Fall 2013 Shamatha and the Bodhisattva Way of Life

00 Welcome and introduction to the retreat

B. Alan Wallace, 03 Sep 2013 Transcript available

Alan welcomes the participants at the Thanyapura MindCenter and explains some of the groundrules for the 8-week Fall 2013 retreat. Alan begins by presenting some logistics followed by the content - the framework for his cycle of teachings. Alan elaborates on general recommendations: How to get most out of the retreat.
22:45 minutes into the recording Alan speaks about the content for this retreat. Unlike during previous retreats when 3 methods of Shamatha were thought, there will be 4 methods of Shamatha this year:
Week 1 Mindfulness of breathing
Week 2 Settling the Mind in its natural State
Week 3 Awareness of Awareness (Shamatha without a Sign)
Week 4 Merging the Mind with Space (NEW)
Week 5-8 will repeat the same sequence but more in depth.
For the half an hour teaching in the afternoon which is followed by discussions the topic for the 1st month will be
the “Seven-Point Mind Training” and for the 2nd month “A Guide to the Bodhiattva Way of Life”.

Alan also welcomes everybody who is following this retreat by listening to the podcast.

Note: Several sections containing personal introduction of the retreatants have been removed.

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01 Settling the Body, Speech and Mind in its Natural State

B. Alan Wallace, 04 Sep 2013

Moving right into the foundational practice of settling the body, speech and mind in its natural state. Learning how to breathe – to let the respiration flow naturally without being forced or restricted.
How to develop a durable and genuine state of being that is not dependent upon pleasant stimulation. Without stimulation from the outside, then stimulate internally with rumination. To settle the mind at ease one must learn to relax. The challenge is to relax and yet stay clear. Looking for a balance between relaxation, stability and vividness. These three have a synergy – relaxation gives rise to stability which gives rise to clarity which enhances stability and deepens relaxation and the circle starts again.

Meditation starts at: 06:04

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02 Motivation and Seven-Point Mind Training

B. Alan Wallace, 04 Sep 2013

Guided meditation to take stock of each person’s specific and unique reasons for coming here. Four fold vision quest to answer these four questions:
What is your own unique vision of a meaningful life? Alan provides definitions of the terms hedonic pleasure and eudemonic pleasure – terms he uses frequently.
Holding in mind your vision of a meaningful life, what would you like to receive from the world around you?
How would you like to transform yourself?
What would you like to offer the world around you?

After the mediation Alan provides a brief overview of the Seven-Point Mind Training by Atisha. He provides the lineage of the text and a moving story of the individual from whom he received these teachings.
First line – First train in the preliminaries
The four ways of shifting your perspective starting with meditation on the preciousness and rarity of the human life. Discussion of a radical shift of perspective in science which is a one way door – no way to return to the prior perspective – Galileo, Darwin and Einstein.
Question: What is the name of this training? Lojong
Alan discusses the discovery approach of Dzogchen – how to stop doing stuff as opposed to doing more. Relinquishing all control of the breath has a very healing quality.
Homework – Develop a smooth and restful transition from the waking state to the sleeping. In the supine position, let awareness become grounded in the whole body. As soon as you feel you start to loose clarity, shift position to fall asleep.

Meditation starts at: 17:53

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03 Gratitude for recognising dukha and settling Body Speech and Mind in its natural state

B. Alan Wallace, 04 Sep 2013

Being grateful for that feeling of ill at ease. If the mind feels just fine, the is no incentive for pursuing anything other than hedonic well-being. There would be no incentive for pursuing a spiritual path. For that sense of dukha, that subtle existential underlying sense of unease, of dissatisfaction of malaise, of restlessness, of feeling of lack of fulfilment, that is actually one of our most precious commodities.

Meditation starts at: 07:00

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04 Mindfulness of breathing and Precious Human Rebirth

B. Alan Wallace, 04 Sep 2013

Balance of learning how to unwind the body and mind so they are at ease, allowing yourself this freedom, whilst still maintaining the clarity. That’s a skill! Recognising that we are free for the next 24 minutes, we have leisure and no obligations. Additionally we have the opportunity to know how to make this leisure time most meaningful.

First line of the text ‘First train in the preliminaries’. This refers to four, the first of which is covered in this session. Each of the preliminaries, shift our very perspective, a revolution. First of the four thoughts that turn the mind, inner revolution - all about a life of leisure and opportunity, the precious human rebirth. This life of leisure and opportunity is more precious than a wish fulfilling jewel.

Alan, also spoke on the Alia (spp?) project. He discussed a scientific methodology that could test the validity of Shamatha realisation, based on the recollection of previously measured experiences from a persons life, such as meals eaten in the previous years. Based on the results of this experiment, the validity of past lives could be analysed.

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05 Mindfulness of breathing - phase two

B. Alan Wallace, 05 Sep 2013 Transcript available

Normally sustained focus comes at the cost of relaxation, we concentrate by contraction. This is exactly what is not done here. The balance is to increase the stability of attention, which entails some effort, but without losing the relaxation. Earlier we enhanced relaxation without losing clarity.

In a larger framework, again we come back to issue of balance. We are engaging in retreat, in mindfulness of breathing we are withdrawing our attention from the entire environment and then attending to the flow of sensation of the breath in the body and in the meantime monitoring the mind with introspection. As in warfare, we are retreating to recoup, re-strategise how we go back again.

Post meditation, Alan speaks on sustaining the ongoing flow of mindful presence off the cushion, so that when we return to the cushion it is an enhancement of what we are already doing, rather than something new.

Meditation starts at: 16.18

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06 Mindfulness of breathing and Death and Impermanence

B. Alan Wallace, 05 Sep 2013 Transcript available

We return to mindfulness of breathing, with a gradual and persistent cultivation of stability, which is really getting the mind to calm down. Maintian a continuity of attention, a flow of mindfulness but without the habitual contraction which is almost always associated with ego, stress, a goal. Yogis that come out of hours of samadhi come out feeling fresh and revived. How? By the concentration coming out of a sense of release.

Post meditation: The second of the four preliminaries, reflecting on impermanence and death. This is a way for us to develop conative intelligence, that is, having wise or intelligent desires. There are so many dumb desires, the meditation on impermanence and our own mortality is like taking smart pills.

Meditation starts at: 7.15

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07 Mindfulness of Breathing

B. Alan Wallace, 06 Sep 2013

We immediately start with a meditation session. After the guided meditation, a question comes up about the role of pain in meditation, based on a comment from an abbot who claimed that pain is a goal to reach Nirvana, and a comfortable position during meditation is not suitable for reaching Nirvana.
Dr. Wallace goes into this question using references from the Pali Canon, Theravada tradition and Tibetan tradition. He shows that such a claim about pain as a goal to Nirvana is nowhere to be found. On the contrary, adopting a position that is most suitable during meditation is strongly recommended (Buddhaghosa).

Meditation starts at: 0:35

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08 Mindfulness of Breathing

B. Alan Wallace, 06 Sep 2013

The third phase of mindfulness of breathing is discussed before entering into the guided meditation. This third phase is a classical Theravada method in which the focus is directed to the tactile sensations of the breath at the apertures of the nostrils.
Alan emphasises again the qualities of relaxation, stability and clarity and their synergy which feeds the meditative cultivation of attention.
After the meditation, we return to the four thoughts that turn the mind. First impermanence is further discussed, in particular the issues of old age, sickness and death. Subsequently, Alan goes deeper into the issue of the moment of death and the relevance of Dharma practice. Finally, the third thought that turns the mind is discussed: the unsatisfying nature of Samsara. A connection is made with the first two noble truths plus the question “how can we be of service?” is further elaborated on.
Meditation starts at: 18:38

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09 Mindfulness of Breathing

B. Alan Wallace, 07 Sep 2013 Transcript available

Before the morning meditation, Alan raises a question: what makes a practice Dharma? Is, for example, mindfulness of breathing Dharma in and of itself or is there something else necessary to make it Dharma? Mindfulness of breathing can be simply a relaxation technique.

What makes it Dharma is motivation based in Bodhicitta. In fact, if we hold Bodhicitta as our motivation, everything we do throughout the day can be used to cultivate virtue and ethical way of life, not only our meditations. Our motivation (aspiration) connects all our activities from one day to another creating a karmic momentum. Practicing Bodhicitta is like investing in a fund and creating leftover karma for future lifetimes. The virtue of our lives goes where our aspiration goes. In the meditation practice, we continue mindfulness of breathing at the aperture of the nostrils.

Meditation starts at: 12:30

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10 Mindfulness of breathing

B. Alan Wallace, 07 Sep 2013

This afternoon we complete the cycle of mindfulness of breathing. Before we go into the final practice, Alan addresses one of the participant’s question about experiencing tingling/vibrating sensations in the forehead when practicing mindfulness of breathing at the aperture of the nostrils. Alan explains that this might happen for some meditators even when they are practicing correctly since prana, which follows attention, might build up in the area we are focusing on. He suggests, in such cases, to change the practice to an alternate one, which is mindfulness of breathing with the focus on the whole body. To do so, a practitioner needs to focus on all the tactile sensations arising in the field of the body that are directly correlated with each in and out breath.

After the practice, Alan moves on to discussing the fourth thought that turns the mind, which is the law of karma or, in other words, actions and their consequences or cause and effect. The Buddha’s notion of karma deals with deliberate action (volition) and can be fully understood only in the context of the continuity of consciousness. If we accept this fact as a working hypothesis for our life, then the question whether our behavior in this lifetime has any ramifications for our future lifetimes emerges and the need to discern wholesome actions from unwholesome ones becomes imperative.

But how can we know which actions are virtuous and which are not and how they will ripen in our future lives? Since at this stage we are unable to see the entire web of all karmic connections as the Buddha did on the second day of his enlightenment, the best way to approach this dilemma is by bringing it to the realm of this lifetime. To do so, we ask ourselves a question whether our actions (of body, speech, and mind) bring about the well-being and genuine happiness of oneself and others. If the consequence of our action contributed to our own well-being and that of others, we can say that the action was virtuous, and vice versa. We need to see ourselves as part of a whole web of connections (an eco-system) and judge the nature of the action by how it affects the entire system as karma is both individual and collective.

Alan also emphasizes that karma works equally for both virtuous and non-virtuous actions and is not static; it grows over time. Last but not least, Alan stresses that all non-virtue comes from delusion, which is the result of misapprehending reality. As karma is simply as things are (a universal law rather than a moralistic requisite), meditation on this subject is meant to shift one’s perspective on viewing reality and encourage the investigation of this truth for oneself in order to gain confidence in it.

Meditation starts at: 19:21

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11 Settling the Mind in it's Natural State

B. Alan Wallace, 09 Sep 2013 Transcript available

In this next practice “Setting the mind in it’s Natural State” we withdraw our attention from the space of the body and observe the state of the mind and the mental events occuring within. Here we become aware of our emotions, thoughts and stories without cognitively fusing with them. We are distinguishing between our awareness of the mind and what happens within the space of the mind.

Meditation starts at: 05:04

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12 Settling the Mind in its Natural State

B. Alan Wallace, 09 Sep 2013

Alan explains how the natural state differs from the habitual state of mind. This practice “melts the ice” of our habitually configured consciousness to get to the substrate consciousness. To assist us to find the object - the space of the mind - we use a process of elimination.

Question: Do we accumulate Karma when dreaming?
Alan explains the four characteristics of full karma (intention, preparation, performance and completion) and the four remedial powers (remorse, turning away, reliance and applying the antidote).

In the Seven Point Mind Training text we move on from the preliminaries with the line: “Once stability is achieved, let the mystery be revealed”. Here the mystery is the Nature of Mind and the stability refers to both our motivation and attention.

To finish Alan answers the question: Why don’t we have western meditation Heros as exist within other Buddhist traditions?

Meditation starts at: 09:24

Note: We had two minor problems with the microphone causing a short interruption which you might notice.

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13 Settling the Mind in its Natural State

B. Alan Wallace, 10 Sep 2013

Our usual mode of thinking is obsessive because of an involuntary flow of thoughts. It is compulsive because our attention is drawn in by the thoughts and delusional because we think whatever we are thinking is true. Mindfulness of breathing cuts this disorder right at the start by stopping the obsessive thoughts.

Resting the mind in its natural state allows this obsessive flow of thoughts to flow. This mediation can develop lucidity in the waking state. In a lucid dream there is no possibility of harm to you as you know it is a dream. Likewise the events arising in the mind have no power over us unless we identify with them. When you are lucid to whatever arises in the mind, when mental afflictions arise, if you don’t identify with them they dissipate.

Lojong – the lucidity of shamatha allows you to shape your thoughts the way you can shape a lucid dream – you can shape everything in your mind to Bodhicitta.

Alan gave a short story about Milarepa in the rain.

Meditation starts at: 23:45

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14 Settling the Mind in its Natural State

B. Alan Wallace, 10 Sep 2013

The essence of the practice of settling the mind in its natural state is as a translation of the Tibetan, not distracted – no grasping.

The Tibetan term for awareness is rigpa – loss of awareness or not knowing is marigpa. The shift from awareness to the loss of awareness indicates that the mind is wandering. The first link of dependent origination is marigpa – not knowing.

Discussion of quantum mechanics and the statement “don’t attribute existence to something that is unknowable in principle”. When does a wandering thought begin – the answer is unknowable in principle because it wouldn’t be a wandering thought if you knew when it began – then it would be a deliberate thought. Likewise for a non lucid dream and also for the beginning of samsara.

Question: If you achieve shamatha in this life do the mental qualities flow into the next life? When you achieve shamatha, the gross mind dissolves into the substrate consciousness. This is also what happens at the time of death. Having attained shamatha, at the time of death you can enter the substrate consciousness lucidly. You know you are there and are prepared for what comes next – the clear light of death. You can then enter the bardo lucidly and direct your attention to where you would like to be born. Some obscuration occurs from the birth process but would have propensities allowing you to develop shamatha again easily.

Seven Point Mind Training – “Once stability is achieved, let the mystery be revealed” The mystery of the nature of consciousness.

Some suggested books:
Ian Stevenson – Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect and Life before Life
Consciousness beyond Life: The Science of the Near Death Experience by Pim van Lemmel
Erasing death by Sam Parnia

Question: How do you know when grasping is occurring in the meditation? Answer regarding the different levels of grasping. Don’t banish the thought but release your clinging.

Meditation starts at: 25:25

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15 Settling the Mind in its Natural State

B. Alan Wallace, 11 Sep 2013

Prefaced with brief elusion to the third of those four thoughts that turn the mind about - focusing on the reality of suffering. Why do we have to suffer at all? This deepest dimension of suffering - it arises directly because of or pertains to our relationship with our bodies and minds. The aggregates (our bodies and minds), arose in relation to mental afflictions (klesha) and karma. We are closely holding onto, or identifying with, our bodies and minds which are defiled in the sense of being created by karma and klesha. That very identification with that which is not 'I' or ‘mine’, as being 'I' or ‘mine’. Alan then goes on to give examples.

Meditation starts at: 16:08

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16 Settling the Mind in its Natural State

B. Alan Wallace, 12 Sep 2013

Note: We had a problem with the computer while recording and could only recover the session from a weaker source. Hence we kindly ask you to bear with us. Thank you.

Alan prefaced the meditation with several analogies for the practice of settling the mind in its natural state.

Alan discussed what happens if you were to immerse yourself in the practice of settling the mind in its natural state. He said that whatever comes up in the space of the mind, you know directly that whatever arises can’t possibly harm you. You are free. The analogy is that of being in a lucid dream. When you come off the cushion, when witnessing the world around, everything appears empty. Not to say you have realised emptiness, (but the way you see reality is different) Attending to without grasping becomes a habit.

Text - ‘View all phoneme as if they were dreams’. This is superb preparation to become thoroughly lucid and practice the remainder of the text. Ready for vipassana. Alan discusses this Dzogchen approach of ‘outside in’ as opposed to the Lam Rim approach of ‘inside out’.

Question re: karma.

Meditation starts at: 12:56

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17 Settling the Mind in its Natural State

B. Alan Wallace, 12 Sep 2013

Observer participance: In the practice of settling the mind in its natural state, awareness is in the space of the mind entangled with what we are observing, so it is bound to have an affect. The act of observing events seems to make them go away.

Some objects appear simultaneously - in real time - if we generate an image of a walnut and focus on the image, for example. Some only retrospectively, like being sad when it is raining, “the rain makes me feel so sad”, then once we are aware of the sadness, it gone. Anger/aversion arise as long as being fed but as soon as focus on the emotion, it disappears. Interesting! Welcome to your mind.

Post meditation: Alan addresses questions on 1) the difference between the space of the mind and sense consciousness and 2) observing events in the space of the mind vs going with them. He also dispels a misunderstanding about ‘open awareness’ being Shamatha (or Vippassana).

Meditation starts at: 14:20

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18 Settling the Mind in its Natural State

B. Alan Wallace, 12 Sep 2013

What is the object of mindfulness in the practice of settling the mind in it’s natural state? Most people don’t get it, it’s good to know what you are attending to because your words are guiding your practice. The answer is the space of the mind and whatever arises within it. You still have an object even if nothing arises. Previously we have emphasised the events in the space of the mind but here we shift the emphasis to the space of the mind itself.

Post meditation: “Regard all phenomena as if they we dreams”. Alan talks at length on this line from the seven point mind training text, analysing the assumption that the world is really out there. Here is a brief summary-extract:

It’s important to see where out feet are, we are not in Tibet thousands of years ago, but living in modernity and carrying this massive metaphysical baggage: that the world is really out there, everything was there and then we arrived. Even with the instruments of technology, what we are getting is information, which is not physical and yet we think metaphysical realism, but the physical we never actually see. As Werner Heisenberg said: “What we observe is not nature itself but nature exposed to our nature of inquiry”. John Wheeler calls it the strange loop, the entire physical universe as we understand it arises in dependance on information, it does not exist prior to or independent of that information, but information depends on human beings which are physical gathering that information. What Wheeler doesn’t say but what has to follow is that there is no information without someone who is informed or something about which you are informed. Those three things. You can’t have one without the other two. If you take one away, the other two vanish into thin air, that implies the other two are not really there by their own nature. In other words, we are really really really participants in this universe.

Meditation starts at: 12:14

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19 Settling the Mind in Its Natural State

B. Alan Wallace, 12 Sep 2013

Dr. Wallace makes a presentation on the four sequential modes of mindfulness as one evolves on the path of Shamata: (a) Single pointed mindfulness, (b) Manifest mindfulness, (c) Absence of mindfulness and (d) Self illuminating mindfulness.
At the end of the meditation, Dr. Wallace answers to two questions regarding to the job description of the Buddhas, what they actually do.

Meditation starts at: 20:22

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20 Settling the Mind in Its Natural State and Unborn Awareness

B. Alan Wallace, 13 Sep 2013

The guided meditation is settling the mind in its natural state. Before this meditation starts, Dr. Wallace points out the two types of vividness (qualitative and temporal) and the continuity of stability.
After the meditation, we go back to the Seven Point Mind Training. The aphorism “Examine the unborn nature of awareness” is discussed.
From the Pali perspective, Dr. Wallace talks about the issue of the culmination of the path (realisation of Nirvana) for an arhat.
Next, some quotes from Mahayana Sutras, including one by Nagarjuna.
Finally we go into Dzogchen perspective in which a section of the Vajra Essence from Dudjom Lingpa is quoted.

Meditation starts at: 5:56

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21 Settling the mind in its natural state and gentle vase breathing

B. Alan Wallace, 14 Sep 2013

Today is the last day in the cycle of settling the mind in its natural state. Before the practice, Alan introduces one complimentary practice called gentle vase breathing to be used along the settling the mind in its natural state practice. The purpose of it is to support the settling the mind in its natural state by allowing prana accumulated in the naval chakra to flow more easily and to further strengthen samadhi. Gentle vase breathing is meant for the upright sitting position and its function is to loosen up the belly while bringing in more spaciousness to the area. It also promotes deeper relaxation. To do so, we hold a pot-like shape of the belly during both the in- and out-breath. The practice is optional, meant to augment the settling the mind in its natural state, for those who find it beneficial. After the practice, Alan addresses two questions: one on the role of prayer and another on the possibility to develop samadhi while living a fully engaged life.

Meditation starts at: 8:57

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22 Settling the mind in its natural state and pristine awarness

B. Alan Wallace, 14 Sep 2013

Before the final (silent) meditation session on settling the mind in its natural state, Alan compares this mode of Shamatha with Vipassana (four applications of mindfulness). While settling the mind in its natural state has some resemblance of the Vipassana’s close application to the mind and both give rise to insight, what differentiates Vipassana from Shamtha is the degree of inquiry. In Shamatha, the main mode of meditation is simply placing attention on the chosen object (non-judgmentally). In Vipassana, on the other hand, it is close examination of the object. Hence, settling the mind in its natural state is a perfect preamble to Vipassana and a natural Segway toward it.

After the meditation, Alan gives his second commentary to the Atisha’s aphorism: “Examine the unborn nature of awareness.” Alan starts with a quote from Padmasabhava, who said that there is something called mind and different schools of thought point into the common reality, while calling it by different names and starting from a different conceptual framework and modes of investigation. Also, while all the schools have a different degree of insight into this reality, there is a degree of convergence as to the nature of reality they talk about. After that, Alan moves onto explaining the difference between the space of the mind, substrate consciousness, and pristine awareness (Rigpa, primordial consciousness, the ground of being). He also presents an overview of the modern science’s perspective on primordial consciousness, which is equated to the vacuum the universe is made of and shares similarities between Dzogchen teachings and the findings of quantum mechanics.

Meditation starts at: 10:11

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24 Shamatha Without a Sign

B. Alan Wallace, 16 Sep 2013

Alan continues “taking off another layer” and assisting us to overcome our addiction to doing and trying in this meditation. He gives an analogy of a car in neutral gear. Not going forward or backward but knowing it is running.

After the meditation talks about the difference between the Dzogchen meditation and Shamatha Without a Sign.

Moving to the text we examine the seven qualities of our own Rigpa, before moving on to Padmasambhava’s parable. This gives us an opportunity to consider a convergence between Buddhism and other contemplative traditions and modern science.

Meditation starts at: 24:23

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23 Shamatha Without a Sign

B. Alan Wallace, 16 Sep 2013

Alan introduces us to this practice also known as Awareness of Awareness, practiced by all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism by reading us Padmasambava’s Instructions. Here it is said the view arises from meditation rather than theory.

Additionally Alan answers four student questions:
-Has there been any research into the effects of meditation into other areas of the body for example the heart?
-Is doing a long term Shamatha retreat harder or easier with your partner? How do you deal with sexual desire?
-Why did Padmasambava’s instructions say practice for only one day?

Meditation starts at : 6:40

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25 Shamatha Without a Sign - Concentrating and Releasing

B. Alan Wallace, 17 Sep 2013

From Padmasambava – Natural Liberation
Place your mind in its natural state. Alternate between observing who is concentrating inwardly and who is releasing. What is the very agent that releases the mind and concentrates the mind? Steadily observe yourself, and then release again.
Eventually the relaxation and concentration move together, what do you do when it’s time to relax and you are already at your most relaxed? With the oscillation you are developing greater clarity and greater relaxation. When reach the point that this is as sharp as I can get and as relaxed, then stop the oscillation for the session.

Meditation starts at: 9:05

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26 Shamatha Without a Sign - Releasing the mind in a state of non-grasping

B. Alan Wallace, 17 Sep 2013

“The essential nature of the path is resting in the substrate” the ultimate substrate: the union of ultimate nature of reality (dharmata) and ultimate nature of the mind (citta).
Vajra Essence – Previously the intellect distinguished outer and inner and grasped to it as being distinct. Now settle into a nonconceptual state.
Discussion of Yogini Sera Khandro and her description of the four kinds of open presence. No benefit to sitting in open presence if don’t have the type of realizations described.

Meditation starts at: 0:00

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27 Shamatha Without a Sign - Padmasambhava instructions

B. Alan Wallace, 18 Sep 2013

Alan goes straight into the practice. He reads Padmasambhava’s instructions direct from text with a little commentary.

Alan gives Padmasambhava’s concluding paragraph, ‘summing it up’. He explains that next the text goes directly into Vipassana, dream yoga and Dzogchen (not discussed in this session). He reiterates the importance of Shamatha as a foundation to give stability to ‘breakthrough’ experiences one may have when receiving teachings from great masters.

Question re: the use of the eye mask for this practice.
Question re: inverting the mind back, as described in the 3rd Mindfulness - absence of mindfulness, in being similar to this practice.

Alan discusses how he submitted notes on ‘the illusions of knowledge in the mind sciences’ to a particular editor (not named), showing there is no compelling evidence at all of the materialistic equations of mind with brain, or compelling reason. An unfavourable response to it being published was received.

Meditation starts at: 00:34

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28 Shamatha Without a Sign and text, up to the end of Ultimate Bodhicitta

B. Alan Wallace, 18 Sep 2013

Alan goes straight into the meditation practice.

Alan states that ‘settling the mind in its natural state’ and ‘Shamatha without a sign’ are notorious for catalysing karma. Alan defines ‘nyam’ and obstacles. Alan states Dudjom Lingpa’s two approaches to nyam arising - to reify or to not grasp, and to use whatever understanding you have of emptiness.

Alan then gives commentary to the line in Atisha’s text ‘Between sessions act as illusory being’.

Alan talks on the impure and the pure illusory bodies. He then goes on to discuss Vajrayana practices of stage of generation and completion - the developmental approach, and the Dzogchen approach. One says you have Buddha nature, the other you are Buddha nature.

Alan describes what to rely on in your practice (what to take refuge in).

In between sessions act as if you are in a lucid dream. Dzogchen approach ‘all things appear, but are non-existent’. This is a dream. A radical shift in perspective.

Meditation starts at: 00:31

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29 Shamatha Without a Sign - Panchen Losang Chokyi Gyaltsen

B. Alan Wallace, 19 Sep 2013

Alan introduces a complementary approach to this practice, which is an ingenious integration between settling the mind in its natural state and shamatha without a sign. The root text is Panchen Losang Chokyi Gyaltsen’s union of the Gelugpa and Kagyu traditions of mahamudra. This is a wonderful approach specific to tradition, but if it does not fit you then that is no problem.

Of the two approaches, 1) seeking to meditate on the basis of the view and 2) seeking the view on the basis of meditation, this accords with the latter. The technique starts on a comfortable cushion, adopting the seven point vairochana posture and with the nine fold breathing clearing out stale vital energies. Then clearly distinguish between the radiant purity of awareness and its defilements and with a pristinely virtuous mind take refuge, generate bodhicitta and meditate on the profound path of guru yoga. After making supplication rest in unwavering meditative equipoise.

Meditation starts at: 28:45

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30 Tong Len practice and commentary

B. Alan Wallace, 19 Sep 2013

The classic, developmental approach is to alternate between ultimate and conventional bodhicitta. It is so important to balance the cultivation of ultimate truth with development of the heart. Another approach is to develop Shamatha, Vippassana, Trekcho (break through) and Togal (crossover). Where is the balance? If you realise rigpa- ultimate bodhicitta, then relative bodhicitta arises spontaneously.

Alan then talks on the classical approach to the realisation of emptiness and contrasts this with realising rigpa first before realising emptiness: like being in a dream and developing shamatha, vippassana and then post meditation seeing all appearances as dream like. Then you get pointing out instructions and realise that you are not even conventionally located there. Now viewing that dream from the perspective of one who is awake. But it can happen that there is a breakthrough right there, without a step by step sequence, in an instant. Like becoming lucid in a dream, realise rigpa and by the power of that, seeing all phenomena as empty.

Alan then runs through the cultivation of bodhicitta: Cultivate the four immeasurables and on the basis of that, cultivate great compassion. Great compassion goes beyond “may all be free of suffering and its causes” and includes an aspiration, an intent, a commitment that I shall see to it. But who is the referent, who took on this resolve? It only makes sense that it is on the basis of rigpa that this resolve is made. Then by being aware of the depth of suffering in the world and knowing that suffering is not inevitable, not necessary, wanting to bring each sentient being to liberation and awakening. How can this actually occur? Only if I completely unveil my Buddha nature, so all the wisdom compassion and power is manifested, and from that platform you can liberate and awaken all sentient beings. So that is bodhicitta. And this, only after having developed loving kindness and compassion - the essence of tong len practice.

Alan also answers questions on how Dujom Lingpa receives visions and also on finding authentic sangha when returning back home from retreat.

Meditation starts at: 1:15

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31 Shamatha Without a Sign

B. Alan Wallace, 19 Sep 2013

Dr. Wallace continues with the text from Panchen Lozang Chokyi Gyaltsen. He explains that the movement of awareness is caused by grasping. The object of mindfulness in this practice (awareness of awareness) is the cognisance and luminosity of awareness.
Two ways are explained to “deal” with thoughts coming up: a) cut them off immediately, and b) just let them be, without grasping. Three metaphors are given for these two methods.
After the guided meditation, Dr. Wallace goes into a question concerning two quotes from respectively Tsongkhapa and Padmasambhava.

Meditation starts at: 20:04

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32 Tong Len Practice and commentary

B. Alan Wallace, 20 Sep 2013

The session continues with the practice of Tong Len. Before the meditation, Dr. Wallace talks about related issues, such as the meaning of intent to other people with compassion and loving-kindness; does it affect the people we attend to?
After the guided meditation, Dr. Wallace addresses on the topic of compassion. In Psychology, compassion is regarded as an emotion, whereas in Buddhism it is an aspiration. He explains the difference between compassion and empathetic sadness. The question is raised on what comes from empathetic sadness: a) more sadness and despair, b) punishment/malice, or c) compassion.
It is emphasized that compassion is an aspiration venturing into the realm of possibilities. A sign that the cultivation of compassion is working is when any impulse for cruelty is subsiding.
Finally, a nice anecdote taking place in the surroundings of Dharamsala.

Meditation starts at: 27:26 min

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33 Shamatha without a sign

B. Alan Wallace, 21 Sep 2013

Today is the last day of the cycle of the Shamatha without a sign. Before the morning meditation, Alan reads instructions from Penchen Rinpoche, where he explains that whenever thoughts arise, when their nature is observed, they naturally disappear and a clear vacuity arises. So the technique to disperse the thoughts is to simply observe their nature (meaning: mental phenomena occurring in the space of the mind) when they arise. The goal is to view the mind as mind and to not mistake the appearances of mental phenomena for anything else; view thoughts as thoughts, mental events as mental events. By doing so, we disempower them and stop being victims of our thoughts (and other mental events). We need to become scientists of our minds: observe them, examine them, understand them. By doing so, we can realize both the empty nature of the mind and its luminosity. Both is stability and movement. Both the awareness and the space of the mind.

Meditation stars at: 24:10

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34 Tong Len practice and Loving-kindness commentary

B. Alan Wallace, 21 Sep 2013

We begin the afternoon session with Tonglen meditation. After the session, Alan explains the second component of Tonglen, which is loving-kindness. Alan explains how loving-kindness is often compared with love and how they are different in nature. While ordinary love is an emotion and often comes with associated attachment (to a person, animal or thing), loving-kindness is an aspiration and a heart-felt yearning for sentient beings (both those we feel affection towards and those we despise) that they find genuine happiness (its fruition) and causes of genuine happiness. Also, attachment looks only at the surface of the person and changes with changing circumstances and the person’s behavior. Loving-kindness, on the other hand, looks at a very deep substance of a person and is independent of circumstances and changes in the other person’s behavior or character. Later, Alan refers to the Pali canon to explain both the near and far enemies of loving-kindness. The near enemy is self-centered attachment and the far enemy is ill-will (malice). So, how one can know if his/her practice is successful? If loving-kindness is practiced correctly, malice subsides. Overall, Tonglen practice is really successful when one develops willingness to take on others’ suffering on oneself without regard for one’s own well-being (similar to a mother willing to take on her child’s suffering on herself). In the face of so much suffering present in the world nowadays and our limited ability to do something about it, Tonglen practice is often our best way to contribute to the world, and we don’t need to reserve the practice only to the time on the cushion but should extend it to our everyday activities and interactions with others.

Final note: the microphone gives out at the end, at which point Alan ends the session.

Meditation starts at: 00:40

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35 Merging the Mind with External Space

B. Alan Wallace, 22 Sep 2013

Alan introduces this last of four Shamata practices with concise instructions from two traditions. He then talks briefly on Tummo and Prana.

- How are imprints stored in the substrate consciousness?
- Where does the realisation of minor emptiness occur?
- Why did Atisha use the word Alaya?
- In which state can past life memory be accessed?

Alan expands on these questions sharing his vision of the Alaya project, scientific process and faith and ethnocentricity in relation to belief.

Meditation starts at: 10:28

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36 Three Objects: Three Poisons: Three Roots of Virtue

B. Alan Wallace, 23 Sep 2013

Alan explains equanimity and how we can use this Lo Jong text to transform each moment of our waking life into Dharma practice. He gives practical examples of how we can confront the afflictions of attachment, aversion and ignorance in our own minds recognising that they begin with us. He shows us how to use the combination of mindfulness and introspection relating this to our practice of Tonglen.

Question: What are imprints and how are they different to tendencies?

Meditation starts directly at the beginning of this session.

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37 Merging the Mind with External Space

B. Alan Wallace, 24 Sep 2013

Intent of Samantabhadra – Placement exam – different practices for those of superior, middling and inferior faculties. Those with supreme faculties hear teachings and experience the direct crossing over and become a vidyadhara. Those with middling and inferior faculties follow the 10 bhumis (grounds) and the 5 paths. Merge your mind with space and remain in equipoise for 20 days. Those with middling faculties will identify rigpa and become a vidyadhara. Those with inferior faculties practice shamatha, vipassana, breaking through, and crossing over.

Merging your mind with space – let awareness slip into space rather than taking space as an object. Release all grasping to your mind and even the bliss, luminosity and nonconceptuality of shamatha. Release everything on the out breath – designed to counter the tightness or wired feeling that can come with awareness of awareness.

Working hypothesis – right now we are in a non-lucid dream. What would be the most direct way to wake up? Don’t do anything that will reinforce yourself as a sentient being. Release all grasping.

Meditation starts at: 22:20

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38 Loving Kindness to Oneself

B. Alan Wallace, 24 Sep 2013

Discussion of Jesus taking on all the suffering and sins of others on the cross. Two views – Jesus suffering on the cross and Gnostic vision in which he is laughing and joyful. May both be true with suffering on the surface and beneath that resting in pristine awareness. St Francis – gave up everything to live in poverty and became very joyful.
Meditation – loving kindness to oneself. Taking all the darkness into your Buddha nature.

Discussion of the phrases – May the suffering and its causes of all sentient beings ripen upon me and may the causes of my wellbeing ripen upon all sentient beings. Developmental model.

Discovery model – going deep into one’s own awareness and discovering loving kindness. Tap into ultimate Bodhicitta and relative Bodhicitta comes out like a geyser.

Question: Practices were given for people of superior, middling and inferior faculties. What about those needing remedial help? Answer – go to taking the mind as the path and if still having problems than let your mind mount your breath and go to breathing practice.

Meditation starts at: 24:05

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39 Merging Mind with Space

B. Alan Wallace, 24 Sep 2013

The end of the explanation of shamatha without a sign by Padmasambava in the 14th century, the very last line is ‘bring your mind to space and leave it there’. Dujong Lingpa’s mind treasure in the 1860's picks up right where this left off, 5 centuries apart, ‘merge your mind with empty external space’.

Alan discusses the practice further so as to talk less through the meditation.

After the meditation, Alan reads a short passage from the Vajra Essence. Alan then discusses where shamatha practice and mahamudra practice intersect, where they are distinct practices from each other, and where confusion sometimes lies between the practices.

Meditation starts at: 12:31

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40 Tong Len Meditation and third point of Atisha's seven point mind training

B. Alan Wallace, 25 Sep 2013

Straight into Tong Len meditation.

Begin on the 3rd point of Atisha’s 7 point mind training.

A story about Dontonpa - ‘give up all attachment to this life, and make you mind Dharma’.

From the text ‘When the physical world and its sentient inhabitants are enslaved by vices, transform adversities into the path of spiritual awakening’. See adversity as fruition of past karma. Personal story about Tibetan refugee.

Geshe Chen-ngawa: If you have the will to practice in the face of physical and mental suffering, they become blessings from the objects of refuge; so apply all suffering to the two types of Bodhicitta. Something to cultivate with sincere, dedicated practice like His Holiness Dalai Lama.

The true enemies are self centredness and self grasping. Once identified they can be overcome. A strategy to overcome self centredness - not following the 8 mundane concerns (includes pursuit of wealth, power and fame).

Alan poses a question - Can we trust that their is some power in the universe that will bring us what we need if we don’t grasp after it with self cherishing?

The arhart the commits suicide as mentioned yesterday, do they have self centredness?

How does one display rainbow body?

Meditation starts at: 00:35

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41 Merging Mind with Space

B. Alan Wallace, 26 Sep 2013

Two points about this practice. Like riding a bicycle, once we are in the flow we don’t need to remember to push with our left left leg, then our right leg and so on. Similarly once we are in a steady state with this practice, release all recollection, in other words, release mindfulness (as it is understood in Buddhism). The second point is to see if we can be free of mental engagement as in 'now I am observing awareness, I got it, I got it" - just keep it simple.

Ordinarily mindfulness and mental engagement is how we know anything but for Shamatha practices, particularly Shamatha without a sign and merging mind with space, we are seeking to slip into a mode of knowing that is still alert but free of mindfulness and mental engagement.

After the meditation Alan quotes from several sources including the third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje and Dudjom Lingpa which relate Shamatha with the Four Yogas of Mahamudra and the five Mahayana paths. From these authentic sources Shamatha is also clearly defined so that we can “build and drive a VW bug and not call it anything that it is not, it’s a very good vehicle”.

Meditation starts at: 6:52

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42 Tong Len Meditation and Self Centeredness

B. Alan Wallace, 26 Sep 2013

Straight into meditation and then unpacking “Blame everything on one culprit” aphorism from the seven point mind training.

Here the one culprit is self grasping. There are two reasons we suffer, self cherishing and self centeredness (sometimes translated as self cherishing). Although we may overcome self grasping, self centeredness may come into one’s spiritual practice. The developmental approach to overcoming self centeredness is through being selective about which qualities of mind to cultivate and which to reject (not just foolishly accepting it all). Another approach, such as in settling the mind in its natural state, where we sustain an ongoing intelligent, discerning and alert flow of mindfulness and, not applying antidotes, thoughts release themselves.

So Lama Atisha is calling for a deepening of introspection beyond what we use in Shamatha (to detect laxity and excitement) to note when the impulse arises “me first”. Observe, recognise and investigate the toxicity of this impulse, and not to act on it.

Alan also answers a question on whether or not to continue an unhealthy relationship and how this relates to loving kindness and compassion.

Meditation starts at: immediately

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43 Merging the Mind with Space

B. Alan Wallace, 26 Sep 2013

We immediately go into the guided meditation. After the meditation, merging the mind with space, Alan shares and comments on various quotes from Asanga and Tsongkhapa on the implosion of the five senses while practicing Shamatha.
After that, he tells a story about a yogi and his attendant travelling from Kham to Lhasa, finallizing in an elaboration on why there are so few people realizing Shamatha in the world today.

Meditation starts at: immediately

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44 Tong Len Meditation and Mental Afflictions

B. Alan Wallace, 27 Sep 2013

The session starts with the Tong Len meditation. After the guided meditation, we go back to the aphorism “Blame everything on the culprit”, using a verse of Shantideva (chapter 4, verse 34 of the Bodhicaryavatara) and the story of Ben Gungyal, the leader of a gang in Kham.
Mental afflictions always point to other people than yourself. Alan tells about three remedies for when mental afflictions come up, as taught by Geshe Rabten: 1) apply antidotes, 2) settle the mind in its natural state, or 3) direct your attention to something else.
Next, Alan Talks about how Shamatha and Vipassana “deal” with the five obscurations. He also points out that when self grasping and self centeredness are diminishing, that is a sign that the practice is working.
Followed by a question on the four methods of Shamatha meditation: should we pick one out? or practice all of them?
Finally, don’t miss the story of Lobsang Tenzing!

Meditation starts at: immediately

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45 Merging mind with space and the importance of a genuine path (marga)

B. Alan Wallace, 28 Sep 2013

We start today’s morning session with the last (silent) meditation in the cycle of merging mind with space. After the meditation, Alan gives a big-picture context of the path (marga) in Mahayana Buddhism, namely in Mahamudra and Dzogchen. By elaborating on the steps and stages of each path, Alan makes it clear - once again - how Shamatha is an indispensable step if one aspires to cultivate genuine realizations on his/her path. He also points out how often unskilled teachings/teachers can confuse the qualities of Shamatha practice with much higher realizations and when this happens, the practitioner not only does not progress on his/her path but is also deluded regrading the realizations, which is the danger of inauthentic teachings. Hence, one should not abandon the ground practices of Shamatha and other preliminaries (Tong Len, Lam Rim, etc.) before venturing out into more esoteric practices.

Meditation (left in so you can practice along with us) starts at: 02:00

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46 Tong Len practice and kindness of difficult people

B. Alan Wallace, 28 Sep 2013

We begin the evening session with the practice of Tong Len, focusing on gratitude towards all those people in our lives who enabled our physical survival, then those who helped us on our spiritual path, and finally on all the difficult people we encountered in our lives who catalyzed our mental afflictions and, hence, provided us an opportunity to see the afflictions and realize their impact. The practice of seeing kindness in difficult people is not to become ignorant, but to see beyond their vices and appreciate the opportunity to observe your own afflictions manifesting and to practice applying antidotes. In fact, without adversities, there would be no motivation to pursue a spiritual path. Therefore, we need to be equally grateful for kindness coming from difficult people as we are for that coming from kind/pleasant people. After the meditation, Alan continues the topic started in the morning, explaining the four yogas of the Mahamudra path and how they correspond to the bodhisattva path, namely: the yoga of one-pointedness, yoga of simplicity, yoga of one-taste, and yoga of non-meditation.

Meditation starts at: 00:30

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47 Return to Mindfulness of Breathing and Excitation

B. Alan Wallace, 29 Sep 2013

We return to Mindfulness of Breathing after Alan cautions us to avoid putting pressure on ourselves to try harder. Relaxing rather than pushing down is prescribed and Alan suggests the infirmary or mindful walking. He goes on to say that at this stage of our practice we are working with the imbalance of coarse excitation, where the mind is like a cascading waterfall. He guides us to see this as a successful experience at stage one and to have realistic expectations of the path.

Meditation starts at: 6:42

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48 The Intersection of Emptiness and Lojong

B. Alan Wallace, 30 Sep 2013

Here we look at how an understanding of emptiness informs the Lojong teachings with a meditation asking questions designed to help us understand the origin, location and destination of the mind. Knowing this gives us different perspectives to view the world and Alan lays out options comparing theistic, materialistic and Buddhist views. We then look at how karma and emptiness sit together to explain our common and unique experiences.

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49 Mindfulness of breathing - rise and fall of the breath at the abdomen

B. Alan Wallace, 01 Oct 2013

We go right into meditation on the rise and fall of the breath at the abdomen. Burmese method to stabilize the mind.

Stage 2 of Shamatha is reached when you can stabilize your mind for up to a minute at a time. Alan discusses how to use the 9 stages of Shamatha – as sign posts, not as goals. If you set as goals then turn the 9 stages into poison. Achieve this stage by the power of thinking such as counting the breaths. Most of the time your attention is not on the object. This is to be expected. In between sessions maintain mindfulness.

Meditation was silent and so not recorded.

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50 Three spaces meditation

B. Alan Wallace, 01 Oct 2013

Alan starts the session by describing his first interview with His Holiness on the topic of pride in one’s dharma knowledge.

Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche presented three approaches to learning and practicing dharma. The first is to study a great deal like eating a banquet. The second is to really focus on a few texts and the third is to receive quintessential teachings from a qualified lama. All of them fill you up.

You can come to meditation by way of the view or come to the view by way of the meditation.

The Three spaces meditation – First rest awareness in outer space, then rest in inner space and then rest in the non-duality of inner and outer space.

By meditating on delusive appearance as the four Kayas, emptiness is the unsurpassed protection. Alan provides an explanation of this statement.

Meditation starts at: 16:34

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51 Mindfulness of Breathing

B. Alan Wallace, 01 Oct 2013

Alan discusses the Theravada classical approach of attending to the sensations and the tip of the nostrils, as described by Buddhagosa. Although the Buddha did not teach this specific technique, we can have confidence in the Sangha who have practiced it and learn from them too. Alan emphasises the need to not create tension in the face when doing this practice.

Alan talks about the acquired sign and the counterpart sign.

Alan outlines the characteristics of the 3rd of the 9 stages of shamatha - resurgent attention or ‘patch like’ attention.

Meditation starts at: Silent session at 13:45. Alan advised not to record.

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52 Seven Point Mind Training - four kayas and meditation on inner and outer space of mind

B. Alan Wallace, 02 Oct 2013

Line from Seven Point Mind Training - ‘By meditating on delusive appearances as the four kayas, emptiness is the unsurpassed protection’.

Alan gives an analogy of lucid dreaming and the ‘waking state’ to refer to the way inner and outer space is perceived and how they can be non-dual.

Alan explains how to transmute equally all that comes up, whether we are in a spa or if people treat us badly. It is easy to practice Dharama in the ‘spa’ but you know how you are doing (with your practice) when you come up against difficulties.

Alan quotes from a Guide to the Bodhisattvas Way of Life - ‘There is nothing that does not become easier with familiarisation’. Start by giving special attention to the small things that irritate you and release all resistance and let it be. Then you can work up to bigger irritations.

You can view enemies, illness and mental afflictions as opportunities for growth.

Qu: Metaphor of an arhart and a Buddha in the context of a lucid dream.

Qu: Regarding awareness of awareness practice and the role of discrimination and free will.

Qu: Regarding where mental afflictions come from.

Meditation starts at: 21:02

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53 Mindfulness of Breathing: Asanga's method

B. Alan Wallace, 02 Oct 2013

As in the three fold space meditation, where we are trying to view space from the perspective of rigpa, here in Asanga’s method we are trying to attend to the object from the perspective of the substrate. The substrate illuminates but does not enter into the object - no grasping. So we attend to the tactile field and within that field the sensations of the flow of prana correlated with the breath but without grasping. Alan also explains stage four of the nine attentional states leading to Shamatha. Here coarse excitation has stopped but the problems of medium excitation and coarse laxity are present.

Meditation starts at: A silent meditation session at 5:58, not recorded.

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54 Three spaces meditation and the four practices

B. Alan Wallace, 03 Oct 2013

Again returning to the three space meditation, this time front loaded with a readings from the Bāhiya Sutta and instruction from Sera Khandro Dewé Dorje, an accomplished yogini. Also references to the heart sutra - giving a range of ways to connect with this practice.

Post meditation: Returning to the seven point mind training text and the next aphorism, “The best strategy is to have four practices.” This refers to 1) accumulate merit 2) purify vices 3) make offerings to spirits. Looking back at Thomas Sprat’s “History of Royal Society” in 1667 and what was occurring in Europe at the time, Alan talks at length about how it came about that science does not study spirits, even though scientific enquiry is meant to be open minded. Alan also shows Newton’s influence on the view that we are internally filled with demons, the basis of modern psychiatry.

Meditation starts at: A silent meditation session not recorded. Begins at 35.48

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55 Mindfulness of Breathing

B. Alan Wallace, 03 Oct 2013

The morning session starts with a footnote on the subject of yesterday’s evening session, i.e. spirits. Then we continue with a silent meditation on mindfulness of breathing (not recorded). After the meditation, stage five of the Shamatha path is commented: tamed attention. Special attention is given to the quality of vividness.
Finally, Alan answers a question about the relevance of the nine stages in relation with awareness of awareness.

Meditation starts at: Not recorded (Mindfulness of Breathing on silent mode)

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56 Continuation of commentary of "Scientific View" from 17th Century (Thomas Sprat) to nowadays

B. Alan Wallace, 04 Oct 2013

After el short introduction, we go into a silent meditation session on the three spaces.
Right after the meditation, we go back to the theme of the “spirits”. Alan talks about how scientific studies, from halfway through the 17th century up until now, have “dealt” with both internal and external spirits. He points out that a contemplative inquiry has been more and more ignored over this period, which ultimately yields a disenchanted Universe.
At the end of the session, we go into the subject of spirits again, this time from Dzogchen perspective, quoting the Vajra Essence from Dudjom Lingpa.
Finally, a story about spirits and nuns near the cave of Tilopa.

Meditation starts at: Not recorded (silent meditation on the three spaces)

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57 Mindfulness of breathing and the sixth stage ofthe Shamatha path

B. Alan Wallace, 05 Oct 2013

The morning session starts with a silent meditation on mindfulness of breathing of our preferred mode (not recorded). After the meditation, stage six of the Shamatha path is commented, which is: pacified attention. What is achieved in this stage is that one no longer experiences any resistance to training attention (as opposed to as it was in the fifth stage and its biggest obstacle). This stage is achieved by the power of introspection. The problems that occur in this stage are: desire, lethargy, depression and multiple possible psycho-somatic side effects. They all are the result of dredging the psyche, which is a desirable effect, and are a sign of progressing on the path, so one should not be discouraged by them, especially since they are transient and eventually will give way to the next, more blissful stage of Shamatha.

Meditation starts at: Not recorded (silent meditation on mindfulness of breathing)

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58 Tong Len meditation and The Seven Point Mind Training

B. Alan Wallace, 05 Oct 2013

We begin the evening session with a silent Tong Len meditation by focusing on a person, group of people, or other sentient beings - those who come to mind. The session is briefly introduced by Alan right before. After the meditation, we go back to the explanation of the sixth stage of Shamatha path and the wide range of experiences that might occur as a result of dredging up the psyche and the importance of seeing them simply as appearances to the mind: see them for what they are. After that, we move onto the last of the four practices to purify karma of the Seven Point Mind Training, which is: make offerings to Dharma Protectors. Alan explains that if one is not sure who his/her Dharma protector is, the best method is to see Buddha Shakyamuni as the Dharma protector and make offerings to him, as suggested by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. We end the session by Alan answering three questions from the retreatants.

Meditation starts at: 5:20 (silent meditation; not recorded)

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59 Return to Settling the Mind

B. Alan Wallace, 06 Oct 2013

We return to this practice also known as Appearances and Awareness as the Path. Alan reminds us to examine the essential nature of the thought arising rather than the content or referent and discusses stillness and motion as the type of mindfulness we are working with here.

Next we look into stage seven of the Shamatha Path: Fully Pacified Attention. Alan relates this to the five paths and ten stages.

Meditation starts at:11:35 (silent meditation not recorded)

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60 Whatever you encounter immediately apply it to meditation

B. Alan Wallace, 07 Oct 2013

Here Alan continues the Lojong text and addresses how we can eliminate the tug of war between dharma and our everyday life by transforming everything into dharma. We look at different ways of viewing adversity - external and internal - in terms of our hedonic and eudonameic happiness.

Alan then looks at the difference between hope and aspiration before moving on to talk about transformation at a psychological level and an ultimate level.

Meditation starts at: Silent meditation not recorded at the start of the session.

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61 Settling the mind in its natural state

B. Alan Wallace, 08 Oct 2013

What makes us so vulnerable to suffering? We identify so closely with the body and mind. This meditation starts to put some distance as you roll back from the environment, roll back from your body and attend to the mind without fusing with it.

Meditation – Focus on the space of the mind and observe when it is still and when there is motion. When there is motion there is grasping.

Alan describes stage eight of the shamatha path – Single-pointed Attention.

Silent meditation (not recorded) was “front loaded” at the start of the session.

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62 Meditation uniting ultimate and relative Bodhicitta

B. Alan Wallace, 08 Oct 2013

Meditate for half the session on shamatha without a sign – probing right into where you think the observer is – this can lead to ultimate Bodhicitta. Spend the second half of the session on Tonglen, relative Bodhicitta.
Alan provides commentary on the line from 7 point mind training – “Whatever you encounter, immediately apply it to meditation.

Description of the five powers: resolution, familiarization, positive seeds, revulsion and prayer. Under power of prayer, given the law of karma, what can the Buddha’s do?

Silent meditation (not recorded) was “front loaded” at the start of the session.

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63 Settling the mind in its natural state and the 9 stage of shamatha

B. Alan Wallace, 08 Oct 2013

Focus simply on the observation of the so call objective appearances that appear in the space of the mind.

When we have difficulty doing this practice, the way to counter is to learn to relax more. OUr prana systems are so wired.

We can also request the blessings of the guru as explained earlier. Alan discusses the so called placebo effect with respect to trust.

After the silent meditation Alan goes on to explain the 9th stage prior to achieving shamatha - attentional balance.

Silent meditation at 14:17 (not recorded) was “front loaded” at the start of the session.

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64 Ultimate and Relative Bodhicitta meditation and the 'power of prayer' from the text

B. Alan Wallace, 09 Oct 2013

Silent meditation on relative and ultimate Bodhicitta (not recorded) at 6:08.

Fourth point of the text ‘To synthesise the essence of this practical guidance, apply yourself to the five powers’, the last of which is the power of prayer.

Alan discusses the last 150 years of the ‘dark age’ of scientific materialism. This is the view of the 21st century that is important to understand to relate to the world in which we live.

Much of science hinges on the causality being closed, and the conservation of energy principle. Modern physics has demonstrated that it is not closed and is regularly violated. It is therefore possible for non-physical influence. This principle hasn’t carried over to other sciences.

Alan discusses the expansion of the universe (energy) and the orderly nature of the universe (matter). 96% of mass and energy is unaccounted for in science - dark matter/ energy.

Alan discusses the placebo effect which is basically - if you believe it, it will happen. Part information and part causal efficacy.

Alan discusses how scientist don’t believe in anything until there is sufficient evidence - the current view. Alan demonstrates how scientific greats of the past did not hold this view.

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65 Settling the mind in its natural state and achieving Shamatha

B. Alan Wallace, 09 Oct 2013

We revisit an important facet of settling the mind in its natural state: to observe not so much the objective appearances to the mind, but the subjective impulses to the mind. This is not as easy as we only become aware after it occurred. But we can observe them and not identifying with them. There are three points: 1) The importance of this practice cannot be over emphasised, we can’t just wish for no mental afflictions and apart from arharts, everyone has them. Now we have the great fortune to see mental afflictions as mental afflictions which is so beneficial. As we do not identify with them, the little violence in our minds does not spew out onto those around you. 2) This is a path of self knowledge, it’s the wrong path if you want to have one pleasant hedonic day after another, release the hedonic evaluation of a good session or a bad session, the proof of the practitioner is how one responds to the various disturbances that occur. Go through the experience, not take a detour around it. Don’t identify with it and keep going anyway. We are not going into some fantasy realm, we are seeing what is happening here and now and getting real, removing the conceptual overlay. 3) Enter the practice by relaxing, being kind gentle and patient, seeking to cultivate genuine happiness. Then as you come off the cushion this sense of loving kindness is brought to the world.

After the meditation Alan talks about achieving Shamatha and what one experiences at the time.

Meditation starts at: A silent meditation session, not recorded. Starts at 25:20

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66 Ultimate and Relative Bodhicitta meditation and scientific evidence

B. Alan Wallace, 10 Oct 2013

Silent meditation session and then a continuation of yesterday’s theme related to the ‘power of prayer’. “We don’t believe in anything without sufficient evidence”. That’s the creed of scientists and so called skeptics alike, but in practice they don’t follow it. Newton believed he could find the philosopher’s stone, Miller believed he could create life from inorganic compounds and neuroscientists believe that the mind is the brain. What is merely belief is presented as evidence with great authority. But what is evidence? Look closely at the groups that claim to hold evidence as their guiding principal and what is seen is a definition which completely rejects the experience of those outside the narrow trench of power, prestige and wealth they continue to occupy and deepen. It is to say, you as a non-scientist don’t count and we will tell you what counts. A complete disregard for subjective experience. We see this in philosophers, religious scholars, psychologists, astronomers, neuroscientists, these people are dominating academia, the media, the government, it is catastrophic. If this view continues, as Max Planck has said, "after its victory not only all the most precious treasures of our culture would vanish, but – which is even worse – also any prospects at a better future.”

Meditation starts at: A silent meditation session, not recorded. Starts at 00:50

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67 Settling the Mind in Its Natural State

B. Alan Wallace, 10 Oct 2013

Before the meditation, Dr. Wallace starts with a prelude to the meditation of settling the mind in its natural state. The focus should now be on the ongoing flow of mindfulness, whether thoughts and images arise or not. Special attention for “what’s there” when there are no thoughts.
After the silent meditation, Dr. Wallace comments on various quotes of great masters form Theravada, Sanskrit and Tibetan traditions on “what it is to rest in Shamatha”.

Meditation starts at: silent meditation (not recorded) starts at 09:04 min.

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68 The Positive and Negative Aspects of Modern Science and the Future of Contemplative Inquiry in All Religions

B. Alan Wallace, 11 Oct 2013

Before the guided meditation, Dr. Wallace comments on Malala, a 16 year old girl from Pakistan, who currently fights for the right of education for women amidst Taliban death threats against her.
After the meditation, we pick up where we left yesterday. In the last 150 years, the growth of knowledge coming from science is unprecedented. However, at the same time, the last 150 years have also lead to severe damage of the environment, destruction of an increasing number of species, and man’s inhumanity to mankind. So, there is a huge asymmetry in the growth of scientific knowledge.
Next, Alan goes into the view of William James, who points out the different roles of faith in respectively the realm of actuality and the realm of possibilities. Examples are given of this condition, like the “placebo effect” and achieving Shamatha.
Subsequently, Alan sketches the vision of William James, on how one could establish a science of mental phenomena. This asks for an open attitude and full empiricism (contrary to Occam’s razor).
A very important tool for establishing a meaningful science of mental phenomena is introspection.
In the same way, an open attitude using empiricism could also launch a science of religious experiences. This would ask for a first person experience approach.

Meditation starts at: 5:54 min.

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69 Settling the mind in its natural state

B. Alan Wallace, 12 Oct 2013

This morning we start with the last session in the second cycle of settling the mind in its natural state. Alan gives a short preamble before we go into a silent meditation emphasizing the utter simplicity of the practice and its very nature of presence and stillness. Alan also talks about how this stillness and presence can be applied to a more engaged way of living once we come out of the retreat. After the meditation, we go onto discussing the post-meditative effects of achieving Shamatha, from its impact on one’s mind, body, and prana to its enabling one to enter the path of Vipassana and other higher realizations. Alan stresses that achieving Shamatha creates a deep state shift in once’s body-mind (shift in the entire way of being), which is a state of profound well-being and functionality.

Meditation starts at: 8:23 (silent, not recorded)

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70 Practice of the stage of generation of Avalokiteshvara

B. Alan Wallace, 12 Oct 2013

Today’s evening session begins with the continuation of the discussion on the power of prayer and blessings. Alan gives a few examples of how blessings work and their possible bandwidth and draws analogies with the so-called placebo effect. After that, we move onto a beautiful practice of the stage of generation of Avalokiteshvara - the embodiment of compassion. The practice is based on a text titled “A spacious path to freedom” by Karma Chagme (which Alan translated) and the sadhana from the text together with its commentary will be made available to listeners of the podcast via the SBI website. Alan explains that this practice is part of public Dharma, which means that it can be done without an empowerment and/or oral transition, unlike other deity practices that do require an empowerment. In fact, it is highly recommended by Karma Chagme to begin one’s daily practice with it as a means of obtaining blessings for the rest of the practice of meditation. First Alan explains the sadhana in detail and then we have a guided meditation. After this beautiful meditation, we continue discussing the four practices of the Seven Point Mind Training and the aphorism: “do not rely on the individual, rely on the Dharma; do not rely on the words, rely on the meaning; do not rely on the provisional meaning, rely on the definitive meaning.” Alan also stresses the importance and meaning of a genuine teacher and the possibility of receiving blessings form one.

Meditation starts at: 37:58

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71 Return to Awarness of Awareness or Shamatha Without a Sign

B. Alan Wallace, 13 Oct 2013

Alan front loads this session by looking at the difference between this practice and Dzogchen - grasping - and looks at how practice is ideally couched in a supportive way of life. After the meditation session Alan shares with us Atisha’s list of complete conditions for achieving Shamatha, starting with the outer conditions. This takes us naturally to discussion of the contemplative observatory.

Meditation starts at: 15:30 (silent meditation)

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72 The Mahayana teaching on transferring consciousness is precisely these five powers...

B. Alan Wallace, 14 Oct 2013

Alan again front loads the meditation by comparing Atisha’s Lam Rim texts and Seven Point Mind Training text and the role of discursive meditation in both. We can be encouraged that although Ultimate and Relative Bodichitta might seem high and complex ideals we have already begun training our minds in each of these with our range of meditations.

After the meditation, Alan begins to unpack the next aphorism taking the advice from living well to dying well. He shares advice on preparing for death, propulsive karma, the bardo and rebirth.

Meditation starts at: 28:40 (silent meditation)

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73 Awareness of awareness

B. Alan Wallace, 15 Oct 2013

We lock onto an object, reify it and then attachment or aversion arises. The discovery model allows the mind to heal itself by doing nothing but maintaining cognizance.

Discussion of blessings arising from Buddha nature.

Meditation – Rest for a while without grasping. As the clarity and warmth of awareness becomes really obvious then explicitly attend to it.

Discussion of the five inner qualities necessary for long term shamatha retreat.

Meditation starts at: 18:15 (silent, front loaded at start of session)

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74 Ultimate and relative Bodhicitta

B. Alan Wallace, 15 Oct 2013

Meditation – continue as described yesterday with one meditation on ultimate Bodhicitta and one on relative Bodhicitta.

Continuation of the discussion on transmuting the death process. If have habitual practice of converting adversity into the path then when the final adversity of death arises you will be able to convert that.

During the dying process go back and forth between the meditations on ultimate and relative Bodhicitta.

Discussion of dream yoga as best preparation for the bardo of becoming. Importance of not identifying with body or mind but staying with awareness.

How do you know when your dharma practice is working? When self-grasping gets softer – less frequent and less intense.

Is rigpa an individual mind or part of a larger universal mind?
Why are there four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism and what are the differences?
Many of the great yogis had families – how were they able to do both?
When you were explaining the 9 stages of shamatha, does it only apply to the practice settling the mind in its natural state?

Meditation starts at: 3:10 (silent, front loaded at start of session)

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75 Shamatha without a sign

B. Alan Wallace, 15 Oct 2013

For the practices of awareness of awareness, Alan begins by saying to release your awareness into space with no object, then let awareness of beginning ware be most explicit. Then begin the oscillation.

Meditation starts at: 8:30 (silent, front loaded at start of session)

Alan discusses the inner and outer mandala - the inner and outer conditions for retreat.

Alan quotes and gives commentary from Atisha’s lam rim - ‘A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment’.

The quotes are: ‘Just as a bird without developed wings cannot fly in the sky, those without the power of extrasensory perception cannot work for the good of living beings.’

‘Without the achievement of shamatha, extrasensory perception will not arise. Therefore, make repeated effort. If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up.’

‘When a contemplative has achieved shamatha extra sensory perception will also be realised but if one does not cultivate the perfection of wisdom, ones obscurations will not come to an end.’

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76 Ultimate and Relative Bodhicitta and the fifth point from Atisha's text, 7 Point Mind Training

B. Alan Wallace, 16 Oct 2013

Before the meditation Alan discusses from which perspective you can do the tong-len practice - from your ordinary self or from the platform of Avolokishrvara.

Alan explains how shamatha can be developed in the context of stage of generation practice.

After the meditation Alan continues with the fifth point of the text - ‘The whole of Dharma is synthesised in one aim’. Self grasping is not steady, constant. If we can recognise how frequently and robustly they come up and look for triggers, we can transform to give a deeper insight. Once we release self-grasping, we have the opportunity to begin to realise our actual nature - primordial awareness.

The next line of the text - ‘Attend to the chief of two witnesses’. Others may praise you as an exemplar Dharma practitioner, but they are not the chief witnesses, for they see only small portions of your overall behaviour, and they do not fathom the depths of your heart and mind. Distinguish between mundane concern over “what the neighbours think” and meaningful regard for others.

The next line of the text - Constantly resort to a sense of good cheer'. Good cheer from the centre of your mandala. As you become more clear, mature in Dharma practice, then you experience more sense that the blessings are continuous. Then you always have a sense of good cheer.

Meditation starts at: 16:09 (silent, front loaded at start of session)

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77 Shamatha without a sign

B. Alan Wallace, 16 Oct 2013

From the substrate, which is in the nature of delusion, a stirring of karmic energies eventually leads to the full elaboration of conceptual designation, everything crystallising in its place with its defined borders. In this practice we are trying to roll this back by oscillating between inquiry (who is the agent) and relaxation. All actions performed out of a reified sense of I only perpetuate samsara even though they might be virtuous. For this not to be the case, actions must be grounded in reality. So as to not perpetuate samsara, this practice is battling the sense of I in the desire realm and dissolving to the substrate consciousness, where the I is dormant. Once the sense of I is dormant this naturally brings forth bliss and if we can release even that, then we break through to rigpa where all actions are spontaneous, unimpeded and effortless. Post meditation Alan talks relates the significance of Shamatha on the Śrāvakayāna paths.
Meditation starts at: (silent, front loaded at start of session to 19:40)

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78 Ultimate and Relative Bodichitta and the sixth point from Seven Point Mind Training

B. Alan Wallace, 17 Oct 2013

The two bodhicittas may seem incompatible, if there is not someone really there, then how to feel compassion? From the other side, when seeing someone in anguish, it seems so real. This is falling to the extremes of nihilism and substantialism, as we deepen the practice the two enhance each other. From ultimate bodhicitta, we realise the lack of inherent nature, so self centeredness seems silly. From conventional bodhicitta, always attending to others, we come to see that we only arise in dependence on others, this is not just a play on words but literally true.

Post meditation: The sixth point of the mind training text, now focusing on lifestyle- the pledges you are making to yourself in order to guard, nurture and sustain the core: ultimate and relative bodhicitta, because that is what will liberate you. This is where prospective mindfulness comes in - bearing something in mind. ‘Always practice the three principles’.

Meditation starts at: 35.05 (silent, front loaded at start of session)

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79 Shamatha Without a Sign

B. Alan Wallace, 17 Oct 2013

The session starts with a short explanation of today’s meditation (silent meditation, not recorded), a variation of Shamatha without a sign as taught by Padmasambhava.
After the meditation, Alan talks about the significance of Shamatha on the Path and how to deal with all the suffering of which we become more and more aware as we expand our awareness. Alan emphasizes the importance of Shamatha as a platform/base camp for Vipassana and Bodichitta. Furthermore, it is the union of Shamatha and Vipassana, which leads to the culmination of the six perfections.

Meditation starts at: 06:46 (silent meditation, not recorded)

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80 Shamatha Without a Sign, Lucid Dreaming and The Pledges of the Seven Point Mind Training

B. Alan Wallace, 18 Oct 2013

The session starts with a silent meditation on the two Bodhichittas. After the meditation, Alan talks about ultimate and relative bodhichitta and their connection.
Next, we go to the subject of lucid dreaming: 1) waking induced lucid dream, 2) dreaming induced lucid dream, and 3) state check and prospective memory/mindfulness.
Then the Lojong is further discussed: the pledges of the mind training. Alan comments on the aphorisms “Do not speak of others’ limitations” and “Do not stand in judgement of others”. In the context of the latter aphorism, the guru-disciple relation is also paid attention to.
Finally, some nice stories you don’t want to miss!

Meditation starts at: silent meditation, not recorded

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81 Shamatha without a sign

B. Alan Wallace, 20 Oct 2013

This morning we have our last silent meditation in the second cycle of Shamatha without a sign. Alan gives a short preamble, stressing the importance of having contentment in once’s practice: knowing right in the moment of the practice that one does it correctly and taking satisfaction in it. Also, having deep faith that one can, in fact, achieve Shamatha is indispensable for progressing along the path as hoping, doubting, fearing, aspiring, and giving up can diminish one’s progress. It is crucial, also, that one has a deep conviction that the time spent on the cushion is, for the time being, the most meaningful thing once can do. After the meditation, we go back to finishing the topic of stages of the path to Shamatha. Alan begin by Garchen Rinpoche’s quote who said that the reason why many well-aspiring practitioners don’t see the results they would like to see is that they lack faith in themselves. Hence, one has to have not only faith in the practices themselves and their source but also in oneself and the power within that is capable of bringing about profound transformation. Afire that we go onto the Vajra Essence text where Padmasambhava by way of Dujong Lingpa summarizes the path of Shamatha and its effects possible through the power of familiarization. The text also points out how important the many turbulent struggles along the path (nyam) are and how they are signs of progress, and finally, how they can be transformed into wisdom of realizing emptiness and stability, and eventually: primordial consciousness.

Meditation starts at: 7:29 (silent, not recorded)

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82 Meditation on two bodhicittas and Pledges of the Seven Point Mind Training

B. Alan Wallace, 20 Oct 2013

Tonight we return to the meditation on the two bodhicittas. Before the silent meditation, Alan give a short preamble on the importance of motivation for one’s practice. Once one engages in any virtuous practice such as meditation, charity work or any other type of work for others, one accumulates merit. But how this merit will manifest will depend on the motivation that lead to the practice. If the motivation is mundane, one can possibly enjoy a prosperous next lifetime, but this merit would be then used in that lifetime as well and will not continue from lifetime to lifetime. On the other hand, if one is propelled by genuine bodhicitta, such motivation and merits accumulated by it will continue from lifetime to lifetime, eventually leading to perfect fruition. The key to remember here is that merit (like karma) can be accumulated but it can also be lost or burned. Hence, one should always check on his/her motivation. Ask yourself a question: what is it that you really want? And as motivation can change or weaken over time, one should make sure to keep checking this motivation and its sincerity. Alan concludes by saying that investing in the motivation of genuine bodhicitta is like investing in a secure, long-term, inexhaustible investment. After the meditation, we go back to the Seven Point Mind Training and the last six pledges, which are tools to protect one’s Dharma practice. At the end, Alan answers one participant’s question on how to handle abusive people. Shall we be doormats or how do we respond if someone is abusing us. Alan explains how settling the mind in its natural state can be helpful in such situations to distinguish between wholesome and unwholesome impulses arising in oneself and how to skilfully chose the most appropriate response.

Technical note: the older computer here snagged, and 2-3 minutes of the lecture were unfortunately lost. Apologies.

Meditation starts at: 24:33 (silent, not recorded)

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83 Return to Merging the Mind with Space

B. Alan Wallace, 20 Oct 2013

In this short session Alan front loads our week of meditation practice speaking of how we can rollback the layers of conceptual overlay to conceptual and then primal mentation - the first raw sense of presence different from space. This too can be melted away to the substrate consciousness.

Meditation starts at: 10:15 (silent, not recorded)

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84 The Practices of Seven Point Mind Training

B. Alan Wallace, 21 Oct 2013

Tonight the meditation is front loaded by looking at two ways we can view the adversity that will no doubt effect us and those we see as belonging to us. Firstly, non lucidly with relative bodhichitta which still has an element of self centeredness, or secondly with ultimate bodhichitta, the view from the bardo, from emptiness or from rigpa.

After the meditation we move on to the practices of Seven Point Mind Training which look at the constructive things we can do to support our ongoing dharma practice. Here Alan focuses particularly on the practice of setting a motivation of Bodhichitta and dedicating.


How can we help some one in the throws of anger?

Do we have to believe every sentient being has been our mother to practice Bodhichitta?

Clarification about the practice of Merging Mind With Space.

Meditation starts at: 19:40 (silent, not recorded)

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85 Merging the mind with space

B. Alan Wallace, 22 Oct 2013

As you merge the mind with space, maintain a flow of knowing of the sheer absence of thought. It is a knowing of emptiness that can lead to an open expanse.

Meditation starts at: 6:40 (silent, not recorded)

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86 Aspirational Meditation

B. Alan Wallace, 22 Oct 2013

Alan begins with two quotes from William James regarding aspiration.

The guided meditation is on developing your personal aspirations and the causes to fulfill them.
Discussion of Aspiring Bodhicitta and engaging Bodhicitta. Within engaging Bodhicitta, shepherd like Bodhicitta, Navigating Bodhicitta, and King like Bodhicitta.

Alan continues with the 7th point of the Seven Point mind training.

Meditation starts at: 9:23

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87 Merging Mind with Space

B. Alan Wallace, 22 Oct 2013

This practice is a variation for shamatha without a sign.

The method this morning being balancing earth with sky: shamatha with support, with quasi support and without support.

Alan taught more on what rigpa is (and what it is not) and on the analogies with dream yoga.

Meditation starts at: 13:18 (silent, not recorded)

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88 Ultimate and Relative Bodhicitta Meditation and the Seventh Point from Seven Point Mind Training

B. Alan Wallace, 23 Oct 2013

From the seventh point of Atisha’s mind training: ‘Adopt the three principle causes’

These causes are:
1. Following a qualified mentor
- Alan told the story of the first person to encounter the Buddha.
- Alan taught that we should see through the person and not reify them (or ourselves). Seeing all teachers equally whether it be as a emissary of the Budhha, like a Buddha or as a Buddha.
- If there is one with an inner heart connection, a root guru, see that guru in the centre and other teachers as emanations of that one.

2. Devoting ourselves to all stages of the practice
- Have a panoramic vision of all the teachings but focus primarily where you have traction.

3. Cultivate the outer and inner conditions for fruitful practice.
- One of our greatest freedoms is to choose our environment
- Inner conditions are the 5 faculties that when cultivated and developed become the 5 powers.

Meditation started immediately with no ‘front loading’

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89 Merging Mind with Space

B. Alan Wallace, 24 Oct 2013

Silent session, followed by one question regarding the origin of people within a lucid dream. They all stem from the substrate consciousness. Even when lucid, they are not puppets on your string. As the relative dharmadhatu has no clear boundaries, it is porous so it is possible for a visitation to occur. There are accounts of people having visions of tara, padmasambhava etc. It is hard to say if these are actually tara or some figment of your imagination. But if a teaching leads to enlightenment, who else but a buddha could have taught them. The Theravada believe in metaphysical realism, the world is really out there, the self does not exist, but the world does. This is rejected by the mind only and middle way schools, there is no real world existing out there. So what was occurring on vulture’s peak was pure perception. Just as you might walk right through Shambhala and not see it unless your body and mind are purified. So if the perfection of wisdom teachings are true, if teachings like the Kalachakra designed to lead to buddhahood in one life time, if they work, who else but a Buddha could have taught them.

Meditation starts at: (silent, not recorded)

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90 Ultimate and relative bodhicitta and point seven of seven point mind training

B. Alan Wallace, 24 Oct 2013

Meditation front loading: The porousness of the mind. It is possible that influences can go both into and out from the mind. Like when praying to your guru and getting a response. Does the response come from the guru or from a deeper aspect of your own mind? All that matters is that the advice is taking you further along the path. So in practice of tong len, using the power of the mind, it is possible that we are providing genuine relief from suffering.
Post meditation: Covering the following aphorisms in the seven point mind training text. Cultivate three things without letting them deteriorate. Maintain three things inseparably. Meditate constantly on the distinctive ones. Do not depend on other factors. Now practice what is important. Alan also answers questions on why tulkus still require training in this life, the karmic responsibility of mental afflictions and if Shamatha is required for higher realisations.

Meditation starts at: 11:30 (silent, not recorded)

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91 Merging Mind With Space and How to Apply the Teachings in Daily Life

B. Alan Wallace, 24 Oct 2013

Before the session’s meditation, Alan raises the issue of retreat and expedition for after the retreat is over.
After the meditation, there are a few questions about the relevance of doing short-term retreats in Dzogchen/Mahamudra/Vajrayana; is it worthwhile to chase after lamas, teachings and empowerments? How to live in the modern world after a long term retreat?

Meditation starts at: 22:48 (silent, not recorded)

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92 Merging Mind With Space and the Final Aphorisms of the Seven Point Mind Training

B. Alan Wallace, 25 Oct 2013

Before the silent meditation, Alan mentions a few points about Bodichitta.
After the silent meditation, we go back to the last few aphorisms of the Lo-Jong. We finish the Seven Point Mind Training with a quote from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche… and then go back to the very first aphorism of the Lo-Jong: the preliminaries.

Meditation starts at: 03:21 (silent, not recorded)

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93 Merging the Mind the Space and a Discussion of Kalachakra

B. Alan Wallace, 25 Oct 2013

Follwing the silent meditation, Alan gets to a few remaining questions, including one about his experience with Shambala and Kalachakra. A fascinating discussion and series of stories follows.

Meditation starts at: 0:05

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