Thursday, 30 April 2009
This is perhaps an apt topic for our turbulent times. Having been in the self-development field for more than half my life now (yes, I can't believe it either), I've seen my fair share of survivor models. Some are very basic, others are very complicated. I don't intend to offer yet another model to the plethora that is already out there, but there are some basic traits which are common to most of these models.
Awareness - This ability covers two areas: 1. The ability to notice when the world isn't going your way and 2. Realising when your inner world is beginning to see the with turmoil, usually as a result of 1. This noticing skill is important because without it, you won't be able to apply the other skill sets at all.
Responsibility - The ability to survive is conditional on one's ability to take responsibility for one's situation, whatever it is. The victim mentality is very characteristic of Phases 5 and 6. Without taking responsibility and owning the situation, you are unlikely to be able to summon the resources to deal with the situation.
Emotional Clarity - This follows from responsibility. No one can take care of your emotional state except you. There are various methodologies here (Sedona Method, EFT, The Work, Feeling Exercise, Complete Acceptance Process, to name a few), but the main elements of these include:
(a) Identifying thought patterns which are causing pain
(b) Recognising the falsity of beliefs
(c) Being kind to oneself
(d) Diving into the emotional turmoil
(e) Releasing one's hold on the paradigm
That is not a complete list, but you'll find most of it in there. The methods reflect where the developer is in his development, and so different requirements are needed for each paradigm. There is also a question of taste.
Action - Action of some kind is then usually required, especially if you are playing at the physical level of excellence. The key elements to effective action are:
(c) Efficiency/conservation of energy
(e) Ability to stick to a plan, when required
(f) Knowledge of how to psychologically motivate oneself to carry it out
Well, there you have it. I said I wasn't going to offer a new model, but it looks like I have anyway: the AREA model, developed by yours truly. If you study most self-help methodologies, you'll find it's encompassed in this one. Why do I give it away for free? Because there are those who genuinely need it, and, if they are committed enough, will find a way to make it work.
I quote a master to close: "Even if we give them the whole cake, unless they actually spend time learning from those gone before, they will have great difficulty finding the heart of the application at all. That is why you need guidance - to show you what is relevant to your particular situation." So use the information here with care!
Sunday, 26 April 2009
This is the part where I say "I told you so."
Quoted from my 2009 predictions:
- Possible difficulty with flu and mouth-related diseases in the western countries.
Check out the swine flu:
Mexico on the world map: (How "West" can you get???)
Of course, with predictions, it is easy to point out the accurate ones and ignore the missed ones, so we'll have to wait the year out. However, the British housing market is beginning to make interesting (although probably false) signs of revival. We'll see what happens to my prediction of housing markets recovering this year...
Thursday, 23 April 2009
There are many paths to awakening - some are solitary, and some are not. However, it may be difficult for a teacher and student to meet, even in this age of advanced communication. The basic paths of awakening are taught by many, and my offering in that direction is The Dialogues. That is a very genuine way of cutting to the root of suffering. For those who are ready to work in a more personalised way, however, I had not discovered a way other than coaching to transmit some form of awakening...until today.
I am now considering offering the Mandala Pathways. I say Pathways, but really it is one, chosen for you through the attunement of sensitivity. I have a resource for beautiful mandalas that directly channel and express the pathways to personal awakening. The artist has a direct channel into the forces and when I observed her and the mandalas energetically, I realised that these mandalas are very important - they are like plug points into the Infinite! At this stage, even though you may already have a personal mandala, you may not know how to "plug in", without the right guidance.
Think of yourself as a special person. You may be one of those able to tap into all the plug points, or there may be a specific one that will work best for you. Regardless, it is usually best to stay to one path until you reach some level of development. So, I will do something unusual - I will give you the mandala path that is specific to your awakening. Then, I will also give specific personalised instructions for you, to practice and use in your daily life.
Even having the energy of the mandala will help you, without having to do anything at all. As an additional pathway, I will show you where to place it in the house so that it may be most beneficial to you.
Kaye, how can this help me?
In the game of life, the process of self-transformation is the most challenging, and the most rewarding. This is not a way to instant riches, to boggling relationships, to magical health cures. It is deeper than that. The mandala is a remedy for the mind. It pacifies the obscuring thoughts and patterns in awareness that we unconsciously create. This specific resource for mandalas is very pure, from what I have seen. So, the mandalas are also pure, not tainted by egoic energies. In relating to that purity, a process of stripping away occurs.
Unlike other pathways, I will not guarantee any physical results. This is not a switch you throw and the light comes on. This is a more homeopathic cure. If you do succeed in walking your own unique mandala pathway to its full awakening, you will resolve most, if not all, issues in your life. At the very least, they will transform, and so will you. This is for those who are spiritually mature enough to recognise that life is about self-transformation, not paying an electrician to wire you into God. And even if you do not believe in God, you can still relate it to reality, which is God because it is what is.
This is a very unique offer, and I am not sure that I will carry it out. However, I am giving the readers of my blog first shot at it. If you are interested in either having me choose a mandala card for you with instructions or having a personalised mandala made, contact me at K.W.Lee.01 [at] gmail.com
1. The circle is Wu Ji, the originating principle. This could be called the mother principle or feminine principle in Buddhism. It is the basic emptiness space from which all arises. There is no origin and there is no destination. It disappears to whence it came.
2. The Yin and Yang will be familiar to most people. They are the active and passive principles arising by differentiation out of the emptiness. By interaction, they create the yin-yang symbol, which at first glance is a dual principle. On second thought, though, it may also be considered to be a triple principle - the third being interaction. If you do this, then you have an understanding of what it means when it is said "The One goes to the Two, the Two goes to the Three..." The "Three" is an interesting one. Some people consider it the unity of Wu Ji and Yin-Yang. Master Chunyi Lin believes that the third is consciousness. It could also be the harmony principle in the Gunas in Hindu theory. In that case, the third would be the Rajas Guna - the preservation and harmony principle. The Guna theory is important because it is also a view on manifestation.
3. The third level of energy manifestation are the Si Xiang - the four forms of energy when you add an intermixing of the yin-yang principles. This was the thing that struck me. It has a very interesting parallel to the Buddhist "Four Enlightened Activities" of pacifying, magnetising, enriching and cutting. This is new territory, as far as I am aware, so I will continue with the warning that this is speculative, but possibly insightful.
(a) I would assign the pacifying nature to Tai Yin - the grand pure yin. The pacifying nature of enlightened activity has to do, I believe (again I stress I am not a Buddhist authority) with the yin energy of surrender. When the mind and conscious awareness submerges itself towards the nature of the Feminine Principle, it releases the holding to form. Thus, the identity ego-hold on form begins to disappear, and thus the attachment. With this, obstacles are "pacified".
(b) The cutting nature is the opposite. It is assigned to Tai Yang. This has a very "hard" edge to it. Where pacifying has to do with the emotional surrender, cutting has to do with wisdom insight. It is the inquiry of thoughts which hinder and hold, forming lumps of awareness and obscuring the individual from seeing enlightenment. There is a discipline to this that is unlike the pacifying nature. Where the pacifying nature is the commitment to enter into the fear and pain of emotion against one's instinct, the cutting nature is like a diamond, revealing the irrationality of thoughts that we unconsciously hold to. Thus, with this, the root of thought is "cut".
(c) I would assign the magnetising principle to Shao Yang. This is the principle which has feminine root, but a very light hint of the yang energy of intent in it. This is the method of directing the pacified conscious awareness through the emptiness that is the Wu Ji. At this level, the individual isn't exactly sitting at the enlightenment level necessarily (although I believe that is possible), but may just be skating very close to the core. Having pacified or cut through the obstacles, the nature of experience may now be changed by a very small hint of intention. See my previous post on faith and mustard seeds.
(d) The enriching principle is the abiding principle, I think. The magnetising principle is the initial attraction. The enriching principle is when a sense of rooting into a certain energy has occurred. This allows the individual to abide, whilst still holding an openness to energy transformation, symbolised by the yin upper line. This is Shao Yin.
4. When viewed against this background, we see that we can take the interpretation closer, much closer, to physical reality. This is not to imply Buddhist theory is incomplete - not by any means. However, whereas Buddhism looks closer towards the emptiness of nature (the shunyata principle), Taoism studies also the phenomenic levels in detail.
We see eight forms of expression of the four enlightened activities. Of course the ba gua also encompasses non-enlightened activity, but this gives a really interesting equivalent. Actually, even as I speak, I wonder if it may be linked to the Noble Eightfold Path.
I do not want to go into this in detail before pondering it further, but as an initial suggestion I would make the following connections, and leave the Taoist-Buddhists to figure out why (I rather suspect I've lost the rest of the audience by this point):
Qian - Right Action
Dui - Right Speech
Li -Right Intention
Zhen - Right Effort
Xun - Right View
Kan - Right Concentration
Gen - Right Livelihood
Kun - Right Mindfulness
We'll leave it at that.
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
King James Bible, Matthew 17:
14And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 17Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. 18And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. 19Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? 20And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
It struck me like a bolt of lightning in the clear night sky just now as I was walking. It occurs to me that in Matthew 17:20, Jesus made a very sneaky statement. I have quoted the entire paragraph so that it is read in context, before I am criticised for throwing quotes around the place. I want to point out one very unquestioned assumption in this paragraph: Jesus says "faith AS a grain of mustard seed", NOT "faith AT LEAST AS MUCH AS a grain of mustard seed". Sit with that for awhile. Is a realisation dawning?
The traditional assumption is that it means we are so pathetically lacking in faith (a view I do not agree or disagree with) that we cannot achieve anything. I note that Jesus may not even have been referring to a quantity. It says "as", which could just as easily be interpreted as "similar to" a grain of mustard seed. Now THAT is a very different tale. I propose it meant the latter meaning, which by its very definition covers quantity as well.
Let's deal with the quantity question first: I think it literally means, we need to have faith as SMALL as a mustard seed. Ironic, no? I propose that more is less, and less is more in matters of faith. The problem is this - in "faith" we actually separate ourselves from the creator principle, whatever that may be for you. In the Bible, that would of course be God, the Father. The greater the "faith" you have, the greater a perceived difference between you and God there must be. That is why, I believe the bible says, of faith, hope and love, love is the greatest. (See 1 Corinthians 13). And if you read the whole chapter you will see that "love" looks suspiciously parallel to the Buddhist "bodhichitta heart".
Anyway, smaller is better because if we sit in separation, we put more conditions on belief, and that actually hinders manifestation. The nature of manifestation is homeopathic. That is why the seed is symbolic - it is tiny, yet it contains the potential for an entire plant. Even the mustard plant is symbolic - it isn't a huge oak tree. Quite the contrary. It suggests that even in the process of manifestation we need to maintain flexibility. So, the slightest touch is needed.
There are other parallels and similes we could draw to the mustard seed, but I'll leave that to you. Just consider that piece of advice in a slightly different light and you might be surprised by what you find.
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
- Eknath Easwaran
Sunday, 19 April 2009
I have been under Master Kaye’s charge for 3 months, from January 2009 till March 2009. Strongly believing that each of his wards are unique and special, he tailors his programmes to fit their various specific needs. During the period of his coaching, I learnt a myriad of “阴” and “阳” skills which I have found to be extremely useful till date. Through the learning and application of “阴” skills, I am able to better deal with the thoughts and emotions which have clouded my mind for a long period of time. Even my parents were amazed with the improvement in my moods! The “阳” skills which were passed on to me gave me valuable insights as to how PR works, and how I could avoid conflict and achieve personal objectives with the various people surrounding me in my everyday life. What was the most encouraging however, was the fact that Master Kaye shows a great level of professionalism which guarantees to me that my secrets lie safe with him. Overall, I am very pleased with what I have learnt from him and am definitely a much improved person than I used to be, a mere three months ago!
- LHZ, Singapore
I'll keep this one brief. Basically, in the yin-yang symbol above that you see, there are 6 phases of life. Phases 1 through 3 can be considered the expansionary phase, and phases 4 through 6 are contractionary. Life goes through all six phases, whether we like it or not. It is a pattern that occurs in small things, and also describes a larger cycle.
With the recession, many people are now beginning to experience living in the contractionary phases. That is part of life, and I know of no one who can transcend those cycles completely. However, there is one important thing to realise - the strategies that apply in one phase of the cycle may well fail in another phase.
This is what I keep howling at the leaders of human potential for. Some of the strategies that worked when both the person and the world were in general in an expansionary phase will fail quite dramatically when it switches between phases 3 and 4. We have been living at the brink of a precipice for a long time, and have now toppled into phase 4. Some people are still in personal expansionary phases, but many are in personal contractionary ones.
The lesson of the contractionary phases is the cutting down of attachment and making do with less. It bridles the ego. As a Feng Shui master once commented to me, "When people do well, they are always more than happy to take credit for it. When they do badly, that's when they blame outside forces, and then they come to us to change their lives."
Sadly, that happens all too often. Masters can put you in the flow, but if you still maintain that huge inner imbalance, then it will all be for naught. The lessons of the contractionary phases are humility, surrender and compassion. The tight grip and attachment to expansion, whether material or spiritual (yes, many teachers of the path are also experiencing a contraction), is now going to create a lot of pain. The way of least suffering is to go with the flow and let go.
I implore the reader to spend some time meditating on this, and to learn to release. Otherwise, when Phase 6 comes in, there will be a world of pain to pay. The strange thing for Personal Phase 6 is that unless some level of evolution has been achieved, it will continue on until rock bottom is absolutely reached. There is no waiting it out. The world economy may turn, and yes you can wait that one out, but not the personal one.
Beware also of applying techniques that may have worked in the past. They may not work now. The key is to observe the environment and what works, and then to develop a sense of spiritual maturity about the situation. Bludgeoning life with methods, strategies and tactics is highly unlikely to work if you are coming from a place of spiritual obscuration.
Friday, 17 April 2009
Why are we in pain? Why do we feel weighed down? Why, why, why?
In 2005, I recall discussing the Feeling Exercise, by Arnold Patent, with Paul Scheele. At the time, I had not yet awakened to the truth of life, and did not appreciate the full value. Now, I can see the great value in that exercise, and in hindsight it forms very similar steps to the ones I went through unconsciously during my awakening.
So, I find that this little exercise has been neglected generally, and offer it here, in Arnold's words:
http://www.arnoldpatent.com/messages/5-15-2000.html (Read the steps of the exercise before going on to my commentary.)
It is counterintuitive in that you explore the feelings which we habitually label as bad and attempt to avoid. This resistance actually solidifies the lump of awareness trapped around a thought. That is what happens when we believe and attach to a thought, unconsciously identifying with it. The feeling acts as a signalling device that tells us we are still struggling. Hence, we see that suffering is nothing more than a feedback device telling us we are travelling further away from the fundamentally empty nature of reality.
When we feel the feeling free of any labels or thoughts, we experience it as it is. Allowing yourself to feel the feeling rewires your neural network, opening up your behavioural blocks and thus the ability of your conscious awareness to dance through reality. Some of these blocks are deeply ingrained, which is why it may feel miserable to do it, because so many thoughts are screaming at you not to do exactly what this exercise requires. When I went through my (involuntary) purification process, I felt completely miserable, but I was too tired to run anymore, and so I turned to face my demons. And you know, when I faced them, they disappeared. The pockets of belief evaporated, even as I sat in the feelings of despair and accepted it.
And loving the feeling is nothing more than a recognition that the feeling is emitted from your own awareness, tied in a knot. Feeling appreciation for it releases the resistance. And the purpose of the exercise is to experience the love, not to analyse it. I place these comments here in the wish that those who are unsure of their experience may compare it and do whatever they choose to do, not a manual which one constantly refers to.
Feeling love for yourself is a process of being kind, to yourself. Stop beating yourself up. As you merge with the feeling, your separated awareness merges with the knotted feeling. And sitting in the feeling is often enough to dissipate the energy. This is the reassurance you give yourself as the process takes place. It takes courage to be free. It takes courage to expose our deepest vulnerabilities and let it open. It is like unbandaging a hidden, deep wound, and trusting someone to touch it. We are habitually tender, and sore, and the mind screams that it is unsafe. Yet, this is how one heals the inner wounds.
You were born free. Are you brave enough to be free?
Thursday, 16 April 2009
One might ask, "Why would these three topics even come up together?"
Oddly enough, they are related in the most curious of ways. Taking detachment first, we see that the basic way of dealing with suffering is to drop what we are telling ourselves about it. There is a saying, "Pain is unavoidable, suffering is optional."
Suffering is optional because when a mind is fully present and clear, "pain" becomes a sensation. It is only when the mind bandages a situation or experience with story upon story that it becomes suffering-prone.
To take a simple example, the next time you drop a hammer on your toe, try taking away the thoughts of "Pain! Bad!" going through your mind, and you may find that it is a totally different experience. An intense one, certainly, but its quality changes quite dramatically. This is what happens when you detach from a situation.
Given that you buy that tale, the question then is, "How do we go through life holding that state of detachment?"
Well, in line with my Buddhist train of thought of late on this blog, there are two dominant answers. They are, unsurprisingly, hopelessness and compassion.
The Hinayana path says you take a basic hopelessness about life around with you. I have talked about that a little in the discussion of the Four Noble Truths. The basic Hinayana, as I have discussed elsewhere on this blog, is the path that doesn't let you get away with it. If you experience pain, you will look for a way out, and chances are good that you will find the Hinayana path first. The Hinayana prescription is simple: Lose ye all hope who are in pain, and the pain will vanish.
Well, not quite, but it will bring your mind down to some semblance of peace. How's that? Good deal? This is not to give up reason for living. Not at all. On the contrary, it is an extremely free-ing reason for living, for it tells you that you can do what you can do, and life will do what it does regardless. It is the basis of mastery to recognise that you aren't really at the steering wheel, and life has a way of doing whatever it pleases, so get over it. This means you are free to do anything, although that doesn't mean you get away with murder. Some actions will throw you deeper into confusion and others will tend to clear things up a bit.
Which is which?
Well, the Hinayana doesn't really get to the central root of the issue, which is the self. If there is no "I", there is no development of attachment. Sometimes, in a flash of insigght, people discover this inherent emptiness of nature, which is shunyata. However, the poison of shunyata kicks in when you haven't really freed up the ego. This poison is the belief that since it's all okay anyway, you can do whatever you want. And since there is still an inherent "you" to that, the result is a lot of pain, even unconsciously.
So, we turn to Mahayana to clean up the mess. Mahayana says, very simply, to develop bodhichitta, the combination of compassion and wisdom, and especially compassion. This compassion says, through the practice of the six paramitas, amongst others, to give of ourselves freely. There are specific practices for this, amongst which I have come to believe Tonglen is of paramount importance.
However, the compassion at the basic stage plays a convenient trick with our minds - it changes the focus away from Self. This is if you are approaching the practice from a practising standpoint. You develop the relative bodhichitta - the compassion for all sentient beings. And by constantly reminding yourself how much suffering there is, you realise how lucky you are. In fact, that is a good practice all by itself. Think of the world of suffering, contemplate it, and give thanks for your situation.
When I was predominantly Hinayanic in my approach, I used to wonder why masters are constantly off on a "save the world" mission, and then I clicked that they did it less for the world, and more for themselves. They did that to keep their egos small and in perspective. I still think that is a valid view from a Hinayana perspective.
From a Mahayana and Vajrayana perspective, however, that is a very simplistic and foolish reason. The double aspects of relative and absolute bodhichitta are, respectively, developing the compassion towards all sentient beings and realising the emptiness of phenomena. The double aspects support each other. When you develop relative bodhichitta, and vow to save all sentient beings, at the very height of the experience, you realise that there are no beings to save, and neither are you substantial, and thus you cannot save anyway. And when you recognise there is nothing to save and no one who is saved, you have fallen into the realisation of absolute bodhichitta, the realisation of emptiness.
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, my hero, takes an alternate and almost certainly wiser (although I have no idea why yet at this stage, but I trust the guy) view on this. He says you develop absolute bodhichitta first, and seeing the emptiness of all things, you realise you can afford to be more compassionate, because there is nothing to accumulate anyway. I believe that is a valid view, for sitting (or "abiding", to use more Buddhist vocabulary) in a state of the shunyata principle, there is nothing to be, and so compassion arises naturally - not for selfish purposes, but because there really is nothing else, at that level. Fascinating, no?
Anyway, that's how relative and absolute bodhichitta intertwine. Detachment comes naturally from genuine compassion, and in a deeper and more abiding way than hopelessness. But both work. Thank goodness for that.
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
If I've heard it once, I've heard it a hundred times.
"Oh, I wish I had powers to (see the future, read minds, talk to the Gods, move things with my mind - take your pick)!"
Well...ladies and gentlemen, has it ever occurred to you that there might be something the magicians are doing which we aren't?
Essentially, "powers" are the ability to do unusual things. They may be considered "gifts", but I believe everybody can access them. The difference is in the how. And this is where most wannabes fall flat on their faces.
Why? Well, they want the powers to drop right out of the sky into their heads. Oh, and if we could add some wings and a halo or two, that would be fine too. Has it ever occurred to these fine people that these powers might "cost" something? Since powers are ways which create different results in experience, it stands to reason that they arise when people relate to their experience differently.
Shock horror. Oh yes, folks - if you want to do unusual things, you have to relate to things in unusual ways. Can you honestly say you're surprised? Yes? Well, you can't have given it a lot of thought, then. Which is fine. But before you go lusting after earthshaking powers, be careful what you wish for - you may not like the price.
Consider what Aladdin's genie had to say:
"PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWERS!...
P/S: For those who don't get what I'm talking about - it's about identity. You can only wield certain powers when you abide at certain identity levels, and to do that you have to obey the laws governing those levels. For most, the getting there and the rules are more than enough for them to give up the dreams of power. That's why they largely remain dreams...until the next magic show comes along.
PPS: To belabour a rather old point with me, let me remind you what Fagin, the leader of the rubble of boy thieves, said when Oliver and the boys sang that song "I'd do anything for you": "ANYTHING?"
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Tom Sawyer says:
Is there a difference between HOPE and WILL?
Yes: Hope, Will and Intent. The difference between these 3 is heaven and hell. The key is watching where the mind sits.
In hope, the mind sits in a state of dissatisfaction with a situation, but it is aware of a possibility, a glimmer that things might somehow get better. It hopes that it may happen, but it doesn't really have inherent confidence.
Will is different, depending on the level of will. A low grade will has the mind sitting in a state of dissatisfaction as well, or resisting a certain situation and to that it adds the commitment and determination and power to break through.
For a higher grade will, mind doesn't dwell on the dissatisfaction, although it is inherently there, but instead holds the vision which hope only glimpses strongly in mind, and then charges towards it in confidence.
Tom Sawyer says:
Intent is different. Intent in its pure form can exist in both dissatisfaction and satisfaction. In dissatisfaction, the motivation comes from a disagreement with reality. In satisfaction, it is enjoying the present but choosing the next moment to be different. A bit like, for a typical male, "Hey, cuddling is nice but let's get to the sex..." (I could have used a more polite here but I thought this one would make the point for most people.)
There is no dissatisfaction, but there is a definite direction to the mind state. And because there is no dissatisfaction, there is no friction. That is why intent is higher on the scale. You only need will when there is spiritual friction.
Tom Sawyer says:
Wait...so will isn't the superior manisfestation state of mind?
Not by a long shot. It is probably one of the most powerful states, as long as you are playing at the body level, but at the mind level, it can only be considered average at best. At the spiritual level, it isn't even worth talking about.
Mind you, manifestation at the physical level is easiest for most people, because they are used to action. Manifesting at the mental level is harder but can be trained. Precious few can do manifesting at the spiritual level without a few years' experience at least.
Tom Sawyer says:
What is manifestation at spiritual level?
Think and it is done, or in some cases, it is done before you even think to ask. The states get more refined as you go up, so the force gets reduced, and the tone gets more submissive. You may think that is giving up on life, but it is just the spirit doing what it was supposed to do.
If I give you a hose with some water left in it, you can push and press the water out and it will come out if you try hard enough. That is the physical level.
Or, you can hold the hose up and let gravity do the work. That is the mind level.
At the spiritual level, you turn on the tap.
See how the effort gets less, and the results greater?
The hose can be pushed and compressed, but that is not its original nature or destiny. Its original nature is to channel the water, or the energies arising from emptiness, so to speak.
P/S: At the highest level, the water flows itself, when it flows. It is not even your job to turn on the tap. Master Chunyi Lin once commented that he found out why masters are always in meditation - they are watching spiritual TV. I scoffed at the time, but found it to be true. Really, God put us here to watch TV. And we're being really bad couch potatoes. Hands off the clicker already!
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
I have known about the Buddhist practice of tonglen for some time, but only today do I see its great value as a vehicle of enlightenment. It is a ruthless spiritual practice, for it exposes our vulnerabilities instantly. How? The essence of the practice is breathing in the pain and suffering of others, and breathing out good wishes and aspirations to them.
This will make the average energy practitioner recoil in horror. It is like asking the butler at the palace if you could drag a fresh carcass along his impeccably clean hallway. Why would someone do that?
That is the sneakiness of it. Where other practices are kinder, tonglen is direct. It shows you where self still clings, and in essence the practice pummels you in your most tender psychic parts until you have no choice but to let go and discover enlightenment. It pummels you into the only view which will transcend the spiritual pain, and incidentally also transcending all the pain from manifesting in engaging in such a spiritual practice. (Ohhh, yes, it happens. There are numerous stories of masters enduring the pain of such practices.) How? Do the practice, and study it with awareness. It will become clear.
Oh, and if you think compassion is a Buddhist thing, check out what Jesus did. (Hint: See above.)
It's been awhile since I have talked about the Hinayana path, the path of the Lesser Vehicle. In a sense it is ironic, and perhaps particularly pertinent, for the Hinayana path has one characteristic that makes it stand out from the higher paths of the Mahayana and Vajrayana: It calls.
Oh yes, the Hinayana calls. The call of Hinayana is the pain of life. Whereas the compassion of Mahayana may be brushed off by the ones wrapped in illusion (in spite of the infinite joy it brings the masters), the Hinayana is very in your face, very real. It is the call of level 3 on the awareness scale. (Those who have heard me speak of the levels know that level 4 is the beginning of the enlightenment levels, the heart of the Greater Vehicle of Mahayana.)
For those who fall from enlightenment (oh yes, it's possible), the call of Hinayana is also the final call to return to the path. And it is simple pain. It is the mental anguish that arises from holding too tightly onto a paradigm of pain. And we fight for our beliefs. There is a realness to it. We want things to be our way, but in the gripping of the whole structure, we hurt ourselves. In truth, we cannot really hurt ourselves, but it seems that way.
And hence, as we go through life, the more observant tend to eventually learn some of the lessons of Hinayana. As Alex, close mentor and friend, pointed out to me once when I was on that path, "Watch the old people. They learnt something. They've learnt not to fight with life, but to ride the flow." And so it is. The Hinayana path does not ask you to develop supernatural powers. It notices that life rises and falls, that is sometimes moves with you and sometimes against you. That's it. Not a very religious observation at all, but this is the heart of the Four Noble Truths, in my humble interpretation.
So the antidote of Hinayana is acceptance. Easy, simple acceptance of life as it comes. When we argue with reality, we lose, but always. When we accept it, agree with it, dance with it, it becomes kinder, more open, more loving. And there is not even a requirement that you drastically change your beliefs. One aspect of this is the feedback loop - if you feel pain, you are thinking or gripping something in your mind which goes contrary to your current condition. That is why some meditation practices encourage meditation on the impermanence of life - it is to remind you, to fixate your awareness on the fact that "this, too, shall pass".
Compassion is the path of the noble-hearted amongst us. That is the beginning (and end) of the path of the bodhisattvas, the Mahayana. If you are not feeling noble, though, end your pain. Thoughts can be so heavy they weigh us down so we feel we cannot move, cannot get up. That is depression, pure and simple. The antidote is acceptance.
- Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
- where there is hatred, let me sow love;
- where there is injury, pardon;
- where there is doubt, faith;
- where there is despair, hope;
- where there is darkness, light;
- and where there is sadness, joy.
- O Divine Master,
- grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
- to be understood, as to understand;
- to be loved, as to love;
- for it is in giving that we receive,
- it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
- and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Saturday, 4 April 2009
When I sat in the presence of Master Chunyi Lin, asking for advice, this is what he had to say to me: "Find your compassion."
Grandmaster Yap has taught me countless things, but if there is one thing he has gone out of of his way to hammer at me, it is this: "Kaye, develop your bodhichitta heart."
And Jeddah took forever in my apprenticeship with her to wrestle my awareness enough in meditation so that I would sit in compassion.
I would like to imagine some of that wisdom finally seeped through. So, this is my humble attempt to describe bodhichitta, in my own words (always dangerous, that one). I do not represent it as an authoritative study, but thoughts I've had along the lines. Be forewarned!
Let's start with Wiki:
In Buddhism, bodhicitta (Ch. 菩提心, pudixin, Jp. bodaishin, Tibetan jang chub sem, Mongolian бодь сэтгэл) is the wish to attain complete enlightenment (that is, Buddhahood) in order to be of benefit to all sentient beings – beings trapped in cyclic existence (samsāra) and have not yet reached Buddhahood. One who has bodhicitta as the primary motivation for all of his or her activities is called a bodhisattva.
Etymologically, the word is a combination of the Sanskrit words bodhi and citta. Bodhi means "awakening" or "enlightenment". Citta is derived from the Sanskrit root cit, and denotes "that which is conscious" – mind or consciousness. Bodhicitta may be translated as "awakening mind" or "thought of enlightenment".So, there is an element of compassion, and an element of wisdom in it. We can see it as two wings holding up one of the most precious methods of Buddhism. I am drawn here to emphasise the word "wish", and to say that it has to do with motive. Enlightenment has a lot to do with motive, and whether or not we experience it could turn on how we phrase our motive. Bodhichitta is a selfless motive, one that at the very least draws our attention to others outside ourselves, and I believe in its higher expressions abides in complete selflessness, a recognition of the illusion of identity.
We are told by Rigpawiki:
Bodhi means our ‘enlightened essence’ and chitta means ‘heart’ or 'mind', hence the translation ‘the heart of enlightened mind’.
- Arousing bodhichitta is: for the sake of others,
- Longing to attain complete enlightenment.
I like the "heart of the enlightened mind" better. Again, we see that it has compassionate wisdom at its core. Compassion is an interesting one - it can act in a few ways that I see in the spur of the moment:
1. For the seeker who is yet unrealised, compassion is the holding of others before himself, and in so doing he makes himself smaller, gently cutting at ego's hold on him, as he begins to inject the bodhichitta wish into himself.
2. For the realised, it is a way to hold onto the realisation, for the bodhichitta forces his mind open, preventing pride from taking root, and preventing competitiveness from forming.
3. For the bodhisattva, the bodhichitta is the energy of expression, the way of living, completely beyond the grasp of ego. This relates to morality in its highest expression, where every move is motivated by wisdom expressed for the benefit of all. This has to do also, I believe, with the expression energies of the throat chakra. See here.
There must be countless others, and this list cannot be considered complete or even correct.
According to Wiki again:
- Relative bodhicitta, in which the practitioner works for the good of all beings as if it were his own.
- Absolute, or ultimate, bodhicitta, which refers to the wisdom of shunyata (śunyatā, a Sanskrit term often translated as "emptiness", though the alternatives "openness" or "spaciousness" probably convey the idea better to Westerners . The concept of śunyatā in Buddhist thought does not refer simply to nothingness, but to freedom from attachments (particularly attachment to the idea of a static or essential self) and fixed ideas about the world and how it should be. The classic text on śunyatā is the Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sūtra, a discourse of the Buddha commonly referred to as the "Heart Sūtra."
I believe that relative bodhichitta still has a sense of judgment to it, a belief that beings should be one particular way. At the absolute bodhichitta level, you want exactly what people want, for you are in COMplete sync with other's PASSIONs, no more, no less. And you are always ready to give when called upon, but not before, for you have no judgment around which level they are. Thus, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.
The same Wiki page goes on to describe a preference for certain kinds of bodhichitta:
Bodhicitta may be viewed as having different levels: one useful classification is that given by Patrul Rinpoche in his Words of My Perfect Teacher. He states that the lowest level is the way of the King, who primarily seeks his own benefit but who recognizes that his benefit depends crucially on that of his kingdom and his subjects. The middle level is the path of the boatman, who ferries his passengers across the river and simultaneously, of course, ferries himself as well. The highest level is that of the shepherd, who makes sure that all his sheep arrive safely ahead of him and places their welfare above his own.
I submit that the lowest and highest levels are placed not because one is more admirable than the other, but because of how the self diminishes as you rise through it. The ultimate realisation is that we are all one, and a person abiding in that reality has genuine passion for relieving his suffering partners, for they are extensions of himself. And in that act of selflessness, he has eliminated himself from the equation instantaneously anyway.
Quoting from the same page:
Mahāyāna Buddhism teaches that the broader motivation of achieving one's own enlightenment in order to help all sentient beings, bodhicitta, is the best possible motivation one can have for any action, whether it be working in one's vocation, teaching others, or even making an incense offering.
How is it that offering incense can be of use? It is because any action is governed, as always, by motive, and it is the motive the guides the enlightenment, not the action itself. Thus, we can have bodhichitta just expressed through the act of breathing in and out, which is in fact the practice of tonglen. On the subject of incense, I further submit that the acknowledgement of a higher power, one greater than oneless, also further cuts into the ego, which is the primary reason why I believe prostrations are considered important in the Buddhist lineage. They are the physical expression of what is happening in the mind - the bowing down of the Ego-self to the permanent self.
That brings up the interesting question of whether one can be a bodhisattva and a Buddha at the time. I had thought it possible, but it seems to be how the terms are used. In terms of a status recognition, a Buddha is considered higher than a bodhisattva. However, from an innate standpoint, I believe that a bodhisattva can have a Buddha's realisation.
Consider the extract from this page:
Within Tibetan Buddhism, Manjusri is a tantric meditational deity or Yidam, and considered a fully enlightened Buddha.
Manjusri leads the dragon king's daughter to enlightenment in the Lotus Sutra and he gives the second to last summation on emptiness in the Vimalakirti sutra. Tsongkhapa who founded the Gelug sect of tibetan buddhism received his teachings from visions of Manjusri. He is one of the four great bodhisattvas of Chinese buddhism, the four being: Kshitigarbha, Manjusri, Avalokiteshvara, and Samantabhadra. When he attains buddhahood his name will be Universal Sight. His pure land will be one of the two best pure lands in all of existence in all the past, present and future. Manjusri says in the "Manjusri Speaks on the Inconceivable State of Buddhahood" sutra that if Shakyamuni has attained buddhahood then he [Manjusri] has attained buddhahood. He is a dharmakaya bodhisattva, which means that unlike an ordinary 10th stage bodhisattva who still has a bit further to go before full enlightenment is attained, Manjusri has no further to go and can attain buddhahood at any time but has yet to achieve buddhahood because his vows are not yet fulfilled.
It says in a sutra on Manjusri's attainment of Buddhahood that the benefits gained by keeping Manjusri's name in mind are superior to the benefits gained by keeping in mind the names of billions of Buddhas. This sutra can be found in "A Treasury of Mahayana Sutras".
I have gone on for quite awhile now, so I will draw this to a close. There is much to think on, because the expression of the compassion born in the heart occurs in the throat chakra. It is, I suspect, no coincidence that Manjushri Bodhisattva is also known as "Sweet Voice" and the "Lord of Speech".
The realisation of the "chitta" bit will have to wait for another post, perhaps.
P/S: The two types of bodhisattvas are dharmakaya bodhisattvas and rupakaya bodhisattvas.
Sitting in quiet contemplation of Life,
I realise that it has ups and downs,
And in its grand cyclic nature,
I experience its fullness.
Thank you for the joy,
Thank you for the pain,
Thank you for the peak experiences I will always remember,
Thank you for the despondent moments I will never forget.
For only I could have borne it,
And so I did, and no one else,
My life is uniquely my own experience,
And I realise now that it is not even my own.
So I dedicate my every breath,
To the enlightenment of all beings,
Breathing in all that is,
And exhaling out to infinity.
It all fades into emptiness.
I was having this discussion the other with a Chinese master, who seemed to think that enlightenment cannot be reconciled with great wealth.
I disagree. And I quote here Lama Zopa Rinpoche, that most precious of lamas, on living in Tahiti, an ultimately materialistic place by nature:
"It depends on with what motivation, with what attitude you live there. If you’re living there having entertainment, enjoyment with the motivation of non-ignorance, non-anger, non-attachment, and especially non-self-centered mind, of course there's no question - if you live there or if you have enjoyments with that attitude, non-anger, non-attachment, with a pure motivation, pure attitude, then there is no risk. There is no danger. With this motivation, if you’re having enjoyment, it all becomes Dharma. It all becomes meditation. You are living in Tahiti, a place which is described as the best tourist place, and it all becomes Dharma, it all becomes meditation. You only create the cause to achieve happiness, happiness in future lives. Especially of course if it is unstained by the self-cherishing thought, all the enjoyment of whatever you do there becomes not only pure Dharma, but it becomes the cause to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. Without self-cherishing thought, if the attitude is cherishing others, benefiting others, then whatever activities you do, whatever enjoyments you have, all those enjoyments are enjoyments for others, for other sentient beings’ happiness. All those become the cause of the highest success in life, full enlightenment, the cessation of all mistakes of mind, gross and subtle defilements, and the completion of all qualities.
But if you go there and the motivation is just self-cherishing, enjoying with only the self-cherishing thought, nothing else, only 'my happiness', not even the happiness of future lives, not ultimate happiness, liberation from the whole entire suffering of samsara and its cause, instead just this life's happiness, nothing else, so with the attitude just seeking the happiness of this life, clinging only to the happiness of this life, just this very short term happiness, the attitude is just attachment, simply pure attachment. Then with that attitude all the activities that one does twenty-four hours a day, eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, riding over the waves, lying down on the beach, all the rest - I don’t need to go through all the rest! Everything becomes negative karma. Every single thing that is done with body, speech, and mind becomes negative karma which results only in suffering, no happiness, let aside finding satisfaction, finding fulfillment in life. There is no peace and happiness at all with this attitude, this grasping mind, attachment. No way, it's impossible to find satisfaction with that, by following desire.
You achieve satisfaction in life only when the mind stops following desire. Whenever that happens, wherever, it doesn’t have to be on the meditation cushion, it can be anywhere, in the workplace or even in the bathroom, wherever. Wherever you are, the minute you split from desire, separate the mind from desire, stop following desire, the minute you let go, then at that time you find satisfaction. So that is the Dharma. That is meditation, that is the real Dharma, pure Dharma. Whenever and wherever it happens, outside, inside, even in prison, wherever that Dharma happens, then there’s peace and happiness in one’s heart, real inner peace, satisfaction in the heart."
Quote taken from How to Be A Real Professional - Why We Need Dharma.
The nature of enlightenment is. There is no time and no space, yet they exist within the matter of the universe. The seeker of enlightenment is the seeker of truth, of the discovery of the ultimate nature of the universe, and that seeker must look both without and within to find that experience. For truth is experientially discovered, not intellectually deduced.
O man, who has spent so much time pioneering the search of his world and his mind, is yet a coward when he is faced with his heart. For therein lies the pain and the hurt, more threatening and effective than any door against which he could throw himself, battering it down with his might. No, for enlightenment is to lighten, and how can we lighten the burdens of man, if not by lightening the burden of hurt, the burden of pain?
And if man cared to examine his fears, he would find them unnecessary, but true. True, but unnecessary, for individual truth is what man makes of it, and that is all. Spiritual truth is. It is the ultimate compassion, the open arms of Spirit so loving that he always wants exactly what man wants, and always ready to give, if man knew but to ask. Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do.
And we of Spirit stand ready, for we never left. We bless man and love him, if he could but feel our love. And our love cannot be withheld, only delayed by the distortions of consciousness, the chains of hate, fashioned by man directly from the very energy that we offer. And so, you see, our children of spirit, that your very fears are the Holy Spirit in disguise, in the very disguise that that you chose, willingly, albeit mostly unconsciously. And that disguise would be unveiled if you but cried in deep sincerity with all your heart, "Show me Thy true nature!" And you would see the energetic fabric of the universe.
So take heart, spiritual children, for enlightenment has never left you. It is constantly around you, constantly near. It is is within you, if you cared to look, to realise, to know. For one need not polish a dusty mirror to know that it can reflect. It has always been there, and continues to reflect. This is the the Realisation of the original state, that of pure enlightenment, which can never be taken away. And if one sits in this grand Realisation, and grandly proclaim, "Show me Thy nature!" the dust would dissolve and indeed we would see they were part of the mirror itself.
You have created dark times, Children of the Light, for the tools you use are double-sided blades. You may not hack forever at imaginary delusions without enduring some imaginary pain. And if it is release you truly want, there is a price. The price is that you trust enough to set down your weapons, to hold the faith, and walk forward with open arms. And as your enemy strikes you down, he will be revealed as your creation, your pain, and hurt you no more. For in turning the other cheek, you will resist and re-create him no more. If it is freedom you seek, O Children, then end the farce, and dissolve back into the heart of Light.
- Supreme Being of White Light
Friday, 3 April 2009
In these things three I believe:
That I must survive,
That I must gain approval,
That I must gain control.
And my world will be built on these pillars three:
Manipulation of myself and those around me;
Control of my surroundings and myself;
Denial of anything that I may be unable or unwilling to deal with.
And I will resolutely march on,
In defiant ignorance of pain and suffering,
That I inflict on myself or others,
For the gilt carpet of threaded pain covers it all.
And this carpet I will continue to expand,
Until I cannot,
For when I stop,
It will be the end of me,
Because I believe deep inside me,
That my very existence depends upon this charade.
So help me God,
But remember that I will be rejecting all the help you do offer,
For I am the Ego,
And it is what I do.
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Basically, there are three "limbs" of coaching for me: Body, Mind and Spirit
These are symbolic of three levels of expression at which change is effected. Typically, someone will come to me because they want to see a change in their physical circumstances. That is normal. The odd one will be ready to see purely spiritual change, but that is rare. Some will want to learn new techniques for the mind. Or a mix of those. It's all valid.
I offer my knowledge and experience at all three levels, which is extensive. The basic philosophy of each level is unique, and so perhaps it is best to clarify it with this post.
The body is about action, strategy and dynamism.
The philosophy is that of the Cheetah:
"With the goal clearly in mind, I conserve my energy, planning wisely to take the actions highly likely to succeed. When I act, I move with the perfect amount of energy needed, not one bit more and not one bit less."
We bring clarity to the clients' actions, facilitating planning and clarity to their goals, and then preparing them for the action so that when they do act, their actions are uninhibited and deadly effective. This is often asking the correct questions and bringing the focus to blind spots which they have not considered. In certain cases, direct expertise may be offered.
The mind is like calm, clear water. This is different from most coaching methods, which fill the mind with techniques designed to empower the actions.
The philosophy of the mind is:
"Like the clear water of a lake, my mind is perfectly calm. I am at peace, present and perfectly balanced. My mind flows effortlessly when it is needed. Like water, every movement is fluid and seamless."
The philosophy of the mind is not to use technique to empower the individual, but presence. In being fully present, the mind naturally becomes flexible and can do whatever is needed, transcending the need for success formulae. The process of coaching frees the mind from its original structure, so that it flows like water, which is its original nature.
The spirit is about the conscious awareness that breathes life into the other areas.
The spirit philosophy is that of the Aurora:
"I am light and unfettered with joy, yet I manifest and experience the full grandeur of my Self."
The coaching opens up fetters of identity. It very much recognises the inherent enlightened nature of each person, and brings the conscious awareness to sit more fully in that experience.
There isn't a magic pill. That's why we keep searching for it. There are a combination of things which will produce magical results, but if we're looking to push some buttons and order a miracle, well, it's unlikely to happen. UNLESS, of course, we fulfill certain conditions. Metaphysics isn't a science. It's more like cooking. Much more fluid. Pun not intended.
When I first came across teachings that talked about "generating the correct motivation" for doing a spiritual practice, I promptly harrumphed and moved on to the method. (In my defence, I was a young dolt then, but I know, I know.) More and more now, I find that Motivation can be considered one pillars of my Three Ms Model for happiness.
I saw something today somewhere on the web that said, the purpose of generating bodhichitta (compassion) is to ensure one does not fall into the lower paths. I think it is as simple as saying, if you use a spiritual technique with personal gain in mind, it is a contradiction in terms. Spiritual technique is designed to help you soften ego's grip. If your very motivation for using it is egoic in nature, then the chances of Rudrahood (demonhood) rather than Buddhahood are rather increased. This is ultimately why the Law of Attraction fails for some people, and why, paradoxically, the people who seek the power to manifest seldom turn out to be good manifesters, unless they do so out of a genuine wish to help others.
Thus, through the centuries, we have heard various exhortations, as follows:
Truth the Lord
Have an attitude of gratitude
Basically, they are exhortation to keep an eye on our motivations. Mind, even these can be turned into weapons of the ego. This is especially true if we "use", for example, "gratitude" so that we can get something. This can hardly be surprising - we are taught to say "Please" and "Thank you", but seldom are we taught to say it sincerely. Hence, we bring that same falseness, the same insincerity to our spiritual work. And get vastly different results. And then we wonder why.
As I said, God does not respond to Disney eyes. Check your motivation always.