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!”


In the End, it's Dzogchen

It may seem like you have to do something, but you don't have to do anything except awaken. That is what Peter Ouspensky said. Something was bothering him on and on, and he figured the problem was an existential one. He said he realized the problem was that he wasn't "self-remembering."

Perhaps it seems that the problem is you don't have enough money, you should switch jobs, you need a vacation, or you ought to move to another place. But none of those are actually the problem. The only problem really is not awakening. If you are not awakening, that's a problem. If you are awakening, then all other problems become minuscule. All other things will be handled and added unto. If you are not awakening, you will forever be in the smorgasbord of problems, the buffet of concerns, the media of issues. You will ever be stuck and miserable, and you will never dig your way out. It's the old joke, "You can't get there from here."

So you don't have to get rid of your problems. Through insight, you can see that your problems are illusory, and in Dzogchen that illusoriness is not merely a nothing or a blankness: it is actually light, clarity and bliss if recognized.

If you think you don't have to do anything, that's conceptual, too, clinging to the idea that you have to do nothing or that you have to do something. Of course you have to do something; you're a human being in a bardo. You can't just sit there in the dirt. On the other hand, sitting there in the dirt might be just as good as anything else.

Suppose you feel contempt toward somebody and think, "What an ass," or "I'm better than he is," or "Ha, what a loser." In the pre-tantric levels you feel bad about that. You say, "I really shouldn't be that way. I should be a buddha, and I should be pure. I shouldn't be thinking, 'What a loser he is. He's nothing compared to me.' Instead I should be thinking, 'That person has pure potential, and he's wonderful. I'm sure he has a lot of good qualities, and I have my faults, too. Who am I to judge?'" That is all correct in pre-tantric practice.

Now let's look at Dzogchen. The problem with the aforementioned approach, and the reason why Dzogchen exists, is that on some level that type of thinking is denial because you are trying to convince yourself of various replacements. The truth of the matter is you despise the person. In Dzogchen practice you don't have to block anything at all. You can feel contempt, arrogance and all those negative emotions because you are connecting them with pristine consciousness. And they don't worsen. They don't deepen. You're not exorcising them, instead they are spontaneously dissipating.

The state of pristine consciousness itself is compassion. Your hatred, spite and anger toward this person, they implode, they explode. They don't really implode; they don't really explode. They don't really dissolve, but it's like a dissolving. The reason why they dissolve is because you don't try to dissolve them. The reason they implode is because you don't try to implode them. The reason why they explode is because you don't try to blow them up. Nor are you trying to be neutral; rather, you're being completely honest. "I hate this guy's guts. What a moron!" Then the nakedness of what that is appears. There is nothing there but luminosity. The person is an appearance of your own mind's creativity. As such, he is dharmata. As such, the anger is pure. All of these phenomena are intrinsically pure.

If you try to correct them in the tiniest bit, that means you don't really have faith in the purity of your negativity. If you have faith in the purity of your negativity, you will lose your wrathful activity because it will fall apart.

That is why Dzogchen is only taught to advanced people because only certain types of people are willing to let their negative emotions fall apart. Most people cherish their negative emotions. But in the end, which is Dzogchen, by the way, even that is okay. You can cherish your negative emotion, and it will still fall apart, and the cherishing can fall apart, too. The cherishing of negative emotions arises as pristine consciousness, as does hatred, greed, angst, blame—all the hundreds of complicated permutations of basic ignorance, passion, anger, pride, jealousy. It's like taking an assortment of colors and mixing two of them together. Then you can take another color and combine it with the two colors you initially mixed and keep making different combinations.

If you did a practice that involved feeling remorse about some way that you are and wanting to amend that, in Dzogchen you're only allowed to do that as a ceremonial, empty activity. But it shouldn't be thought of as the ultimate method, ati yoga. It is a lower, preparatory yoga. It shouldn't be thought to be a cause of enlightenment because it doesn't enlighten you. Conversely, if you let things arise without blocking them and see them as they are, it will be a cause for enlightenment. Amazingly, admonishing yourself, "I'm a bad person. I'm really arrogant, and I have a lot of disgust and loathing toward this person, and I shouldn't do that," doesn't make you a buddha.

In Christian parlance, that means you're not saved and you don't get to go to the kingdom of heaven just because you think you're good. The prodigal son came back and his brother objected, "I've been the perfect son, doing everything impeccably here. Yet you're throwing a party for the other son who's been irresponsible and blew all his money? You should ignore him, exalt me, and make him secondary. Maybe appreciate that he's coming home, but why make a fuss about him when he's a disaster?" Perhaps the name of that story should be "The Prodigal Son's Brother," instead of "The Prodigal Son," because the prodigal son's brother might be even more important.

The prodigal son was lost; now he is found. He was gone, but now he is home. If you come home, it doesn't really matter whatever you did before. It's all gone; it's all pure; it's all complete. Your sins are forgiven. Dzogchen, the grace of Jesus Christ, is the complete forgiveness of sins. It's realizing your nature in God. If you become at one with God, you no longer can have sin. The reasons that you would harm beings are gone. But in order to purify all those desires to harm beings, you might at some point be given the teaching to harm beings in order to see the emptiness of that physically.

It's like trying to learn how to swim simply by reading books or watching videos. At some point you have to jump in the water and swim. The only way you can really be a swimmer is to learn in the water, in the physical experience.

In the same way, at the end of the spiritual journey you have to be a sinner. Dzogchen is for sinners, for bad people. When I say it's "for bad people," you could say all people are bad, but Dzogchen practitioners are people who know they are bad. So I sometimes call us Dzogchen folk "bad people." People who haven't attained this profound level of understanding may think, "I'm righteous: I won't vote for Republicans, I'm for social justice, I'm for women's rights!" This thinking has little to do with the Great Vehicle of transcendent meaning. But pseudo-virtuous religious-displacement thinking can, in Dzogchen, be utterly purified in the honesty of seeing it as a cover for pride, lust for control, attempt to power. Amazingly, the pride and control, being revealed as illusory, give way to more primal truths, their enlightened essence.

Consider, for example, the seven ray opposites. If you meditate upon the seven ray opposites, noticing things arise as those opposites, you may recognize them all as pristine consciousness. Meditate on the six realms of samsara; see if they are indeed pristine consciousness. Meditate on the different sublevels of the fifth subplane of the mental plane and the fourth subplane of the mental plane; keep moving up through the sublevels.

We have too many quirks manifesting the thousands of different subtle negative emotional combinations for us to be able to clear them with a one by one technology: this would take so very many lifetimes. These faults, however, can be automatically and completely removed in merely one lifetime or less, as an effect of Dzogchen practice. Dzogchen can only be taught to a few people, to fearless bodhisattvas who can let go on an unprecedented level, allowing radical natural honesty to rise. This might be likened to the opening, through time and space, of a trapdoor through which one's countless beliefs are spontaneously ripped away.

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

The yuletide parents primp and procure
All to see the magic once lost
Reappearing in the eyes of their little ones

Hey, you there, shy of Kringle's magic bag –
From which you may pull out whatever you need?
This sack brims endless joys and toys
This is where you may make that most feared of choices:
Fulfillment

Endlessly batted like a kitten's plaything
Wanting to step out of the helplessness,
Procure the compass which points to goodness long dismissed,
Grasp something quick from that barn-born kid of yours –
Lose trust in your alliance, let intuition be your science

Be touched today
Trade the stink of doubt
For an unborn and dynamic spontaneousness,
This son is born:
The joy, the very fulfillment of man's desiring

Who knew the lion and the lamb were destined to be buds?
An impossibility for Bill is but certainty for Edith
Each, we go on to choose our fate upon the fat man's lap
Go ask a small child should you want this clear  –
Santa's bag holds endless gifts.

(Originally published at the Dog Zen Koans on Dec. 21, 2007)