February 7, 2019

Art as Ornamentation of the Tao

An artist, in his wisdom, could paint something ugly, and in some way there is something beautiful about it. I like old buildings that look like they are falling down. They represent decay. They also represent a place where beings lived and were protected. Some beings might still use an old, deteriorating barn as protection, at least rats, mice or squirrels. Maybe people slept in it at one time, so it has a feeling of history to it. It’s not blank; various beings resided there and used it as a home. Some died or moved out, and other animals or people moved in. Now it has been through its lifespan and is falling apart, so perhaps it's not used in the same way, but it still has a feeling that it was home. I don't feel any negativity about any of that. When I see a dilapidated barn, I feel the Tao. 

An artist doesn't have to draw something pretty. There is something very beautiful in that crumbling barn. Soon it will become dirt and compost. It has the chi of a particular time in the cycle, in this case, decline.

If you consult the I Ching and pick a hexagram that seems negative such as #23 "Erosion/Decline," you might think, “That’s unfortunate. I got the bad one." You shouldn't really think of it as negative, however. When I come across a ramshackle barn, that is an example of decline, but I am able to see that in a good way. I don't try to make it a happy barn. I just observe it and feel the ghosts of it, and somehow there is something satisfying about it.

An old barn or a run-down cabin is an interesting thing. Certain beings inhabited it and now they are gone, but a bit of their energy still remains in those walls and you can feel it in there. Even though the structure is not pretty, in some way it has appeal because it is starting to blend in with nature more, with the trees and grass around it. It’s turning brown, losing its paint, starting to fall apart. It is beginning to look like a compost pile. If you kept watching it for long enough, eventually it would be a forest. 

Out in the country, sometimes I see rock foundations where people must have lived a hundred years ago. They must have been tough people. Some of the frames are fairly large, so they must have put up decent-sized houses. When I look at those foundations, I see people. 

When an artist paints, he doesn't have to paint everything. All the metaphysics will go into the painting on their own. The American artist Thomas Kinkade exemplifies that very well. He paints a painting, and then his metaphysics go into it automatically. The painting has more to it than the sum of its parts, so he doesn't have to paint the magic in it. The magic jumps right in. Everything he paints is like masks and shells. He doesn't try to paint the soul because it's not possible to paint the soul. The soul jumps in on its own—it goes along for the ride. 

All forms are merely shells. An artist can only paint clothing, masks, shells. Even if he paints nudes, he is just painting clothing. Even if he paints faces, he is just painting masks. Even if he paints beings, he is just painting shells and fur coats. Until an artist understands that he won't paint as well. All forms are simply ornamentation of the spirit. An artist can't paint the spirit. Everything he paints is like necklaces or earrings. It can be great fun to make ornamentation. An artist is painting wonderful ornamentations on the spirit, on the Tao. He can't paint the Tao anymore than a buddha has characteristics. He can't paint the Tao; he can't paint the buddha, but he can go ahead and ornament it endlessly. He is painting shells, ornaments and clothing. He might think he is painting the essence, the Tao, God or spirit, but he isn't. Those are in everything already; he doesn't need to paint them.

A dilapidated building can easily hold the energy, teaching and wisdom of the Tao. A work of art that is trying to be the Tao can't really know the Tao very well. Some art pieces can make it difficult to recognize the Tao, but the Tao is there. They don't take the Tao away, but they do make it more challenging to know the Tao. 

Other art pieces can make it easy to know the Tao. If an artist paints the shell, then the soul can jump in there. But if the artist thinks he is painting the soul, then he becomes confused, competitive. There is no need to compete with the Tao. The Tao is already in the ink even before the artist starts drawing. The Tao is already in the canvas before he touches it. The artist could give the Tao a coat, a hat, some new shoes. The Tao could have a body, a building, a tree, a vase of flowers. 

What the artist does is to give the Tao a form. There is nothing wrong with that. He doesn't need to try and sculpt the Tao. He sculpts the form that the Tao can embody. He is creating a vase into which the Tao can insert itself.

Memorize these words: an artist should only paint shells, clothing, ornaments, jewelry, masks. Those are the correct words. All painters should paint those things. 

If an artist doesn't know the Tao and with heavy conceptuality thinks, "African masks are very exotic," and then paints an African mask, that is unlikely to be a great painting. If he knows the Tao, however, when he paints someone's face, he sees that face as nothing but a magical, playful mask. 

An artist who doesn't know that is not a great artist. He doesn't really have the Yin and Yang to create fully. A face is a mask, and even a naked body is clothing. Whatever an artist paints is an ornamentation of the buddha. If an artist has fun, then the buddhas will enjoy his painting. Buddhas don't think that if he is serious and ponderous that his artwork will amount to much. It will just be heavier. The artist doesn't have to create excessively dense clothing and masks made of lead.

All things are just ornamentations of the Tao. Everything is the clothing of the Tao. That's all it is.

February 6, 2019

Amitabha’s Pure Land and the Skillful Means of Buddhas

When I hear descriptions of incredibly majestic pure lands, I have doubt that such places could actually exist. Hui-neng said in the The Platform Sutra that if we don't know our nature then Amitabha's pure land is thousands of miles away. Are these lands to be taken literally or are they simply a matter of perception of a highly realized being? 

They aren’t one or the other. Certainly Hui-neng isn't going to lie to us, so if we realize our nature then we will know what the pure land is and not have doubt. We may have doubt about the pure land because of our bad karma. Perhaps we were born into a family that didn't believe in heaven and only believed in the here and now. People say it's deep to believe in the here and now, but it isn't necessarily deep. The ”here and now” isn't really the here and now. The here and now is just our thinking: what I think now, what I think now, what I think now. That thinking is conceptual formations based on our karma, which may not be that favorable. 

What we should do is learn to think properly like a spiritual practitioner. Then we learn to think like a disciple, then like an initiate, then like a bodhisattva. Then we learn to think like a buddha, which is nonthought: not clinging to thoughts at all. If we don't cling to thoughts at all, we will experience a direct awareness of whatever appears, unlike anything we have ever experienced previously. We will automatically enjoy nature a thousand times more than we do now, so it will be the same as a pure land for us. As we are awakening we will more keenly notice the things around us, which are like an outer nature, and we will also be more aware of our mind, including thoughts, inner worlds, astral planes. Plants, rocks and all the objects around us will be much more interesting and amazing. It doesn't matter whether an awakened being is in his pure body in a soul realm or whether he is in his human body in a human realm, just as Shakyamuni is probably in both as he teaches The Larger Sutra on Amitayus

Are the pure lands real? Yes, but we don't use the word "real" in Buddhism much. It implies there is a ”not real." Things are neither real nor not real. There is a sense of things being more or less real. The Buddha recommends the sense of things not being so real, the key word being the sense of realness. Sometimes things seem very real, other times less so. A well done movie seems more real; a poorly done movie seems campy and less convincing.

If we have bad karma from past lives we may have been born in a situation where our parents said, "That's just a bunch of religious crap. Now go to school and make a lot of money. And marry a rich guy, would ya?" Maybe they were nihilists. Nihilism isn't true, however, so even if your parents were highly flawed you can inherit a new family and thus become from a good family. You need to leave your old family and go to your new sangha family. Then how difficult will it be to believe in the pure land?

"Amitabha" is Sanskrit for Buddha Infinite Light. Why do some buddhas emit more light than others? 

They do it to create the energy of awakening, as a skillful means for beings who are unawakened. No one said, "This other buddha is no good because he doesn't emit as much light." The Pure Land teachings were created to captivate certain people. They are especially popular in China. You could say, “Don't all buddhas have infinite light? All buddhas should be equal because there is some sort of ultimate equality." Ultimate equality does not negate relative inequality, however. 

Do certain buddhas excel at using particular types of skillful means whereas other buddhas excel at other types? 

They don't excel; they just do whatever is most expedient. They don’t all have to do everything in exactly the same manner. Is creativity not varied? If buddhas were all identical, then they would become a sign of some sort of automatism. Couldn’t they have a style? Even if one buddha's light only goes ten feet, maybe he's an expert at bowling and can score 300. Maybe he's a buddha of no big deal. Perhaps he's just an ugly, old guy who sits around and eats rice. Why would it matter either way?

The idea of infinity and creating infinite things is to inspire people and help them to realize their capacity.

A buddha could be a swindler, a beggar, a derelict. If beings are too materialistic, they may have a hard time comprehending that. They merely think, "You have to make money. You need a handsome husband. You should live in a fancy neighborhood." When you teach them spirituality their mind can't go that far. They might be able to fathom being less greedy or performing a metaphysical act such as shooting light throughout the universe. A scientist could shoot a rocket up into space. Amitabha Buddha could shoot a beam of light up into space. Isn’t that a start? It's a skillful means, giving people baby steps.

In the Vajrayana and Zen traditions, people don't worry about Amitabha's infinite power, yet they like it. They believe in it, but they don't cling to it.

February 3, 2019

Does Karma Apply to Someone Who Understands the Innermost, Esoteric Teachings?

The buddha Vajrasattva says that all things are intrinsically pure. If one fully realizes that, then how would they decide what activities to do or not do?

The upadesha instructions say that once you acknowledge that truth, then it doesn’t matter what activities you do. Everything is divinity and holiness regardless of what you do, and there is no karma created by the activities either. You can do anything you want.

If a person attains understanding of the upadesha instructions, wouldn’t there still be effects of karma if they choose to feed their physical body as opposed to just letting it rot, for example?

According to the masters in the Nyingma school, if you attain the full transmission and understanding of upadesha, then you would be a fully enlightened being. You could attain the body of light and dissolve your body, so you wouldn't need to have a physical body. You could, however, choose to stay in a dense physical body and keep a karmic body and the karmic tendencies of your parents and so on.

There may be beneficial reasons to keep a body. It may help some people. It may not help you personally, but you may do it because you love other beings, like a bodhisattva. A master, a buddha, is a bodhisattva. They have compassion for beings and can see that beings suffer, so they may stay in a body.

If a being is in the form of a cloud, clouds can’t really talk and interact, nor can they eat and have lunch with people. In a human body, however, they could have children, develop relationships and learn through those relationships.

You can be beyond karma, yet still go into karma and be involved with karma. You can do both. It means that you don’t become tainted. An example of that is Jesus to the Christians. He became a physical person with a physical body, a karmic body, but he didn’t become evil.

To go further, all of what seems to be karmic and impure doesn’t really exist as how you might think of it. The final meaning of emptiness is really going all the way through to the end things. Initially, you might learn that things you don’t like are emptiness. Then you realize the things you like are emptiness, too. Now you are up to 80%, 90%, then you are up to 99%, but there are still many things to which you cling that you don’t really see as a magical display.

You have the potential to create in such a way that you have full-on bliss, glory and wonder, completely not hiding your joy. The Buddha, when he became enlightened, hid his joy because he knew that people would be too attracted to him if he showed his magic. If he showed his magic, he would be spending all of his time trying to get away from dysfunctional people chasing after him, attempting to gain his power and magic. Generally, people are more interested in gaining power than they are in realizing meaning. Consequently, the Buddha hid his power until he taught the Amitabha Sutra, at which time he went ahead and revealed that really he was a magical being, and there are incredible, magical worlds. The Buddha taught everything else first to teach a kind of a discipline. Then when he taught about Amitabha and Amitayus, he didn’t teach it as utterly separate, but as still part of the Dharma.

An enlightened being, a buddha, then, seems to be able to go either way. They can stay in a regular karmic body, eat meals like a regular person, be a householder, have girlfriends or a family. Alternatively, they could ascend into heaven, like Yeshe Tsogyal and Padmasambhava, who dissolved into the sky and flew away. And then they could come back and be dense again if they wish.

How should you relate to magical beings? Don’t be naive. Many people don’t believe in magical power. Some believe in magical power, but only materialistic magical power. They are devoid of the understanding of transcendence, ineffability, emptiness, sunyata. That element is missing, so they only believe in very dense magic, like trying to become a millionaire or a glamorous star through using magic. Much of the difference between a Hollywood star and someone who’s not is illusion, attitude, pride, poise. It is a kind of magical experience.

If spiritual beings showed their magic to ordinary beings, it would just create all sorts of trouble. If a master such as Kuthumi showed his body to an ordinary person who lacked aspiration and the compassion element, that person would know that magic is definitely possible, and being ignorant, they would assume that the path is materialism. They would probably join psychic schools where they might learn how to create astral bodies or develop selfish magical powers, which they might try to use to control people, just causing a lot of problems.

According to the upadesha instructions, if someone attains the Dzogchen view, then whatever they do they don’t create karma. If they choose to maintain a physical body, wouldn't that still be operating within cause and effect?

Yes, there is some cause and effect if they keep a karmic physical body. However, they are not creating any new karma. It would be like having an old clock for thirty years which is starting to break and run down. One day they just throw it out because it’s not keeping time anymore, and it’s not worth fixing. There is no significant karma created by throwing away the clock or by using it.

You can use this karma body. Let’s say you attain enlightenment, and you have a family and children. You may want to stay with that family and complete that life.

There are different opinions as to what can be done when a person dies: at the highest level a person attains the body of light. At the second highest level one attains the rainbow body. At the third highest, when one dies they are in a state of meditation for days. If they are thrown in a crematorium, basically they are awake while they are being cremated, but it probably wouldn’t bother them even though they might feel it.

Another opinion that makes sense, too, is that one has more dexterity to do whatever they want. If someone has been a human being for twenty, fifty, seventy years, they might decide to die like an ordinary human being. Shakyamuni Buddha pretended to be an ordinary human being when he didn’t have to. It was a choice.

The scriptures clearly state again and again that out of compassion bodhisattvas don’t do things only for themselves. They don’t go into heavenly states but remain in physical bodies so they can communicate with people. 

If no new karma is created, does that mean there is no new negative karma created?

Yes, there is no new negative karma created by keeping a physical body. Maybe your nose runs or you get a disease, but you are not creating negative karma anymore because negative karma has to do with intention. Your intentions are all freed into pure creativity.

If a being has attained the Dzogchen view and would not create any new negative karma, what about new positive karma?

They might create some new positive karma. The Diamond Sutra says the karma of advanced beings is so good that it is beyond description. It is so huge that the whole universe isn’t large enough to contain the goodness that is created by understanding wisdom. In other words, the kind of karma that you are talking about is little karma. The Diamond Sutra is talking about mega-giant karma that is so vast it goes beyond all the mistakes you make. It is like the grace that Jesus talks about. It doesn’t matter if you’re the worst person who ever lived. The grace is much greater than that, so everything bad is corrected. All the negative karma is negated.

That is the true meaning of forgiveness. A person can’t forgive. One is forgiven through awakening to things as they actually are, which is embedded and clearly delineated in the utmost, secret, holy teachings. All you need to do is have faith in that. You can’t have a superficial faith, where you are just trying to convince yourself. You actually have to get it. Even if you get it, there may be aspects of yourself, like sub-personalties within your mind that don’t quite get it, and they can move up through stages like maha and anu and semde and longde until they can receive the upadesha instruction.

January 27, 2019

The Innermost Esoteric Teachings

If we have received the upadesha instructions of the aural lineage, the most sacred and holy of teachings, that’s it. There is nothing higher than that. There is nothing else to learn. There are only things lower than that we could learn about the world.

If we take that to heart, the instruction is that everything is perfect. It’s all good. It follows that anything leftover that says, “I need to do this,” or “I need to get that,” is disconnected to the goodness that is being discussed in the upadesha and didn’t understand the teaching.

We can, as the play of creation and completion, practice with these thought forms, who think they need something, as beings and liberate them all. And then we go ahead and live. The creativity aspect needs to be recapitulated in a certain way. It would be nihilism to sit around moping, “It’s all a big nothing.” On the contrary, let’s live our lives, have fun and not cling to what we do. Everything is playfulness, games and parties. Pick anything: it has no less meaning than the most profound thing and no more meaning than the most insignificant thing.

We go through each and every thought form, which are beings—but beings aren’t really beings—they are just a conglomeration of a sense of purpose and self. If all the beings arising—selves, mothers, fathers, lustful beings, stoic beings, cowardly beings, macho beings, teetotalers, drunkards and drug addicts—appear and play without clinging to any of their tendencies, then there is no hindrance whatsoever to realizing the Dzogchen view, and in particular, the most advanced Dzogchen view of primordial purity.

Primordial purity is even higher than looking at things as a dream. If we see the phenomena as dreamlike, then all we have to do is the final step, which is to realize how it can be that we are able to see everything as dreamlike. We can do it because things are primordially pure. They are not just okay, they are perfectly good. Creativity being good, we can go ahead and create. Up to this point we are a little gun-shy from creating and having all the hellish experience come back at us because of the negative karma we created. We thought if we had a war and kicked ass, then we would be victorious and gain all the booty. We didn’t realize there were ramifications to that. Then we get our asses kicked, too.

We thought creativity and being active was wrong, so we started to become nihilistic. It doesn’t help to be fake spiritually nihilistic: “Om, I’m a deep practitioner. I’m going to hide from everyone like a wounded deer.” That’s not quite the correct attitude of the wounded deer. A wounded deer isn’t someone who is merely sick of the world, sees that it’s not going anywhere and gives up on everything. That’s close, but it’s not exactly the meaning of the analogy of the wounded deer.

It would be childish and spiritually immature to believe the material world is bad. The upadesha instructions would make fun of that kind of thinking. A master can do whatever they want, including being involved with physical plane activities. To think physical plane activities are bad is in effect to curse the world. Dzogchen teaches the opposite: it’s all good. Everything is fine, but only for someone who understands that. It’s not a matter of trying to make it good but that it actually is good. When we realize that we become safe and no longer dangerous. We don’t harm beings anymore.

How can everything be good when much of our activity has been based on the premise that things are not good and consequently trying to fix them to make them good? Now we are hearing that we never had to fix anything? Yes, we never ever had to fix anything. That was an unenlightened state that we were in. If our car breaks down that doesn’t mean we don’t have to fix the car. However, we don’t ever have to have a sense that something is seriously wrong in the world because there is nothing really bad happening. For someone who has attained the transcendent state, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a beautiful day or a hurricane is hitting: they live beyond this life, in the world but not of it. They are not trapped in the nihilism of a single scenario.

We are like a person who has only seen one movie in their entire life, and they love this movie and watch it every day. They cling to the hero and heroine saving the world. They watch the same movie every day, day after day, and then one day somebody says, “Let’s do something different.” They object, “No, we have to see the same movie that we always watch.” Actually, however, there is not just a vast amount of possibility but an infinity of potential playfulnesses.

The upadesha instructions say everything is intrinsically pure. When we hear this we may have doubt because it may seem that conditions such as being cold, itchy or in pain are not good. And yet it is true that those things are good. According to the upadesha instructions, when we have the intuitive faith to accept that it’s all good, those things turn into bliss. Even though we had pain a moment earlier, it’s not pain anymore. Even though externally it may appear that we have a disease, we are not even suffering.

When someone becomes an awakened master they may manifest as a mahasiddha, a super-powered magical being. Iron Man or Superman are fictional characters, but the mahasiddhas are actual people with superpowers: siddhi. When people become masters, they can use this magical ability to change what we may consider to be a fixed law of physics. Conversely they could let themselves contract and die of a disease, but with no fuss, because there would be no clinging to the experience. Even though it might look to us as if something bad is happening, they wouldn’t experience anything unpleasant at all.

We can hear the upadesha instructions in this way, the highest and very most secret of secret instructions in the world, and go ahead and make corrections, or more accurately, let the thoughts, which seem to be ourselves, liberate regarding all of their wants, needs and desires. Within that state of peace and emancipation, we too can emerge like the phoenix with its creative power. We can enjoy the bliss of our own natural mind and the natural mind of every being. We can enjoy the company of the buddhas, who are all the beings around us, and remain in that wild state. In that state of purity, we would be stable in the Dzogchen view, and we can go back into the world and be a part of it, work in business or do anything we want, help people and teach the Dharma to them.

The upadesha instruction is the final teaching. The last thing that we can learn in the world basically is primordial purity. After that there is nothing else to be taught. It is the most important thing that we could ever learn, but it is the last thing that we can be told. Most people’s minds aren’t clear enough, so they generally need to do a tremendous amount of preparatory practices first. The best thing would be to go ahead and realize primordial purity. May we be able to engage fully the realization of that.

January 6, 2019

Can You Believe in Heavenly Worlds?

There are teachings called Pure Land teachings, as well as teachings about buddha fields. In the Bible are teachings about the kingdom of heaven and angels. In effect, they are all the same thing.

Most people can’t really see these buddha fields because they are obscured, but they could potentially. The beings who can see these fields are bodhisattvas, especially those in the upper parts of the bodhisattva levels. They are able to contact buddhas and interact with them without having a physical person there necessarily. They are telepathically connected to the buddhas, whereas most people on an earlier level need physical teachers to instruct them and be intermediaries between the buddhas and themselves.

The more beings see the masters, the more they can start to understand the pure realms where they live: heaven, Dewachen, Akanishta. There are countless names and countless realms. There is not just one realm; there are all sorts of creativities that occur out of pure potential, which is dharmata.

People have become used to samsara, so they think that samsara is what is. Consequently, they become engrossed in arenas such as politics and popular culture. They actually could awaken and be totally connected and enter the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven really is imposed and impacted here even within samsara, but beings don’t see it because of their marigpa, unenlightened state. Buddhas see heaven, but ordinary beings don’t because of their obscurations.

There are innumerable heavens, and some of them have purgatorial levels. In other words, certain beings like Amitabha set up systems. Another person who set up systems is Jesus Christ, so that some beings, who are disciples, could go into lower parts or certain sections of pure realms when they die. There they can work for a number of months, years, decades, even hundreds of years in an excellent environment where they can move through, attain enlightenment and rectify all the problems they have, instead of going into another samsaric lifetime like the last lifetime and the lifetime before that and the one prior to that. It’s not necessary to do that anymore. Beings can do two things: they can attain enlightenment and then they are done, or they can be in line to go into a pure land through their spiritual practice.

That is why it is so important that people have respect when they hear of the Pure Land teachings. Some people are very skeptical when they hear about heaven, buddha fields or pure lands. They doubt such positive worlds can exist. They think it is a fairy tale. But the pure heavenly lands are just as real as the sun, moon and stars. As beings aspire to join in Amitabha’s heaven, they also learn not to cling too much to a preconception of what that might be. But mainly, they lose the nihilism of believing only in the social construct of an earthly existence being the only possible one.

Most people aren’t going to do what it takes to attain enlightenment in this lifetime. But they could at least set themselves up so that they will attain enlightenment in a pure land. What an amazing deal that is, Lord Amitabha’s deal. They should buy into that system. If they can’t attain enlightenment in this life, this, then, is the deal of a lifetime! If they don’t quite have what it takes to attain absolute perfect enlightenment here and now, they still can aspire to bodhisattvahood and request to be reborn in a pure land where they will receive accelerated schooling right into enlightenment. Even if it takes a thousand years, they will be trained in a wonderful setting where things like food, drinks, smells, touch, water, gems, even locations may be used to gradually awaken them.

To go even further about buddha worlds, buddha lands and pure lands, the basis of everything as it exists is pure. The very beginning of the Bible discusses the mystery of the universe, that God created everything and it was good. It was all good, every bit of it. The mandala that was created is nothing but the bodies of buddhas and pure buddha activities, pure buddha materials and pure buddha elements, all absolutely intrinsically pure. That purity was never lost. Beings can return to that quite easily, but they have to overcome the faithlessness they have had for countless lifetimes.

People are rarely intelligent enough to be able to ascertain the meaning of profound teachings, even after hearing them ten times. They will need to keep listening to them again and again, a hundred times or even a thousand times, until they have that aha experience over and over, not just dozens of times, but thousands and thousands of times. It would be of great benefit to try to have a thousand awakening experiences every day. Just as there are a thousand awakening lights in Lovestream, if people have a thousand wakeup experiences every day, they will make some serious headway.

All lands are ultimately pure lands. All the different realms and everything that was created was absolutely and intrinsically pure originally. Everything that exists, even samsara, is a display of these buddha lands on some level. However, because beings became confused, marigpa, they still need to aspire to bodhisattvahood, the stage that brings them to buddhahood.

There are many different types of spiritual teachings, such as Pure Land Buddhism, which is very popular in China; Tibetan tantra; Zen of Japan; the Theravada of Thailand, Sri Lanka and India, to name only a few. Although there are many types of Buddhism, in the end they are all the same thing. They are all skillful means taught for people who have certain propensities to bring them upward.

At a certain point some people find out that there are pure worlds. Some people are doubtful, others intrigued. These teachings are for that latter person, who responds, “I’m interested. I want to go there. I want to experience these pure worlds.” There are worlds that are pure, and they are not a myth that somebody fabricated. They are of the original, pure wisdom of God; they are the pure localities as God created them. Buddha fields are the realized pure mandala of all localities, of worlds. The places in which beings live, should they be able to see them, are the buddha lands. The beings in them are buddhas.

December 27, 2018

The Underlying Awakening of Dream Yoga: Part 3

If one has more or less ability to recollect one’s nighttime dreams upon “awakening” in the morning, is that because of the degree of naive realism?

Yes, it is precisely because of the degree of naive realism. What is naive realism? It means believing things are real. It is naively thinking that there is some sort of ultimate reality to what is going on. However, there is no ultimate reality to what is going on.

To do dream yoga, you need to see the daytime as a dream. If you don’t see the daytime activity in a dreamlike manner, you won't be able to see the nighttime phenomena in a dreamlike manner either. You need to do both. It doesn’t matter what the dreams are. The point is to get rid of the bias about all the phenomena of the universe. All phenomena are arising out of God’s presence. Every single demon, including Satan himself, came from God. If you don’t believe that, read the Bible. Who created the heavens and the earth? Satan? No one really says this directly enough: everything comes from God, good and bad. The Tao teachings help us to understand this, as do Christ’s teaching, as do the Buddha teachings.

Now we know a little about dream yoga. This could be practiced by a beginning practitioner a little bit perhaps, and an advanced practitioner very much.

December 26, 2018

The Underlying Awakening of Dream Yoga: Part 2

Why does it seem that the content of nighttime dreams, as far as the people, situations and events, is often different from the thoughts and feelings that arise during the daytime?

The karma of day and night is different. In the day we have the karma to go to work, make money, chase girls, get a guy, raise a family and so on and so forth. Then we are exhausted from that karma and conk out at night. Not ideally, but this tends to be our cycle. Even within the night, we will likely have different dreams at 11 p.m. than at 3 a.m. or 6 a.m. Don’t assume it’s just a day and night dichotomy, but we have different karmas based on things we did previously, in many past lives, at various times of the day.

To practice dream yoga properly, know that it is irrelevant whether you have pleasant dreams or bad dreams. Perhaps it may be relevant to some degree, but the point is they are still dreams. Understand the quality of dreams: although things seem real, very important and ultimately true, they are not. If you can begin to get an iota of a sense of that, then you are starting to do dream yoga a little bit. If you think you are having a deep and profound realization right away, it may be fake and you may be fooling yourself. It’s a subtle thing, and you need to realize that the dream is not true. It doesn’t matter whether it’s day or night—handle both in the same way, with a sense of humor and irony, since there is nothing substantial in them.

Let’s say that a monster is chasing you, and you wake up from the night dream. You laugh, thinking, “There was no monster even chasing me. Thank goodness!” That is a fine start to dream yoga. The next thing to do is to make a wish: “Next time I’m going to wake up right in the dream. I'm going to let the monster catch me or watch the monster dissolve.” It won’t really matter because when dreams are observed, their sense of realness disappears. If you can be successful in this phase, the diaphanous quality, the luminosity of all the energy that the mind uses to make these things up, returns to your experience because of the opening to the natural state.  You can see without a doubt that your own acquired karmic tendencies are shaping the dream energies, creating the visions and stories. It's you chasing yourself, worrying, creating samsara, creating suffering. Then the negative creativity can stop creating itself by this insight.

And when the fear is gone, suddenly the dream, instead of being samsaric, arises as various lights, rainbows, circles, spheres, rays or radiations. These forms are the more underlying logos of everyone's "mind art," the basic structures and elements behind mind’s natural creative powers, as the outer, convoluted, karmic distortions fall apart.

The same principle applies during the daytime. You can start with being honest and admitting, “I think my mind is real. Right now I’m thinking about what I’m going to do after I read this chapter, but that’s entirely my imagination. There’s nothing there but me. There’s nobody else there. There is no environment; it’s just my imagination of the environment.” Even as you look around the room, or if you’re sitting outside looking at a tree, that’s still not the tree—it’s just light bouncing off it, going into your eye, and your imagination and clinging about it.

Only a buddha doesn't cling or a little baby. That is why we are told in the Tao teaching and in Jesus Christ’s words to become like a little baby. We need to become like a small child—not just a child, but a small child—a little baby with that fresh looking at everything. A baby doesn’t know how to judge yet. All a baby knows is a breast and a mother’s face, and everything else is like a magic display. A buddha sees everything identically as a baby, as a magical display of playful creativity, no matter what it is. The baby doesn’t care if its surroundings are dirty or clean; it is fun to play in them regardless. The only difference is that the buddha is fully enlightened and has eliminated their karmic tendencies and residue, whereas the baby is going to grow into those karmic tendencies; also, the buddha can understand all of the adult dysfunctions of samsaric mind and help all beings, whereas the baby can’t help anybody necessarily except as an example.

December 24, 2018

The Underlying Awakening of Dream Yoga: Part 1

There is a practice in various sects of the Buddha teaching called “dream yoga.” The essence of that practice is in the Diamond Sutra, which explains a new way to see things. This practice of dream yoga is about how we handle the mind at night when we are dreaming and also in the day while we are dreaming. So there are two kinds of dreams: nighttime dreams and daytime dreams. Pretty much they are the same thing, although we have convinced ourselves otherwise. We need to get our heads wrapped around the fact that there is really no difference.

Thinking is thinking, regardless of what form it takes. Thinking is dreaming. We need to realize what thinking is. We can start to enter into an understanding of what thoughts are and the habitual tendencies that arise in the mind, and even more importantly, what is the nature of mind, which could be described perhaps as luminous or transcending the need for characteristics. We could call it immutable or adamantine. We could call it radiant, or we could call it pitch black or pure light. We could call it diaphanous. These are the two minds that are discussed in the true school of awakening, of Buddha, of Jesus Christ: the habitual mind that has memorized useful and not so useful things and regurgitates them day and night, and the true natural mind.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive instruction on dream yoga but rather an introduction to a few elements of it. Dream yoga depends upon the individual, their regular practice and what is most useful to optimize their situation.

Before we go to bed at night, we might say prayers or do a practice that includes some attitudes from dream yoga. We might have the intention that during the night we can recognize our dreams as dreams, optimally even while dreaming. This means that as you are dreaming you notice, “There’s really no me doing this. I’m just imagining it. All the people and situations I’m imagining are a dream.” Just by preparing ourselves a bit before going to bed, we are more likely to do it. We have a little will power to do it and it happens. It really is as simple as that, plus having the clarity of mind to be able to not judge opaque dreams and not cling to nice dreams, to not reject or be afraid of a scary dream, which is only a dream, so it really is meaningless to be affrightened of something that doesn’t exist in any sort of profound way.

Perhaps  we can learn how to go through the night in that way, and then as we start to rouse we do our wake-up practice. It is very important to wake up and recognize our buddha nature if we have received empowerment and opened to that—then right away we do that first thing if we are not already connected. The best yoga would be to stay awake all night in perfect rest and dreamless clarity. That probably isn’t going to happen for most of us, but maybe we can at least have some elements of success in our nighttime yoga. “Awake” doesn’t refer to a typical person’s agitated, awake state, but rather a state of great peace, bliss, fulfillment and complete restfulness of mind with no sense of concern or fear whatsoever: the deepest sleep we have ever had except we are wide awake. That would be a correct way to practice dream yoga. If we did that perfectly all our dreams would pretty much disappear. That may sound bad initially, but after we learn how to meditate we will see it sounds perfectly good. We could still create dreams day and night anytime we want, but we would have no impetus to create them. If we are fulfilled, our cup is running over. There is no need to make up things. There are plenty of bats in that belfry flying around and the mind is full of mostly useless agitation.

In the morning practice, what is the element of dream yoga? You might say, “It’s the daytime. Why do I need to do dream yoga?” We have dreams all day long. Everything we are doing is a dreamlike phenomenon according to the Diamond Sutra. See all things like a dream: so says the Buddha. You might notice, “All I’m doing right now is thinking, and I’m naively clinging as if these things are real, but they’re really just my imagination, all of them.” Don’t negate anything even in the slightest bit. Just have fun with the irony of it. It’s ironic that we think everything is important and ultimately real when it isn't.

How does this relate to Jesus and God? It is the same thing. Your buddha nature is God. The only God, the one God that Christians and various monotheistic religions are concerned about is the one buddha nature inherent in all beings. You can come to that realization by not clinging to the dreams that are going through your mind and also not trying to get rid of them. If you are trying to get rid of dreams, you are clinging to getting rid of dreams. You don’t have to get rid of dreams; you just need to lose your fear of them. See that you are dreaming in the day, dreaming in the night, day, night, day, night.

It might benefit you to think of things in this way. Certainly the Buddha has revealed the amazing truth of our essential nature and how it can be realized through looking at the phenomena that are happening. Perhaps you might say, “I notice that I am thinking, but there are also things that are real going on.” Maybe it seems that you’re young, you live in an apartment, every month you have to pay a lot of money for rent and utilities, and you have to file your personal taxes. Everything seems very real. You could say, “Maybe my thinking mind isn’t real, but all these other things are real.” We have used the word “real,” and we are convinced that there is meaning in that word, although there really isn’t.

The Buddha uses straight talk from a level of truth and honesty to which you may not be accustomed. He is not like a college professor talking out of both sides of his mouth. Chances are you have become used to the lies and trickiness. When the Buddha says to see all things as dreamlike phenomena, he doesn’t mean only the day dreams, he means to see all the occurrences like a dream. What you do is to make a continuity.

Suppose you are having a day dream during breakfast and you realize, “I’m just having a day dream. There’s nothing really real there. I’m not really with the people I’m imagining.” Next you look around and think, “But the breakfast I’m having, this is real.” Then you realize, “This also is a dream.” When you connect those two together and don’t discriminate between one and the other, then you are starting to understand what the Buddha is teaching. That state is the spontaneous kingdom of heaven, the return to Tao to which Taoists refer. It means to come back to God’s presence, anuttara samyak sambodhi, which is not some sort of European enlightenment or collegiate kind of enlightenment; it is absolute perfect enlightenment, absolute state of wisdom that transcends and includes all states—even all conceptual states—absolute perfect understanding and omniscience. That doesn’t mean you know everything about meaningless things. It means you know all meaning. You are all-knowing about the meaning of the universe. It doesn’t mean you know what day Bill Smith eats hamburgers. That doesn’t matter, but you know everything about why he does. You know the why. No one else knows the why but the Buddha, the Awakened One.

December 16, 2018

The Diamond Sutra Chapter 16: They Shall Produce Even Greater Results Than I

“And incidentally, Subhuti, these fine persons of integrity we are discussing were not so fine in times past. In the future, when they appear and reveal this teaching, some people will become upset and turn on them. By the manner in which they handle that situation they will awaken to absolute perfect enlightenment!

“As I said, I practiced for a vast time period under the Buddha named ‘Source of Light.’ But he was merely one of countless buddhas under whom I served! Now, here I am, instructing you how that in the future there are going to be people reciting, learning and propagating this teaching—and causing more goodness than I did in all those lifetimes of practice!

“Furthermore, by me mentioning the unfathomably vast field of goodness that will be generated by men and women of the future (by their reciting, learning, understanding and distributing this teaching)—people are going to go unhinged!

“O Subhuti! The meaning of this teaching is inconceivably profound; similarly profound is the result achieved by those who comprehend it!”

The Diamond Sutra: Transcending Merit, tr. Sol Ta Triane, Copyright © 2018

Commentary on Chapter 16 of The Diamond Sutra, by Sol Ta Triane

When I said what he said
When they spit in my face
Since I’ve now got it down
I don’t mind the disgrace

But our pause to consider
This mystical answer,
Beats the eon of service
To his own holy master?

A million lives lived,
Lived in straight purity . . .
But some, said the Son,
Will do greater than me?

Since believing in thoughts
Can’t be right perception,
Bodhisattvas will serve up
No-concept perfection

December 15, 2018

The Diamond Sutra Chapter 3: What to Do if You Want to Be a Bodhisattva

Then the Buddha spoke, saying, “O Subhuti! Anyone who aspires to bodhisattvahood should use their minds and think:

I shall liberate every single being—whether born of an egg or a womb, whether born in water or in the atmosphere, whether distinct in shape or amorphous, whether the kind that thinks or the kind that doesn’t—taking each and every one to the state of absolute and perfect nirvana! But even though I aspire to bring everyone to absolute perfect nirvana, the beings being brought there aren’t really beings—which means no one is being brought into a state of absolute perfect nirvana!

“Now, Subhuti! You may be wondering why potential bodhisattvas would need to think in this way. They’d need to think this way because if they held to an idea that selves exist, or that beings are beings, that lives are lived, or of an existence of ongoing individual personages, then they wouldn’t be able to become bodhisattvas!”