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Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Path of Meditation (part three)

After initiation, the Buddhist Great Path, which has become activated or actualized in you, is still not you, but is the path, in you. Therefore, it is good to think that you are now on a journey, a journey of discovery, of realizations, and with personal effort, a journey of successes on the interior. Not all the successes will happen where you can perceive them in the mind because the Way, or the Path to enlightenment, and then on to perfection, will occur on more than one level of your being. There could be accomplishments by transformation as well as activations and actuations of the Great Path within subtle mind. Your conscious or ordinary mind, where you might not be so well-connected or developed, could remain unaware while important changes are experienced in the inner minds. Various subtle or inner minds are actually closer to reality and so transformations there are very important.

Perhaps this is a new concept for you; to have something happening in your deep mind that you are not aware of, that is learning, healing and making connections with the inner path. Some people say there is one part of them that wants to know why and how does that work exactly. It is important to remember that it is not necessary or even possible for the outer mind to know all the answers. Sometimes there will be a kind of knowing that is called an energetic answer that we certainly hope is coming from a place of inner clarity and not confusion inside. Still, some continue to object saying that yes, it seems to be a blessing, because they are aware that an energetic answer has occurred, but still want to have the concrete words to understand.

We need to be less competitive with ourselves by demanding understanding when we might not have preparation or perceptions aligned to understand more subtle subjects. For example, you might feel something happening in the inner mind by experiencing sensations in the body, or energy movements in meditation. It could be that awareness from the deepest level of your development that I call your actual being or the real you, is being concentrated in subtler mind.

Inner minds might be receiving attention that was activated by initiation from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas out of their great care and compassion but unskillful meditators, continuing to crave sensations, want to disrupt inner meditation by pushing their more solidified outer mind inside. "Hey, that attention belongs to me. It is supposed to be here satisfying my curiosity and not taking care of this inner level stuff! Mine!" This attitude prolongs the suffering of I, me, and mine and takes a lot of trust in the beginning to overcome selfishness.

For example, we because we experience the effects of air, we know it is here; yes, we are breathing, but are still curious to know more about it. At some level, it might be better to think instead, ‘Okay, it is air, and I cannot touch it. Like that, this inner process is here or wherever, and this thing is happening that I do not know what it is called but I am going to relax about it.’ Just continue trusting in the refuge with the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, the Three Jewels of Refuge, and not meddle with inner process.

Initiation is the method that activates the path, but only if we are prepared for initiation by developing good motivation. Many have received it twelve, fifteen times, maybe more, and each time they receive it, he or she has a better chance of actually receiving the inner initiation. It was said by Je Phabonka Rinpoche in the last century, that out of 5,000 people attending an initiation, very few actually receive the full initiation. However, with preparation and practice, each time you receive the initiation, there are greater and greater chances of receiving what is being offered. Even then, having received the inner activation, there are different levels of inner initiation. To deepen the connection, it is usual to receive initiation a number of times. This does not discount the individual receiving an initiation once, and actually receive it. In fact, it would be unwise to think that someone else is going to have that experience, but instead think, me! This is where "me" comes in very nicely. ‘I will be the one who will receive the initiation, and I will receive it carefully the first time.’ Do not think, ‘Oh, this is only the first time or the twelfth time that I have received this initiation, and I am probably not yet capable of receiving the entire initiation.'

Of course, there is a tremendous facilitation from the side of the initiating lama to ensure the inner initiation is bestowed carefully. How far that penetrates toward your outer mind is up to your motivation and previous development. If you prepare and receive it on all levels of your being, this would be outstanding. A student asked me if she felt she received only a little bit, but goes home and practices, would that mean that she is only practicing a little bit? This is not true because her motivation and facilitation of meditation could be 125%, thereby overcoming faults of receptivity during transmission. She was happy to hear that and said that she was going to practice more strongly now, because the next time, she will be a little bit more ahead, and maybe will be in the right place. To be continued…..

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Path of Meditation (part two)

The great methods of the Middle Way of Buddhism do not refer to a path "out there" somewhere, nor is the path "in here" somewhere, belonging to me if I could just figure it out. In fact, for many, particularly those who have followed the Buddhist path toward the enlightened state for many lives can develop confusion by their modern world and become misaligned. Therefore, the path does not exist in them.

I saw a video of a poor fellow trapped in an elevator for forty-one hours; he could have died in there, but he did survive the ordeal. It was a holiday weekend, the building had security video cameras on, but nobody came to rescue him because, obviously, no one looked at their cameras. Every once in a while, he would force open the elevator doors, but there was only a concrete wall. This is like the suffering misalignment of a meditator who knows a lot but not enough to get them out of a meditational difficulty. If you were stuck in your body and your mind, it would feel as though you were in an elevator that is not going anywhere. You cannot get off, you are stuck!

To our great luck, the messages and teachings of Lord Buddha Shakyamuni are still in alignment with the path to the awakened state, even after 2600 years. The messages of Great Teachers have been preserved to help align us again with the Path to perfection, our true home, and get us back on track. This is not disrespectful to the intellectual faculties of educated or clever people. In fact, for karmically ripe beings, trained in previous times, the intellectual faculties have been busying themselves in other ways while waiting for this alignment or realignment to happen. Sometimes people feel dismayed after having a natural awakening to higher purpose and think, 'I have wasted so many years, but you know, I did get some things done. Yes, I did many interesting things, and I even helped so many people, but this was not how I wanted my spiritual life to be!’

For the ordinary person, alignment with the Great Path to the awakened state does not even exist yet, because they have not begun. If that unlucky fellow stuck in the elevator for forty-one hours could only have gotten to the correct place, meaning a floor that was available, the doors would have smoothly opened. He would have been aligned with everything that was going on there, exactly as he planned, with the activities on that floor, perhaps friends waiting and a nice cup of coffee.

One might think that people does not know that they are trapped or have no clue that they are stuck but very often they do. Have you ever meet someone you have not seen for a number of years, and within a few minutes, they will begin telling you about their suffering. They do not feel like they are doing what they should be doing. They have a good family life, and they have plenty of money, but there is something missing. It is not that they are unaware. They use words that they have heard, but even the words that they use are not the thing. I want to make a certain point about the suffering of misalignment without disrespecting the learning and opportunity for growth that others experience by living through difficulties. However, it is true that many feel damaged by life and a lack of choices and want to experience healing from the suffering of feeling stuck.

That healing does exist and happens with deep energetic alignment with higher being that is an important aspect of the path that is the inner mentor. It comes in stages, and it depends upon the individual how quickly or well the process of development is understood. There is great excitement when people have a glimpse, some call it a glimpse of reality, a glimpse of God or higher power or even a glimpse of their own greatness. Within Tibetan Buddhism we are not certain how you might describe it because there is not that inner specific language in your culture, but let us just say a glimpse of higher being.

Others will say, "I felt like I was connected. It felt real, and then it was gone," or "When I meditate, I feel connected, but when I get up, and do my everyday life, I do not feel connected anymore.” Maybe it feels like your elevator is going up and down behaving nicely, and the concrete wall is suddenly there again, arrrgh!" Then it opens up again to a freedom place inside, and "I feel good." One of the suffering of practitioners is that it is unpredictable when you are going to feel connected. One might feel well connected and quite sure that the changes are permanent, and then suddenly there is the darn concrete wall again! Now is not the time to freak out "Well, gee, my life is not worth living! I have not accomplished anything! I have not made any progress at all! I do not know how to do this anymore!”

A friend might gently remind, “Well, what about last week?”

"Yeah, but I do not feel connected right now. I am just going to go stand on my head in the corner."

We can take heart by listening to the advice of meditators everywhere, in different countries and cultures who maintain spiritual paths. Their common experience is discovering that a daily meditation practice is not a continuous stream of feeling connected. Because there is transformative work that needs to be done, meditators need to make effort, and that means moving from the unaligned to the aligned state. Sometimes this is uncomfortable because there are many alignments to be made! The feeling of being connected to higher paths is strong, however connected and enlightened are still two very different things.

The Buddhas wisdom saying, "The way is not in the sky; the way is in the heart,” is meaningful on many levels of understanding. The way, here, refers to the Path. Whether we feel connected on any particular day by getting bumps of joy, bliss or feeling enlightenment is right around the corner, what we actually need to do is become definitively connected to the Vast Path. Not only connected, but we need to become irreversible in the path. Only in this manner does the “way that is in the heart” become the way of the Vast Path. All living beings need to be definitively set on the path to perfection and our personal journey is our treasured process.

Buddhism in the practical method teaches us that whether we are having a good day or a bad day, feel connected that day or not, whether happy things or unhappy things happen, we always feel connected to the path by making steady personal effort. Experiencing some problem that is disturbing the mind, we might instead think, ‘Oh, this is not so serious that I will lose my mind or my inner process. Later, I will come back to the problem when I can think more clearly.’ Then perhaps read Lam Rim (stages of the path) for a while, or take a nap to feel better.

For a meditator, or someone making effort, the still unseen Vast Path does not exist outside but interior, extending beyond mental functions. Let us think now how the Path exists for ordinary people. Less developed or undeveloped beings have a path or actually many paths that exists inside them in potentiality. For them, the Buddhist path does not exist in actuality, but as a possibility. The initiation process, guidance, instructions, and teachings change something from potentiality to an actuality. In fact, we do not have to call it initiation. We could call it actuation or activation. This is the traditional method of changing a karmic possibility into what truly can be recognized as Path, alive within the individual. To be continued…..

Der Pfad der Meditation (Teil 2)

Die großen Methoden des Mittleren Wegs im Buddhismus beziehen sich nicht auf ein ‚dort draußen‘ irgendwo, aber der Pfad ist auch nicht ‚hier drinnnen‘ irgendwo, wo er mir gehören würde, wenn ich nur wüßte, wie man es richtig macht. Tatsächlich können viele, besonders jene, die den buddhistischen Pfad zum erleuchteten Zustand über viele Leben hinweg angestrebt haben, durch ihre moderne Welt verwirrt werden und sich falsch ausrichten. Deshalb existiert der Pfad nicht in ihnen.
Ich sah ein Video, in dem ein armer Mensch 41 Stunden lang in einem Aufzug feststeckte; er hätte dort sterben können, aber er hat die Tortur überlebt. Es war an einem Feiertagswochenende, die Sicherheitskameras waren eingeschaltet, aber niemand kam, um ihn zu retten, weil natürlich niemand die Kameras überwachte. Ab und zu zwängte er die Lifttüren auf, aber dahinter war nur eine Betonwand. So ist es mit der leidvollen, falschen Ausrichtung eines Übenden, der viel weiß, aber nicht genug, um sich aus Meditationsschwierigkeiten zu befreien. Wenn Du in Deinem Körper und Geist gefangen wärst, würde sich das anfühlen, wie in einem Lift, der nirgendwo hinfährt. Du kannst nicht raus, Du steckst fest!
Zu unserem großen Glück sind die Botschaften und Lehren des Buddha Shakyamuni auch nach 2600 Jahren noch auf den Pfad zum erwachten Zustand ausgerichtet. Die Botschaft des Großen Lehrmeisters wurde bewahrt, um uns dabei zu helfen, uns wieder auf den Pfad zur Vollkommenheit auszurichten, unser wahres Zuhause, und uns wieder auf den rechten Weg zu bringen. Dies ist nicht respektlos gemeint was die intellektuellen Fähigkeiten von gebildeten oder klugen Leuten betrifft. Tatsächlich haben sich die intellektuellen Fähigkeiten karmisch reifer Wesen, die schon früher viel geübt haben, auf andere Weise beschäftigt, während sie auf die Ausrichtung oder Wiederausrichtung warteten. Manchmal sind Menschen nach einem natürlichen Erwachen hin zum höheren Ziel recht bestürzt und denken: ‚Ich habe so viele Jahre verschwendet, aber weißt Du, ich habe viel erledigt. Ja, ich habe viele interessante Dinge getan und sogar vielen Menschen geholfen, aber so hatte ich mir mein spirituelles Leben nicht vorgestellt!‘
Für gewöhnliche Menschen existiert die Ausrichtung auf den Großen Pfad hin zum erwachten Zustand noch nicht einmal, weil sie noch nicht begonnen haben. Wenn der arme Mann, der 41 Stunden im Aufzug steckte, nur an den richtigen Ort hätte gelangen können, d.h. eine Etage zur Verfügung gestanden hätte, dann hätten sich die Türen sanft geöffnet. Er wäre auf alles was dort passiert ausgerichtet gewesen, genau wie er es geplant hatte, auf die Aktivitäten auf der Etage, vielleicht auf wartende Freunden und eine schöne Tasse Kaffee.
Man könnte denken, dass die Leute nicht wissen wenn sie gefangen sind, oder keine Ahnung haben, dass sie feststecken; aber oft wissen sie es. Hast Du jemals jemanden getroffen, den Du einige Jahre nicht gesehen hast und der nach ein paar Minuten anfängt, Dir von seinem Leid zu erzählen. Der das Gefühl hat, nicht zu tun, was er eigentlich tun sollte. Der ein gutes Familienleben und genug Geld hat, aber dem etwas fehlt. Es ist nicht so, dass ihm das nicht bewusst wäre. Er benutzt ihm bekannte Ausdrücke, aber selbst die Worte, die er benutzt, sind nicht das, worum es geht. Ich möchte hier einen bestimmten Punkt über das Leiden an der falschen Ausrichtung rüberbringen, ohne die Chance für Lernen und Wachstum herabzusetzen, die andere erleben, wenn sie Schwierigkeiten durchmachen. Es ist jedoch wahr, dass sich viele vom Leben und durch den Mangel an Chancen geschädigt fühlen und sich wünschen vom leidvollen Gefühl des Feststeckens geheilt zu werden.
Es gibt diese Heilung und sie geschieht durch eine tiefe, energetische Ausrichtung auf das höhere Wesen, die ein wichtiger Aspekt des Pfades ist, d.h. durch den inneren Mentor. Sie geschieht in Stufen und es kommt auf den Einzelnen an, wie schnell oder gut der Entwicklungsprozess verstanden wird. Die Aufregung ist groß wenn Leute einen Blick erhaschen, manche nennen es einen Blick auf die Realität, einen Blick auf Gott oder die höhere Macht, oder selbst einen Blick auf ihre eigene Größe. Im tibetischen Buddhismus sind wir uns nicht sicher, wie man dies beschreiben sollte, da es in unsere Kultur keine speziellen Ausdrücke gibt, die sich auf das Innere beziehen; lasst es uns einfach einen Blick auf das höhere Sein nennen.
Andere werden sagen: ‘Ich habe mich verbunden gefühlt. Es hat sich ‚wirklich‘ angefühlt und dann war es wieder vorbei.‘ Oder: ’Wenn ich meditiere fühle ich mich verbunden, aber wenn ich in mein Alltagsleben zurückkehre spüre ich die Verbindung nicht mehr.‘ Vielleicht fühlt sich das an, als ob Dein Aufzug sanft auf und ab fährt, aber plötzlich ist die Betonwand wieder da, grrrr! Dann öffnet sie sich wieder zu einem inneren Ort der Freiheit und ‚Ich fühle mich gut.‘ Eine der leidvollen Erfahrungen von Übenden ist, dass sie nicht wissen, wann sie sich verbunden fühlen werden. Man kann sich richtig verbunden fühlen und ganz sicher sein, dass die Veränderungen von Dauer sein werden, und plötzlich ist da wieder diese verfluchte Betonwand! Jetzt ist nicht die Zeit, um auszuflippen ‚Ey, Mensch, mein Leben ist nicht lebenswert! Ich habe garnichts erreicht! Ich hab keinerlei Fortschritte gemacht! Ich weiß nicht mehr, wie das geht!‘
Vielleicht erinnert uns ein Freund sanft daran: ‘Und was war letzte Woche?’
‚Ja, aber jetzt fühl ich mich nicht verbunden. Ich werd mich einfach in der Ecke auf den Kopf stellen.‘

Die praktische Methode des Buddhismus lehrt uns, dass wir uns ständig dem Pfad verbunden fühlen, indem wir stetige persönliche Anstrengung machen, egal ob wir einen guten oder schlechten Tag haben, uns an einem Tag verbunden oder nicht fühlen, egal ob glückliche oder unglückliche Dinge passieren. Wenn unser Geist durch ein Problem gestört wird, denken wir stattdessen: ‚Oh, dies ist nicht so schlimm, dass ich deswegen verrückt werde oder meinen inneren Prozess verliere. Ich werde später auf das Problem zurückkommen, wenn ich klarer denken kann.‘ Dann lesen wir vielleicht eine Weile im Lam Rim (den Stufen auf dem Pfad) oder wir halten ein Schläfchen, um uns besser zu fühlen.
Für den Übenden oder jemanden, der sich anstrengt, existiert der noch unsichtbare Unermessliche Pfad nicht im Äußeren sondern im Inneren, und er geht über die geistigen Funktionen hinaus. Lasst uns nun darüber nachdenken, wie der Pfad für gewöhnliche Leute existiert. Weniger entwickelte oder nicht entwickelte Wesen haben einen Pfad, oder tatsächlich viele Pfade die potenziell in ihnen existieren. Für sie existiert der buddhistische Pfad nicht als eine Tatsache sondern als eine Möglichkeit. Der Einweihungsprozess, Führung, Anleitungen und Unterweisungen verändern etwas vom Potenziellen zum Tatsächlichen. Wir müssen es eigentlich garnicht Einweihung nennen. Wir könnten es Antrieb oder Aktivierung nennen. Dies ist die traditionelle Methode, um eine karmische Möglichkeit in Etwas zu verändern, das wahrlich als der Pfad erkannt werden kann, der im Individuum lebendig ist.
Fortsetzung folgt......“ DGR

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Path of Meditation (part one)

"The way is not in the sky, the way is in the heart." Although I had not heard this quotation from The Buddha, in my memory of scripture, it could have changed through translations and other Buddhist cultures, so I cannot really identify the original words. However, this quotation resonates with me and resonates with wisdom encouragement for us to move away from feeling that the Buddha is something outside us. If we look to a monotheistic vision of a supreme and vast being, like the open sky, we would need to perceive that He was looking down upon us from up above and giving us blessings and life.

A creator God view of spirituality, which is the background that most have been indoctrinated, is fairly irresistible to those born into that culture. However, if you do not hold this view, then as a minority, you need to be careful about the feelings of others who do hold these views. Some will hide by developing a dualistic view, thinking,
‘Well, this is what I actually believe, but this is what I have to say I believe to avoid offending people who are my friends. I want them to be happy, and I do not want to debate religion with them.

On the other hand, perhaps we have not given much thought to how we feel about views other that what we might have been taught as a child. Having an unexamined and social spirituality we might enjoy acknowledging the vast cosmos, and our inconsequential part, a bit of cosmic dust. God is out there, part of the big everything and we are here, ever so small and unworthy! We might even indulge in a little bit of,
"Oh, I am such as sinner.”

Some people, who wish to have a deeper spiritual experience, suffer when culture and deep personal values become divided. This wish for authentic spiritual life could generate another way of thinking where neither a position of personal or social values matters. There are those who, with great delight, shift suddenly from the sinner/creator God relationship to a view that everything is empty, so what difference does it make if God is "out there"; it does not matter because God does not exist, nothing exists, and I do not exist. Because this is a dramatic new outlook for many who have been disturbed by an indoctrinated view of creation and heaven, they rest in relief for a while in this simpler outlook. However, whether you remain in that view, or study it as an intellectual stance this is always held in contrast with the opposing view as nihilism vs. eternalism.

In fact, if you were a true nihilist, you could not remain for a moment in this world. At some level of your being, you must really believe that the world and you do exist in the opposite, eternalist position that at least one permanent thing exists, such as God; otherwise, you could not be here at all. Therefore, there are no true nihilists in this world. One would simply and very naturally cease to exist, so we can be certain that there are no pure nihilists, only intellectual nihilist philosophy supporters.

Further, a form of spirituality derived from the concept of nihilism denying existence altogether, or the eternalist side of the coin, that everything exists simultaneously naturally progresses to other ideas about the world and ones place in the world. That could result in conclusions such as why make effort at all, because everything is everything, all is one or the earlier idea that nothing exists.

The Middle Way is the Buddhist path to transformation and enlightenment. It is called Middle Way because we do not believe there is any structure or supporting logic for either nihilism or eternalism. Buddhism does not advocate for the belief in even one permanent thing, nor do we believe that nothing exists. Maintaining the view of the middle way is a feature of Buddhism, not found in other religious traditions, making us unique. The Buddhist middle way sounds like a watered down moderate way without passion or energy, but this is not true.

I have been reading a book written by Isaac Balshavis Singer recently and am quite impressed with his story telling ability. He focuses exclusively on Jewish Hassidic and traditional Jewish views, but describes moderate Jews, not as strict as the Hassidic, as well as other Jews who do not practice at all, calling themselves moderates, but Singers characters consider them substandard. However, the Buddhist middle way is not like that. The middle way is actually a philosophical position, devoid of the confusions and intricacies of either inferior view of the extremes of permance and non-existence.

There are many Christian subgroups also that are based on how one should behave. Some sect will break away, starting a new Christian tradition, for example, because they do not believe that people should smoke pipes, and so they become the non-pipe-smoking branch of a particular religion. Other subgroups are doctrinally opposed to others because they do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead, but disappeared. I do not know what other beliefs they hold, but let us just say there are many religious subgroups that have philosophical, organizational or personality issues. Sadly, many break away, announcing,
"I do not like that person, so I am going to start my own group over here."

Leaving aside political/ religious strife, Buddhism is considered a superior view, not by opposition to other views, but because of a unique view, which simply had no place for the inferior views of nihilism, believing in nothing, or believing that something permanent exists.

Confusions regarding religion; meant to protect and nurture its inner component of spirituality might anger some seekers rather than nurture and invite them to discover its guarded spiritual riches. Many reject a simplistic belief that spirituality and transformation comes from outside us and want to return to a better-balanced view that something is emerging from within us. However, this correct transitional spiritual view associated with the middle way still leaves much to be repaired. A natural and spontaneous view that human beings hold is the mistaken belief that everything inside them belongs to them. This requires more explanation. We will need to have new tools crafted from cultivated states of mind for understanding reality and our relationship to higher being.

Buddhist scholars shine in this area because they train to simultaneously have an intellectually held or realized present view as well as exploring scriptures and guidance resources to gain a completely correct view. Scholarship allows the mind and its tools, the intellectual faculties, to understand that there is a higher view than what he or she presently holds and that with effort; one can simultaneously hold several conflicting views without confusion. It is possible, through mental development, to sort ideas, without definitively deciding too early which is correct. Some can actually hold a three-way conversation inside themselves, intellectually and objectively exploring views without actually holding any one of those views. However, all views are held up to the light of altruism in order to be Buddhist in nature.

The cultivated activity of bringing spirituality in its logical, experiential, and altruistic forms into daily life is an important objective for practitioners. We want to become more personally involved in spirituality, rather than simply advocating for change by a higher power.
"Oh God, help me be a better person. Lord Buddha please give me better understanding," as though Buddha was someone forever separate from us. For inner growth, we want to experience for ourselves a connection with higher-level beings, such as Buddha Shakyamuni, without feeling that we are Lord Buddha Shakyamuni by play-acting.

We become even more balanced and relaxed when we neither disrespect our self, nor hold such a high valuation of our self that we are incapable of understanding that Lord Buddha Shakyamuni held a higher view than we do. The pride and arrogance of ordinary mind might think,
‘ I can play the piano better than Lord Buddha Shakyamuni could, I bet.’ or ‘I have a college degree, and I have value, and I am an important person.’ It requires a strong and skillful mind to accomplish that balance.

Western society places high value on the individualistic self, seeing the self as being so very important. For the ordinary person to recognize something greater, beyond individualism, is a challenge. This is a unique view cultivated in Tibetan Buddhism, by seeing in this manner. By the flexibility within Buddhism, changing according to time and place, I can say that it allows education and cultural environment to utilize all of the positive qualities of individualism if directed for the benefit of transformation and eventually all sentient beings.

On the other hand, the very thing that makes educated Western people unique in their view is actually quite often distasteful to the Oriental mindset, however, I am able to quite enjoy and see the positive aspects. From my point of view, I am not in a fantasy position that your culture is just like Tibetan culture, but enjoy helping many become positive facilitators within the parameters of how you already are developed. There are certain changes that you need to make, but I talk about them in the method of facilitating those changes and not just simply because the unenlightened view is bad and wrong and evil. To be continued……

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How to Become Who You Want to Be (last and part seven)

There are methods to help us make important perceptual changes so that we can achieve our natural potential without unwanted influences harming or impeding our progress. Even those who are clear already, without harmful obstacles, still need to make effort to understand the changes they are already experiencing.

· One valuable perception we can cultivate right now is giving ourselves permission to change.
A friend said recently they felt doomed to failure because their lack of confidence is combined with not feeling as if they deserved the positive changes. Perhaps someone suffering from confidence paralysis could jump away from that position by using positive affirmations that have worked for others such as: "I am good enough to be the best me possible, in fact, I was born to be me! I hereby give myself authorization to change.”

“Change is happening already. I know that because I have changed my mind a dozen times just today! By giving myself formal permission to change, I am allowing a healthy new kind of pressure on beneficial changes, rather than just allowing ordinary change to take place."

This is not like hippy philosophy, "You have got to just go with the flow, man." We are not going to go with the flow, man. We make effort so that the changes are the ones we want.

· Make space and time for preparation of the arrival of the new you.
For example, set up a meditation place. Even if you do not have a meditation practice yet, just for auspiciousness, set up a sacred space. Get a special bookshelf for only Buddhist books or ones related to your special goal. Set aside minutes at a regular time to quietly discover by contemplation, finding and disinviting poor influences.

· Keep a journal of ideas and plans you are working on, as well as recording successes and failures to remind yourself of inner work and what you need to change to realize your goal.

· Attend teachings and retreats in person.
It is useful to understand spiritual goals and how to get there by the powerful examples and inspiration that still exist in this world. If you do not receive teachings, do not have time or make effort to go to retreat, then it is not so easy to create the supportive environment where changes can take place.

· Spend time thinking about the process you need to be immersed in right now and what you personally need to work on.
For example, reducing anger or connecting the reality of the goal to the reality of your life creates new cues and clues that will remind you of new strategies from daily activities.

· Develop a desire based in throwing off inner and outer harmful influences so that you honestly and whole-heartedly want to work on habits that have been holding you imprisoned.

For example, a lack of self-respect or a lack of completing what you have promised to do is debilitating. Many suffer from the effects of bad habits preventing them from following through, even small things. What to say of big things like becoming the one they want to be? If I are supposed to meet someone at such-and-such a time or promised to do a Dharma activity by preparing a paper or making a few phone calls for a Dharma event, and do not do it, what to say about my enlightenment potential?

Perhaps you hold the poor habit that, in return, has been holding you imprisoned identified as a lack of value placed on the goal of enlightenment by comparison to values placed on money making or social status. Some believe that those goals have higher value than the freedom of the awakened state of enlightenment. This lack of understanding can hold them imprisoned no different from the life of an ox. The farmer puts a ring in its nose, ties it to a post, and uses it by making it walk in a circle around the post, threshing grains from chaff as it is still done in some third world countries. Marching around and around in a circle, the ox does not receive benefit or go anywhere in its long walk. There is something more valuable than just moneymaking and social status and that is higher development.

· Perhaps what has been holding you prisoner is a belief that it might take more time and effort than you are willing to give.

You should make a promise to yourself to break this stalemate of not being able to do something. That is daily Buddhist refuge, the promise you make to yourself to attain the goal of full enlightenment.

· Visit regularly with someone you get along with who encourages your practice.

· Rejoice that you are in the process of becoming the new you by your own efforts and determination.
No one is trying to control you, now that you are feeling more successful. By your own efforts and determination, you will change. Do not give up! Do not give up just because old dynamics, harsh habits, or defective criteria, are still somewhat alive in you. If you falter by beginning meditation practice, and one day realize that you have not meditated in four days, do not beat yourself up. Just begin again fresh! Do not worry! Just begin again.

· Overcome irrational fear.
Courageously seek in your own mind any crossed wires that inappropriately link concepts; for example, status and spirituality. Confusion of conflicting goals need to be destroyed because they cause fear inside that does not seem to have a reasonable basis.

· Watch out for signs of Santa Claus thinking.
This deep-rooted influence is inside many fine people, who on one level are certain that an implanted belief does not exist, and yet spontaneously pray to it to give them something they want without making effort. They do this because they want the goodies under the tree, and still have a certainty that it is Santa Claus who brings them all that they desire. This fantasy is often inscribed in the excited and happy mind at a young age.

Santa Claus is coming….oooooooh! Kids are excited to hear about Santa Claus and want to believe so much in the magic of receiving anything they desire with no effort. Something happens in the way memories are shaped into beliefs causes this to go deep inside, and for many adults, becomes an important dynamic in how they interact with the world. This is why some people find it difficult to be grounded. Perhaps you do not understand friends who are like this, because how they act does not seem to relate with the reality of the situation and they often find life difficult because they do not get what they feel they deserve. Just because they know something is wrong, does not exist, still they make poor choices because there is something they desire, and are innately sure their faith is going to give it to them. This is faith built upon craving and inappropriate desire, not the faith of refuge with higher motivation. This relates to important judgments some people make that carry through to how they approach spiritual life as well.

The high energy of, as an example, finding Santa Claus as a child could have imprinted the inner mind with an error that is now applied to many different areas of life. This is important and deep inner work: the uprooting of errors. Defective dynamics make us sick and cause us to remain in the ordinary state. Healthy elements that could recreate us as an enlightened being might already exist in us in a natural way, but are covered by adventitious errors caused by wrong influences as described earlier in this series of articles.

In this way, unhappily, we might develop strategies in spiritual search interfering with what we need to do to effect necessary changes. Many spiritual search patterns, I believe, enhance “Santa Claus thinking” and do not leave room for the actual work; the clarification and purification of perceptions. Now the goodies are the spiritual experiences or craving “feel-good feelings.” These are the goodies under the tree we want to find there with no effort on our part. This is the Santa Claus that does not exist; we must make effort to change!

· Lastly, begin to act like the new you, and abandon old, defective dynamics.
For example, tell others that you are a meditator, do not hide. More importantly, rejoice that you are doing your part to make it happen. Your experiences on the path of perfection will be a delight and effortless as you remember that the goal is valuable; not only valuable, but it is only gained step by step. This makes your current efforts a treasure, isn't that so? It is so easy to change, so easy to change. It is actually very natural. The End

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How to Become Who We Want to Be part six

We are powerfully influenced by our internal and external world to seek spiritual experiences because we want to feel good. Naturally, everybody wants to feel good, but when it moves beyond a certain point by becoming a central spiritual mandate or criterion, we could then become an adherent of one of the many feel-good religions vying for our attention. “Gimme the feel-good feelings! I do not want to make effort, I do not want to change.” We might feel easy delight to join the chorus; “Do not tell me anything that might be difficult, such as I have to think, purify or change my behavior. Don’t talk to me about those things. I just want to feeeelllll good.” Well, that is what drugs are for. Whether you are using the recreational drugs of “feel good” spiritual process or drugs sold on the streets, it is not so different.

People with a main spiritual gauge of wanting to feel good, fail as soon as something does not feel good, like the effort needed to get rid of obstacles or negative habits that arise to torment them regularly, such as anger, jealousy or fear. For the intelligent or skillful, naturally, wanting to feel good is quite okay as long as it is not the most compelling spiritual criterion.

Sadly, and quite obvious to others is a wish for others to admire us for our saint like qualities or holiness. Some begin a spiritual search, with no innate inner abilities, and with nothing to give other than their self-cherishing air of holiness about themselves, so that others will admire them. Again, there are those who actually have an admirable quality of holiness that is an indication of inner development such as Padre Pio or His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many others who do not have famous names. It is even more than quite okay to be holy, but to have as a decisive factor of craving admiration for a false holiness will eventually cause them to do strange things that will culminate in everyone knowing their lack of “holy” qualities.

Now, this wish to be holy is not a fully negative attitude. It is really quite realistic to have as a goal wanting to be a good person, and upon further reflection, realizing that the only method is to become a spiritual person, and attaining qualities. Then, the criterion is; you want to be a good person. This is very much in line with a healthy awareness and values wanting to help others. We want to help others, and we want to be a good person. If you think, ‘How do I become a good person? What are the qualities of this “good person” that I want to become?’ This must be connected to becoming a more spiritual person, and in that way, you answer that question by asking yourself another question: What is spiritual?

So, what are the obstacles preventing us from being the spiritual being we envision? Basically, it is the same list as earlier in the discussion in how we go about achieving our ordinary potential. My first answer was and still is that you are too busy to achieve outer goals, and you are also too busy to develop and become a spiritual person. You have an unprepared education. You do not know how to go about it. You have a fear of being ridiculed, and you have a fear of failure. You are not able to move from wishing to be, to the active stage of preparation. These are identical to the obstacles in becoming who you want to be even in your ordinary life. Poor health is another one. You are not able to energetically, mentally or physically sustain the continuity of spiritual effort, or something in your health prevents you from doing the preparation.

The last one common to both inner and outer success is confusion regarding your responsibilities. The reason who you have not fully delved into spiritual activities and meditation activities is that you have many other things to do. You have dishes to wash, meetings to go to, you have this to do and that to do. Therefore, you cannot put spiritual life and preparation for being a spiritual person into the category of your responsibilities. In fact, it should be at the top of the list, which is why some men and women seek to be ordained, becoming a monastic in order to devote full time to spiritual life. For them, spiritual development goes from down here on priorities up to the top of the list. It becomes the most important thing in their lives, and everything else falls below that.

So, this is all very interesting, but how do we begin? No matter what our goals might be, how do we begin a fresh course of action, unencumbered by unwanted influences perhaps even instilled in childhood of becoming who you want to be? Some might wish to become an astronomer. Mostly, I speak from a spiritual Buddhist process, but if you want to apply this toward becoming a movie star or a better bookkeeper, then that is what you should do.

How to begin: Strongly admire the goal while holding to a flexible mind that understands that the very nature of change allows the space and opportunity to become the transitional being that experiences the path leading to a desired goal. I will say it again. Strongly admire the goal. In that way, you are experiencing process, but you are also aware of the goal. You are conscious that the very nature of human life in time and space and form means that everything continues to change and that you are a transitional being of your own life process. Whatever stage of time and space you are presently in, you are the experiencer of the process of the path to the goal.

However, you are not the one that will be the spiritual being. Is that disappointing? You will continue to be a transitional being for as long as it takes to get through the stage of the process that you are currently experiencing. You are the doer of all of the activities and all of the efforts, but you will not be the resultant goal. You will not be the spiritual being. Is this okay? I hope it is okay because that is the way it is.

Really, some people do not want it to be that way, and they will not think of it that way, but I promise you it is! From your own viewpoint, you cannot recognize the future you, the future one that will be the spiritual being. You cannot recognize it because you do not have all of the elements yet to even understand that being. However, that future being will remember you, isn't that so? That future being will retain information about you, but you are not yet acquainted with that future being. While you are in the transitional phase, please do not hold a memory of your past that complains, “I struggled, I fought, and I was filled with anger." Try not to be like that!

You are going to embarrass yourself in the future if you act badly now, isn't that so? You do not want to have to feel ashamed when you remember back. Be the best transitional being in your stage of the process that you can possibly be, and you will continue to authentically progress. Otherwise, it is just another fantasy role-playing. I am a fairy princess. I am an astronaut. I am a good guy; I am a bad guy. This is not real.

Interestingly, when you arrive in that future, it will feel like you are the same person because of an amazing quality of human life called continuity of consciousness. For example, you can remember and feel like the same person that you were as a child, but upon reflection, you know that you are not that same person either physically or mentally. You have a continuity of consciousness that reaches into your past. In that same way, you will be remembered by your future you, due to continuity or consciousness. You want those memories to be quality, don't you?

There is a dynamic tension between what and who you are right now and the mental view of the possibilities of what you could be in the future. There is something strong between the you that you are now; the one wishing to be alive to an unknown vision of who you could be, you can feel. Some experience being pulled toward a goal of who they actually are, or what they could be, that guides them from the inside, changing ideas and inner sensations to more easily move into a new version that can realize full potentials. To be continued……

Monday, September 28, 2009

How to Become What We Want to Be (part five)

How can we prevent changing? Change will happen whether we are prepared for it or not. What we do in deliberate inner spiritual work is push for positive, beneficial change that will effortlessly recreate us into the one that we always knew that we could be! Therefore, deliberate change is what we seek, within parameters of cultivated new and healthy influences, rather than going with the flow of our presently held influences, most of which we might unhappily discover, are not of our own choosing. Without making effort, we could be leading a life that is based on factors that are not who we are, not of our own decisions, and often, not very happy because we really wanted to be doing something else with our life!

As we continue thinking about this extremely important subject of influences, we will discover inner and outer obstacles one after the other. Another obstacle preventing you from being who want to be might wish to be is poor health. Actually, this is a very Tibetan answer, because many Tibetans wanting to become a meditator or accomplish something important, cannot because poor health prevents it. In Tibet, a very poor country, we did not have a good health care system and because of some physical defect or illness, many had minds more strong than the body they needed for yogic spiritual activity. They needed to remain under the care of family and in that way, their own wishes were never realized. In the West, and of course, world wide, this same issue is still an obstacle for many, one that can arrive suddenly as impairment due to accident or age onset genetic weakness.

My last answer here in the series of articles on influences that keeps you caged within unwanted strictures is your current responsibilities. The amount of time that you perceive it will take to realize your potential interferes with your responsibilities that you have already promised to do, isn’t that true? This is an important part of being too busy to make deliberate changes, but some people can be too busy even without having responsibilities by keeping up with a trivial lifestyle. So far, our responsibilities have not yet included becoming that one that we want to become! We might even see becoming that one and our responsibilities as two different things, when it should have been only one thing; realizing our innate potential, isn't that so?

So, after delving into ordinary dynamics and uncovering how we build our lives upon many almost mechanical or emotional influences, let us explore another aspect. By what criteria did you decide who you wanted to become or realize in spiritual goals? Now that we move into a discussion of spiritual, since you are still you, we might discover some criteria either infecting or inspiring you.

A high regard of qualities of spiritual beings such as Jesus, Buddha, Mother Theresa, or one's teacher and want to emulate them are strong or perhaps the strongest influences in spiritual seeking. Admiring the qualities of a holy being and wanting to be like them should almost be the exclusive criterion influencing who you want to be spiritually, but it is not because of negative conditioning. From a higher point of view, the presence of enlightened beings in this world is meant to attract us like metal filings to a magnet, directing our inner gaze to transformation.

From our active inner life and how we individually relate to our personal world can be with either positive or negative feelings. Beyond that, we have reactions to that interaction with our world that creates a further perceptual influence. For example if we feel deep inside that there is more to life than what we are currently experiencing, this influences our life decisions strongly. This could be filled with sadness, depression, anger, or even a feeling of being cheated in our life process. Perhaps we intuitively know there is more, and all we received instead was a position in life filled with dragon poop when we could have been sitting in the penthouse of an incredible castle! We do not like it, possibly are angry, and feel this is unfair and definitely not right! There is more to life than what I am experiencing!

Coming from an inner place makes it almost spiritual rather than everyday inner criterion. You have a sense of justice and a human rights demand because you come from a country where choices are a hallmark of a free society, and now you do not get to have them. This does not seem right! It becomes a spiritual stubbornness. It is not right that I am experiencing a contracted life when I want to be like that! However, if we do not become dysfunctional, it could get your supercharged engine going, acting as a criterion for you to do something about it!

On the other hand, an improper view could damage the value of a nice inner spiritual crisis. Some react to inner unhappiness by wishing to control others; imposing a spiritual authority over other and making up rules based on control in the name of religion that has nothing to do with inner development. For example, Allah says you cannot shave your face. Well, we do not know that because we cannot talk to Allah, but somebody who said that they talked to Allah said that that is what we can or cannot do. Some make up rules because they want to control others. For example, women must always be hidden and covered. In certain societies, we would not have choices regarding this; these are mandated spiritual rules.

People with a personal spiritual life based upon a need to control others by revealing god given invisible rules might not make sense to you or me but must be followed! We are forced to either cut or not cut our beards, covering our faces or go completely naked, such as some African peoples, in order to please god or the gods. Some say it is terrible if you put clothes on! Some people say you cannot take your clothes off or violate gods blessings. Some people say you must put your clothes on, and others say you must be naked. This one has to wear a hat or god will curse you, and that one cannot wear a hat (for the same reason). What is the purpose? This is only trying to control others.

However, skillful influences of careful religious practices are both created and felt as a sacred influence without fear mongering. Good practice is not meant to weaken others by exerting or forcing control, and that is a distinguishing factor. When it creates fear or even become a cause to be put to death in some societies, it moves into what should be illegal, even if done in the name of religion!

Another example of religious dogma would be a belief that a husband was meant to take the only control in the family. It is only logical to see that control can be abused because God meant the husband to have power over the wife. Beyond social systems or what might or might not be criminal, these are personal, inner devised, dogmatic permissions using spiritual influences wishing to control others. Some aspire to be the one to tell others what they can and cannot do, based upon something that others cannot see and that only “they” can see. Wanting to control others is the issue here. We must be very, very clean and honest with ourselves about this. To be continued…..