September 29, 2019

The Preliminaries to the Fastest Path: Rushen and Traversing the Realms

Let us consider a few things to help organize our spiritual path and future. The concepts of samsara and nirvana are introduced in the teaching of Buddhism, but of course they are also within Hinduism, and more subtly in Christianity and Taoism, and certainly in The Lotus teachings. The teachings that are given regarding samsara and nirvana, that is, the six realms of samsara, and nirvana as the state of emancipation, liberation, or perhaps a pure place where we can live ultimately, change as one ascends in spiritual level.

To simplify, there are three levels of spirituality that were taught by the Buddha. We could call the first level the Theravada, sometimes referred to as the Hinayana, small vehicle; the second level the Mahayana, the lower bodhisattva teachings; and the third level the esoteric teachings of Vajrayana and Zen, which are the heart of the teachings in The Lotus. There are really three different kinds of instructors and three different kinds of sanghas, one for each level. The terminologies change; also, sometimes the terminologies stay the same, but the meanings of the terminologies change depending on the three levels. Specifically, let us further investigate the terms ‘samsara’ and ‘nirvana.’

In the innermost teachings of the Vajrayana, the third level, the teacher is able to give empowerment, and the student is able to receive empowerment and experience that same level of being. As a preliminary, there is a practice called Rushen: separating samsara and nirvana. What does that mean? An intelligent person would know right away that means it is necessary to differentiate the two. For some reason it is not exactly clear what samsara is and what nirvana is. If you are one of those smart people, right now you are probably having that moment of realizing, “Yes, there is a big gray area. What samsara is and what nirvana is has to be completely separated."

A person at a beginning level of spirituality still has a tremendous amount of naive realism and may think their mind is discrete from the world. The terms samsara and nirvana take on an entirely different meaning in the second turning of the wheel, the Mahayana, and an even deeper understanding in the third turning of the wheel, when one approaches the vajra master and the sangha at the Vajrayana, Zen level. In this third level, one is completely eradicating the sense of division between one’s mind and the world, as one’s meditation practice.

Again, many new terms will be introduced, and other terms that are commonly used may be dropped or used less often for skillful purposes.

What is this practice of Rushen, and why is it so important? It takes incredible courage and wisdom to discriminate between samsara and nirvana. As one looks in, one will confirm again and again that the samsara and nirvana that one is experiencing are within oneself. At first samsara and nirvana may seem like something entirely external, then half internal and half external, and eventually, it is seen as all internal, we could say. In the lower Mahayana one practices tonglen and feels a sense of connection to other beings, perhaps somewhat superficially, but in the Vajrayana a practitioner truly feels at one with all beings. The sense that things are apart from one’s mind is generally what is meant by that funny term ‘duality.’

To realize one’s unenlightenment is also to realize how one attains enlightenment. That is why Rushen is a preliminary practice for Dzogchen, the Great Perfection, which is the essence of The Lotus teachings.

If one has the potential ability to practice Dzogchen, one would receive the instructions and empowerments for Rushen. One cannot practice Rushen without empowerment. A regular spiritual friend or someone who has merely read a lot about Buddhism and can recite the teachings from rote is not sufficient in this regard: one needs an authentic teacher who has received empowerments and can pass on that expression of connection to one’s higher self. The main purpose of empowerment is to reveal in that moment who one really is.

Some people can’t receive the empowerment properly, so unfortunately they don’t see who they really are: there is too much obscuration. Other people see who they really are, but then they feel prideful about it and throw it away. A few beings, very auspiciously, decide, “I will dedicate my life to this because this is my true, pure nature. I don’t know what is to be known about this, but I’m going to jump in and find out. I will spend the rest of my life pursuing this as best I can.”

There is a tremendous amount of organization set up for people to move through the different levels. It requires courage and ability to practice separating samsara and nirvana. How does one do it? One must have great compassion of the Mahayana; one must have practiced shamatha, the peaceful mind; one must have the desire to extend and perfect the empowerment of the higher self with which one has been blessed; one must stay in connection with the teachers, and that would include one’s own teacher, her teachers, and her teachers’ teachers, who are all exemplars of God’s own presence. They all hold the holy spirit energy of God, to use the Christian nomenclature.

I bow in my mind, to my teachers who gave me the Lovestream empowerments and empowered me. In the same way, I see who is sincere, and I give the empowerments to those people. And they have one of the three aforementioned responses. I pray that they have the third response and that through the empowerment, they can begin to gain more familiarity with their higher self. If one becomes better at discriminating between what the higher self is and what the higher self is not, that is Rushen practice.

One who is within the energetic field of empowerment and blessings, committed to the lineage, and within the higher sangha, is able to do the impossible and move the mountain to which Jesus Christ referred. The mountain is the mountain of one’s own karmic residues, the skandhas, the five heaps, one’s habitual tendencies.

The Theravada is a very slow system, wherein those things are gradually worn away like a rock in a stream over thousands of years. The Mahayana is a faster system, in which one could attain enlightenment in so many hundreds of lifetimes. In the Vajrayana, however, that can be narrowed down perhaps to between one and ten lifetimes. That is why it is called the ‘fast path’ because one can attain enlightenment in a few lifetimes, two lifetimes, possibly this lifetime, even this year, or maybe even this very week, and in some cases, today.

We practice Rushen, separating samsara and nirvana, and we also practice traversing the realms of samsara. Those two comprise the preliminary practices, along with the requesting and receiving of the empowerments. Put those together, and one has the magical power to move out what a psychologist can’t move out, to clear what a psychiatric drug can’t clear. Included is the power to transform that which cannot be pushed out of one’s way merely by using willpower. Then beings, instead of arising as an “other,” arise as one’s own mind, and those beings—who aren’t really beings, yet they still affect us—are liberated. How? By our teaching them. Through the master giving empowerment we can ‘receive the holy spirit.’ There is nothing higher. We become at one with God, and as such we know intuitively what is ultimate truth. We stop manipulating these beings, who aren’t really beings. In our own mind they are liberated, and they move up into a state of nirvana, actual enlightenment.

On the first and second levels, we might have hints of enlightenment, but the discussion about samsara and nirvana is more general, and we haven’t clearly defined them. I suggest if you think you can handle level three to go ahead and do it. Pay respect to the lineage and learn who the spiritual teachers are. Ask questions to purify your misunderstandings about the small vehicle, Hinayana, and also the large vehicle, Mahayana, Great Vehicle. Receive the empowerments of Lovestream; receive the higher self empowerment and perfect it. Then request teachings in the inner tantric vehicles, and decide to prepare yourself in the preliminary practices of Rushen, discerning samsara from nirvana, as well as traversing the realms of samsara, going back and forth between the realms.

Regarding the practice of distinguishing between samsara and nirvana, one might wonder, “Isn’t that dualistic?” No, again, it’s a preparatory practice. One has to try, and then one will receive more. Those who have will be given more; those who aren’t trying aren’t going to make any headway. One cannot learn how to swim simply by dipping one’s toe into the pool. One has to jump in, and jump in every day. This is not something that can be done as a part-time hobby. It is very auspicious when someone practices, especially in a spiritual dark age like today.

In this time of Kali Yuga is the promotion of a sense that we are in a golden age, and the world is becoming spiritualized, and we’re going to feed the world, and all the problems of the world are going to go away. This kind of naivete needs to be put to the side. One has to seek first the kingdom of heaven, and then everything will be handled.

Ultimately we are going to handle all beings, but there is no point in trying to rush and being unsuccessful in the venture. Of course we need to feed beings and assist and liberate every being. We will never to be able to accomplish this if we are hateful and political. We can only do it if we can liberate ourselves. Then we will have the flexibility of what we would call “magic.” We will know how to do it beyond this lifetime. We will be able to come back and benefit.

Everything we talk about is based in compassion, the heart of the Mahayana. Only through the path of complete enlightenment can we truly benefit all beings. In level one, we are trying to help beings. In level two, we are trying more intelligently to help beings, but in level three, we actually have the capability to liberate ourselves and liberate beings.

All beings will attain the level of realization of buddhahood, of Dzogchen. This is not just wishful thinking. They will not be divided into heaven and hell forever. They are to some degree separated into samsara and nirvana superficially, but their nature is to be nirvana. All beings will ultimately be in nirvana, and samsara will be closed, done with and out of business. We can say the prayer that this occurs and that we can be a part of that.

Nothing is more fun than the simple magic of Vajrayana and Dzogchen. The people who are ready for that will be taught. May the people who aren’t yet ready for that find a path that is optimum for them, in whatever church and sangha would be in the highest good for them at this time, whatever they can best handle.

May we feel a camaraderie and connection with beings at every level of spirituality. May all of them be successful, and may they start to recognize that they are at a certain level, and there is a time to move up to the next level.

September 8, 2019

The Incomprehensible Understanding of Bodhisattvas

Thereupon, Manjusri, the crown prince, addressed the Licchavi Vimalakirti: "Good sir, how should a bodhisattva regard all living beings?"

Vimalakirti replied, "Manjusri, a bodhisattva should regard all livings beings as a wise man regards the reflection of the moon in water or as magicians regard men created by magic. He should regard them as being like a face in a mirror; like the water of a mirage; like the sound of an echo; like a mass of clouds in the sky; like the previous moment of a ball of foam; like the appearance and disappearance of a bubble of water; like the core of a plantain tree [plantain fruit]; like a flash of lightning; like the fifth great element; like the seventh sense-medium; like the appearance of matter in an immaterial realm; like a sprout from a rotten seed; like a tortoise-hair coat; like the fun of games for one who wishes to die; like the egoistic views of a stream-winner; like a third rebirth of a once-returner; like the descent of a non-returner into a womb; like the existence of desire, hatred, and folly in a saint; like thoughts of avarice, immorality, wickedness, and hostility in a bodhisattva who has attained tolerance; like the instincts of passions in a Tathágata; like the perception of color in one blind from birth; like the inhalation and exhalation of an ascetic absorbed in the meditation of cessation; like the track of a bird in the sky; like the erection of a eunuch; like the pregnancy of a barren woman; like the un-produced passions of an emanated incarnation of the Tathágata; like dream-visions seen after waking; like the passions of one who is free of conceptualizations; like fire burning without fuel; like the reincarnation of one who has attained ultimate liberation.

"Precisely thus, Manjusri, does a bodhisattva who realizes the ultimate selflessness consider all beings."

Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra Chapter 7, tr. Robert A. F. Thurman

In the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra Chapter 7, Vimalakirti discusses the manner in which a bodhisattva should regard living beings. Many of the analogies Vimalakirti gives reflect the irony of the situation: when a bodhisattva encounters a sentient being, he sees someone whose nature is a buddha but is lost in suffering.

A stream enterer is someone who doesn't hold onto egoistic views. A bodhisattva thinks of a person as being like a stream enterer with an ego. By definition a stream enterer has put his ego aside—hence the irony of it.

When things are ironic, the whole point is they are in conflict. Take the example of moving a mountain with a mustard seed. A mustard seed is tiny; a mountain is gigantic. If someone threw a mustard seed at a mountain, it wouldn’t seem that it could move it.

When bodhisattvas look at people they see what seems to be incongruous: beings who are buddhas in their nature but crazy. What could be more preposterous than being a buddha and not experiencing it? Bodhisattvas become concerned when they see unenlightened beings, all of whom have the buddha nature but don't recognize their nature.

People would be bewildered and upset if they saw hair on a turtle, a horn on a rabbit, or a core of a clove of garlic. They would think it incredibly strange if they saw a barren woman have a baby or a mountain move from the power of a mustard seed. Those are all things that don't really jive. In the same way, a bodhisattva is baffled when he sees an ordinary person. That would be similar to seeing a rich man living as if he were destitute, who once a week would go to the bank and withdraw a nickel even though his checking account has a billion dollars in it. A bodhisattva would think, "People are completely insane. They have the buddha nature, yet they act like confused, irrational children. They are ravenous for the Dharma but won't accept the Dharma." That would be comparable to offering a a delicious meal to a starving person who refuses it.

Looking at a person from a bodhisattva level is like noting something fantastical. Bodhisattvas regard beings as if they are a manifestation of the impossible. Whenever they observe people, bodhisattvas are shocked and wonder how could they be so far askew. Bodhisattvas see beings as a farcical, ridiculous implausibility, almost like a Lewis Carroll Through the Looking-Glass type of absurdity. Everything is backward: what's up is down, what's down is up. That would be like blue that is red, red that is green, and green that is black. That would be like birds that fly in outer space, people who live in the center of the earth, or the sun shining in the middle of the night—things that don’t exist, impossible yet appearing, one after the other.

What bodhisattvas discern when they come upon people is beyond the understanding of ordinary beings. Looking at people, bodhisattvas see magical potential. They know people are in a state of delusion and that conceptual limitations all need to be cut through.

Bodhisattvas love and help beings. They don't go into a pure situation and stay there; rather, they remain with people. Beings are so ludicrous that it's as if they are being handed millions of dollars but dropping their wallet on the way home. They lack the tiniest bit of discipline to be able to hold the gold they are being given. Curiously, although beings are buddhas, they behave foolishly and rarely truly let go of worldly concerns.

September 3, 2019

Mudra and Mahamudra

A mudra is a position. If you hold your hands in the Amitabha position of equanimity, then that would be a mudra. Once you release your hands, then that mudra is no longer there. If you sit in a Vairocana posture, that would be a sitting mudra. The moment you stand up, that sitting mudra isn’t happening anymore. Any position that you keep is a mudra.

If things solidify into certain forms, then those too are mudras. Any mudras done intentionally are an expression of the seventh ray of Ceremonial Order. If the position of your body is always moving and constantly changing, there is no mudra. Moving nonformally with no particular pattern would not be mudra. Any repetition of a movement could be considered mudra because there is a certain shape of the body being exhibited.

The position of your mind is a mudra. The Mahamudra is the great mudra. It means your mind is expansive and unlimited.

For materialists, mind doesn't even exist. They have been told that material objects are important and things that are subtle or intangible are not important. To them, the position of their mind is insignificant.

Anything that fixates is a mudra. But what if you simply stayed open? Then that would be the Mahamudra. An utter lack of fixation is the Mahamudra.

Mahamudra means the ultimate position. It is the perfect meditation posture: the perfect position, location and situation. When a beginner hears this, they think of sitting with their back straight, folding their legs and holding their hands a certain way. But here we are speaking of the mudra of your mind. When you assume this posture, then all passing stains become purified.

August 11, 2019

It All Comes Down to You

In The Lotus of the Buddha, Christ and Tao, there is a correction of responsibility that we undertake. The Way is a self-contained venture for the most part: it's something you do yourself. The path and its fruit, which is enlightenment, occur on an individual basis. If someone becomes enlightened, the person next to them doesn't become enlightened. Their friends don't become enlightened. Their family doesn't become enlightened. The town doesn't become enlightened. The world is not saved. Only the individual becomes enlightened.

The masters teach that bodhisattvas vow to liberate all beings. People often are perplexed, though, about how the Buddha taught that in the Diamond Sutra Chapter 3 in terms of no beings are liberated.
Only you can awaken yourself to your own enlightenment. Of course, this enlightenment experience is a potential in all beings. Every single person has that possibility. However, grasping onto helping beings is a hindrance to awakening.

If you were from a good background, had a good capacity to understand and aspired to be a bodhisattva, you would want to think, "I will liberate all beings, every single being in this world. And even though I liberate every single being without even leaving one behind, in actuality nobody is really liberated."

If you are going to become enlightened and enter what Jesus Christ called the ‘kingdom of heaven,’ you are not going to do it because of your parents. You are not going to do it by virtue of society. You are not going to become enlightened by fate—it would be nihilism to think it's just going to happen. It's not going to occur because your employer treats you well. Ultimately it’s not even because of your spiritual teacher and sangha that you are going to attain enlightenment: it is through accomplishing your innate potential.

It would be useful to admit that sometimes when we say, "May all beings attain enlightenment," it can be somewhat of an emotional platitude. We need to return to self-responsibility or come to it for the first time. Don’t wait for other people to do anything because they are probably not going to go first. You need to bring yourself into integrity. That is the teaching of The Lotus: it’s what the Buddha, Jesus Christ and Lao Tzu all taught.

If you ask a question about the Diamond Sutra and the answer is given perfectly, does that mean you understand it? Not necessarily. If a thousand people understand the Diamond Sutra, does that mean you understand it because they do? It does not. And if there are ten billion people, none of whom understand the Sutra, does that mean you don't understand the Sutra? Of course not.

If enlightenment is an individual responsibility, then why should someone who wishes to attain bodhisattvahood think, "I shall liberate every single being"? They should do so because they recognize how happy they are becoming and they want other people to have that happiness as well. They think, "I want my daughter, my son, my wife, my relatives, and all the people I've met to have that, too. Really, I'd like everyone to have it."

Bodhisattvas want all beings to become liberated because they love them. In actuality, however, all those beings aren't really beings.

The truth of the matter is you don't really have the right to liberate other beings because you can only liberate yourself. Trying to liberate other beings is an ego trip. Get over your ego about saving everyone: that's called ‘saving beings.’ What would happen if you gave up your ego about saving beings? The point is that you, a one of actual compassion, would be liberated.

Beings who are foolish are not liberated. The Buddha is a meta-genius of understanding and wisdom, fully enlightened and awake. The fact that billions of beings are ignorant and roaming on and on through samsara does not ruin the Buddha's enlightenment. It can't really be argued that enlightenment is indeed an individual endeavor. When you individually become enlightened, that will be a wonderful day.

One way to define what is meant by ‘all beings’ is a conglomeration of all illusory individuals. We should have compassion for every one of these beings, knowing that each has a potential for enlightenment. If one person can become enlightened, maybe a Carol, a Bob or a Jane can become enlightened. Essentially, all beings have the potential to become enlightened, otherwise buddhas wouldn't teach. Would buddhas think, "These people are hopeless. They couldn't possibly attain enlightenment, but we'll teach them anyway"? Rather, buddhas teach because we can do it.

If a person focuses on helping every being, maybe then they will become liberated. The Lotus Sutra elucidates the various skillful means employed by the Buddha and masters of wisdom to help people of differing capacities. Some people are very self-absorbed. Wouldn't it be good to teach them about benefiting beings?

If you do what the masters say and follow the directions, then you will receive the soup, the flavor, the nutrition and the enlightenment. If Joe does that, will that give Mike the enlightenment? Of course not. And if Mike does it, will that give Joe the enlightenment? Mike can become fully enlightened, while everybody else remains in samsara.

Just because someone becomes enlightened doesn't mean everyone else does: if that were the case, no one would need to strive for enlightenment. Even the masters can't make you become enlightened because it is your capacity as a buddha that made yourself unenlightened. You have to undo your creative unenlightenment. If you realize the significance of self-responsibility, your path will shrink to a fragment of the size it was before.

July 11, 2019

What Lao Tzu Means by Nonaction (and Dzogchen Trechod Nonthought, While We're at It)

The meta-geniuses of philosophy and religion use special words, and sometimes normal words, in ways different from the usual. If we wish to receive the teachings, we will need a new way of using language.

For example: Lao Tzu's ‘nonaction.’

The nonaction of which Lao Tzu speaks is the humble action that we can perform in order to return to the bliss of God/Tao, the correct way of life.

We need to have dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of experiences of nonaction, finally becoming stabilized in nonaction, in order to make our return.

Since we're human and in action, it will take an action to accomplish nonaction, esoteric stillness.

If we are walking, we will have to do the act of stopping walking in order to be "not acting," purely in terms of walking. But stopping of walking is an action, too: Lao Tzu is making us try to understand something very different when he says ‘nonaction.’

In the famous words, "The sage practices nonaction," the key word missed by the novice is “practices.” Sounds like an action—such as walking. The doorway to harmony with Tao (God, buddha, dharmakaya) is opened by—hear ye, hear ye—nonaction.

What the sage does is this nonaction. In other words, what he does is not do. It takes an act of will for the sage to let go like that.

The sage is comfortable in transcending activity. The transcendent activity of nonactivity is the sage's practice. We have our many worldly activities, but the sage is the one who doesn't cling or become frantic about them.

The sage knows that it is in his not-knowing that he is blessed and made his big comeback to wholeness, which is Tao. Not-knowing is the mental aspect of nonaction. When we say the sage doesn't know, it doesn't mean the sage doesn't know anything. It means he doesn't cling to any concepts or situations as having an ultimate import in themselves. The sage engages fully in life, at ease with its flux and flow, successes and disappointments.

The sage is not upset by all the things that he has to do. A sage might have a family and need to earn a significant living to support them. The sage may have a complicated, challenging job with problematic situations. Whether life is simple or complex, the sage does his best, then proceeds to not worry about it. He simply acts and does what needs be done and not a bit more. He knows when enough is enough. For the sage, neuroses can be said to have been put to rest. Not by avoiding, but by properly engaging life: the practice of nonaction.

When the sage doesn’t have much to do, it doesn't really bother him: he isn't compulsive to self-proving. This is the security of his wisdom. Nonetheless, if does have a lot to do, he just does it; there’s no difference to him either way.

If we want to know Tao, we will need to stop practicing the pseudo-Tao of being against complexity or an active life. To know Tao, we handle matters as best we can without overthinking them. Overdoing fills our lives with the fuzz of confusion and makes it difficult for inborn harmony to arise.

If we worked all day and didn't take a break for lunch, that would mean we don't know Tao very well. Overdoing is damaging, for obvious reasons. Doing too many things or working excessively is hard on the chi. That's why we take breaks, weekends and vacations. Everybody understands Tao a bit.

Do the things that need to be done. Get them done, and then they are done. Remember, though, that superstitious underdoing is also harmful.

And what does the sage say when his work is done? Great, but it's not a big deal one way or the other: work to be done or work complete—either way he is in the continual practice of nonaction. Because the sage practices nonaction and its mental aspect, not-knowing, it doesn't matter whether there's a lot to do or a little to do. The sage just handles what needs be done, when possible, then stops. The sage could make up something to do in the joy of Tao. Or the sage may be very busy and have a lot to do.

But the sage goes much further. He performs everything he does with firm nonaction.

Life is action. Saying the sage practices nonaction could sound anti-life. However, since the essence of life isn't merely the function of getting things accomplished, the sage knows the bliss of the big picture that the rest of us may be missing.

Action means movement, so when we take creative action, that's a movement of some sort. There's nothing wrong with taking action. Without action a singer couldn't sing a note, a drummer couldn't pound a drum. A driver couldn't drive a car. A factory worker couldn't build a product. A farmer couldn't sow a field. People wouldn't procreate. Nothing would occur. Nothing would come into being from Tao.

Creativity is intrinsically good, which is a way of saying there's nothing wrong with getting something done. God/Tao is correct in saying He created the world and said it was good. There is nothing essentially bad about creativity in itself.

Dzogchen practitioners should note that Lao Tzu's ‘nonaction’ is very similar to the Dzogchen trechod term ‘nonthought.’ For both the practice is perfect peace, and one is complete in God with no need for action/thought. This nonaction/nonthought "arises," accompanied by bliss and lucidity. The sage reaches the point where he can create thoughts and take actions without any clinging to them. The actions he is taking are the nonactions of Tao, his thinking is the nonthought of Dzogchen.

Nonaction is rare to understand. If there is one useful tip we can take from Tao Teh Ching, a beneficial action we might say, it's that when we overdo, we suffer. Start with that premise. But the test of really understanding Lao Tzu's "don't overdo" lies in knowing that nonaction has nothing to do with "doing nothing." Not comprehending this, Tao remains beyond our understanding.

(Originally published at the Dog Zen Koans on March 25, 2013).

July 7, 2019

Cooking a Small Fish: the Psychology of Tao (Tao Teh Ching Chapter 60)

The first line of the Tao Teh Ching Chapter 60 is: "Ruling a big kingdom is like cooking a small fish."* This means that when you cook a small fish, you do it carefully and gently. You don't want to overdo it and wreck the fish. It’s not necessary to mash it up and make it fall apart. A big fish takes longer to cook than a little one. A small fish may be only half an inch thick; it only takes a few minutes to cook. A big fish that is three inches thick needs more time. Overcooking a fish ruins it, so it becomes hard and dried out.

In other words, governments shouldn't really be involved much, just a little bit. In the Tao teachings, the analogies about an individual apply to government, and the analogies about government apply to an individual. It's like when Hakuyu talks about the organs in the body functioning in a harmonious manner, and then he talks about how a good leader is humble, lowers himself and helps the people. It's the same physics of Tao in the body, the mind and the culture. Some are subtler and some are denser, but the physics of all three of those are the same.

The second line is: "If one oversees all under heaven in accord with the Way, demons have no impetus."*

Demons are ruined by buddhas. Demons attack all beings except buddhas: they attack each other, obnoxious beings, atheists, agnostics, practitioners of Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism—even disciples and bodhisattvas. They can't really attack buddhas, but they attack bodhisattvas. A materialist would think that means a buddha is a kung fu master: the demon approaches but is repelled by a force field; he falls down and can't get his hands on the master. That can happen; some masters play with energy on that level. The main point, however, is that they are not bothered at all by good and evil: demons have no place to hook in. Ordinary beings are disturbed by events and mishaps. A buddha could have an allergy, get sick or have an injury, but he doesn't become distressed by those things.

It takes two to tango. If you were raised in a feminist culture, you may not understand that simple principle. If you don't understand the male-female relationship, you probably won't understand the opposites in general. If you don't understand the parent-child relationship and think the family doesn't really matter, then you probably will never be enlightened with regard to purification of your family karma. Those are opposites: male-female and parent-child.

A buddha is like Teflon: everything slips off. If an animal is in a cage, and you hold out a piece of meat toward it that it can’t reach, eventually it will become frustrated. It will try to squeeze through the bars of the cage a few times; then it will growl, squeal and finally give up. There is no interplay between a buddha and psychological demons anymore because a buddha is sane.

Demons are delusional phenomena in the eyes of sages. Demons, to ordinary people, seem real. Psychologists generally wouldn’t use the word ‘demon,’ but they would use terminologies such as ‘neurosis’ or ‘psychosis.’ Those are just different names for the same thing. Somebody who is unenlightened cannot fully comprehend psychology, but if a psychologist were a buddha or a sage, then he would have complete understanding. And how would he see all the neuroses and psychoses that afflict human beings, and animals for that matter? If an enlightened psychologist were to oversee everything in accordance with the Tao, then neuroses and psychoses would have no power over him.

When Shakyamuni became enlightened, all beings did not become enlightened with him. If a psychologist becomes enlightened, all the patients in his practice don’t necessarily become enlightened. An enlightened psychologist would be an example of a sage. Psychologists are professionals in the psychological field who have studied neuroses and psychoses. They call those ‘mental diseases’ or ‘mental disorders’; in the old days those were called ‘demons.’ All mental disorders are corrected in the sage through the healing of being in accordance with the Tao: the Tao Teh Ching is giving instructions on how to live.

The sage is happy. He is happy indoors, outdoors, at work, at home, alone or with other people. The sage lives in the correct way: because he follows the way of the Tao, he is mentally balanced and without demons. Beings who aren't sages have demonic problems; beings who are sages don't have demonic problems. Demons aren't ultimately real. Lao Tzu is saying that for the sage, demons aren’t really real.

Instead of overdoing, all you have to do is cook a small fillet correctly, rather than as if you were cooking a 20-pound tuna. If you cook the fish properly and with the appropriate seasoning, it is moist, tender and delicious. Every obsession in your life is you overcooking a fish, turning it into a dry piece of leather. If you contemplated the things in your life that you overcook, you would see that they are demonic, that is, not particularly important. If a person overcooks their food, they have an overcooking demon. Everything is burnt and fried. There is a demon of overdoing, and it's called obsessiveness and thinking that you need to do. If you took your obsessions and treated them like cooking a small fish, then all your neurotic tendencies would subside, and you would become a sage. The secret is to follow the way of Tao.

When people hear about cooking a small fish, they often become excited. There is something about the imagery of it that they like. Usually, however, they have no idea what it means. They think it's very exotic and Chinese-sounding or that it’s a Zen koan. It's actually quite simple. Isn't there a wonderful, delicate flavor when a fish is cooked properly? Can that be achieved by overdoing?

*based on Tao Te Ching, Chapter 23(60), tr. Victor H. Mair.

June 25, 2019

Creation: the Tao and the Rays

The one became the two, the two became three, and the three became ten thousand things. Let’s talk about numbers, colors, phenomena, creation. Whatever we say, however, none of it is ultimate truth. None of it is set beyond any sort of temporary rules.

Alice Bailey recorded the teachings of the master Djwhal Khul regarding the seven rays. The rays could be thought of as different styles of energy. The seven rays include the first ray of Will, the second ray of Love/Wisdom, the third ray of Active Intelligence, the fourth ray of Harmony and Conflict, the fifth ray of Concrete Science, the sixth ray of Idealism, the seventh ray of Ceremonial Order. Generally, the first three are called the rays of aspect, and the last four are considered the rays of attribute. The rays of attribute come from the rays of aspect.

God’s will and God’s love are the first and second rays, respectively. Those qualities don’t really embody until the third ray puts them into action. The third ray is a combination of the first and second rays. The third ray mixes the first and second rays and creates the other rays: the fourth through seventh. All the different versions of the third ray’s activity are the rays of attribute. The third ray has to do with creation in general, all possible creativities. Nothing exists in a physical sense without the three rays. We can’t live in a two-dimensional world: we need three dimensions. The third ray is what creates form.

Another way to think of this is that Yang is will energy, Yin is love and compassion. Mixing those two, along with intelligent activity, creates form.

Visualize an equilateral triangle pointing upward, and at the top is the number one, at the left lower corner the number two, and at the right lower corner the number three. Now visualize a second equilateral triangle, this time with the point facing downward, and the bottom point has the number seven, and the right and left upper corners the numbers six and five, respectively. Superimpose those two triangles over each other to make a six-pointed star. In the very center, mark a dot, and that would be the number four. Note that the four is in the very center. The center is very aware of opposites. Those on the fourth ray tend to have a good perception of the opposites, especially if they have perfected themselves on that ray. They are particularly perceptive in terms of analytical awareness, what the center is, what the opposites are and how they play.

The tai chi symbol containing the two guppies is a very important symbol in Taoism. We could think of the symbol itself as one, and the two guppies inside are two more. So we could think of it as either two, Yin and Yang—or three, the symbol as a whole with the two guppies inside of it. According to the Taoist tradition, even numbers look rather awkward, so when arranging objects or displaying decorative items, for example, if there are two, four or six of something, it looks a little stiff because the mind splits when it sees that. But if there are an odd number of items such as one, three or five, it looks smoother and has more flow. Why then does the the Yin Yang symbol have a two if Tao says that three is more flowing? It is because the imbalance causes the movement in the symbol. The third thing is the movement itself, just as the third ray is activity. Then there is also the Yin Yang symbol with three guppies instead of two, which is also quite popular. It isn't that two is right, or two is wrong, or three is good and two is bad: it's a matter of flow and how things relate. There is just as much need for twos as there is for threes.

What is the reason for bringing up these subjects? Is there a secret code that we have to unlock? Certainly not. We are discussing how the world refracts and how it acts in a more general way, so we can understand phenomena, calm down into the universe and realize the nature of things. All things come from Tao, God, dharmakaya, so we shouldn't search for holy grails or become superstitious about magical, special numbers. Our whole goal is to end the secondary type of teaching and return to the original teaching of Tao, Jesus Christ, Buddha, meta-geniuses. They are teaching a more profound, accurate teaching than that of even geniuses. Even the greatest geniuses of science can't really understand the teaching of Christ, Buddha, and Tao: it's a little over their heads. They became a little too myopic in their way of studying to be able to comprehend this meta-genius teaching.

Let's look again at our six-pointed star with the two triangles. The upward pointing triangle has one at the top, two and three; the downward pointing triangle has seven at the bottom, six and five; and four is in the middle.

Someone on the path of discipleship can start to recognize the energy of the meta-geniuses. People might wonder how that could be possible, especially if they have never met any of the meta-geniuses. They don’t necessarily have to encounter the masters as they would a person on the physical plane. They meet them energetically on the level of discipleship and then later, more directly. At the end of his earthly career Christ said that he was leaving and would return as the spirit of truth. It's a very efficient way to be in everybody if necessary. As a human being, someone can meet the meta-geniuses, and even in the path of discipleship, where they may not be that advanced, they may begin to know the masters in that manner.

In the path of discipleship, a person perfects the physical aspect, which is the seven, the bottom of the star; the astral/emotional, which is the six; and the mental body, which is the five. A disciple perfects those bodies and trains them to work in harmony. As such, they can receive the information of the universe and begin to assimilate the meaning of ultimate truth. Consequently, they can start to be an expression of love, wisdom and compassion in the world.

Then on the advanced path, the path of initiation, a practitioner can learn the inner teachings of the real meaning of the Buddha teaching, Christ teaching, Tao teaching. An initiate fuses with the rays one, two and three, with the upward pointing triangle, which is more abstract. The seven, which is the bottom point, eventually reemerges and awakens as one, which is the top point. The six reemerges and awakens into two, and the five into three. Things go back to where they came from and return to their essential state. What does this mean? Seven is ceremonial order and has to do with the dense physical body, the etheric-physical. It awakens into one, which is divine will and represents the Father, deity, abstract pure ineffability, dharmakaya.

Then six, the ray of growth and aspiration emotionally—really it is the ray of emotionality—becomes bliss, which is the pure nature of love and wisdom, in the second ray.

And five, which has more to do with conceptual thinking processes, is perfected into pure creativity in the third ray, active intelligence.

The perfection of ray two is the son (Christ), primal bliss in the essential unity of God and creation. The meta-geniuses don’t conceive ideas that form has any disconnection from God, whereas everybody else experiences disconnection, just like Adam and Eve when they had to leave the garden of Eden in that most meaningful story of separation. Perfection of three would be nirmanakaya, not having confusion about creation. We shouldn't think of the three, or trinity, as separate things. In the Bible we learn there are three in one, and they are inseparable. The verses of the inseparability of the holy trinity are discussing the ways in which creativity refracts, how God presents himself as the universe, three ways of looking at it.

Actually, the perception of the fourth ray is needed to understand a lot of these topics. By knowing the center, we can know the opposites.

Some of this may sound a little complicated, but really the purpose of it is to end the complication and show how things resolve as simply as one, two, three. And in Tao we know that the three are one. Everything comes from and returns to Tao. The one comes out of Tao, so don't cling to one. A big problem of many people is clinging to ideas of God. Even those who criticize clinging to ideas of God are some of the worst at clinging to ideas of God. God is not an idea. In The Lotus these are sacred words. They should only be spoken with a sense of their true meaning, which is mystical. We don't know: it's not something that can be known conceptually. Creation, however, in its temporal splendor, does appear, and so we are discussing how it appears from a meta-genius perspective, as opposed to how scientific geniuses explain the manner in which everything appears. That being said, it is useful to learn both of those perspectives.

When we start to understand the actual construction of the universe, and the unity of the abstract and the form, then we will begin to be able to meditate in peace. We can work toward the integration of the lower three bodies—etheric-physical, emotional and mental—and see that those are ultimately an expression of pure will, love and activity, which is also clarity, bliss and nonthought for the awakening practitioner.

Much benefit can be derived from contemplating these topics: the simple Yin Yang; the triangle of the three rays of aspect—the first ray of will; the second ray of love-wisdom, compassion; and the third ray of creativity, active form and movement—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; dharmakaya, nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya; clarity, bliss, nonaction. To learn more about nonaction, study the Tao Teh Ching and also esoteric Buddhism.

May 5, 2019

Dzogchen: A Return to Naturalness

The original teaching of The Lotus is Dzogchen, accomplishing the natural mind. No matter what we teach as frameworks of preparatory practices, they are all to lead to this essential practice. In the end, one is perfect like Christ, with the holy spirit awake again in oneself as it once was in the primordial beginning, not necessarily in this life, but originally, as we could say Adam and Eve were one with God, which is also the holy spirit.

Dzogchen, Great Perfection, is intellectually, morally, philosophically, scientifically the preeminent teaching of the world. There are hundreds of thousands of Dzogchen teachings, but perhaps we could get just a taste of them right now.

Your natural mind is not a mind that you know about, but rather something that you don't know about— something that you can't know about because mind essence always remains unknowable. There can't be knowledge about it in any conventional sense because the way that mind is cannot be pigeonholed. Even most highly educated people think sloppily about what they conceive of as the mind. They could, however, with direct awareness of natural mind, recognize something very amazing.

Regarding this natural mind, it isn't really in your head or even in your body. It's not really in the solar system or in the universe for that matter either. It's not anything that is explainable as a phenomenon. According to scientistic thought, for something to be valid it must be explainable as a phenomenon. However, this natural mind of religious meaning cannot be explained as a set of characteristics—it itself is actually the source of phenomena. In fact, and even though this sounds incredibly powerful, being the source of phenomena, this natural mind is something that resides as your own true nature, what you really are. Besides that, there are nothing but temporary dream self-other experiences. Ordinary people create a conceptual self, an illusory reality that we think of on an individual, family or social level, perhaps on an even larger level.

When introduced to this natural mind, as Lao Tzu would say, most people laugh at it and say, "That's ridiculous. I know who I am. I'm me, and don't mess with me." It goes over their heads. A few people (on the narrow way Christ mentioned) have a positive reaction to it, at least in passing, but almost no one would actually understand it and practice it to the point of realizing it fully. The goal here is to encourage the practice which has been lost and can now lead us to actual emancipation. This emancipation has been called the ‘kingdom of heaven’ or ‘awakening to enlightenment’ and is inseparable from simply knowing God, knowing one's own nature: the natural mind.

In order to return to this natural mind, you have to learn to settle into it. In other words, it's not a doing of something. This is going to be extremely difficult for both instructor and student because everything you've ever learned is manipulation and doing-oriented. This is an unwinding process and a return to true naturalism, beyond the faux naturalism promoted today. When people worry about the earth, what they are really doing is having a megalomaniacal projection about their spiritual failings. We should really try to find out how to return to the innate natural mind, God, the source of everything, which is the most valuable thing in the world, and yet the least respected, most missed thing in the world. What an incredible dichotomy, but amazingly, to get started all you have to do is begin to respect it again. Once you are introduced to it by someone who teaches Dzogchen, you settle into it like a hen on an egg. This is the teaching that puts all teachings into perspective.

How is it that we can recognize this mind? By the lack of phenomenal characteristics, specific or amorphous, physical, emotional or mental. You might object, "Wait, there is nothing that has no phenomenal characteristics!" Don't worry, there is no such thing as nothing. This is the ultra-logic. It requires an astute awareness to be able to understand this. Don't be nihilistic anymore, and instead be willing to settle into non-manipulation. It takes exceptional courage to do it; one in a thousand will do it. It's exceedingly simple—many will misconstrue it as simplistic.

This ultimate truth of Dzogchen is the truth that will set you free. It’s up to you to settle in and realize this truth. We all have the potential to realize it, but very few use this innate potential. This potential is in the natural mind itself; this potential is to recognize enlightenment, buddhahood, Christhood. It is the complete return to Tao, the realization of God. It's all there: all you have to do is purify the obscurations by ending the manipulation. You're not manipulating, you say? Perhaps a pleasant thought, but unfortunately this is not the case. Until enlightenment we are lost in the self-manipulated state of samsara.

We could say there are two levels of creation that arise out of this natural mind. One is subtle, another is dense. Even this isn't quite accurate, but as a skillful teaching, we can discuss it this way. ‘Subtle’ means mental phenomena, such as thoughts, feelings, dreams, daydreams, wishes, hopes and fears. Those are subtle because if I have them, you can't see mine, and when you have them, I can't necessarily see yours. Some people don't even believe in those, but one with any degree of awareness can tell that the phenomena of dreaming and imagination are occurring continually. ‘Dense’ phenomena are all the physical objects, buildings, trees, rocks, planets, etc.

All things, subtle and dense, the entire universe and every single phenomena, arise out of your natural mind. That is where you are connected to God. Knowing that intellectually won't do you much good. Religions fell apart because people knew them only intellectually and didn't know the actual practice of them. They couldn't go to the center of the teaching, and they missed the essential point. When we study a scripture, for example, it’s best if we honestly want to understand it. If we don't get it, we simply admit, "I don't get it." That is a correct approach until we can really penetrate the meaning. Otherwise, we may tend to create some sort of artificial religion to displace our lack of knowing because we think our unfoldment has to proceed in a certain manner.

This is the real non-secret of how to do this. It's not a secret because I told you. Your own nature is inseparable from wisdom deity. Chances are you don't know that nature. Perhaps you were never introduced correctly, or if you were, you might not have listened. You may have gotten caught up in the false teachings of ornamentation religion. Unless you become like a small child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.

April 21, 2019

The Meaning of Easter

If you grew up in the Christian church, you may have observed that churches have some interesting ideas about why Jesus Christ came and what his purpose was. I would like to defer to Jesus’ own teaching regarding his purpose for coming, which can also help to explain the context for Easter as well as the various Christian holidays of the year.

Jesus said that he came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. This would mean that we don't have life and that Jesus is coming to bring us life. Hopefully, then, in some way we will be resurrected from the state of death to the state of life. Jesus’ own explanation as to why he came is an amazing metaphor for Easter. Basically, Jesus is saying that we are like dead people, zombies. Even though we raise families, go to work and feed ourselves, we are not really alive without the spirit. Jesus represents the spirit, and his reason for coming is to bring us to life and awaken us: his verbal teachings, sacrifice on Good Friday, metaphysical actions, and all the things he did were to that end.

Unfortunately, the churches haven't done their job and taught in the way that Jesus himself instructed. Instead of reflecting his exact meaning and points, they are reemphasizing nonessential issues. When we begin to understand his teachings correctly, we will be able to enter into Christ's spirit and receive his blessings. His teachings, whether physical rupa teachings, such as his oral transmission, or spiritual blessings of the Holy Spirit, are to bring us to life.

In a proper church we should study the scriptures, learn Jesus’ verbal statements and try to understand them. Some are secondary teachings on how to be a good person. Others are esoteric teachings of the mystical reality of the universe and our relationship with God. Some are cloaked in metaphor or parable, but again, those teachings are to awaken us to this new life and revive us out of this zombie-like death state that we are in. These are Jesus' own words.

Good Friday—the death of Jesus, the crucifixion of Christ—is the sacrifice of the rupa or form. Our most prized possession is our body, and he was willing to offer that and show the ultimate unimportance of that body. Now we come to what may be a touchy subject, but provocativeness can be good. What does Easter represent? It doesn't really represent the resurrection of that body. It represents that despite the crucifixion of the physical Jewish carpenter man that occurred on Good Friday, spiritually Christ lives on and that event didn't really kill him. There was no death in an ultimate sense.

Jesus taught in many different ways. He gave verbal teachings, which we commemorate on Exposition Day. Good Friday is a physical rupa teaching of Christ, where he gave his own body and it's gone. It's emptiness now, but that emptiness is inseparable from the fact of eternal spirit, and this is exemplified in Easter. The metaphysical teaching of Christ begins in full force on Easter. However, it's important to understand that Christ came back no longer limited to the ordinary body of the Jewish carpenter with a beard, but instead wielding a body as a metaphysical display.

The disciples have already been introduced to metaphysical realities through various healings and even the bringing back to life of Lazarus. Even though these acts have already been done, the disciples are still not able to fully comprehend metaphysical reality.

Even if the raising of Lazarus or miracles are performed, those in and of themselves are not necessarily the complete lesson. Usually teachings have to be repeated many times for people to understand. The disciples couldn't really penetrate the full meaning, even with Jesus standing right in front of them, because their samskaras, their thought forms of reality, were too stiff. How about us? Would we able to see Jesus if he were standing right in front of us?

Easter is the most famous of the metaphysical holidays, but remarkably, it's not the most important. Jesus shows how to express properly sunyata, emptiness and form, through his teaching of how to have life. He demonstrates it in rupa ways, through teaching orally and by dying on the cross, and then he teaches it in metaphysical ways by coming back to life in a new body, and through the Ascension and the Pentecost.

These Christian holidays are equally important and meaningful. The spirit of Christ is going to come into the disciples. It hasn't really touched them yet. Even though Jesus has risen, they continue to have obscurations. Jesus has not finished his teaching on Easter, and there are more incredible metaphysical teachings still awaiting. These special days are yet to occur.

May all beings be benefited and blessed, and may they have life and have it more abundantly.

April 17, 2019

Cutting Through Fallacies About God

The buddhas are consistent in teaching the ultimate characteristic-less-ness of God. If a person finds this difficult to accept, however, then they might see the universes and phenomena not only as his creation, but as his characteristics. A beginner in spirituality might interpret this to mean that only positive aspects of creation, such as heaven, are God's externalization—an advanced student sees something else altogether. However, the dharmakaya in and of itself, God, has no characteristics, which means there is no description for God, the ultimate truth of all phenomena.

Even the word we use spelled ‘G-o-d’ is but a mere label and again, not any sort of characteristic of the basis of all things. Lao Tzu said there is no word that can describe it, but to give it a name we call it ‘Tao.’ Alternatively, we could call it ‘buddha nature’ or ‘dharmakaya.’ This most important subject, Tao/God/ dharmakaya, transcends any special and elite qualities such as big, powerful, mighty or ‘the One,’ although these kinds of terms and styled, dynamic god-type characteristics have been taught for provisional purposes to benefit certain people.

When somebody comes into the lotus of a true esoteric wisdom school, if they request and may be able to respond, they are given the empowerment of the higher self, which is dharmakaya empowerment. Some people recognize the empowerment but don't practice it. Occasionally, there are a few who practice it and continue to recognize their nature. They realize in the momentary scraping away of obscuration that their own nature is characteristic-less-ness. The false teachings of TV celebrities, the media, politics and displacement religions generally encourage trying to acquire more powerful and pleasant characteristics. Authentic religions don’t advise trying to get rid of characteristics, but rather, to gain familiarity with ‘spirit,’ that which transcends characteristics.

If a person talks about mystic being too much, they tend to cheapen it. In the state of meditation or upon receiving empowerment we can realize our nature is amazing. We might see it as a luminous presence, beingness, love, great compassion or pure freedom. Someone might think, "Aha, those are characteristics. John, the disciple, said, 'God is love,' so God has characteristics." Let's put it this way: God is not any of the love that people normally consider to be love. The experience of God's love transcends, yet there is a similarity to, animal and human love, sex, attraction, lust, passion.

There is a wondrous, ultimate truth that transcends each ray. There are seven rays of will, love/wisdom, active intelligence, harmony through conflict, concrete science, idealism, and ceremonial order, respectively. Those are different types of orientations built into the system, and the nature of those various creativities is pure and comes from God. God didn't come with those things: all the things of the world arose out of God.

The tathagata is God. There are various honorific names for a buddha, but a buddha is also a tathagata. ‘Tathagata’ means that he transcends our understanding—he can come and go, yet he transcends coming and going, as Jesus did: at first Jesus just seemed like a regular guy. Then he started doing some miracles, but to some he just seemed like a regular guy doing miracles. Then he died and seemed like a regular guy. There were storms and earthquakes, and then he came back and no longer seemed like a regular guy. Then he left and came back yet again, and at that point he definitely didn't seem like a regular guy. At first we may not understand Christ as a tathagata, but by the time of Pentecost we realize that he in fact is the tathagata. He transcends being here and not being here. A buddha can be both God and man. As Jesus said, "I and the Father are one."

What is the best way to overcome fear of sunyata? Realize that it is not a blank emptiness at all, so what we are afraid of doesn't exist. We don't have to worry about form. Only by having faith in dharmakaya can we transcend believing in this world only. Nowadays people are taught a post-modern, inverted idea of the world and mistakenly believe that spirit comes out of form. On the contrary, every phenomenon emerges from Tao.