B. Alan Wallace, 12 Sep 2012
Alan reminds us that closely holding the mind causes suffering. There are two methods which free us from this suffering 1) relative bodhicitta where we identify with all sentient beings and 2) absolute bodhicitta where we completely retract all the tentacles by withdrawing into the substrate and then rigpa. In this practice, we train in viewing mental events from the non-grasping, non-reactive perspective of substrate consciousness.
Meditation: settling the mind with full body awareness as a prelude. Enter this and all meditation sessions in the spirit of loving-kindness for yourself and others.
1) full body awareness. With your eyes closed, contain awareness within the space of the body, observing sensations without distraction or grasping.
2) settling the mind. Let eyes be open, gaze vacant. Direct attention to the space of the mind and its contents. Rest awareness in stillness while observing movements of the mind.
In between sessions, allow thoughts to arise but maintain lucidity throughout the day.
Meditation starts at 6:00
This morning we return to settling the mind in its natural state; in which we seek to release the tentacles of grasping of identification, on to even our own minds, the psyche. That is, our personal history, our thoughts, our desires, our emotions which are very intimate, very close. Again Buddhism says they are closely held and it is exactly that closely holding of our aggregates that makes us so vulnerable to suffering. So we can see that the tentacles of grasping of “I and mine” can really go out; I mean, could go out infinitely.
If we had inter-galactic travel then we might strongly identify with our solar system, as opposed to those aliens, and having “us and them”. Or we might identify with our own galaxy, the “Milky Wayers”, and even have our own football team versus football teams from other galaxies; they’re the “bad guys”.; So one can see that there is just no limit to it. I could be identifying with people who have full heads of gray hair. We could have a special club. We know we’re a little bit superior, we don’t talk about it much. We know we have the edge on the other people like the bald people and those brown-haired people who haven’t fully matured yet. I mean it could go anywhere, right? And it’s that grasping, it’s exactly there that we make ourselves vulnerable to suffering.
(2:25) So here we are, withdrawing the tentacles of “I and Mine” from outside the body and then we even withdraw it from the body itself. We are focusing on the mind in this retreat of shamatha, and then in focusing on the mind, instead of being caught up in the midst of it and identify with it, we seek to view it from the perspective of the substrate consciousness, which is not even human. So we are observing our humanness; that is, we are trying to approximate a perspective of our non-humanness that is itself not human, it is just sentient.
(2:57) So, there are two ways to win this game, because we are clearly losing. We are so vulnerable to suffering, physical suffering, mental suffering, suffering because people are abusing America, because I am American and so forth. We have two strategies and actually we can adopt both of them and win and have a double win situation.
(3:19) We see this, on one hand, in terms of the four immeasurables. I am referring specially now to something we identify with really intensely and that is, of course, our feelings; my pleasure, my suffering and what do we care about more than that? And then of course my family is suffering, my family’s well-being and so forth. The strategy of the four immeasurables is to extend it out evenly and infinitely. It’s really bodhichitta, and that is identifying with all sentient beings as our own family; as our own parents, as our own beloved mother, father and siblings and so forth, but having a sense “you’re all mine”, every single one of you, not leaving anyone out. Otherwise we’re right back into the mess. So… I identify with all of you now, you are all my family, you are all mine, all sentient beings and wherever you live that is our home. That is where we live, that is our home. We just do not leave anything out. That’s interesting. That is the perspective of relative bodhichitta for which the four immeasurables are the preparation and then they come into full flowering in relative bodhichitta.
(4:34) And then the other perspective is ultimate bodhichitta, where we totally retract one hundred percent; retract the tentacles of grasping and reifying “I and mine”. Not only from my country, my family, but then also my body and my mind. Then drawing into the awareness itself, and even saying: “awareness itself is not a person and it does not really have an owner”. So even withdrawing from there. Where we are going here is seeking to view our mind from the perspective of the substrate consciousness and then to break through the substrate consciousness and view even our own substrate consciousness from the perspective of rigpa. And what is that? Ultimate bodhichitta. In the Dzogchen view, rigpa is the ultimate bodhichitta.
(5:30) So there are two escapes routes here: relative bodhichitta, total freedom and ultimate bodhichitta, total freedom. So we really have a strategy here, and now we need some baby steps so I don’t just give you a grand talk that none of us can reach, and that is ok. How about settling the mind in its natural state and observe even the feelings arising, simply arising and passing. Seek to observe from that luminous, that loose, that non-grasping and non-reactive perspective of your substrate consciousness. Let’s jump in.
(7:09) And just a reminder: as frequently you can, enter the meditation in the spirit of loving kindness. Direct it toward yourself and then flowing out in all directions. Let your meditation itself be an act of kindness, something to bring you greater happiness and to alleviate your own suffering and its causes. In that spirit and with that motivation let your awareness descend into the body, settle your body, speech and mind in their natural states and for a little while calm the discursive mind with mindfulness of breathing. Count 21 breaths if you find that helpful.
(11:17) And now with your eyes closed, very deliberately withdraw your awareness from the visual, auditory, the olfactory and gustatory; that is, from four of your five physical senses and contain your awareness within the space of the body, in this tactile field. To your best approximation view the space of the body and whatever arises within it from the perspective of your substrate consciousness; almost as if you were having an out of body experience. Just observe that space without reifying it. Observe the sensations, the feelings arising within it without reifying them, without identifying with them. Simply observe them arise within this space, which is finally the space of the alaya, the substrate. Observe them without distraction, without grasping.
(14:20) And now let your eyes at least be partially open. Vacantly rest your gaze in the space in front of you, but to the best of your ability, withdraw your awareness from all of the five physical senses and focus your attention single pointedly on the space of the mind and whatever arises within it. Rest your awareness in stillness, in its own place, holding its own ground, as you observe the movements of the mind.
Teachings/instructions after meditation:
(30:41) If your baseline of practice between sessions, between the two shamatha practices we’ve investigated, is settling the mind, if that is the one you resonate with, and would like to maintain continuity in, then its quite clear that between sessions we are not seeking to silence the mind, to get all the thoughts to die down, but rather to have an out of mind experience. That is, just as in this practice, we allow the thoughts to arise freely with no inhibition, no censorship, no restraint, allow them to arise freely, freely but without identifying with any of them.
In other words let all your thoughts be lucid. As mental states, emotions, desires and so forth arise, be aware of them arising; so you’re lucid throughout the course of the day, observing the mind, whatever is taking place in the mind, again from the perspective of simply mental consciousness or your best approximation of substrate consciousness. That is a good continuity, a good baseline also for the close application of mindfulness to the mind, which, of course, you can also do throughout the course of the day.
Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Revised by Corinne Dobinson
Final edition by Alma Ayon