Explaining mahamudra to others (from Pointing Out Instructions 9), differences between mahamudra and dzogchen, joining Kadampa and mahamudra, deciding whether or not to practice mahamudra.
passage from article:When I did open to everything, there was no opposition — there was no enemy. I didn’t have to struggle with experience. At the same time, there was no truth, no state of perfection, no ideal, no final achievement. Again, years later, in a conversation with another teacher about this experience, he said, “Don’t worry about truth. Just develop devotion so strongly that thinking stops, and rest right there.”
Urged to clarify Franca Leeson’s understanding of these instructions, both in terms of their meaning and how they are practiced Ken McLeod, a old dog who can no longer chew a bone, came up with these two translations.
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:
The essence of thought is what is,
it is taught.
To this meditator who arises as an unceasing play,
Being nothing at all,but arising as anything,
Give me energy to know that samsara and nirvana are not separate.
passage from text:
Whatever appearances of happiness and suffering arise,
Look at their essence and they will spontaneously subside.
This is the mahamudra of making all tastes equal.
Four pitfalls of Mahamudra: making an object out of experience; thinking you can make thoughts or experience empty; thinking that naming things is enough; “buy now, pay later” — practicing to get enlightened.
Mahamudra, translation, and how to read texts like Tilopa’s Ganges Mahamudra; the metaphor of space; relating to thoughts and other “movements of mind” in mahamudra; looking in a different way and resting in the looking; the three kayas.
Responding to questions on longing and desire; faith and refuge; vajrayana vows; Mahamudra instructions :“no placing, no reference, no missing the point” and “no distraction, no control, no working at anything;” ending wars; martial imagery; Tao Te Ching and groundlessness.
Answering questions on thoughts and “subconscious gossip”; mantras; taking and sending; obstacles in the body from experiences we were unable or unwilling to fully experience; Dzogchen and Mahamudra; dakinis; groundlessness.
passage from text:
Samsaric ways are senseless:they are the seeds of suffering.
Conventional ways are pointless. Focus on what is sound and true.
Majestic outlook is beyond all fixation.
Majestic practice is no distraction.
Majestic behavior is no action or effort.
The fruition is there when you are free from hope and fear.
Verses 22-end; review of last week’s meditation instruction; two qualities of mahamudra: resting and precipitating shift; experience without struggle; pitfalls of emptiness; aspiration vs ambition; cutting the root of mind; mind without beginning; transforming energy into attention; importance of faith.
Verses 15-21; participant’s response to last week’s question: what’s the use of non-referential experience?; find your own motivation; view, practice, behaviour, result; absolutely nothing to save us; actionless action; experiencing the pain of letting go of the conventional way of seeing the world; defining ourselves as what we oppose; recognizing sheer clarity; meditation instruction: in addition to first two steps add open your heart to everything you experience and ask the question – what experiences?
Verses 10-14; feeling tones; effort in primary practice; increasing capacity; where is mind?; mind without reference and its use in day to day life; wanting prevents opening; no wandering, no control, no working at anything; the light of the teaching; rebirth in samaras; energy of teacher; question: what’s the use of non-referential experience?
Verses 1-9; being in vs watching our experience; opening to all of us; nothing to attain; meaning of “ mugu”; looking into space; looking into thoughts; sheer clarity of mind; content of experience vs experience; look in the resting, rest in the looking; meditation instruction: rest in breathing, open to sensory experience, open to thoughts and feelings.
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.
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.
Common mistakes and pitfalls regarding emptiness and Mahamudra (believing emptiness is a thing, attempting to offer explanations to those who do not practice, etc.); a reading of One Sentence Pith Instruction and Recognizing Mind as Guru; integrating practice and life; questions from participants.
Satori, enlightenment, and laypeople; parallels with martial arts training; what compassion is really like; commentary on Aspirations for Mahamudra.
The problems of idealizing; seeing the mirror; awareness; commentary on Aspirations for Mahamudra.
The hunter and the three bears; how different sets of instructions point to the same thing (Asanga, mind-training, mahamudra, dzogchen); forms of knowing; letting direct experience soak in to your core; the sense of self and ant colonies; the nature of experience; form and emptiness.
Discussion of the highly coded text used in these last chapters; overview of the ten bhumis or stages and how they relate to one’s experience; how the stages reflect specific, real-life experiences and shifts; division of stages into impure and pure. Discussion of the first (nature) of the two aspects of the pristine awareness of Buddhahood; evaluating experience; resting in experience and seeing what is, bringing these two together; seeing things as they are, knowing how they appear; meditation instruction for upcoming week. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 19 and Chapter 20.
An overview of the Aspiration for Mahamudra and the Vajradhara Prayer
Pointing-out instructions, The resting knowing mind, Nothing that arises in experience is different from us
Basis-of-everything consciousness and awakening, Teachings on View: how we look at things
Stillness and movement: Milarepa’s Song to Lady Paldarboom, verses 8-17, Learning to breathe underwater: finding stillness in experience
Practicing without reference points: Milarepa’s Song to Lady Paldarboom, verses 2-6, Doing nothing: Six Words of Advice from Tilopa, A question of teaching: keeping our intention clear
Building capacity, Shamatha meditation, Energy transformation practices, The practice of devotion: guru yoga
Practice: deep listening, More questions from the Perfection of Wisdom: What do I trust? How do I relate to people/things/experience? What can I know?
Four fundamental questions to consider are: How do I know what is real? How do I know what is true? How do I know what is right? How do I know what to do? The beginnings of answers may be found in he Four Reminders (precious human existence, death and impermanence, teachings of karma, shortcomings of samsara).
What is Mahamudra? It can be seen as another way of looking at what the Four Noble Truths are about. Or it may be approached by asking: to what questions might those practices provide answers? What are my questions?
Void dakini instructions; the usefulness of “zero”: void makes everything possible; terror; destructive aspect of spiritual practice, constant letting go; Tilopa’s instructions
Dakini practice as a way of refining experience, comparison with Mahamudra practice; dakini practice as tool to raise energy; review of elements in relationship to emotional patterns and as descriptions of experience; nature of dakinis: “know dakinis to be one’s own mind”; symbolic nature of dakinis & relation to wisdom awarenesses; overview of five wisdom awarenesses: evenness (balance), mirror-like, distinguishing, effective action, totality; overview of practice instructions
Questions from class participants including, What can I do about being bored while being in my experience?, What is the difference between ‘dwell on the present’ and ‘being in the present’?, What is meant by ‘conjure and multiply’ in the text?; creating the conditions for practice’; engaging in life’s activities as a way to enhance practice; becoming an ongoing response to what is arising; willingness, know-how, and capacity; the stages of Mahamudra practice
Comments and questions from class participants; practicing during formal meditation and during ensuing activities; resting in, and stabilizing, shifts in attention; using thoughts and experiences to develop wakefulness; three ways of resting that maintain wakefulness; creating conditions so you can relax from the inside out; leaving your mind as it is naturally; the knowing which knows without identifying; questions on the text.
Questions from participants including: Is there an absolute?, What to believe in?, What is meant by ‘the single mind is the seed of everything’?, What is meant by ‘don’t dwell on the present’?; how we stop experiencing the way things are; lack of capacity vs. lack of understanding; practicing to build capacity; additional questions from participants; the eight ways we stray from mind nature
Mahamudra – a way to experience things as they are; the world of actual experience and the world of projection; The Ruler of The Universe; the value of accumulating ability and experience; being completely in the experience of what arises; pointing out instructions for the union of resting and seeing; questions from class participants
A story about meeting the spiritual path; review of practice experiences from the previous week; three necessary qualities: capacity, know-how, willingness; understanding v. knowledge; incorporating practice into all areas of life; practice is primarily about developing capacity; two capacities — resting and looking; developing the capacity for looking; investigation of the nature of mind is a response to the question “What am I?”; investigation of the nature of thought and sensation is a response to the question “What is life?”; life as sensations, feelings, and thoughts; the worlds of shared experience and actual experience; mind (awareness, what I am) cannot be separated from thought and sensation (experience, what is life); meditation instruction for the upcoming week; questions from class participants.
Discussion of the View section from The Lamp of Mahamudra by Tselek Rangdrol and the Shamatha section from Clarifying the Natural State by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal). Sketch of history and relevance of Mahamudra. The view can be seen as a response to life’s basic questions such as ‘What Am I?’ and ‘What is this experience we call “life”?’; the connection between essence and experience; contrast of clarity and openness of natural awareness with the stuff of ordinary experience; how emotional reactions and the six realms arise; examination of the kayas as a way to see things as they are; working with a teacher as one way to transform emotional energy into attention; seeing what you are by seeing what you are not, description of three types of meditations to do while taking this class, questions from class participants.
Translation Questions: What are the three spheres? (verse 37). Reflection Questions: In previous classes, you have said not to fight experience. Why then are we being instructed to “crush reactive emotions”? (verse 35), How do you ‘go into the experience’ during daily activities and still function? How does practice 36 differ from being in a constant state of mahamudra? Exactly how do you direct the goodness you generate from the practices to awakening? Translated text available on the website.
Taking original mind, direct awareness, as the basis, all experience as the expression of awareness, instruction in a five-step process based on direct awareness (mahamudra and dzogchen), cautions and pitfalls.