December 28, 2011
This video shows a speech given by Charlie Chaplin at the end of his film ‘The Great Dictator’. The speech is incredibly prescient and speaks to us today much more than it did to audiences during his time. It’s as if he really meant the speech for us, now, as we enter what will likely be a very tumultuous 2012, and as our leaders attempt to ramp up yet another war in the Middle East.
Please view and share this important video.
November 30, 2011
Because the mind is uncreated and unborn,
One can be freed from mental extremes and the law of opposites.
When conceptualization is seen as illusory,
One can be freed to understand the individual perceiver is absent.
When one understands the individual perceiver is absent,
The at-one-ment, ‘isness’ and light of pure being is understood.
Because the at-one-ment, ‘isness’ and light of pure being is understood,
In unending bliss, consciousness is liberated from the cycles of time.
November 11, 2011
“The human understanding is like a false mirror, which, receiving rays irregularly, distorts and discolors the nature of things by mingling its own nature with it.”
This essay will comment briefly on Padmasambhava’s ‘The Great Liberation’ teaching, translated to English in 1936. While I am not a Buddhist scholar, I have studied Buddhism with a variety of teachers and lamas and have over thirty years of experience meditating. To say the least, the teachings are among the most profound I have encountered. To be sure, verbalizing some insights that seem quite intuitively clear in meditation becomes difficult when translating to the written word. I must up front caveat this text by saying that the reader should perform their own analysis of and meditation on ‘The Great Liberation’ and use that as the definitive guide.
While many of the ideas surrounding ‘The Great Liberation’ are elaborated on to a great extent by modern Buddhist masters (in the Dalai Lama’s writings on Dzogchen or Gyatrul Rinpoche in his commentary Natural Liberation), some of what is described below has not, as far as I’m aware, been discussed in quite the same vein, particularly regarding any comparison with Judeo-Christian creation myth (perhaps scholars could explore this idea further!). I will caveat that I’ve not read the Evans-Wentz writings regarding ‘The Great Liberation’ and have decided not to read in the spirit of the Padmasambhava text, which states clearly that the text alone should be sufficient. With that in mind, some readers may want to jump to the bottom link of this page, should they not want to color their minds with my own interpretation.
I’ll look at five specific ideas in ‘The Great Liberation’:
- The uncreated nature of mind
- The conceptual nature of phenomena
- The ‘tri-kaya’ – three types of light
- The Great Light
- The mirror nature of mind
I’ll then end with some meditative reflections.
The uncreated nature of the mind. The text elaborates on how mind is ‘uncreated’ by using logical analysis to put forward the idea that mind, on analysis, cannot be found. The analysis is similar, but somewhat different, from other Buddhist philosophers (i.e., Nargajuna) regarding ‘emptiness’ in that it does not refer to mind as uncreated because its composite parts are interdependent (‘dependent arising’) and thus lacks intrinsic, autonomous being within conventional reality. Rather, the text explores how mental analysis does not allow us to assign language, description, context or shape to the concept of ‘mind’. We can certainly discuss an individual ‘mind’ – or even its locality in the cerebrum of individuals, but the overall concept of ‘mind’ cannot be physically or otherwise located. It is unfound, uncreated.
The conceptual nature of phenomena. The text goes on to define all phenomena, even physical phenomena, as conceptual in nature. That is to say, what we define by language is conceptual; but also what is defined as conventional physical reality is conceptual. In this sense the text is a ‘mind only’ view of reality (rooted in the Buddhist philosopher Asanga) in that ultimately only mind exists; moreover, there is only in reality one mind that exists. All dualistic fragments of this one mind are illusory or partial views of the totality.
The ‘three-light’ nature of reality. Three types of light are described: dharma-kaya – the ‘clear light’ of uncreated, unconceived mind; ‘shamboga-kaya’ – the self-illumined void that is perceivable and infinite in potential; ‘nirmana-kaya’ – conventional, manifest and “fixed” reality as light.
The Great Light – the Great Light is perceived as the ‘at-one-ment’ of the three types of light in a unity of consciousness. In this sense, the separation of light is for definition only, to help the perceiver back to at-one-ment.
The mirror nature of mind. While the use of the mirror analogy in the text is brief, I found it to be one of the text’s most compelling ideas and one that ultimately led me to a variety of meditative insights. From the text:
“All appearances are verily one’s own concepts, self-conceived in the mind, like reflections seen in a mirror. To know whether this be so or not, look within thine own mind.”
Some Personal Reflections
First, if one considers a mirror image, it is in and of itself insubstantial, although it appears real. A mirror image is in the nature of light.
By meditating on the nature of perceived reality, it could well be that it is in the nature of a mirror, reflecting light. If mind is uncreated, and perceived reality is like a mirror reflecting (paradoxically) uncreated mind, then what is perceived appears real, but is really more of an illusion or magic show. Moreover, if mind is uncreated then what is perceived is uncreated by inference. If what is perceived is uncreated, and in the nature of light, then it is closer to a mirror reality than ‘real’ or substantial reality with ‘intrinsic’ or ‘inherent’ or ‘autonomous’ qualities. The mirror analogy falls short in that conventional reality finds ‘clear light’ and ‘conventional perceived reality’ subsumed within one another and not separate: the nirmana-kaya and dharma-kaya (clear light) are one thing; nirvana and samsara (illusion) are one.
So what then is the shamboga-kaya? The shamboga-kaya is the ‘intermediate’ light between the dharma-kaya and the nirmana-kaya. It is the illumined void, the ‘messenger’ of the dharma-kaya. It is the empty mind, illumined by the ‘seed’ or ‘masculine’ light so that it is perceivable as infinite and as infinite potentiality. The ‘void’ is the feminine ‘womb’ in which the masculine ‘light’ pierces in order to be self-aware of its own infinite potential. This infinite potential is then played out in the nirmana-kaya, the perceived reality which in essence is never separated from the clear light. The shamboga-kaya is the pregnant moment of potentiality that is then played out in the nirmana-kaya.
If mind is uncreated, and phenomena are also uncreated, but only appears created and substantial as a mirror image also appears substantial, then what is perceiving? If there is no-one perceiving (as mind is uncreated) then there is no perceiver to conceptualize, or interpret or judge, the nature of reality. If there is no perceiver, then reality is in essence what it is as a totality, the ‘isness’ of being. Once a perceiver is removed, there is only what is in totality in an ‘at-one-ment’ of light. There is no more judgment, there is no more duality, there is complete liberation from the concepts of the dualistic mind that trap one in conceptualization – even the concept of karma.
The question might arise, if this description brings us close to a truer view of reality, why is it this way? A simple motive might be found reflecting on one’s own use of a mirror. One cannot see one’s face without a mirror – tribal people’s who have never seen a mirror jump in terror when they first see their face. The point is that if one wanted to see one’s face, one’s nature, one needs the duality of a mirror. Once the duality of the mirror takes place, the uncreated mind begins to conceptualize about that reality, ‘naming’ it much like Adam and Eve named creatures in the Garden. Once the creatures are named, the conceptual reference takes hold and eventually supersedes the original ‘face’ that is pure being. Uncreated mind continually ‘names’ things conceptually (or seems to), creating reality where none exists – it only exists as if in a mirror, reflecting the clear light of uncreated mind. This conceptual naming of things colors the reality and ultimately obscures the intrinsically pure nature of the primordial. However, this is an illusion, for the ‘at-one-ment’ of uncreated mind (clear light) and perceived reality (nirmana-kaya) is never diminished nor lost.
The Garden of Eden myth follows the movement from uncreated mind (void) to shamboga-kaya to conceptual ‘fixed’ reality quite clearly. In Genesis, first there is the void, the unconceived ‘womb’. Then the masculine ‘light’ pierces the void, and creation/conception ensues. Then mankind, once created, begins ‘naming’ conceptual reality in the Garden. Humankind is ejected from the innocence of ‘at-one-ment’ once he/she perceives the dualistic notion of good and evil and comes to see ‘nakedness’ as shameful. From that moment, ‘naked’ mind becomes concealed in mental concepts.
The meditator seeks ‘at-one-ment’ with the innocent, unified (‘uncreated’) mind by first reflecting on the nature of that mind, and then using techniques such as pondering the mirror nature of phenomena to understand that what is perceived is essentially a mental construction. The meditator can also use traditional Buddhist analysis techniques to understand that because of interdependence, nothing has intrinsic existence and is in truth ’empty’ of autonomous reality. Once one understands the mirror nature of mind and emptiness, one can then reflect on the absence of themselves as an individual perceiver. Once the individual perceiver is absent, there is only the at-one-ment of being in bliss and light. (Note that this at-one-ment is not oblivion, but rather the primordial awareness itself.) Once there is at-one-ment of being in bliss and light, the Bodhisattva’s vow has been attained and all are liberated as there is only in reality one mind. Therefore the ‘Vajrasattva’ purity (Buddha Nature/Christ Consciousness) is attained as the primordial, naked innocence of the one mind is realized in bliss. Finally, karma is non-existent and has no hold. The ‘Great Liberation’ is achieved. To fully explore these teachings, I suggest reading the texts at the end of this post.
Padmasambhava ends the teaching by reflecting on how wondrous this all is. He chooses a child-like awe when summing up his feelings about the nature of reality. It could be, on reflection, that other choices could be made. For example, Nargajuna chooses compassion when reflecting on how sentient beings appear lost in illusion, and advises against detachment from sentient beings lest we lose our way in nihilism; Buddhism as a rule advises us to vow to assist all sentient beings until samsara (illusion) is ‘emptied’. Padmasambhava chooses detachment and to subsume all of reality into a single view, a single mind, and thus ends suffering through this realization, and avoids nihilism through child-like wonder. Both paths achieve the Bodhisattva’s vow.
While Padmasambhava’s text below reflects a ‘mind only’ view (even asserting the physical is a mental concept), many Buddhist’s believe this philosophy has been superseded by Nargajuna’s ‘middle way’ approach of emptiness that allows for a conventional, physical reality and appears, therefore, more common sense than a ‘mind only’ view that seems to contradict the physical world we see in front of us.
It could be that a quantum analysis of multidimensional reality, and modern descriptions of reality by physicists such as David Bohm regarding the ‘holographic’ nature of phenomena, may indeed take us back to the ‘mind only’ view put forth in Padmasambhava’s text below. More on that in another essay.
November 4, 2011
Opening his eyes, the Master nodded.
The disciple asked, ‘Please describe to me the nature of reality’.
The Master, pointing to a mirror at the side of the room, said:
‘Go to that mirror, and look at your face’.
The disciple did just that.
‘Tell me, how do you perceive your face without the mirror?’
The disciple shook his head and looked back to the Master: ‘I cannot perceive my face without the mirror’.
‘Exactly’, said the Master. ‘Reality is the mirror through which the Infinite perceives’.
The disciple looked back into the mirror.
‘Your life is one of the faces of the Infinite,’ said the Master, who then smiled. ‘That is the nature of reality’.
October 16, 2011
Children of the morning,
stand together now, looking toward Eden.
They cannot take it away from you:
you are its worthy caretaker.
Do not listen as they say you cannot.
Do not listen as they say it is not possible.
Everything is yours;
Accept it, love completely and with abandon
this beautiful world that is yours.
My only advice is not to hate –
for hatred will only bring sadness back to yourself,
as the mirror of the mind reflects what you give.
Children of the morning,
stand together now, looking toward Eden.
Stand in innocence and do not fear the future.
Stand in love, and heal the world.
Inspired by Rodrigo’s CONCİERTO DE ARANJUEZ.
July 26, 2011
From that mind nothing arises
No concepts, no desires.
Wondrous is this!
The unconceived mind,
unassailable it is.
It cannot be judged
It stands apart.
Wondrous is this!
The uncreated mind,
is within all you see.
For sheer logic,
revealing the naked mind
reveals that it must be everywhere.
Wondrous is this!
There is no seeker,
nor anything to be sought.
As the Master says,
and the goal is reached.
Wondrous is this!
Inspired by ‘The Great Liberation’ by Padma Sambhava. See post here.
July 24, 2011
I just finished 11 days at the Kalachakra for World Peace with the Dalai Lama and wanted to share with you some information.
After the event, I had a dream about the Dalai Lama. In the dream he was trying to give a teaching, in the form of a document, to a few people. None of the people seemed to want to accept the teaching.
He looked at me. I said I would accept the teaching. He continued to look at me intensely. A clear, shining light emitted from his eyes into mine. He whole face was lit up in light. And then he was laughing, and I was laughing. There was nothing but joy.
For those interested, I share this practice and suggest the following meditation:
- Feeling gratitude for being alive in this amazing and wonderful time when this teaching has been revealed
- Feeling gratitude for the various teachers of the various times
- Reflecting, as stated in the text, on how mind is uncreated
- Reflecting, as the text also describes, on how all of what we consider ‘reality’ is conceptual
- Understanding, as stated in the text, that we are all of one mind – that separation is an illusion
- Understanding, as also stated, that reality cannot be found outside of your own mind
- Imagining light permeating your entire being – the One Mind
- After performing this practice (or a variation you derive based on the text) regularly, I suggest performing compassionate activity, on whatever level you find comfortable and whatever way you find inspiring. Take compassion into the world.
This teaching was meant for this age, and can be practiced by anyone, regardless of standing. It is what is known as ‘natural enlightenment’.
To sum up, you can reflect on this:
There is no duality. There is only One Mind. I am that One Mind. Everything I see around me is a concept. There is nothing but this One Mind that transcends all reality. When I observe, I observe this mind. Since mind is uncreated, what I see around me is uncreated; it only seems to be substantial and real. It is like a dream. It is like a rainbow. Wondrous is this.
The views presented by Padma Sambhava are in the text here. The first 25 pages are so are the crux of the teaching. Given its brevity, the text can be read and meditated upon before going to sleep.
As for my own experience with One Mind, please see the post here. To me, this is the ‘sky symbol’ as mentioned in the Padma Sambhava text.
Many people can reach liberation through this teaching. This is its promise. Please help make that promise come true.
December 18, 2010
When surveying the Internet and reviewing comments from people on blogs, I am struck by how most people seem to lack empathy and trust for their fellow human beings. Many have lost faith in humanity in general. Many distrust politicians, the elite, their neighbors, even themselves.
Empathy and trust is a necessary component, however, of civilization and human relationships. A foundation of trust means that you feel that the person you trust empathizes with you and does not want you to suffer.
Empathy is therefore the basis for all relationships that work and are sustainable. For this reason I urge that when you feel anger and hostility toward someone, try also to empathize with their situation and feel compassion for them. In doing so you will usually find that they are trying to do the correct thing, although what they are doing may, from your perspective, appear unjust or irrational.
That said, history is strewn with mis-guided politicians and leaders who felt they were doing the right thing. Usually they are misguided because, in my opinion, they lose empathy with the suffering their actions may cause and look to a ‘higher good’ or ‘greater good’ they feel justifies their actions. In losing their compassion, they confuse the means with the ends. The means – usually the ‘system’ or the ‘economy’ or the ‘market’ – take precedent over the ends – the people. They forget that these ‘systems’ and ‘money’ are only constructions of the mind, abstractions we have created to allow people to function, not the other way around. Centralized power often finds its greatest weakness in its lack of compassion toward the people while trying to protect institutions that should be, ideally, working for people, not against them.
Because centralization of power can cause a lack of empathy for people, local government is often best in that its decision-making is closest to the people impacted by those decisions. However, according to some political theorists, there are certain functions of society that are best performed at higher levels of government, and perhaps if we extrapolate this to a multidimensional frame – with reference to and advice from higher dimensions – there are also decisions best made by higher dimensional beings and Councils. Much of societal wisdom within a multi-dimensional frame may lie in deciphering where decision-making is best made.
As we enter into our next phase of Earth Civilization, we will come to understand that ‘local government’ is relative to our evolution as a society, and that in fact ‘local’ is the planet. In the future, given our communications technology and interdependence, local government and world government could mean the same thing.
At the end of the day, however, we are all sovereign beings and must have the liberty to choose for ourselves within the law. And if the laws are unjust, we should be able to change them.
But as you look to change the world, it may be best to start with yourself. I strongly suggest that if you want others to empathize with you, then empathize with them as well. Try to find common ground. Try to understand that most of the Elites who are apparently motivated by dark motives in fact believe in the correctness of those motives, and many in fact believe they are doing good.
Does this make it good? A sophisticated perceiver might try to look beyond a good/evil frame to a conciliatory stance that understands the unity of apparent opposites. When one understands this unity, the rage one feels at the ‘other’ can diminish as you see that other is in reality just a reflection of your own mind.
Does that mean we shouldn’t seek justice? No, it means we seek it with vigor. But if we seek justice based on empathy and compassion, not on hatred, we create as much benefit for the wrongdoer as we do for ourselves. If we seek justice out of hatred, we eventually become like the very enemy we want to defeat.
December 11, 2010
August 22, 2010
What exactly is Enlightenment? On this blog I’ve discussed various ‘Enlightenments’ – both the Western and Eastern variety. In the West, the ‘Enlightenment’ had to do with the evolution of humanistic thinking – that ‘man is the measure of all things’, and science can and must defeat superstition. The rational mind and the scientific method would liberate humanity from the shackles of superstition and oppression foisted on us by the patriarchal church and its backward views.
In the East, the Enlightenment of the Buddha and Indian Masters is quite a different thing from that defined in the West. First, rarely, if ever, will an Enlightened being state that they are Enlightened. If anyone says someone is Enlightened, it is the students of the Enlightened, and this label of Enlightenment may, in fact, be counterproductive. How?
By definition, if one claims to be Enlightened that means another is not. This, however, is antithetical to non-dual thinking. Rationality, in fact, takes us to a place where we must, by sheer logic, admit that Enlightenment is in fact extant everywhere, in everything, at every instant. The rational mind, applied in such a way to the task of Enlightenment and not focused outward on ‘taming’ the environment but instead of understanding the nature of being, brings us to this place, as it should. When students call their teacher Enlightened when they feel they themselves are not, they are in fact re-enforcing their own ego-driven notion of separateness from what is. And while such devotion may take them quite far on the path, it can eventually have its limits.
Let me restate this. If the Buddha is correct, a non-dualistic state of understanding reality as an interdependent whole is what Enlightenment brings us. Once realized, he did not say ‘I am Enlightened and you are not’. He in fact was saying that we are all part of Enlightenment. Put another way, how can we separate ourselves from the whole? This is in fact, on rational reflection, an impossibility. We cannot.
Enlightenment, is, therefore, not a place we go. It is not, moreover, a claim we make. It is not, when all is said and done, achieved by some and not by others. Enlightenment is, in actuality, the natural state of being. It is the ‘suchness’ or ‘isness’ of reality. Enlightenment is the inter-dependent wholeness of the entirety of reality in a non-dual state. We are part of it. It is us. It permeates us. We cannot, no matter how hard we try, separate ourselves from it. T0 do so, or to attempt to do so, is called illusion. If we call one Enlightened and another not, we are just re-enforcing this illusion.
We are reaching a point in evolution where, as a society, non-dual understanding is critical to overcoming our various social ills. For out of a non-dual understanding, a natural flow of change would and should occur. As people wake up to and accept their own natural mind – their own Enlightened awareness – the world will change and the old masters of ego will disappear. They will disappear like the Berlin Wall disappeared, and like a caterpillar sheds its wings and the butterfly appears. This is the ‘Son of Man’ talked about it in the Bible. It is the New Man and Woman, the new society of natural enlightenment.
All of this can occur not as a violent overthrow, but as a whisper, a poet’s insight, an artist’s skilled craft, or a lover’s embrace in the morning. It can occur as if in a wave, a discovery, as if time stopped and the light shimmered through the leaves of eternity, asking us to return home.
While it seems impossible, it is not. It is simply accepting who you are. You are eternity, you are the Enlightened. But do not tell anyone, for in doing so you imply ‘I am and you are not’. We all are. And it is in a glance that we know. It is in smile we know. It is in embracing each other in love that we know.
We are all the Enlightened, and always have been. Now is the time for that reality to be revealed. It is not the time of a single Christ or Buddha. It is the time to realize the dream of the Enlightened – for all of us to see our oneness and unity with them and with the whole of eternity.