Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Show Some Backbone

"Don’t worry… 

You’re all tulkus … incarnations of beings who have taken the bodhisattva vow to raise all sentient beings to the level of complete enlightenment…

Just because you don’t have an important title attached to your name doesn’t mean that you haven’t appeared in this life to fulfill your bodhisattva vow…. 

Historically, the term “Rinpoche” referred to a person who is born with a “wealth” or “precious inheritance” of knowledge, whereas nowadays, it often refers to a person born into a wealthy family….

Be grateful that you don’t have a title…and rest assured that you entered this life and have the opportunity to continue in the stream of Buddhist teachings as a result of the vows and practices you engaged in during previous lives."

--- Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Reawakened Presence

So, then --

We can be thankful for the reawakened presence of Padmasambhava in our lives, no matter where we happen to be, and we can be thankful for the myriad ways this presence continuously announces itself. We have Padmasambhavas as teachers, books, images, sights of nature, melodies of wind, bodies of stone, and soft, infinite whispers. We have, you see, this immediate recognition of Padmasambhava as something without deceit, and therefore true. When we are bewildered, truth is very healing, and comforting. This is, almost certainly, not the first time we have been exposed to the truth; hopefully, this is the first time that truth will stick all the way to the last breath, and lead us to yet another reawakened presence.

I read a lovely passage the other day, attributed to Urgyen Tulku but without further citation. I immediately thought to share it with you, reproduced here as encountered:
"Ordinary people think that enlightenment is something that happens once, 'KaBOOM', 'ZAP', 'BZZZZZZZ', 'KAZAAM' and 'That's It' and we are forever there.
"It is not like that at all. Recognition of our Enlightened Nature or Buddha Mind, or Ordinary Mind for the first time lasts only for a few seconds. But due to the force of our habitual thinking that has been going on for countless lifetimes, Ordinary Mind will be obscured again by this conceptual thinking mind. 
"This is when training really starts, this is when what Great Masters call true meditation is. This is when we have to keep bringing or letting the Natural Mind arise again and again. 
"First we have to establish confidence that IT IS the Natural Mind. The difficulty in this is that it is so ordinary and simple that one will easily doubt that it is special. Therefore it is of primary important to have an authentic Master to confirm, clarify the experience. It is only that we have absolute conviction that it is what it is that confidence will arise spontaneously and slowly. This is not a matter of a moment but days, weeks, months or years training. 
"Until the time when one is never for a moment separated from the spontaneous Natural Mind is one confirmed a Buddha. 
"There are many statements and advice to this subject, I will quote only one here. 
"The training in recognizing mind essence is this: short moment repeated many times. There is no other way. A short duration guarantees it is the authentic mind essence, by itself. Many times ensures we grow accustomed to it. Attempting to keep long moments of recognition simply corrupts the natural experience with a conceptual state of mind. 
"You need to grow used to the natural state through training. The training is simply recognizing, not a willed act of meditating. In the moment of recognizing, it is seen. In the moment of seeing, it is free. That freedom does not necessary last long. The fact that there is no 'thing' to be seen is clearly seen as it is. It is not hidden; it is an actuality. 
"Short moments, but repeated many times. You need to train like that. Once you are fully trained, you do not need to think twice. 
"The training is simply to remain undistracted, because it is nondistraction that takes us all the way to complete enlightenment. Non-distraction does not mean deliberately trying to be undistracted, as we do when we replace normal thoughts with the thoughts, "I shouldn't be distracted" It is simply to not forget. The moment we forget - and we do forget- both the practice and all other things are forgotten, because our attention strays."
Isn't that magnificent? It strikes us as true, because it captures the essence of what we actually experience. It takes away all the pressure of "performance consciousness." This simple advice is in fact widely applicable. You could train a marksman, or musician, or learn to love this way.

The analogy of love is particularly apt. If we could grasp this analogy, we would not experience nearly as many ups and downs in our relationships as might now be the case.

Love appears suddenly, and effortlessly. In the initial stages, it is quite powerful: almost intoxicating. We tend to imbibe rather deeply at this point, but the cups are many and the canteen is still finite. When the drinking is done the analytical mind begins to dissect the experience, and out of nowhere love somehow becomes profound. We speak in terms of its gravitas. This is not so useful, but this is our habit. In the midst of intellectual battles, we tear up our love with tiger teeth and throw it around the den, harboring all sorts of opinions and suspicions. 

Eventually, we have a motion picture in distress. Scripts have been distributed, but each person has a different script. These scripts are rife with scrawled additions, hastily scribbled directions, and crossed-out dialogue. The pens are of different colored inks, and many sorts of handwriting. The accompanying musical score is even worse.

So, I think it is better if we approach love as "short moment repeated many times." This will have the effect of reawakening love's presence so that we do not need to think twice. Love's sweetness is constantly present. We can throw away the scripts. Now, every sound is sublime music, and nobody is drunk. We are in touch with the original source -- no need to carry around a canteen.

Padmasambhava wants us to be happy. Whether this happiness is great or small, he wants us to be happy. Naturally, he wants us to experience greater happiness, but to experience this we need to start small.

We need to begin with each other in a way that recognizes this is Uddiyana and we are the angels. We already know, don't we?

Maybe we just momentarily forgot.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

The American President, 2012

We have lived so long as to see this. The consequences of this simple act will reverberate through many lifetimes, and will ripen into liberation. Our Secretary of State suggested that our President do this. She is truly an excellent advisor in that regard. By urging this action, and rejoicing in this action, her merit will also ripen into liberation.

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Western Monk Dies by Self Immolation

A man born in Britain as David Alain, has died in France as the 38 year-old monk Lobsang Tonden. He killed himself at Nalanda Monastery, by dousing himself with gasoline and lighting himself on fire. His is, apparently, a gesture of solidarity with Tibetans who have died by self immolation. He had been at Nalanda, a Gelugpa monastery associated with the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Traditions, for five years.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Arrow to the Heart

The prayers for rain
made by those who have lost their minds
are very quickly answered with a shower so sweet,
perfectly directed, so perfectly measured;
as to shame the feeble efforts of
the greatest weather-changing magician
of this or any other era.

I am so pleased to say that love
has blossomed
from flowers I thought impossible,
and I have been struck in space
by an arrow perfectly unaimed:

"Bend the bow
of practice without slack.
Attach the bowstring
of commitment that's not feigned.
Draw together the thumb and notch
of connections and aspiration.

"To shoot the arrow
is to shoot at every kingdom.
To hit
is to hit those with whom there's a karmic link.
To satisfy
is to satisfy their every wish,
So that your accomplishment
is to accomplish buddhahood in a lifetime."

--Jigme Lingpa,
Dancing Moon in the Water

[illustration above by the great Kevin Radthorne]


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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day 2012

Today is Veteran's Day: a national holiday in the United States, celebrating the service of all members of the armed forces. Would you be surprised to know that this includes rabbits? From deadly front lines in the trenched warfare of World War I....

No, I am not talking about easy duty......

I am talking heroic service all the way through World War II: memorialized by the wise-cracking rabbit Bugs Bunny who authored a hundred acts in clever defiance to oppression.

Always, in my household, November 11th is also celebrated as my father's birthday. He would have been 112 years of age today.

What's Up, Doc?

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dear Buddha: Quenching the Flames

Dear Buddha,

Please come out from the hiding place where my dualistic notions put you,
and don't worry, this isn't a prayer....
more like a note to myself, but
in order that I know I am not alone with this,
and you are really still here
please allow my mind to relax into all your constantly replicating myriad bodies,
or, left to my own devices, if I see myself as even more trapped and am choosing off some menu, send Avalokitesvara, who is high in the Buddha of the Moment,

to see my tears
to help my tears
to augment my tears,
so that they rain in sufficient quantity and quality
to put out this terrible fire in a place that deeds have named Tibet.

People all over the world are exchanging pictures
of an uprising amidst the flames,
but I beg you to help me know, and if possible, fix
why some people are throwing themselves into oblivion
in order to warm their enemies
yet feel themselves at war.

help me with this, I really beg myself
I really beg myself to cry on that fire
and put it out
even I have to leverage all the heartbreaks of this and other lives,
is there anywhere to take this bargain?

There is nowhere to take this bargain, Buddha.

Some years ago, a single monk burned himself on this planet,
and the world felt the warmth of his heart which did not burn,
yet today dozens of hearts have burned all over Tibet
and it is cold everywhere.

how generous of Tibetan people to give such precious comfort,
to a bundled up world in posh down jackets and leather seats.

Please, don't let devils roast you. Don't get dragged into who told who or who did what.
This smoke rises to heaven and makes hypothecated sky-going beings of a wide-ranging nature
cough their guts out. It makes decent people stop and think, "Oh, How I Have Failed All Sentient Beings," and sometimes wish to burn themselves in place of you...

If that is true, why do the numbers of the one
fall smaller than the other?

Not that there isn't blood all over our hands down here; far from it. We killed all the people who originally lived in what we call America. The karma hasn't even begun to get paid on that one.
We're now so sick with murder that we shoot armed drones on people exactly like it was a computer games. Who lives and who dies is a decision made by a committee and judgment is executed thousands of miles away by guys who don't have very honest lives.

What can I do...
Buddha, that's my main question.

Sit around here and do or not do stuff until given infinite possibility, I am, as the training manual has it, enlightened? Meanwhile a lot of people are killing themselves by jumping in a fire down here..... doesn't matter who they are or what they are called.

I have a lot of faith in you, Buddha,
but since you and I are actually identical,
according to some currently popular interpretations,
do I really hand this off to you, or do I answer that question myself?
Seems like it wouldn't make any difference.

Forgive me for doubting... maybe my faith is secretly weak... but, I know myself unworthy and so, secretly harbor the notion that you and me are two different somethings.... so, I am asking you...
no, I am really begging you,
face down on the ground, as shameless as an opera singer,
why the fuck we can't put out those fires?
Is it my dualistic thinking keeps them burning?

Some people say the fires are "necessary."
The first thing a whore does is learn her client's language.
After a while, she entices internationally.
Whores are necessary. They don't need any enforcement
To cry a river of tears
and put that fire out.
Even their laughter is tears,
the slightest gesture,
the smallest whisper,
the instant thought,
body, speech, and mind:
pure honesty in the midst of deception.

So, I know tears aren't going to do it.
I don't see how this is going to be relieved
unless I almost instantly
grab lightning from the sky
before it hits the ground.

Buddha, I know you don't grant wishes,
but this is what I see presently
and I thought I would talk to myself,
to see if I could do something without crying
and put out that fire before it gets started.

Thank you for listening.

P.S. This isn't the only thing going on, but is demonstrative of the case.

P.P.S. This isn't the only time something like this ever happened. In ancient days, besieged cities used to throw their children from the ramparts, and then fight to a certain death.

P.P.P.S. I guess what I'm after is an instant affirmation of the method to cease permitting the causes and conditions that recognize the sight of suffering; or, in the alternative, cease believing in any reality attached to what is fundamentally an apparition -- the language of deception -- the first thing I learned.

P.P.P.S. There is of course the suggestion that enlightenment is possible within a single lifetime, but this seems so rare that people burn to death in the mistaken notion that anything ultimately beneficial is far outside grasp.

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Friday, November 09, 2012

Anniversary of the Fall

Today, November 9, 2012, is generally regarded as the anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. A family member just yesterday arrived in Berlin, and is paying respects today as my representative.

We tend to lose sight of what went into that wall being demolished. 

The sacrifice in terms of human lives has yet to be quantified: most likely we will never know. Yet, we speak of it so dismissively, as if those lives were wasted -- as if we failed to learn from our experience.

Today, may we all step back and examine our individual roles as peacemakers. May we remove aggression from our lives, and the lives of those around us. Expressly, may we recognize human compassion and let this guide our lives.

Today, deep prayers for those who made this bit of history for all sentient beings: the bodhisattvas of the Berlin Wall.

"We have to learn to respect this monumental creation called the confused world, samsara. Because of its monumental quality, it also breeds sanity, wakefulness, or nirvana. We have to take it very seriously. We have to take the whole world seriously. Monuments like the Statue of Liberty may be hollow, but until you realize the monumental quality of the Statue of Liberty, you don’t see all that it is. We have to respect things; in other words, they are sacred."
~Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, 
Orderly Chaos: The Mandala Principle

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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Lha Bab Duchen 2012

Today, we celebrate Shakyamuni Buddha's descent from heaven. Buddha's mother, Mayadevi, was reborn in Indra's heaven. To repay her kindness, to liberate her, and also to benefit the gods, Buddha spent three months teaching in the heaven realm. When it came time for him to return to this world, Indra and Brahma manifested a triple staircase of 80,000 steps, and Buddha returned to this world on the twenty-second day of the ninth Tibetan month.

Today, the effects of positive, as well as negative, actions and thoughts are multiplied ten million times.

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