Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kyabje Mindrolling Trichen XI Anniversary

Today is the first anniversary of the parinirvana of the Mahasiddha, Lord of Refuge, late Supreme Head of the Nyingmapa, the Eleventh Mindrolling Trichen, Gyurme Kunzang Wangyal (1931-2008).

"Although Kyabje Mindrolling Trichen Rinpoche has passed away, if you look at it from the point of view of the absolute, his presence is indestructible and still continues to ceaselessly benefit all those with devotion and pure samaya. Only the outer aspect of the Guru has changed but the inner aspect is beyond any change and still continues to benefit Mindrolling and all sentient beings. Kyabje Mindrolling Trichen is no different from Vajradhara himself who is beyond any coming and going."

---The XVIIth Karmapa.

Peerlessly kind embodiment of all refuges
Who has completely exhausted all faults and defects and perfected all qualities,
Great treasury of knowledge and love,
Whoever makes a connection with you becomes worthy.
Gyurme Kunzang Wangyal — please think of me.
From the depths of my heart I supplicate you.
Bestow your blessings from the expanse of your compassion.

— from the Blessings Which Fulfill All Wishes

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Good Day for Prayer Flags

You know, in California, they stick up wind farms everywhere they can. This is a good thing, although people sometimes complain about how they look.

Elsewhere, of course, they stick up prayer flags everywhere they can. This is a good thing, and nobody complains about how they look.

Yes, today is definitely a good day for prayer flags.

If you want to obtain the finest prayer flags in the world, click: HERE

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009


FEBRUARY 25, 2009

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No Yesterday, No Tomorrow

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The Burmese Harp

For some reason I am thinking about the 1956 Japanese motion picture, The Burmese Harp, (also known as Harp of Burma). The picture, directed by Kon Ichikawa (who died last year on February 13th), is based on a book by Michio Takeyama -- a children's story actually -- and to this day, I believe it still stands as the most powerful and intelligent Buddhist-themed motion picture ever made.

If you have seen it, you know what I'm talking about. It is breathtaking.

If you haven't, permit me to suggest that you rent or purchase a copy, and watch it with your friends.

On one level, it is the story of a World War II Japanese soldier in Burma who steals a monk's robe to wear.

On another level, it is nirmanakaya.

Yes, it is.

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Fat Tuesday in America (Well... in New Orleans)

Today is "Fat Tuesday."

Today is the day that Mardi Gras is celebrated in New Orleans, which I guess is still technically part of America, although I cannot say that it is spiritually part of America.

Spiritually, it is New Orleans unto itself.

Since we have a large number of visitors to this site from countries other than the United States, I thought I would try to explain Mardi Gras.

It is when you get your ya yas out.

Hope that helps.

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Dalai Lama's New Year Message to the Tibetan People

Dalai Lama’s New Year Message to Tibetan People

Phayul[Tuesday, February 24, 2009 16:51]

Message of H.H. the Dalai Lama to the Tibetan People
On the Occasion of the Earth-Ox Tibetan New Year

On the occasion of the Earth-Ox New Year of the 17th Rabjung cycle in the Tibetan Royal Year 2136, I would like to greet all Tibetans, both inside and outside of Tibet. I pray that there be peace and prosperity, and that our just cause may see gradual resolution.

Although there is no old or new phase in the continuous cycle of planetary movements, which results in the days, nights, months and years, there is a tradition throughout the world to observe the beginning of a new year upon the completion of the previous one. Likewise, in the snow land of Tibet, we have the tradition to observe the New Year in the first lunar month with elaborate celebrations incorporating both spiritual and temporal elements. However, last year in Tibet we witnessed hundreds of Tibetans losing their lives, and several thousands facing detention and torture, in response to the widespread display by Tibetans all over Tibet of their discontentment with the Chinese authorities' policies.

Therefore, since they faced immense difficulties and sufferings, the occasion of this New Year is certainly not a period when we can have the usual celebrations and gaiety. I admire the determined move by Tibetans, inside and outside of Tibet, not to indulge in celebratory activities during this New Year. Instead, everyone should utilize this period in abandoning non-virtuous acts and engaging in positive actions, thereby cultivating virtuous merits so that all those who sacrificed their lives for the cause of Tibet, including those who lost their lives in the tragic events of the past year, may have quick realization of Buddhahood through successive rebirth in higher realms. The dedication should also go to those currently undergoing suffering so that they may immediately be able to enjoy the happiness of freedom. Through such an accumulation of collective merits we should all strive for an early solution to the just cause of Tibet.

Just as we had suspected, the strike-hard campaign has been re-launched in Tibet and there is a heavy presence of armed security and military forces in most of the cities all over Tibet. In all the places those who dare to come out even with a slight hint of their aspirations have to face torture and detention. In particular, special restrictions have been imposed in the monasteries, patriotic re-education has been launched, and restrictions have been imposed on the visit of foreign tourists. Provocative orders have been passed for special celebrations of the Tibetan New Year. Looking at all these developments it becomes clear that the intention and aim behind them are to subject the Tibetan people to such a level of cruelty and harassment that they will not be able to tolerate and thus be forced to remonstrate. When this happens the authorities can then indulge in unprecedented and unimaginable forceful clampdown. Therefore, I would like to make a strong appeal to the Tibetan people to exercise patience and not to give in to these provocations so that the precious lives of many Tibetans are not wasted, and they do not have to undergo torture and suffering.

It goes without saying how much admiration I have for the enthusiasm, determination, and sacrifice of the Tibetans in Tibet. However, it is difficult to achieve a meaningful outcome by sacrificing lives. Above all, the path of non-violence is our irrevocable commitment and it is important that there be no departure at all from this path.

Once again, I pray that the Tibetan people are freed from oppression and torture, and enjoy the happiness of freedom. May all sentient beings enjoy happiness at all times.

The Dalai Lama

February 25, 2009
(corresponding to the first day of the first month in the Earth Ox Tibetan Year)

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A New Year Message to Our Readers

May the swift blessings of White Mahakala fall upon you like rain during the forthcoming year.

Both my extended family and myself sincerely wish you abundant good health, happiness, fortune, and peace.

We thank you so much for visiting us here.

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Master of Masters

Click here to learn more about an ambitious and altogether genuinely useful project to chronicle the life of Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro.

He was my teacher's teacher, so in many ways, I feel that I met him. When you look at his students, and what they have been able to accomplish in the 50 years since his death, you can see that he never really died.

Please visit the site, and try to participate in this project. He was, truly, the Master of Masters.

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We have received several hundred visits from people in Taiwan, seeking information about Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche's recent surgery.

He will make a full recovery and will enjoy excellent health.

Stop worrying and start meditating.

在嚴格的個人註釋: Tenpa仁波切的妻子是從台灣花蓮。她現在,照顧她的父親,誰是失敗的健康。如果你看到她在任何拉達爾馬中心,請說“你好”給她。

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A Few Words About Rabbits

At the Rabbit Wailing Wall, Asking for Deliverance.

This time of year, feed stores and pet shops begin offering rabbits for sale, in order to meet the demand for "Easter Bunnies."

These poor creatures frequently die an untimely death within a month or two, and spend the final days of their lives in great misery, in filthy cages.

This is Adopt A Rescued Rabbit Month. This program gives us the opportunity to help our unfortunate friends escape the clutches of the heathens.

By the way: here is a link to a nice lady's investigation of the "Three Rabbits" symbol, entitled "How Do the Rabbits Get Into the Synagogue?"

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Kurukulle in Singapore

More people come to this site searching for information about Kurukulle, than for any other reason. So say the search engines, although they don't explain why.

The other interesting aspect, also unexplained, is why the vast majority of searchers come from Singapore.

[中文版位置 (Read this in Chinese by clicking) here.]

To make things convenient, we've put together an index to all our Kurukulle resources. Accordingly, here is the link to our Kurukulle Index.

Now, on a strictly personal note: I have never been to S'pore, but on August 5, 2008, I had the most remarkable dream of the scene depicted in the above photograph. You will notice that behind the Merlion, there is an area with an iron railing. Could one of our (many) Singapore readers tell me why I should dream about that particular spot? What is there?

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Self-Attached Tantric Lizard

Here is the deal, currently showing at a Google search near you...

First, you check your motivation, then you get the Copper Wealth Vase of White Mahakala for $380.00, because let's face it: the folks who are flogging the copper vase are sentient beings, aren't they? You want all sentient beings to be happy, don't you?

However, that is going to give the vase a real workout, so for $10.00 more, when the drop is off, you can recharge the thing for another go 'round.

If that doesn't work, for another $10.00, you can get your effigy burned.... along with some strongly self-attached stuff.

(You know, I tried that once... some ways it helped, some ways it hurt.)

Maybe the problem was, I didn't have a genuine Tantric Lizard Candle Stand.

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Tibetan New Year, Losar, 2009

Wondering what to do for Tibetan New Year, this coming Wednesday, February 25, 2009? Here are some helpful links to further information:

1) What to Do for Losar
2) Tibetan New Year (general information)
3) Link to arrange prayers for loved ones.
4) Quick notice of Losar 2009, plus astrological information for last days of Rat Year.
5) Extensive astrological information for 2009, Earth Ox Year.
6) A continuing Buddhist New Year Resolution.


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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lhasa Uprising, 50th Anniversary

As most of you know, March 10, 2009 is the 50th anniversary of the so-called Lhasa Uprising.

Already, many people are hearing the call of the trumpet and beat of the drum, and this is such a tragedy. Indeed, one hopes that a new tragedy will not spawn to commemorate an old tragedy, but perhaps this is too much to hope for.

This year, March 10th falls the day before Chotrul Duchen, so any engendered violence or other negativity will be multiplied 10 million times.

Why do this?

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Positive and Negative Days in Tibetan Astrology

In 1971, I encouraged the publication of a small (47 page) booklet at what was then called Dharma Press, but was really housed in a commercial operation I jointly owned with a man named Marcus Johnson, called Rainbow Zenith Press, at Berkeley, California.

The rather ambitious title was Kalachakra Tibetan Astrological Chart, and it was compiled by Tarthang Rinpoche, who at the time was in his mid thirties, and still learning English, so "compiling" meant him talking, while whoever was handy did the writing.

I recall that proximate to this effort, I suddenly flew to New York with four friends on an adventure, wound up getting married by Trungpa Rinpoche at Tail of the Tiger in Barnet, Vermont, and then had to disappear on a professional fool's errand.

I think the person I married on that occasion now lives in San Diego County and reads this weblog sometimes.

Hi, honey.

Nevertheless, in the midst of all this flying around, getting married, and making the world safe for rubber and rice by holding back the crimson tide of Communism, I fear I completely neglected the little Kalachakra book.

It was completed anyway, by hands steadier than my own, and became famous for being the first exposition of Tibetan "lucky and unlucky days" in the English language. My main contribution to this work was proposing it, and then getting out of the way. The steady hands were those of Merrill Peterson and Rick Woodbury: two of Rinpoche's most loyal, industrious, and energetic, original twenty-five students in the United States.


Except, I wasn't around to proofread and fact check the thing before the Harris LXD 17x22 sheetfed press rolled, and some little anomalies crept in. This has always bothered me. Not only did they creep into the book, but to every other source that made subsequent use of the book. Therefore, one sees these anomalies everywhere -- on the internet, in Cornu's book (p. 184), etc., etc.

Everywhere, that is, until 2007, when Edward Henning published his truly wonderful book Kalachakra and the Tibetan Calendar. You can purchase this remarkable book online, and I earnestly suggest you do so by clicking: here.

In his book, Mr. Henning provides us (at p. 181) with rather different information, that I reproduce herein, below. You can contrast this with the original information we published in 1971, and draw your own conclusions. Please note that what Mr. Henning calls "spirit mansion," we called the "foundation day;" what he calls "life mansion," we called "energy day;" what he calls "power mansion," we called "success day;" what he calls "obstacle mansion," we called "obstacle day;" what he calls "demon mansion," we called "emotional turbulence day," and what he calls "adversary mansion," we called "enemy day." In all cases, the days are reckoned according to the lunar calendar, so "27" for example, would be the 27th day of the lunar month.

Spirit Mansion: 19, we said 20
Life Mansion: 5, we said 6
Power Mansion: 2, we said 3
Obstacle Mansion: 25, we said 26
Demon Mansion: 9, we said 10
Adversary Mansion: 22, we said 23

Spirit Mansion: 16, we said 17
Life Mansion: 13, we said 14
Power Mansion: 11, we said 12
Obstacle Mansion: 1, we said 12 (!)
Demon Mansion: 7, we said 18 (!)
Adversary Mansion: 4, we said 5

Spirit Mansion: 4, we said 5
Life Mansion: 26, we said 27
Power Mansion: 8, we said 9
Obstacle Mansion: 13, we said 14
Demon Mansion: 11, we said 12
Adversary Mansion: 1, we said 3 (!)

Spirit Mansion: 10, we said 11
Life Mansion: 26, we said 27
Power Mansion: 11, we said 12
Obstacle Mansion: 25, we said 26
Demon Mansion: 14, we said 25 (!)
Adversary Mansion: 17, we said 18

Spirit Mansion: 2, we said 3
Life Mansion: 23, we said 24
Power Mansion: 16, we said 17
Obstacle Mansion: 7, we said 8
Demon Mansion: 8, we said 9
Adversary Mansion: 10, we said 11

Spirit Mansion: 12, we said 13
Life Mansion: 11, we said 12
Power Mansion: 5, we said 6
Obstacle Mansion: 7, we said 8
Demon Mansion: 8, we said 9
Adversary Mansion: 5, we said 6

Spirit Mansion: 16, we said 17
Life Mansion: 11, we said 12
Power Mansion: 5, we said 6
Obstacle Mansion: 19, we said 20
Demon Mansion: 4, we said 5
Adversary Mansion: 26, we said 27

Spirit Mansion: 7, we said 8
Life Mansion: 0, we said 1
Power Mansion: 1, we said 2
Obstacle Mansion: 19, we said 20
Demon Mansion: 4, we said 5
Adversary Mansion: 26, we said 27

Spirit Mansion: 7, we said 8
Life Mansion: 0, we said 1
Power Mansion: 1, we said 2
Obstacle Mansion: 8, we said 9
Demon Mansion: 4, we said 10 (!)
Adversary Mansion: 16, we said 17

Spirit Mansion: 13, we said 14
Life Mansion: 8, we said 7 (!)
Power Mansion: 24, we said 25
Obstacle Mansion: 2, we said 3
Demon Mansion: 10, we said 11
Adversary Mansion: 23, we said 24

Spirit Mansion: 8, we said 9
Life Mansion: 26, we said 27
Power Mansion: 4, we said 5
Obstacle Mansion: 10, we said 11
Demon Mansion: 2, we said 3
Adversary Mansion: 11, we said 12

Spirit Mansion: 1, we said 2
Life Mansion: 7, we said 8
Power Mansion: 10, we said 11
Obstacle Mansion: 25, we said 26
Demon Mansion: 2, we said 3
Adversary Mansion: 11, we said 12

The astute reader will now scratch his or her head and wonder who is right, and who is wrong.

That's an interesting question, you know? Not having the primary source used by Mr. Henning, I cannot say whether his translation is accurate or not. At the same time, while I trust that Tarthang Rinpoche gave us correct information, I cannot say that we wrote it down correctly, and as stated above, I never looked back. In any event, the probative points of departure are noted above, in red (!) and I invite anybody who cares to start the inquiry thereupon.

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Astrology for Tibetan New Year 2009 (Extended)

Herein are some general, and not-so-general, comments about the astrology of the Sino-Tibetan year of the Earth Ox, which for the Han people began on Monday, January 26, 2009, and for the Tibetan people begins on Wednesday, February 25, 2009. As a most charming friend of mine so wryly notes, we have the earth, and then we have the ox... and it seems this is not so light.

Maybe yes, maybe no.

Earth is merely the external element of this year. What the Tibetans call the lus, or "body" element, is to the Chinese known as the "containing note." In fluent practice, the containing note is reckoned as the best measure of fate.

This system seems to originate with Kuei-ku Tzu, who lived in the Chou dynasty (c. 1027-256 BCE). The earliest book where it is mentioned was written by Kuan Lo during the Three Kingdoms (220-265 CE) -- he writes, "By the containing note judge one's fate." Kuan Lo predicted his own death well before the event, and for this, and other demonstrations of craft expertise, is known as the finest fate calculator in all of Chinese history. I also think it probable that he is one of the first to attempt integrating Indian astrology with Chinese astrology. Now, also according to the Tibetans, the system originates in the Chou, in 836 BCE to be exact, with a discourse by no less than Manjushri himself, at Wu Tai Shan, known to Tibetans as the Five Peaks or ribo rtse lnga.

Be all that as it may, below is a picture of what it looks like outside my bedroom window this morning:

With all due deference to the Tibetans, I think I see Manjushri sitting on the mountains, no matter where they might be, and it appears to me that he is still giving discourse. Maybe I am so very wrong, but that is how I feel.

Time and direction are the stagecraft of dreams. The dreams are life, having all the indefinite properties of illusion, yet remaining sticky. We mark off these dreams of life with a linear past, present, and future. We go to and fro, reaching out: pulling in. We ought to enjoy the show but it is good not to believe too much. What we really provide for ourselves by marking time and direction is a kind of fantastic parable of egocentricity; then invested with an idea of the duration of our egocentric selves in some sort of place or point.

That is hardly immortal.

We become controlled by our creations, our dreams of calendar, compass, and clock. We become imprisoned in misery with hopes and fears for the future, trying to predict when we will get "out." We look for all the reasons we stay "in," breeding other sets of hopes and fears for the present and the past.

Why encourage this?

When we first begin to seriously analyze time and direction they seem simple to know yet difficult to explain. As we learn more, the language we are forced to use seems unconnected because we are dealing with unfamiliar concepts. These concepts have an open, spacious, and even boring, featureless nature.

Indeed, there are only slight precedents for the expression in any human language, concerned as language is with the task of communication by symbols rather than evocation by direct experience. Among the possibilities we might want to consider is one which says that some divination systems could be nothing more or less than attempts to refine the languages of man, permitting more intimate experiences with time.

They could be.

They could also be the languages of the intimate experiences, celebrating themselves.

So, in the case of 2009, the containing note is actually celebrating fire -- fire from the sky, or lightning, explained as thog gi me: the fiery thunderbolt. Another most charming friend of mine used to remark, with some irony, "If you don't expect the unexpected, the unexpected never happens," and in this she was of course quite correct. Nevertheless, in a year contained by lightning, one expects unexpected events.

The other basics of the year are its srog, or vitality (earth); the dbang-thang, or destiny (earth); the klung-ta, or luck (water), and the khyams-nyid -- one source translates this as "actual luck" -- which is also water.

If what you know about Tibetan astrology is fundamentally confined to what you read in Philippe Cornu's little book, then we are are here talking about what he calls "sok" (vitality), "lu" (body), "wang thang" (power), and "lung ta" (luck).

Our wonderfully magical numbers are skye-sme, or natal, as Blue 3 (upper metreng); srog-sme, or vitality, as White 6 (middle metreng); dbang-sme, or destiny, as Red 9 (lower metreng).

So, what shall we say about the people of this sa mo glang po year? According to the Tibetans, Earth Female Ox people are stubborn, excessively prideful, barbarous or rough natured, with violent, quarrelsome minds, vulnerable to soil spirits who inhabit the localities where they live, and possessed of bad reputation. They will be confronted by seven obstacles.

Only seven?

Since the "soil spirits," or sa bdag ("Sadak") are so important, and because there is very little information available in the English language, perhaps we should investigate. I have already mentioned them in passing elsewhere, but here we shall require a bit more detail.

We can say there are 1,000 sa bdag that are commonly known, 150 that one should consider on a frequent basis, and 81 that you should keep on the tip of your tongue, so to speak. However, these are all further divided by 1) elements, 2) location in space, and 3) outer, inner, and secret aspects, so you see, the numbers are rather greater than is immediately supposed.

Of the greater numbers, 102 are always with us, and 474 are associated with time. Of the 102 always with us, there are those of the nine subterranean levels, 71 permanent and immutable, and 72 abiding. Of the 474, there are 231 moving spirits of the years, 124 of the months, 81 of the days, and 37 of the hours. One can also see the nine black yearly spirit lords, the nine deities of the magic squares, 45 palace deities, five lesser deities, twelve hidden, dog spirits, and so forth.

But we are most concerned with the king and his court. You rarely see them, so I introduce them here, and tell you where they are this year:

1) King The-se - Northeast
2) Queen Hang-phan - Northeast
3) Crown Prince Te-so - North (also Queen Mother The-khyem)
4) Royal Minister Tsang-kun - West
5) Royal Astrologer Se-ba bla-mkhyen - Southwest (also inner at West, secretly at Northwest)
6) Royal Dog Walker Hang-phan ser-po bya-ra-ba - Northeast
7) Royal Treasurer Se-byi - Southwest
8) Royal Bodyguard-Assassin Se-shar - Southeast
9) Royal Horse Se-ba rang-rta - West
10) Royal Groom Se'u rta-khrid - West
11) Royal Timekeeper Se-bya - North
12) Royal Upholsterer Sa-bdag se-bu gdan-'ding - Northeast
13) Royal Policeman Se-lo sa-'chag kungs-myul - Southeast
14) Royal Sweeper Se-lo sa-'phyag - Southeast
15) Royal Dog Hal-khyi nag-po - East
16) Princess dKar-shan - East
17) Prince sBal-te (her husband - the royal son-in-law) - East
18) General Vang-ging dmarpo - Southwest
19) General Tsang-kun - Northeast (also hidden spirit gNyan ljang)
20) Adjutant Tsang-kun 'phye'o - Northwest
21) Dog-headed Assistant Tsang-kun khyi-mgo - Northwest
22) Advisor Bla-mkhyen phe'u - Southwest
23) Scorpion-head Zin 'phung - South
24) Venomous Pi-ling - North
25) Chief of the Eleven Ministers of the King (symbolizing them) - East

It is fun to say their names really fast, with a Cantonese accent.

In Tibetan geomancy, or sa dpyad, each year is said to fundamentally present directional obstacles and passages. This is represented by the relative positions of the king and his court, which is either carefully calculated or left to a crapshoot, depending upon one's purposes. Once, several years ago, I took an automobile trip with the late Kalu Rinpoche from Pasadena to San Francisco, California. We went up the Highway 101, and fell into conversation about the hills and valleys and so forth. I asked Rinpoche point-blank, if it could be said that Tibetans had added anything at all to geomancy, or if the whole of Tibetan practice was just lifted from Chinese feng shui. He said it was his opinion that the Tibetans copied the Chinese. "Exactly?" I asked. "Exactly," he replied, but added that it was a subject he didn't follow very closely, because he preferred to just look at things. I mention this exchange only to comfort you, should we find obstacles where you would prefer passages. In Sino-Tibetan custom, let me assure you, there is no lack of remedy.

So, we can just look at things, or we can believe that there are fixed and moving spirits, and that in this year there are passages at the South and West. Because I like oblique mischief, I take particular notice of the dog walker, in the Northeast this year, together with four others: three overt and one hidden. Make of that what you will, but bear in mind this is just the yearly array. If we want to include the month, then the story changes. As noted above, if we include the day, we get even more information, and if we include the hour, even then it is not complete, as we must still include the hour of the actual consultation.

And then there are the trigrams to consider. This takes a little more work. For the sake of example, lets say we have a female born in the Earth Ox year 1949. Her mother was born in 1927. In astrological terms, her mother (whether living or dead) is 83 years old (counting one year at birth), and she is 61 years old (counting one year at birth) in this Earth Ox year 2009. We subtract her age from her mother's age, add one, divide by eight, and the remainder is seven. Starting at the trigram "Kham" and counting back in counterclockwise direction seven spaces, we arrive at the trigram "Zin." Consulting the relevant texts, we find that she will "be sustained by blood feuds." Such people are also suicidal. The 'gong po are watching, and when the sa bdag cause harm, there will be no easy solution. The yearly trigram in 2009 is Li for our hypothetical subject. Li relates to fire, while her vitality element in 2009 is earth, relating to Khon. The Li-Khon relationship is known as "corporal punishment," belonging to the worst class of bad conjunctions.

Of course, this is all for our hypothetical subject. To find the indicators for yourself, you must compare your natal elements and so forth to the annual elements -- and to make this easier, we have herein already done all of the annual calculations for you.

For this New Year, I wish you happiness and freedom from the mental afflictions that have visited sorrow upon yourself and others.

Copyright (c) 2009 by Tulku Urgyan Tenpa Rinpoche. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Karmapa's New Manual for Free Download

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa has a 3.81MB download of his new operations manual Environmental Guidelines for Karma Kagyu Buddhist Monasteries, Centers and Communities, of which I am certain Al Gore would heartily approve.

Among other reasons, this little book is interesting because it contains drawings by His Holiness that reveal quite a connection with nature illustration.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tibetan New Year 2009

The search engines tell us that many of you are visiting here for information about the Tibetan New Year (Losar).



That's easy.

Monday, February 23, 2009 is Gutor -- averting the negativity of the old year.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 you should give your house a good cleaning.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 is New Year, or Losar -- Year 2136, the Earth Ox.

We shall have a good deal more to say about all of this... above is just a quick notice... and to get it out of the way, here is the rest of 2135, courtesy of Edward Henning: please visit his site, and buy his book.

23: Tue. sa ga. Fire-Fire; 17 Feb 2009
'phel, rigs can, Horse, kham 8
3;22,14 15;15,25 21;55,39 10;11,5 9;21,25
Solar: Water-Snake. Zui 3
24: Wed. lha mtshams. Water-Earth; 18 Feb 2009
brtan pa, khyim skyes, Sheep, gin 9
4;26,21 16;9,52 22;0,13 11;10,5 9;22,23
Solar: Wood-Horse. Can 4
25: Thu. snron. Wind-Earth; 19 Feb 2009
yongs bsnun, tshong ba, Monkey, zin 1
5;30,36 17;4,10 22;4,47 12;8,57 9;23,21
Solar: Wood-Sheep. Jing 5
26: Fri. snron. Earth-Earth; 20 Feb 2009
dga' ba, gdab pa, Bird, zon 2
6;34,52 17;58,28 22;9,20 13;7,49 9;24,19
Solar: Fire-Monkey. Gui 6
27: Sat. snrubs. Earth-Water; 21 Feb 2009
rdo rje, rigs can, Dog, li 3
0;39,7 18;52,46 22;13,54 14;6,40 9;25,17
Solar: Fire-Bird. Liu 7
28: Sun. chu stod. Fire-Water; 22 Feb 2009
dngos grub, khyim skyes, Pig, khon 4
1;43,22 19;47,4 22;18,27 15;5,32 9;26,16
Solar: Earth-Dog. Xing 8
29: Mon. chu smad. Water-Earth; 23 Feb 2009
phan tshun, vishti, Mouse, dwa 5
2;47,38 20;41,23 22;23,1 16;4,24 9;27,14
Solar: Earth-Pig. Zhang 9
30: Tue. gro zhin. Fire-Earth; 24 Feb 2009
mchog can, rkang bzhi, Ox, khen 6
3;51,2 21;36,32 22;27,34 17;4,7 9;28,12
Solar: Iron-Mouse. Yi 1
And by the way... here (instead of searching for "Tibetan New Year") are the top five items the rest of the world considers searchworthy today:

1. colin cowherd website
2. hassan chop
3. francois henri pinault
4. elizabeth mun
5. barth syndrome

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche Long Life Prayer

Om svasti!
Dance of wisdom and love, sovereign of the entire Buddhist teaching
The great Dharma-ocean of the transmission and realization of the profound and vast,
You have mastered through hearing, reflecting, and meditating.
Supreme incarnation, may your aspiration be fulfilled, and may your life and activity be infinite.

Composed by Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

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Sacred Incinerators

This is a subject that comes up all the time, and about which I know very little; nevertheless, it is worth investigating. Sang burners (sang-khang, or "a place for incense offering") are a ubiquitous feature of Tibetan life, and have dual utility for making juniper smoke offerings and disposing of sacred waste. The example above is at Jokhang, and the one below (to the right of the solar panel) is on a rooftop.

However, the concept is not limited to Tibet, and in fact, one could rather successfully argue that it is an imported custom. "Hell money" or "ghost money" burners are endemic to Asia, whether it is the red can in the backyard of every Chinese or Vietnamese private home, or elaborate public examples such as the one below, at Nankunshen Temple in Tainan.

Below is a sketch from one of Namkhai Norbu's books.

Below is an example in operation at Kunphenling, and you can learn more about this by clicking here.

Push comes to shove, and you can always run down to Lowes with $100. or so, and get a chiminea.

The folks at Dharma Publishing (Tarthang Rinpoche's students) offer this solution:

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

World's Second Largest Stupa Studied

In the remote Bihar village of Ghodakatora near Giriyak in Nalanda district on the banks of the Panchani River, a group of committed archaeologists are little by little bringing an ancient culture back to focus after thousands of years.At the centre of the exercise in the documentation (not discovery per se) of a huge Stupa that apparently carries the signature technique of random rubble dry stone masonry method.

“This stupa’s structure may belong to the Mauryan period (321-185 BC). And it is definitely one of the largest stupa discovered so far, if not the second largest one,” said Sujit Nayan, the chief archaeologist. The stone stupa, which is now being documented, lies atop a 500-ft hill.

Similar architectural technique has been found to have used in constructing the cyclopean wall to fortify an area of 32 km near the mountain of Rajgir-the capital city of the Magadha Empire. The outstanding cyclopean wall is particularly noted for his military significance.

The stone stupa is located near to one brick Stupa earlier discovered by British Archaeologist Alexander Cunningham in 1861.

The one discovered by Cunningham is of a cylindrical shape with a high base, consisting of more than one terrace. Similar stupa was earlier discovered at Kesariya in East Champaran district of Bihar.

A team from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is currently studying this Stupa at Ghorakatora, more than 100 km from Patna. The team is excavating nearly two KM area of the site.

Earlier, the ASI had started the excavation work at Ghorakatora mound near Giriyak in 2008 to unravel the ancient mysteries concealed in the ancient hills of Nalanda.

The excavation at Ghorakatora mound - that has largely followed a grid pattern- had begun initially with a contour map and a firm belief that the exercise would throw fresh light on the existing ancient Nalanda site. It has come true now.

Nayan’s archaeological endeavour also assumes special significance because fewer architectural remains of the Maurya period are currently available. Incidentally, the most widely acknowledged examples of exquisitely decorated Maurya architecture are the Pillars of Ashoka.

The excavators, however, are yet to form a conclusive opinion about the Stupa, which they are currently evaluating with intensive interest. “The stupa is around 35- metre in height and its circumference is 30 sq metres,” said Sujit Nayan.

But while the team was still assessing the stupa, Nayan confirms that it was related to Buddhism. Indeed, stupas a dome-shaped monument, which were used to house Buddhist relics or symbolise Buddhism, are regarded as one with the Buddha.

“I am the stupa,” Buddha is believed to have said, “and the stupa is me.”

According to scholars, following his cremation, Buddha’s ashes were divided into eight portions and buried under special Stupas constructed in his hometown and at seven other locations, including Vaishali in Bihar.

Largely, four types of stupas have been identified. Some were built over relics of the Buddha while others were raised over objects used by him. Besides, some of the stupas said to signify important events related to Buddhism and some others were raised to express devotion or symbolism.

Incidentally, three best-known Buddhist universities, Nalanda, Vikramasila and Odantpuri, were in eastern India, in the region of present-day Bihar. In fact, Bihar derives its name from the many viharas that flourished there.

The greatest of these monastic centres was at Nalanda, which was a hub of learning for pilgrims and scholars from all corners of Asia once upon a time.

This one discovery from the Ghodakatora site is sufficient to excite the entire scholarly community in the country, but here the archaeologists have made it just one in a string of startling finds.

The archaeologists are excavating major finds throughout the ancient hillock that are helping throw new light on what is arguably one of the world’s older civilisations.

For one, the excavations so far have yielded remnants of stone axe, something that can be traced to Neolithic age. In yet another example, the archaeologists working at the ancient site have dug up water-reservoirs and tanks, which give an insight into the way the township was planned in a later time period.

The excavation is also likely to throw more light on the dating of Lord Buddha, the place of Buddha’s relics buried somewhere near Rajgir and antiquities of pre-Buddha period.

There are others significant finds that may turn many heads towards this largely ignored ancient cite. The ceramic noticed in the ancient ruins are red ware, black slipped ware, northern black polished ware and black and red ware potsherds. Antiquities like terracotta beads and a fragment of Sunga plaque have also been collected.

According to archaeologist, the discoveries suggest that the site may date back to chalcolithic culture leading to northern black polished ware culture. But, it also clearly indicates that various folds of history are currently wrapped within the Giriyak strata.

Arguably, more than being a treasure hunt, the current archaeological endeavour has made a forgotten chapter of ancient history emerge and recorded in Bihar.

Unlike history, the archaeological accounts also suggest how people of that period lived, what the subsistence patterns of a people were like, and the possible work and motivations culturally.

The current batch of archaeologies also hopes to uncover some of the many past life ways of ancient cultures that once existed in those days, besides the latest reasons that perhaps led to their extinction or diffusion into the modern day.

In another spectacular excavation at this extended site, the archaeologists have also discovered earthen pot ware, Terracotta relics, sculpture depicting Lord Vishnu in black stone, bronze images of Lord Buddha and remnants of granaries, besides remains of Chalcolithic period.

It has once again confirmed that the hills of Nalanda are treasure trove. History of Nalanda goes back to the days of Mahavira and Buddha in the sixth century BC. It was the place of birth and nirvana of Sariputra, who was a famous Buddha follower.
But, a lot more needs to be done to unravel the state’s Buddhist past.

According to an estimate, more than a dozen stupas are still buried in Bihar, which require excavation and examination.

This assumes special significance, as Archaeological remains are seen as a finite and non-renewable resource, in many cases also vulnerable.

The current exercise would help generate awareness on the Buddhist heritage of the state and also promote interest in the Buddhist circuit.

The excavation can also help accounting for the change through time by examining the cultural and archaeological context of the given site in Nalanda.

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Dance of the Afflictions

In the forest wilderness, with its bushes of distraction,
The monkeys who stretch out their arms in conformity
With the universal dance of the afflictions
Will not be interested in this.
----Jigme Lingpa,
White Lotus

Sometimes I want to think a terrible sadness is incrementally descending upon Buddhism, like a slow cloud, and that we have nobody but ourselves to blame.

We get obsessed with plans, projects, possessions, and positions, when what we should really be concerned with is overarching recognition of impermanence -- of what Jigme Lingpa called the "great lying projection." Buddhism endures because of a heart of truth, not because of its functionaries, monuments, and institutions. As the first decade of the twenty-first century speeds toward its conclusion, it strikes us that Buddhism's functionaries, monuments, and institutions are themselves the very exemplar of fallibility.

All men are in costume. Some accidentally....

Some deliberately.

No.... we are not served by plans, projects, possessions, and positions... by this or that ambition to build another edifice or endow another effort.

In the last gasp, the only thing that serves is coming to know mind by coming to know mind, and in that we can do without the catalogs, the intermediaries, the interpreters, and the untamed guides.

We can do without recycled divinity.

Because, we're all in the same boat, you know?

In different uniforms maybe, but still the same boat.

Still the same ocean.

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Big Temple in Bebop City

Everybody around here calls it "Hongfa" Temple, which is actually an abbreviation for Hongyang Fofa, and you can translate that as "propagating the Buddhadharma."

It was originally built on the northwest slope of Wutong Mountain, around the turn of the twentieth century, in an attempt to pacify what was otherwise a strife-torn area. Later, in 1985, it was rebuilt facing Fairy Lake Botanical Gardens, and is in fact the first Buddhist temple to be constructed in China after 1949.

In Bebop City (my idiosyncratic name for Shenzhen), the place is famous for being the home of Monk Shi Benhuan, who is 102 years old, and who from 1939 to 1949 wrote out 19 volumes of the sutras in his own blood.

He is delightful to visit, and answers every question by laughing and saying, "Everything will be fine." The temple opened for business in 1990, and in 1998 hosted a mass ordination of 300 monks, including one American --- something of a rarity in these parts. Nowadays it is popular with the locals as a place for lovers and old friends to go wandering together.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Longchenpa Anniversary

Today is the Anniversary of Kunkhyen Longchen Rabjam, so maybe this is a good time to do 1,000 prostrations? Anyway, I thought I would leave you with this quotation:

"The pristine awareness which belongs to the state of pure and total presence,
Manifesting as the teacher in the form of the elements earth, water, fire, and wind,

Does not teach by means of words and letters.

The one who teaches its own nature
Cannot be conceived of in terms of self or other

And teaches the state of sameness and non-conceptuality.

All the beings of the three realms,

Realizing this, become equal to all the buddhas.

Sought-after truth is found by not seeking it."

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Khyentse Rinpoche Out of Hospital

Here is the message that Rinpoche has sent out to the Australian Sangha:

"I'm sure by now you have heard that I had an operation, and some parts of my body have been removed – the gallbladder. I know nothing about this, although I heard it's not that useful a part of the body anyway. But according to Chinese medicine, this might now make me more timid and indecisive. From my point of view this is good. I need to be timid, as I'm too arrogant. And if I'm not decisive, it might help to reduce the number of people asking me to make decisions for their lives. But I have the vague feeling that I might still go on bluffing as always.I'm sure many of you have been concerned and frustrated at times. I'm sorry I have been unable to inform you clearly. We didn't know ourselves until the last minute. Such is the case with illnesses and body-related situations. Now I'm very well and the doctors have told me to rest a lot, so that's what I'll have to do. I advise all of you not to aspire to become Rinpoches in this life or the next life, as being public property in this situation is very difficult. Almost all the high lamas were involved in what to do, what not to do, when to operate, and everything that was going on.Anyway, the operation has been successful. I survived. And it's all thanks to all my gurus, and the prayers around the world. Your prayers have really helped, and I'm not just saying this as nice words. When I woke from anaesthesia, I went through a long experience of half sleep and half dream, and I had lots of semi-dream semi-visions of all your prayers. I even heard them and I could almost see them manipulating the situation. Now I owe you a lot for this. I have so much karmic debt with you. My superstitions have become so much worse, not least because the Tibetan astrologers have been saying it's my bad year, and this has kind of come true.But also my trust in karma has become much stronger because of your prayers and the gurus' blessings I have observed manipulating the situation amazingly. Sometimes seemingly negatively, at times very positively, and the outcome is just what it should be. Many people have spent energy and money to release lives and do prayers. I'll dedicate the merit and I would like to thank you for all that. Some people here pronounced my condition "gold bladder stone," and I thought maybe I had some gold in my stomach and maybe this would be perfect for the economic situation. But then I realised it was just a useless stone that came out, and economically it is not that exciting.Again, I thank you, everyone, for putting all your energy into this. I also consider that I'm fortunate that this happened here in Australia, as the situation here is good, and the medical staff in Brisbane have been very helpful. They have let us do whatever we want. [...]"


Skull-Garland Lotus Heruka, conqueror of Maras,
Whose deathless natural wisdom mind had transformed
The root of existence into great vajra bliss,
Subjugator of apparent phenomena, please shower the blessings of

Fearless lord of speech,
You are the vajraholder of the profound secret treasures of wisdom and
Victorious one of all-pervading activity,
May your three secrets remain indestructible and everlasting.

As vowed by Vimalamitra and king Trison Detsen
To constantly manifest out of compassion,
You came as a warrior to protect the doctrine and all beings in this dark
May you remain forever as the unchanging vajra essence.

May the virtuous seed of this supplication,
Warmed and moistened by the undeceiving two truths,
Ripen into a splendid fruit
That beautifies the three worlds with utmost auspiciousness.

Requested by Drukchen Dungse Rinpoche, Mipham Ngawang Dechen Gyume and
Chadral Sangye Dorje on the tenth day of the fifth month at Gung monastery
in Darjeeling. [Composed by H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche.]

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Peerless Accomplishment

It is interesting to stop and consider that during the past 40 years, Kyabje Tarthang Rinpoche has caused the construction of more important stupas than were built in the 100 years previously: a magnificent 500 and still counting, inclusive of the largest stupa in North America (above), and 300 smaller examples, such as the one pictured below.

If that were all he had done, we might say "good enough," but in truth, the scale of his accomplishments is truly staggering.

There have been books printed in the millions, major prayer wheels beyond compare, over 300 life-sized bronze statues, hundreds of thousands of flags... the list goes on and on. At one time, his foundry was believed to have the highest rate of bronze production in the world. His presses are the largest in all of Buddhist history. You must explore these things for yourself, and see what other visions have been held.

I would invite everyone to click this link and begin a journey into the realm of possibility. If you are sitting around wondering what to do next, you might seriously consider joining a living emanation of Padmasambhava in creating the future of the Dharma, right here in the West.

There is no better thing to do: there is no better place to be.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tibetan Catholicisms?

Glen Mullin, in an interview published elsewhere:

"...I could also note because you said 'His Holiness' the Dalai Lama, that I grew up as an Irish Protestant, and dislike these ostentatious honorifics that Tibetans have adopted from the Catholics. I find titles like 'His Holiness' and "His Eminence" extremely distasteful and inappropriate. These days Dharma centers seems to add "His Holiness" as a prefix to the name of every visiting lama with a few dozen admirers.

The original Tibetan names for the Dalai Lama are so much better : Yishin Norbu, or "Wishfulfilling Gem"; Gyalwa Rinpoche, or "Precious Master"; and Kundun, or "Sublime Presence." Even the Mongolian translation of his ordination name "Gyatso," or "Oceanic," which in Mongolian became "Dalai," has a nice ring to it.

It is unfortunate that somehow the Tibetans looked to the Catholics for their translations of these charming and delightful epithets, and came up with such insipid and uninspiring proxies."

Well, I grew up as an Irish Buddhist, and I have to say that I agree.

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Everyday Great Perfection

From: Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche -- "Dzogchen Practice in Everyday Life"

The everyday practice of dzogchen is simply to develop a complete carefree acceptance, an openness to all situations without limit. We should realize openness as the playground of our emotions and relate to people without artificiality, manipulation or strategy. We should experience everything totally, never withdrawing into ourselves as a marmot hides in its hole. This practice releases tremendous energy which is usually constricted by the process of
maintaining fixed reference points. Referentiality is the process by which we retreat from the direct experience of everyday life.

Being present in the moment may initially trigger fear. But by welcoming the sensation of fear with complete openness, we cut through the barriers created by habitual emotional patterns.

When we engage in the practice of discovering space, we should develop the feeling of opening ourselves out completely to the entire universe. We should open ourselves with absolute simplicity and nakedness of mind. This is the powerful and ordinary practice of dropping the mask of self-protection.

We shouldn’t make a division in our meditation between perception and field of perception. We shouldn’t become like a cat watching a mouse. We should realize that the purpose of meditation is not to go “deeply into ourselves” or withdraw from the world. Practice should be free and non-conceptual, unconstrained by introspection and concentration.

Vast un-originated self-luminous wisdom space is the ground of being - the beginning and the end of confusion. The presence of awareness in the primordial state has no bias toward enlightenment or non-enlightenment. This ground of being which is known as pure original mind is the source from which all phenomena arise. It is known as the great mother, as the womb of potentiality in which all things arise and dissolve in natural self-perfectedness and absolute spontaneity.

All aspects of phenomena are completely clear and lucid. The whole universe is open and unobstructed - everything is mutually interpenetrating.

Seeing all things as naked, clear and free from obscurations, there is nothing to attain or realize. The nature of phenomena appears naturally and is naturally present in time-transcending awareness. Everything is naturally perfect just as it is. All phenomena appear in their uniqueness as part of the continually changing pattern. These patterns are vibrant with meaning and significance at every moment; yet there is no significance to attach to such meanings beyond the moment in which they present themselves.

This is the dance of the five elements in which matter is a symbol of energy and energy a symbol of emptiness. We are a symbol of our own enlightenment. With no effort or practice whatsoever, liberation or enlightenment is already here.

The everyday practice of dzogchen is just everyday life itself. Since the undeveloped state does not exist, there is no need to behave in any special way or attempt to attain anything above and beyond what you actually are. There should be no feeling of striving to reach some “amazing goal” or “advanced state”. To strive for such a state is a neurosis which only conditions us and serves to obstruct the free flow of Mind. We should also avoid thinking of ourselves as worthless persons – we are naturally free and unconditioned. We are intrinsically enlightened and lack nothing.

When engaging in meditation practice, we should feel it to be as natural as eating, breathing and defecating. It should not become a specialized or formal event, bloated with seriousness and solemnity. We should realize that meditation transcends effort, practice, aims, goals and the duality of liberation and non-liberation. Meditation is always ideal; there is no need to correct anything. Since everything that arises is simply the play of mind as such, there is no unsatisfactory meditation and no need to judge thoughts as good or bad.

Therefore we should simply sit. Simply stay in your own place, in your own condition just as it is. Forgetting self conscious feelings, we do not have to think “I am meditating”. Our practice should be without effort, without strain, without attempts to control or force and without trying to become “peaceful”. If we find that we are disturbing ourselves in any of these ways, we stop meditating and simply rest or relax for a while. Then we resume our meditation. If we have “interesting experiences” either during or after meditation, we should avoid making anything special of them. To spend time thinking about experiences is simply a distraction and an attempt to become unnatural. These experiences are simply signs of practice and should be regarded as transient events. We should not attempt to re-experience them because to do so only serves to distort the natural spontaneity of mind.

All phenomena are completely new and fresh, absolutely unique and entirely free from all concepts of past, present future. They are experienced in timelessness. The continual stream of new discovery, revelation and inspiration which arises at every moment is the manifestation of our clarity. We should learn to see everyday as mandala – the luminous fringes of experience which radiate spontaneously from the empty nature of our being. The aspects of our mandala are the day-to-day objects of our life experience moving in the dance or play of the universe. By this symbolism the inner teacher reveals the profound and ultimate significance of being. Therefore we should be natural and spontaneous, accepting and learning from everything. This enables us to see the ironic and amusing side of events that usually irritate us.

In meditation we can see through the illusion of past, present and future – our experience becomes the continuity of now-ness. The past is only an unreliable memory held in the present. The future is only a projection of our present conceptions. The present itself vanishes as we try to grasp it. So why bother with attempting to establish an illusion of solid ground?

We should free ourselves from our past memories and preconceptions of meditation. Each moment of meditation is completely unique and full of potentiality. In such moments, we will be incapable of judging our meditation in terms of past experience, dry theory or hollow rhetoric.

Simply plunging directly into meditation in the moment now, with our whole being, free from hesitation, boredom or excitement, is enlightenment.

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