passage from text:
As you grow accustomed to this exchange, and that may take a while, you come to rest in a different way, in a profound acceptance of the pain of the world and the struggles that comprise most people’s lives. In that acceptance, there is a quiet joy, a joy in the wonder of life itself.
Difference between teaching and learning, faith and belief; the three important things: impermanence/change, compassion, and faith; opening to doubt; the direction of the present. Questions from participants: What is the most productive question you’ve asked yourself? How do I not carry the past into the present? How do I stay focused on this path when at times I just want to be coddled?
Prayers and rituals to evoke the emotions of devotion, loving-kindness, and compassion in order to be clear, present, and open during meditation, the importance of intention, concluding meditation by letting go of judgement and attachment
passage from article: Compassion is the difference between a faith that opens you to what life brings and beliefs that force you to close down to protect what you cannot or will not question.
The transcript is not yet available. Click on Listen.
Working with anger, practicality and perfection, balance in relationships, pain and compassion, working with slander, shame and enemies, is practice for building skills or for being present
passage from translation:
I and all beings, in their infinities,
Whether demonic, crippling or alien,
Are, in the end, the same in emptiness.
Confused is the person who takes what is empty as real.
passage from article: The principle is as simple as it is counter-intuitive: take the pain of others and give our own happiness in exchange. Suicide?! Ironically, it cuts through, wears away, and undermines the four levels of confusion. Conditioned behavior and perceptions are radically altered through an appreciation of what we have and what we can give to others. Emotional turbulence is reduced as we find ourselves capable of being present non-reactively with pain and unpleasantness. Dualistic thinking is derailed and we find ourselves simply present with others. And, strangest of all, we find our understanding of mind becoming clearer and clearer.
passage from text:
It doesn’t exist: even buddhas do not see it.
It doesn’t not exist: it is the basis of samsara and nirvana.
No contradiction: the middle way is union.
May I know the pure being of mind,free of extremes.
passage from text:
Even with a free and well-favored birth, I waste this life.
The meaningless activities of conventional life constantly distract me.
When I work at freedom, which is truly important, laziness carries me away.
Because I am turning away from a land of jewels with my hands empty,
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to make my life worthwhile.
passage from article: Deep questions about values and ethics arise around the issues of abortion, life support, and elective suicide for those with debilitating and terminal illnesses. In these and other circumstances, call up compassion so that you see clearly, go empty in all the complexities so you know what is, and in that knowing act without hesitation.
passage from article: As we cut through our confusion over and over again, returning to the breath, we find that a whole realm of experience begins to open up to us: thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, sounds, images, memories. Our conditioned tendency is to regard some of these as good and some as bad. Through power, we have established a place for our attention to rest. Now we make an effort in ecstasy…
passage from text:
The happiness of the three worlds disappears in a moment,
Like a dewdrop on a blade of grass.
The highest level of freedom is one that never changes.
Aim for this — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.
passage from text:
As long as I dwell in the world,
may not a single thought of harming others arise in my mind.
May I strive energetically for the welfare of beings,
not faltering even for a moment from discouragement or fatigue.
passage from article: A student asked Dezhung Rinpoche about visualization practice and deity meditation. Dezhung Rinpoche closed his eyes, scrunched his forehead, bobbed his head up and down as if he were concentrating very hard and said, “You visualize the head of the deity, then you visualize all those arms, then you visualize the implements, then the palace, then you try to see the whole deity clearly, but you lose one part, so you go back to visualize that… And it’s all gone. You start again, and the same thing happens, again, and again.” Then he opened his eyes wide, looked right at the student, smiled, and said, “And then you have a headache!”
Introduction to text; historical context; Tilopa and Naropa; three doors to practice; mahamudra as a way of experiencing; metaphors of space; letting experience be just as it is; meditation instruction for the next week: rest in experience of breathing, open to sensory experience.
Summary of earlier discussions; review of The Four Steps to Standing Up; serving the direction of the present; anger signals “an enemy out there” ; compassion: method and result; a discussion of practices, compassion and living fully in the world.
Emptiness and compassion as the two components of awakening mind; the impediment of despair; discussion of Longchempa’s advice: “Practice these two together (goodness and pristine awareness);” the notion of progress in society and spiritual life; instructions for the dispersion practice, a practice for balancing energy.
Letting go of idealism; danger to spiritual life from institutional mindsets; counteracting with compassion; walking meditation instruction; being no one in a position of leadership; creating conditions that allow others to do what’s needed; discussion of ten methods of mind-killing and how they corrupt practice.
The effect of eye gaze in meditation; four ways of working: power (based on coercion, demands), ecstasy (connection through opening), insight (seeing into things) and compassion (being present with another’s pain or when another is in pain); which operate in our close relationships?; three bases of relationship: mutual benefit, shared aim and emotional connection.
Increasing our relationship to emotional material through practices of loving-kindness, compassion and devotion; awareness of body is key; Mahamudra pith instructions; “body like a mountain, breath like the wind, mind like the sky; heart and mind not distinct; difference between method and result; developing capacity by stopping before attention dissipates; relationship of Mahamudra to primary practice.
Wisdom; meditation: observing what changes when we rest and relax with a problematic experience; experiencing what is actually arising and being at peace at the same time; spiritual opening as memory, idea, belief; beliefs vs ideology; compassion; emptiness as the means to compassion; compassion and ideology.
Satori, enlightenment, and laypeople; parallels with martial arts training; what compassion is really like; commentary on Aspirations for Mahamudra.
The three kayas or forms of buddhahood (dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, nirmanakaya) and their characteristics; special traits of buddhahood; understanding the activities of buddhahood as the natural response of compassion instead of viewing them as special abilities; thanks and acknowledgments to everyone who helped manage the class and make the podcasts possible.. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 20 and Chapter 21.
Patience; participants’ experience with meditation on impatience; impatience arising from feeling weaker than what opposes you; anger conditions quickly and deeply; essential gesture: compassion creates a sense of ease; classification: patience when interacting with others, patience with self in spiritual practice, patience with fear of no-self; primary characteristics; developing patience with self; working with anger; patience with ending reactive patterns; patience which allows us to know just how things are; meditation assignment: work more deeply to experience what one seeks to avoid by exiting into impatience. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 14.
Participant’s experience with meditation on succumbing to despair and rejecting others; aspects of the bodhisattva vow associated with Dharmakirti; moving from intention to will; benefits of taking the vow, disadvantages of losing and factors leading to the degeneration of the bodhisattva vow; vow renewal; bodhicitta as an ethic of compassion; meditation instruction for upcoming week: repeat bodhisattva vow daily, how do you respond to the ceremony and to forming this intention? The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 9.
Participant’s experience with meditation on laying to rest wrong action; taking the bodhisattva vow in the presence of a teacher; does spiritual understanding lead to appropriate action; insight and compassion; preparation for taking the vow: offerings (developing generosity), clearing away non-virtuous action (remorse, remedy, resolve, reliance); meditation instruction for upcoming week on rejoicing in virtue. Due to a recording error, the meditation instruction was added later. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 9.
summary: Participant’s experience with meditation on attention, intention, and will; living life at the level of intention or will in order to help others wake up (bodhicitta); Is bodhicitta or desire to help others awaken a natural instinct?; the four geneses of bodhicitta; meditation instruction for upcoming week: when you doing something you know is wrong, what needs to happen to lay it to rest? The four stages in the development of awakening mind; two aspects of awakening mind: apparently true and ultimately true; translation points on these two terms; aspiration and engagement awakening mind; attention, intention and will. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 9.
Participants report their experience with previous week’s meditation assignment; a tale of warm fuzzies and cold pricklies; reactions to giving and receiving kindness; three steps to staying present when receiving kindness: recognizing, acknowledging, and appreciating; the natural response (love) to staying present in kindness; extending this response to “all sentient beings”; the difference between loving-kindness and compassion; the contraction that occurs in the presence of suffering that prevents loving-kindness and compassion from arising; meditation for the upcoming week: what do I actually trust? The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 7.
Participants reflection on intentionally engaging in a non-virtuous act; patterned behavior as a way to avoid experience; ascription, inevitability and karma; how to respond to questions like “Do you believe in evil?”; loving-kindness and compassion as remedies to attachment to the pleasure of peace; the maturation of motivation and practice; is compassion the natural outcome of awareness or something one must cultivate?; meditation instruction for upcoming week: what is it like to receive kindness? The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 6 and Chapter 7.
Knowing whatever arises for what it is; the natural response of compassion; the three poisons and dualistic thinking; why taking and sending works; taking and sending & the four immeasurables; the three objects, three poisons, and three seeds of virtue; meditation instruction for awakening to what is apparently true, taking and sending; questions from participants
Education, training, and learning in Tibetan and Western cultures; brief biographies of Atisha and Chekawa Yeshe Drorje; secret teachings and transmissions; mind-training as a way to refine experience; refining v. training; empty compassion (emotion-free); illusion of choice as an indication of the lack of freedom; meditation instruction on groundwork
Participants’ comments and questions on compassion meditation including: joy, passion, excitement, and fun; what is meant by the line “May I experience the world celebrating my efforts”; sympathetic joy; is “the world celebrating my efforts” a form of external validation; how impermanence may appear to contradict cause and effect; how can I “enjoy the activities of life itself” when life becomes sticky; what does one do if you can see a situation clearly but may not have the capacity to act as the situation demands. Commentary on energy transformation passage from the reading assignment; what participants got from the class; where to go from here.
Participants’ comments and questions on compassion meditation including: Should we say the verses used in these meditations aloud or to ourselves?; Does the line in the compassion meditation, ‘May I experience the world wishing me freedom from pain’, impose an unrealistic ideal upon the world?; difficulty in extending these verses to include others; the relationship between compassion, despair, and joy; What are you opening to when being compassionate towards others?; How does one find the balance between justice and compassion Commentary on social and adult expressions of the four immeasurables and spiritual longings passage from the reading assignment; meditation instruction for joy.
Participants’ experience with compassion meditation and related reading including experiences with heartbreak and movement of energy; being present in the suffering of others; are goals useful in practice; intention and results; compassion and boundaries; what is meant by ‘the open space of no response’; what is meant by ‘non-residing’; working with the line ‘May I experience the world wishing me freedom from pain’; the satisfaction of despising. Commentary on adolescence striving and parental mind; meditation instruction for compassion.
Participants’ experience with loving-kindness meditation including opening to what arises; doesn’t wishing oneself to be happy actually separate you from certain experiences; is it unrealistic to think of the world wishing you happiness and peace; how this meditation impacts life off the cushion; is there a specific order to the immeasurables; how to work with fear; what is meant by ‘opening’ to experience; the purpose of practice and its effect on one’s life; is our natural state to be open or closed to what arises. Commentary on decay and corruption in the four immeasurables; meditation instruction for compassion.
The Four Immeasurables as higher emotions not based on a sense of self, and their transformative quality; The Four Immeasurables in the context of relationship and conflict and the ways these manifest in relationships; How equanimity manifests as judgement at the base level, up through impartiality, aloofness or detachment, and patience to full acceptance with no sense of judgement; The two aspects of true equanimity; How loving-kindness manifests as attraction or sexual desire at the base level, up through affection and caring to the selfless wish that others be happy; How compassion manifests as pity at the base level up through sympathy, fearlessness to be with another person’s pain to the genuine wish that they not suffer; The complexity and richness of compassion; Joy as competition or paranoia at the base level, up through elation or delight to joy in being and knowing what needs to be done and just doing it. Loving kindness and compassion as the appropriate efforts in intimate relationships; The shared aim relationship with a spiritual teacher; A summary of conflict as resistance to change demanded by the third world created when two people interact.
Review of previous day’s talk (recording of talk not available due to technical difficulties); defining integrity; integrity as a value; integrity as balance (rather than standing on principle); addressing imbalance as the essence of ethics; becoming an ongoing response to the pain and suffering of the world; questions from retreat participants.
The session begins by explaining there are different levels of understanding found in the first two spiritual paths (traditional path and path of cutting through conditioning). These paths have a vertical dimension. A person can become aware of new levels in two ways: through interaction with a teacher or through interaction with fellow students who have more experience. Practice only grows if one works at the edge of one’s practice. Working the edge can be difficult: it is often experienced in the body as panic or nausea and in the mind as uncertainty, or confusion. Finding the edge often requires interaction with a teacher, especially if the student experiences a feeling of not getting anywhere, staleness, or coasting in practice. Physical signs of being over the edge include a sense of being out of balance, engulfed, isolated, failing, or bewildered.The discussion then turned to different levels of practice, this time from the perspective of ‘doing what you know needs to be done’ as opposed to ‘being good.’
The second approach discussed is to cut through four types of conditioning: sociological, psychological, perceptual, and cultural. To cut through sociological conditioning one contemplates on death and impermanence. Contemplating on karma cuts through psychological conditioning. Breaking through the I-other framework cuts through perceptual conditioning. And development of compassion cuts through cultural conditioning. The third approach is based on personal experience: study and practice everything you can, make the path your own based on what works for you, and stand in your own knowing. Discrepancies between your intention and experienced results are reliable indicators that you are not standing in your own knowing. A flat or stale practice may indicate you’ve exhausted your intention and signal the need for redefining your intention in practice. Keep an eye out for chronic imbalances, as they indicate something is not working.The session ends with a group discussion on whether or not compassion or forgiveness towards oneself is important, especially if there is no self, and how to detect imbalance.
Translation Questions: If the opponent inside is one’s own anger, what is the opponent outside? (verse 20) Why is the word “subdue” used if we aren’t suppose to fight our experience? (verse 20) What do you mean by “subject-object fixation”? (verse 22) What is meant by the word “experience” in ‘whatever arises in experience is your own mind’? (verse 22) What is meant by the word “object” in ‘any object that you attach to, right away, let it go’? (verse 21) When subduing anger, why are loving kindness and compassion recommended instead of patience? (verse 20) Does the word “fixation” in ‘subject-object fixation’ mean a hardening around the idea of self and other? (verse 22) Translated text available on the website.
Reflection Questions, continued: Are desire and want okay so long as one doesn’t cling to the results? (practice 11), What, if any, are appropriate boundaries in interactions with people? (practices 12 and 13), What is compassion when dealing with a thief? (practice 12), But don’t you ultimately need to be happy or have a sense of well-being? (practice 11) What is the appropriate response when you are falsely accused? (practice 13) Note: Due to technical difficulties this recording contains a few brief sections that have electronic static which couldn’t be corrected. Translated text available on the website.
Q&A on individual responsibility in political and social issues, relationship between compassion and insight, and instruction on the ‘one breath’ meditation
Q&A based on the students’ experience with taking and sending, common difficulties and how to work with them, additional instruction on taking and sending
Practice questions regarding pride and compassion, the three classes of deities: peaceful, semi-wrathful, wrathful, review of Tsulak Trengwa’s poem How I Live The Practice (text available on website) which describes the flavor of deity practice, questions regarding deity practice
Questions regarding faith and compassion, balance in a guru-student relationship, the three types of faith and the three doors of freedom, questions from participants regarding this practice
Devotion reveals student’s internal material, difference between faith and belief, three types of faith and how they transform the three poisons, commentary on guru yoga and related prayer (text available on the website), questions from participants
Comments on the teacher-student relationship, the responsibilities of the teacher and student, methods that teachers use to reveal presence, provide instruction, and point out student’s internal material