Sunday, November 28, 2004

Taking Mahamudra as the Path

Things appear to change. Things appear to go through phases. I say 'appear to' as I'm not at all sure that they do. They *appear* to, but do they really? How do we know? We have memory of what was. How do we know how accurate our memory is of what was? Accessing a memory takes place in the present, about another time which was supposedly some where else, some other time. But the only time we ever has is the present .. never the past. So we can never directly access the past ... only in the present have some thoughts which we believe are recollections of the past. And we have a certain trust, usually, of the relative accuracy of the recollections.

Anyway, having said that .... it appears to me that there are changes, or phases to things. Assuming that this is the case (which I don't, but for arguments sake for the point I am about to make!) .... then there seem to be patterns, or periods of time where things go certain ways.

One pattern at present is a sense that I am not really 'practicing' in the sense that I used to feel like I was practicing.

I used to feel that I had a 'practice', a method, means and actions which combined in order to try to bring about a desired result. So basically I was trying to get beyond suffering, and perhaps to help some beings along the way. Hopefully as I developed in my practice I'd gain the ability to really help them, and help them such that they too would find the way beyond suffering. So I practiced, practiced creating the causes for this liberation, and had a 'practice', which was all the stuff which would bring this about.

Now, it seems a little different, and I don't sense a 'practice', or that I am 'practicing' in quite the same way. I don't really consciously try to generate causes for a desired result. I am not trying to get Enlightened in quite the same way. I am not trying to attain to the Transcendental, or connect with it, or achieve liberation through some sort of strenuous set of practices.

But I am most definitely doing something though! I feel like there is a focus, a intent, a meaningful centre to things.

What is that then, if it is not a practice, or practicing?

I guess the traditional Kagyu formulation of Taking Mahamudra as the Path is the closest I can get to describing it. What it comes down to is not really trying to bring something about which isn't already there by practicing.

It's more recognising what is already there ... ones Buddha Nature ... which is Mahamudra, and in recognising that, just keeping it in focus, and deepening the awareness of that by keeping it in view, with various means. Nothing is being created, nothing is being practiced in order to generate something that wasn't there already.

Recognising our own true nature, we can just keep that in view, and deepen our dwelling in that view by utilising the various skilful means of the Vajrayana. And most importantly, just through looking directly at the nature of Mind, just recognise what is (and was isn't). And in looking, and recognising .. naturally, those natural qualities, our nature, our Buddha Nature, it just flowers, and blossoms, as our view clarifies and focusses.

Nothing new created, no practice of generating results from conditions. Just taking our view of how things are, the nature of Mind, and allowing it to permeate all our actions of body, speech and mind. It's fullness overflows as we take it as path. Naturally, spontaneously, what already is, but what wasn't recognised, becomes recognised, and more obviously present in all experience, however it is.

Our nature doesn't change. Taking Mahamudra as the Path, and keeping our Buddha Nature in view doesn't change our nature. Nothing new is cultivated or brought about. It's what we've always been, and it's just 'how things are' .... and we just take what we have seen of how things are, and keep the view. Just keeping that view is the path.

So it seems like this ... this phase, at present, and it didn't seem like that before, before Taking Mahamudra as the Path.

But is it, who knows? I don't ... for sure ... but just lightly and gently support what seems to be, as it unfolds and envelops all.


Al said...

Sometimes when you are travelling down a long road it's good to stop, look around, notice the landmarks, the signs, the buildings, the people, really get a sense of where you are. You might even want to ask the person next to you, "hey, you got the map? Are we going in the right direction?"
I think our little blogger-sangha works best when we can share with other folks what is going on, what the road looks like from our perspective, to gain insight into these paths, which, I suspect, all lead to a similar destination.

Anonymous said...

Here's some thoughts that bubbled up when I read your post.

We tend to strive to know because we've found knowing to be an incredible advantage in our life. When we learn to meditate we learn to be. So we come to this question what do we know about being? To get the answer we have to 'be' without knowing... that is without an effort to know, then a familiarity arises with being. Like an old friend we knew, and know again. So later we go back to knowing but with this echo of being still humming in the environment. If we get really good at this.... being and knowing unite, then we know what we be :-) Buddha Nature. Not known like information nor "been" like a self but something beyond being or knowing. Still the essence of both.
One proviso if we think it's better to just be all the time remember there is no way to benefit others, well in the ordinary sense. We must know in order to communicate being to all those that are preoccupied by just knowing. If we can just "be" very powerfully they may notice or may not notice afterall Buddha Nature is very vivid yet overlooked by nearly all of us. But for some being is the best way to communicate the being that is known and that is fine for them, so be them. But it can also be skillful to know and reveal what is known as we can. This separation of being and knowing is the Causal Yana their indivisability is the Fruition Yana.

Ah!!!! A union of Compassion and Emptiness!!!

But which was being and which was knowing? rotfl

Lama Gyatso :-)

Chodpa said...

Hi Al, it's such a pleasure to share this blogspace with so many fellow-travellers .... really, a quite unexpected delight. I thought when I heard of blogs it might be a way to satisfy this strange need I have for 'expression', but it's been way more than that ... what a delight!

Chodpa said...

Lama-la! ... it was a particular pleasure to read your comment as you utilised language/terminology which isn't really familiar to me, and therefore encouraged me to reflect on what you were communicating, and where that resonated in my experience.

It was interesting that my initial response was to try to 'translate' your terms (being, knowing) into those more familiar, in order to more easily see what you were indicating. Then I let go, and allowed the terms to just resonate as they are.

Your reflections on meditation and post(inter) meditation were most provocative, and I suspect will be an interesting locus in the upcoming days .....

many thanks for your reflections

Anonymous said...

Okay you caught me sometimes I'm talking to myself in these posts and they don't make a lot of sense. I was smudging the line between knowing something and being something. Use to be to "know" meant "to become one with." Therefore to know is to be. Very generally speaking the western approach to life is to know it, scientifically, know the truth, know thyself. Other cultures are more being oriented they don't really expect so much to understand intellectually profound stuff but they feel they can relate to it and benefit from it anyway. I was laughing because I had to admit I don't know what I'm talking about...but I may still possibly be it. you seem to have a pretty good grasp of Mahamudra.. whether you know it or not..... blah blah blah.

Lama Gyatso

PS according to Gurdjieff Being and Knowledge are the two components of the individual only Knowledge can be significantly changed, Being is like Karma very very difficult to alter.

Anonymous said...

Just have to say how privileged I feel to come back and keep eavesdropping on this conversation. Wide, wonderous thoughts turning in my mind for words I don't yet have.


Chodpa said...

Lama-la, I've been reflecting from time to time on your comment. It's been quite interesting, as I don't get an easy 'fit' on the concepts of 'being' and 'knowing'.

What strikes me is that the only sense of 'being' that I have is that of a seeming momentary arising of an empty appearance in awareness. Whatever arises, whatever type of perception or thought, that seemingly be's at that moment.

Yet, for me to have any sense of that, I must be aware of that seeming arising, and so there is a knowing there too. Being is knowing in that sense ... the seeming arising be's and knows (self-know's ... or rather ... is known without a knower) at one and the same time .....

Hmm, dunno .... I have a kinda colloqial sense of what you were getting at with Being and Knowing, but don't really see them at all when I look.

Does that make any sense?

Anonymous said...

"What strikes me is that the only sense of 'being' that I have is that of a seeming momentary arising of an empty appearance in awareness. Whatever arises, whatever type of perception or thought, that seemingly be's at that moment.

Yet, for me to have any sense of that, I must be aware of that seeming arising, and so there is a knowing there too. Being is knowing in that sense ... the seeming arising be's and knows (self-know's ... or rather ... is known without a knower) at one and the same time ....."

Yeah right I think that is our conventional experience but Buddha Nature is ultimate "experience," beyond existence or nonexistence, beyond knowing or not knowing. So there is this fixation of "being" called 'self' and this fixation of "knowing" called 'cognitive thought and feeling' consciousness. It makes perfect sense to us because that is how our individuated experience arises to us. Buddha Nature must work some other way, but we can't analyze it that would just lead back to cognition. So in Mahamudra we let go of that. We're not 'being' wakefulness nor 'knowing' wakefulness at least not in a selfconscious fabricated way. Instead we are just apprising experience of its wakefulness. This is a delicate difference that leads to a very powerful meditative state. It takes some time to learn to handle things so gently, so very simply, and very nakedly. Bare Awareness-- Deep mental Relaxation and vivid Alertness. Mind is untouched in it's natural state.

Lama Gyatso