02 Oct 2012
Teaching pt1. Alan recounts 2 parables from Karma Chagme’s Naked Awareness. 1) foolish prince who likes horses but develops renunciation and 2) foolish prince who becomes a beggar due to amnesia but rediscovers his true identity. Remain in the castle of your own awareness while beholding the kingdom of your own body. Take satisfaction in awareness resting in its own place. After rumination, take satisfaction in recovering awareness and coming home.
Meditation: empathetic joy preceded by shamatha method of choice.
1) shamatha method of choice. Let awareness come to rest, releasing all grasping and effort.
2) empathetic joy. Take satisfaction in awareness holding it s own ground—still, relaxed, luminous, content. As you gain experiential insight into your own consciousness, take delight those sowing the seeds for the renaissance of contemplative traditions and a revolution in the mind sciences. Take delight in those identifying the true causes of suffering and pursuing the true causes of happiness. With each out breath, shine light of gratitude and appreciation.
Teaching pt2. Who’s there according to the 3 turnings of the wheel of dharma? In the 1st turning, the autonomous agent is not there. In the 2nd turning, there is no sentient being to be found. In the 3rd turning, 1) where you are, there’s buddha mind, rigpa, or dharmakaya, 2) the ultimate nature of your mind and buddha mind is no different, and 3) all sentient beings belong to the same buddha family. We can either adopt and identify with mind and body arisen through karma and mental afflications or buddha mind. We need insight into emptiness of self and the guru in order to practice guru yoga which leads us to buddha mind. Guru yoga isn’t blind faith idolatry. Even in the 1st turning, we are advised to check the guru carefully before viewing him/her as an emissary of the Buddha.
Apologies, there has been a cut in the recording at: 57:28
Meditation starts at: 18:45
Alan recounts 2 favorites’ parables from the Buddha’s tradition and will return to the meditation of cultivation of empathetic joy. The parables are in the book that Alan translated called Naked Awareness which was written by Karma Chagme Rinpoche.
Instructions for one that is reading the transcript: the next paragraph, point 1 and others writing in black we are using part of the summary to introduce the titles of the themes.
So this morning I’d like to share with you one of my very favorite parables in the whole of Buddhist tradition and then we will return to the meditation of cultivation of empathetic joy. The parable I read from a book that I translated, is called Naked Awareness written by Karma Chagmé Rinpoche. There is a whole chapter, it’s just a parable which I really love, and this is my favorite one of them all, it will sound in some respects quite familiar, and some number of you may actually have heard it before, it’s worth hearing again. It’s kind of the Buddhist version of the prodigal son and so the story goes, it is a parable that – There was once a King, very wise king but who had a foolish son as his crown prince, and the King knowing this prince would one day ascend to the throne, was quite concerned, that he’d have a fool as the next king. (Alan changes his mind - he has two parables and decides to tell both of them) I just switched tracks, I guess that’s okay, I guess this one had to be told as well. There are two parables about foolishness you are going to get both of them, what can I say? It’s like one said – move over, it’s my turn! You will see they are rather similar, this one is not the prodigal son that one, but it is a little bit similar, that one is coming, this is what they call in the old days when they had two movies - a double feature for the price of one. So, the King was very concerned about his foolish son and he called the minister in, very wise minister and said what can we do? And the minister said, well ask the son, what does he like, and the king said, well, he likes horses. You know like a modern teenage kid who likes sports cars, what can you say? And so the minister, was also a great yogi said, oh, he likes horses, good then leave to me, leave to me. The king said, cool.
The next day they are having the royal banquet, the son is there and the minister brings into the royal dining hall this amazing stallion, I mean like the king of horses, stellar, the Maserati of horses, the Lamborghini, you know the Italian cars have to be good because they have such cool names, Lamborghini, Maserati, the Alfa Romeo, in any case, back to the horses! And the minister presents the horse to the prince and says – I’d like to make this an offering to you and would you be happy to accept? And the prince said yeah, absolutely! May I take him for a ride? Absolutely. The prince hops up on to back of the horse and the horse immediately just takes off, has a mind of its own, takes off outside of the palace and runs and runs and runs and the prince is on for the ride but he just has got no control over this horse at all. And the horse runs all day and runs all night, and all day and all night, until finally they come to the end, the edge of the kingdom, they come to a sea shore, no more place to run and then the horse kicks him off and swims out to sea. And so now here is this prince deserted in a place where there is like nobody around, nobody around. He’s lost, he’s homeless, so he just scavenges around, but then but after sometime he bumps into a young woman and she said - oh, I will take you, my father and I live over here, I will take you in. The prince was incredible relived, lovely young woman so he moves in them and falls in love with the young woman, gets her father’s blessing, they marry, they have one child, two children, because he has not a clue how to come back to his kingdom, he is really lost, this is far, far away. So they grow up, the children grow up to the level of children, beyond infancy.
(5:48) And one day he is out by the river with his wife and his two children just enjoying a picnic and one of his children goes splashing in the river and then is swept down the river.
And so the father, the prince panics, jumps into the river to try to save his child. He swims and swims as fast as he can to try to save his child but never reaches the child and the child is swept down the river and lost. But then while he was out in the river trying to save the one child, and in vain, he looks back and he sees that wolves have come, and they have attacked his wife and his other child, killed them both and so he swims back to shore, and he utterly grief stricken, utterly grief stricken, he lost everything.
(6:59) And then suddenly he snaps to in the dining hall – and he says, you won’t believe it but I have been away, I have been away for a long time, I had a wife and I had children and they all died. And everybody around at the banquet table was saying, you are out of your mind, you have being here the whole time! And he says, no, no, really, really, and they say no really, really, you didn’t go anywhere, do you want this horse or not? No. And in that moment he experienced profound renunciation and then set out on the path of wisdom. So that is the first episode and now for the main feature.
(8:02) There was once a king who had a very foolish son, and the son went out because there was one of this wonderful illusionists who was a performer and creates these fantastic illusions, so he was a performer, people from the village would come around and the young foolish prince who very, very keen, really want to see this because he loved this, just like people nowadays love movies. He wanted to see it so he went out with his little entourage and it was a spectacular display, one illusion after another so life like, so literally mesmerizing that the prince was simply in trance by this guy, totally absorbed into these wonderful illusions one after another, almost like a zombie, just swept into it and then after sometime the illusion is gone, the illusionist leaves and the prince looks around and he can’t remember who he is, he got so immersed in this marvelous array of illusions that it actually took his mind away and became amnesiac and he couldn’t remember for the life of him who he was and he is looking around and he does not recognize anyone. We know from outside that he somehow slipped away from his entourage and they are looking for him and they can find him, and in the meantime when the whole thing is over and the entourage is now really upset, they can’t find the prince, they can’t find the prince, and so they are sending out search parties but the prince has wandered off, the prince doesn’t know who he is, and he is completely bewildered! He doesn’t know how he got here he doesn’t know where he is, who he is, or anything. He is seeing his very fine clothes and that’s about it. Then after a while he just gets hungry and he sees some beggars over yonder and he says, well they like me, are unskilled, because he doesn’t seem to have any skills at all. So he joins the beggars and says, can I join you? And they say yeah, give us your clothes and we will let you join our group. He says sure, sure, I can’t eat my cloths and he gives them his fancy clothes and they let him join them. And then he learns the trade, he learns how to beg, what kind of houses to go to, how to present himself, how to be a beggar, he enters a guild, gets his beggars guild card. And so after while he really gets into the flow of it, he really learns how to become a professional beggar and he goes from house, to house to house so now he has figured out who he really is - he really is a beggar, he is good at it, he is recognized by his fellows as a good beggar.
Months go by, who knows how long goes by, and so then after a while he is really striking out on his own, he knows how to beg, he is professional, and he comes to one very nice really something of a mansion, and says ah they could have some good grub, I am sure if they are decent people they’ll give me a piece of bread or something. So he comes to the front door and knocks on the door rather timidly ready to perform, please give me some food. Actually the head of the household opens the door, not a maid, the head of the household opens the door for whatever reason and he takes one look at the beggar and he says – your royal highness! This is the minister, this is the chief minister of the king, he just happened to drop in, and the chief minister takes one look and says - your royal highness we are frantic, we have being looking for you from months, thank you for coming back, welcome, welcome!
And the beggar hearing this he just says – wo wait a minute all I want is some food I did not need your sarcasm. If don’t want to give me any food I understand but you know the royal highness is a bit much so you know, would you like to give me a piece of bread or not, but please cut up the crap I don’t need the sarcasm.
And the minister said no, no, no, really, really I know you, you are the prince you are the crown prince, and the guy says - look that is it, either you stop or you know, put up or shut up, give me some food, but please stop I do not need the sarcasm I don’t need you to make fun of me!
So then the minister being wise recognizes that he is not getting through but he certainly is not going to let this guy get away because they don’t have anybody to replace him, he is the only crown prince, the only prince there is.
(12:35) So he figures he has to be asked very skillful in means and said - Oh, I am sorry, I am sorry, mistaken identity, I didn’t mean to upset you, I didn’t mean to be sarcastic and so forth, but by all means, linger a little bit, I would like to have a conversation with you first, but tell Mr. Beggar, I am really quite interested in you, tell me, where were you born? You are a beggar, so where were you born and who are your parents? Tell me about your childhood? Certainly you remember these things since you are a beggar? So tell me how did you originate (what are the factors of originations)? Where did you come from, who are your parents, where did you grow up, where is your neighborhood? Tell me about your youth. And nobody has already asked the beggar such question before and he had never asked them of himself and he knew these were reasonable questions and questions for which he really should have the answer. So he probed backwards, probed back into the origins of his own identity as beggar. And he found not only that he couldn’t remember, but then he recognized that there was nothing to remember, of his childhood and youth as a beggar. And then, not only not remembering, but then recognizing that there was nothing to remember of his childhood and youth as a beggar.
Suddenly that enquiry into the very nature of his own identity and the origins of his identity as a beggar, that enquiry broke through his amnesia and in an instant then he recognized who he actually was, and he acknowledged this to the minister and the minister then, with tremendous jubilation, with great joy invited him in and said with great joy, let’s just take you immediately to the royal court, we would like to enthrone you right now, the king is ready to step down.
So he was brought to the royal palace, he was greeted with great rejoicing, great respect, he was enthroned and in an instant, he became King.
Remain in the castle of your own awareness while beholding the kingdom of your own body. Take satisfaction in awareness resting in its own place. After rumination, take satisfaction in recovering awareness and coming home.
(14:37) We all have all been mesmerized by the notion that we are sentient beings, wondering hopelessly, surrounded by others beggars in samsara, and when we hear about our Buddha nature we think of it as something we have or don’t have, but it seems simply ridiculous, almost like offensive to hear - oh, you are a Dakini, you are a Buddha, you are Buddha nature. It is almost like piss off, who do you think you are? You are just making me angry either give me a little bit of dharma teaching or shut up, but I do not need sarcasm. So this leads us to empathetic joy.
I spoke yesterday of practicing any of the three modes of shamatha from the perspective of a quiet, luminous and pure awareness. As if you are sitting on your throne awareness sitting, resting in its own place, holding its own ground, holding its own throne. And from that vantage point attending to the kingdom of the body, the kingdom of the mind, observing, illuminating, clarifying, but not stepping off the throne - remaining in that clarity, in that stillness, but illuminating these different domains of experience. So we try, resting the awareness in its own place.
(16:17) And what I like to suggest for the first part of this session is – recognize it - recognize that when your awareness is sitting in its own throne, resting in its own place, holding in its own ground, and take satisfaction, this isn’t realization of rigpa yet but this is the direct route, without detours, without embellishments, without contrivances. Direct route - let your awareness just rest in its own place and then releasing. If you can take some satisfaction whether it’s for one second, whether it’s for three seconds, but while your awareness is there on its throne - quiet, clear, present, uncluttered by rumination, naked, take satisfaction in that, learn to enjoy that, be satisfied. And when you inadvertently, as if mesmerized, as if kidnaped, abducted or carried away on a wild horse, you fall into rumination, well when you have fallen into rumination, you’ve lost your mind anyway, as soon you find your mind again then don’t be upset about having been carried away by the horses of rumination, but as soon as you find your awareness let your first response be satisfaction, delight, relief, rejoicing. Ah, I’ve come home again. So whenever you’ve lost your mind, don’t worry, you’ve lost your mind, but as soon as you’ve found it - just be happy and rest right there, and hold your throne, hold your throne, take satisfaction in that.
(18:14) So let that be our launching pad, when you can take real satisfaction that can grow into enjoyment that can grow into bliss, simply letting you awareness rest in its own nature then everything else will flow, if you can really take satisfaction in that, be content there, everything will flow from that, right? So just, it could be one second, three seconds but when you are there you don’t need to count the seconds, just be happy you’re home, home again, the prodigal son, the prodigal daughter who keeps wandering off getting mesmerized. When you are mesmerized, you are mesmerized don’t worry about it. As soon as you are back take delight at being home again and put on a seat belt.
(20:10) Settle your body, speech and mind in the natural states and let the culmination of this process be letting your awareness come to rest, releasing all grasping, releasing all effort, coming to rest in its own place and having done so, let it hold its own ground.
(21:56) And taking satisfaction in this rare and precious opportunity to explore your own inner resources, to experience genuine happiness and for a little while enter into any of the methods of shamatha at your choice, but whatever your choice take satisfaction in awareness holding in its own ground, still, relaxed, luminous and content.
(24:55) Release all concepts of achieving or accomplishing anything, release all concepts and simply take satisfaction in resting in this very ground, in this very well- spring of sanity, exceptional, extraordinary sanity, and in its own good time allow your substrate consciousness to rise up to meet you, embrace you and welcome you home.
(30:25) As you even begin to gain some insight, experiential insight, into the nature of your own consciousness, your own internal resources, the potentials of consciousness there may arise a vision of loving kindness, imagining the benefits, the bounty, if there were as H.H. Dalai Lama envisions a true renaissance of the world’s contemplative traditions, as they themselves rediscover their own riches, the richness of their own heritage, so much wisdom covered up. Imagine the benefits for all of humanity and as you gain such experiential insight you may see also not only the need but the real possibility of there being a true revolution in the mind sciences, in which we overcome the ideological imbalances and blinders of the present, and move in a spirit of radical empiricism, a great collaboration between scientists, contemplatives and true lovers of wisdom, philosophers. As we arouse such a yearning and aspiration, this constitutes loving kindness, but that renaissance, that mind revolution have not yet take place but already we can take satisfaction, take delight as we attend to people around the world, we are sowing the seeds with of such a great breakthrough for all humanity, people of good will, of vision, of inspiration, of benevolence, within the fields of philosophy, science, contemplatives around the world and others as well, to be sure.
Let your attention roam and take delight in all those who are applying themselves, devoting their lives, their hearts and minds to identifying the true causes of suffering and to finding the true remedies. To discovering the true causes of genuine happiness and applying themselves to it. Attend closely, and with every out breath, breathe out a light of gratitude, of satisfaction, of delight, of appreciation.
Who’s there according to the 3 turnings of the wheel of dharma?
(43:16) Knock knock. Who’s there? What are you asking me for? That’s for you to find out. Or we can ask the Buddha, if you haven’t figured that out yet.
First turning of the wheel of dharma, four noble truths the basic teachings, who is not there is an autonomous, substantial, controlling, ego who owns and runs your body and mind, not there. If it is there, if that’s who you are, show yourself, show me that self, show me that personal identity. If it’s not to be found then it doesn’t exist, first tuning of the wheel of dharma. What is not there is this autonomous agent.
Second turning of the wheel of dharma.
Where you are, right where you are, there is no sentient being, not really, not from your side, there is no sentient being, no Nato, no Chrita, no Patrice. As a sentient being you know - poor deluded screwed up sentient being, neurotic, mental affliction -find! Find that screwed up sentient being; nowhere to be found. Where you are, right there where you are there is no sentient being to be found. If there is a sentient being there it’s one you’ve imagined and then reified.
You remember the story about the person that wanders off in the desert with a prison kit, remember? No? Oh then I’ll have to tell you another parable.
A person, for whatever reason, quite strange, buys himself a kit to build a prison, you know just a nice square prison, bars, basically a cage, he buys himself a kit, prison bars, and then he wanders off into the Sahara as far as he can go, nobody ever sees him leave, and he wanders deep into the Sahara with no supplies, no water, no nothing. A person quite confused. And out there in the middle of the Sahara then he gets industriously to work, and puts together the whole assembly. All the bars firmly in place, bolted and locked, everything, a really solid cage, prison. And then he gets inside of it with the only key for the prison, slams the door shut and then takes that key and hurls it as far away as he can into the sand, and says wow, it is sucks to be locked in prison!
And that is what we have done to ourselves, we have concocted a prison of our own identities, we’ve assembled it all ourselves, threw away the one key and then say, help, help!
That is my parable, that is my trademark.
The second turning of the wheel of dharma, where you are there is no sentient being to be found, not really, nothing more than a non-lucid dream and they don’t really exist at all. So you might want to just give that a rest. Unless you can actually reveal there’s a sentient being right where you are, I would like to meet that person, if you can find such a deluded sentient being that is really there.
c.1) Where you are, there’s Buddha mind, rigpa, or dharmakaya,
Where you are there’s the Buddha mind, there is rigpa, there is primordial consciousness, there is dharmakaya. Where you are there is dharmakaya. First point.
c.2) The ultimate nature of your mind and Buddha mind is no different.
Second point: the ultimate nature of the Buddha’s dharmakaya, ultimate nature of your mind are in no way different.
c.3) All sentient beings belong to the same family, Buddha family. We can either adopt and identify with mind and body arisen through karma and mental afflictions or Buddha mind. We need insight into emptiness of self and the guru in order to practice guru yoga which leads us to Buddha mind. Guru yoga isn’t blind faith idolatry. Even in the 1st turning, we are advised to check the guru carefully before viewing him/her as an emissary of the Buddha.
Third point: all sentient beings belong to the same family, Buddha family, nobody is left outside of the family, every single one.
(48:39) So as long as we are still holding tenaciously, and it takes so much effort to do it, like a claw, holding so tenaciously, “I am a sentient being, I am a sentient being” and letting the sound track of rumination keep on reinforcing that, sealing it, sealing it, sealing it, then we are sentient being as far as we are concerned. But when we see through that self-created prison and deconstruct it, then we see we actually do have a choice. What would you like as the basis of imputation for yourself? The body you are born with, the mind you are accustomed to having, arising in dependence upon karma and klesha?
That’s a choice, if you want to identify with that you can, it’s not you but if that is what you’d like to adopt, just like adopting a child with whom we have no genetic relationship at all, it’s simply another child on the planet, but you can adopt that child as yours, likewise, this body, this mind, it’s not yours - but if you want to adopt it, this little sack full of human sausage, and the mind like an anthill filled with snakes of mental afflictions and so forth, if you’d like to adopt that and say, “that’s me”, then you can. Conventionally speaking if you want to be a sentient being then you have that choice. But right where you are there is also Buddha body, Buddha speech, Buddha mind, right there you are. If you would like to have that as your basis of designation that is also a choice, that’s your choice.
(50:45) So a very crucial point here, I think the stakes are very high, and that is where you are there is no sentient being, not really. Where this teacher is, there is no sentient being, there is no difference, it’s like there is not a little bit less of no sentient being, there is just no sentient being, here, from this person’s side anymore than from Patricia’s side, Nicola’s side, from the side of Nicola there is no sentient being, not really, not at all in fact. Not inherently existent, from his side, nowhere to be found.
There is Buddha mind there, there is Buddha mind here - there is Buddha mind everywhere. So if one has some insight into that, insight, intuition, if that’s your world view, then you have a foundation for one of the most transformative and profound, magnificent practices in all of Buddhism, and that is the Vajrayana approach to guru yoga, of viewing your guru as a Buddha. If you have that insight into the emptiness of yourself as a sentient being and where your mind is, there is an indifferentiability between your mind and the Buddha mind. If you have realized that, you’ve realize the symmetry, no more Buddha mind on the side of the Buddha of your guru than there is on your side, it’s not unevenly distributed.
And you are no more or less inherently a sentient being than your guru is. If you realize that then to view your guru as a Buddha, very powerful, very powerful. As many Lamas say that is really, that is the heart essence of the whole practice, incredibly deep, radically transformative on one hand, on the other hand if you are still stuck in your own self constructed cage, reifying yourself as a sentient being, and then you turn to some guru and think - you are perfect, you are Buddha, I am a shmuck, but help, help. You are a schmuck. You are a Vajrayana shmuck, this is a ridiculous, stupid, blind faith, idolatrous parody of Vajrayana guru yoga. I am sorry. But that’s the turd covered in chocolate all over again. If you think, I am a Buddha and I am also Californian. If you still holding onto the ordinary reified sense of a self then you adopt pure vision for yourself, you’re an idiot. But if you’ve not realized the emptiness of yourself, don’t have any realization of the emptiness of your guru, whoever that Guru is, unless it actually happens to be someone like Buddha Shakyamuni.
Simply by viewing somebody as a guru and then thinking because he is my guru therefore he is omniscient and everything he does is pure and everything he says is infallibly, literally absolutely correct, even if he speaks broken English, that is now the Oxford King’s English because my infallible guru just spoke what other people call bad grammar, but now we know they are all speaking bad grammar because my guru is infallible. It frustrates me a little bit to see a practice so profound, so magnificent, turned into blind faith idolatry, that’s what it is.
That is Vajrayana guru yoga, you don’t practice that guru yoga unless you are a Vajrayana practitioner and you are not a Vajrayana practitioner unless you have some real insight into emptiness, and intuitive embracing, as part of your world view of the ambiguous nature of dharmakaya, if you are just stuck in ordinary world of view, I am an ordinary shmuck, but at least my guru is omniscient – well maybe you are lucky. Or maybe you are just a shmuck. But you are a self- constructed shmuck, so you can stop at will.
And then start from scratch - first turning of the wheel of dharma, guru yoga, how do you view your guru if your guru is authentic? And you’d better check because there is a lot of them who are not, they think they are but they don’t know what they are talking about. So first you really check, how many times have we heard that? Before you view a guru, a certain person, a man or a woman as your teacher, how long do you investigate? They often say 10 years, right? Make sure, in other words you’re looking for a solid basis of designation before you enter into that kind of guru yoga. You don’t go – eenie meeni miny mo – oh gosh you are charismatic, or I really like your smile. Come on!
So even for the Sravakayana level, this first turning of the wheel of dharma level, is there such a thing as guru yoga? Yes. But first you check, is this person worthy to be regarded as a guru, a true teacher, an authentic guide for this first turning of the wheel of dharma? Yes or no, because most people aren’t. A lot of people who think they are, aren’t. So you really must check. Authentic basis of designation or not? And then if upon careful investigation and seeing that there is good affinity, good personal connection and you are definitely getting benefit from the teaching, then if you want to have good disciple relationship with such a first turning of the wheel guru, then what’s the authentic way of viewing the guru from that perspective? Since we have not even moved into Mahayana territory, realization of emptiness, let alone Dzogchen, Uttaratantra, Buddhanature and all that, no, we are coming into, we are taking this as a path, what a novel idea. So what is the authentic way of viewing the guru? There is an answer to that, hardly ever taught, so weird, such good teaching, entry level guru yoga – view your guru as an emissary of the Buddha. An emissary, an ambassador, a representative. That is 26 hundred years of space, that is a lot of space, there is a lineage, a transmission, teacher student, teacher student, all the way to the present and if you find someone who bears that lineage, the genetic strain so to speak, of authentic teachings of Buddha of the first turning of the wheel of dharma, then whether this person is articulate, not articulate, has good sense of humor no sense of humor, ugly, handsome , short, fat skinny, strong, weak, whatever. If the person is authentic, living in accordance with the teaching, teaching with altruistic motivation, teaching authentically, then you regard that person with all the respect, all the reverence as if this were an emissary sent by the Buddha. This is as close as you get for the time being, this is the Buddha’s ambassador. You show that kind of respect to that kind of a teacher. Then you get much more benefit, because that is the whole point. Guru disciple relationship is A symmetrical, it is all for the sake of the student. If the teacher needs students the teacher should stop teaching and go into retreat.
Enjoy your day, or else
Or else you won’t enjoy your day.
Note for the readers: using the SB Institute summary to finish the session:
We need insight into emptiness of self and the guru in order to practice guru yoga which leads us to Buddha mind. Guru yoga isn’t blind faith idolatry. Even in the 1st turning, we are advised to check the guru carefully before viewing him/her as an emissary of the Buddha.
Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Revised by Cheri Langston
Final edition by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Posted by Alma Ayon