Monday, October 24, 2005

Nothing to Meditate On

How hard it can be to leave things are they are!

How hard it can be to not try to do something in meditation, and to not try to have an object. How hard to not contaminate your meditation by trying to find something, to correct something, or to judge it as 'good' or 'bad'.

Sometimes we judge our meditation as bad because we've not meditated much lately, and disturbing thoughts seems to proliferate more than before.

Sometimes we judge our meditation as bad because we get 'lost' in those thoughts, and they sweep us away, rather than seeing them for what they are, just empty appearances seemingly arising.

Sometimes we reject what is, our natural state of mind, and wish to substitute another for it, one that is somehow more pure, or more still, or more realised.

We don't need to meditate on anything, or take anything as an object, or reject or accept anything at all.

Simply allow ourselves to rest in minds nature, without beings swept away by thoughts and appearances that seem to arise .....

How wonderful it is when one just rests in the minds natural state, without trying to make it other than what is.

How wonderful when one just watches the arising of thoughts, not lost in them, but seeing them for what they are.

How wonderful when the mind naturally stills and pacifies, simply through simply looking, without manipulation.

How wonderful to not fabricate, to not seek to bring something about, and to allow to settle and unfold naturally.

How wonderful these Mahamudra instructions, which reveal our natural Mahamudra, our mind-as-it-is ... ordinary mind.

How wonderful indeed, to taste the bliss of meditation, and the same taste of all phenomena.

How fortunate indeed are we who contact these teachings, these teachers, these precious opportunities.

Do we take advantage of this precious congruence of conditions ... which presents itself before us?

The greatest gift, the secret of happiness ... the route to peace for all ....

How wonderful!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Reflections on Machig Labdron - The Material Devil

In reply to a question from her son, Gangpa Muksang, as to "what is the meaning of 'devil', Machig Labdron replied:

Machig Labdron"That which is called devil is not some actual great big black thing that scares and petrifies whomever sees it. A devil is anything that obstructs the achievement of freedom. ... Most of all, there is no greater devil than this fixation to a self."

Machig teaches that there are three further devils born from the fixation of ego, all of which are to be severed.

The Material Devil

The Material devil is the form that is seen with the eye. Attraction arises in relation to fine form, and the attitude of aversion arises towards bad form. In the same way, good and bad sounds, smells, tastes, and textures occur as the sense objects of the ear, nose, tongue, and body, and produce attraction or aversion. This is called the devil of dualistic grasping. One is attached to the [perceived] real existence of a sense object, and the sense organs get caught in the actual object of [attraction or] aversion. This creates the condition for harming sentient beings and thus becomes the cause of bondage to cyclic existence. For that reason it is called a devil. And it is called a devil because one is caught in the good and bad objects that really exist. Hence, 'material devil'.

Therefore, son, and good or bad thing that one clings to with attachment is a devil. Whatever the case, you must get rid of attachment and clinging. And as for form, the very essence of form is by nature empty. Therefore, son, since that form is by nature without real existence, you should meditate on that natural emptiness without attraction or aversion to form. You cannot stop form from appearing, [but realise that it is] mere appearance without grasping on to its valid existence. By elimating clinging to that mere appearance, you will be liberated from form, noble son. It is the same with sound, smell, taste and texture. Keep this in mind. This is the way of being of the material devil, and this is the way of liberation from that material devil.

Machig Labdron


How easy it is to mistake the mere appearances that arise to the mind as objects which are worthy of attachment and aversion! How easy it is to lose the perspective of their emptiness, and allow those appearances to fill the mind with their seeming solidity, until they take on a life they don't really posses, as solid, full and self-existent 'things'.

When mind rests in its own nature, then all is seen for what it is - as the play of mind, as the natural effervescence of mind, as mere appearances that dance and gyrate, but which lack any substance whatsoever. How easy it is to be seduced by appearance, and allow appearance to seemingly expand and solidify, until your awareness seems to lose its natural openness and expansiveness. And you are lost in the dark turgid solidity of forms, which oppress the mind with their seeming tangibility.

Yet when mind rests in its own nature, those very forms, those very objects which arise to the senses become the cause of realisation to arise. They become the basis on which we can let go and rest in expansive openess, and see the wafer-thin vaneer that is appearances, which merely seem to play across the field of awareness.

We can't stop those appearances from arising, though many try. Realisation isn't to be found in stopping appearances. But appearances naturally subside when mind is allowed to rest in its own nature.

Form is the material devil that seduces the mind into losing its ability to self-recognise, and to rest in itself. From is the material devil which invites awareness to shrink down and ossify, granting existence where there is none, and granting power where power brings difficulty. Not giving illusory existence to the mere play of appearance, the material devil cannot lead one astray. Not becoming entranced by the material devil, we are not led to harm living beings by our attraction and aversion to forms.

When the material devil is seen for what it is, empty appearances, then naturally compassion arises, and our actions are helpful and kind.

When the material devil entrances, then all actions become ego-centric, and along with help goes harm.

Tangible objects entrance, but are merely appearance. Without accepting or rejecting, allow what is to be. Merely as it is, yet wondrous indeed .....

Friday, October 14, 2005

Impermanence and Death

It's interesting how the death of those close to us leads to something of a Bardo in consciousness - a space where so much which seems to flow on automatic stops - a place where we are afforded a vantage point from which to view what is, one that is so advantageous to us as Dharma practitioners, and one which is often open all too briefly.

Watching the grief of my beloved wife now that her father has died has been so difficult. My father's death some 6 months back is still fresh in mind. How painful the emotions that run through the mind.

And yet, how wondrous and beautiful the opportunity which opens up to see how things are.

Clearly seeing the emotions which appear to arise - as empty appearances - seemingly solid and real, and yet, actually, ephemeral and elusive. Truly without substance or centre. How easy to hold on to these dances of mind, and take them as real and worthy of attachment.

And yet of course, they are not nothing. They are not entirely non-existent. Our pain does appear to arise. Our feelings do actually seem to come into existence and appear to our minds.

How delicate this balance - this way of seeing things - to see what appears to arise - and value those appearances - and at the same time, to see that none of that has any substanciality, and that they are all like apparitions or illusions.

How easy to fall into one-sided acceptance or rejection of dharmas. To fall into nihilism or eternalism. To fall into only seeing appearances, or only seeing emptiness. To fall into grasping at one or the other side of these dualisms.

The mahamudra is free of extremes, free of nihilism or eternalism. May all that appears to arise in our minds be fuel for development of wisdom and cause the liberation of all suffering sentient beings .....