Thursday, October 14, 2004

Echoes Beyond Time

I was reflecting this morning on how certain things seem to reach out to me from beyond time and space. They are so deep, so closely connected to me, indeed, they seem to *be* me in a sense, in the sense that I cannot separate or distinguish between them and me.

For example, some dharma words or names I come across resonate so deeply that they seem to come from within, not without, nor even within seems close enough.

In Machig Labdron's life story, when she receives major empowerment, at a certain point she rises off the floor, displays a great array of deities and dakinis, and flies out through the walls of the building! In her namthar (her spiritual life story), it is said that she lands at the Tree of Serlag.

This Tree of Serlag is a name, a tree, which has stuck in my mind ever since the first time I read her biography, resonating, echoing, on and on. The name itself seems delicious, and delightfully rolls around my mind like rolling food rolls around in ones mouth.

What is this tree, this place, that is said to be terrible to behold, a dark place inhabited by powerful nagas, and spirits? What visions does it conjure up, for those unprepared? Machig overpowered the naga and his display of demons with the power of her samadhi. The scene seems so vivid ... the empowerment, her leaving through the walls themselves, and the tree .. that tree!

The lama who gave Machig the empowerment was called Kyoton Sonam Lama ... another name that reaches in so deep. I dreamt of him one night, a powerful dream, which lingers in memory to this day.

How is it that these names are embedded so deep in my consciousness? How do they resonate so, where other words don't? What karmic connection is there, from past lives, with this place and people? It reminds me of stories where disciples first encountered the names of their future gurus, like when Gampopa first heard the name 'Milarepa', or when Naropa heard the name 'Tilopa'. Such reactions were stirred up in them, never to be quelled, with the connection resonating even beyond Enlightenment itself.

Chanting the words of my Sadhana (my deity practice), the words seem to echo down from beyond any reference point, as if all beings chant them together, always have, always will ... one eternal chant ... enveloping all ... expressing all.

These connections seem so deep, they reach out beyond time itself. So deep, that they're inside, outside, all around ... they are my very being. Where do I start, and where do I end? Identification with this body and mind is lessoned, and other vistas open up, connections ... no ... more than that ... inseparability. No beginning and no end .... interconnected .... interpenetrating.

Resonating, Ripples ..... How fortunate indeed to open to what is. How fortunate indeed to have precious teachers and gurus. How precious indeed this lifetime, this opportunity, this chance to attain Liberation, and help all beings recognise their true home, which they never left .... just forgot.


Al said...

Chodpa - as usual your post got me thinking on a bunch of different levels. What was of particular interest for me today was, "How fortunate indeed to open to what is. How fortunate indeed to have precious teachers and gurus. How precious indeed this lifetime"
To your knowledge, where are the formal aspects of "thankfulness" in Buddhism? Where do they exist in the Suttas? What aspect of the Path address' this idea?
Just wondering....Al

Chodpa said...

Hi Al, I've dug out some references for the notion of 'thankfulness' from the suttas as requested.

Thankfulness is called 'Katannu' in Pali, and is mentioend in a number of places.

One such instance is:
Anguttaranikaya 1.3.115

"Tinnam, bhikkhave, patubhavo dullabho lokasmim. Katamesam tinnam? Tathagatassa, bhikkhave, arahato samma- sambuddhassa patubhavo dullabho lokasmim; Tathagatappaveditassa Dhamma-vinayassa deseta puggalo dullabho lokasmim;Katannu katavedi puggalo dullabho lokasmim. Imesam kho, bhikkhave tinnam patubhavo dullabho lokasmim ti".

Oh meditators, three things are rare to find in the world. What three? A Tathagata, an arahant, a fully enlightened one; A person able to teach the Dhamma proclaimed by the Tathagata; And a person who acknowledges the benefits received, with gratitude; These three occur but rarely in the world.

Dukapuggala-pannatti: pg. 42.

Katame dve puggala dullabha lokasmim — Yo ca pubbakari, Yo ca katannu katavedi.

Which two persons are rare in this world? First, the one who serves others selflessly (without expecting anything in return). And second, the one who is grateful towards anyone who does one a kindness.

And finally from the MANGALA SUTTA VANANA

25. Katannuta

To Be Grateful Is Most Blissful

People must always be grateful. The Lord Buddha is always full of praise for gratitude. Persons who are always ready to help are rarely found in this world; but rarer still are those who remember and are grateful to those who have helped them. If we are grateful we are sure to be happy.

Without this quality, a person forgets his parents, relatives, friends, teachers and those who teach him the Dhamma. He turns his back on them just when they could be helped by him or when they are in need of aid. A selfish person seems
to try to isolate himself.

On the other hand, the grateful person makes for harmony and peace. He will always be remembered and loved.

Ajahn Chah gave a teaching wherein he said:
"The Buddha taught the virtues of katannu and katavedi, of knowing our debt of gratitude and trying to repay it. These two virtues are complementary."

I used to practice under Ajahn Sumedho quite some time ago so have some exposure to Thera dhamma. However I now practice Kagyu Dharma, so much knowledge is very much from a Mahayana and Vajrayana perspective. There, gratitude for the teachings and towards the teacher are of absolutely central importance, especially in relation to guru devotion, and supplicating for the blessings of the lineage gurus. However, even herethe sense of gratitude for all things is a foundation for practicer.

Hope this helps?

Best wishes to you in the Dharma

Al said...

Chodpa - Thank you so much, the Pali reference would have been fine. Having come from a Catholic backround the idea was always stressed, and it is actually one of the practices that stays with me. It also is excellent to teach to the children, they seem to grasp it, and it can be used to alleviate alot of their suffering. I guessed that it had to be in the Cannon somewhere. Thanks for the Ajahn Chah reference, I love Sumedho, he has a great websight as well:
You know how you talked about how certain reference seem to come from "beyond" your memory? This is how alot of the Thera stuff comes to me. I will read or hear something and I will have this absolutely clear impression like, "oh yeah, I remember now!"
Thanks again....Al