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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Buddhist Initiation and Commitments

I have been careful about giving initiations because I do not want students to feel overwhelmed by multiple commitments they might be unable to accomplish. However, I myself had many practice commitments that I did daily recitation. In the Tibetan tradition, in the old days, we made many promises to do commitment practices and upheld our commitments, not just by reciting but being involved energetically in the practices. Now, in this busy modern world, many Tibetan Buddhism practitioners receive advanced teachings, and might make commitments they cannot fulfill. Perhaps there are simply not enough hours in their day to do all of the practices that they sincerely promised.
From the side of the student, part of the initiation process is to make genuine commitment to accomplish the practice goals. Otherwise, you are taking it as a blessing. More and more people  actually are taking initiations as a blessing but vowing a commitment because of excitement/enthusiasm. There often is a part in the initiation that says; now you must do this sadhana daily or do so many recitations of the mantra. 
 I have heard that sometimes visiting lamas give initiation but there is no sadhana recitation practice available for students to take home to practice. In that case, someone might carefully take a commitment without even being able to do any sadhana or not even have the mantra correctly. Most are not sure what deity it was or who the lama was that gave the practice. This can also happen because they are participating in a group event of a teacher who has given a commitment without commentary, or just very short teachings. It often happens that the student does not have any personal contact with that teacher, yet they feel like not only is that one their guru but their root guru! This is very interesting because if you have read about Buddhism, the root guru is who cares for you with more personal contact than group initiation or reading a book written by them.
Another important issue that requires addressing is the need of non-Tibetan speakers regarding transliterated Tibetan sadhanas given without any commentary. Naturally, any foreign language recitation done with strong enough faith has some benefit. Like that, to the extent that someone has actually received the initiation, to that extent one has benefited even without understanding the language. However, among the group of disciples attending an initiation, the lama hopes that there will be one or more that will actually receive the initiation.

Initiation is an outside permission to begin studying and practicing the meditation and visualizations of the deity but the actual initiation is interior on another level. To receive the profound transmission is to actually receive the initiation but that is not easy for the student to understand if they don't really know if they have received it or not. Should you actually receive the initiation, you must have close attention paid to you individually by the lama so that the transmission can be stabilized. There also needs to be time and effort in meditation so that you can work with the transmission and gain the desired result. This is how dharma is practiced!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Emptiness and a Wet Towel!

Your self-image has been massaged through self-cherishing, and this has caused you to become confused as to how you actually exist. It is based upon false values because, for example, you could be shaken in your body/mind conditioning by simply choosing the wrong garment from your closet and feel awful the whole day! This seem to happen more in women, but I am sure there are many men who are like that too, "Oh, this tie just makes me look fat!"

Most feelings of self-consciousness or shyness are related to self-cherishing even though it might appear to be a lack of self-cherishing by the appearance of a kind of false humility. This is not a genuine humility based in equanimity but actually enhances and encourages destructive behavior with little hope of resolving the dilemma by a false dynamic. This is because it mimics spirituality or holiness and is a trick of the self-cherishing mind to avoid losing its power.

Whether we arrive from false humility or false sense of overt power we need to decrease self-absorption and eventually become natural and receptive to change. In this higher development change, once we remove scholarly fascination of words, there is not much distinction between elimination of self-cherishing and the nature of emptiness. I hope, in the future, there will be large numbers of dedicated people who, from a very young age, actively benefit others based upon the lack of inherent existence of this world. This world and its inhabitants have a wonderful place for learning, change, and growth. The method to overcome all poor strategies is to substitute in place of self-cherishing, to cherish others.

Regarding the other element, emptiness, the problem is not that phenomena are empty of inherent existence by nature. The problem is the force of grasping onto an innate view that takes the illusory changeable to be real, solid, and permanent. This grasping consumes much of the available life force that could be channeled into better strategies. However, an unskillful, confused meditator might make strange changes in their perceptions in order to overcome the view of solidity of the world and now expects emptiness to be something that it cannot provide.

Let’s say it has been raining and there are wet clothes and towels on the clothesline. Yogi Soso, having a desire to drink milk, goes to the clothesline, sticks a corner of one of those very wet, hanging towels in his mouth and sucks on it to get milk while gazing at the blue sky and pretty clouds. Like that, perhaps you want something from spiritual practice called emptiness to provide something for you that it is not possible to give or receive. It is exactly a wet towel! You cannot get milk from a wet towel, and not only can you not get it, that would be disgusting! It is disgusting!

Others now come to watch out of concern for Yogi Soso and might ask, "What are you doing Yogi? You are sucking on a wet towel!" “Oh contraire, you foolish people, I am engrossed in the practice of emptiness.” Therefore, we need to develop a studied receptivity to the destruction of incorrect views so that we would never, ever again find a wet towel to be something suitable to suck!

To be fair to Yogi we understand how these misunderstandings can happen. There is a subtle distinction between, "I have self cherishing, and everything is empty, so it does not matter…” or "I am feeling self cherishing, but everything is empty, and even my self cherishing is empty, and so it is okay and I relax a bit," and then you bring your self cherishing into a place that is tolerable. We do this so that we do not frighten ourselves by forcing change too soon. However, most practitioners not challenge themselves enough to experience the boundary of what the mind is not yet prepared to understand. Remaining too relaxed is not correct or too tight as our poor Yogi. Quoting the Buddha “Keep the strings of the lute not too tight or too loose”…..

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Emptiness and Bliss Mystery Solved

Part 3. Perfection is possible and is unrestricted to manifest in any form in any realm. Perfection, in the form of a teacher guiding us to enlightenment is capable of appearing in inner as well as outer forms, reminding us, giving teachings and calling us to our true home when we are lost. However, the actual student and recipient of care is deep interior to the outside person and is more energetic in nature than thinking. What it does understand is energetics far more complex than the human mind can process. If the preparation for change is done correctly, the inner being experiences a correct love dynamic that it cannot understand but is attracted to in its own more sophisticated method and it causes a powerful pleasurable effect in its subtle being.

The reason why we experience this activity as bliss in the outer mind is that something is happening in the inner minds that cannot be understood in the way we admire and demand understanding. For almost all meditators, even close inner minds such as the subconscious, are not able to process bliss as understanding but as extreme pleasure. Even the innermost mind where the actual essence being resides in the place of deepest development of that being might or might not be able to understand bliss as teachings relating to the next method where it will be alive.

The essence actual being, however, is not a passive recipient of these teachings, but is open and wishing to absorb as much as possible the marvelous teachings of perfections activities. This blissful true love that is experienced inside is teachings now inside the actual inner being, the receptive aspect of the real you inside that was created to wish to know perfection.

As the actual being becomes stimulated, a cascade of healing effects occurs in its being like a shiver. Through the process of manifestation by emanation, opening begin from the interior actual being to various levels of inner mind that also experience that effect. This allows various levels of inner mind to experience what actual being is now producing. They cannot help but experience it because that is a byproduct of this inner bliss. A surge of inner teachings heading toward your outer mind passes through various membranes presently held into careful configuration for later development.

This is why yogis describe themselves as "We yogis, seekers of bliss," not out of a sense of wishing to experience sensual pleasure, but all of the activities of understanding the nature of reality, altruistic love, and loving-kindness. All of these elements are preliminary to the arisal of bliss that will produce someone capable of experiencing higher bliss. In other words, when you no longer hold the grasping or the contaminated view, you become capable of supreme events in your life experience.

The early stages of bliss and emptiness are still held back from the experience of enlightenment itself by the contaminated view. These glimpses and careful entry and introduction to bliss will become stronger than that, and won't that be nice? This is a powerful entry into the inner teachings, into the state where inner teachings are received. When it happens, you will not have any perceptions to attach onto what would prevent this state of bliss-love to be experienced as a flow of teachings without the confusion of perceptions to support them.

This bliss dynamic is an advanced and vital part of your development. A sign of entering a certain level of an enlightened state is passing days and nights in this bliss and not wanting to rise from it. A continuous flow of inner teachings completely envelops and captivates the mind. This is often what occurs in samadhi trance states when even the outer breath is drawn inward with the awareness for a full immersion in bliss. However, once you have the innate view destroyed, the capacity to understand the bliss teachings arises and you do not experience as strong bliss but another kind of knowing is entered.

Bliss and emptiness or love and emptiness are correct states of mind gathered together in the great method. Now that we have bonded these two concepts together, we need to maintain the connection. While experiencing bliss energies, we do not want to lose the connection with the receptive aspect of love, otherwise literally, you would be trying to rape bliss in order to get at it. This kind of attack on bliss is an aggressive wanting to control, and is wrong. The correct love dynamic that allows your mind to remain in this pleasurable and active state of receptivity will also allow you to have new perceptions embedded to make you capable of being correct knowers of bliss, knowers of the deep inner teachings. Bliss-love or alert-receptive dynamics allow you to maintain the connection with higher development while the ordinary mind is held correctly in the state without foundation.

This penetration of inner mind with awareness often produces in the conscious mind sexual imagery that adds energy and redirects the root center energies into the inner opening. These root center energies are liquefied and drawn into a dynamic redux activated by inner mentor, something that the inner being or outer being cannot do for themselves. Redux means restored to consciousness, life, or vigor. This change does not require sex or sexual imagery to accomplish, although sexual imagery has been used in this process for a very long time.

In conclusion, the entry of bliss-love into the dynamic of emptiness should be smooth and without disfiguring either concept. Here you do not release energetic understanding of emptiness in order to be able to experience bliss-love. In addition, it is correct to understand that bliss-love does not require emptiness in order to exist and emptiness can be experienced without bliss-love. However, this is not a good idea to separate them because your experience of emptiness is presently being trained to become bonded to the altruistic. Doing so correctly, you will emerge from this state and will not become a candidate for cessation, but a candidate for higher trainings toward Buddhahood. Otherwise, you go into cessation, and that will be the lower liberation. That would be a great loss because we need to have in our society more benefit beings. The human realm needs more benefit beings in order to sustain this world for future beings requiring a safe and pure place to practice and prepare for transformation and higher trainings.

You are already experienced in the human realm and understand the problems that you have faced in your journey to this point in your development toward awakening. Therefore, you, combined with altruistic love and understanding the nature of wisdom and bodhisattva activity will be a very good candidate for becoming a benefit being for the human realm. Then, in the future when you are offered cessation, you will say, "I do not accept. I have work to do for the benefit of all sentient beings" and that is the answer to the mystery of love and emptiness.
The End of 23 part series

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Emptiness and Altruistic Love

Part 2 We want to know and experience true love, a state described earlier as not being able to find it, but maintaining a flow toward a person, an object such as a passion for a hobby, or as a love of buddhist study. In the higher practices, we learn to maintain an intimate relationship with the objects of our buddhist studies; bodhichitta, emptiness or other cultivated attitude we need for transformation. Even in ordinary mature interpersonal relationships, there must be continuity, a steady undercurrent developed and cultivated that comes from a deeper place than the changeable mental functions.

Love contains a capacity to maintain a kind of “not knowing” that helps us hold steady in our desire to maintain the emotion by not owning the object of love while still maintaining contact. Without the ability to endure our tendencies of changing our mind, from moment to moment, we would be in love, and then a minute later we would not be in love, and then again in love, and again not in love.

Even though you have received a bestowal of love continuity by the complex programming of a human innate view, and commitment to hold through difficult times, it is still your obligation to cultivate your ability to love so that you can become steady in your love. In this way, we continue to develop capacity and understanding of how to get along with many others. Eventually, we will realize altruistic loving kindness and great capacity for being able to get along with all others.

The steady flow of inner guidance for awakening, connected to a growing desire for higher-level objects such as Buddhas and bodhisattva inner mentor, experienced in the higher trainings, comes from training in loving-kindness. This motivates us to become proficient by study and practice that makes us steady in our efforts to become a benefit being like inner mentor, for the benefit of myriad living beings. That mental steadiness prevents you from disturbing yourself, so that you will be able to experience a love energy bestowal coming from your own mind, inner mind, and inner mentor. This further increases the capacity to love, and is again applied toward study and practice for a very long and pleasant time.

The next steps of maintaining steady mind and motivation are supported by many restful interludes in the state of no foundation allowing your mind to return refreshed each time to human activity and human understanding and human bestowal of increased capacity for love while on the Path to the enlightened state. You will then become more balanced in your intellectual mind by knowing that this state of no foundation does exist. This is accomplished by the many glimpses and encouragement by outer mentor, study, and meditation, and you are becoming even more attracted to that state. You will then have an inner process in training for a career as a bodhisattva who’s process is based in altruistic love for all living beings. For best results, this altruistic love for all sentient beings needs to be instilled in the practitioner by stages.

It is possible that you could also have a natural ability for altruistic love. Perhaps you arrived in this world with an understanding of love cultivated toward transformation that was not completed in some previous time. If that remains undamaged by worldly contact, as soon as you come into connection with the teachings, you will easily remember the stage of development and be able to express altruistic love toward the correct object, all sentient beings. However, even beings more advanced in their inner nature from previous lives will also need to experientially review the step-by-step process of understanding the actual nature of altruistic love beginning with loving-kindness.

Even for less advanced people who do not arrive in this world with developed altruistic motivation can practice loving-kindness. This social lubricant of the world does not hurt you in any way, it helps you and it helps others. It is uncomplicated to understand this because when others show loving-kindness toward you, it is very easy to act with loving-kindness toward them in return. However, even if you have loving-kindness toward them, and they respond by giving you a hard time, you still have an opportunity to practice loving-kindness, patience, and compassion toward them.

At this point in development, it is usual to be presented with new ways of looking at things that are contrary to the worldly view and are powerfully beneficial such as love and compassion returned for difficulty. Altruistic love does not depend upon receiving good feedback in order to feel appreciated. If we crave appreciation, it is no longer altruistic love, but ordinary love, a kind of buying and selling of favors. Steady love comes because of training in emptiness and understanding the illusory nature of ordinary reality.

We do not want to contaminate our understanding or ability to increase altruistic love in the future by becoming disappointed that others do not appreciate our altruism, and think that it is no use to try to practice it. In order to avoid that obstacle, we begin with loving-kindness. We then remember that if we feel disappointed or angry with people while we are doing, for example, altruistic dharma service, we can always go to the fallback position of mild and gentle loving-kindness. We should go no less than loving-kindness, however.

We also need to experience less grasping while love still remains intact. We can be in accordance with the ideals of abandoning grasping of the Hinayana practitioner that is destined to enter cessation where love and grasping disappears together. However, in the Mahayana, we must sustain a new balance of less grasping while love is still active because we placed love high in our practice and continue to increase our desire to save all living beings. This makes us juicy and dear to others who begin to be attracted toward us. This attractive quality coming from inside creates new and strong connections to others so that, in the future they will benefit. As we experience less grasping and love still remains, we will receive bestowals of ability to strengthen this dynamic from the Buddhas and bodhisattvas to help stabilize this positive and healthy attitude. The safest method of stabilizing is the practice of holding all sentient beings in your heart of hearts and dear.

When beings are no longer "out there" because they are here in your heart, a new intimate relationship arises based in equanimity toward all living beings without regard for individual characteristics or whether they have benefited you or not. This time it is not mixed with your contaminated outer universal energies or confused mental energies of others. As you probably already know, this world is not a pureland, therefore, there are unaligned energies in abundance. Attempts to try to align what is un-alignable, would be like fixing a wound with blood already flowed out. Perhaps you tried to collect the spilled blood in a bottle and maybe mixed it with something, maybe some bleach to take all that red color out of it, and get it back inside the body. This would be like trying to repair contaminated universal energies once they have escaped into this denser place. It is no use.

Once you blood has left the closed system of your body, it is not the clean substance that it was inside. It has now escaped and is mixed with air and molecules of other substances and dust. We may have to put it in a centrifuge and extrapolate its little corpuscles in order to make it clean enough to stick back inside. We might have the boil the blood too. I am just joking. Seriously, in the attempt to fix our life force inner energies out there, they become changed and so we have to use new strategies.

Chandrakirti states reality is not the way we perceive it. We should practice refraining from stimulating our own mental confusions by training in viewing all sentient beings as near and dear as our own mothers. This must be done in conjunction with studying and meditating on emptiness, compassion, and other important elements of preparation for awakening. Then I can truly acknowledge that living beings as an entirety are dear and that my heart of hearts is the safest place for them to be. That is also true because if you hold them dear, you will never hurt them. We do not want to depend on the unreliable and unstable influence of the innate view because it is not the excellent filter for our interactions with the world or for the world to interact with us. To be continued….

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Emptiness and Protecting Our Love

Part 1 Experience in mind training such as putting into practice the aphorisms of the seven points made you more capable and qualified to enter into the study of the nature of emptiness. Then the powerful teachings on lack of inherent existence and the wonderful simplicity of the explanation of emptiness can cause a sudden shift inside that is a sign of meaningful changes. The preparation and cogitation accomplished on the deep inquiry and analysis of the twenty emptinesses of Chandrakirti also gives you permission to enter into cultivated inner dynamics described in the treatise and commentary. Long-time, skillful meditators will deliberately enter into the state without foundation three or four times a day in order to prepare their mind for the actual transformation event.

For helper beings such as learner bodhisattvas, in their quest for perfection in their own being by being of benefit to others, rest their minds in a careful place away from the confusion of the sense bases of the meditator in order to be of most benefit. Since the meditator is in active transition, there is cleansing and purification of clutter and dust accumulated that inner bodhisattva does not need to experience. However, as soon as the meditator is capable, he or she is expected to be meditating in the higher-level practice, accomplishing purifications and moving into a place without foundation without being overly fascinated with it. These step-by-step processes will eventually recreate the meditator into someone who is capable or receiving high teachings on the actual interior without the confusion of the ordinary senses.

In that way, I hope this commentary on Chandrakirti's Twenty Emptiness will be a valuable resource for you to review and put into practice. Even if you should be in conversation with someone who has been Buddhist for 20 or 30 years, do not feel that you do not have the correct information or that something was missing in the explanation. Many believe that the study of emptiness is far more complicated than is actually is. It is hoped, that by the explanations given, you will have what you need to be able to discuss these concepts intelligently with anyone. You are capable of understanding and applying your strong mental force against the disfigurements of this world and feel victorious.

Those who are adept in this process always feel that this world is not so complicated, and they do not enter into the suffering dynamics that ordinary people do. Whether you are sick or well, whether good luck is coming or bad luck is coming, whether you are getting what you want or you are not getting what you want; there should be no reason that you mind should ever be disturbed again. Not only is this a sign of putting mind training into practice, but it is also a sign of having the view that understands that this state without foundation is the careful resting place of the mind. One reason it is called emptiness is because it is devoid of the very characteristics that cause ordinary human mind and human consciousness suffering. It is a dispersal of ordinary mind.

However, for those entering this state and are familiar with this resting place, it is simply an anteroom to a more careful way of being. This washing away of all perceptions acts like a membrane that holds ordinary beings away from interacting with enlightened society with the insanity of ordinary mind. However, if one has damaged this membrane between their outer and inner minds by drugs, machines now built to bypass this membrane such as automatic meditation devices or misusing the mind, they literally could be accessing what they should not know, do not have permission to know and are not prepared to know yet.

The information on compassion of the wisdom Bodhisattvas gives you tools that should be integrated into practice so that it produces the powerful transformative effect. One important point that should be remembered is do not disturb your own mind and further do not distract inner process from preparation for transformation. Over a very, very long time, you have become so accustomed to annoying yourself it feels normal and that needs to change.

Life is like scents wafting on the breeze. In the countryside you can smell the cows, and then a moment later the breeze shifts and you can no longer smell the cows and now it smells like hay. Soon your attention notices that from over there comes the smell of fresh bread. In that way, your attention is drawn to a continuous circulation of different kinds of energies. If we tried to prevent smelling the cow by doing something to the cow or retard the hay's ability to produce an odor, we would be like ordinary people who only want to experience nice smells or happiness. The demands ordinary people place on God and higher being to fix everything that bothers them is not an effective use of spiritual connections. The general duty of the inner wisdom bodhisattva is facilitating in many different ways the return to alignment with perfection.

So, we need to take responsibility and mature by reducing the delusions and grasping after ephemeral happiness. Wisdom, emptiness and the nature of the bodhisattvas open up pathways to higher development and higher training toward perfection. We need to strengthen our spiritual muscles, discrimination, and understanding of the larger process toward transformation without entering fantasy of too much evanescent mental wanderings. Stabilized in knowledge of how things actually exist should cause us to feel empowered to deal with difficulties that act as real obstacles to development and not waste our lives in trying to fix what is so ephemeral such as the stench of cows and hay wafting across the fields. As we take more personal responsibility for caring about what is really important, we begin to come alive in higher development.

Understanding and meditating on the dynamics of love as well as the bestowal of precious human life makes us capable of the unusual attitude brought to spiritual development, deriving pleasure from not knowing. This love dynamic that we feel toward study, our buddhist practice and even love toward our prayer beads helps our progress. This ability to fall in love with meditation, the Buddha, and practice has been given to you in lieu of the correct inner sense of fully developed compassion-love of the mature Bodhisattva. This is a correct transitional stage of development because your potential for love is tremendous.

For young people, the discovery of the potential for love and care in the form of an actual physical component almost takes away their ability to see. The strong inward gaze of the physiological interest or obsession as well as nervous system arousal, combined with a feeling that every part of the body is alive with this gripping wanting to know, is directed toward efforts to possess the object of that love.

This powerful, driving force of obsession and curiosity looking at itself is also a tremendous source of creativity, art, and poetry. Many important elements of human life are established in this bestowal of ability to love in its many forms, binding others to yourself as part of your human identity. There is also the potential of damaging your ability to love. Some will substitute other damaged emotions for a kind of clear human potential for love. Denying themselves the preparations for more mature and then higher love, some develop instead a kind of mistrust and distrust. If it is not healed, it turns to fear, and then an unknown cascade of negative emotions can arise, damaging further the precious human life possibilities for preparation for enlightenment.

Disappointments in love should not be allowed to damage your ability to love, and yet we feel that that is the natural reaction and that we should be very careful with everyone because we have been disappointed. Our object has not accepted us as subject, and we feel pain and disappointment while continuing to love after the object has departed. This needs to be healed by authentic practice with valid love objects such as the Buddha, the teachings toward perfection and the body of enlightened companions who have been through what you have and are healed and ready to assist you. To be continued….

Monday, April 6, 2009

Higher Insight and Buddhist Love

Part 2. Love of our Buddhist practice changes our mental outlook on what is important and what is not important. We might even find special secret delight to see our meditation cushion, our altar objects, or even our mala prayer beads. You should treat this delight respectfully and not have false sophistication or be cynical saying to yourself, "Oh, how silly of me, I am acting like a kid." Maintain a very careful love relationship with your meditation practice. I do not know, maybe sometimes you could hug your mala. Personally, it delights me inside to express joy of practice in this very clean and innocent manner.

A meditator might sometime experience anxiety about their practice objects such as who do I allow to touch them, are they good enough quality or imbuing them with too much solidification. In order to overcome these and other issues regarding our own Buddhist objects, we are trained to understand that even these things we love as part of our practice arise in dependence upon causes and conditions, and are empty of self nature by being naturally without essence.

However, because of our love of our practice, we do not reject them as being without value in confusion regarding their emptiness and instead might affirm, “
This is my mala, the mala of my practice, and you want to take away my mala? No way! I keep my mala. Why? I need my mala because it is useful, and it is part of my practice. It is my friend”. You might look around you, "Oh, if someone walked in the door and saw me hugging my meditation cushion, what would they think?" Do not give up objects that are part of your practice. The attitude is subtle and balanced. You do not cling toward them, but you do need to have a kind of love that a supports delight for your practice objects. However, we do not need to collect many dharma objects to demonstrate our love of our practice and objects of practice.

The main point is that we make strong efforts not to contaminate our intimate love relationship with our practice by feeling that we have learned enough or that we have reached a level where we have gotten all that is possible to get out of the practice. That means we never give up our Buddhist refuge vows in the three jewels, Buddha, the dharma path to enlightenment and sangha, the enlightened community. We also never give up bodhichitta, the wish to be of benefit to all sentient beings.

With this correct love toward our cultivated buddhist values and careful perceptions, at the time it automatically arises for you to enter a lower Nirvana of cessation, will you say, "
I will give up my bodhichitta if that is what is the best thing for me to do." No, you will need to have these values so well ingrained that they become your personal strengths. Do not be off again, on again regarding values that have been affirmed by others who have entered the enlightened state to be a support for awakening. Be dependable and trustworthy in what is called samaya, in values that produce the energetic support for your inner process to the enlightened state.

An interesting story from the Lam Rim stages of the path… In Tibet, a very simple woman had a son who was traveling to India on a trading trip. As he is departing she requests him with folded hands, "
Now you are going to India, and you may not go ever again, and I am old already. You please bring me back a tooth of the Buddha so that I can place it on my altar and make offerings. That is all that I want." As the son is returning from India, he realizes that he completely forgot his mother's request. He also knows that it is patently absurd to be able to find a tooth of Lord Buddha Shakyamuni as these relics are rare and the few remaining are encased in stupa reliquaries in holy places.

He is almost home when he sees the rotting remains of a dead dog at the side of the road. Reaching down he easily pulls out a tooth from the head of the dead dog, wipes it off, wraps it in a clean napkin, and continues home where his mother is waiting to greet him. "H
ello my son. Did you bring me the tooth relic of the Buddha?" "Of course I did dear mother and here it is." With great delight she immediately placed it on the altar and began to make extensive offerings, many prayers, and many rejoicings. The son was shy to tell her that this was a dog's tooth and as time went on, he began to feel more and more guilty that he had done this and fooled his mother so badly. He was at the point of telling her about his lie, "You know that tooth that I brought you…" She, with great delight, showed him the tooth on the altar, glowing with inner light. It was the Buddha's tooth after all.

Upon the basis of a dog's tooth and faith, she attained enlightenment. What to say about the consecrated practices you have been offered that are in an unbroken lineage from Lord Buddha? Beyond that, what you bring to your practice in faith, motivation, love and dedication is what you get out of the practice by personal values. If you feel that you have gotten everything that you could have out of the practice, and the practice is vast, deep, powerful, transformative, and blessed, then certainly it is not a lack that is coming from the practice.

Sharing happiness with all living beings such as in the Four Great Wishes trains us in sharing love and joy without holding it as a personal possession. The second of the Four Great Wishes, wanting to end suffering for all living beings, instills a deep love of order and alignment for their benefit toward more evolved ways of being that is supported by the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. This is even more clean altruistic love based in understanding the illusory way that things exist. Suffering, by nature, is misalignment with the way that living beings actually exist. We learn to become tireless in our efforts to end suffering by arising bodhichitta compassion. We do not end suffering by suffering ourselves. Because it feels so good, so pleasurable to experience this desire to end suffering, your wanting to end suffering is no suffering at all for you! In fact, it feels good.

Your wish for all sentient beings to experience bliss that is without the stain of confusion of the innate view that takes the transitory to be permanent, connects you to the love of, and value of perfection, certainly a suitable object for your evolving sense of love. However, we should not let this love of perfections greatness degenerate into an ordinary worldly demand for perfection, something that this world is not capable of giving. Wishing for all sentient beings to experience bliss also destroys the contaminated basis for your own suffering.

Equanimity, the fourth of the four great wishes, destroys racism and specism, so, we do not damage or discourage this ability to love others by becoming dry and scholarly in our approach to life and spiritual practice. The encouragement from those who have entered the enlightened state or advanced meditators is alive, juicy, and expectant with healthy love energies that guide and direct us toward transformation and perfection.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Higher Insight and Love

Part 1. Our sense of identity is very mixed with our personalities and we take quite a bit of pride in its upkeep and practice. However, if we look more objectively with higher motivation, we can view personality as a set of strategies that we developed to interact with others, our environment and even ourselves without making effort to discover what it is we are using. Buddhism teaches us techniques of how to have a better relationship to self, other or the world without exclusively leaning on strategies of personality.

Relying on ego centered interactions with the gross senses is not as healthy as higher dynamics such as understanding the illusory nature of ordinary reality so that we do not exclusively use memory of our own personality strategies that easily become mixed with the dysfunctions. Now we want to see fresh and not just use a collection of habitual strategies, distractions and disorders. In searching for the words and description of the underlying dynamics of personality there needs to be an explanation of what is love.

I have observed that many forms of love can be described as a fluid state that seeks stability but does not find it. However, the lack of support for this state does not seem to damage or disturb it, but instead has a secondary state that finds that instability pleasurable, almost floating. Depending on the personality and the qualities of the person in general, there will be positive or other perceptions that cascade from this state that causes still other perceptions to arise. These might even include controlling behaviors, jealousy, or self-abnegation to gain favor of the object of their love that is learned.

As the mind continues to try to bond to an object, not only does it seek to know it, but desires or craves to be the subject of that love object. This continual pleasurable attempt should, however, never find satisfaction and must remain in that dynamic to sustain love feelings. If there arrives a point where the love-curiosity-grasping is satisfied, there will either be a drop in love and a falling out of love feeling that comes, or it will change into another dynamic relationship. Feelings of closeness, companionship, careful familiarity, or respect are encouraged in psychology and maturing of relationships when dealing with the end of curiosity love in an intimate relationship. This state of wishing to be seen as the object of love changing to a drop in pleasure/curiosity feelings forced upon an immature lover by a more mature love waiting for that important change to happen, can be an important factor in divorce.

Another similar form of love dynamic could be experienced, for example, perhaps in your love of photography, your collection of brass spittoons, or even a “love” of duck hunting. However, it could happen that this hobby or object is easily known, such as completing a course of study or having gone out a number of times duck hunting or having a number of brass spittoons and knowing pretty much about where they all came from and how old they are. When that occurs and the object is known to a certain satisfaction, that form of obsessive grasping “love” will disappear or substantially subside. So often, hobbies or interests that we feel are all consuming or a gripping love of knowing more can suddenly become stale and uninteresting. In this way, the possibilities of enjoyment of that kind of love will again rise as you discover new avenues of possibilities such as a new hobby, or perhaps inkwells will be the next object of your obsessive love, seeking to know everything about it, or perhaps even Buddhism.

However, if you approach Buddhism as a hobby, then it will have the qualities of a hobby, stimulating your interest to satisfy your emotional curiosity. In spite of a lower quality wish to enter a new hobby, the nature of the Great Path of dharma teachings have qualities of being complex, dear, and not possible to fully know. In addition, the training in stages of the teachings, Buddha-nature, one's root mentor, or bodhisattva inner mentor all have an alive great love toward you by blessed design that can arise in you a new form of love. The deep and never-ending qualities of practice, related concepts, and virtuous objects should stimulate your mind for your whole life and beyond.

In Hinayana practice, the correct relationship with one's own mind requires being always watchful and ready to discipline it. In that tradition, it is also important to withdraw from sensory experiences as much as possible so there is less data to process. It is reasonable to think that the fluid mind-bending states of love of the Mahayana altruistic wish to save all sentient beings would not be so compatible with the discipline needed at this level of practice while attempting to withdraw from the senses in Hinayana or path of personal liberation.

I quote here from a Hinayana monk warning of us the negativities inherent in love. "
If, through our own ripening knowledge, we appreciate that our ultimate and highest purpose should be Nirvana, the absolute end of sorrow, then all goals beneath that are cast in a new light. When we have something to live for that is higher than fame, honor, friendship, or health, higher even than love, we can never be utterly impoverished or ruined. We are in fact in a much better position to enjoy what ever may be achieved in worldly life because we no longer depend solely on changeable circumstances for our happiness."

This monk is looking at love in a different way, however, what he is saying is exactly the same position that the Mahayana, or greater vehicle, takes in the first of three paths of training. What he is saying is not wrong from the first view of the first yana, or first path, the Hinayana. The Mahayana also contains the Hinayana trainings as a beginning training, and the Vajrayana, or path of transformative energetic practices, contains all three training paths.

Even at the beginning, the Mahayana path of altruistic responsibility gives us another love object by training right from the beginning in loving-kindness toward developing altruistic love of others as though each one were our mother from a previous life. The Buddha to his son: "
Rahula, practice loving-kindness to overcome anger." In Buddhist scriptures and throughout the actual training facilitated by the outer mentor and your own studies and meditation, loving-kindness is extremely important. The Buddha training his own son: "Loving-kindness has the capacity to bring happiness to others without demanding anything in return."

In this way, we establish expanded parameters on our love in order to overcome the negative, bad habit of seeking love in order to possess another. We also become capable of breaking free from bonding the concepts of anger, jealousy, and perhaps even violence, to our perceptions of what is love. The dreadful consequences of perceptual crossed wires; for example in video games, connecting violence and sex or violence and love are present or even encouraged by rough modern society. This bonding of the dynamics of sex and love can prevent higher forms of love from arising and more animal forms become the norm. These poor strategies create confusion by wanting to possess another, or feeling that other person needs to obey you in order to give them your love.

Another method to understand love in Buddhism higher practices is developing a love of study. This love keeps us interested in pursuing difficult subjects such as emptiness or the commentaries of famous Buddhist scholars of the past and applying the teachings to personal practice. We feel drawn to drink from the a well of understanding until we are filled, then meditating and reviewing our understanding, we return again to drink deeply. However, during the entire process, whether we are actively studying or processing and integrating what we are learning, we never lose our thirst or feel satisfied and need to take a rest from study and refresh ordinary mind. . You do not need to refresh yourself with ordinary mind or take a break from study. The very thing that you do not want to do is to reactivate ordinary concepts once you begin

Someone told me a story about a monk in strict three-year retreat, except every six weeks for three hours, he would leave his retreat to have tea with a friend and take a break from his retreat. He found it be quite helpful to go back into his retreat place for another six weeks after having worldly interaction with his friend for three hours. In contrast, during study time, we always remained connected to our studies because we did not want to contaminate our studies with ordinary concepts, to the best of our abilities. We remained “in love” with study and did not want to break the connection between ourselves and the well of learning and wisdom. When you are activate love feelings toward study, enlightened beings will encourage with blessings and inner guidance. To be continued….