August 25, morning session.
A fairly good way to approach practice, I think, is that we’re practicing being no one.
Ken: No one. Now, first of all why would we do that? Well, when we aren’t attached to a particular identity or sense of ourselves then it is possible to respond to situations that arise in our lives in whatever way is needed. What prevents us many times from just responding to situations is ideas or attachment to ideas of who we are, or who we should be, or we were meant to be, and so forth.
Such a way of living runs quite deeply counter to almost all of our conditioning. So when we work at various practices to develop capabilities, or capacity, or skills it’s not to become something. It’s to be able to meet the conditioning and not be consumed by it, because there’s that kind of energy or momentum in the conditioning.
So, a few weeks ago I was giving a presentation at a coaching association. And one person there who had done a little bit of work with me volunteered to play out a situation where she had a potential client who was very abrupt and aggressive. And she was having difficulty in this interaction. Now it’s what my presentation was about, that kind of interaction.
So there she was in front of the whole group with somebody playing this aggressive abusive person. And I said to her, “Open your heart to him. Open loving-kindness.” This is an Iranian woman and she just sort of went, “What?” And then, and I really respect her for this, she just sat there and worked it. Right in front of like forty, fifty people—just working it—until she could actually do it. And then she started the interaction coming from that place and the guy who was playing the role just couldn’t be aggressive or abusive because there was nothing there to push against.
So that’s what I mean about building capacity. It’s not to be a loving, kind person because that’s just another self-image. It’s to be able to meet stuff internally or externally in a way which allows things to open and proceed in whatever way is appropriate.
So one of the things we need to do is not be attached to being anything or any person. And we have an extraordinary number of techniques and practices in Buddhism. And we have very very rich repertoire to draw from. Some of them are very simple, some of them are very complex. But they’re all a means to that end. And I think it’s important to remember that that end is also a means to a slightly different end: and that is the ability to be an ongoing expression of compassion.
Or you just want to chew on that for a day or two.
So any of you find something arising internally? The tendency often is to try to oppose it or push it away. But as we’ve heard me discuss more than a few times now, open to the experience of it. And opening to the experience of it doesn’t mean collapsing down to it. That actually is quite problematic. And focusing on it is a way of collapsing down.
Opening to the experience of it means you open to the experience of what is arising and everything else. When you do that first off there’s no identification with anything. That’s really helpful. Secondly, you stay in your body and in the present so you don’t get sucked into the past or the future by what is arising. And third in maintaining that open awareness, this is a little metaphorical but maybe it’s helpful, you create the space in which things can resolve themselves.
Whenever we encounter what we call a block, and there are different ways blocks can arise. You can be pushing against something, or you can feel that something’s being rung or whatever. But whenever we encounter something like we’re pushing against something we have identified with something that wants to move or is trying to move. And what is preventing it from moving is being experienced as a block.
If you open to the whole experience you find there is something that wants to move and something that doesn’t want to move. You experience both of those. There may be a tension there but by not identifying with either you become no one. And you create the space in which those tensions can resolve themselves. In a certain sense this is very much what we were talking about last night with respect to compassion in relationships. You stand in the experience and in the pain of the experience—if there is pain there. And you don’t try to fix it. Maybe that will be of some use to somebody today, I don’t know. Okay?
No questions. You’re letting me off so lightly. Okay Gary, thank you. This will be totally boring for you Jen ’cause you’ve already heard this.
[Session changes from morning to evening]
Ken: Okay a few people mentioned that they had questions.
Ken: Slate, thank you. August 21st no not 25th. Start again would we. Okay. August 25th evening session A Trackless Path, New Mexico. Over the last couple of days a few people have said that they have some questions that they’d like to bring up so that’s where I’d like to start this morning. Uh this morning boy I’m….[Laughter]
One of these days I’ll get here. That’s where I would like to start this evening. So the microphone’s over on the table there. So Cynthia, Christy, boy I’m really out of it. Must be all those interviews.
Christy: This morning when you were talking about compassion and I was reflecting about being with people in pain I resorted or I practiced the taking and sending meditation. And after your comments about…in the state of compassion you don’t take on somebody else’s pain; you’re with them in their pain. And so I went and realized that the taking and sending is about self-cherishing—to work on that. So in that—and I certainly didn’t intend it in that situation. But would that be an example of trying to fix something? Can taking and sending and perhaps exchanging self with others be ever used in the sense of working in compassion?
Ken: Very definitely. Does anybody have a copy of The Great Path of Awakening in the room? No, okay. There are several points in your question which are important. The first is that taking and sending is a method and a very important method for developing compassion. My teacher said, “It’s not a method for generating compassion initially. But it’s a way for developing, nurturing compassion.” And it is belongs to a genre of methods which are known popularly now as mind training. The Tibetan term lojong is probably better translated as refining mind which could also be interpreted quite legitimately as refining experience or refining your heart going back to the discussion we had the other day.
And in mind training methods in general you are intentionally adopting a way of relating to the world which conflicts with the way that we habitually relate to experience. That adoption generates friction and when it’s a sufficient amount of friction has been generated then both ways of relating to experience burn up and you’re left just there.
So in the mind training or in the taking and sending practice you do feel and that is the practice. That you are taking the suffering of others away from them and you yourself are experiencing it. Which is opposite to what we would do most of the time is that we push away what is negative and painful. And it goes where ever it goes, we don’t really care about that. [Laughter] So that’s what generates the friction.
Now, the result of that is very definitely an increased capacity to be present with someone when they’re in pain. Because you have trained yourself to through by deliberately imagining that you’re taking this in to be really present and open to the pain of others. Not only their pain their neuroses, their psychoses, their madness, their craziness, their negativity, their criminality, everything. You with me so far? Okay.
Now there are a couple of very important points here. As both Chekawa Yeshe Dorje and Kongtrul on several occasions that I’ve read in his writings, he was the person who wrote the commentary, A Great Path of Awakening point out if you approach this practice with the feeling that you are actually effecting something in the world, you know that is you’re really taking the pain and freeing them, then you’re into magical thinking, self-delusion, etc., etc., etc. And now you’re approaching your experience and using this practice to manipulate your experience rather than be present in it.
And this you’ll find in the mind training instructions one of them says,
Don’t make a sham out of the practice. and that’s explicitly what it’s referring to. Trying to manipulate, use the practice to control or manipulate your experience. Another instruction in the Mind Training in Seven Points is,
Don’t reduce a god to a demon. And here the god is the practice which has and the metaphor of god is used because it has the potential of helping you very substantially. And in particular the way it helps is just what you mentioned it reduces this tendency to protect and cherish the sense of “I” in our…in our identity. And the way that you reduce a god to a demon is by thinking, “I’m doing mind training aren’t I wonderful.” And it’s disturbing the extent to which this crops up in people.
There’s a ritualistic practice of mind training which is known as chö and a lot of chö practitioners get into this, [Ken speaks in proud, boastful, boisterous voice] “You know I’m doing chö. I’m offering my body to the demons they’re…you know and I can do this with them and I can do that with them.” And Kongtrul in his commentary on chö just excoriates this attitude. You know he usually doesn’t get very upset in his writing but every now and then he just goes on a rant. And that’s one of the occasions. So to form an identity or to use the practice to build up an identity is reducing a god to a demon.
Now are there any other points you want me to cover from your question there? Microphone please. Christy. Thank you.
Christy: I guess I still need to be careful though in those situations because if I reach for a practice….
Ken: Are you talking about actual situations?
Christy: Yes an actual situation.
Ken: Oh yeah well take a look at what happens. Okay. So, someone’s ill. Maybe it’s someone close to you. And they’re in pain. You come into the room and you can feel yourself go [Ken makes gesture] contract. Right? Now you do taking and sending.
You look at this person, you feel the contraction inside and you say, “May all their suffering, and all their pain, and even their illness come into me. May I experience it.” And when you first do that well before it was contraction now it’s super-contraction. You know it’s like, “Urrr,” and you just do that. “May my happiness, my joy, my health go to them.” And what that does is put you in touch with also how you feel. So it goes out. And then it comes in, goes out. This is what you’re doing. The result of this is that you’re creating in yourself the ability to be present with that person without having to get rid of the pain so that you feel comfortable.
Now if you fall into magical thinking, “Oh, I’m really healing them and I’m getting all this negativity. And after this I’ll have to go out and have a spa and a massage to purify myself.” That’s a whole ’nother matter. That’s just new age silliness.
You may find, and this happens quite frequently, that when you come into the presence of someone who’s in pain or very upset and you start opening to that through the practice you may find some very big issues or black holes in you that you didn’t, you weren’t aware of. And now you know what makes it difficult for you to be present in those circumstances. And so that becomes material for your practice going forward.
So yes many people use this practice not to try to make something happen magically but to be able to actually be in really difficult circumstances. It can be the same with anger.
One of my students, he was senior executive in an international search firm, and he could be described as an angry guy. If you cut him off on a freeway he followed you home to punch you out. Very volatile, very competitive, very driven, etc., etc.
He really took to taking and sending. And many years later he said to me you know, “This is the only thing in my whole life,” and he was well in to his sixties by this point, “that has given me any way to work with my anger.” Now when somebody cuts him off on a freeway he takes in their pressure, their drivenness, their aggression, their anger. He’s got plenty of drivenness, pressure, anger in himself—he can really relate to that. And he takes that and says, “May I experience it.” But his practice has come to the point that he knows that all of that is driven by hurt. So when he takes that in he feels the hurt in the other person and there’s no anger. You follow?
So, this isn’t about changing things out there. This is about developing the ability to be in what is arising in experience. Kalu Rinpoche once put this very dramatically. A person asked him about taking and sending or wasn’t this some kind of emotional or spiritual suicide—you know taking in the suffering of others. And what he said was interesting. He said, “Imagine that you could actually take all of the suffering of the world, every bit of it, into you and experience it in one breath. And everybody in the world would be free of it. Would you hesitate?” It’s not recorded what the response was. Okay.
Anything else? Does that help? Okay. Valerie.
Valerie: I also have a taking and sending question. And then it is related to the sending part. Well first of all I noticed that I want to find the right thing to send [Ken chuckles] to let’s say make the hungry ghosts satisfied for instance. Give away my satisfaction so I’m trying to match. And the other thing is that I’m wondering, is it alright to give away imaginary things or only things that you know that you possess?
Ken: So from your question I’m inferring that you’re thinking of situations where you’re encountering say greed: hungry ghosts.
Valerie: Yeah I mean, you’d told me to go through the six realms and do it. So—
Ken: Okay. Oh that okay. All right okay yes.
Valerie: But I know plenty of hungry ghosts in real life as well.
Ken: Archetypal…yeah okay so yes thanks for reminding me. How fussy is a hungry ghost?
Valerie: There’s no end to the fussiness because they will never be satisfied.
Ken: So how important is it to match?
Valerie: No but if I could give them contentment, the simple contentment that I feel. And wish that they could feel that as well.
Ken: Okay, so what’s the problem with that?
Valerie: Well I’m just wondering about that, the matching because it seems like kind of a control thing.
Ken: Well it is a bit and that’s why I say how fussy are they.
Valerie: Well they won’t be satisfied with whatever you give them.
Ken: Well yes but you also give them the potential or the experience of being satisfied. Now most hungry ghosts when you give them that they get even more upset—so be it.
I remember my nephew, not that he’s a hungry ghost, but when he was very young he was a lot of confusion and we were on a canoe trip. And there what, five children and eight adults so sorting out the canoes were quite tricky. We’d just got them all set in the morning and my nephew said, “But I thought I was going to ride in the bow.” And got all upset so, “Okay.” And I did a quick calculation and I said to one of the other kids, “Do you mind doing this and so…Jamie can do this?” And that was fine said, “Okay Jamie you go.” And there was this look on Jamie’s face which was just wonderful. He’d got what he asked for but he hadn’t got what he wanted. And I was just like [Ken mimics happy face] because you know there it was but that wasn’t really what it was about.
So you’re going to run into this a lot with hungry ghosts. And so you just give. Now, can you give something that’s imaginary? Why not?
Ken: I mean—
Valerie: I guess I just wondered if part of what was important was that you are also recognizing qualities in your experience.
Ken: But you’re doing that when you give something imaginary too aren’t you?
Ken: I mean.
Valerie: Thank you, yes.
Ken: In Vajrayana, I suppose to a certain extent in Mahayana too, it’s very wonderful how it works. So, I’m talking about offerings here but the same would apply to other forms of generosity. But there are three kinds of offerings. There is offering actual flowers, and water, and incense, and light, and stuff but on the shrine you know and representations of it if not the actuality. You know and you can offer money and support and this is all material offerings you know actual things that you offer. And that’s a good form of offering.
So second kind of offering is to offer things you don’t own: sunsets, rainbows, fields full of corn, fruit trees full of ripe fruit: cherries, peaches, apples and so forth. Beautiful cars, beautiful clothes, perfume, you know shops full of jewelry, you know whole shopping malls, whatever. You offer all this stuff that you don’t own.
I remember Rinpoche’s secretary when he first flew into Los Angeles, you know if you’ve ever flown into Los Angeles at night you forget that it’s a city, it’s a carpet of jewels. And he said, “This is so beautiful.” And he just offered it to the Buddha. Okay. That actually is a much more powerful form of offering. Do you know why?
Ken: No. When you offer material things do you ever have this sensation?
[Laughter] [Ken makes gestures]
You know anything like that? [Grasping] Okay, so when you offer fields of corn or beautiful sunsets do you ever have that? No, so you’re actually experiencing offering free of attachment.
Third kind of offering: make it up. And just imagine offering, you know, the riches of ten thousand universes. Now this really bends people because now there’s absolutely no limit to what you can offer. There’s no question of you losing anything because it’s all imaginary and it doesn’t exist at all. And what people run into is their incapacity to imagine, and experience and open to all of that plenitude. That really gets people and that’s why it’s a very powerful form of offering. So do the same thing here. How does this sit with you?
Valerie: Well I like that. I mean—
Ken: We’ll talk tomorrow.
Valerie: Okay and then well, I will ask one more thing.
Valerie: And it’s on the physical level, I notice that it’s a real alternating between going like this and going like this. Taking in and opening, pulling. Opening like that.
Ken: And your question is?
Valerie: I guess I’m just saying, “Is that okay?”
Ken: What’s wrong with it?
Valerie: I don’t know. It just—
Ken: When you take stuff in you can feel yourself contracting?
Valerie: Right. And—
Ken: When you give stuff away, you feel yourself expanding?
Valerie: But I guess it’s just that, you know, you’re taking in the suffering, and you’re talking about how, you know, often when confronted with anger, suffering, our reaction is to go like that. So, that’s why I wondered. When you take it in, you’re taking it in to experience it and yet you’re still…you’re making your contraction.
Ken: You’re experiencing the contraction, right?
Ken: And then you experience the expansion.
Ken: You do this enough, what do you come to understand about contraction and expansion?
Valerie For every contraction there’s an expansion?
Ken: Well, perhaps. What is the contraction ultimately? And I don’t mean empty. What is it actually? This is a trick question. The answer’s very, very simple.
Valerie: What is it actually?
Valerie: A sensation?
Ken: Yeah. That’s good. I was going to say an experience. But sensation is fine.
Ken: What’s the expansion?
Valerie: Also a sensation.
Ken: So after a while what do you experience?
Valerie: A sensation.
Ken: A couple of sensations.
Valerie: And so when you’re confronted with that feeling of, “Oh my god, they’re angry, agh,” you just go “Oh.”
Ken: Oh. This is a sensation.
Valerie: Pretty cool.
Ken: It’s very sneaky stuff. Okay. So, yeah, and the fact that you’re experiencing that, that’s great. Because it means you’re working the practice. But it’s very, very difficult to…for fixed ideas to hold when there’s that contraction, expansion happening over and over again. You’re “Oh, this is just stuff moving. I don’t have to get upset about this. I don’t have to hold onto that. I don’t have to shrink away from that. This is just sensation.” But you have to learn that experientially. It’s not enough to learn it intellectually.
Other questions. Claudia.
Claudia: I have a question pertaining to our discussion on relationships about old wounds. Things happen in a relationship and wounds are created. You open to the wound, you experience it. You work it through in the relationship and the relationship continues. Why do the old wounds still haunt? Why do they still come up at times so powerfully?
Ken: Well, one possibility is that those wounds also resonate with even older wounds that precede the relationship. Whether that’s the case in all instances, mmm, probably not. But it’s an important consideration. Certainly in my own experience I found that the things that hurt most go back a lot further.
I think there’s another area here. It may be connected but I’m going to approach it from a slightly different point of view. When we’re talking about hurts the level that I think you’re referring to, there’s usually a sense of betrayal of some kind, isn’t there? So in betrayal there’s always a shattering of an illusion. It’s the living in the illusion that makes the betrayal possible.
Now, there may have been no reason at all to suppose that one was living an illusion. That is, the other person gave absolutely no indication. But something happens and we feel betrayed. That is, we now understand this person or the situation or relationship with an organization or whatever, doesn’t matter, to be different from what we thought it was.
And we may come to appreciate that and to be wiser for our pains. But it’s still a very, very painful experience. And when something comes up later in our lives that resonates with that or reminds us of that the old pain is there. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. By that I mean I don’t think the fact that similar circumstances resonate that old pain indicate any failure on our part. Because there’s a difference between being consumed by the resonance and experiencing it. If you experience it and say, “Oh yeah, there it is again.” What’s the problem there? If you get consumed by it and now start relating to the new situation from that old prospective, that’s a whole different thing. Now we’re caught in a reactive pattern.
This comes up very, very frequently. When my father died, my parents were married I think for about sixty years. Long term. And I talked with my mother and I said very explicitly to her, “The sadness that you feel, loss, is going to come in waves. And the fact that it recurs from time to time, even years later, does not indicate any problem in itself. You’ve been married for a very long time, your lives have been very closely webbed. And every time you experience that pain it’s another part of that web unraveling. But that’s over sixty years is a very, very long time. So there are a lot of strands. And it may be five years from now. You see something or you remember something and there it is again. That’s just how it is.” And she said to me later it was just very helpful to have that perspective.
So, I think we do ourselves a disservice if we set the expectation that we reach a point where we won’t feel those old things.
Claudia: I was wondering if, especially in the case of partnership spousal relationships, say, but even close friendships where the relationship is highly valued for one reason or another. And when these painful situations arise, we don’t say everything that we feel. Because we know that the damage might be too great for that relationship. And we don’t want to create more damage in the relationship than is already there. And part of me wondered today if because we don’t express that, that that kind of keeps that wound festering a little bit.
Ken: I think that’s very accurate. In essence, you’re protecting the other person. You’re managing the relationship. You’re not trusting the other person. And that’s where the problem creeps in. Having said that, there’s being foolish and being sensible about this.
When everything is very raw and open and very difficult that may not be the best time to say everything. But if there’s things that are unsettled in you that are not expressed to the other then there is a separation in these kinds of intimate relationships. And it’s up to you to sort through what isn’t being said to find what’s your old stuff resonating from the past and is your responsibility to work through, and what is actually in the interaction. And not infrequently, that’s pretty tough to sort through.
And there have been several instances in my own experience where I thought I sorted it through and then I started into the actual discussion and realized, “Oh. Oh, that’s stuff was my side—let me take that back. But this part still is there.” And it’s only, sometimes I’m not able to sort it through on my own. It’s only in the interaction that I can sort it through.
But yes, if you, in an emotional connection relationship, or you know, in close student-teacher relationship, same thing. If you don’t express what you’re feeling and the unresolved things then you do create a separation in the relationship. And so, now when anything else comes up it jars and resonates. And this is part of the challenge of a relationship.
And there’s a young professor I have a friendship with. And because of his background he has quite a bit of restraint about expressing his real feelings. It’s part of his cultural background. And we did a presentation, we did a workshop…oh, and I should say he is a glass is half-full kind of guy. I’m a glass is half-empty kind of guy. So we did this workshop. And it went pretty well. There were some problems. But it was okay.
So we were together, going over it. And I’m doing my glass-is-half-empty kind of thing. And finally, he just loses his temper with me. He says, “God dammit, Ken! Why are you always looking at the negative side of things. We did a great job in the workshop and I can’t understand…” He just blew it—completely.
And I looked at him and I said, “You know, this is such a relief!” And he looked at me and he said, “You know, I feel better too, Ken.” Because all of that restraint had created some disturbance.
So, I mean I’m not saying it has to take that form. But I want to give that as an example. Okay?
Other questions here. Gary. Then Julia.
Gary: Back to the three forms of offerings. So what’s the problem with chö again?
Ken: Oh, the problem with chö is people think that when they do this, they’re gaining some sort of mastery over the demonic forces in the world. That’s not what chö is about. Chö is about offering everything that is dear to you, including your own body in an imaginary way to all of these parts of you that are unresolved, you know. All of the—I like to call them—well, they’re the little nasties and the big nasties. But the term in Tibetan is the karmic debt collectors, you know. And these are these parts of us that just gnaw at us and pull us into reactivity and things like that. That are just never satisfied with anything, just as Valerie was describing.
So you imagine that you transform your body into oceans and oceans of the most satisfying, rich, beautiful elixir. And just give them many ti…you know, over and over again. So, you know. And you imagine them being, “Ah, thank you. Now I can rest.” They go away happy and things like that, imagining. Because it’s a way of forming a relationship with those parts of us that we constantly deny, and push away, and keep coming back to haunt us. That’s what chö is actually about. That’s why Tsultrim Allione refers to this as “feeding the demons.”
It’s not about mastering demonic forces out in the world. And being able to manipulate them and create rainstorms and things like that. Which a lot of people in Tibet, because they are very much into shamanistic stuff, and some people in the West think that that’s what they’re doing. Their bell and their drum, saying all of these mantras and singing these songs. They think they’re actually doing something. No, it’s all about internal transformative work.
Gary: You feel that’s the reason why this is the first summer retreat without the morning ritual and the mahakala ritual?
Ken: [Chuckling] What are you really asking here, Gary? Since you brought it up.
Gary: So, you just really just against rituals altogether, Ken? Or—
Ken: Well, you know that’s not true. It’s something I reflected on for quite a long time. One of the things that I’ve become cognizant of when you import rituals or practices or ways of acting from another culture or another tradition you also import all the ways of thinking and all of the assumptions that produce those. And I’ve just seen so many times people getting tripped up by that stuff.
I’m not at all sure what the ritual forms are. It’s a question I’ve had on my mind for about 20 years. It’s something I think about and explore in various ways from time to time.
So when in the retreats that we did here for the last four years, we were working in a more traditional framework. Very explicitly when we were doing illusory form and dream practice and shared clarity. So during those retreats I felt it was quite appropriate to have those forms because they were part of those practices. And even then they raised a few eyebrows, as you may recall.
And there’s very definitely energy and power and purpose in those rituals. But in this retreat when stepping into…out of those traditional forms, I considered it for quite a long time. And decided no, this is in a different direction. So that has to be left behind at this point.
One of the future forms are, you know, I mean, as you can tell from the prayers. I’ve changed some of the prayers. They’re different. And it’s all part of the transition. And the approach I’m taking here is not so much of trying to figure out what it is and then do it but experiment, explore and see how it evolves.
Gary: The last thought I had is about the lineage. When you move away from those rituals, you feel that there is some sort of disconnection from the lineage.
Ken: There’s a little cabal at the back there.
Yes and no. Again, this is an area that I don’t know what the answers are. Many years ago, long time ago, back in the 80s basically, when I would occasionally teach people ngöndro, more than one woman said to me, “Relating to a bunch of people—men—who I’ve never heard of wearing red and black hats means absolutely nothing to me, Ken.” Okay. Valid point.
Other people felt when as they learn this list of names and people felt a tremendous settledness and confidence. That here was something that had come down faithfully from generation to generation and it brought them a great deal of connection.
So you have a range of responses. For me personally, it’s been both. The more I learned about the lineage figures and all the stuff that went on the less the literal lineage meant to me. And it’s kind of interesting. In the Tibetan tradition, or the Indian/Tibetan tradition lineage is handled one way and in Zen it’s handled a very different way. There are gaps in the lineage charts.
In the Tibetan tradition in order to fill those gaps they gave people arbitrarily long life spans. In the Zen tradition being a little more literary…literally-minded, they couldn’t do that. So they just made up a whole bunch of names and plugged them in. Now you can take issue with that. But in either case what they were respecting is those people for whom that sense of transmission down through the ages is helpful to them in their practice. And it very, very definitely is for some people.
But as I said as I learned more and more of this stuff and how much jockeying and elbowing and outright competition, etc., etc., there was going on. You know, it meant less and less. At the same time the sense of having received something and the responsibility, and I would even say obligations, that go with that. I felt more and more—I’m not sure what the right word is, acutely is too sharp a word but vividly isn’t quite right. Tangibly, let’s say. So there is a sense in me of that. And so I don’t feel separate from it.
From what I understand of how you approach things, then that sense of a very explicit lineage really means a great deal to you. So you probably find me quite frustrating in this regard.
Gary: I think that’s a straw man argument. But—
Gary: The straw man argument. I don’t—
Ken: Strong man argument?
Gary: Straw man.
Ken: Straw man.
Ken: Okay. Go on.
Gary: Well, I’m just curious.
Gary: Not really, you know, like rigidly set a certain way.
Ken: Okay. Well, thank you. That helps me. Then what I would encourage you to do is carry the sense of tradition and of lineage in your heart. And do…do whatever facilitates that. Because carrying that in your heart, that’s one way faith and devotion come from. And those are very, very powerful components of this particular approach to practice. But it’s really finding a way to carry it in your heart that’s important.
Julia: I had a question about a prayer.
Julia: You suggested that I study—
Ken: Oh, yes.
Julia: —the Varjra Song, Recognizing Mind as Guru. And I’ve been through it. And I just had…I had some questions about some verses on page 16.
If contemplatives who look at mind without distraction, are free from the mind that looks, what’s the problem?
That verse and then the next verse. And what I’m inferring from that is this refers to people who are undertaking particular practices that might be construed as being problems from a mahamudra point of view. But they’re not if you actually dissolve as you’re doing them.
Ken: What he does here was very difficult to translate. Now [Ken reads some Tibetan words] I can’t remember which are which here. But let me take a given example. Let’s take the second part of the first verse you’ve named: If deep meditators who continuously meditate on no separation release what meditates…. Well, the term there is drupchen. Now drupchen is composed of two words drup is a practice, as in Vajrayana practice, like sadhana practice. And chen is great. So these were people who really poured their energy into this kind of thing. And they’re focusing their attention on experiencing no separation. You know, samsara, nirvana, etc, etc. Okay?
Now, what Kyer-gong-pa is asking is here they’re pouring this energy into this and if, in this process, what happens is that they let go of any sense—or the sense of someone making this effort vanishes—what’s the problem? And then if you go—with that as an example—if you go to the previous one,
If contemplatives who look at mind without distraction….
Okay, so there you are looking at mind, all right? And you keep looking at mind, looking at mind and looking at mind. And you pursue this so deeply, that the mind which looks disappears. What’s the problem?
Do you see how these work?
Julia: Yeah. I was confused by the what’s the problem? thing. ’Cause I was going back to that, the other one which is the Samantabhadra.
Ken: Ah, yes.
Julia: Where he’s going through these, you know, these problems with the eight vehicles. And I was wondering if these four sort of ones here referred to similar problems. So I’m wondering where didwhat’s the problem come from? Do you see?
Ken: Well, what Kyer-gong-pa is referring to here, at least my understanding, is if the basis of an identity as a contemplative, as a deep meditator, as a practitioner, as a truth master, whatever, the basis of an identity vanishes—well, isn’t this actually what we’re aiming to do? And so, it’s very much a rhetorical thing he’s saying. That yes, you have these different approaches to practice, or different practice activities, but they’re all about letting go or the vanishing of any sense of identity.
And so where’s what you’re referring to in the Wisdom Experience of Ever-present Good [Ken’s translation of Jigme Lingpa’s from The Heart Essence of Great Space Cycle] are—that’s a different kettle of fish. Here in what is presented as criticism of the eight vehicles—and this is important—it’s not criticism of philosophical schools, it’s criticism of tendencies that are present in all of us. And how we get caught by certain things.
So if you take the first one,
Suppose the house of a poor man contains a wonderful treasure,
And although he has it, he doesn’t know it:
He continues to be a poor man.
In the same way, you are entangled in a net of unaware thinking
This is on page 17 [of the retreat booklet].
And don’t know what you have. How heartbreaking, you beings in samsara!
So he’s saying: Here you are in samsara, and you don’t know what’s possible. Well, how many of us have been in that position? Okay?
And you take the next one.
When you turn your back on the path of natural being,
Mistaken notions don’t stop at all.
So you ascetics latch on to a single principle
From such flawed philosophies as order or chaos.
Which could also be translated as materialism and mentalism—like everything’s matter or everything’s thought. Okay? And how many people in the course of history have rather than just being with what is have tried to develop a philosophy and got really attached to it and propagated it, etc. And lots of people buying into it, etc., you know okay. I mean this is typical reductionist thinking. And so,
How confused you are by wrong ideas, you extremists!
So, these are all tendencies in the way that we relate to this ineffable experience which we call life. And so he goes through all of the different ways, like the bodhisattva path is not really…what he’s talking about are the emphasis on logic and reasoning, etc., etc., and the very sophisticated epistemology which abounds in the Mahayana. And like, as if that’s going to do anything for you. And yet how many people do you know who feel that if they develop a really brilliant philosophical system, it’s going to somehow change their life. You follow?
Julia: I’ve got one last main question then here.
Julia: What’s he referring to in the phrase truth masters? [In The Vajra Song Recognizing Mind as the Guru]
Student: Where is it?
Ken: This is on page 16. This was my translation of Naljorpa. Naljorpa is the Tibetan word for yogin and it’s translated into Tibetan as two words nal [pron. nou] and jor. Nal has the meaning of natural state or truth or something like that. And jor has the meaning of having joined with. So—
Ken: Pardon? Pardon?
Student: It’s like that early teacher. Right?
Ken: Use the microphone.
Student: Khyungpo Naljor.
Ken: Khyungpo Naljor. Yeah. That’s the same word. Exactly. Exactly the same word.
So, this approach where you’re, I mean, when we graduated from the three-year retreat, Rinpoche didn’t want to call the lay people lamas. He didn’t like that ’cause he felt lamas should be monks. So he wanted us to adopt the title naljorpa. And naljorma for the women.
And we thought about that and we just could not figure out how to translate it into English in a way that was acceptable to us because we were very uncomfortable going around saying we were truth dwellers. That just didn’t sit quite right with us. ’Cause that actually would be a reasonable translation. Or
people who abide in the natural state. That seemed a little pretentious for most of us.
So this goes to what I want to say here. In this approach it’s about resting very, very deeply. That’s how this union, which is what the word yogin is based on—one who’s experienced union, comes about through very, very deep resting. So, what are you doing? You’re guarding against managing the mind. ’Cause as soon as you’re managing the mind you’re not resting, are you?
Julia: So, this is mahamudra?
Ken: Well, all of these are different forms of mahamudra.
Ken: Yeah. So, here you have these people who are really careful about letting mind just be itself, and not doing anything with it. And there they are. And what if they experience there’s no mind to do anything with. What’s the problem? You see how these work, verses work?
Julia: Yes, I see now. Thank you.
Ken: Okay. You know, I mean, there you are. You’ve been carefully managing this stuff and you go, “There’s nothing there to manage!” Of course, a lot of people feel that they’ve been robbed of their birthright at that point. Yeah, and that’ll be the expression sometimes. Like…“What do I do now?”
Okay. Any other questions. Yes, Rob, please. Leslie?
Rob: Would you comment at some point, and it doesn’t need to be this evening, on following the trackless path in a situation that I think we’re probably all in. Where we’ve not left home, we’ve not left our communities, we’ve not left family. And you touched on this last night but at some point I’d be interested in hearing you—
Ken: How did I touch on it last night? That would be helpful.
Rob: You mentioned the origins of Buddhism like the sadhus in India who…the home leavers. And then you also talked about Longchenpa’s advice in here.
Ken: Oh. Okay.
Rob: I’m just interested in hearing you touch on it further. Again, it doesn’t need to be right now. I know it’s—
Ken: Just a second.
Rob: —probably a bit late.
Ken: These are the notes I prepared for tonight. But no, not quite. So, that’ll be tomorrow night.
That’s a very interesting question. So, I may do a little more than touch on it, if that’s okay.
Okay. Where I was going to start this evening—and I will tomorrow—but we can start there. Probably go in a slightly different direction.
The question that I’ve posed that everybody consider when they first came here is, “Why are you here.” And I’m going to venture that a possible answer to that is that we come here because the circumstances of our life have raised questions about which it is impossible for us not to be curious. That fair?
What those particular circumstances are varies a great deal from individual to individual. For some people it may be seemingly unresolvable pain or disturbance of some form. For other people it may be experiences they’ve had which do not fit into the ordinary way of relating and they don’t know what to do with it. In reading Karen Armstrong’s A History of God it became very clear to me—and maybe this is just to me, it’s not what actually is the case but for now I’m going to say it’s the case—that every spiritual practice, every religious doctrine, every philosophical school begins with one person’s attempt to come to terms with their experience. And it may become institutionalized. And I’m going to talk more about that tomorrow.
So, this is what brings us here. And it is what has impelled countless people through the course of history into various forms of curiosity and investigation.
We’ve undertaken to pursue that curiosity and live life in society. Not everybody decides to do that. Notably Buddha Shakyamuni decided not to. And the Shaivites initiates that I was referring to the other night have decided not to. But we have decided to do so.
In early Buddhism, the earlier formulation of the Three Refuges or the refuge is buddha, dharma and sangha. And the later forms of Indian Buddhism and in Tibetan Buddhism, the teacher was elevated. The teacher became a source of refuge, too. And in composing the refuges for this retreat I made a very explicit decision to put the teacher as a source of refuge. So the first one is
I take refuge in my teacher, treasured buddha.
Now I did this for a very explicit reason. When we are impelled by our curiosity this way, we are looking for a path in our lives. We’re looking for a way to negotiate our lives that honors our experience. And know whether that experience is that pain or things that just don’t fit or whatever.
Once we start moving in that direction, or start doing that, most of us find out fairly quickly we don’t know what the hell we’re doing. And we don’t even know where to turn. And at this stage we’re extraordinarily vulnerable. All kinds of people can take advantage of us at this stage. And at some time or other, and it may be soon after we start out, it may be many, many years, we encounter someone maybe through a book, maybe through attending a talk, maybe through a chance meeting and in this day and age maybe through a podcast. And something resonates with this path or our efforts to find this path.
So that person and it doesn’t matter who they are or how awake they are, for us they become a guide. And that is what is meant here. For us they become one who shows possibilities. And that’s why I used the phrase treasured buddha. It’s not about who they are. It’s about who they are for us.
And that relationship can take many, many different forms. But almost everybody I know who sets out on such a path encounters and works with such a person at some time. And it may be a series of people at different stages and so forth. There’s a lot of variation. And through that interaction we come to know possibilities. We may learn certain techniques and approaches. And we become aware of stuff in us.
I hope I can find this. Yes, here we are. This is an example of how association with such a person puts us in touch with stuff with us.
It is related by Ibrahim Kalash that when he was a youth he wanted to attach himself to a certain teaching master. He sought out the sage and asked to become his disciple. The teacher said, “You are not ready yet.” Since the young man was insistent the sage said, “Very well, I will teach you something. I’m going on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Come with me.” The disciple was overjoyed. “Since we are travelling companions,” said the teacher, “one must lead and the other obey. Choose your role.” “I shall follow. You lead,” said the disciple. “I shall lead if you know how to follow,” said the master.
The journey started. While they were resting one night in the desert of the Hejaz it started to rain. The master got up and held a covering over the disciple protecting him. “But this is what I should be doing for you,” said the disciple. “I command you to allow me to protect you thus,” said the sage.
When it was day the young man said, “Now it is a new day. Let me be the leader and you follow me.” The master agreed. “I shall now collect brush wood to make a fire,” said the youth. “You may do no such thing. I shall collect it,” said the sage. “I command you to sit there while I collect the brush wood,” said the young man. “You may do no such thing,” said the teacher, “for it is not in accordance with the requirements of discipleship for the follower to allow himself to be served by the leader.”
And so on every occasion the master showed the student what discipleship really meant by demonstration.
They parted at the gate of the holy city. Seeing the sage later the young man could not meet his eyes. “That which you have learned,” said the old man, “is something of the nature of discipleship.”
So that was where his path started being put very much in touch with his own internal material.
When we choose to follow such a path in the context of the life of family and work it places special demands. There is a Zen teacher in Japan and what precipitated his satori was quite unusual. And after spending quite a time wondering what he was going to do he began to teach. But he refused to teach monks because he thought they were too lazy. He spent—actually after this awakening—he spent a long time driving trucks.
And then he started to teach. He would only teach lay people and nuns. He would teach nuns because they were at the bottom of the monastic pecking order. Life was pretty wretched for them. And he taught lay people because they chose to work at their practice in the context of their lives and required special efforts. They didn’t have time for it; they had to make time. And because they had to make time then they put in greater effort in the time. Not as far as this particular teacher was concerned like the lazy monks who had time and structure, etc., etc., and didn’t make any effort.
So, if we choose this way we ourselves have to create the conditions in our lives to practice. We have to create the conditions ourselves in our lives for us to be able to meet with whomever we’re looking to for guidance and instruction. These are all our responsibilities. And that’s how we begin.
As we progress in this path we will find over and over again that the circumstances of our life put us in touch with our internal material. And now we have a double challenge. We have to deal with the actual circumstances of our life but because we are practicing this path we have to do it in a way in which we’re not run by our internal material. This makes things quite difficult sometimes.
For me, this is the approach that I’ve taken is to learn principles extremely deeply. Most people want to know tactics—what to do in specific situations. And when I started doing business consulting I realized that they weren’t the least bit interested in principles. They just wanted to know what to do in specific situations. And required quite a bit of adaptation for me. And I still have difficulty going there.
The reason we have to learn very deep principles is because we are on our own on this trackless path. And so we need to know those principles so deeply that the application just manifests in the situations. There’s a lot of trial and error here. And sometimes we can be so confused in areas of our internal material we don’t know what’s up, we don’t know what’s down. And it’s really a case of negotiating life literally day by day. We will often have the experience of being very alone.
We cannot look to a text or a system and say, “There is the path.” Because sooner or later—and I’ve usually found it sooner rather than later—we find it doesn’t apply. This actually crops up in all ways of practicing. Even when you follow a very clearly defined system. There comes a stage in practice usually somewhere about 5 to 8 years—sometimes around 10 to 12—where you have to make the practice your own. For many people this is very difficult because it involves letting go of the prescribed path. So there’s often a feeling that I am betraying something or I’m violating something—taboos, whatever.
It’s not actually the case. One is moving from following a path that has been defined and prescribed and finding a path inside. But it doesn’t stop it from being, for many people, from being a difficult and often quite a painful transition. And particularly in institutional settings unless one has a really good teacher, there could be very little support for that transition—and a lot of questioning of it. Which often takes unpleasant forms.
If you have a really good teacher, they see you teetering at the edge of this cliff and they just give you a little kick. And by the time you turn around and say, “What the hell did you do?” you’re already falling. So.
Ken: Okay. Please, Julia.
Julia: Could you talk a little bit about the price in worldly terms of doing this. Because you’ve talked about the aloneness of finding your own path. But you haven’t talked about the consequences of it for the life of work and relationships which can change very dramatically, as a result.
Ken: Well. I think one has to talk about the price and the rewards.
Ken: Oh, I don’t have that one here. You’ve heard me tell this one before. I think you have, Julia, and a few other people. And I’ll do it as best I can.
A group of people came to a Sufi and said we’d like to study with you. And he said, “Are you willing to give up pride and be humble?” And they said, “Yes!” “Are you willing to experience difficulty and not seek comfort?” And they said, “Yes!” And he asked them. “Are you willing to serve and not lead?” They said, “Yes!” He said, “Very well. Next Tuesday I’m meeting with a group of students who studied with me for three years. Please come.” He told them where to come.
That Tuesday evening this group of people came in and there was a group of people, students, sitting there. And the Sufi said, “Sit over here.”
And he turned to his students, the ones who had been studying with him for three years. And said, “How many of you would rather be proud than humble?” And they all stood up. “How many of you would rather have comfort than difficulty?” And they all stood up. “How many of you would rather lead than serve?” And they all stood up.
So he turned to this new group and said, “So you see that the results of studying with me will be that you are worse than you are now. Please think about this. And we can talk again.”
When we set out on such a path, we have no idea where it will lead. I remember a meeting I had with Julia and a couple of other women—Martha and Michelle—in my old office.
Ken: And I think it was Michelle said, “And what do you do?” And Julia said, “I’m not working right now.” And Martha said, “Yeah, I’m working.” And Michelle just looked at her and said, “Oh, you haven’t been studying very long with Ken yet. Another couple of years and you’ll be unemployed.” You remember that? [Laughter]
Julia: I remember that.
Ken: And Martha went [Ken masks gasping sound]. Couple of years later she was unemployed.
Ken: No. She’s been seen a couple of times. There’s been these long gaps.
So because as one begins to explore this curiosity that we have about—okay—this experience we call life, all kinds of things are called into question. Actually, everything is called into question! [Laughter]
Towards the end of Four Quartets T.S. Eliot writes,
A moment of complete simplicity which costs not less than everything.
So things are called into question. And this starts actually quite early. Many of you have heard me talk about the eight worldly concerns: happiness and unhappiness, gain and loss, fame and obscurity, respect and disdain. These are what the conventional life is based on. We seek happiness, seek wealth, gain, a certain amount of fame or renown, certainly respect. Try to avoid the others. And if we turn our back on that, everybody thinks we’re crazy. But you may very well find that as these things come into question or as you come to certain understandings that what is meaningful to everybody else has little meaning. Maybe even no meaning to you.
And what I often find extraordinary is how hard, extraordinarily hard some people become around money. That when the topic of money comes in this perfectly reasonable, nice person becomes somebody else. That’s what’s really important in their lives. And they will sacrifice friendships and things for that. Which is completely bizarre as far as I’m concerned because money is always replaceable. Friendships aren’t.
So, we begin to move. And this changes our relationships with people. And we’ve already talked in other evenings about how when things change inside we begin to relate to people differently. And for some people, they can’t accept the change in relationship. And those relationships fall away. And they’re replaced by other relationships. Maybe not as many of them but they are often replaced by other relationships. And they’re different in quality and tone and dynamic.
But through this process there can be a consistent sense of loss. I think this is what Julia was referring to in terms of price. Is that right?
Ken: And it can do what I was talking about in relationship with betrayal. It’s the loss…it’s the grief we experience when we lose an illusion. You know, we live that and it was so fine. But now we see it’s not like that and there’s grief in that. There’s a process of separation which is what grief is about.
But I think it’s only fair to say that those prices are half of it. And the other half of it is that we move into a more complete relationship with this experience we call life. And whether you call it a sense of wholeness, or purpose, or direction, or understanding, or any of many other terms—congruence—that’s also part of the picture. It’s not necessarily a nice neat process—if you let this go this comes. It’s often if you let this go you wander around for a long time wondering what the hell is going on. And then you begin, “Oh, this is actually what I was looking for. I just didn’t recognize it.”
But one has to be willing to accept and live in this kind of uncertainty and change and, in many cases, unknowing. Rilke, in Letters to a Young Poet says, “Only be a poet if you have to be a poet. If you have any other choice in your life, take it.” And somebody I was meeting with quite recently said the same thing about photography to me. And it applies to a lot of areas. And basically I say the same thing to people, “Only travel this path if you have to.”
There’s a teacher in Toronto who’s quite old now, Lama Karma Thinley, who’s always been a bit quirky. Which is one of the things I liked about him. And when he first came to Toronto which was back in the ’70s people would go to India and they would come back full of enthusiasm saying I took refuge with so and so, etc. And Lama Karma Thinley would go, “Oh. I’m so sorry!” [Laughter] At first it was just like, “What?” And Lama Karma Thinley would, “Maybe it’s not too late.” And of course the people were just like “What!” So.
So, does this speak to what you were—
Julia: So, perhaps better not to start probably—
Ken: Well, it’s a Tibetan expression, you know, “Perhaps better not to start. Once started, better to finish.”
Ken: Well, things don’t necessarily work out on the path. And I know because I’ve seen any number of people really damaged, quite a few corpses, etc. Many colleagues for whom that’s been the case.
At the same time, if you have this curiosity and you pursue it, it’s unlikely whatever happens that you’ll regret it. The opposite is not true. And, as I’ve said, it’s very much about coming to terms with our experience. And we can put that in all kinds of language. For some people, they seek freedom. For some people, awakening. For some people, presence. For some people, knowing of some form. Some people, peace.
There are other words that are used to describe it. One I’m thinking of is union. But that’s a metaphor. It’s a metaphor to describe a certain experience. What we are looking for is a way of experiencing our lives which fundamentally leaves us at peace.
Now a lot of colleagues of mine really take issue with me for making that statement. But for some of you whom I know through our conversations have experienced presence without any sense of subject or object. There is in that experience a complete peace. You are free of the tension of duality. And that’s why I use that terminology. It’s actually not about looking for meaning or purpose because those are relatively subtle forms of identity.
And I go back to something that I mentioned at the beginning of the retreat. And I’ve mentioned many times because I find this wording very helpful. That curiosity that I’ve been speaking about this evening often is experienced as a small, stammering voice that is asking inconvenient questions. And if you choose this path then you learn to listen deeply so you can hear that voice. And that’s no simple matter.
Christy, did you have—
Christy: Yes, I did.
Ken: Leslie, could you pass the microphone, please?
Christy: I don’t know if this is a [unclear—whispering] lineage question or a history question. But where do the four ways of working—power, ecstasy, insight and compassion come from?
Ken: [Chuckles] Aaah. Well, you find them in Jung. Four archetypes: warrior, lover, magician, and ruler. You find them in Basque shamanism—Angeles Arrien’s The Four-Fold Way. And a very good friend of mine who trained in other traditions put it in this particular vocabulary, which I’ve used. And then it became very clear to me that different spiritual traditions specialized in different ways of working.
Buddhism in particular specializes in insight and compassion. Really, really good in those two areas. A certain amount of ecstatic work. It’s not so good in power. The main practice of power in Buddhism is shamatha. Martial arts, of course, the power is made far more explicit. Hinduism—significant parts of it—very ecstatic. As is Christianity, largely. Most of the devotional traditions are ecstatic. And you can go on.
Then my friend, Yvonne Rand, took me to a two-day workshop with Harada Roshi who—this was about ten years ago, I guess. Because she really…she just wanted me to have that exposure. And I very much appreciate it. And one point in this program, Harada Roshi talked not using the language of the four ways of working but just talked about them in a way that I hadn’t heard any Buddhist teacher do so.
And my ears pricked up—like a dog’s, you know. [Ken makes sniffing noises.] And I said, “Where does that come from?” And Harada Roshi just started to think and he went, “Hmm.” And then he said something very interesting. He said, “That’s just ordinary Buddhist thinking, isn’t it?” And I went, “Well, that may be but where does it come from?” And then he trotted out a piece which I recognized. I’m not sure where he was taking it from. But I recognized it as coming from a summary of a body of teachings known as The Five Teachings of Maitreya.
Now I have not studied The Five Teachings of Maitreya because those are five fairly significant texts which form part of the canonical studies in the Tibetan tradition. But I have read and translated the summary of that by Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje called Differentiating Ordinary Consciousness and Pristine Wisdom, or Pristine Awareness.
So what Harada Roshi was saying was almost exactly what I had read of Rangjung Dorje who wrote this in the…mmm…thirteenth century. Yeah. Thirteenth, yeah, I think, thirteenth, maybe fourteenth. And absolutely Harada Roshi had not read this. So it’s completely different relationship…root for him.
So, it goes like this. First aspect of, let me be sure I get this right. [Long pause; whispering to himself] Oh, okay that’s it. Yeah, okay, I think I’ve got it.
Anybody have a copy of Wake Up To Your Life right here? Thanks. ’Cause I stuck it in there. I just hate to muck it up. And if you’re interested it’s on page 442, 443. Yeah. Bottom page 443 is where this is. Yeah. I’m starting in the right place.
So this gets really technical.
When the eighth consciousness, the basis of everything consciousness transforms
Now you want to know what that’s about. No, we’re not going into that this evening.
what arises is mirror-like pristine awareness.
I’ve been meaning to write a blog entry on “look into a mirror.” And just spend a few hundred hours looking into a mirror. It could be very helpful.
When you look into a mirror everything’s just there. You don’t see the mirror. So mirror-like pristine awareness is that quality of everything just being there. And you meet it. Power.
Then emotional mind which is the seventh consciousness transforms into two kinds of pristine awareness, the balancing pristine awareness and the distinguishing pristine awareness.
Ah, it’s coming back to me. That’s so refreshing. Okay? When you open to everything, everything becomes experience—ecstasy. Distinguishing pristine awareness enables us to see into things. You make distinctions—insight. And then the sixth sensory consciousnesses transforms into effective pristine awareness. How we act in the world—compassion.
So I came back from Harada Roshi and said to my friend, “Guess what.” And I ran this down. He went, “Wow. We missed that. Didn’t we, Ken.” So, this stuff’s, deep. Okay?
Thank you. Whose is this?
Yeah, I know. We’re 9 o’clock, already. That’s fine. We’ll end here. No more questions.
|This transcript by Ken McLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. This transcript has been edited to make it more readable. There may be minor differences between the audio file and the transcript.|