Oct 24, 2022
In 21st Century Experiences
The Tonglen practice Khandro-Ia led us in today, at the end of the Healing Chö, was so full of love and light. It made me reflect afterwards not only on the great benefit of doing Tonglen, but also on my own journey of doing that practice. I began doing Tonglen without real instruction during the illness of Janelle, my wife before I met Betty, and after her passing. I was in such pain, that I felt great empathy for all the suffering people in the world. I simply added their suffering to mine. Why not? I could feel their suffering so deeply. Then through great effort, I would attempt to turn it all into light and love and send that back out. Though I tried and my intention was good, my state of mind was probably not so helpful. Later on a traveling Tibetan teacher taught me that although people's suffering is real, we are actually removing the illusions which cause them suffering. That helped, and I have worked to improve my practice. Still, let's say it was a work in progress. It still is that, but Khandro-la's directions today felt like a breakthrough. She told us that our light grows stronger as the suffering comes in! I have always been taught about visualizing blackness coming in and light going out, but what she said felt so natural and free from the taint of self-concern. Why should I not feel great joy in removing these beings' suffering—just taking that heavy blackness right away from them! Maybe this has been obvious to others, but I couldn't experience it this way when I first put my feet on the path. I'm sure the Healing Chö helped to take me there.
Feb 24, 2022
In In the Charnel Grounds
I never heard about Machik's Five Slogans before I joined Dakini's Whisper, but there is a familiar sense to this. It kind of resonates with some of the early hippie ideas of letting go of our "hangups", self-examination, and facing our fears—fears that are usually not protecting anything of essential value. In my 20's we were all into that! The problem I seem to have now is lack of awareness of when I need to apply the slogans. As a metaphor, a few times, I have had a "monster" like a Mahakala show up in a dream. I instantly become aware that I am dreaming, because I don't otherwise run into monsters. The rest of the time I just dream along, unaware that I'm dreaming. So it's not too difficult to call myself out when faced, for example, with someone in clear need of help, or maybe some grungy, scary-looking street person. I'm good with that. It's in the subtle, everyday orientation to how I approach most things where I most need to wake up. I think that brings me back to the first slogan, "Confess your hidden faults." I can assume that they are mostly hidden just from me, perhaps in the form of my own projections. Taking an honest and clear look, is that what I really fear the most?
Dec 19, 2021
In Ask Khandro-la
Why do we visualize the Five Meats and Five Nectars transforming into Timeless Awareness Nectar, instead of just visualizing a nectar-filled kapala? And why a kapala as the container? I think there is a lesson here in how we understand and relate to our relative human existence, but I would like to hear more about this—teaching or discussion. Thanks!
Dec 19, 2021
In Ask Khandro-la
In almost every sadhana, yidams or sacred objects arise from a seed syllable. You have referred to them as being like speed dial to whatever we are bringing up. Other than that, I have never heard a Dharma teacher talk more about them. Where does this come from? Why not just visualize the yidam, etc? I think it might be like the subtle vibrations, an intention first arising to manifest into something seemingly more complex or evolved. Anyway, I'd like to hear if there is more depth to this subject. Thanks.
Nov 30, 2021
In Journeys & Retreat
When I coached youth soccer teams, I spent a lot of time teaching the basics, establishing the goals and setting the limits—what to do, what not to do. As the players grew older and more experienced, they had absorbed those lessons, and I began to encourage them to go beyond those limitations, to break the rules, so to speak, in expanding their game. That's how Mahamudra Journey is beginning to look to me. Maybe I was on a Mahamudra Journey all along, but I sure didn't know it. I'm not even sure what it is now, but it's not what I expected. Maybe it's less than I expected, but in this case, less is more!