03 Oct 2012

Teaching pt1: With respect to the Madhyamaka, 1) hearing means that you understand the View as presented, 2) reflection means that you relate the teachings to your own experience, and 3) meditation means investigation based on shamatha to penetrate to direct realization. Alan elaborates on verses 90-92 of Ch. 9 of the Bodhicaryavatara. Suffering arises in dependence on causes and conditions; however, neither suffering nor joy is inherently existent. They are conventionally there without investigation, without analysis. However, upon analysis, neither is there from its own side. Just as causes and conditions can shift to produce either suffering or joy, conceptual designation can also be shifted by the observer participant. Reification is the problem, and this is the antidote to reification.
Meditation: mindfulness of feelings preceded by mindfulness of the body. 

1) mindfulness of the body. Let awareness illuminate the space of the body and tactile sensations therein. With discerning mindfulness note each of the 5 elements. When the mind is quiet, perceive tactile sensations as tactile sensations. Do sensations bear an intrinsic identity? 

2) mindfulness of feelings. Closely apply mindfulness to feelings that arise with tactile sensations. Are they static or in flux? Are they pleasurable or unpleasurable? Do they have an owner? Choose a spot on the body where you experience a feeling, and observe with samadhi the appearance, and see what you see. Now experiment on that same spot by deliberately labelling the sensation as pleasant or unpleasant. Reify it as being absolutely there. Now withdraw the designation and reification, and observe the impact with a quiet mind. Once some clarity arises, stop investigating, and simply maintain that knowing.
Teaching pt2: By withdrawing conceptual designation, reification is also withdrawn, yet it is possible to conceptually designate without reification. No reification means no klesas, and no klesas mean no suffering.
Q1. Please explain how to generate a proper vacant gaze.

Q2. What criteria can I use to determine whether I should receive a Vajrayana empowerment and do the practice?

Meditation starts at 43:44

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Teachings pt 1:


With respect to the Madhyamaka, 1) hearing means that you understand the View as presented; 2) reflection means that you relate the teachings to your own experience, and 3) meditation means investigation based on shamatha to penetrate to direct realization. Alan elaborates on verses 90-92 of Ch. 9 of the Bodhicaryavatara. Suffering arises in dependence on causes and conditions; however, neither suffering nor joy is inherently existent. They are conventionally there without investigation, without analysis. However, upon analysis, neither is there from its own side. Just as causes and conditions can shift to produce either suffering or joy, conceptual designation can also be shifted by the observer participant. Reification is the problem, and this is the antidote to reification.

Alan’s teachings:

In terms of the type of lectures or teachings that I’ve been offering here, some of them, I think it’s rather a minority, are really directed to us as people living in the 21st century and if we weren’t living here and now, we could just skip it altogether. So most of what I said yesterday afternoon if you are not living in the 21st century, if you are living in 19th century Tibet, that would be a total waste of time, they wouldn’t believe that anybody would be that crazy.

But we are living here and I do have a very strong conviction that’s actually imperative, if one wants to have a very flourishing dharma practice and that one’s understanding of dharma is thoroughly integrated with one’s actual way of viewing reality, not your Buddhist view but the way you actually view reality, that we must have these in dialogue, must be in dialogue, they must be on speaking terms, so that’s why I spent good deal of time yesterday afternoon doing that, on the one hand, and I don’t feel any regrets, I made a couple of minor errors, and I thank Patrice for pointing out a couple, so just for note, and extremely brief, that nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants can also give prescriptions, and not just psychiatrists, thank you, correct? So there we are.

But the really central, the theme, I would say something like 80% of what we are doing here, it doesn’t matter whether you are living in Tibet in the 19th century or you are living in India in the 8th Century, or now let’s say in Manhattan in the 21st century, the teachings are right there. And so that is where we are going to return this afternoon, back to teaching that are really, to my mind they are spot on, they are relevant, they are contemporary at any time and they are relevant wherever you are living and frankly from my perspective in this galaxy or another galaxy, the teachings on Madhyamaka, Middle Way, because they are either throughout the universe or they are not true at all, so that is where we are going today.

(3:42) And then occasionally I think less frequently than I have really addressed us as people living in the twenty one century, some of the teachings when we are brushing up on the teachings of Dzogchen, the parables for example, those parables are not 21st century parables and I would say this, these teachings that you are about to hear, they are addressing us as sentient beings, sentient beings who are subject to the Four Noble Truths, right? And this is to get to the root of those and to eradicate suffering and its causes. So I can address you as a 21st century person or simply as a sentient being, specifically human being, that’s who these teachings are for, and then the teachings where we brush up against Dzogchen, they’re not addressing you as a 21st century person and they are not addressing you as a sentient being either, it’s calling to you from afar - is there someone from your side listening? That is your own Buddha nature, and that’s almost like a harmonic vibration, some kind of a resonance sets up, that somehow this seems right and that’s weird, so that is it.

And now we go back to addressing ourselves here as sentient beings, I’m going to keep this pretty close to a half hour so we can get more back to our own rhythm, old rhythm. We’re returning now to Shantideva’s texts, the first one that we are looking at, so I’ve re-covered the first I think three verses here, and now we go to verse 91, some of you may have it and so here we are - close application of mindfulness to feelings, and this is an absolutely Madhyamaka critique, and there’s further practice, and that is as I mentioned here and there in the classic and very rigorous monastic training, whether in Nyingma tradition or they spend maybe ten , fifteen years becoming Khenpo, which is the culmination or in the Gelugpa tradition fifteen, twenty, twenty five, thirty five years one of my geshe , one of my teachers spent thirty five years of formal training to get his Geshe degree. Those studying Madhyamaka standardly for four years, and if they are people like Geshe Rabten or Geshe Ngawang Dargye , or outstanding scholars and they really become yogis, then they will take that four years primarily of hearing and reflection, hearing / reflection and the reflection, the contemplation the second of hearing and thinking and meditation is often done on the debating courtyard. So that is where you are doing your reflecting, you’re drawing it out and there is a lot of energy in that, they are most, I wrote a whole book on this, Geshe Rabten’s biography, their most intensive phase of the whole training, Geshe Rabten’s was twenty four years, the most intensive phase of that twenty four years of training was the four years of Mahyamaka, really intense. And so what is the point of all of that?

1) Hearing means that you understand the view as presented.

(6:31) First of all to get crystal clear, understanding by way of hearing, and that is you now understand what the teachings are saying, whether you agree with them or disagree with them, maybe you are studying something else and want to refute them, whatever but you really have understood and if somebody gives you an exam - ok, what is Shantideva’s position about the non-inherent nature of feelings? Whether you believe it or not, you can give a correct exposition of what he was getting at, and if somebody quizzes on you, grills you on it, you can still say things that are correct about his view. Whether or not you’ve really reflected deeply to see whether any of it is true or not, so you can pass the university exam in that way, the university exam in the class get a good grade. So that is the first point, you can’t skip that one, right?

2) Reflection means that you relate the teachings to your own experience.

(7:15) And then we have the second one and that’s really understanding the teachings as something objective, something from outside that you hear, somebody else’s, Shantideva’s teachings in this text, but then if you want to go further you like that and you’d like to take a big step towards letting this be of benefit to you own mind stream then you go into the seeking the cultivation of prajña, wisdom understanding by way of reflection, critical analysis, thinking and what you’re doing now is you’re taking your own experience, your own intelligence but especially own experience and what you think you know of reality, and then relating it so now it’s like a wrestling match between the teaching of Shantideva on Madhyamaka and your own experience, your own intelligence, your own understanding.

That’s why I draw from 21st century physics. That’s my understanding, I take 21st century physics very seriously, that’s part of my world, right? I was trained in physics and I have a great respect for science, I cannot ignore that and say well never mind that, let’s just deal with 8th century notions of atoms. I can’t do that because then it is not real. And then this creates a bifurcation between how you are when you are outside of the dharma center and then when you are back to the real world. Phony baloney, right? It is really totally phony. So nothing’s really going to happen, interesting out of that, it has to be a total integration.

(8:28) So my reflection by testing, this is where His Holiness is quoting the Buddha so many times, you test it like a person who is buying gold and you want to see, you melt it, you rub it, you do everything you can to it, to see is it really gold or not, because this is a lot of money, this is ten thousand dollars to buy that piece of yellow metal, and if it’s not gold man I’m getting slopped here. So I am going to put it to every test that I can and when I’ve fully tested it, say man ok, it stood up to every test, ok here is the cash give the gold, right?

(8:49) And that’s just gold, what we are talking about here is our lives and our way of viewing relating. So to accept the Madhyamaka view cheaply, say ok, it sounded good to me – that aint going to work. It is not going to become your view and will be merely a part of your belief system, like my believing that Jupiter has moons. That hasn’t influenced my view of reality at all, and I think it is true but there it is – just the belief, and I am not even testing it, maybe I did once, but a long time ago.

So there is hearing, and that’s what they’ll spend four years doing, hearing, and thinking, thinking by way of debate, sharpening. So people sharpening, Miles and I get into a debate, he sharpens his sword on my sword, and I sharpen my sword on his sword, and it is a very, very effective way of learning. I went through it myself and it is very effective.

(9:40) But from the really fine Geshe in the really fine campus, what’s all of that for?

Is it when you’ve finished your formal education with all of the talking, the reading, the memorization and all of that, what do the authentically ones do? That knew what this was all for? They get their degree perhaps and then they are gone. And they are off then to the culmination, the flowering and that is meditation. So there is one way of doing it, now getting a 15 year Khenpo training or twenty five year Geshe training, maybe not so feasible for us, number one you really can’t do it if you don’t speak Tibetan. It’s not available, not even Hamburg, not quite the same, right? Or London, Geshe Tashi and so forth, wonderful teaches and all of that but will we get a Geshe degree out of that? Not by a long shot.

So is there another avenue? The answer of course there is, and that is (see below):

3) Meditation means investigation based on shamatha to penetrate to direct realization.

(10:41) If you’ve achieved shamatha and that shouldn’t take 25 years, if you have together the causes and conditions, find a super environment, it may not take as long as becoming a Geshe, but if you achieve shamatha you have a mind that is so superbly tuned, that you can use that in a very piercing and effective way to penetrate right through to some experiential realization of impermanence, the nature of dukkha, the nature of non-self, because those entail the very investigation of appearances themselves. Closely, closely, scrutinize appearances and then you see their momentary arising. I have never been persuaded by one of the things the Gelugpa tradition says, never been persuaded that just by doing a lot of analytical inference you will somehow realize subtle impermanence. I am sorry, I just don’t believe that. Subtle impermanence by thinking a lot? I don’t believe it. That it will have an impact and purify? Maybe for other people but I have total confidence that will not work for me, no way jose, I’ll just come to an intellectual conviction.

(11:37) Whereas if you’ve developed shamatha and you are probing right in with the high frequency and is high resolution, extremely high vividness of awareness, that you get through shamatha and you don’t get through debating, and you use that to penetrate into the nature of mental events arising and passing, earth, water, fire and air arising in the body, subtle impermanence, you bet you. I think there is really a good reason to believe that. There is no reference in a Pali Canon and in the whole Theravada tradition of using syllogisms to gain direct realization of subtle impermanence. I don’t believe that, right?

(12:08) And then for non-self, can you get a conceptual understanding by way of debating? Yes, you can. Direct realization got to be, got to be by the power of shamatha. So you have that kind of preparation and then you take your shamatha trained mind, your shamatha mind and you apply it to what he is saying right there, that would work. I think it’s day and night, I really do, day and night, take the same syllogisms and then engage in the investigations that he is suggesting but do it with the shamatha mind, then that is another route and this was suggested to me years ago by Geshe Rabten Rinpoche. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, the geshe approach’s for the person who wants the eleven course gourmet meal, but it’s not the only way, so we shouldn’t give up on ourselves and if anybody else wants to give up on you, wish them well and find another teacher.

Well we cannot really take you seriously, after all you don’t speak Tibetan, you are not a geshe you are not a monk, so well why don’t you do some pujas? Find another teacher because there are other ways, there are other ways, and I having spent a lot of time with Asians and with Westerners, I’ve encountered quite number of Westerners, I think, I am just totally persuaded, have authentic renunciation without having spent years and years and years studying, and some who I have known have spent years and years studying with no renunciation at all.

(14:03) So renunciation can come from the inside, it doesn’t come just by lots and lots of study and so forth. So there it is, if one has a shamatha base this becomes a lot more accessible and this is what Geshe Rabten told me almost forty years ago, achieve shamatha vipashyana, and he was referring to this type of vipashyana, not so hard.

So back to the text. Now here and again it is subtle, verse 91, and the challenge here is that when we are investigating impermanence, dukkha , non-self, we really are investigating appearing reality, we are investigating appearances and we can get insight by investigating, probing, penetrating into those appearances. Quite true, you really see it, you can observe thoughts and you can see they have no owner, you can see, by observing them, they are not self and have no owner. But when comes to Madyamaka, now we’re doing the core healing, it’s like the disease has multiple layers and you heal the outer layers, and the person feels a lot better but there still some nucleus, the nucleus of something that will just keep on, in other words – chronic, it will continue giving symptoms forever even though you’ve healed the outer stuff.

(15:10) This Madhyamaka vipashyana is going for that nucleus, and to eradicate that completely and irreversible that’s what vipashyana is for. So this is deep healing that he is talking about. And this means that we have to more than closely exam appearances because this is contrary to appearances, just like in a lucid dream, you know you’re dreaming, and doggone it, there is Bram in my dream and he still appears to be there from his own side. In other words if I’m in a lucid dream and I say - Well, I’ll figure out that you’re not inherently existent by just gazing at you is really hard, the appearance of existence from its own side does not vanish, because the appearance itself seems to be from its own side. So therefore you have to use intelligence, prajna, prajñaparamita, transcendent wisdom of the culmination of intelligence.

So here we go finally:

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

(15:58) Of all the sentences in the book, this is one of the least transparent. That if you understand it, then okay, this is really deep in a very few words. “If suffering does not arise when the conditions for its opposite have arisen”, and that is - so you are experiencing something really pleasant, a lovely day, good companionship, some pleasant conversation and there you are, and pleasant feelings are arising then you say, well suffering is not arising, why not? Because the conditions for it to arise have being shoved aside and conditions for pleasure to arise have arisen. If that’s the case, and it seems really common sense how is anybody going to refute that? Duh? He said, well if that’s the case - does it not follow that “feeling” is a false notion created by conceptual fabrication?

The Sautrantika says - “you just lost your mind”. What you’ve just said is gibberish! Because that’s exactly how a pleasant feeling arises, in dependence upon causes and conditions, and then those causes and conditions change, and other causes and conditions arise and absolutely inherently real suffering arises and then the conditions change and the absolutely real, inherently existent pleasure arises, so what part of this don’t you understand, you Madhyamakas? (17:18)

(18:24) And we see that this is about as sensible as classical physics. I mean it just makes really, really good sense. And he says it’s completely wrong. Not conventionally. So, Sautrantika says – oh, you mean you are still giving that some credence? That suffering arises in dependence upon causes and conditions which change and then? Yeah we are. But, and the BUT is enormous, big but. Not inherently real.

Have I squeezed that one dry? Then on we move.

He is pointing now to something that, he is saying - of course this is conventionally true, we already knew that , I mean nobody doubted that in the first place, but he is pointing now that issue of origination. What he is refuting here of course is not feeling, pleasure or pain, suffering or joy, he is refuting its inherent nature. So we again, as Tsongkhapa highlights so clearly, I have never seen anybody highlight it as clearly as he does, he and his followers, and that is - you must hold in mind, get a clear sense, what’s being refuted here. Not feeling, not joy, not sorrow that’s stupid, Shantideva is not stupid, what’s being refuted? Reified feelings. That is - suffering existing in and of itself, by its own inherent nature. Now crucial element is when we merely, every word is really important here, and that is - if I look around and say - is Betty Rose here? Oh yeah, she is right over there. How do we say in Tibetan, Alan mentioned a phrase in Tibetan which means “without investigating and without analyzing”. Is Betty Rose here or not? Oh, yeah, she is here, she is right over there. So without investigating and analyzing that’s a perfectly conventionally true statement in our framework of Betty Rose being here or not, and the answer is yes, and that is end of the conversation.

(19:46) But now we say, Oh, you mean she’s really here, ok, exactly good, where is she? Is she in a head, in a chest or torso or legs, is she in a composite, is she in her mind? When we do the anthological analysis - nowhere to be found. There’s no sentient being there, there is no Betty Rose, there’s no woman, there’s not even any molecules from their own side independently objectively. But when we say - but conventionally speaking: is Beth Rose here as in a lucid dream, exactly as in a lucid dream? In a lucid dream you know you are lucid, you know it’s a dream and within your dream within that cognitive framework if Patrice says, ‘Alan is Beth Rose here?’ And I am lucid, I say yes she is right over there and I know there is nobody really over there, but you know that I’ve just give the right answer because you can now go over and shake her hand or give her some chocolate whatever.

(20:55) So the point here is holding that notion, holding the reified entity in mind, if suffering, we’ve already done the atom and all of that, but now suffering, it’s so intimate, so close and so powerfully real when it arises, it’s hard to find anything more real to a person who is really suffering, physically or mentally, atoms seem, even in a physical world can fade out. When suffering overwhelms you even the physical world seems to be rather a theory, but suffering man oh man, and if that’s not inherent real, so what is this when we grasp onto or reify suffering, how does it appear? As self-defining, as having its own contours, its own intrinsic nature existing by itself and what reification does in essence it decontextualizes. If we consider that the nature of suffering and all other phenomena is that they are all dependent related events, pratityasamutpada, that their very existence is one of interdependence with that which is around them. Interdependence upon prior causes and conditions, interdependence in relationship to their own components, their own attributes and so forth, interdependence in terms of the way they are apprehended, conceptual designated, perceived, that they are everything arises within a mesh, within a network, within a system but it’s not only a bunch of individual autonomous things coming together, their very existence is mesh like, right? So that is the reality of things.

(22:16) It is not that Tracy doesn’t exist but Tracy is arising within this context, this whole Indra’s net of causation and conceptual designation, Harry, Miles and everybody else that’s here in this room, that’s reality, but then when I reify Tracy, first of all I label here, “mata mashe”,

without investigation, without analysis , is Tracy there? She is right over there, no problem. The Buddha would do that arya-bodhisattavas would do that. Is Tracy over here? Yeah, she is right over there, right? But then when I reify, then I lock her in, with the reification I’ve now put absolute contours around Tracy and not Tracy, and there’s the rest of the universe – that which is not Tracy, and now there are these absolute borders around Tracy, and I have isolated her in space and time, because Tracy is just really there, which means the past is irrelevant and the future is irrelevant because Trace is just really there, like one of those billiard balls that hangs in outer space all by itself absolutely independent and real. So there is the notion of an inherently existent Tracy, decontextualized from time, decontextualized from space, from causality, everything around her and with absolute contours, and she’s absolutely bearing her own attributes. And then I look over and say, Yeah, there she is, I just pick it up, I am just a simply witness here, I am not a participant, I am just a passive observer, an objective observer and getting what is absolutely out there from her own side, that’s the reified Tracy.

(23:49) So for a person, so for an atom and now Shantideva saying this is exactly the same for feeling. When we reify feeling we decontextualize it, we don’t see past, we don’t see future, we don’t see causation, when don’t see its interrelatedness with anything and certainly not with our own conceptual designation, it seems to be absolutely there, in and of itself, and arising if arises at all, it arises in dependence upon absolute real objective cause and conditions.

(24:23) And his point here you might recall remember the when do you call when an egg and a sperm come together and gradually when would you call it a human body? So that point of it didn’t exist and now it does, that’s exactly the point here. It’s one of the primary modes of investigating emptiness is the emptiness of origination, objectively speaking , independent of conceptual designation nothing ever comes into or out of existence, it’s either absolutely there or absolutely not there, but there’s no way, just pause for a moment - if something is absolutely not there how could it possible become absolutely there? That’s kind of a knuckle punch, isn’t it? If it’s absolutely not there how can you bring a lot of contributing circumstances to make something that’s absolutely not there - absolutely be there? Isn’t that just totally impossible? And if it’s absolutely there, how can you bring other cooperative conditions to make it absolutely not be there? IT’S THERE! So that’s it, that’s the reified object. You can’t do anything with it, it is absolutely there which means there was no point in which it could originate because that would entail something absolutely not being there - absolutely being there. But how would that transition ever take place? It conventionally takes place when we say so, right? Now it’s a human body, now it’s a galaxy, now it’s this, now it’s that, but it’s the conceptual designation that comes and ok, now! Now it began and now it ended, conceptual designation. It’s that whole point of frozen time again for which I will make an extremely brief foray.

(25:53) If there is no observer participant that says now – there’s no past and there’s no future and there’s a frozen universe and it’s amazing that they came up with that conclusion with no knowledge of Madhyamaka at all, it really is astonishing, and then for a person like Anton Zeilinger who spent so much of his time in the lab, he was just, it was a jaw dropper for him. That so many, it seems actually identical conclusions can be drawn by monks out there in the debating courtyard getting it conceptually and then all the more importantly, because this is the real jaw dropper, I mean Hillary Button does a fantastic job, conceptually, but that’s where it stops, and then he moved on and did, to my mind much less interesting philosophy than during that incredible phase during the nineteen eighties it’s just my opinion of course.

(26:28) But what is really extraordinary here and you do not get to this level without shamatha, is you apply your shamatha mind to that vipashyana investigation and you gain some insight, and you find by that insight you can actually shift the reality you are experiencing . Like Chandrakirti, when he was debating with a Hindu and after a while, yeah it was Chandrakirti, debating with somebody who was a metaphysical realist and they’re debating back and forth and I think Chandrakirti just got bored after a while, you know like me debating with materialists , after a while I just yawn and say oh, whatever, and just want to walk away, it’s just boring because it’s just like, oh man, how long do we have to stay in kindergarten for retarded children. So Chandrakirti is debating with this guy that you know won’t give up and finally you remember Chandrakirti comes over to the wall of his little hut right there and he draws, he makes a drawing of a cow and then he milks it. So that was the end of the debate.

(27:45) So it’s raising, this is now, what I am about to say is an empirical issue, and that is if you have realized emptiness and that’s backed with this fusion of shamatha vipashyana , if you withdraw conceptual designation, that reality vanishes for YOU, it’s not at all to say that it vanishes for other people, of course not, but it vanishes for you, because if that phenomenon does not exist independently of conceptual designation and with you being in the center of your mandala, if you withdraw the conceptual designation from your perspective, that phenomena vanishes.

(28:46) Now where is this actually quite evident? Lojong, lojong, mind training, Seven Point Mind Training, Eight verses of training the mind, where they are bringing people like Atisha and so forth are bringing the Madhyamaka right in there to lojong to shift to alter, to purify, to train our attitudes, our ways of viewing reality such that when we encounter adversity, something that we have, what we have actually encountered is a situation. Don’t they say that in politics, Lady and Gentlemen we have a situation. It’s probably not a good one, They are probably not going to say from now on we are going to hold Christmas twice a year. And they say it’s a situation, they are preparing you to conceptually designate it as a catastrophe, it’s an adversity, it’s something we didn’t want, right. So the conceptual designation comes out, there is some situation, some circumstance and then we conceptually designated it as this is awful, this is terrible, and then the course emotions arise together with that, and then now we have to deal with major adversity. All the sadness, greed, anger, hatred and so forth that may arise. And Lojong is saying go back to the situation, go back to the basis of designation before you designated it as adversity, catastrophe, miserable, awful, horrible, great misfortune, go back to the situation, remove the conceptual designation, and give it a new designation.

(30:17) This is so helpful for my practice, it helped me develop renunciation, this is a great boon, this helped me develop greater compassion, this gives me greater faith in following the path, greater inspiration to find genuine happiness, this is preparing me well for death and so forth.

(30:29) And now the adversity is gone for you, other people may be commiserating for you – oh so terrible, I heard about what happened to you, I am so sorry. Feel sorry if you like but for me it is not an adversity, I decided otherwise because I saw that it was not inherently existent, from its own side it was not already an adversity that simply landed on my lap like a poisonous snake, but the poisonous snake of adversity was something I designated and having seen the emptiness of adversity I withdrew the designation and I designated in a way more favorable, more fruitful and more beneficial, that is Madhyamika in action, that is where the rubber hits the road. That can transform your life, and that is what Lojong is about, and so there it is, for you it disappears, one thing disappears and then if you then re-designate it - this is not adversity for me, this is a boon for the cultivation of deeper compassion that’s what it is for you, because you’ve designated now the same basis of designation is now designated in a different way which means you’ve shifted not only your perspective but you shifted the reality you are experiencing. Now keep on doing that and you can shift yourself right over into Sukhavati, you know that can be your neighborhood, Dewachen, a pure land, it’ll probably take a few incremental steps in between, so there is.

(32:03) So he is getting at something this one short sentence very, very deep, and that is - if this is the case, that cause and conditions can shift, then what happens is when they shift enough then the designation of suffering is removed, and then the designation of this is really nice is imputed, and now you are experiencing pleasure. But it takes the conceptual designation for that shift to take place and if the conceptual designation isn’t there, it’s not there already objectively, which means therefore - does it not follow that a so called feeling - that which we verbalized, that which we conceptualized as feeling - is a false notion, false in the sense of misleading, we didn’t just discover it, we didn’t just get it, we co-created it and not out of the blue, this is why it’s co-creation, observer participant. We didn’t sit in the dark imagining- I think I am happy. Something arose in dependence upon which we conceptually designated pleasurable, un-pleasurable and so forth so it is not a false that is to say misleading notion, created by conceptual fabrication, conceptual designation, so he’s evoking here the role of the observer participant and saying without that you do not have any inherently existent suffering or joy. So that is 91. We have to do one more verse at least one or two.

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

(33:28) Therefore, this analysis is created as an antidote to that false notion, this analysis is created as an antidote to reification; this is deep medicine, this is going to the very nucleus of the disease and nuking it.

For the meditative stabilizations, that is dhyana. For the dhynas that arise from the field of investigations are the food of contemplatives. So I checked this out, read His Holiness’ commentary and what it is, and it’s explicitly making the point that I made earlier based upon this work is - with this union of shamatha vipashyana, those two, when you are engaging in the subtle investigation super powered with shamatha, so it’s a shamatha vipashyana investigation, then through this there arises some realization of the emptiness of feelings, emptiness of matter, emptiness of physical world and so forth in this case emptiness of feelings and in that realization, that shamatha vipashyana realization of emptiness, there arises an exceptional pliancy, buoyancy, suppleness that same term that we referred to early to shamatha (Alan mentioned the name of it in Tibetan) that and the shamatha of just having that extremely heathy mind but now another whole dimension, another whole order of magnitude of pliancy, suppleness, buoyancy arises from the union of shamatha vipashyana, it’s off the charts it’s another whole order of magnitude of it and this is a pliancy, something that just feels wonderfully good, it is a type of nourishment which you are actually being nourished now by a sense of wellbeing that is coming from your dhyana, the fusion of shamatha vipashyana so you are getting nourished by that, right, of course what you are being nourished by is by genuine happiness. Ola so, one more verse. Oh this is a big one though, we are going to try to do all the rest tomorrow, that’s enough for today. The rest has to do with the origination, it’s quite a deep analysis, and it’s about 8 verses, so we will finish this section tomorrow, but just as a preview, the remaining section of this analysis of feelings goes right into a very detailed ontological investigation, right into the mode of being, of how is it the feelings arise. We say in Buddhist Psychology, all over the place – feeling arises in dependence upon contact – and what he is doing there is he is deconstructing contact, but it’s a very precise investigation. And it really struck me, to make sure I pass on something authentic that this calls for a really sharp scalpel. This is micro surgery. To get in there, the middle way here is very slender, right. Because what he is doing is he is coming to the conclusion – that in fact contact, real contact of a real object and a real subject, or even of two real objects – never happens. Two independent inherently existent material phenomena never actually touch, let alone immaterial consciousness actually touching something physical. And all the materialists will go along with that. That’s why they say there can be no mental causality if mind is not physical because how can something that is not physical possibly influence the physical? And of course that’s because they are reifying everything and the answer is – it can’t. So therefore they are just bogged down in mechanistic materialism which is saturated by reification. And it seems to work with a few little bits of collateral damage. So he is denying that any inherently real contact takes place amongst molecules, any inherently real contact takes place between your sensory organs, and any object. And then he is looking for a subject and not finding any inherently real subject as an experiencer. So right back to that triad that we looked at with John Wheeler and all of that information, there’s one who is informed, there is the process the flow of information and that about which you are being informed, right? And moreover, if you take out any one of those, just take the tweezers, just take it out, the other two do not remain. Oddly enough you kill just one of them and the other two just vanish. Which means they COULD NOT possibly have been inherently existent. If by taking something else out – they vanish, but you didn’t touch them! How could you destroy them if you didn’t even touch them? They can’t possibly be inherently existent if they can disappear by touching something else. Right? So that, as for information, so for feeling, if there is nothing out there that is inherently real that you are feeling, that you are contacting, that is arousing the feeling, if there is nothing inherently there, then there can’t possibly arise an inherently existent feeling, arising in dependence upon something that isn’t there. And likewise, if there isn’t an inherently existent feeling, there can’t possibly be an inherently existent feeler, one who experiences feeling. So take out any one of those three, an inherent agent or feeler or experiencer of feelings, if that is not there, there is no possible way there can be inherently existent feelings. Cause it can’t be orphaned. A feeling saying – somebody please feel me. Where did you go? I am lost. So he is tying this in. It is really quite extraordinary. Because this is based upon the prior insight into the emptiness of physical phenomena, something you are actually contacting physically, that being empty – then no really existing feeling can arise in contact with something that isn’t really there. So those three, the felt – that which you are feeling, the tactile sensations, the tactile sensations in your head when you have a migraine, the tactile sensations in your foot when you have an injured foot, the tactile sensations, right, and in response to how you are experiencing those tactile sensations, it hurts! What hurts? The tactile sensations hurt. And that is the information being transmitted, the tactile sensations coming up, but what’s getting really across? My foot hurts, my back hurts, my something hurts, and so there is the transmission and it’s the feeling, and there is a sense, a reification, I am the victim here, I am the one suffering, I need some help, I am really hurting here, I am real, and I am in pain. We have three fists. Take away any one of those the other two fists vanish into thin air, which means they never existed in the first place, not inherently. Very powerful stuff. So, to ask that we go from a 40 minute talk and now meditate on emptiness, maybe you can, maybe the words are clear enough, maybe Shantideva there is a blessing there, maybe you can, and maybe you can’t , in which case you may feel , oh I am not keeping up. I tried to meditate on it and I couldn’t, because by gum when I feel pain, it feels just about as real as anything. And that just means that this has to be taken step by step. So if you have already achieved Shamatha, that step will be much faster, not achieved Shamatha then what I would say now as we go to the meditation, is if you wish, your choice, let the meditation be a time for some reflection, some examination, some investigation, that is in that mid phase, having heard the teaching – some conceptual understanding. Then okay, then what you do is you take that conceptual understanding say from a book, right and then you apply that to actual feelings you are feeling. This is my feeling, I didn’t get that from Buddhism. Then you take those teachings and you apply it to your feelings and you start checking – do those teachings there, which may be make conceptual sense, are they relevant to my experience here? And you start doing investigation, sharpening the mind, but you are sharpening on a wet stone of your own experience, and not just clapping your hands with other people. Investigating , putting to the test, because if this is true, I mean it is absolutely radical, really it just radically changes everything, not only is it a conceptual idea like you know quantum cosmology, a very cool idea, but your whole way of viewing reality, and the whole malleability, I mean you are really virtually stepping into a lucid dream during the waking state, that reality should become that, if you really gain the realization it really would imply that you can start modifying physical reality here with pretty much the same degree of freedom, as you could change a lucid dream, now if that’s true, man! That really changes everything. So this will not be an easily won truth, Shamatha’s not easily won but if you have that it will be a tremendous advantage, in the meantime just take it where you are, reflect upon it, investigate, and if at some time you feel that I have gone as far as I can right now, maybe I need to learn a bit more, whatever, then release it and then go back to your experience. Go back to the first four weeks here, attending closely to the feelings, the body, for example, and continue there. Okay, let’s have one session.


(44:21) Bearing in mind the words that the mind settle in meditating equipoise comes to know reality as it is, settle your body, speech and mind in equipoise and for a little while calm the conceptual turbulence of the mind with mindfulness of breathing.

(47:07) Now let the light of your awareness clearly illuminate the space of your body, this field of tactile sensations. With discerning mindfulness note earth, water, fire and air. In Tibetan these sensations are called “recha” that which is contacted, so note clearly the nature of which is contacted when you direct tactile perception to the tactile field and see what arises, what appears.

(49:45) And when the mind is very quiet, conceptually uncluttered, unelaborated you may be able to nakedly perceive these tactile sensations simply as tactile sensations - having no feelings, devoid of feeling not by their own nature - pleasant or unpleasant, earth is not pleasant, water is not pleasant it’s just earth and water.

(51:05) These are the appearances that we conceptually and validly, designate as the emergences of earth, water, fire and air in the domain of space, so far so good. But do the sensations call themselves by those names? Are they self-defining, waiting to be passively discovered and superficially labeled that are already bearing their own intrinsic identity, is that true or false? Examine closely in this first person perspective from the inside out, on your body where you live.

(53:17) But of course there is more in the space of the body than tactile sensations, that which we contact, feelings also arise, we experience those sensations - pleasurably, un-pleasurably and neutral. So before we engage in an anthological analysis - seeing if you can view the ultimate nature, the absence of inherent nature of these feelings, let’s closely apply mindfulness simply to the feelings as feelings so we get a clear sense, a clear understanding, experiential of what’s the relative nature, the phenomena for which we’ll seek their ultimate nature. Examine closely the feelings that arise in the body. Are they by nature static or in flux, intrinsic pleasurable or un-pleasurable? Do they intrinsically have an owner or not? This is simply establishing their conventional nature let’s examine this first, by the close application of mindfulness to feelings.

(56:00) Identify feelings arising in the body whatever is most obvious to you be it pleasant or unpleasant, located it, find your specimen. If you’ve clearly identified what part of the body it’s located in, if you see clearly how large a space does it occupy, once you’ve set your sights on something that you know to be a feeling, as if you are putting it into a microscope, a specimen between two glass slides, and then peer through the microscope of your samadhi, and as you do so, to the best of your ability, withhold any conceptual designation at all, any label, any thought - just observe. What do you see through the lens of samadhi as you examine closely the very appearance of the feeling that you’ve located? Observe very closely and see what you see.

(59:10) Does your withholding of the conceptual designation have any impact on what you are experiencing when you sharply focus your attention in that pleasurable or un-pleasurable location?

(1:00:10) Now experiment, this is your laboratory and the subtle investigation is the feelings arising within the body, within this space, go back to that same location with some type of feeling that is manifesting and then very deliberated label it. Is it unpleasant, call it unpleasant? You can elaborate - “I wish this would go away, this is tiring me out, I really don’t like this, this is such a drag, this really doesn’t feel good at all”. Give yourself a script and see if you can deliberately reify, grasp onto it as really absolutely there from its own side.

(1:01:40) And now very deliberated utterly withdraw the conceptual designation together with the reification, observe now but with the quietest mind that you can muster, intensely clear, highly focused, stable, interested but utterly quiet and as free of conceptual designation as possible, and see what you see, does this alter your experience of that location within the body?

(1:02:55) Hand in hand with withdrawing the conceptual designation, do your very best to withdraw the aversion, the sense of not liking, wanting it to go away, see if you can release that, it’s subjective, it’s coming from your own side, so see if you can withhold that as well, the subjective response of aversion.

(1:06:23) When some clarity arises, some insight, for a little while stop seeking, stop investigating and simply rest in the flow of knowing, sustain that insight, let it seep in, this is your facsimile of the union of shamatha and vipashyana.

Teaching pt2:


By withdrawing conceptual designation, reification is also withdrawn, yet it is possible to conceptually designate without reification. No reification means no kleshas, and no kleshas mean no suffering.

Alan’s teachings:

(1:08:40) Tsongkhapa makes a very subtle and I think a very brilliant point in drawing a sharp distinction between simply withdrawing the reification, withdrawing the conceptual designation and then withdrawing the reification and in so doing, that if you withdraw the designation, you have withdrawn the reification, let’s look it piece by piece. It’s possible to withdraw reification without withdrawing conceptual designation, as in a lucid dream, in a lucid dream knowing perfectly well this is a dream. If Elizabeth asks: - is Danny here? And I am lucid, I say - yes he is right over there. I designated it. But I am maintaining my lucidity so when I point my finger over - he is right over there, I know there is nobody really over there from his own side, I know that. I know there’s no Elizabeth, I know there is no Alan Wallace but within this context that was a reasonable question, within this context - is Danny here? Yes, he is right over there, case closed. But I know right there where I am pointing my finger and I say he is right over there, there’s no one there, not from his own side! No one there, not right there where I am pointing my finger, not there. And so is possible to make the conceptual designation without reification that’s a crucial point because some people don’t get that. They figure that if you are conceptually designating that is already delusional. Wrong! Then the Buddha could never speak because as soon as he speaks, Oh, hello Ananda, Oh, I am sorry. As if he just reified Ananda by recognizing Ananda as Ananda, right? So that’s not true. You can reify, you can withdraw, withhold reification without necessarily having to withdraw conceptual designation, as in a lucid dream, right? Or you can withdraw both and that is simply by withdrawing conceptual designation then you withdraw the reification of that conceptual designation.

(1:11) You can do that and the point I was about to make there is that in withdrawing the conceptual designation, withdrawing that grasping because even conceptual designation itself is a type of benign subtle grasping - oh, that’s Jerry over there – that’s grasping. Subject - Object duality, he is over yonder and I am over here, in a lucid dream but it is still a kind of grasping, it’s not delusional but nevertheless it is a kind of grasping. So one can withdraw the reification and the conceptual grasping, conceptual designation and in so doing you might find some real respite from suffering and from mental afflictions, because this is a really core theme, it’s incredibly strong, and I think it is true that all mental afflictions, this is Madhyamaka, all mental afflictions arise out of the reification of whatever you are attending to, if there is no reification, it’s really strong statement, enormously strong – that if you don’t reify, no mental afflictions will arise, if you do not grasp onto existence - no mental afflictions will arise. Which then define clearly then mental afflictions have to be rooted in delusion because if there is no delusion, mental afflictions don’t arise, that’s the assertion, that is an empirical claim. It is really strong one, right?

(1:12:20) So by withdrawing, holding in abeyance, holding back that tendency like a contagious disease or something that spreads, the reification, then the mental afflictions that would arise in dependence upon that reification don’t arise. I am going to finally say now what’s Tsongkhapa’s point - and that is to withhold reification so that the mental afflictions that arise from, are derivative of reification, don’t arise. And since the mental afflictions aren’t arising - the suffering that they gave rise to doesn’t happen, then you feel good, you feel better because you’ve gotten down there to the root, you withheld the root. So there is one possibility, you really can do that, but he said doing that and actually realizing that that which you are reifying actually does not exist, those are two different things, subtle distinction. One is more like a truce, it’s a truce, you just stop fighting but all you need is for Christians day or holidays to pass then nothing is resolved, all the problems that gave rise to the war in the first place, I am referring of course to 1914 World War 1, look like really peace had broken out they were playing soccer and singing Christians carols together, it look like jolly good - that was too short war until the circumstances changed and then of course nothing had been resolved at all, and all the mental afflictions come out again and they fought for another four years. And so similarly in samsara we can temporarily withdraw the conceptual designation, the reification, the mental afflictions that arise in dependence upon, don’t arise and if you feel jolly – good, hallelujah, and that I think is what they come up with before the Buddha. Because when you go into deep samadhi you go into the form real you go into the formless real, man, oh man, conceptual designation that’s gone so dormant you can’t even find it, and then the reified objects, when you are resting in the absorption of nothingness, what are you going to reify? Or infinite space, infinite consciousness, man there’s not much to hold onto there so no wonder that these brilliant, contemplatives prior to the Buddha, they’d go into the state where conceptual designation is profoundly withdraw and gone into the deep freeze, really out of sight, and they can stay there almost like timelessly it seems like, no wonder they thought that was “moksha” right? Emptiness, freedom of suffering, no mental afflictions arising at all they can see, but then you of course eventually come out of Samadhi and then you find, yeah, they were in deep freeze and now Neanderthal man has come out, it’s melted down and he is beating the crap out of you all over again. So that was the point the mere of holding reification doesn’t actually yield insight into the sheer non-existence of anything inherently existent. You’ve just subdued the symptoms and you have not touched the underlying cause. So this will be a really brief foray into what I discussed yesterday.

(1:15:20) But when I spoke of drugs having all this side effects, Patrice very rightly pointed out, it’s an important point - that is that some of those side effects maybe be one out of thousand, you think well, that is a pretty good averages, I take this drug, it alleviates my anxiety and I got one chance out of a thousand of feeling suicidal, and maybe blowing my brains out, well I’d really like the anxiety to go, and that seems like pretty good odds, one out of a thousand not bad, right? If that and the other night, and other, night, other night if that was and congratulations you’ve taken this pill and this is now healing your anxiety, I’d take the pill. One chance out of a thousand I would commit suicide, nine hundred and ninety nine chances that I actually can get healed from anxiety, I think I will take that pill, those are odds I can live with. But what if the odds of having taken the pill are zero that you actually going to heal anything at all? I mean no chance because all you’re doing is suppressing symptoms? And now consider that there is not just one terrible side effect there may be forty, and consider you are not taking the pill once, but maybe for years on end – you’ve got yourself a revolver with a thousand cylinders in it, and you’ve got forty bullets and you are pulling the trigger once a day for months and years on end thinking – I’m going to be lucky, I’m going to be …uh, not lucky. The odds aren’t that great if you’ve got forty bullets in the gun and a thousand chambers but you are pulling it again and again and it especially sucks when you know that even when you don’t blow your brain out you are not even moving one inch towards healing anything. I don’t want that revolver. Is that fair? I think that’s fair because it’s an important point, it wasn’t like one out of two people feel suicidal if they take that drug, that would be very misleading, small percentage but I think it’s absolutely certain that taking these psycho pharmaceutical drugs do not heal anything and they do have side effects, and if you have to take them year after year for years, which is the wet dream of the pharmaceutical company - that you are going to have to take it for the rest of your life, then the chances of being unlucky, that the wrong chamber comes up, get higher and higher as time goes by. So all this is about, I am going to drop that, but the point here is that this is an issue of healing, not suppressing symptoms, and it’s healing in deeper, deeper levels, and this now , now we’re going to the final cure, that’s how deep this is, that it’s not just this profound technology of samadhi to so profoundly withdraw conceptual designation that physical pain vanishes, mental pain vanishes in the form realm there is no suffering, no explicit suffering, no blatant suffering at all in the form realm for as long as you stay there no physical suffering, no mental suffering whatsoever so just hang out there as much long as you can, right? And there is no bad cylinder in that gun, you know, it is just one good day after another but eventually the karma just fizzles away and you are back where you are.

(1:18:58) So this is actually healing, and gosh if there’s a way, because hardly anybody nowadays believes that there’s a way to actually get to the root of suffering and eradicate it from its sources that it never arises again, hardly anybody believes that. But this is a response to the unasked question - how do you get to the root of suffering and cut it so that it never arises again? Even if it arises in the body, arises like a mirage so it doesn’t get to you, doesn’t get you in a grip, you are lucid. This is the medicine, this is the medicine for completely, irreversibly and from the very root, knowing reality and by that knowing cut the root of suffering from its very source so that it never arises again.

(1:19:50) I was in the temple in Dharmasala years ago, and I think it was to receive teachings, and there was a book I think it was my book, an old, old book on Bodhiaryavachara, Tibetan version, book form, and I had my jola, my shoulder bag and it was next to a pillar, and it was leaning up there, next to the pillar inside my jola, and I was listening to whatever the teachings were, and some Tibetan pointed to the jola and said – what’s in your jola? I pulled out this Bodhiaryavachara, and he said – oh, take it off the ground. He was right. If it is that precious, take it off the ground, put it in a high place, this is the medicine of medicines, even the book. Such reverence, we don’t find that very frequently on this planet, but it’s very precious, it’s authentic. Back to basics.

Answering a question on keeping the eyes open during meditation, Alan makes important points.

In terms of keeping the eyes open. It’s a good idea, and remember, when His Holiness was asked it on one occasion, the question was posed - If you are doing one of these practices where the instructions are keeping your eyes open, and you are sitting in meditation and you find that your eyes just are really focused and you are doing the meditation and you find that over the course of time, you find your eyes just naturally close, should you make a real point of opening the eyes? His response was – oh no , just let them stay closed.

So over all, this I find so often, this is what I love about Tibetan Buddhism, there are the guidelines, then there is some malleability. Monks should not eat after noon – after midday, and nuns too, it’s a vow, but when I was in the monastery in Switzerland and I was a disciplinarian, man I knew how to chew people out! I know how to set an example so everyone else would feel guilty if they are not being as good as I am, I am good at that, I know how to do that, just make people feel as guilty as hell. So I was setting the standard, strict monk, following all the 253 precepts, thank you very much! And Geshe Rabten saw all the monks not eating in the evening and he said – okay now cool it! You are all getting uptight, stressed out, irritable, all of you start eating in the evening, and that goes for you too, Wallace. So there is the rule, and then there is wisdom. Any dope can memorize the rule, any robot can follow a program, and then a person with wisdom knows when do you follow it straight and when do you not. And so back to the question, when the eyes are open, that’s the idea, but if it screws up your practice, if you are not sleeping so well, if you are getting insomnia, if you are having gnawing hunger in the evening from not eating, how is that supposed to be good for your practice when it is clearly not good for your practice? So then for the sake of your practice you take a bit of food because that’s what your body needs. So, for this here, keeping your eyes open, yes, that’s better, but on the other hand if you do find it distracting, the conflation with mental appearances and consciousness and so forth, then one easy segue into it is keep your eyes open but be in the dark. Then there is not much competition, eyes wide open, don’t see anything. Almost as good as having your eyes closed, so in the dark or in a very dimly lit room, make sure there is nothing interesting or any strong colors, and let alone lights, in your field of vision, that’s a nice way to do it. So moving gently. Another way is let your eyes be hooded, a little bit of light comes in from the bottom so there is not much distraction. So moving step by step.

In answer to a second question which in summary is: what criteria can I use to determine whether I should receive a Vajrayana empowerment and do the practice?

I have to tell a story, during that first year or so, maybe the second year at most after I’d moved to Dharmasala, I am studying the Lamrim, studying Bodhiaryavachara, getting a real foundation, and then hearing, because Geshe Nawang Dhargey would spice it up, he was a truly gifted teacher, a fine scholar, he knew how to teach, he loved teaching and he loved his disciples. So that is a perfect dharma storm, rain of dharma. But when he was teaching straight Lamrim, he would bring a bit of Vajrayana here, a glimmer there, little sneak previews of coming attractions. The more I heard about Vajrayana, the more daunted I was. I at least had the understanding, man am I in kindergarten! I can see oh man, these are high peeks here and I knew I was way down in the foothills, if that high. And so I went to him one and day and said –man I know Vajrayana is really profound, I know I’m not ready for that, to receive a highest yoga tantra empowerment? Man I know I am just not qualified. He said, very good insight, I am going to arrange for you now to have Vajrasattva empowerment by His Holiness. What? I thought we’d just agreed I am totally kindergarten and you just told me to go to graduate school. So he could see that I actually knew where I was in the practice, I had no pretense thinking- oh I am somebody special, I am a tantrika, give me a bone to put through my hair, and where is my consort? So he knew I was not delusional, he knew that I had some faith, some basic understanding and he knew that I was qualified, he must have. And he said, okay, good place to start, we are going to sew some seeds now. So if you have conceptual understanding of the foundations, basics – renunciation, bodhichitta, some conceptual understanding of emptiness, teachings in buddhanature, if you have a good connection with the lama, then have the confidence. We are not talking about blind faith here at all, but confidence. When I was studying physics, it’s different but similar, when I was studying physics at Amherst in 1984, I had a lot of confidence in things I didn’t yet understand, relativity theory, quantum mechanics, advanced calculus and so forth and so on, I didn’t understand it, I had never done the experiments, I did not KNOW, but this is a pretty impressive tradition. 400 years of physics, I think it’s really, for myself, I think that it deserves a lot of respect. That’s why I am citing the Hubble Telescope and this and this, because I think they’ve earned that respect, that’s my perspective. I don’t expect Tibetans would believe it just because I’ve said it, so likewise, when you have that, when you’ve moved in well enough, when it’s earned your respect, and if you would really like to, that is a crucial point, if you don’t want to, when I was there in Wisconsin, 1978, I’d received a number of empowerments already and commitments that go along with them, lifelong commitments that I am still keeping, these marvelous Lamas were then giving more higher Tantra empowerments, and each one would have its commitments, and I went to Geshe Rabten, my teacher, he was there, I was translating for him as well as other Rinpoches, I was translating 8 hours a day, and I went to Geshe Rabten, and I said, Geshe-la, I think I have all the empowerments I can handle right now, of what I would like to do, and I know this is a great Lama and I know these are incredibly profound teachings and I know that I might receive them, and I know I am the only interpreter here, and I said, I really don’t want to get the empowerment, because I don’t want to try to take on another empowerment, I’ve got my hands full already, of these tantric empowerments for which I am not qualified anyway. I am sowing seeds here, so I would like your permission to translate for the Lamas, and not receive the empowerment. He said okay, fair enough. And I am so happy I made that decision. So choose carefully, if you go for an empowerment see if there is a commitment or not, and if there is a commitment, I would suggest that, and this is just friendly advice, not authoritative, make sure that it’s a practice you would really like to do, that you would really like to be sowing the seeds for even if the practice doesn’t mature for another 20 years, but you feel you will enjoy the process, it is a process you will embrace, it is meaningful, and you would like to do it, and if you don’t feel that, then I would say don’t take the empowerment. And I don’t care who the lama is, or what the empowerment is, I would say don’t do it. Because very quickly you will find – oh man, I ‘ve got to do that commitment and I’m so tired , it’s been a really long day, aw man, okay, sigh, bla bla bla, good I have finished my commitment. And that’s it, as if you are flipping a bird to all the Buddhas. Does that satisfy you? You satisfied now? I went bla bla bla, I did my oral recitation, are you satisfied? That is low grade, that is like cheap, I can’t imagine that’s what the Lamas had in mind. Fulfilling a commitment mindlessly, reciting some sadhana that we don’t want to do, so let’s avoid that.

Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti

Revised by Cheri Langston

Final edition by Rafael Carlos Giusti

Posted by Alma Ayon


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