly not the purpose of shamatha practice. In which case he said, for those of us living in a degenerate time with strong rough minds, minds heavily prone to mental afflictions, the modern word would be neurotic, and with a lot of mental afflictions he said – those other practices are not going to work out so well for you, for you – better to just sit back and watch the show and take appearances and awareness as the path and let them be, and just watch the movie, and watch your mind disappear, settle your mind in its natural state. So that is what he taught to his nomadic contemporaries out in the wild lands of Tibet. When actually dharma wise things were pretty darn good. There were these incredible masters of different traditions, all of the traditions, and there were six thousand monasteries, and you can say well, that was contemplative center for planet earth. It is not saying that Buddhism is better, it is simply saying that I don’t think there was any society on the planet that had a higher density of contemplatives, monasteries, people utterly devoted to dharma, than Tibet in the mid 19th Century. It is just a historical fact. Mongolia might be a runner up, and of course adjacent Bhutan, all part of the same culture.
Now let’s see what is being recommended in Modernity:
Don’t look for clarity in the mind. Discover clarity by releasing everything that isn’t. Awareness is by nature clear. Just stay at home, and relax in the present moment where it’s real, without losing the flow of knowing. Don’t strive or hope for anything. The present moment and luminosity will rise up to meet you, until awareness is all that remains. There is nothing to achieve, nothing to meditate on. For the substrate consciousness and rigpa, simply release all that obscures that which is already there.
(45:46) So that was about 150 years ago, and now here we are in modernity. Where the norm is neurotic, that which is considered to be healthy is neurotic and the primary antidotes are entertainment and drugs and work. Did I leave out anything? Maybe if you are religious, rituals once in a while. So in this modern world the pace of life, the multitasking, the bombardment, everything that we already know, the normal person has a nervous system that is pretty well shot, I mean not to the point of total dysfunctional, just modern dysfunction. And the mind that rides upon that nervous system, the pranic system, the nervous system also - the normal is quite neurotic from the perspective of the Buddha, from the perspective of many, many others cultures, that were not caught in this morass that we call home. Mind’s neurotic and the body is sick. That’s normal. And degenerate times - pretty intense.
(47:28) So what to do in these times? When we look within and we try to practice and we can’t find clarity. We are looking for it in the wrong place. You are looking for clarity in your mind - that is kind of like going to downtown Los Angeles in September and looking into the sky and looking from clarity, it’s all smog. You are looking in the wrong place the awareness that’s looking for clarity, is looking in the wrong place. The awareness that’s looking for clarity is clear, it is clear, it is by nature clear; it can’t help it. It’s the substrate consciousness, so don’t look for clarity - discover clarity by releasing everything else it isn’t. Release, don’t strive, release. So if you are looking for clarity you are looking in the wrong place that with which you are looking is clear. The effort to balancing the mind is so difficult, so difficulty, maybe impossible. If you can’t balance the mind get rid of it!
That is my motto. If you don’t like your mind disown it. I gave you a chance and you haven’t lived up to my expectations, you are fired! I am just resting in awareness now, mind you can fade off, you are not my problem, mind, go and entertain yourself.
(49:02) Don’t strive to balance your mind, maybe is not possible, too screwed up. Then release it, release the identification with it, release the reification of it, just let it go and come to rest. When all the releasing has taken place, come to rest in the place that is left over and that is just the nature of your own awareness.
(49:27) It is easy when we strive, not only for 6 weeks, but when we strive for 6 years or 40 years or longer, it is easy to lose confidence in our ability to accomplish anything, shamatha, bodhichitta, vipashyana, any of these glorious things we hear about. It is really so often feels like being a beggar with no money and wandering down this famous road in Beverly Hill, the Rodeo Drive, I have been there, I didn’t buy anything, but I watched where the rich people shop, I watched the rich people in their restaurants, I just drove by, because they didn’t tax me for driving by, I got to drive by for free, they didn’t have a toll. You too can look at the rich people, it was free. But I knew that if I got out of my car and looked at the menu, I would have said oooh.
So often, listening teachings from wonderful Lamas it often feels like being a beggar and they are showing you menus, wonderful menus, look at the menu, wonderful menu: it begins with shamatha, it costs only three thousand lifetimes, and then we move to the main course, vipashyana, bodhichitta , they are a little bit more expensive, and then we move to Stage of Generations and Completion, or if you would like a desert we have threkchö and thogyal. And to the beggar it is all looks really good, and makes you just salivate until you are drowning in your own saliva because you cannot afford anything. All you are doing is drowning in your own saliva, choking on your own drool, gosh I wish I could afford any of that, but I can’t afford anything!
(51:48) So it is very easy to lose confidence that we can’t accomplish any of these things, so I would say give up, give up hope. That’s what I would say. Give up hope that you can accomplish anything, in this day and age I think it’s maybe impossible, except for really rare people like Dudjom Lingpa. Maybe impossible to accomplish anything so don’t accomplish anything, discover what is already there, which cannot be accomplished. If you don’t have it you will never get it, not in three countless eons, or ten times that. If you don’t have a substrate consciousness you can’t buy it for love of money. This poor piece of paper? Out of luck, never get it. The sheer luminosity, the purity of your own substrate consciousness, you will never accomplish it, if you don’t have it, you will never get it. But since you already have it, there is nothing to be accomplished. Just release and let go everything else and of course that is true all the way down to rigpa, if you don’t have it, you will never accomplish it. So give up any notion of accomplishing anything and just release all that’s obscuring that which you already have.
(53:04) Some of you find it difficult to meditate for longer sessions, asking if it is okay if the session is only this short, or this short. One of you mentioned 5 minutes. Is that too short? No, I think it is too long. I think five minutes may be too long. How can you meditate for five minutes? I just tried. I just failed. I will try again. I am always failing, I am never meditating for five minutes. I am just failing, failing, failing. I am still failing. I am still not able to meditate for 5 minutes. Because 5 minutes is a concept and I can’t meditate for a concept. I can either meditate now or not, that is my only choice. But I don’t want to meditate, I am tired so I just want to stop meditating. I don’t want to do anything, I just want to sit here. What’s left over is awareness, home. Five minutes is much too long, maybe if you are beginner, maybe one breath, one whole in breath out breath, don’t move a muscle, but for one in breath and outbreath just let your awareness just rest at home, don’t move a muscle, you don’t have to change your posture, one in breath, out breath, stay home. Now how hard was that? I think the answer was - a little bit. That means the session was too long, one in and out breath. I can’t meditate for one in breath one out breath. I can only meditate for part of one in breath, and another part, and another part, then part of an out breath. When my sessions have almost no duration at all, then I feel – okay, I’m getting pretty close. Now I think I’ve found the right direction. But 5 minutes seems like an eternity.
In one whole in breath out breath seems like all day, hard to meditate all day unless you’ve achieved the first dhyana. So don’t meditate, and don’t practice shamatha and give up all hope of achieving shamatha, you’ll probably never do it, just stay home and relax. Right there in the present moment, it’s really easy. Any of you who still think that awareness of awareness is difficult, you simply haven’t understood, you are making it too complicated. Just rest without doing anything, without slipping into non reality of the future because it has not happened or into the past which has already happened but no longer is, so just stay where it’s real, relax there without exerting yourself to go anywhere else, even out to the sense fields, if they arise let them arise, big deal!
Don’t strive for anything, don’t try to accomplish anything don’t hope for anything, you probably will be disappointed, so give up already. Give up all hope ye who enter here. Just relax without losing the flow of knowing, without losing the natural clarity of your own awareness which is your birth right, just rest there.
And if at times you get drowsy, and you feel like you want to fall sleep, then fall sleep; sleep as long as you like, just like if you get hungry, eat until you are full. And if you need a lot of sleep, take a lot of sleep, some people are quite skinny, they should eat more .If you need a lot of sleep, you need a lot of sleep, be happy. Don’t try to achieve anything. Whether your eyes are open or shut, you can’t shut the eyes of awareness anyway so don’t worry about it. The eyes of awareness never close.
So that’s the path with no accomplishment, nothing to achieve, nothing to meditate on.
(57:38) At this point Alan talks about one image which he associated with awareness of awareness. Let’s try to summarize this image making some adaptations.
Imagine a barn, an empty barn, no lights, all dark and in the middle of the barn, something called a forklift. A platform that has an engine that makes it go up and down. And so imagine laying on your back in the supine position, on that forklift, and you are looking right at the top of the roof, right at the middle of the roof , and in this dark barn, you see there is a crack, in the very top of the roof where the two sides meet, there is a very narrow crack, you can see the light coming in all the way through and the rest of the barn is dark, and in fact the crack is right above your eyes, so you decide to focus there, it’s very thin, very narrow, you are totally relaxed, and you just let your gaze where the light is. And you relax and simply rest there, attending to that narrow band of light. And then somebody turns on the forklift, and gradually elevates you so that your eyes, your whole body, and of course your eyesight, gradually ascend, ascend, ascend up, to where that band of light is, that crack in the roof. And that which looked very, very narrow, almost just paper thin when you were down at the bottom of the
barn, as you are coming up, it seems to actually get broader because you are getting closer to it.
And broader and brighter until eventually the forklift takes you all the way up, until your eyes are right next to that crack, and then it’s so close you can’t even see the barn anymore, you can’t see the roof anymore because all you can see is space filled with light, and it’s open in all directions. Focusing on the present moment in awareness of awareness, resting right there in the immediacy of the present, it seems like you have no will or room, it seems like such a narrow bandwidth of time, how long is it? One second? Half a second? How much of a fraction of a second? Really small right? Because it’s closed in so tightly from the future, and the past, that when you are trying to rest there, the mind is so easily slipping into some fantasy about the future, or memories about the past, it seems like a very small bandwidth in the present moment.
But as you rest more and more deeply in it, and the forklift rises, as your awareness settles more and more simply without elaboration, without any encumbrances, in this immediate present moment, releasing all else, then the present moment in its natural luminosity and space rises up to meet you, until your eyes then are no longer seeing the barn, and all there is, is this space and luminosity.
So rest in that present moment and rest more and more deeply until all that remains is the open luminosity of your own awareness, and you see there was nothing to accomplish and it required no effort or any hope and when all is said and done it really doesn’t matter how damaged or screwed up your body and mind is because they are both in the barn. And that is not where you are attending, you are attending something beyond the barn, it was never encumbered by this barn, or any other barn, wide open, clear and pure, never to be achieved only to be discovered and to be discovered by releasing all else.
Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Revised by Cheri Langston
Final edition by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Posted by Alma Ayon