01 Oct 2012

Teaching: Alan begins by exploring why it is said that dzogchen is particularly effective in degenerate times. He suggests that when the teachings are degenerate, society is degenerate, the mind is shot, the body is shot, they become difficult vehicles to transmit the dharma. By going directly to awareness, dzogchen bypasses culture, body, and coarse mind. 

Alan presents the misnomered placebo effect as a miracle for modern science and medicine because they do not understand consciousness. Both modern medicine and faith healing are disempowering the mind, by attributing its effects to another.

Alan revisits the 2nd close application of mindfulness to feelings by commenting on verses 88-92 of Ch. 9 of the Bodhicaryavatara. Does suffering truly exist? If so, one could not experience joy. Can suffering and joy exist at the same time? No, as there is no such thing as an unexperienced feeling. This type of investigation benefits contemplatives who have achieved dhyana. Because of OCDD in our ordinary mind, we cannot merely choose to stop conceptually designating, nor is it a serviceable basis for investigating the nature of phenomena. When probing into the nature of feeling, it dissolves. Feeling is a way of experiencing/apprehending, and is not in the object itself. Suffering is designated as suffering, and once the conceptual designation is released, it is liberated.
Meditation: mindfulness of feelings preceded by mindfulness of the body.

1) mindfulness of the body. Let awareness remain motionless, holding its own ground. Let awareness illuminate the space of the body without entering into it nor becoming immersed by it. Observe the space of the body from awareness’ own place. Illuminate the tactile sensations of the body. Is there anything substantially there from its own side? 

2) mindfulness of feelings. Feelings do arise, but how do they exist? Attend closely, and penetrate feeling with samadhi to find its core. Penetrate through the feeling to the tactile sensation, and see if the feeling lies therein. Probe right into the origin of pain. Does investigation have any impact on pain—i.e., are you participating, or is pain simply being presented to you?

Meditation starts at 1:08:25

Download (MP3 / 57 MB)



The teachings below is composed by: a) summary of each theme and b) Alan’s comments of each theme


Alan begins by exploring why it is said that Dzogchen is particularly effective in degenerate times. He suggests that when the teachings are degenerate, society is degenerate, the mind is shot, the body is shot, and they become difficult vehicles to transmit the dharma. By going directly to awareness, Dzogchen bypasses culture, body, and coarse mind.

Alan’s comments:

I’d like to give a footnote to the whatever that was this morning, and the footnote pertains to Dozgchen and the statement that I alluded to briefly, and that is a kind of in the air in the Dzogchen tradition. I’ve heard this a number of times, that when times become very degenerate in multiple ways, mental afflictions are very strong, society very degenerate and so forth, during very degenerate times, that’s a time when Dzogchen will be especially powerful, a very powerful means, very effective in bringing about profound transformation, liberation, awakening. So one might wonder why not in good times, why degenerate times? I have some thoughts about that that may be true, maybe not, but I will share them and you can try them on for size.

When dharma is really flourishing, when the institutions of dharma are really healthy and there have been many occasions when they have been, it kind of comes in ebbs and flows, it is not homogeneously bad or homogeneously good, but there are times like when a great reformer like Tsongkhapa comes, and suddenly there are just bursts of clarity, or there is just the extraordinary, the golden area of Nalanda University. The time of the Buddha of course, but there been these surges in these eras of history throughout Asia because that is where Buddhism largely flourished over the last twenty five hundred years. And then other times when it really goes into decline, the 9th, the 10th century in Tibet, there was a lot of decline, but when dharma is really, when society is really flourishing, when there is not really much in the way of degeneration, the dharma is there, the institutions of dharma, practitioners, the teachings, the transmissions, when it is all very healthy, then to practice dharma by way of the culture when it is really healthy, then why not? Practicing heavily acculturated dharma where there is a lot of your own culture in the dharma, a lot of Tibetan Buddhism is very Tibetan, a lot of Japanese Buddhism is very Japanese, and Chinese, and now frankly a lot of Western Buddhism is very western, so much so you are kind of wondering which is the Buddhist part? It looks like a homeopathic dose! So when it’s really healthy then you go by way of culture and there is no downside to it.

(3:15) But when there is a lot of degeneration when the institutions themselves have some pretty strong degenerate elements to them, when the society itself is degenerate, when the transmission often is degenerate, heavily commodified, commercialized, trying to please the customers - that kind of thing. That’s degeneration, that’s clearly degeneration. So in such cases where the society around is quite degenerate and then because of the impact of society on one’s mind, one’s mind is quite degenerate, strong mental afflictions, strong delusions, strong craving, hostility, because they are not even regarded as mental afflictions they are regarded as just being normal. So when one’s mind is degenerate and then when there are so many contaminates in the environment, pollutants, pesticides, all kinds of ways where we are monkeying with nature. And the myriad ways through which, the beating that our nervous system takes by just adopting the modern way of life, I mean that goes by way of the nervous system and then how many stress related illnesses are there? Probably too many to count, and so when there is degeneration of the body by means of injury, by way of society, by way of life and so forth, the degeneration of the mind for so many reasons, the degeneration of the society one can look – well if you went in by way of society, by way of cultural institutions and so forth, you are going to pick up a lot of grime on the way. If you come in by way of your mind it’s going to be a rocky road. By way of your body – it’s a damaged body, by way of the nervous system and so forth, so that’s going to be a tough road to hoe, you know. And overall developmental approaches where you roll up your sleeves and you ask: ok now, let’s go, what can we do to achieve enlightenment, what shall we do, what shall we do? Well those are very well when you have a really healthy body, a really healthy mind, very pure mind, developmental approach really works.

(5:26) If you have watched the movie The Yogis of Tibet, that guy doing the Yogic exercises for Tumo, man oh man, I was thinking, who could do that here, and I was thinking maybe just Alonso, maybe Alonso, but Alonso’s mamma? Forget it! I mean that takes a really young body, a really healthy body and you’d have to really work out. The rest of us over twenty, probably over the hill - so sorry Cassia, over the hill Cassia. But if you got a really good body for that, that is incredibly developmental using these strong asanas, jumping up into the air, going into full lotus, slamming down, holding your breath and while doing visualization and realizing emptiness, so if you are up for it, it works, it’s fantastic.

(¨6:20) Likewise the developmental approach to shamatha, ok here is the Buddha image focus on it and it is almost like being a wrestler and saying there is your mind, there is you - go for it! And if you’ve got a strong healthy and virtuous mind, supple, vigorous you just take your mind and you wrestle and you pin it. And you pin it to the Buddha - I give! And you achieve shamatha. But if your mind is the big powerful wrestler, and you are coming in as a little 90lb weakling, guess who gets pinned?

(7:05) So when things are well with your body, with your mind, with society and dharma institutions and so forth and so on, the development approach has proven itself, this is not speculation, it is true. It has proven itself to be effective in many, many times.

(7:11) But when outer and inwardly there is a lot of degeneration then that may actually not work, not work very well, just may be a struggle and then lots of stress, lots of lung, lots of struggle, struggle, struggle, depression, fatigue and so forth. In which case then Dzogchen is kind of like the one thing left over we haven’t tried, and that is instead of asking what can we do to achieve enlightenment, the question is what can we stop doing to achieve enlightenment, but no, not to achieve enlightenment, to realize enlightenment, to unveil enlightenment, a way that bypasses culture?

(7:46) Of all the teachings I’ve had in Buddhism for the last 42 years I don’t know of any really that I can say are more culture free than Dzogchen, I have heard Dzogchen teachings from early on - the 8th century, 14th century, 19th century and 20th century, it’s just timeless, I mean for actual practice I am sure a scholar can get in there and find some syntax or something, but overall it’s just timeless teachings. And again whether it’s Tibetan, Mongolian, Indian, it’s placeless, also its location free and culture free. And so none of the downside of the culture and minds degenerate that is it’s outside the culture , it does not degenerate, and doesn’t entail getting there and working with the mind but rather releasing the mind, it doesn’t come by way of the body, by way of the mind, it does a double bypass and goes right to awareness. So in such degenerate times you might want to just skip culture, skip history, skip our location, skip our bodies, skip the mind and do a quadrupled bypass and go right into awareness itself and then let the path rise up to meet us.

(8:47) Now Dzogchen of course when presented as something that is free of effort, spontaneous, all of that, that’s really good, what is the word - branding, marketing, it’s very good for marketing because nowadays people are very busy and so if you tell them we have something called Dzogchen, it’s a Rolex of all of Tibetan Buddhism, the Rolls-Royce, and by the way it’s effortless and people are really busy and lazy think: count me in, count me in. And so they receive the teachings on Dzogchen and lo and behold they like them because they are really likable and so then a lot people come to retreats because they really like them.

(10:02) And if the teacher that popularized Dzogchen, picks on that, says - Oh I will just teach Dzogchen all time and just tell people, never mind the other more basic teachings, I am just giving the pinnacle of teachings, the highest teachings, I am just giving Dzogchen, never mind shamatha. The sutrayana? That is for inferior people, not like you, my clientele. So just practice shamatha, you don’t need six perfections, you don’t need the sutrayana business and you really don’t need all that visualization and so forth. No, just go with Dzogchen, and if one is a person of superior faculties and you hear the teachings and you gain realization of rigpa, then they are right. But if you have medium faculties and they tell you just to rest in open presence and you do that for three weeks and become a vidyadara, then they are right. But if you are not of superior or medium faculties but you have dull faculties and then you just hear: Oh, I just practice Dzogchen all the time, I’ll just practice Dzogchen. Well that is about as realistic, I mean if you really think you are going to achieve enlightenment, it is about as realistic as thinking I am going to watch Nova on the Discovery channel for the next thirty years and get a Nobel Prize when I finish - in science. It’s really the same, you are not doing any of the work, you are not getting the education, there is no path to that, you are watching Nova, there is no path, there is no sequence, why should there be? It’s entertainment. It is educated scientific entertainment, and it’s very good, but likewise there is no path, they don’t say watch this for a month and then we will give you the next month, it is not an education, there is no degree and you don’t have to do anything, you are just sit there and practice open presence in front of the television. So as you can see I am very skeptical of teaching Dzogchen devoid of context and Dzogchen without any sense of a path.

(11:50) Because the great teachers like Dudjom Lingpa and Lerab Lingpa and Padmasambhva and Karma Chagmé Rinpoche, absolutely no question, there’s a path there, and again if you are of sharp or medium faculty, you do not need the path, Boom, you just go right into rigpa, you realize it and on you go. But if you are not one of those rare, rare individuals, then let’s not kid ourselves. And it goes right back to doing whatever preliminary practices necessary.

(12:09) Now I think of my own precious teacher, my primary Dzogchen Lama, the Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche, for whom I served as principal interpreter for about 7 years, from 1990 to 1997, and he just taught during this period of teaching, that one phase of his teaching, because he taught for about forty years, not teaching much anymore because he is quite old, but for that period he just went back to text after text that laid out the path. That’s all he did. He went through two texts, it was really one long text but it became two volumes on the union of Mahamudra and Dzogchen, all laying out a path. It was exquisite. Preliminaries into shamatha, boom, and then you go on to vipashyana and on you go. We finished that and then we went on to Padmasambhava, Natural Liberation path, into shamatha, vipashyana, boom! When we finished all of those and I asked him if he wanted to translate something more, he said okay, Vajra essence! A one line reference too, during the preliminaries, he didn’t even unpack them, just saying - do them, and then shamatha, vipashyana, boom, on its way! That is all he taught, for 7 years, I was translating for him, he took that nail and pounded it into my thick skull and counter sunk it, and counter sunk it three or four times, to make sure at least the interpreter got it!

(12:27)There is a path here and there is a sequence to it, and just to do a little bit of shamatha, a little bit of vipashyana and a little bit of Dozgchen and just kind of doing that over time, well it’s a Nova all over again. You are not really following a path you are sowing a lot of good seeds and hoping for the next life that maybe one day, in a future life, you’ll get around to the path, by sowing a lot of good seeds this time. Now that‘s very wishful thinking.

(13:50) So there it is, but I think that is why it is said that Dzogchen is very, very powerful in degenerate times because then we give up hope, we give up hope on the external refuges, and this is in no way suggesting that we do not rely on Lamas, but very, very mature guru relationship recognizes really fundamentally going for the non-duality of your own mind and that of the guru and not idolizing the guru that is somebody outside.

(14:38) But I think during the degenerated times in, it’s cut us lose from all of the lovely ornamentation that can grow up around the beauties of Tibetan Buddhism and Indian Buddhism and Japanese Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism and South East Asian Buddhism, and it just cuts like a knife right through that to the core and say, ok, now here is the ultimate refuge, and here is the path, free of ornamentation, unelaborated, straight and direct, there it is. So that was a little footnote. (15:13)

I found a very interesting question that was not asked. I don’t know why this particular question came up that wasn’t asked but it came up, so gosh what can I do?

I have to answer, right? The question was – Arthur C Clarke is a brilliant science fiction writer, very ingenious mind for science fiction. The question was – what were Clarke’s 3 laws? So here are Clarke’s three laws. Let’s see if this is worth spending our precious time on.

  • When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. ( Alan - I think it’s a true law )
  • The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them, to the impossible. (Alan – I think that one is true too, I really like that one.)
  • Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. ( Alan– of course for whom? For the person who doesn’t understand the sufficiently developed technology. For an outsider – oh it’s magic, right? Lasers are magic. I just checked out a little bit of history, the first one was developed in the 60’s using a ruby crystal. The fact that it should be possible in principal was already laid out by Max Planck, a great pioneer in quantum mechanics and Albert Einstein, lo and behold. So they laid it out, it’s theoretical possibility, and then from 1959 to 1960 there was really a concerted effort. People picked up the sense this should really be possible, and a lot of research went in there in 1960, developed the first laser and then so many different types of lasers since then, but if you don’t understand the technology, and it actually relies on quantum mechanics, then lasers are just flat out magic. If you understand the technology then you understand it’s just really cool technology.

So those are the answers to the unasked question. We have another unasked question - this question is in light of that ( previous one). – Do miracles exist and what are they? This is not from Arthur C Clarke, this is from B Alan Wallace, fresh out of the oven. You want to know what a miracle is -

(19:00) A miracle is simply an event that stems from a dimension of reality you haven’t yet comprehended. So clearly I was inspired by Arthur C Clarke. Magic is just technology you don’t understand. A miracle is something that does happen, miracles happen all the time but we call them miracles because we don’t understand how they happen, and they came from some place we don’t understand, let’s say some dimension of reality that we don’t understand. The word is used rather frequently - miracles of modern medicine.

And so for a person that was not medically trained, your jaw drops and you say that is just amazing, look at he can do, fantastic it’s a miracle, miracle of modern medicine, right? For those who devise that technology, that treatment what have you, there is nothing mysterious about it - nothing miraculous about it at all, because they actually understand how works. Or miracles of modern science, same thing if you are not a scientist you look at that and say, Oh, that is a miracle of modern science! If you are a scientist and have been working in that field, nothing mysterious, nothing miraculous about it, so it’s all a matter of perspective. If you are an outsider it is a miracle, if you are an insider it’s just something that happens.

(20:36) But what dimension of reality have we largely not comprehend in a modern world despite all of the marvelous breakthroughs of modern science? Is there anything that looms large, that has an enormous impact on our lives, on reality as a whole, on our joys and our sorrows, on the flourishing or lack of flourishing in human civilization that we simply do not understand at all, that is one of those un-comprehended dimensions of reality? And I would say that which looms largest above anything else is consciousness. So intimate, so clear, so obviously existent and yet scientifically speaking, there is no consensus about any definition, they cannot define it, they have not agreed on any definition, that’s an empirical fact. They cannot measure it by any instrument of technology it’s immeasurable, thus far, maybe one day but not yet. They don’t know the necessary and sufficient causes for it, they don’t know when it emerges and how it emerges, they don’t know what happens at death, they don’t know how it interfaces with the brain and they don’t know its role in nature. So I would say scientific knowledge of consciousness hovers marginally above zero. Although there is plenty of literature out there, but philosophically and scientifically speaking, this is the great frontier, and so much of what we call miracles that are not miracles of science, miracles of medicine. But just say – well it’s just a miracle, person who was healed or this happened, or that happened, it is a miracle, it is a miracle! Well I can’t imagine every single case but I will imagine in many, many, many cases the dimension of reality from which that apparent miracle or that apparent magic arose is this almost entirely unknown dimension of reality called consciousness.

(22:25) So it is unknown, but the unknown quality, the extent of ignorance about consciousness I think is largely unknown. So it’s one of those sad cases where you are not only ignorant but you are ignorant about how ignorant you are. Because you cover it over with illusions of knowledge, pretending whether consciously or unconsciously, I think it’s mostly unconsciously because I don’t think there are that many dishonest people in modern science. Confused? Sure, but dishonest I sure there must be some but I don’t think they are a significant factor, I don’t think so, or in modern medicine. People really deliberately out to deceive? The pharmaceutical industry I think there are quite a few people deliberately out to deceive. There is just too much money at stake, and they really do deceive. To say it is criminal is just way too wimpy a term because they are harming so many people. When they put drugs on the market that they know are harmful and they cover it over like Gyatrul Rinpoche often said, like a kitten that poops and then covers it over with sand. They shit and then they cover it over with advertising and lobbying and so forth, so I think that is really sociopathic. But of course there are also many benevolent, altruistic and honest people in the industry as well, so it gets very complicated.

(23:41) But in terms of one of the miracles that really should be called flat out a miracle, I want to return to a horse that isn’t quite dead, so I am going to beat it a little bit longer until it’s totally dead, and that is the placebo effect.

(23:52) If you thought it had any life in it at all, if you are willing, in a public context, to say those words, ‘placebo effect’, again, I am now going to try to beat it out of you, so you’ll immediately break out into hives as soon as you start to say it, because it’s too humiliating, it’s too deceptive.

(24:18) I just read this afternoon of a case that is not terribly unusual but quite interesting. It was in an article published just this year about some trial for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease which is a terrible debilitated disease, a neurologic disease and the trial entailed placebo. By the way I made an extended analysis in the chapter called, “Restoring Meaning to The Universe”, in the book “Meditation of a Buddhist Skeptic” by B. Alan Wallace.

See below a brief summary that Alan made covering the article about the trial for the treatment of Parkinson disease:

Back to this, a more recent article that I could not have read when I wrote the book, but a quite an interesting study - and that was treatment that was given where there is placebo effect manifesting from the treatment of Parkinson’s - in another words what the patients got who had Parkinson’s had no therapeutic efficacy whatsoever, zero. And in a significant percentage of the population of those who took this non-entity, I mean this sugar pill, whatever it was, what turned out be placebo, a significant percentage the symptoms as well as the underlying causes of Parkinson’s, clearly and dramatically decreased, and there was actually as result of, I am going to say it - not placebo effect, mind effect, there was new growth in the very neuro fibers in the Parkinson’s effects. That is those neuro fibers that are affected by Parkinson’s disease and are damaged, or destroyed, those were regenerated by the power of the mind effect. Taking some ostensible medication that wasn’t medication at all, and moreover was lingering, it went on for years, years and years. By believing, expecting, and hoping and desiring of course, that this would work just exactly. We need to linger here, because this is not getting in the headlines, in the New York Times, nor in the New England Journal of Medicine and so forth, they are not shouting this from the roof tops, it’s a miracle, it’s a miracle! That people merely believing in something, will help their Parkenson’s. It doesn’t just make them feel better, like you know a pacifier, an anesthesia, no, that belief targets exactly those neuro fibers that are damaged by Parkinson’s disease and revitalizes them! Now that is smart, but they do not even know what those fibers are.

(27:02) Maybe we should just say, okay this is a miracle, but it is not a miracle of modern medicine because they don’t understand, and it is not a miracle in modern science because they don’t understand it at all, it is a miracle of the mind and that’s what we don’t understand. It’s a miracle of consciousness, that’s what we don’t understand. So fair enough, but what is really quite awful when we have this marvelous frontier about which we know almost nothing, the actual nature of mind, not its behavioral expressions as neuro correlates, actual nature of mental events, actual nature of consciousness, within this vast territory, to say it is in our front yard is too objective, it is in our back yard, it’s where we are, it’s where we live, it’s the very core of our existence here. A true miracle and it happens not only for Parkinson’s disease but such wide variety.

Where just exactly you’d expect somehow, somehow mysteriously, miraculously, let’s use the word after all, it is a miracle, but it’s a miracle that not many people have been able to market. And then it is covered over with an illusion of knowledge.

(28:09) Here it is, here is a direct quote from a psychiatrist, - the name of the article is Ethological factors and Placebo Effect, published in 1964, not in some new age journal, but in the Journal of American Association, so top notch. This article had to go a peer review process, in other words, highly intelligent editors who are deeply trained in medicine, allowed this one to slip by. You want to get the definition of a Placebo? Here it is from one of the most authoritative journals on the planet. A Placebo, is defined as any therapeutic procedure that is objectively, without specific activity for the condition being treated.” (so far so good, in other words it doesn’t have to be a pill, it can be a gesture, it can be all kinds of things, it could be a medical intervention, a surgery that doesn’t do anything. I am going to read it again) “A placebo is defined as any therapeutic procedure that is objectively, without specific activity for the condition being treated”.

It doesn’t do anything. It has no effect. And then, a little later - “A placebo effect, (so we have defined placebo, now the effect) - A placebo effect, is defined as the changes produced by a placebo”.

I think I am going to throw up. That got through the peer review. It has no effect, but that’s its effect. That is called illusion of knowledge. That is called dementia. I really do think that adherence to materialism induces a type of stupefaction, or dementia, or at the very least a severe case of imagination deficit disorder. Because materialism says that the only things in the natural world that have causal efficacy are material things. It is called the Closure Principal. The only things that can influence the brain, the body or anything else, are material things, period. Otherwise you’d violate the principal and conservation of mass energy. That’s the shtick.

And so you take something, like this placebo for Parkinson’s effect, and it actually helps to alleviate symptoms, and the only physical thing you can find anywhere in the neighborhood is a little old lady in a wheel chair – the innocent bystander, the sugar tablet, and then you say – placebo effect. Not joking. That was 1964, once might think that ok well we have certainly outgrown that. You know what is coming. Here is an article from 2012 - “A placebo effect, even if caused by a well- intentioned sugar pill” ( laughter, that is why you have to be very selective about your sugar pills, you have to make sure that they have a good motivation, ha-ha, you don’t want any sugar with bad motivation, oh where is the wall I can bang my head against! How dumb will this get? ) “A placebo effect, even if caused by a well-intentioned sugar pill can bring real improvement in a patient’s condition”. But make sure you have chosen your sugar pill well, right? Oh I think that is absolutely marvelous. And yet there is hope on the horizon, oddly enough, interestingly enough, from the same article.

And this is refreshing. Study is designed to recognize the possibility of real interactions. The just of the article was, the person who wrote it actually has Parkinson’s, and saw that when certain types of treatment were used and proved to be ineffective, and yet a certain percentage still got benefit, in other words, the treatment didn’t work, it was one of those negative results, but some percentage, 15% - 20% still got benefit, some lasting for 20 years later, still getting benefit from something that didn’t work. In other words they got benefit from someplace else, like their minds. The person who has Parkinson’s says – you are throwing this all out, you are saying that the chemical didn’t work so ignore it and throw it into the garbage bin when 15 to 20% got benefit, and they didn’t get it chemically, they got from the placebo, the mental effect, so don’t throw that out, we need help here, dammit, stop throwing out beneficial results when they are attributed to the mind as if they are scientifically irrelevant! People still got benefit, not from you, from some other source, so continue the study, don’t discontinue the study because you can’t make any profit on it. That’s a really harsh way of saying it. So this is a lovely statement, and I want to end on a positive note here, this is positive, no sarcasm here – ‘ Study is designed to recognize the possibility of real interactions among all factors, including placebo effects where to harvest the effects of hope and expectation for patients’ benefit, rather than dismissing them as detrimental to science. ‘ It is a wonderful statement. But also the statement shows the awful situation to which this is a response, and that is if you can’t market it, don’t research it.

The notion that the mind is what the brain does is one of the greatest superstitions clogging the arteries of the scientific mind today, because if the placebo effect is simply something that the brain does, ( and of course it is a mind effect, that should go without saying, they should start calling it that today, or in 1955 when the term ‘Placebo effect’ first came out) but since it is clearly a mental effect, if the mind is what the brain does, then the placebo effect is what the brain does, in which case the placebo effect should be able to be induced by chemical or surgical or electrical intervention. You should be able to do that if the mind is what the brain does, it’s a mental effect therefore it’s a brain effect then you should be able to give an actual drug that would induce the placebo effect. With nothing from outside at all, no information transfer. In other words you go to the Pharmacy and say, what kind of Placebo would you prefer? One for arthritis, rheumatism or Parkinson’s? And some of them are much more expensive because they have much greater effect. (laughter) So there should either be a drug, or you should be able to induce the placebo effect by some surgical operation or electrical stimulation. If the mind is what the brain does, then that should follow. Well?

Now I have got a hypothesis – they will never, never, ever bring about the ‘Placebo effect’ by inventions on the brain for the very simple reason - the mind is not the brain, and the very simple reason is that the brain is influenced, causally, influenced by non- physical agents. And top of the list is information, and so that refers back to the earlier talk, where information is primary, and if we understand that – that information is primary, think of conceptual designation, now that we are into emptiness realm, think of conceptual designation. How smart do you need to be to think – this will definitely be –I am certainly hoping and expecting, will alleviate the symptoms of my Parkinson’s? That’s a conceptual designation. And you believe it. And lo and behold, that conceptual designation targets exactly what needs to be done, and then does it on a physiological level. That is a miracle. Because we don’t understand, scientifically we don’t understand. Contemplatively ya it is understood, it’s the emptiness of all phenomena. It is the emptiness of the brain. Some brains are a little bit emptier than others (laughing, that was sarcasm).

So, whether we call it the placebo effect or we call it faith healing, the medical establishment, the scientific establishment has not been able to find any way to get credit, or money, for studying something they had nothing to do with. Placebo effect - that is why there is almost no research on it. But faith healing? There is some money in there. So money in faith healing. When you can say – (Alan mimics a preacher’s booming voice -) when you can say –“ just have faith brother, brother Miles, just have faith, come on right over here and I’m gonna put my hands on your shoulders, are you with me brother! Do you believe!? Do you believe!? Hallelujah! And make donations to my institution.” Whether or not you get the placebo thing.

So if somebody has found a way to make money out of placebo effect, call it faith healing, once again they attribute it to somebody outside of you, in other words – the head of their institution. God generally, or the CEO of the church. Of course if God did it for you, then you are disempowered, again. Just like you are disempowered in the other cases, the placebo effect, after all you didn’t cause it, a little old lady in a wheel chair caused it. So no matter what, big institutions are out to - frankly disempower individuals and it has been going on for centuries. In the medical establishment it is almost like they are giving sacraments. You cannot get healed without taking our medicine. And if it is a sugar pill, we are going to call it, and I actually saw this term – Placebo Drugs. I actually saw that term in a serious article, they were not being sarcastic. They use the word without tongue in cheek. And so if you come to a hospital and you get cured, they want to make sure that you got cured because of something they gave you and because there is a market value in it.

Scientific community wants some more prestige, some more credit? Well the three jewels of mundane world – wealth, prestige and power. So there it is, it all stems from a dimension of reality that we have not yet sufficiently comprehended. And the Dzogchen practice, this is where we loop back, and the Dzogchen practice comes right into that and says that is what this is all about. Dzogchen, first of all to fathom, either through your mind or bypassing your mind, settling your mind in its natural state – that’s through your mind, awareness of awareness is saying I am not interesting, I am going to bypass and just go right to awareness of awareness. Either way you are getting to the core, the actual the essential nature of consciousness. As Panchen Rinpoche said it’s the essential nature of consciousness, and you are seeing it directly. And you are seeing its nature that it is pure and luminous, by nature blissful, and that should give a strong, strong suggestion that the source of the mind effect, the source of faith healing, you are looking out in the right direction, you are looking out into a pure luminous space of awareness. Break through that it’s even more pure and luminous, break through to rigpa itself.


Alan revisits the 2nd close application of mindfulness to feelings by commenting on verses 88-92 of Ch. 9 of the Bodhicaryavatara. Does suffering truly exist? If so, one could not experience joy. Can suffering and joy exist at the same time? No, as there is no such thing as an inexperienced feeling. This type of investigation benefits contemplatives who have achieved dhyana. Because of OCDD in our ordinary mind, we cannot merely choose to stop conceptually designating, nor is it a serviceable basis for investigating the nature of phenomena. When probing into the nature of feeling, it dissolves. Feeling is a way of experiencing/apprehending, and is not in the object itself. Suffering is designated as suffering, and once the conceptual designation is released, it is liberated.

Alan’s comments:

(40:10) We will return now to Shantideva, “A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life”, we are going to spend just four days, today through Thursday, on the second of the four applications of mindfulness, it is a powerful one, it’s a big one, it is one we enormously care about, this is in the Bodhicaryavatara and we start now having finished the section on the body ever so concisely. Go down to verse 88 and by the way, as of today I made this section of the ninth chapter available for all of you here, you can get it either downloaded or get a hard copy as usual from the front desk, so I just took this out of my translation and it is translated from the Sanskrit either from Tibetan, it’s the only translation that draws from both that we have today.

(41:44) So we go to feelings, and we know this is now going to be feelings viewed from the perspective of Madhyamaka Middle Way, focusing in on the emptiness of the inherent nature of feelings. So we are jumping into deep, deep waters immediately. When we just step back to where we came from, that was pretty deep already. This body that has mass, that has location, that is filled with elementary particles, atoms, cells and so forth and so on. Boy, here we are incorporated, here we are embodied, that feels about as real as it gets, right? Feels about as real as it gets because again we have the insider’s view, and the outsider, the first person and the third person perspective, even in our own bodies, because when we look our hands what we see as we look our hands is pretty much what other people see when they look our hands so that is the third person. But from the insider’s view by way of tactile perception, well that’s really a first person perspective, but seems awfully real, and of course when one considers, yeah, where did that come from? Egg and sperm development through the formation of the fetus in the womb and so forth, so it seems awfully real, and there was only just a few lines devoted to, seeking to fathom, the absence of inherent nature of the body and all of its constituents right down to the atomic or elementary particle level. And now we move right on to something that does not feel quite so substantial, so tangible, so located in space (as the body) nevertheless looms extremely large on the horizon when we are experiencing, or experiencing them, and that is of course feelings. So we start on verse 88.

88. If suffering truly exists, why does it not oppress the joyful? If delicacies and the like are a pleasure, why do they not please someone struck by grief and so forth?

(43:24)If suffering truly exists, again what does that mean? It’s awfully clear because this is like doing surgery, we are not here to refute the existence of suffering which would be idiotic, and yet we are seeking not to reify suffering, not to view suffering as we have been viewing suffering, as something that exists by its own nature that is simply dished up all by itself, just presented, thrown on our lap! Here it is - have a big chunk of feeling, suffering or joy, pleasure or pain, it seems that the experience is something massively overwhelmingly, and sometimes unbearably real, independent of any kind of conceptual designation. And he is going to challenge that. It seems like a hopeless task to try to persuade anybody when they are experiencing very strong emotion and especially suffering, you try to persuade anybody when they are suffering physically and or mentally that this arises only in dependence upon conceptual designation, it does not give from its own side, it sounds like an absolutely hopeless argument, like don’t even open your mouth, I know what you are going to say is going to be false. What’s he going to say? Because everybody is aware of this, he says: “If the suffering truly exists, why does it not oppress the Joyful?” It is not transparent but I did check the commentary, I read His Holiness commentary because I translated this years ago , just the ninth chapter again from Sanskrit and Tibetan, just on my own, just this ninth chapter. So what is he getting at here? If suffering truly exists why does it not oppress the joyful? Here is what he is getting at, and that is:

If suffering arises let’s say in your mind, so misery, anguish, despair, depression, sadness, grief, and it’s inherently existent, then if this is true, and of course this is not obviously true, this is going to be a very short presentation, nothing here is going to be obvious, if it’s true, it is going to come through only very, very penetrating investigation,

but he is throwing this out like Madhyamaka koans. Why does it not oppress the joyful? And that is - if suffering takes over your mind, and it certainly feels like that way sometimes, and it’s inherently existent, then it should not be possible for it to give away to joy, to gladness, to cheerfulness. If it’s inherently existent it should just be absolutely there. But we know in fact that one can be grief stricken, and then after some time the grief is gone and joy comes in. But if the suffering, the misery is inherently real, then and joy tried to arise, the suffering should loom so large that the joy, all the life force of the joy should be strangled, it should be oppressed. If you are really suffering there should no possibility for joy, that’s the implication, I don’t suggest that it’s obvious, but that is the implication. Let’s read a bit more:

(46:53) “If delicacies and the like are a pleasure, why do these not please someone struck by grief and so forth?”

If delicacies are by nature pleasure, then why don’t they simply overwhelm the grief? So either way, if either pleasure or sorrow, happiness or misery, if they are inherently existent, it would suggest that one could in no way supplant the other. They are inherently existent, which by implication means – immutable.

Let’s see if we can unpack this in any way and give you more of an in.

89. If it is not experienced because it is overpowered by something more intense, how can that which is not of the nature of experience be a feeling?

(47:35) If it is not experienced, so here is the response, If it is not experienced because it is overpowered by something more intense, so for example as somebody is suffering some grief, loss of a one loved one, whatever it may be, and then you say: well never mind, have some ice-cream! But it doesn’t make their suffering go away, surprise, surprise. That is if is not experienced because it is overpowered by something more intense, that is intense grief, and then you try to, or you say something - oh, but you look so attractive today, you try to give them some mental joy - I know you are grief stricken but that is awfully nice lipstick you are wearing. Somehow you know it might work in another situation, but here it doesn’t cut the mustard.

So he is saying if that’s the case, if it’s not experienced because it is overpowered by something more intense, how can that which is not of the nature of experience be a feeling?

What he is saying is it’s this whole casual dynamic. How does one give way to another and the hypothesis here is: you are getting some subtle pleasure but it’s overwhelmed by coarse misery, so you are actually experiencing both simultaneously. And that is - you are getting something pleasurable, somebody complemented you or you are seeing a beautiful cloud formation or a beautiful painting, or what have you, and so one hypothesis is - ok, well you are getting pleasure from this pleasurable thing, a good hedonic response, after all it is a really tasty food or whatever it may be for hedonic pleasure of the mind, and so what he is suggesting here is that on a subtle level you are experiencing the pleasure but it is overwhelmed by the coarseness of the grief. And his (Shantideva) response to that is - look, a feeling is not a feeling if you are not feeling it. There’s no such thing as unexperienced feeling, it’s either there or it’s not. It is not too complicated, it’s there or it’s not, so let’s not talk about there being a subtle feeling while it is overwhelmed by coarse feeling because if it is overwhelmed, then the subtle feeling is not there at all. But how does this gets displaced? Well he continues: (49:21)

90. Objection: Surely there is suffering in its subtle state while its gross state is removed.

Mādhyamika: If it is simply another pleasure, then that subtle state is a subtle state of pleasure.

Objection your honor.

“Surely there is suffering in its subtle state while its gross state is removed.”

So you could be really happy about something then something makes you miserable, but on the subtle level, subtle happiness or subtle suffering, subtle suffering continues. So in other words he is saying that it can actually be working on two multiple bandwidths. Coarse and subtle simultaneously, and they may be incompatible, incongruent, happy here and sad here and vice versa.

The Madhyamika response is: if it is simply another pleasure, then that subtle state is a subtle state of pleasure.

He is simply coming to the same statement, same statement that if it is not experienced it is not a feeling, so it’s just a way of talking, but it’s not experiential.

91. If suffering does not arise when the conditions for its opposite have arisen, does it not follow that a “feeling” is a false notion created by conceptual fabrication?

(50:12) “If suffering does not arise [now here we get to a really reasonable response that might seem to be - okay this is the final word] If suffering does not arise when the conditions for its opposite have arisen.”

So there you are cheerful, you are feeling mentally happy and then you hear some incredibly bad news, so some cooperative conditions come in, and your cheerfulness vanishes immediately and you’re grief stricken. In other words if a feeling does not arise when it’s conditions, the conditions for the feeling for happiness doesn’t arise. When its opposite, opposite conditions have arisen, you just heard some bad news then happy feeling vanishes and miserable feelings arises. Does it not follow that a feeling is a false notion created by conceptual fabrication?

That is, does a shift in feeling not occur simply because of a conceptual designation or is it something more real, more inherent than that?

Therefore, this is the final verse and I do not expect this to be, and I explained why, I do not expect this to be like - oh, I read that, yeah you persuaded me, yeah, feeling definitely has no inherent existence. It is not so easy! But the final verse with this line of thinking:

92. Therefore, this analysis is created as an antidote to that false notion. For the meditative stabilizations that arise from the field of investigations is the food of contemplatives.

(51:12) “Therefore, this analysis is created”, he is presenting this way of thinking as an antidote to that false notion. For the meditative stabilizations, the Dhyana, that arise from the field of investigations are the food of contemplatives.

So he comes back to Dhyana, the degrees of meditative insight or Dhyana, that arise from the field of investigation is the food of contemplatives. In other words somebody is going to benefit from this type of investigation, this line of reasoning, this type of investigation, but it is for those who experience the meditative stabilization, the dhyanas that arise from that type of investigation. Those are the food, the nourishment, the healing, the food of contemplatives, but if you are not a contemplative and you have not developed dhyana, namely shamatha, then this medicine may not work. It is a tough sell to my mind, it is a tough sell. To talk about elementary particles, to talk about quantum mechanics is cool really fun, entertaining, especially if it is true because it is quite distant from our experience. And some of you have experienced this and that is - in the body - having that sense of earth, water, fire and air arising and seeing that they are just empty appearances arising in the space of the body. Get some taste of that, not by powerful logical analysis, but some experience, and then compatible, illuminated perhaps by logical analysis. But when it comes to pleasure and pain in the body, especially pain, when it comes to pleasure and pain, especially pain in the mind, to persuade anyone that it’s not inherently real, has no existence from its own side, it arises purely in dependence upon conceptual designation, which is to say if you withdrew the conceptual designation, the designated suffering would vanish, that is a tough sell. And that is exactly what he is getting at, exactly what he is getting at, by implication. So he is really giving us a steep road here, by implication, if it did inherently exist it would be inert, it would be impervious, it could not be influenced by cooperative causes and conditions, it would be inherently real and that is the implication for true existence across the boards of any kind. It is said to be so there in the realm of physical reality, that entity, that physical entity that inherently exists would be then impervious, would be cut off, isolated from all kinds of causal interactions because it inherently holds its own attributes, which means it won’t budge, it is what it is forever and it cannot be influenced because it’s got a vice grip on all of its inherent attributes, the whole is seizing onto its attributes.

(54:15) So the implication of the immutability of a frozen universe, go back to that quantum mechanics theme. It kind of makes some sense, but when one gets so up close and personal, as physical pain or mental pain, it’s tough, I think, I think it’s tough for such lines of analysis to make a dent in our reification of these feeling that we so profoundly care about. I think it is difficult. If is true what I am saying, if you find it is easy, I congratulate you, but if it is not so easy, if it looks like a word play, just word play like a crossword puzzle, but if you are miserable, you’re miserable - that’s inherently real, there is nothing more real for you than your misery, or your physical pain. If you have been injured, if you have being damaged, you’re ill, what’s more real for you, more real than in your body itself is the misery arising in that space of sensation and feeling. How could there be even a way to prepare ourselves so that we can take that type of reasoning seriously? That it will actually have an impact, actually get through, actually shift our way of viewing, which mean experiencing suffering and joy? How could that possibly happen?

Well Shantideva says it he says it in so many words, crystal clear in the other text. How he began this whole section. It is good to memorize, he said: “once the mind has been made serviceable in that way then proceed”, right? Shamatha. Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey, who first taught me shamatha and vipashyana, he said: if you achieve shamatha, vipashyana it’s easy, that’s what he said.

(55:59) But you can imagine if your mind is still as usual, business as usual, caught up in the ordinary ruminations, caught up in just the spasmodic oscillations between laxity and excitation, all of it filtered by the dense haze in smog of rumination, in the midst of that you take this completely dysfunctional mind and say - I want to understand Madhyamika. You can’t stop conceptually designating you are in an obsessive compulsive mode of designating all the time with rumination. You don’t step outside of that cloud, you are going through all of your studies of Madhyamika in this cloud of delusion, ongoing flow of rumination, which tires you out and so you fall into laxity and then fall sleep and wake up next morning so you can be you know, experience once again obsessive compulsive delusional disorder. And that mind which is totally stricken by obsessive compulsive delusional disorder says: I am going to roll up my sleeves and I am going to understand Madhyamika? Maybe well enough to write a paper, even a dissertation, and you might even get an academic position or be able to pass your Geshe degree, maybe. But will the arrow strike the target? Shantideva suggests not, and Tsongkapa suggests not, that is why vipashyana comes after the shamatha and Tsongkapa, Ah, that is Padmasambhava, that is Dudjom Lingpa, and that is Buddha, Lerab Lingpa, and so forth and so on. So hard to imagine why that so obvious truth is being so ubiquitously ignored.

But on that base of making the mind serviceable so you can use it like a sharp knife, then consider also the incremental steps, large steps actually to be able to move into that type of analysis, and that is - sharpen your mind, make the mind serviceable, relaxed, stable and clear, and then apply that closely as we did so fleetingly for first four weeks. Apply that quality of awareness, our best approximation, best achievement, but in the meantime our best approximation, and probe right into the nature of feelings that you experience. Mental and feelings, now pleasure, pain and indifference, feelings arising in the body, and just take that laser mind, without any of the Madhyamaka reasoning, just some shamatha and then close application of that mindfulness that you’ve developed through shamatha, and like a stiletto, like an ice pick, like a laser, something sharp and pointed and very bright, penetrate right into as Elizabeth did, right into the feelings arising in the body, discomfort arising in the body and you start there not with mind numbing anguish, pain that just makes you almost pass out, but start out with moderate ones, pain that arises after sitting for fifteen, twenty minutes and your knee hurts, tolerable – that’s where to start. Alan quotes Shantideva:

(59:15) “There is nothing that doesn’t become easier by familiarization”. So you start with the little pains, start with a little pain from the body and a little unhappiness, the malaise, the perturbations, little spices of dukha that arise in the mind and you rise to the occasion rather than immediately wanting to apply an anesthetic, an antidote, move away, please go away and all that, all of that avoidance techniques, saying ok, this level of physical discomfort, this I can investigate, this level of mental dismay, this I can investigate, it doesn’t scare me, it doesn’t make me want to simply flee, so apply that, apply that sharp, stable clear mind and penetrate, and see if you can find, like Elizabeth and many people have found, even in a weekend retreat, one week retreat, four week retreat, and that is when you probe right into the nature of that feeling it dissipates. It kind of vanishes, it doesn’t wind up having any nucleus, if it is hit hard like a hard strike, a hard landing, got ya! When you probe right in to it, it more dissolves fades away and then you don’t find it.

(1:00:17) If it were inherently real, if that feeling were inherently real, the more closely you inspected it the clearer it should manifest, is it not true? If it’s really there then the more closely inspected, penetrated, it should just rise up to meet the occasion and you would have a smack on hard collision with suffering, if it’s inherently real. But penetrating in that way without the conceptual designation, without probing and thinking: it is going to hurt, it’s going to hurt, it’s going to hurt, no just go in without the conceptual designation, without the commentary, without the verbalization and just go in nakedly then lo and behold it evaporates. Do the same thing with mental suffering, a little bit of unhappiness, a little bit of boredom, a little bit of anxiety, a bit of something unpleasant, and instead of identifying with it, probe into it and see whether it stands even a close empirical investigation, boom! Just looking at it with Samadhi, see whether it withstands it, and if does withstand it, if you observe it and it’s still there, it may be, then good, closely apply mindfulness and investigate, permanent or impermanent? Is it static? Is it there like great big immutable fist or when you look is it made a little staccato moments? Could you already suggest some kind of breathing space? Permanent or impermanent? That starts to loosen things up a little bit, to un-reify when you see it wasn’t solid as hard as mutable as I thought. When I really went in there with some power of shamatha, investigated, I saw staccatos like strobe (light) prrrrr, like that, all fizzing, fizzing, fizzing and then probe right into its nature. Is it by nature, intrinsically, is it right there, does it have a nucleus inherently existent? Probe right into it, probe right into that which seems to the real cause. If we take seriously the notion that feeling is a way of experiencing an object and is not in the object itself, I think it’s a very powerful insight, basic one on one Buddhist psychology.

(1:02:36) Feeling is not in the object, feeling is not in the sensation, the tactile sensation, feeling is in the way of apprehending it. It’s a really powerful hypotheses, I think actually of course, I think it is true. If that’s the case then bypass the feeling and go right into that which seems to be the very source of the feeling, the feeling seems to become – why are you hurting- because I got such intense earth element sensation in my elbow, or I’ve got such fire element, I’ve got such water element –it’s going to boil down to one of the four combinations,. And if you had that sense of a feeling actually arising from the physical, from any of the four elements, then skip the feeling and go right into to the element and check: did you do it? Is that feeling actually coming from the physical? And that’s where you may find that the feeling just evaporates because you are finding - no it is just the physical. In the felt there is just the felt in the sense of the tactilely perceived there is just the tactilely perceived, but the feeling is just a way of experiencing it. But when you focus in on the tactilely perceived, the feeling alters and you find, aha, the feeling actually isn’t arising from the object, it’s coming from the way of experiencing and that may have to do with how I am conceptually designating it.

(1:03:55) And let’s go to the third mark, we did the impermanence, we did just straight samadhi then we did impermanence then we look into is it sukha or dukha, is it true source, what are the true sources of sukha and dukha? And then we go on to anatman, non-self and that is so the feeling is arising. Does it conventionally exist? Sure, it does, of course it does. Nobody here is saying that suffering does not exist at all, that is idiotic. But the question is: when it arises in the space of the body, when it arises in the space of the mind, does it by its own nature have an owner? Does it have an owner, does it belong to you? Is there something in its nature that says: I am yours you are mine we are a couple? Is it really there?

Does it really have an owner? The colors you perceive don’t have an owner you are just witnessing them. The sounds you hear don’t have an owner you are just hearing them, the fragrances you smell they don’t have an owner they are just fragrances. Are the tactile sensations any less, and are the feelings in the mind any less, or any more, or they are just the same? If they are ownerless they are a lot easier to bear. And that’s basics vipashyana, three marks of existence.

(1:05:10) So imagine, just let your imagination rove, imagine having the stability and clarity of just samadhi itself, so you can go in with that laser pointer and see what can that do? That actually is one way, one way of getting at least some respite, and that is if your suffering is here - as in case of that yogi with throat cancer and when the doctor went in to probe it, it was anguish, and he said stop, because it was really, really painful. And then the yogi went into Samadhi and while sustaining the Samadhi, he said now you can go. Because (my interpretation) he directed his attention elsewhere and then the doctor could fiddle around as much as he liked and there was no pain because unfelt feeling is no feeling, there was no feeling there because he directed no attention to it, which means - probe away while I am directing my attention to a nice neighborhood, because this is really a bad neighborhood. So that’s one way, power of Samadhi, that’s without wisdom. That’s actually just having a mind you can direct at will. It doesn’t cure anything but boy it’s a nice side effect free way of not experiencing suffering when you don’t want to.

But then bringing in just the three marks, just as if this is a kind of child’s play or something, but the three marks of existence of impermanence, dukha and non-self, just imagine gaining some really experiential realization in each of those three, with respect to suffering. So you are actually viewing the suffering that arises in body and mind as just moment by moment pulses arising, arising and vanishing but nothing really tangible, nothing really immutable, nothing really, like trying to grab a waterfall, not substantially there. And then seeing that that which is the seeing basis for it - something in the mind that’s making you unhappy, something in the body, some sensation that’s giving you misery. You look and say but actually it isn’t the source of either the misery or the pain, it’s not because all you have to do is do that anthological probe into it, and see no, it is not, it is not true, it is not there in the object, not in the mental object, not in the physical object. Imagine having that insight and then on top of that, realizing that the suffering arising in your mind has no owner, it is not you and it has no owner and the suffering arising in the body is not you, and has no owner, imagine you’ve done all that ground work and then you come in with the Madhyamaka. Then you could do some major damage, major damage, this could be real. Where you could see - aha, given that Samadhi and that fundamental level of insight that I have already gained into the three marks of existence, now I see - conceptually designated on a very subtle level. Release the conceptual designation, it does not arise! On a very subtle level the experience of that suffering has to be designated as suffering. Release the designation - see its empty nature - suffering vanishes because you’ve seen through it. Let’s practice.


(01:09) And now I would like to suggest a perspective that you’ve heard before but maybe I could more clearly articulate it, a perspective of all of the three modes of shamatha we have being exploring and whether it’s shamatha directed to the field of the body and the sensations of the breath arising therein, or shamatha directed to the space of the mind, the mental events arising therein, or awareness of awareness, in all three of these modes of mindfulness of shamatha, here’s a suggestion:

Let your awareness remain motionless, let your awareness illuminate the space of the body without entering into it, illuminating the sensations arising of earth, water, fire, air - without entering into them. Observe the feelings arising in the body without entering into them, the sensations of the breath within the field of the body, and let your awareness remain in its own place, holding its own ground like a king or a queen on a royal throne. Don’t move from your throne, let your awareness remain still, illuminating the body and whatever arises in it. And settling the mind, illuminate the space of the mind but without moving from your throne. Resting in the awareness of awareness, and of course you stay right where you are. So begin by recognizing the stillness of your own awareness as you allow your body, speech and mind to settle in their natural states, observing them from awareness’ own place.

(1:11:50) Let your awareness rest in its own space, the space of awareness without collapsing into any smaller space, the space of the body, the space of visual impressions or even the space of the mind. Rest your awareness unmoving and let it illuminate the space of the body and first of all let it brightly shine upon and illuminate the tactile sensations - earth, water, fire and air that arise within this domain.

(1:14:10) And observe these tactile events nakedly. Having observed them clearly withdraw the conceptual designation. Is there anything here in this whole field of the body that is really there from its own side, substantial, real, physical? Or even in the contours of the body, are they real, inherent existent? Or is everything of which the body is composed simply an array of empty appearances arising from space, vanishing back into space? Let alone with no owner, not even with any inherent identity or existence of their own, empty appearances, configurations of space.

(1:18:10) Is there anything here perceptually or conceptually, as you imagine the various parts, the components of the body from the large vital organs right down to the atoms that constitute? Is there anything here, to which you can point and say this is the body? This is the real body that’s absolutely there from its own side. A purely given- something presented to us already packaged, existing in and of itself? Can you find it anywhere?

(1:19:35) There is no doubt that feelings arise in the body, and the ones that really catch attention are the painful ones, there’s no question that they exist, the only question is how do they exist? And we must we simply be their victims? Attend closely to the feelings arising in the body now. With the sharply pointed mind, with Samadhi by sending a missile into its target, penetrating the feeling and see if you can find its core, something that’s really there regardless of the way you experience it, it demands because it is by nature suffering. Can you find that core?

(1:21:19) Penetrate through the feeling to that which appears to be its objective source, some sensation in the body that is giving us misery, seems to produce misery, penetrate through the feeling, to the tactile event. Examine ever so closely, is the feeling right there intrinsic to the objectively appearance, appearing sensations arising in the field of the body? Are the two immutably and intrinsically fused that there are tactile sensations in feeling of pain?

(1:23:04) Quiet your mind like a stealth missile that comes in under the radar and go right into the origin of the pain. Can you find it? Can you find the pain emerging from some source beyond your control that is purely objective, existing in and of itself? Step back and observe. Is the very investigation a pain itself, does it have any impact on the experience of the pain? Does it accentuate it, intensify it, leave it untouched unchanged or does it diminish the pain? Examine closely, the observer participancy of the experience of the pain in the body, are you dancing with it or is the dance of pain a solo, simply being presented to you?

(1:26:41) Once again the balancing act of clearly illuminating the feelings in the body, clearly illuminating the tactile sensations which arouse such feelings, illuminate the space of the body and whatever arises within it but let your awareness remain in its own place, like sending out lasers of light but without becoming embedded, immersed in the body its sensations or feelings.

(1:29) Relax, let the light of your awareness illuminate the space of the body and whatever arise therein without moving, without projecting, without grasping. Sustain the flow of mindfulness without distraction and without grasping.

Teachings after meditation:

(1:32:58) So I hope it becomes clearer and clearer through experience, this natural sequence that has been heralded for the last 26 hundred years, authentic Buddhist teachings of shamatha being the precursor to vipashyana. And the Madhyamika view is a theoretical framework for engaging in vipashyana, it is to vipashyana what theoretical physics is to experimental physics; the Madhyamika view is to vipashyana, it’s the theoretical framework where we actually do the hard work, but you can’t do the hard work, you can’t do it effectively. Really exploring the role of conceptual designation, conceptual imputation, what role does this have in the observer participancy? What role does it have in our experience of the body, the feelings, the mind, other people, the natural environment, the universe at large?

What role does conceptual designation have? How can we possible explore that if the mind is totally mired down in a morass of obsessive compulsive and delusional thinking? It is just seems impossible, that you can’t explore something that you are suffocating from, that you can’t turn off at will. So I think it’s very hard from Madhyamika view to really strike the target of mental afflictions, to dispel them, to dispel the result of suffering. If one doesn’t practice vipashyana, it’s just philosophy - it is denuded decontextualized philosophy, which by itself - there is no reason to believe that’s going to be effective in alleviating the sufferings of the mind. And for the vipashyana to be effective, having a mind where you can have some real control over the degree of conceptual designation including turning it off, and then turning it on and then seeing what it’s like when you have not only conceptually designated but you’ve reified it, and seeing that steps, no conceptual designation, reification, but if your mind is like a rat in a clothes dryer, can you imagine? That would not be pleasant. Full speed ahead and that poor rat can’t get traction anywhere, he is going oh, oh, oh, oh bouncing off the walls. If your mind is like a rat in a clothes dryer, how can that rat possibly investigate the nature of the clothes dryer? I don’t think is very feasible. So there we are. Let’s continue practicing, enjoy your evening.

Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti

Revised by Cheri Langston

Final edition by Rafael Carlos Giusti

Posted by Alma Ayon


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