13 Oct 2012

Teaching pt1: Alan gives his commentary on the section on mindfulness of phenomena in Ch. 13 of Shantideva’s Compendium of Practices. This section challenges our view that we’re leaving the Mind Center and returning to the mundane world. Contemplating phenomena as phenomena can be understood in terms of the 3 turnings of the wheel of dharma. In the 1st turning, we closely apply mindfulness to phenomena. Because phenomena deceive, the 2nd turning instructs viewing them as empty, illusion-like.

Meditation: Mindfulness of phenomena preceded by mindfulness of the mind. In the 3rd turning, buddha mind is omnipresent, there is no difference between your mind and dharmakaya, and all sentient beings have the potential for perfect awakening. The lattermost points to pure perception where there is nothing where the qualities of the buddhas cannot be found. Phenomena are devoid of klesas, for when we probe into their nature, the 3 poisons arise from the 3 qualities of the substrate consciousness or more deeply, the 5 poisons are in fact the 5 wisdoms of primordial consciousness. There is nothing that brings about phenomena points to the ultimate truth. There is nothing that arises without a cause points to the conventional truth. In this context, mindfulness means to bear in mind this way of viewing reality.
Meditation. Mindfulness of phenomena preceded by mindfulness of the mind.

1) mindfulness of the mind. Let you awareness walk the tightrope of the immediacy of the present moment. What is the nature of awareness? Can you find it? Can you observe it arising and passing? What’s the border between awareness and appearances?

2) mindfulness of phenomena. Direct your attention to the world of phenomena. Whatever comes to mind, distinguish between the basis of designation and your designation. The basis of designation is empty of designation. The basis of designation isn’t arising out there. All appearances are empty of their own identity, and emptiness is none other than the luminosity of all phenomena. Sustain this flow of knowing.
Teaching pt2: We’re bringing our practice to reality. When we have some wisdom of emptiness and yeshe intuiting the blessings of the buddhas, we can perceive phenomena to be saturated by the blessings of the buddhas. Alan recounts a series of extraordinary coincidences along his own path.

Meditation starts at 55:22

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O la so

Come to the end of the week and we return to the close application of mind to feelings, sometime this afternoon moving on to Shantideva’s other text – but as a preface, and I think you’ll find the transition of the segue quite smooth, as a preface to this, as I’ve been meeting with you all one on one, a number of you’ve mentioned your anticipation of dread, anxiety, happiness of returning, or leaving here, and going someplace else. And the someplace else, I’ve heard it referred to as the mundane world, so – I want to debate with you.

You think you’re in the mind center, Claus took me to this piece of land about 4 years ago there was I think a beginning of a school and that was it. The sports center was just an idea and this was an idea. When Claus took me to this land it was scrub, just scrub, flat flattish and scrub and he said ‘Alan, I’m imagining the meditation hall will be here’ and I’m just looking at a lot of dirt and scrub thinking you’ve got a good imagination but there was clearly no mind center there, it was just dirt and scrub nothing spiritual about it at all. I took off and maybe a year or year and a half later I came back and the morning of the day that we started the first retreat 2 ½ years ago they laid the grass at 3 that morning and then we had 36 people move in and I moved in so exactly when did this become a mind center – when the grass was laid? There’s a sign out there that says mind center, but if putting a label on something – I’d just get a tattoo that said Buddha on my forehead and then I’d be a Buddha, you know if just putting a label is just enough. I’m afraid that doesn’t work just saying a mind center you can say the rolls Royce center of the universe you can call it whatever you like, but putting up a sign is just print. So if you think you’ve been living in a mind center for the past 7 ½ weeks, exactly when did it come into existence? And then when we leave here, Thursday Friday Saturday I imagined none of us will be here any longer – you know what this is really? It’s a 3 star hotel, a 3 star hotel and they’ll be having athletes coming here and they’ll be working out in the gym, they’ll swimming, preparing for their Olympic events and so forth, this is a 3 star hotel.

When will it stop being a mind center and when will it turn into a 3 star hotel. So mundane world, where does it start, that is when you return to the mundane world is it a gravitational field, it is incrementally aware of the inverse square law? Or is it suddenly spiritual ‘uuuuuugh’, I’m in the mundane world again. Where exactly does the mundane world start that you’re going back to? And I can tell you that, it’s not a rhetorical question – as soon as you think ‘this is the mundane world’ that’s where it starts, and as soon as somebody thought this is the mind center that’s when there was a mind center and as soon as were gone if the hotel staff really needs to adjust and recognize the people coming in are athletes and not meditating and no interest in meditating then this is Thanyapura Retreat, that’s the name of this hotel, and they will adjust, they’re very flexible, very supple people they’re always gracious but then go to any other really nice hotel, and I think I’ve been to some of them, the staff are very gracious. That’s how the Thai people are in the service industry, they’re very gracious people. So the mundane world does it exist or not, it exists as soon as you say it exists but it’s not something confronting you it’s not something objectively rising up to meet you to beat your Dharma practice to death. The mundane world starts as soon as your mind becomes mundane and that’s whether you’re in a meditation hall in the middle of a session and your mind going blah blah blah blah blah I want more money, I’m anxious about this, I fear that – you’re not in the mind center, you’re in the samsara center.

So we turn to Shantideva and of course what he’s doing here is really simply citing one sutra after another, this is kind of a garland, it’s a garland of sutra citations but boy he knows how to weave a nice lei [Reviser’s note: Hawaiian garland of flowers] or a nice garland.

So let’s go to that – he starts now, the 4th contemplation, the 4th application of mindfulness.

Text/ 1st paragraph:

He said the contemplation of phenomena is explained in the same text and here is what the sutra has to say:

Subscriber note for the readers: first you have the complete text, as below, then we are transcribing part ot the text that Alan Wallace read followed by Alan’s comments about the part that was read.

“A bodhisattva who contemplates phenomena as phenomena and dwells upon this does not see anything from which the qualities of a Buddha are absent, anything from which enlightenment is absent, anything from which the path is absent, anything from which liberation is absent, or anything from which deliverance is absent. Knowing how all phenomena arise, he reaches the entrance to the Samadhi of great compassion in order that sentient beings may know freedom from obscurations. He comes to recognize all phenomena and all mental afflictions as illusions. These phenomena are devoid of mental afflictions; they are not imbued with mental afflictions. Why? When considered in terms of definitive reality, mental afflictions are not assembled or aggregated. There is no reality of attachment, or of hatred, or of delusion. In order to realize these mental afflictions, there is enlightenment. The essential nature of mental afflictions is also the essential nature of enlightenment. Mindfulness is closely applied in that way.”

(6:40) A bodhisattva who contemplates phenomena as phenomena and dwells upon this does not see anything from which the qualities of a Buddha are absent, anything from which enlightenment is absent, anything from which the path is absent, anything from which liberation is absent, or anything from which deliverance is absent.

(7:25) So, it looks like the bodhisattva never stepped outside the mind center.

That if viewing phenomena as phenomena, but now in this Madhyamaka approach, viewing phenomena as being empty of inherent nature, as having an illusion like nature, he is bringing another element here and from the Nyingma’s perspective the third turning of wheel of dharma is not so much associated with the Chittamatra or yogachara view, there is nothing wrong with associating, there’s ground for that but there is another way of viewing the third turning wheel of dharma and that is, the third turning is really all about Buddha nature, tathagatagarbha, so the first turning is really all about the four noble truths and whole Shavakayana, the second one is all about perfection of wisdom with multiple interpretations, Madhyamaka, Chittamatra. And the third turning of the wheel dharma is all about the tathagatagarbha, the Buddha nature.

(8:32) So it strikes me that he (Shantideva) is really bringing in this in this Ārya Ratnacūḍa Sūtra [chapter 13 of Shantideva’s Compendium of Practices] something intuitive and that is he’s coming back to that first turning, the four noble truths, the four applications of mindfulness, the four immeasurables, this is so utterly, really, truly, empirical, it’s experiential, it’s attending closely to appearances, the phenomena of your life, your body, other people’s bodies, phenomena of feelings that do arise, mental states that do arise and other phenomena that do arise, and saying look: be a radical empiricist here, be a scientist of life and closely apply mindfulness to the phenomena that rise up to meet you and understand their nature, impermanent, duhkha [suffering], non-self and so forth. So that first wheel of dharma, it is just really radically empirical, it’s very scientific.

(9:22) But when we go to the perfection of wisdom [second turning of the wheel of dharma], it’s not enough to closely examine phenomena, it is not enough to closely examine appearances because appearances lie, they deceive – go back to the appearance of Mike way off yonder, way off there yonder, that is how he appears, well just keep on gazing at that and they lie all the way through. Wake up in the morning and gaze, it will lie until you fall sleep and it will lie the next morning as well - the appearances themselves are deceptive, therefore you have to use intelligence to investigate the incongruity, the incompatibility, the dissonance between the way appearances are manifesting and the way phenomena actually do exist so that’s quite rightly called the ‘perfection of wisdom’ which also could be glossed as ‘perfection of intelligence’ because it’s really using your intelligence and not simply closely examining being mindful of appearances.

(9:54) But when we return to the third turning wheel of dharma, this very nature of tathagatagarbha [Buddha nature], is equivalent with Buddha mind, dharmakaya, as we see from the Ratnacūḍa Tantra; three characteristics:

  • The first is that the dharmakaya, Buddha mind, is omnipresent, there is no aspect of reality that is not pervaded by Buddha mind
  • Then in terms of the ultimate nature of the Buddha mind, there is no differentiation whatsoever, there’s not a smidgen of any difference, between the ultimate nature of your mind, man, woman, deva, insect, preta whoever you maybe, there is absolutely no difference between the ultimate nature of your mind and ultimate nature of dharmakaya. There is no distinction, no difference, there is no separation or division, this is the second point.
  • And the third point is that all sentient beings, every single one has a potential for perfect awakening, is of the family, of the family, the family of those who are suitable, fit to awaken to perfect enlightenment.

(11:09) So those three characteristics really provide the core, that is the core of the whole understanding of Buddha nature. But how do we approach that, by observing appearances? I do not think so. I’m looking around and I don’t see dharmakaya, right?

By sheer intellect, by reason, by investigation, ontological analyzes? I do not think it is enough, I don’t think cuts the mustard, I don’t think it does it. I do not think it is sufficient just to use intelligence, even profound penetrating incredibly fine analytical skills, I don’t think you get to it that way. So, then are we dealing with blind faith? We can always do that? But that’s just not a flavor of the Buddha’s teachings.

(12:00) So I think it is that this third turning of wheel of dharma is really speaking to a different dimension. I’ve addressed this in the past but it’s really important and worth lingering a bit longer on it. Those teachings on the third turning wheel of dharma, the Tathagatagarbha Sutra, Maitrea Sutra and many other texts. If you ask: who is the disciple for whom these teachings are intended, who’s the audience, where’s the target? If these are the arrow, where’s the target? My sense is the target is your own Buddha nature. That as much as you can, you listen from that dimension of your awareness, call it intuition but a deeper, the deepest in fact, way of knowing, and that is if this is true for the third turning of the wheel of dharma it’s emphatically true for Dzogchen in the pointing out instructions’, rigpa, when an accomplished Lama, Dzogchen master gives pointing out that is, ‘pointing out’ is fine it is not a bad translation but “modipa” means introduce for example if Tusho didn’t know Patrice and I thought they might be good friends and say, ‘Ah, Tusho I would like to meet Patrice, she is friend of mine, Patrice this is Tusho he is very sincere Mexican student so you know each other’, good I am in my way. And so I will have introduced the two of you, it is just that. So it is the Lama, the Dzogchen master saying: ‘hello Nato I would like to introduce you to your rigpa, rigpa Nato’ that’s what it is to introduce you to a dimension of reality that we so over, and over looked because we are fixated on others things, right?

(13:48) So that whole genre of teachings with this utterly smooth transition from the third turning of the wheel of dharma right into Dzogchen, Mahamudra, it is utterly smooth. In fact in terms of view essentially the same and the primary distinction as I have being told by own Dzogchen teachers, especially Geshe Rabten Rinpoche, is “upaya” ‘skillful means’, that in Dzogchen you really get the methods, there is the view, it is not really fundamentally crucially different from the view of Buddha nature that you find elsewhere, but like in the third turning, but the means, the method, that is unique, that is unique.

(14:25) So I think this, in this citation here, that is what he is referring to, not something you can simply observe, not something you can figure out analytically, something that may speak to your heart of hearts, that there is nowhere, that the mind of the Buddha is not present, the qualities of the Buddha are not present. Nowhere the enlightenment, the awakening, of the Buddha is not present, nowhere the path is not present.

(14:50) Whose path? The Buddhas do not need a path they’ve already come to the conclusion of the path. So whose path? Wherever you go, whose path could that possibly be? Whose path, Nato? Your own, who else? The path is always there, path is always there. There’s nowhere that the path is not. Because the Buddhas have a very simply job description, have only one thing to do - for as long space remains and so forth, they have only one thing to do with all that extraordinary wisdom, the compassion, the powers of enlightenment, they have only one thing to do, one task, lead all sentient beings to enlightenment. And their awareness permeates everything which is the implication here, it’s not heavily veiled, I don’t think it is veiled at all perhaps. The path is already there, the blessings of the Buddhas are already there, the path is right in front of us but it does take eyes of wisdom, eyes of Yeshe, primordial consciousness to see it.

(15:48) So there is nowhere the path is absent, nowhere that liberation is absent, that is, wherever you are your mind is there. Your mind is empty of inherent nature, the emptiness of your own mind is nirvana, so wherever you go liberation is there, closer than the palm of your hand and there is nowhere, there is nothing from which deliverance is absent. So it shifts it entirely over into, one can say, pure perception. It is quite interesting because this is the sutra, not Vajrayana, it is the sutra of stepping out of the mind center and stepping into a domain of reality where there is nowhere that the qualities of the Buddha, enlightenment, the path are not to be found. In other words you can’t find mundane reality if you look for it, you can’t find it, it’s not there. Look for, find a referent of mundane reality - Phuket airport? The taxi? Phuket? Where is it, where are you going to find it?

So intuitively, if just from our heart of hearts, we say I do, I affirm there is something within me that stirs and says, yes. I sense it, I intuit it, that’s my working hypothesis, then you view reality in that way. And you view yourself as always being present in the field of blessings, the path always present, qualities of Buddha always present.

I was reading just a couple of days ago one great Mahamudra master, he’s saying that the stages of the path, the methods of Mahamudra, I think he said that they’re like a lion, so incredibly powerful but they must be augmented, they need some support just like shamatha, shamatha is not really a stand-alone practice to do that alone and not do any other practice, you’re a bit fragile, having a few friends around, like the four immeasurables, something like that could be really very helpful and some other practices like the ones we’ve explored here. Likewise, in another whole order of magnitude, of dimension, Mahamudra is incredibly profound but never really intended as an absolutely stand-alone.

So, if we look at that first yoga, the yoga of single pointedness, we see that it spans the whole path of accumulation and the whole path of preparation – That’s a lot of territory. And that’s just the first one of four yogas.

Classic Mahayana teachings, when they say for the time that you become a Bodhisattva, from that first moment when you’re experiencing uncontrived spontaneous effortless bodhicitta, welcome to the path of accumulation, you’ve just become a Bodhisattva. The stop watch just started clicking – tick tick tick – now how long did it take you to achieve enlightenment of a Buddha Satrayana? Three countless eons. That’s with Shamatha and Bodhichitta. Three countless eons. And the Dali Lama said some people seven – some people seven countless eons. So if you get to three countless eons and you say ‘hey, where’s my enlightenment?’ – I told you so. It may take longer. There’s no guarantee it’ll only be three countless eons – it could be longer – right?

So, how does it break down, three countless eons. Not four, not seven and a half – three is kind of like – ok, get to it, get cracking, roll up your sleeves.

One countless eon from the beginning of the Mahayana path of accumulation up to the path of seeing. That’s one countless eon for the path of accumulation and the path of preparation. One countless eon. One countless eon from the beginning of the path of preparation up to the eighth Bodhisattva bomi, the pure bomi – one countless eon. You think – ‘oh, I’ve achieved, I’m now on the pure grounds, Arya Bodhisattva. Super duper! Arya Bodhisattva. Eighth ground Bodhisattva. That must be a piece of cake, that must be easy. I’m almost finished. I’ve got just to complete the eighth, ninth and then tenth and I’m finished. One more countless eon.

It’s a really nice countless eon. I mean it’s really the best countless eon you’ve ever had, ‘cause it’s really nice being an Arya Bodhisattva on that level. But nevertheless, one countless eon. I mean that’s what they say. And why? Because the cognitive obscurations are so subtle that it takes an awful lot of cleansing to purify them out until they’re totally gone. Three countless eons.

But the first on was just for the yoga of single pointedness – one countless eon for that one – doggone (indicates frustration)

So, how does that get speeded up a little bit, like down into one life? Not just by meditating a lot. Lots of shamatha and lots of vipashyana. Lots of union of shamatha and vipashyana because that’s what it takes – one countless eon. So how do you super charge that to collapse that down into, you know, like one life time. Practices like this – pure vision, that’s what does it. You have to go the extra mile. So this is quite important. Which means that you’re always always always dwelling in a conducive environment, a Buddha blessing saturated environment. You’re transforming every moment into Dharma.

Note for the subscriber: Alan continues to read part of the text and we included some Alan’s comments between the marks […]

Knowing how all phenomena arise, he [the bodhisattva] reaches the entrance to the Samadhi of great compassion in order that sentient beings may know freedom from obscurations. He comes to recognize all phenomena and all mental afflictions as illusions [as not existing from their own side]. These phenomena [other people’s behavior, others people mind state, your own mind state] are devoid of mental afflictions; they are not imbued with mental afflictions [how can he say that, you are floundering, drowning in the ocean of samsara and he says this phenomena are devoid of mental afflictions]. When considered in terms of definitive reality [but actually is going on], mental afflictions are not assembled or aggregated [they are not really there, they are not inherently existent]. There is no reality of attachment, or of hatred, or of delusion [so bye, bye second noble truth]. In order to realize these mental afflictions [in order to realize their nature], there is enlightenment. The essential nature of mental afflictions is also the essential nature of enlightenment. Mindfulness is closely applied in that way.

I think we just took it up quite a few notches.

(22:57) Let’s pause there for a moment, let’s bring back, back to shamatha practice, sitting there settling the mind in its natural state, you’re seeing the mental afflictions coming from the front door – hello I am anger, I am hatred good to see you again - you practice mindfulness of breathing, they come in the back door – sneaky sneaky sneaky - and come in by way of rumination, dominate you, carry you, kidnap you when you aren’t looking. When you are practicing shamatha then and you actually do identify, face to face, ‘ah, I see you anger, hello attachment, yes I have seeing you before, delusion, oh yeah you are quite familiar’. When you really peer onto their nature, even without the Mahdyamaka view let alone Dzogchen view, or the view the third turning of the wheel of dharma, if you really probe right into their nature, just empirical, straight empiricism, and you penetrate right into the nature of attachment, craving, desire, greed, arising, when you see through its afflictive manifestation, what do you see? It’s good to remember this one, it can serve you well because attachment might arise again – it could happen. So what do you see? Among the three qualities of substrate consciousness, what do you see? What is attachment springing from when you don’t look to rigpa, don’t look to primordial consciousness? Never mind that for the time being. When you consider that all the emergences, the senjun, of the mental arises, the subjective impulses, when you consider that all of those are arising from substrate consciousness, they cannot arise from anywhere else, right? And so, among the three qualities of the substrate consciousness which one is attachment, desire, craving, which one’s it arising from? It arises from bliss think about when you really want something, you’re craving at it, you’re thinking that will make me happy, all I have to do is win the lottery, that’ll make me happy and I’ll be so happy. There is happiness in attachment, there is happiness in craving or if you got a real nice computer or a new nice car or anything else I’ve got, it’s mine, I like it, I want to keep it. It’s happy. Craving feels good, that’s why we keep on doing it, that is its nature.

(26:07) And then anger arises, I am so pissed off and can hardly sit, I can hardly stand - still. I am so anger I am ANGRY – rrrrrgggghh. Look right at the nature of anger what do you see? Luminosity, it’s sharp, it’s clear like a flaming sword, it’s really sharp and maybe totally delusional but it’s very sharp, very clear, bright, luminous – really is, isn’t it? Got some real ‘juice behind it, some real energy behind it. Who can be bored and really angry at the same time? Can you be really angry and really really sleepy at the same time? It is hard to do them both simultaneously. Try being really dull and really angry simultaneously. I dare you. Double dare you. And then it is just called ignorance, marigpa, unawareness. Look into its nature and what do you see? You see non-conceptuality. And if you consider for the ordinary conceptual mind, when we know something, ‘oh yes, that’s Monica, oh yeah’, whatever, maybe, when you say ‘oh yeah I know Frank, I know Frank’, that knowing is completely enmeshed like a fly in a spider web, it’s totally enmeshed in conceptualization, framework, context, associations, memories and so forth.

(27:34) My knowledge of view is embedded, like a raisin in a muffin in an over, totally embedded in a field of conceptual network, conceptual designation and so forth. But, I could stop conceptualizing if I could find a switch and go, you know, (wind down) and there’s not a thought in my mind. For many people, if you only home is the course mind, you just slipped into a state of unknowing because you know everything by way of conceptualization and now you are not conceptualizing, you are just sitting there like waiting to know something, it is called deep sleep. So the nature of ignorance of unawareness is non-conceptuality.

So there it is, the three root poisons. When you penetrate into nature they are three salient features of substrate consciousness. But, he [Shantideva] is saying more than that, he is saying: so that’s just in the shamatha domain.

But now we go deeper into the realm of vipashyana, the realm of Dzogchen, the realm of Vajrayana all of these stemming from, that is Vajrayana, Dzogchen, Mahamudra all of these are stemming from this third turning of the wheel of dharma.

When he says ‘the essential nature of mental afflictions is also the essential nature of enlightenment’, then you have to go beyond the substrate, because substrate of course is not enlightenment, it is the ground of your samsara. So, in that regard, when you really penetrate right down to the ground, not the relative ground but really ground of pristine awareness, the ultimate ground of your own awareness, then from that vantage point, from that perspective, if you are viewing from the perspective of rigpa (pristine awareness), and you are seeing anger arise, and that is possible, then anger manifests to you as mirror-like primordial consciousness, a facet of Buddha mind, unafflicted, because you are seeing from the perspective of rigpa, therefore it is not afflicted, you are seeing as simply a display, a manifestation, an emergence of Buddha mind, a mirror like primordial consciousness, often called primordial wisdom, I prefer yeshe means ‘primordial consciousness’, that’s what I’m going to call it, “she” does not mean wisdom, means knowing or consciousness.

Attachment arises, craving and so forth, quite interestingly, the primordial consciousness of discernment. I won’t try to explain all of these right now, but I’m going from top to bottom. The chakras are- the crown chakra for the 1st, for delusion.

No – actually for Anger, I should start from the heart – Anger’s the heart – blue. At the throat – red for attachment, primordial consciousness, discernment. Let’s go upstairs, to the top –Crown chakra, delusion, primordial consciousness of the absolute space of phenomena, primordial consciousness of the Dharmadhatu, ultimate reality, Emptiness – white.

And then if we expand that out to the five poisons. Then we have pride or arrogance – yellow, navel chakra, primordial consciousness of equality. Then we go down lower to the base chakra – envy, green. So it’s interesting that we say, in English, and I think in other European languages ‘I’m green with envy’. See into its nature and it’s the primordial consciousness of accomplishment.

So that is what he (Shantideva) is saying here, if you are seeing through the outer display, before that, how could you possibly see into the innermost essence of these if you’ve not seen the emptiness of them as mental afflictions. If you see them as inherently, intrinsically, objectively afflictive then there’s just no way you’re going to see, you won’t even see to the substrate, let alone to rigpa. So there it is. A very unusual, extraordinary close application of mindfulness to phenomena. But the transition is smooth because we had the close application in terms of Pali canon, impermanence, dukkha, non-self, but the fourth quality of emptiness and we go right there to Shantideva’s other text that’s all about the emptiness of phenomena. And then we go right into another text and he’s going right from emptiness into the view from pristine awareness. very smooth.

Let’s continue a little bit more. So now another Sutra – the Ārya Ratnacūḍa sutra, which he sites frequently states:

Text/ 2nd paragraph:

Subscriber’s note: again we are including Alan’s comments in the text between the marks […].

The Ārya Ratnacūḍa states, “Son of good family, when a bodhisattva closely applies mindfulness in the contemplation of phenomena as phenomena, he thinks, ‘When there is arising, only phenomena arise. [and that is without all the embellishments, the ornaments, the clothing, the projections, the labels, the conceptualizations, categories and so forth. Just phenomena arising] When there is cessation, only phenomena cease. In them [in these simple phenomena] there is no self, or sentient being, or life force, or being that is born, or one who is revived, or person, or individual, or man, or android, or one who is born, ages, dies, transmigrates, or is reborn. This is the ultimate nature of phenomena. If they are brought about, they are established as existent; and if they are not brought about, they are not established as existent. However they are brought about—whether virtuous, non-virtuous, or undisturbed—they are established as being so, but there is nothing that brings about phenomena, nor does anything arise without a cause…’”

So it is also again a Madhyamaka koan.

“There is nothing that brings about phenomena, nor does anything arise without a cause.”

Ultimately speaking, there is nothing that brings about phenomena. There’s no point in time, at which something that wasn’t there really wasn’t there, really is there. Think of the mind center – if you think of it as really there exactly what moment was it, this is a big place, I think it’s about 5 million dollars, the mind center. It’s one entity, it has multiple buildings and if this one entity with multiple buildings, with a lot of labor and a lot of costs going into it, if there was some point in time when it absolutely was not there and then a moment later it was there. How could that, which is absolutely not a mind center suddenly become a mind center. And then of course when we leave here there could be a time, a phase, when this is not a mind center. It could last a week, it could last longer, but there could be a time when everybody coming here does not think this is a mind center. They think ‘oh, too bad it’s such a long walk from the sport center because that what I came here for’ and so it’s a hotel. This is a 5 million dollar establishment with lots of buildings, lots of construction stuff went into this. But then suddenly ‘poof’ there’s no mind center anymore – just a hotel.

It is just mundane reality – what you think you’re going to, this is what they’re coming to. They’re coming to mundane reality, 3 star hotel. There are much nicer ones on the island, I’ve been to them. I’ve never paid for them but I have been to them.

So ultimately the mind center never came into existence objectively, really, truly, the mind center never come into existence, just when people start thinking something, and it will never cease, not when it’s burned down, it will not cease. If the whole place burned down and all you had is ashes, Klaus could come here and say the mind center is in ashes, this is my burnt mind center, thank goodness I have insurance. So this is a burnt mind center – you want to see my burnt mind center? It’s not as nice as it was yesterday, but, hey, you’ve got to go with what’s there. And, here’s my burnt mind center. You can tell, there’s the ashes. That’s the basis of designation for a burned down mind center. Do burnt down mind centers exist? Do burnt down hotels exist? Is a burnt down hotel a hotel? You have a burnt down hotel in front of you. What kind a hotel do you see in front of you? You see a burnt down hotel. Yeh, it’s got an adjective in front of it. What kind of hotel do you have? Burned down. How much is it worth? Nothing, but it will be once I rebuild it and then a burnt down mind center will be a rebuilt mind center.

So ultimately speaking it’s not really there, it is never come about, there is nothing that brings about phenomena but then on a conventional nature, did this mind center come into existence in dependence upon a lot of labor and money and collaboration and of a fine staff and so forth and having a dharma teacher here, having dharma students here? If I were here all by myself it wouldn’t be a dharma center, it wouldn’t be a mind center. It would be Alan hanging out in a 3 star hotel watching television. I can finally turn on the television, nobody would be looking.

So in that one sentence, see ultimately speaking in terms of reality, in terms of inherent existence, nothing bring about phenomena, conventional existence in the same sentence, nor does anything arise without a cause.

The same text, states:

“Even when he analyzes phenomena with little profundity [things that don’t seem to have much significance, whatever it is, the price of grapes], he never forsakes the recollection of the bodhicitta of omniscience.”

So, it is another whole meaning of mindfulness which is almost entirely overlooked in the modern popularization of mindfulness, the popularization of vipashyana, the popularization of the four applications of mindfulness, it is almost entirely overlooked.

And that is mindfulness is not simply being aware of what’s manifesting. Mindfulness is bearing in mind a way of viewing reality.

In so far, and so, if we can, intuitive affirm that wherever you go there is no place that is devoid of the qualities of the Buddha, of Buddha mind, no place devoid of path, no place devoid of nirvana, and that mental afflictions are not inherently real but in fact when you probe into the nature you see, there is nothing other than enlightenment and enlightenment is for the sake of realizing the nature of mental afflictions as facets of primordial consciousness. When you can embrace that, when you adopt that as your of view reality, then, when you venture forth and engage with phenomena you’re viewing phenomena from that perspective and that is bearing in mind, it is mindfulness, it is holding in mind, bearing in mind a way of viewing reality, that whatever you’re encountering, if it’s unpleasant, it is not intrinsically unpleasant. It’s not adversity begin dished up to you objectively and absolutely – it’s a bitter pill – swallow it! It may be a bitter pill but it’s arising in interrelationship and not simply objectively.

Mahayana Buddhist perspective, the teaching on karma, the shravakayana – the first turning of the wheel of Dharma, are at no point negated, they’re not abandoned as cause and effect. And the strongest parallel that I can see, since I would have been an ecologist, an environmental biologist, had I not met Buddha Dharma, would have been my dharma, would have been my whole dharma, only thing I could really believe in.

The strongest parallel for karma is the way that, for example, especially we human being as a species and as individuals are treating our environment. I just saw something on BBC news that it would cost like $86billion a year to protect the environment so that we don’t have more species vanishing every year. $86billion a year! And they said that is one percent.

But the very notion again, given my old background as an environmentalist, and thinking – why’s there any discussion? Why’s anybody even talking about whether we can afford to preserve our environment so that it is alive and healthy for the next generation. Why’s it even being debated – can we afford to slow down global warming, can we afford to stop depleting the oceans of fish, can we afford to stop polluting the ground water, the air and so forth. Can we afford it? It’s kind of like – can I afford a second pair of shoes – that’s optional. So I really find it quite astonishing that there’s debate about that – Environment – what you sow, you reap. And that is you contaminate out and you may not get it. You may not get the karmic results, the environmental, the ecological results, you may not experience it. My parents, their generation, they could do things with pollutants of all kinds and their generation may not actually experience much of the results. And maybe mine will, or maybe the next generation or maybe the next generation but what goes around comes around, that’s just the nature of ecological reality. It’s a closed system so that whatever you’re throwing out there, the ripples in the pond will ripple around in this globe because it can’t ripple anywhere else.

So all of our unwholesome activity in this planet in respect to our environment, you send it out , it will come back and that which comes back as suffering , as misery, as illness, sickness, drought, famine, and for forth, we’ll call that ‘oh, the cause was unwholesome’ ‘cause we really don’t like the result at all.

And those impacts, those activities, that we impose upon reality, that turn around to the environment to be healthy – biodiversity, species not vanishing and so forth, that which we do to preserve a well balanced environment, a healthy environment, then looking back, then we say ‘ah, this turned out really well’ and we’ll look back at the cause and say that was wholesome activity.

But you label the cause based on the effect, not just because DDT is somehow evil, it’s not, it’s just a chemical. Put it in a test tube – not even a poison, it’s just a chemical. Put it out in the environment – now it’s a poison. So, with karma, there’s a little microcosm but it’s a powerful one because it’s not god or angels, or demons, or anybody punishing us, we just sowed the seeds and then some of the seeds we’ve sown turn around and kick us in the teeth. Our children are dying of leukemia, for example and species are vanishing, etc. It’s just a natural sequence – you put out and then the consequences come back sooner or later, they do come back and then you experience it. But by then you might have forgotten or you may not have ever know what caused it and then you’re really stuck because you’re getting suffering from the environment and you don’t even see how you contributed to causing it. That’s quite sad. And that’s how karma works. Often karma manifests in a second life in which you’ve forgotten what you did that’s causing the karmic fruitions you’re experiencing now.

So, all of this is relating to Shantideva’s text, and that’s from one perspective – the Shravakayana perspective, especially where the Buddha is viewed as one from the Theraveda, the Pali Canon, the Shravakayana, as Buddha’s one who is enlightened and then swoosh he did a vanishing act. Gone into paranirvana, absolute stillness, absolute transcendent, inconceivable. So, Theravada Buddhist, on the whole, they don’t pray to the Buddha, nobody’s listening – Buddha doesn’t answer prayers. That’s why they’ll go to a Hindu deity, at least they’re hanging out. They may not have the Buddha’s enlightenment but at least they have more power than we do. That’s true of all the Theravada countries. They don’t pray to the Buddha, they go to the Hindu deities, ‘hey help me my wife is having problem with her pregnancy, my field is not producing good, you know, give me some more money I want to get my kids to good school, ah, Hindu deities help me out here.’

But, if you come back to Buddhism, there it is, it look like oh, this really is samsara, this is really an ocean of suffering, saturated by ignorance and – there it is. And you’re on your own, be ‘an island unto yourself’. Practice Dharma because that’s your only hope.

Reviser’s note: ‘an island unto yourself’ is an older style of English and quotes a põem.

But we move on to the Mahayana. Of course it’s still true, Dharma is your only hope. Move onto the Mahayana as we see it in this citation

There is nowhere that the Buddha’s mind is not present

There is nowhere that the Buddha’s path is not present

There is nowhere that the blessings of the Buddha are not present

Falling in upon us so it looks like, how can there not be some kind of a tension here, and that is, do the Buddha’s have the ability, so I’ve done something really evil, something really unwholesome steaming from, maybe ignorance and greed, that’s a powerful combination and out of my ignorance and greed, I’ve done something really unwholesome, right? And then the karmic seeds are ticking ticking ticking away, waiting to germinate, because something had to catalyze them so they can come to fruition. Can the Buddha come in and say ‘ Ah shucks, Alan, I have so much compassion, I’ll just clear the ledger for you, I’ll clear out your debts ‘cause, after all, I’m a Buddha.’ Can a Buddha do that?

The answer is no. Otherwise nobody’d ever have to experience the fruition of karma, the Buddha would say ‘I’ll give you a free pass, I’m omniscient, I’m a Buddha.’

No way it works, not for many schools. Nor for Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana. Buddhas don’t have that ability. So, how does that workout? Blessing of the Buddha at all time, karma maturing – where’s the interface?

If the Buddhas can’t simply wipe away karma, does that mean we can find the two extremes. The Buddhas can simply wipe away karma and simply have faith and you’ll have a wonderful life from now on, ‘cause now that you’re a Buddhist no hedonic ill will come your way, because the Buddhas are protecting every step of the way. OK? That’s one extreme – that’s not true. The Buddhas have no ability what so ever. Tough luck, pal, it’s your karma and the Buddha can’t clean out your karma, so the Buddhas are really pretty much out of work, because you’re just living in an ocean of karma and the Buddhas are wringing their hands, saying ‘I wish I could help, I really wish I could help but, it’s your karma, so good luck. I may as well just slip back into paranirvana because there’s nothing for me to do. What can I do? It’s your karma. Ah.’

So I think we just found the two extremes. If that’s what it is to be a Buddha, it means you’re totally useless for the sake of all sentient beings. I’ll become totally useless forever. I think that’s a pretty lame bodhicitta, right? So, there’s one, and the other one, you can do everything? No. So something in the middle – there’s got to be middle-way there.

What gets dished up in terms of appearances, Buddhist teachings in terms of pleasant appearances and unpleasant appearances – I like this and I don’t like that; that’s good fortune and that’s misfortune; that’s karma. The Dalai Lama’s been very, very exact though, because he’s had such high level engagement, even though no formal training in science, with so many of the worlds best. So things like the ‘inverse square law of gravity’, the charge of an electron, electromagnetism, the way properties of electromagnetic fields and so forth, are these caused by somebody’s karma? Somebody did something and therefore it’s inverse square law, if you’d just done it differently it’d be inverse cube law?

No – not true – not everything that happens is the result of individuals karma - wholesome karma, unwholesome karma – not true.

Somethings are just say ‘that’s the way things are’, that’s just nature, that’s natural. Leave it to the physicist, leave it to the chemists, leave it to the biologists, DNA, the structure of DNA and so forth and so on – leave it to them. That’s the nature of the physical world.

But when appearances arise up to us and the arising is good fortune and misfortune – that’s a result of karma. But then we move into Mahayaha, if we stop there. we’d have to say ‘that’s why the Buddhas retired and that’s why we’re just in an ocean of karma and roll up your sleeves and strive diligently to achieve liberation and get the hell out of here. Just get out, ‘cause this place sucks. 100% - all the way from the top to the bottom. This is just an ocean of misery so just get out. Just go into a state of immutable changeless bliss. So, that would be the best solution, not Mahayana.

So, what’s arising? Fruition of karma but has no inherent nature, neither the seed nor the effect – no inherent nature. There’s nothing that is intrinsically evil, nothing intrinsically virtuous or ethically neutral, not intrinsically, not by its own inherent nature. Therefore, whatever the fruition is, the result coming out is not inherently this or that, not inherently suffering, not inherently pleasant or unpleasant, adversity or felicity, none of the above. So the appearances are there just inviting us to reify, almost speaking anthropomorphically, say “Hey, would you like to identify me as adversity? You can, you know.’ And, of course, normally we do. But with the wisdom of the perfection of wisdom, the teachings on emptiness, the teaching in lojong, the teachings we’ve just seen here – this is the appearance but it’s not inherently real, it’s no objective. Not even my mental afflictions are objectively inherently afflictive, therefore, how I dance with these appearances, even the appearances of my own mind, how I dance is up to me. How I respond is up to me. How I view them is up to me. And that’s not predetermined by karma. We’re not robots with a program written in some past life – not true.

So, how should we rise up to meet reality as appearances of good fortune and misfortune arise? That’s where our choice is, but the choice can come only if we see that there is a choice and we see that only if there’s wisdom and the wisdom has to include the awareness, the recognition, the insight, that none of these phenomena – subjective or objective – are inherently real. And therefore, from moment to moment, whatever we’re encountering – it’s just an ocean of possibilities.

I find that I love this and it’s very, very, brief. Heisenberg, one of the great pioneers of quantum mechanics, he was that generation exploring the absolutely mind boggling implications of quantum mechanics, that no elementary particles out there, in and of itself, are already predetermined before the act of measurement – that was a big deal. And, so you have the Schrodinger wave equation, which describes a field of possibilities of the probability of function. But then, Heisenberg nailed it. He was a deep thinker and he said ‘now that we’ve come to the conclusion, these elementary particles, fundamental constituents of physical reality are not already out there in and of themselves with real location, real speed, real velocity, real momentum, in and of themselves as objectively real – not true. We know that’s not true. What we have is the probability function, a wave function. He said, now we have the Schrodinger wave, a wave function, which is equivalent, it’s mathematics, he said- this is a mathematical formalism, Schrodinger wave equation or Heisenberg’s own matrix equation. The mathematical formalism referring to possibilities, probabilities but then, here’s his point – don’t reify, thinking there really is something out there inherently real that is a probability field. There isn’t even that is empty. That’s Heisenberg! Not bad for a person that never studied Madhyamaka.

Not only are electrons empty but even the probability field from which they arise, even that’s empty, it’s not objectively real. It’s just a manner of speaking and saying that the probability function collapses when you perform a measurement and then you can say – ok, now there’s an electron here and there’s a proton there. It’s all only a manner of speaking. There was nothing really out there that collapsed. And, likewise, when we identify – there’s Mike, there’s Patrice, there’s Daniel, a probability function is collapsed because I could be giving all kinds of labels and multiple ones would be correct. And I could be viewing you from a perspective of a Preta, of a Deva, of a Buddha, a human being – there’s all kinds of possibilities. As I look at three different people, how will you arise to meet me? It’s a field of possibilities. But then I say ‘Oh, this is my friend Patrice from Wisconsin, here’s Daniel, here’s Mike. Probability function has just collapsed and something’s crystalized. But nothings really crystalized, nothing’s really collapsed and even when I designate, nothing’s really there from its own side.


Settle your body, speech and mind in a natural state, one by one, step by step and calm, subdue the conceptual turbulence of your mind with mindfulness of breathing.

Let your awareness withdrawing upon itself, withdrawing from all appearances, all objects of the mind.

More and more subtle release any notion pretending to the future and the past, let your awareness walk the tightrope, the slender line of the immediacy of the present moment.

You know that you are aware, good, but now what is the very nature of this awareness that you know? You have the word ‘awareness’, exactly what is its referent? Point it. Can you find this awareness that has the qualities of luminosity and cognizance? Can you observe it arising can you observe it passing? Can you find it anywhere, this truly existent, really there awareness? Can you see the border line between awareness and the appearances to awareness? Appearances are not awareness, it is something else. But can you draw the line where does one start and the other begin? What are the borders of your own awareness? Surely it must have some if it’s really there, if it really exists.

And according to your ability with the awareness of the emptiness of your own awareness direct your attention to the world of phenomena, whatever comes to mind and examine closely, closely apply mindfulness and see if you can discern the distinction between the appearance that is the basis of designation of the object, or for that matter the subject, and that which you designate upon that basis. The set of buildings, with rooms, a hall, a dining room and a sign, may be but are not necessarily, is the basis of designation of the mind center, but the mind center and basis of designation are not the same, one is imputed upon another, and the basis of designation is empty of that designation.

Taking that as an example, whatever else comes to mind, see if you can identify what is the basis upon which you designate, the object that comes to mind. This may include yourself; designated object, it may include your mental afflictions, what is the basis of designation? Can you identify that and see if it is utterly empty? There is nothing there that already was what you designated it as? The designated object is nowhere to be found, it is simply an imputation, a way of thinking, a way of talking.

And whenever any mental afflictions such craving and hostility arises, examine the object of that mental affliction, that which you crave, that which you’re angry at. See whether you have reified it and if so, unreify it by identifying the basis of designation that which you designate upon that basis and then reify, imagine that it’s somehow out there in and of itself and you’re simply witnessing it, there‘s the delusion.

All phenomena, without exception, are by nature nameless, even pleasure and pain they do not have their own borders, they do not define themselves and therefore all appearances are empty, luminous, manifest but empty of their own identity.

All subjective states of consciousness and mental processes are nameless, empty of inherent nature. All objectively appearing phenomena empty of inherent nature and the demarcation between subject and object - empty of inherent nature. All empty.

Rest in that flow of knowing of the emptiness of all phenomena which is not other than the luminosity, the manifest appearing of all phenomena, empty and luminous, empty and manifesting, sustain that flow of knowing. Nothing arising and nothing passing. Nothing existent and nothing non-existent. Nothing coming and nothing going. Nothing that is singular and nothing that is plural

Rest your awareness is a state free of all conceptual elaborations, all constructs, all labels, let your awareness rest in utter stillness, a stillness beyond stillness in motion, stillness that is always there, primordially still, and primordially luminous.

Alan’s comments/teachings:

What is the Buddha’s good for? It is a quite important question especially for one that does want to become a Buddha for the sake of all sentient beings you want to know – ok, I can actually do something.

It is quite true that in so far as we realize the emptiness of the phenomena that we’re experiencing and we see that they are not simply being ‘dished up’ something that is adversity, something that is felicity, something that is unpleasant and pleasant, is not inherently real, it is just ‘dished up’ objectively. Good.

What does that have to do with the activities of the Buddha’s? It does show that insofar as we realize the emptiness of the phenomena then we can reboot, we can reconfigure, we can view them [phenomena] in a different way what other people regard as adversity, we can see as aids to the path. That is Lojong.

But you could be a Shrakayana, realize the emptiness of nature, I want to achieve enlightenment therefore I can make lemonade without lemons, I mean I am going to put the best face on it, I’m going to make the best of things by designating phenomena, situations and so forth in a way that help me along the path to enlightenment, and doesn’t just fill me with frustration and sadness and grief and anger.

But what is the Buddhas good for? That is certainly loosened things up, it liberates us from the notion of being simply victims of reality. What are the Buddhas good for? For the blessings of the Buddhas to arise and being recognized, I think that must come in response to a question or a supplication. I think if there’s no quest, just hanging out in samsara, you’re already getting the blessings of the Buddha’s by hanging out and pursuing the three jewels of wealthy, power and fame and the blessings of the Buddhas will be really help you along [to the path]. Oh, don’t think so. I really do not think so at all. You’re gambling, you’re playing in the great casino of samsara hoping for the best, hoping to be lucky, hoping to be a good and very clever gambler. And there are such people, very clever gamblers, they still lose on occasion. There are clever gamblers and foolish gamblers but when all is said and done, it’s still gambling.

But insofar as the question we are posing to reality and the request, the aspiration we are putting to reality, in so far that is in accordance with reality, insofar as that stems from pure renunciation, authentic motivation to achieve awakening, liberation, insofar as in an even deeper level it stems from bodhichita, the most majestic of all aspirations, insofar as the motivation is there, the supplication is there, the aspiration, the resolve is there and that is what we’re bringing to reality, because it’s a gradient, insofar as, and especially if we complement that bodhichitta, or our best approximation of bodhicitta, especially insofar as we complement that with some wisdom of ultimate bodhichita, realizing emptiness, bring those two together, so not just the realization of emptiness but bringing in the aspiration, the pure motivation I think that’s when we open the portal, open the gateway to receiving blessings of the Buddhas.

But does this mean we only receive blessings of the enlightened ones after we’re already quite advanced along the path? That’s just clearly not true.

I know from my own experience, the first time in my life that I had some empirical evidence that made me think this is not just a great big mindless machine, really, reality, it was when I was 20. Many of you know this story, I’ll keep it short.

But I picked up a book on Dzogchen, it ‘spoke’ to me, passed my intelligence, I couldn’t make sense of it., and it sped right into my intuition and I knew this is what I want to devote my life to. I didn’t understand but I knew ‘this is it’. ‘This is it.’ And I was just reading, this book – The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation – one of the treasures of Padmasambhava. I was reading that as I hitch hiked around Western Europe, got way up on the west coast of Norway. I was reading this, just drinking it in, and just knowing ‘this is it, this is it. I don’t know what it is, but this is it. For sure, this is it.’

And then it just kind of hit a crescendo where I fell now the book is not enough. ‘Thank you book’ but now I need something more – I need a human being. And the human being I need is a wise old man, somebody I can met and talk to me and give me some guidance, because that book got me started, it got me revved up, turned me on fire, it lit me up. But I need direction, I need some advice, I need some guidance. And it needs to be a wise old man. Reality – are you listening? A wise old man, make it snappy! I’m feeling something quite urgent here, I wrote in my journal that night.

Reviser’s note: revved up - is an expression - ‘being energized’, comes from revving a car engine to make it go faster.

The next morning my roommate and I, we’d hitch hiked around Europe, he headed off to Scotland for his 3rd year at university, I’m about to head back to Germany for my 3rd year.

Next morning for the first time in 2 months of hitch hiking with my friend, I’m hitch hiking by myself. First time, on a long road – not much in between Bergan and Asaneveien, about five, eight hours ….. It’s a long hitch hike. So I got about 1/3 of the way, I’m in the middle of nowhere. Somebody dropped me off, no body picked me up and I waited for hours. Gave up. I’m going to the nearest train station, get out of here and hitch hike from someplace else. Walk against the traffic holding out my thumb. A little black VW bug pulled over, I didn’t know why, because I’d forgotten about my thumb. And this funny little man gestured me ‘you want a ride? I saw your thumb.’ Oh yea, I was hitch hiking. I got into the car, threw my big back pack and my big guitar into the back seat - filled the car, sat down and we drove for 10 minutes. Ten minutes on that road means nothing. And in 10 minutes I learned he was a Buddhist monk and he was a wise old man. I didn’t want a wise young woman – I would have wanted something else from her. But a wise old man, that’s just what I’d asked for and there it was – dished up! And he was a Buddhist monk and there were probably 3 or 4 Buddhist monks in all of Europe at that time. And he’d lived in Nepal, and he’d lived with Tibetan monks and he gave me just the advice I’d needed. I mean exactly - no more, no less. Just what I needed but no more and no less. And I looked at that and I said ‘ this just can’t be a coincidence.’ and I wasn’t wise. I had understanding of emptiness? Emptiness is a glass with no water in it. I knew what empty was – there were no deep insights there. But I looked at that and said, ‘there’s something going on here, something really mysterious, because this just – to say that’s coincidence, that just sounds foolish and then, I won’t tell the rest of the story, but the very next step, I got to Gottingen planning on studying philosophy and ecology. Ecology they didn’t offer at all, and philosophy – so boring. Old men thinking dry thoughts, most of them dead. It had no appeal.

But there was one Tibetan lama who had just been appointed to that university by the Dalai Lama. I became his only student.

So, I won’t tell you all the other coincidences that arose after that, but these are ones that just kind of rose up to meet me, like – are you awake at all? Hello?

And then another time, I got hepatitis, was when I was in Dharamsala. I was almost dead. That didn’t fell like much of a blessing at all. I mean, it didn’t feel like a blessing at all. It felt just like I’d been sick an awful lot, suffered an awful lot. And I was suffering to death and I was really not happy with that, ‘cause I was only 24, no 23. Really didn’t want to die. That didn’t fell like blessing to me at all. Felt like being really so weak, my urine the color of coca cola. Really sick.

But a friend Sharpa Rinpoche, I was kind of well known. there weren’t so many people around – westerners – and I was the only one. I was the only one at that time at the Buddhist School of Dialectics, the other two had gotten sick and left. They both got hepatitis, they split. Lars and George, they both left. They left.

I got hepatitis for the third time, so Sharpa Rinpoche, who knew me rather well, everybody I know was dying. So he went to Kaybje Trijang Rinpoche said ‘Alan’s dying, what’ll we do? Say goodbye? What’ll we do?’

Trijang Rinpoche did an ‘mo…’, a divination – said ‘he’s not going to die, go to another doctor’.

I wasn’t going to Yeshe Dhonden, I was going to another doctor, a very good one. ‘Go to that doctor and he’s going to live’. So, he went to Kaybje Trijang Rinpoche came up and told me ‘Go back to Yeshe Dhonden’. I was taking his medicine, it didn’t work. That’s why I freaked out and went to another doctor, Lama Losang. But her herbal medicine wasn’t working either. I was really freaking out. He said go back to Yeshe Dhonden. So the next – I started getting well.

So the point here, a long story, is that we’re in the beginning of phases that pass. It’s like, the sun comes out and you say that’s manifesting the blessings of the Buddha. Meeting that monk in Norway, having the Lama in Gottingen. Having the Monastery right there, having the letter come from Dharamsala, having the library open just when I needed it, having the Buddhist School of Dialectics open just when I needed it. Having Geshe Rabten getting me back to Switzerland just when I needed it, His Holiness bringing me back to India just when I needed it.

The timing was always impeccable. But, as ones eyes of wisdom become wider opened, less veiled, less filled with dirt, then you see it more often.

And then the clouds come over again, it feels like there’s no blessing, like your on your own and it’s just crappy karma. But, as you develop wisdom more and more deeply and the intuition and heart opens at that deepest level, the ‘two’, the prajna, the wisdom of seeing the emptiness and the Yeshe, primordial consciousness of intuiting the omnipresent blessings of the Buddha, then you start to live more and more in the flow, that it’s every day. It’s not really good story in Bergen in 1970 and then another good story in 71 in (unknown) , and so forth and so on. It’s just an on going flow – all of it empty but all of saturated by blessings every single moment.

And the whole notion of karma appears now, just as empty appearances. What’s actually manifesting, that you’re tasting, you’re drinking in, is an on going flow of nothing other than blessings of the Buddha and you’re living in a pure land because there’s no place that enlightenment of the Buddhas is not present. There’s no place that mind of the Buddhas is not present. There’s no place that the path is not present.

Always there, when you’re in good health, when you’re sick, when you’re dying and when you’re dead.

Always there.

So, that’s my view.

Not that I’ve realized that, but that my view.

Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti and Diane Strully

Revised by Diane Strully

Final edition by Rafael Carlos Giusti


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