20 May 2016
Alan begun this morning Dharma talk with one of his favorite parables (Naked Awareness p.93), and it is about a king who asked an illusionist to create an illusion as a means of causing his son to be drawn to Dharma. Alan pointed that just as the prince couldn’t recall the very first moment of falling into that trance – otherwise he would be lucid –, we are never able to recall the first moment of a mind wandering – otherwise we would be aware and able to say “hello thought, good bye thought” and not lose our minds. The same goes for non -lucid dreams. Dharmakirti has defined something that exists as something that is fit to be known. Similarly, Heisemberg said “let’s not attribute reality or existence to what is unknowable in principle”, referring to quantum measurements you haven’t done yet, as what you measure arises relative to your system of measurement and in response to the questions you’ve posed. So, the first moment of a mind wandering or, if we take it seriously, the first moment of samsara, as we were unaware, is not knowable in principle – samsara has no beginning. The implication here is that we’ve literally had infinite lives, meaning we’ve had infinite opportunities to meet spiritual teachers, like the Dalai Lama, Gyatrul Rinpoche and so forth, and reach the path, and yet, here we are! This leads us to cultivating a daunting resolve of leading all sentient beings to complete freedom from suffering. And for this to be serious and meaningful, we’ve got to have a clear vision of the path. So – make it personal – today, as you’ve encountered such Dharma, such teachers, spiritual friends and so forth, what is your strategy to move from here to enlightenment? How rare is it?
Before meditation, Alan shared a bit of what happened in his lecture at the University of Pisa yesterday. His gracious hosts were a professor of Information Engineering and a neuroscientist and Alan was asked to give a bold presentation on “A Radically Empirical Approach to the Study of Consciousness” and so he did. After his (certainly brilliant) presentation, including his comments on Contemplative Observatory and the possibilities of having scientists and very well trained meditators together right there in Tuscany, they said “thank you”. Then, an elderly professor asked Alan to comment on the viability of robots being conscious and having feelings. Alan demolished this notion and said it was pretty much science fiction. And then the professor turned to Alan´s presentation and said “everything you said is science fiction. All the progress humanity has made has been made by Europeans.” And that was the end of conversation. A neuroscientist spoke to Alan, after his presentation, saying that if there was a neuroscientist that agrees with him, he would lose his job. It really is an environment of fear. When Alan was leaving, a very gracious woman told him, away from everybody else, that she was so grateful to hear his words on consciousness because she had experiences that resonate with what Alan was talking about, and he showed she was not crazy. But, at least for that professor, all the logical arguments that Alan presented made no impression. His Holiness said some years ago that if we achieve shamatha we will be able to display some siddhis and, in many occasions, he said that some of us should really practice and achieve shamatha. Alan commented that pratyekabuddhas make the resolve of achieving their own individual liberation in those eras of history from the time of one Buddha to the next. Maitreya for instance will not appear until the teachings of Buddha Sakyamuni have completely vanished without trace. This will be a very dark age for Buddhadharma, and for this reason, teachings on the Four Noble Truths will not even be heard. But it will be possible to make an impression by demonstrating very high tech siddhis to people, like levitating, let flames burn from the top of the body and let rain fall from the bottom of the body, all simultaneously. This could catch the attention of this primitive arrogant people. First this Buddha will have to blow their minds and then saw the seeds of Dharma. Atisha said we can’t develop paranormal abilities without shamatha; therefore strive in shamatha. Then we’ll accrue more merit in one day than in a hundred lifetimes.
So, what do you want? Do we want do the plan you had yesterday or would you like to do everything you possibly can to become a siddha? Let´s start a Revolution; let’s start a Renaissance, for the benefit of all sentient beings.
The meditation on cultivating the extraordinary resolve starts at 50:45
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