Thursday, October 26, 2006

His Holiness Karmapa in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Trinley Thaye Dorje is currently in Malaysia, and leading a variety of Pujas, Empowerments and other Dharma activities. I’m documenting what’s happening at the Kuala Lumpur centre, and trying to keep up with events as best I can by posting to the centre website:
Karma Kagyu Dharma Society, Kuala Lumpur

but, I’m getting further and further behind!

Each day there’s one or two events, and friends at the centre are sending me images and text across the world, via the internet, and I’m creating the pages and optimising the images, and posting the result. But the images are so fantastic it’s so hard to decide what to leave out! Each day I get about 4 or 500 images … and end up creating pages for 20-40 images ... each optimised for search engines, each optimised for download time, and each lovingly crafted to look their best, and share the joy of the Dharma and our glorious Kagyu lineage with any website visitors.

If I was sensible, I’d just put up a dozen images, then I’d be able to keep up with events. But I can’t! I want to share more than that … so I’m getting many days behind on events. Nevermind, I’ll get there in the end, and each event will appear on the site.

It’s seven years since Karmapa last visited the centre, and at that time I was living in Kuala Lumpur. It was a decisive time of my life, and meeting His Holiness was a profound experience. My eldest son took Refuge, as did I in the Kagyu lineage. The new centre has replaced the old one I knew so well, and what a delightful building it has turned out to be. So much care and loving attention has gone into every detail – it’s a joy to see.

The consecration ceremonies for the various statues took place more than a week ago, and it was extraordinary to see what went into the whole process. Every statue was filled with sacred and precious materials which had been prepared over a long period of weeks. The bases of the statues – the plinths they stood on were likewise filled. I never dreamed that so much was 'poured into' the material objects in this way:
Images of Consecration

anyway … in a sense I just wanted to convey my joy over these auspicious events taking place in Kuala Lumpur !

sometimes what you write isn’t what you expected to write before you started!

May all beings share in the joy of the pure Dharma teachings ….


Monday, September 04, 2006

Beautiful Sky

Is there anything more beautiful in this world of ours than a deep blue, almost clear sky, with traces of white puffy cloud? How indescribable is the depth of that 'blueness' .... seen in mind, in the present, with full awareness? Sky's vast openess perfectly mirrors the nature of mind ... open and unlimited, vivid and clear, yet utterly ungraspable.

What joy at seeing such beautiful appearances, and being reminded of what runs through all appearances ...

How blessed!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Today I'm practicing Sojong - the practicing for purifying and restoring broken vows. I'm joining many of the 'Vision Group' in Singapore, supporters of my Guru, Shangpa Rinpoche, who have been regularly practicing Sojong on significant days of the lunar calendar. The practice was supposed to have been instituted among the general population by Vasubandhu, sometimes referred to as a Second Buddha.
"By this action, may I purify all my bad karma, refrain from further wrong action, and become a means for all beings to transcend suffering".

Below follows the instructions from Shangpa Rinpoche for Sojong:

Sojong – The Significance and Benefits of the Practice

Sojong is a practice for purifying and restoring broken vows. "So" means 'to restore', i.e. to make broken vows and replenish positive virtues. "Jong" means 'to purify', i.e. to clear away negative karmas and harmful deeds. Traditionally, Sojong is practised bimonthly by members of the sangha to restore any broken Pratimoksha vows. This purification practice is also observed by some lay Buddhists. For lay Buddhists, Sojong is usually practised on holy days, full moon (Lunar 15th day) and new moon (Lunar 30th day) days.

For lay Buddhists, Sojong comprises taking the 8 Mahayana Precepts for one day and a formal confession. We tend to break our precepts constantly due to our deluded emotions and habits. Sojong cultivates a deliberate effort to reflect on oneself - a practitioner becomes more mindful of his own habitual tendencies, and by developing compassion and bodhicitta, he will awaken his natural innate state - his true Buddha nature. In today’s world, Sojong is a particularly useful practice for busy people who have no time for more formal practise in monasteries or Buddhist Centres. It is a simple but meaningful practice even a busy person can easily do at home or at work.

The Mahayana Sojong is primarily practiced to develop Bodhichitta – i.e. loving kindness and compassion. Yet, most lay people choose to take the 8 precept and practice Sojong only on holy or multiplying days. The Mahayana Sutra mentioned that on every 8th day of the month according to the lunar Tibetan calendar, millions of tiny beings in space die due to the changes in the energy of moon which creates strong elemental forces that they cannot withstand. It is therefore very important to develop compassion and loving kindness towards them, dedicate merits to them and wish for their liberation. Rinpoche personally prays for their liberation on this day, he also encourages each and every one of us who wishes to practise Sojong to remember our bodhicatta aspirations and to do our part on this day.

Compassion and wisdom are the core components of enlightenment. When we combine Rinpoche’s teaching with our inherent compassion to practice wisely, and cultivate within us compassion and bodhicitta for all sentient beings, these noble qualities will grow stronger and stronger, until it gradually becomes our nature. As we further refine our understanding of the teachings we receive with diligent practice, we will eventually be able to arrive at the fruition of our aspirations – enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. No matter where we are, as long as we are able to spare a few moments, with mindfulness and with the right understanding of the Sojong practice, we can put into practice one of the most wonderful Buddha’s teachings.

Below are some guidelines for practice by a lay practitioner at home:-

1) Preliminary Preparation: Set up a small shrine with an image of Buddha (may be picture, statue, photo, etc.).

2) Taking Refuge:
"In the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, I take refuge until enlightenment is won; by the merits of giving and other virtuous deeds; may I attain Buddhahood for the sake of all beings."
(Recite three times.)

3) Generating Bodhicitta:
"Through this practice, may I quickly awaken to my true Buddha nature. May countless beings benefit."

4) Invocation:
"I invoke as my eternal, infallible and true witness my guru and all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the three times."

Visualize in the space in front of oneself is one's guru, in the form of Avalokitesvara (or other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas), surrounded by the principal and lineage masters, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

5) Reflection: Search one’s mind for any broken vow(s) and regrets for lapses in mindfulness. Look deeply into oneself and the thousands of habitual tendencies that seem to define oneself. Realise that one’s nature is really one’s ego persistently but ignorantly trying to assert its own identity. The only way to awaken from this delusional state is to cultivate a continuous state of crystal clear awareness so that habitual tendencies are instantly recognised and liberated the moment they arise.

6) Taking the 8 Mahayana Precepts:
"I affirm and vow to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that I shall:-

1) not kill,
2) not steal,
3) abstain from sexual acts,
4) abstain from telling lies,
5) abstain from alcohol and other intoxicants,
6) abstain from singing, dancing, wearing frivolous things,
7) abstain from meals after noon time,
8) abstain from high seats or luxurious beds."

These precepts are essentially the same as the monastic precepts, except instead of taking them for life; a lay practitioner takes them for one day at a time. Taking the precepts from dawn to dawn is a very effective way to train the body, speech and mind of a lay practitioner. If the precepts are kept correctly, one’s ignorance will diminish; his knowledge and wisdom will naturally increase; his meditation practice will also benefit.

7) Dedication of Merit:
"I dedicate the merit of this and all Sojong practice to each and every sentient being. May all beings accomplish within their minds the accumulation of moral disciplines, concentrative meditation, transcendental wisdom, and ultimately attain enlightenment and be freed from the sufferings of Samsara."

This dedication is an act of generosity - sharing our benefits and merits from this practice with all sentient being.

(Instructions from Shangpa Rinpoche, recorded by his devotee Vicky, Singapore, 2006).

These are some words on Sojong (Practice of Confession) by Supreme Master Padmasambhava, the Second Buddha:

To fully restore all positivity,
To clear away all negativity;
To replenish (so) virtue and purify (jong) harmful deeds;
The Tathagata has taught the practice of Sojong.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sufferings and Karma

Yesterday morning as I was driving along a cat suddenly shot out from the woods and into the path of my car. In an instant my rear wheel hit the cat. In my rear mirror I could see it jumping around on the road, obviously in pain. The poor thing ... what would I give to not have been on that road at that time, or for the cat to have sped out from the trees moments later than it did! How painful replaying the images of what happened throughout the day. The poor thing.

Today I wondered how it came to be that we both met in that point of time. What actions had we taken to lead us to that point ... what actions came to fruition at that point for both of us?

Split seconds either way, it wouldn't have happened. But it did, just as it did. My poor friend, why did I do that to you? I pray for your wellbeing and freedom from suffering. I'm so sorry for my part in your suffering :-)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Devotion to Prajnaparamita

I was reflecting this morning on how much devotion images of the deity Prajnaparamita bring forth from me.

Given that she is the deity who represents Wisdom, rather than Love, Compassion, Patience and so on .... how interesting that she inspires so much devotion in me.

Pretty much every image I've ever seen of her makes we want to rest the image on the top of my head, and offer gratitude to her. Maybe the fact that there are so few images and statues of her historically, compared to other deities, is something to do with this .. how wonderful it actually is to come across one :-)

Then again, I reflect that karma and connections seems such a strong factor here ... I can see images of Green Tara, say, and though I have a connection there, and even *wish* that I felt more towards her, I don't have anything of the same feeling. It's as if Prajnaparamita is 'plumbed into me' .. and goes right to my core. Like I recognise that she's part of me, no, inseparable from my mind.

Then again, Prajanaparamita is the textual basis of my practice, of Chod, so there's a close connection there, but this feel for her predated my contact with Chod by many years. Of course, that karmic connection was already there, awaiting awakening.

Once again, my orientation is always towards Wisdom, rather than other Enlightened qualities, so it would make sense that Prajnaparamita as a deity would appeal. Yet, there's more to it than that ... as it is fervent devotion and homage that is brought forth ... not intellectual appreciation, or anything more 'cold' or 'dispassionate'.

The more she represents Wisdom, the more she calls forth Devotion from me, it seems.

It reminds me of how in Guru Devotion, one is devoted to the Dharma through the Guru, not really the Guru himself, in his relative conditioned aspect. All this devotion to the Guru, which flows forth from the heart, is, in one sense, channeled towards wisdom, or reality itself .... or realities, perhaps I should say? In the face of what is, one feels Devotion ... why? Because there is a recognition and a yearning ... the recognition of a seed within, yet to come to fruition ... and the yearning for coming home, once that home has been recognised.

Her images seem so close to my innermost heart .. like she is the secret who resides within, who is my ultimate aspect, who is the mirror of both my aspirations and my actual nature.

Blessed Prajnaparamita .... goddess of Wisdom .... I supplicate you with my innermost Heart!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Reflections on Gotsampa - Seven Delights: A Song About Taking Difficult Circumstances to the Path

by Tibetan siddha, Götsampa

Namo Ratna Guru !

When thoughts that there is something perceived and a perceiver
Lure my mind away and distract,
I don't close my senses’ gateways to meditate without them
But plunge straight into their essential point.
They're like clouds in the sky; there's this shimmer where they fly;
Thoughts that rise, for me sheer delight!

When kleshas get me going and their heat has got me burning,
I try no antidote to set them right;
Like an alchemistic potion turning metal into gold,
What lies in kleshas’ power to bestow
Is bliss without contagion, completely undefiled;
Kleshas coming up, sheer delight!

When I'm plagued by god-like forces or demonic interference,
I do not drive them out with rites and spells;
The thing to chase away is the egoistic thinking
Built up on the idea of a self.
This will turn those ranks of maras into your own special forces;
When obstacles arise, sheer delight!

When samsara with its anguish has me writhing in its torments,
Instead of wallowing in misery,
I take the greater burden down the greater path to travel
And let compassion set me up
To take upon myself the sufferings of others;
When karmic consequences bloom, delight!

When my body has succumbed to attacks of painful illness,
I do not count on medical relief
But take that very illness as a path and by its power
Remove the obscurations blocking me,
And use it to encourage the qualities worthwhile;
When illness rears its head, sheer delight!

When its time to leave this body, this illusionary tangle,
Don't cause yourself anxiety and grief;
The thing that you should train in and clear up for yourself is—
There's no such thing as dying to be done.
Its just clear light, the mother, and child clear light uniting;
When mind forsakes the body, sheer delight!

When the whole thing's just not working, everything's lined up against you,
Don't try to find some way to change it all;
Here the point to make your practice is reverse the way you see it,
Don't try to make it stop or to improve.
Adverse conditions happen, when they do its so delightful—
They make a little song of sheer delight!

(trans. Jim Scott/Anne Buchardi, Aug. 2, 1996, Karme Chöling, Barnet, Vermont.)

I came across this the other day .. what a delight! Taking everything onto the path ... nothing is outside of the path, nothing is essentially problematic .... all is the path, all is mind, all is same taste ....

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Reflections on Saraha, originator of Mahamudra

Space is designated as empty,
Yet its exact nature cannot be verbalized.
Similarly the mind is designated as luminously clear,
Yet its exact nature is empty, with no ground for definition.
Thus the self-nature of mind is and has been
From the very beginning like that of space.


... and how blessed I am to have the Mahamudra to practice!

It struck me yesterday how beautifully balanced my two practices are .... that of Chod and of Mahamudra. One involves complex visualisations, the presence of various deities, and the generation of all manner of thoughts and appearances, arranged to induce realisation.

The other involves nothing other than looking at the nature of my mind, directly and simply, with nothing fabricated, nothing altered.

It seems to be an extraordinary balance, to have times practicing Chod where I'm enveloped in sacred presence, invoking and supplicating, where my mind is deliberately directed towards utilising appearances in the most skillful of ways. And then at other times, when practicing Mahamudra, I simply let go of creating or striving in any way, and allow awareness to turn in on itself, and shine its light upon its source. So simple, so pure, so little to get caught up in .... simply allowing the mind to settle into its own nature, and revealing a little of it eternal secret.

What a supreme comfort it is to so readily be surrounded by the blessed ones, to have my guru in mind, and to be filled with radiant qualities, seeming without end. And yet how blessed it is to rest simply in nothing, to let go of doing, and to allow the still waters to settle and show their extraordinary nature, nothing and yet everything.

Either way though, the practice is the same - pointing to minds nature, via direct or indirect means. Either way I'm filled with gratitude, that such treasures should have fallen into my lap, so incomperably precious, yet seemingly so undeserved!

Either way the nature is revealed, that of some (no) thing so intangible, yet seemingly radiant and clear.

Strive as I can, there's nothing I can grasp, no nature to hold as an object or thing, and nothing to say 'I've found it'. It just melts away before my minds eye, insubstantial, groundless, spacious, indeterminate. Nothing to capture, nothing to hold, nothing that is 'it', nothing to be found. Wherever my mind turns, however it tries to sneakily angle itself, it cannot catch anything, cannot find anything, cannot finally encounter this hidden nature as a thing. For all my guile and striving, there's nothing to be found, and in moments of ease, mind lets go of the struggle, and senses the boundless and groundless, finding a strangely profound security in the seemingly insecure.

And yet at one and the same time, this nothing, this no-thing isn't exactly nothing, isn't a void without ... what?, I cannot say. There's seemingly a clarity, a luminosity, a magical display which is unceasing and unimpeded. Mind displays appearances, yet those appearances are empty of substance. And they seem one and the same, well ... not one, yet not two either ..... so intimately connected ... yet not connected, as they are not two things to be brought together in some way.

Inseparable ... Luminous Emptiness ..... where there is one, the other is to be found. Nowhere other than in the one is the other .... nowhere else can they be found. Not separate qualities, not separate and related.

Magical appearances, utterly void of any substance.

Saraha, Master of Mahamudra, who discovered the Golden Key, the direct method .... unquantifiable thanks ....

Monday, May 22, 2006

Shangpa Rinpoche's teachings on Chod

Shangpa Rinpoche

How often it's stuck me over the years that I am ultimately blessed to have received the teachings on Chod from Shangpa Rinpoche!

So often I'm at a particular place in my sadhana, and gratitude and joy flood through my mind, realising what an extraordinary thing this is, this Chod of Mahamudra practice. So often I have this sense that what I am doing is echoing down through the ages, with countless beings having practiced this very same profound and so very precious text that I have before me. So often I feel that this echoing comes from beyond time, from beyond anything that makes sense to me, and which seems incomprehensible to the rational mind.

I feel the blessings of this practice, which arises like the sun to illuminate beings with the warmth of its rays, and sense the presence of Rinpoche, guiding me in my practice. Inseparable from any of the great Beings, or of any of the masters who've taught the Chod.

Inseparable from Machig Labdron, who created this Chod ...

.... how can one value something such as this, or repay the debt of gratitude one feels?

Words seem inadequate, somehow, in trying to express this.

Yet it feels like something worthy of attempt ....

How blessed indeed!

Machig Labdron

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Blossoms on the Buddha

I was sitting in meditation yesterday on my bench in the garden. A light wind stirred the tree above me, and cherry blossoms gently floated down all around me.

I was reminded of the Buddha, on the night of his Enlightenment, turning the arrows and weapons of Mara into flower petals.

How poignant .....

How blessed .....

How wonderful indeed.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Three Types of Suffering

In the 'Jewel Ornament of Liberation', Gampopa (as do other teachers of orthodox Dharma) asserts that there are three types of suffering, which are:

1 - the suffering of suffering
2 - the suffering of change
3 - all-pervasive suffering

In brief, the suffering of suffering is simply the stuff that really hurts, immediately and directly. So if you cut your finger ... the pain is the suffering of suffering. Or if you get angry, the suffering you feel from that is the same. It can be great sufferings, down to pretty subtle stuff ... but the important thing is that it is directly experienced as unsatisfactoriness.

The suffering of change is the subtle awareness that even though you are feeling good at this particular moment, you know that these conditions cannot last .... and that whatever it is that you are experiencing as pleasurable - well, it cannot last. So in a sense it's a grasping after whatever you are enjoying, aware of it's transience.

The third catagory, the all pervasive suffering is more subtle, and a bit harder to pin down. It is sometimes described as the suffering that comes from simply having the 5 skandhas, i.e, from simply having body and mind. It means that through having a body and mind, there is always a subtle pervading sense of dis-ease in your experience. In a sense, you can't have the six sense organs, and experience sensory input without having this subtle dis-ease. One way to look at it is it's the dis-ease that comes with having a 'you' .. with having a personality. Whatever your personality is ... your current set of 'you', things are always much too fluid and complex to be accommodated by that 'you' .... so there is always this underlying sense of imperfection to experience.

I thought I'd note a couple of points in passing.

Very interestingly, Gampopa goes through these three types of suffering in the reverse order to what I have done. Usually it would seem that people start with the one most people can directly relate to (and agree with), and moves on to the others in order of subtlety. Yet Gampopa reverses this. Does this make it harder for one to understand the all-pervasive suffering without being 'led to it' through the other two?

One thing about these 3 categories is that it makes clear that the experience of samsara, and therefore the spiritual life, is not just about somehow going beyond the direct experience of suffering in the here and now, as the sufferings of samsara are described as being much more subtle than just immediate and direct suffering.

And, more challenging still, Gampopa (and all those who've taught the sufferings of Samsara in this traditional way) asserts that suffering is all-pervasive within samsara. So *all* our experience is suffering, until and right up to the point of Enlightenment itself! That's pretty strong stuff, especially to anyone who gets caught up in any pride in following some 'higher' vehicle, with all the teachings on Buddha nature etc .... and experiencing the bliss of the natural state of mind, etc in Mahamudra and Dzogchen.

So how can this be understood, this samsara is filled with all-pervasive suffering. Well, one aspect of it is that our experience is always unsatisfactory *when compared with* or *relative to* the experience of a Buddha. In other words, it's a relative term, not an absolute term. It means that the way we experience the world is always characterised by a lack of perfection of happiness and satisfaction *compared to* that of the experience of a Buddha.

That seems to me to make sense, and makes sense of Gampopa's description of how those highly realised Bodhisattva's experience more of this all-pervasive suffering when us not very realised beings seem to miss out on experiencing it.

From my own limited experience, when on longer retreats, I've experienced a sense of suffering or dis-ease as being in the nature of my having mind and body .. at least being in the nature of how I currently experience them. At that goes even when I am experiencing bliss in meditation! ... .there's still a sense of something not absolutely perfect, if your awareness is subtle and strong enough to see it.

So one final note .... in a sense, as our practice and awareness develop, then our sense of and awareness of suffering also develops! We become aware of more subtle forms of suffering! And yet we most likely experience less suffering as we go on .. because we grasp less, become attached less, through realising a little of the nature of how things are .... so that suffering doesn't *hurt* so much ... it becomes more of the nature of just movements in mind, waves on the ocean ..... ripples or a play of light in the field of awareness. And so just something of note, something noticed, rather than something to be 'hooked' on .... or impaled on.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Reflections on All is Mind, from Aspiration Prayer of Mahamudra

Appearance is mind and emptiness is mind.
Realisation is mind and confusion is mind.
Arising is mind and cessation is mind.
May all doubts about mind be resolved.

from 'The Aspiration Prayer of Mahamudra'
- HH3 Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje

How radically different this view is to how my mind often gravitates .... into seeing solid appearances 'out there', and a solid 'me' in here. When meditation is weak, and the view is weak, then I begin to believe that a real, solid 'I' operates in relation to a 'truly existent' and solid 'external world out there'. It feels like a polarity, a polar relationship, between these twin locii of simply 'given' objects - me and the rest.

Yet when meditation deepens, and the view strengthens, then both these seeming solidities soften and blur, and they appear more like shimmering patterns, fluid and luminous. Along with this goes a loosening of the sense of a singular 'I', and a corresponding easing of attachment and identifying with both these more flickering aspects.

Yet when meditation deepens further, and the view becomes clearer, then even these light and airy polarities begin to evapourate, revealing not so much two less solid polarities, as a single field of display, which reveals aspects we commonly call us or not-us. One field remains, where us or not-us cannot be found. One field where appearances seemingly arise, flicker for awhile, then seemingly fade away. That field 'holds' merely appearances, not knowing in or out, us or not-us, internal or external phenomena.

Looking at that field, no field is found. No unitary phenomena called 'mind' can be found, and so nothing ultimately replaces the dualistic phenomena of me and the world. Just a shimmering of light, and flickering of seeming appearance, and a lack of anything anywhere that can be pinned down, named or owned.

Not that there's nothing there at all, not that value or meaning disappears. But as our view changes from us and not-us to a play of mind, then so follows a lessening of attachment, and a lessoning of suffering which poisons us and our 'mothers' in equal measure.

Oh to realise that view, to stabilise that realisation, to cut short this seemingly endless beguilement with appearances and thoughts!

Momentary experiences hint at what can be, and what lies ahead/within/already there.

May I and all beings lose our entrancement with appearances, and recognise the illusory display of mind!

May our aspiration be strong and unceasing, and our realisation correspondingly clear and stable.

Friday, May 05, 2006

It's All Good !

I remember very clearly my new boss at a company telling me (upon my finding out that he was a Buddhist and asking him what practices he does), that he doesn't practice, that he's taking a 'holiday' in this life, and that he'll practice in the next life. It struck me at the time that he was amazingly confident that he'd get the chance to meet with and practice Dharma again. Having come from a Christian upbringing, the notion of rebirth, and of karma, were still 'hot' topics for me, and in those early days I had the 'fervour' of a new convert! I remember my own criticism of him for being complacent, and of wasting this precious opportunity in this life. That would have been fine, but there was quite a bit of self-righteousness in me at that time, and pride too.

I guess looking back I still suspect that he was just rationalising his 'laziness' rather than being confident in a good rebirth, based on the knowledge of his ethical practice. But who knows?

For myself, it always strikes me when you read texts such as 'The Jewel Ornament of Liberation' how clear they are that being born as a Human or a God is a very rare occurance indeed. Gelug texts seem to especially emphasise this. I've yet to read a text which suggests that it's easy to be born human again without much effort in the practice of ethics and meditation.

Yet how often do I get sucked in to 'wordly' activities, and find myself thoroughly engrossed in them, accepting them as solid and real, and finding myself attached to those objects of the senses?

And all the while life ebbs away, the time of my death comes closer, and the time left to practice becomes shorter and shorter!

Underneath, there must be part of me that thinks that Samsara is not too bad, that my rebirth will be ok, and that I've plenty of time left to both indulge myself, *and* to somehow 'catch up' with practice :-)

Sometimes I'm involved in things, and I see them for what they are (at least to a degree anyway) ... and movements of the mind, swirling appearances which move and melt. And I let them lightly pass through, with minimal attachment. Yet other times I'm sucked in, and lose perspective .... believing all these mirages to be 'real' and then just play the game of 'want' and 'not want'.

Gampopa says that those who think it'll all be fine, and that they'll get a good rebirth for sure are simply attached to Samsara's pleasures.

What strikes me about this is two things ... firstly, that it's through being attached to aspects of our existence which 'seem' to be not too unpleasant, we then decide that actually we don't need to make so much effort, as it's not so bad here really! ... and then, secondly, that assuming it's fine, that we'll be reborn as a human or god, well that assumes again that those rebirths are good places in themselves to be, and that aiming for a good rebirth is a worthy use of this life (rather than aiming for Enlightenment in this very lifetime).

Perhaps my favourite aphorism in Dharma (I don't know where it comes from, or which master says it first) ... describes the pleasures of Samsara, and the attachment to them, as being like

licking honey off a razor's edge

How true!

All the time we grasp at pleasures it seems sweet indeed ... but we don't see what that does to us, and how ignorance grasping after seemingly solid objects takes us away from minds nature, and the state of liberation.

Hmm ... just some reflections .... as they come out ....

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Waking Up?

The most amazing thing about my life .... is that after going to sleep at night .... each morning .... I wake up again!

When I really think about this .... no .... *really* think about this .... how extraordinary that life continues throughout my dullness during sleep, during my unconsciousness .... and somehow I stay alive, somehow my body keeps functioning, somehow my karma doesn't give up supporting this life ...... somehow ..... how? ..... somehow I hang on to this thread of life, this precious opportunity ....

which I then fritter away with petty distractions!

What an act of faith it would be to go to sleep, and to have faith that I will wake up tomorrow!

But it isn't an act of faith .... it's an act of ignorance ... ignorance of Impermanance and Death .... of blocking out how fragile life is, and how precious life is ....

Amazing to wake up each morning ......

Now, if I could only 'wake up' today !

Monday, February 27, 2006

Blogisattva Award Nominations

I'd like to just name-check 'Blogmandu', who've kindly nominated Luminous Emptiness in the 'Best Kind and Compassionate Blog' category of their 2005 awards for Buddhist blogging.

Blogisattva awards

The list of nominees is a wonderful resource for Buddhist orientated blogs ... and a great starting point for finding insightful and thoughtful posts .....

best wishes to all involved ... :-)

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Shamatha With and Without Objects

> said...

>Your instruction is very nice (refers
>to previous post ) but
>since I am new to meditation I have
>to focus on something, such as my
>breath or my just below my
>bellybutton. Because if I don't do
>that, my wandering thought is
>uncontrollable. Is this wrong?

Hi there, my apologies for my late replies to these comments - many things have been taking my time and attention of late!

Yes, absolutely - if you are at a stage where having an object of concentration helps you, then focus on it!

Isn't it always the case that what is best is relative to where one is at? Some people find shamatha with an object the best approach for a long time, others find shamatha without an object the best. I suspect that most people find shamatha without an object to the the harder of the two, as it's in a sense the opposite to what we do most of the time in life - which is to draw into and identify with one or other object which arises in our mindstreams. We are so used to 'losing ourselves' in the objects that arise in consciousness that it's perhaps easiest to focus on an object in meditation, rather than on 'no object'. But of course, with practice, either becomes possible.

My previous post referred to my own particular situation - for where I'm at now.

Please do carry on with what works best for you ... and very best wishes to you!