Like a lion coursing through the snow: The Song of Lama Jungne Yeshe

When Padampa Sangye asked him to express his realization, Lama Jungne Yeshe sang:

Like a fatally ill ascetic,
Seek to remember your own death!
Like a lone man struck with leprosy,
Seek realization of disillusionment!
Like a stone thrown into the sea,
Seek realization of irreversibility!
Like a bird seeking worms,
Seek realization of undistractedness!
Like meeting your only child,
Seek realization of recognition!
Like a lion coursing through the snow,
Seek realization beyond fear!

                                                                       ~~From Lion of the Siddhas: The Life and Teachings of Padampa Sangye (translated by David Molk)
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Exploring Nondual Awareness

Nondual awareness is our natural state, always present and underlying all experience. But how can we see it and feel it vividly for ourselves?

In general, there can be said to be two approaches. One is to just rest, not altering anything. The other is to use inquiry, first to distinguish consciousness from its contents, and then, through further inquiry, to see that consciousness and its contents are not ultimately separate–consciousness’ contents are the appearance of consciousness, like waves are the appearance of water.

In this talk, our weekly Real Dharma group experimented with bringing nondual awareness to consciousness through group dialogue and inquiry. This was an experiment in open-eyed dialogic meditation. I think that most of us felt the experiment worked.

To listen to our session, conducted at the Real Dharma group on November 1, 2011, use the flash driver below.

If you are unable to use the flash player, listen or download here.

Demolishing the Ridge Pole

Soon after his enlightenment, the Buddha described his discovery of no-self like this:

Seeking but not finding the house builder, I traveled through the round of countless births. Oh painful is birth ever and again! House builder, you have now been seen. You shall not build the house again. Your rafters have been broken down; your ridge pole is demolished too. My mind has now attained the unformed nibbana and reached the end of every kind of craving.  ~ Dhammapada, 153-154

In the following talk, I suggest that this demolishing of the “ridge pole” of the illusion of self may occur as a natural falling away when one discovers and rests in one’s true nature as consciousness, rather than as a result of an unnatural assault on the notion of self, using concepts or artificial practices. This is a healing process of going through the fundamental sense of being a conscious being–rather than trying to destroy it.

To listen to the talk, given at the Real Dharma group on October 18, 2011, use the flash driver below

If you are unable to use the flash player, listen or download here.

Nonduality and Teacher-Student Ethics

Nondual teachings, such as Mahayana Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta, proclaim the ultimate unity of all experience, in the end deconstructing all oppositions—self-other, good-bad, even the distinctions between samsara and nirvana, liberation and bondage, and teacher and student. What role then can there be, in a domain where all borders and distinctions dissolve, for clear ethical boundaries in the student-teacher relationship? In particular, how in the face of the awareness of limitless unity and freedom, can there be clear prohibitions against teacher-student sexual relations, financial exploitation, authoritarianism, physical abuse or any other form of potentially harmful conduct between teacher and student?

Ethical boundaries create a necessary safe vessel—an environment that is free (as much as possible) from fear of exploitation—in which teacher and student can deeply explore the realization of nondual openness and freedom. Without a sense of safety, at least from gross harm and exploitation, the deep examination and questioning of the reality of all distinctions, leading to the dissolving of all borders in nondual realization, will almost certainly not occur. For this reason, it is precisely the teacher’s commitment to communicating and facilitating nondual understanding that demands the discipline to refrain from transgressing ethical boundaries in the teacher-student relationship. Ethical boundaries, such as Buddhism’s five precepts—not to kill, lie, steal, slander, or engage in inappropriate sexuality—provide the necessary safe structure in which nondual inquiry and realization can effectively occur.

Any teacher who is genuinely concerned with fostering nondual understanding will find ethical limits in the teacher-student relationship useful and liberating, rather than a limiting burden. And any student who genuinely hopes to realize nonduality will find the safe vessel of ethical boundaries an environment in which nondual inquiry and liberation can most readily occur.

For some, these basic principles may seem obvious. They are clearly set forth in all genuine nondual (not to mention dualistic) spiritual traditions. Yet, perhaps, due to the subtlety of nondual understanding, the novelty of widespread nondual spirituality in the West, and the often unconscious power of greed, anger and delusion—even in those who appear to be realized—they need to be stated, clarified and affirmed, it seems, again and again.

May all students and teachers fearlessly enter and enjoy the safe vessel of nondual inquiry, free from harm and exploitation.

Ganges Mahamudra–Part 7

What joy!
With the ways of the intellect, you won’t see beyond  intellect.
With the ways of action you won’t know non-action.
If you want to know what is beyond intellect and action,
Cut your mind at its root and rest in naked awareness.
~Tilopa, Ganges Mahamudra (trans. Ken McLeod)

Listen to part 7, the concluding talk in a series of talks by Hal Blacker, on Ganges Mahamudra (Mahamudra Upadesha) by Tilopa. (Covering verses 21-28). Given at Real Dharma Sangha on January 11, 2011:

If you are unable to use the flash player, listen or download here.

Ganges Mahamudra–Part 6

Beyond any frame of reference, mind is naturally clear.

Where there is no path, you begin the path of awakening.

Where there is nothing to work on, you come to the deepest awakening.

~Tilopa, Ganges Mahamudra (trans. Ken McLeod)

Listen to part 6 in a series of talks by Hal Blacker on Ganges Mahamudra (Mahamudra Upadesha) by Tilopa. (Covering verses 15-20). Given at Real Dharma Sangha on January 4, 2011:

If you are unable to use the flash player, listen or download here.

Ganges Mahamudra–Part 4

Your body has no core, hollow like bamboo.

Your mind goes beyond thought, open like space.

Let go of control and rest right there.

~Tilopa, Ganges Mahamudra (trans. Ken McLeod)

Listen to part 4 in a series of talks by Hal Blacker on Ganges Mahamudra (Mahamudra Upadesha) by Tilopa. Given at Real Dharma Sangha on December 21, 2010:

If you are unable to use the flash player, listen or download here.