envelope

Mahayana Mind Training 9


Warning: include(transclip.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 3

Warning: include(): Failed opening ‘transclip.php’ for inclusion (include_path=’.:/home/96629/domains/unfetteredmind.org/html/web_includes/’) in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 3

Student: I missed whatever comment you made on Give up poisoned food. What constitutes poisoned food?

Ken: What constitutes poisoned food is using the practice to do anything else other than wake up. So, we touched on this yesterday when somebody asked about doing it for someone, as if you’re going to help them. That’s actually poisoned food. I mean it’s coming from a good intention, but this practice is very much focused on undermining the sense of putting oneself first. And all of that associated material. So that you wake up.

And when you start trying to use it to control your environment, make your environment better, you’ve actually stepped out of spiritual practice. And to read a quote from Kongtrul on this one:

Since all virtuous thoughts and actions motivated by clinging to a concrete reality or to a self-cherishing attitude are like poisoned food, give them up. Learn not to cling, but to know the phantomlike nature of experience.

So any time we’re trying to control our experience we’re actually invested in the reality of it. And that poisons the practice. That’s why my last instruction to you up at the fire-circle, is in your meditation now, I want you to do the dream practice. That is, Everything is like a dream. And in that experience do taking and sending. See what that’s like. Okay?


Warning: include(transclip.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 15

Warning: include(): Failed opening ‘transclip.php’ for inclusion (include_path=’.:/home/96629/domains/unfetteredmind.org/html/web_includes/’) in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 15

Yes. Colleen. Do we have a microphone?

Student: When we’re trying to control our experiences….

Ken: Just hold it.

Student: When we’re trying to control our experiences, could you say that one more time?

Ken: What, what?

Student: When we’re trying to control our experiences, we [unclear] our reactive patterns?

Ken: We’re invested in; we’re projecting a reality on the world. You know, making things real rather than…I mean you experienced this during the last session up at the fire-circle, where when you regarded everything as a dream, you found yourself more present, found that there was less sense of separation from what you’re experiencing, there was less inclination to try to control it, and the consequence of that is that things actually flowed more smoothly. You follow? Okay.

Leslie: Yeah, if that wasn’t your experience—

Ken: Microphone please.

Leslie: Oh sorry. If that wasn’t your experience are you doing something wrong?

Ken: Then you have to go back to the start and start all over again. [Laughter] You have to stay for another five days Leslie. [Laughter]

That is, it doesn’t necessarily mean one is doing something wrong, of course. It means that there’s work to do in that practice. And so you cultivate that. Now, what did you experience?

Leslie: I experienced the opposite; I experienced more a sense of separation, and detachment, and less attention and awareness.

Ken: Okay. Then I suggest you keep practicing with the dream and see, because there’s a transition here. We’re used to focusing attention in a certain way in our regular lives, so often when we start doing something like this dream practice it does feel less connected, more detached, granted. But what we find over time is that underneath that there is actually more presence because there’s less emotional reaction going on. Most of us are used to feeling connection as associated with emotional reaction, not the kind of connection that is connected with presence.

Leslie: Okay. Thank you.

Ken: Okay? And so I’ve already given something away there about what is connection. [Snaps fingers] Okay.

Any other questions?


Warning: include(transclip.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 38

Warning: include(): Failed opening ‘transclip.php’ for inclusion (include_path=’.:/home/96629/domains/unfetteredmind.org/html/web_includes/’) in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 38

Well, should I give you a practical application of taking and sending? Okay.

Every day Nasrudin went to the marketplace and people regularly came up to him, and they would hold out a large gold coin and a small copper coin, and they would say, “Nasrudin, you can take either one of the these coins you like!”

And Nasrudin would look at them very carefully and then he would take the small copper coin.

And a friend of Nasrudin said, “Why do you do that? Why don’t you take the gold coin?”

And Nasrudin said, “Well, people come up to me because they think I’m crazy because I always take the small copper coin. If I took the gold coin they would know I wasn’t crazy so I wouldn’t have all those copper coins that I get now.”

[Laughter] One can twist these teachings in many ways. Okay, just to finish off here, on the very back page, page 28, you’ll find Chekawa’s concluding verses. This is how he sums up or closes the Mind Training in Seven Points:

As the five kinds of decay spread, this practice changes them into the path of awakening. This instruction, the essence of elixir, is a transmission from Serlingpa.

Now, I can’t remember what the five kinds although they’re probably in here. But one of the—I won’t bother going into it—one of the features of all traditional religions is that the earliest times were perfect and there’s been a gradual degeneration and it just continues. Things are always decaying, and that’s how a traditional society looks at things. And it fits completely with what I said earlier about the approach to spiritual development in a traditional context or culture, is emulating past examples of perfection. They’re all in the past, when things were better! And so we just do our best now to emulate that.

And the thing is that people today take all of this stuff very, very literally. And so, but this is simply the ordinary way that people in these cultures thought. It’s not how we think of things–in fact it is the antithesis of the way that we think of things in our culture. In the postmodern framework, we think of things as constantly improving. Now, we’re having to revise that a little bit because we feel we’re running into the limitation of resources, but we have no idea actually what the future will look like, and it will become clear as it unfolds.

But the point here is that because things are degenerating you’re going to encounter more and more adversity and this makes mind training a particularly effective teaching because as we’ve seen earlier by working with whatever you experience through mind training you can transform whatever you experience into the path of awakening. Just by taking in the negativity and using that to develop the attitude of freeing others from suffering, then giving away your own good fortune, you transform everything you experience into a virtuous sentiment, basically, and undermining this sense of self-importance and self-cherishing, and thus moving steadily towards greater and greater presence. And it is one of the great features of mind training.

This instruction, the essence of elixir, is a transmission from Serlingpa,. Serlingpa is another name for Dharmakirti, Serlingpa literally means “one who lives on the golden island,” which was the name of Sumatra.


Warning: include(transclip.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 57

Warning: include(): Failed opening ‘transclip.php’ for inclusion (include_path=’.:/home/96629/domains/unfetteredmind.org/html/web_includes/’) in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 57

And then the next stanza,

The awakening of the karmic energy of previous training aroused intense interest in me. Not sure that’s actually English, but the meaning here is that when he encountered this teaching it awoke something in him which he attributes to previous lives. And so all of that propensity and potential came out and manifested as intense interest in this teaching. And that is one of the facets of karma in traditional Buddhist thinking, is that it explains things, why things are the way they are. And it’s a very convenient explanation, but that’s all it is, an explanation.

Some of you have noticed that as you have connected and learned this teaching, like, you feel it resonates very deeply, and you can imagine, “I can make this a life practice.” That’s a similar kind of thing; there’s some kind of resonance. In traditional cultures that was attributed to karma. We can attribute it to genes if you want, we can attribute it to all kinds of things. We can attribute it to our early family conditioning – it really doesn’t matter what we attribute it to: it’s happening, make use of it.

This search for explanations is actually just a way of trying to stay asleep.


Warning: include(transclip.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 67

Warning: include(): Failed opening ‘transclip.php’ for inclusion (include_path=’.:/home/96629/domains/unfetteredmind.org/html/web_includes/’) in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 67

I ignored suffering and criticism. This is very important. Many of you’ve heard me tell the story of Professor Fu who was very, very concerned with fame and everything, and one day a Chan master living on the other side of the Yangtze River, or the Yellow River…how did it go? [Unclear] Yeah, no I’m just trying to remember. Yes that’s right! He went over to Professor Fu’s place, and Professor Fu wasn’t home. So he left a note saying, “Professor Fu is a fart.” [Laughter]

And when Professor Fu came back he saw this note and could recognize by the calligraphy who wrote it. And was just incensed, “How could somebody say that?!” So he went down to the shores of the river and found a ferryman to take him across, stormed into this Chan master’s house waiving this note saying, “How dare you write this!!” And the Chan master said, “I’ve heard that Professor Fu is unmoved by the winds of the eight worldly concerns, but I see that he’s been blown across the Yangtze River by a little puff of air.” [Laughter]

So, another thing to put on you memorize list please. These things are really useful, okay? The eight worldly concerns, they are: happiness and unhappiness, or happiness and sadness, take your choice; gain and loss; fame and obscurity; and respect and disdain. Now, those are actually a pretty comprehensive definition of success and failure in terms of society. If you are happy, rich, famous, and respected you’re generally regarded as a success. If you’re unhappy, poor or obscure, and regarded with disdain by those around you, that’s generally regarded as a failure.

When you’re practicing, ideally you’re not particularly concerned with success or failure as it is defined by social conventions. So here we have Chekawa saying, I ignored suffering and criticism. And that indicates that he wasn’t concerned about these things. What he was concerned with was waking up. And so he says, I sought instructions to subdue holding to a self. [And sought instruction for subduing ego-clinging.]

One of my teachers, Dezhung Rinpoche, his teacher was a person called Ngawang Lekpa, who had a high position of responsibility because of his birth in one of the major monastic establishments in Eastern Tibet. And, so when he’d completed his training he spent most of his time on yak journeying around from one monastery to another, checking on how things were doing and making sure that they were paying their share to the mother monastery and nothing was out of line, you know just basic administrative stuff.

And while he rode around, these journeys took many, many days of course because no cars, no trains, let alone airplanes, this was in the nineteenth century, you know, early twentieth century at best. So he’s sitting on this yak, and yaks don’t move very quickly. So he spent most of his time reading Milarepa’s biography. He would just read it over and over again while he was travelling. And when he was thirty-nine he looked at his life and said, “This is crap.” And he just gave it all up, and went into a cave above the main monastery and stayed there for years, just practicing.

Now relatively few, if any of us, are going to do that, but the pursuit of fame, wealth, etc. will take us far, far away from our spiritual practice. We need of course to make a livelihood in whatever way we can, but do remember this life is yours and yours alone. You’re the only one who’s going to live it, nobody else. And so when people tell you what you should be doing with your life, remember that some of their agenda may be running in whatever advice they give you. This life is yours and yours alone.


Warning: include(transclip.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 81

Warning: include(): Failed opening ‘transclip.php’ for inclusion (include_path=’.:/home/96629/domains/unfetteredmind.org/html/web_includes/’) in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 81

And you noticed the last line, Now, when I die, I’ll have no regrets. This is probably the most important thing.

We all know that we’re going to die. We don’t know when. How many of you could say right now, that if you’d die you’d have no regrets? Probably relatively few of us. And that may sound like a negative way to approach life. It’s actually deeply positive. Because if you are completely engaged in your life and you’re living your life in a way in which you have no regrets at any point in it, not only is this good for you, but it’s probably going to be very, very good for the people around you. And it just radiates from there.

So these are the concluding verses here.

Now, there is only one way that we can live a life of no regret, and that’s living in balance with the world that we experience. And if you examine your lives, I think you’ll see that the areas in which you find pain, suffering, discontent, whatever you want, are areas in your lives which reflect some kind of imbalance. So that may be a useful way to explore things.


Warning: include(transclip.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 91

Warning: include(): Failed opening ‘transclip.php’ for inclusion (include_path=’.:/home/96629/domains/unfetteredmind.org/html/web_includes/’) in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 91

Here is a Sufi way of talking about this practice. Here we are…that’s what I’m looking for. That’s annoying; I thought his name was in the title. Okay. It’ll probably take me too long to find it so I’ll have to rely on my memory.

There was a person named Abdul Malik who was very wealthy. And he made a point…Ah, here we are:

Once upon a time there was a merchant named Abdul Malik. He was known as the Good Man of Khorasan because from his immense fortune he used to give to charity and hold feasts for the poor. But one day it occurred to him that he was simply giving away some of what he had and that the pleasure which he obtained through his generosity was far in excess of what it really cost him to sacrifice what was after all such a small portion of his wealth.

As soon as this thought entered his mind he decided to give away every penny for the good of mankind, and did so. No sooner had he divested himself of all his possessions, resigned to face whatever events life might have in store for him, Abdul Malik saw during his meditation hour a strange figure seem to rise from the floor of his room. A man was taking shape before his very eyes, dressed in the patchwork robe of the mysterious Dervish. “O, Abdul Malik, generous man of Khorasan,” intoned the apparition, “I am your real self. Which has now become almost real to you, because you’ve done something really charitable measured against which your previous record of goodness was as nothing. Because of this, and because you were able to part with your fortune without feeling personal satisfaction, I am rewarding you from the real source of reward. In future I will appear before you in this way every day. You will strike me, and I will turn into gold. You’ll be able to take from this golden image as much as you may wish. Do not fear that you will harm me, because whatever you take will be replaced from the source of all endowments.” So saying, he disappeared.

The very next morning a friend named Bay-Akal was sitting with Abdul Malik when the Dervish specter began to manifest itself. Abdul Malik struck it with a stick; the figure fell to the ground and was transformed into gold. He took part of it for himself and gave some of the gold to his guest.

Now, Bay-Akal not knowing what had gone before started to think how he could perform a similar wonder. He knew that Dervishes had strange powers and concluded that it was necessary only to beat them to obtain gold. So he arranged for a feast to be held, to which every Dervish who heard of it could come and eat his fill. When they had all eaten well, Bay-Akal took up an iron bar and thrashed every Dervish within reach until they laid battered and broken on the ground.

Those Dervishes who were unharmed seized Bay-Akal and took him to the judge. They stated their case and produced the wounded Dervishes as evidence. Bay-Akal related what had happened at Abdul Malik’s house and explained his reasons for trying to reproduce the trick. Abdul Malik was called and on his way to the court his golden self whispered to him to say, and then when he arrived at court he said, “May it please the court,” he said, “This man seems to be insane. Or to be trying to cover up some penchant for assaulting people without cause. I do know him, but his story does not correspond with my own experiences in my house.”

Bay-Akal was therefore placed in a lunatic asylum until he became more calm. The Dervishes recovered almost at once through some science known to themselves. And nobody believed that such an astonishing thing as a man, who becomes a golden statue, and daily at that, could ever take place. For many another year, until he was gathered to his forefathers, Abdul Malik continued to break the image which was himself. And to distribute its treasure, which was himself, to those whom he could not help in any other way than materially.

[The Golden Fortune]

So, another take on this.


Warning: include(transclip.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 108

Warning: include(): Failed opening ‘transclip.php’ for inclusion (include_path=’.:/home/96629/domains/unfetteredmind.org/html/web_includes/’) in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 108

Now I just want to cover a few things. At the end of this book Kongtrul draws on the vast repertoire of mind training teachings. And I think a few may be helpful. How many of you encountered some difficulty in your practice during this retreat? Who didn’t? We’ll arrange something for you this evening. Okay. We just…equal opportunity you know?

What Kongtrul writes is this: Mind training by itself is capable of bringing all happiness and suffering into practice. In addition, when profound dharma, profound practice, stirs up evil karma, your mind is also stirred up. Anybody relate to this? Okay. Just wanted to make sure I’m on topic. When you’re moving you want to sit, and when you’re sitting still you want to move. You know, you can’t find the place. This problem comes up, here’s how you practice:

When I am in this kind of mood,

My mat is by far the best place to be.

This present mental state is fine.

Moreover, by experiencing this unpleasantness,

I won’t be born in the hell realms. How wonderful!

I’m not going to be baked or roasted! How wonderful!

So the next time you’re having difficulty, maybe you should remember that.


Warning: include(transclip.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 124

Warning: include(): Failed opening ‘transclip.php’ for inclusion (include_path=’.:/home/96629/domains/unfetteredmind.org/html/web_includes/’) in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 124

The point here is that through practices such as taking and sending not only are we undermining our attachment to a sense of self, we’re also transforming experience, or the energy of experience, into attention. And as our attention develops we become capable of experiencing stuff that we couldn’t experience before. That’s why many of you have found yourself revisiting previous experiences or various emotional issues coming up which you kind of knew about but you weren’t really dealing with and now, now you can actually experience them, and often it’s very, very uncomfortable.

When that happens we get very, very disturbed physically, emotionally, all kinds of stories and stuff running through our heads. And we get very confused. And this is always the case whenever attention is penetrating into another layer of conditioning it always feels disorienting and confusing because up to that point there’s only been confusion there. Now we’re bringing attention, so the first thing that happens is we experience confusion. And all of the pain and suffering that’s been locked up there for, you know, however long.

And so there’s a natural tendency, say, “Ow, I don’t want this; can’t I go do something?” But this is what your practice has brought you. And here’s an internal interpretation of Don’t put an ox’s load on a cow. You know, this is what your practice has brought you: experience it. There is nothing to do.

Now, you can avoid it, but that just means you’re pushing that out of your attention and I’ve talked about the problems that come about from that. Whenever you deliberately try to ignore something, you create a much more serious problem for yourself later on. So, there you are, and you’re just having a miserable time. And you know, your body hurts, you’ve got cramps and tensions in places that have always felt fine until you started this stupid meditation, and there’s all kinds of memories and associations coming up that you just don’t want to deal with at all. And just to make…complete the picture: You have all of these stories going through your mind, going you know, “You’re really screwed up here. In fact, you really screw up with everything.” You know, or something along those lines.


Warning: include(transclip.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 135

Warning: include(): Failed opening ‘transclip.php’ for inclusion (include_path=’.:/home/96629/domains/unfetteredmind.org/html/web_includes/’) in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 135

What do you do? Well, we have the instructions: it’s a dream, so you start experiencing it as a dream, and often when we do that we find a way of being with the experience that we couldn’t before. We still experience it, but we aren’t bouncing off it to the same extent.

We can do taking and sending with it. “I’m having a miserable time. May the miserable times of all sentient beings—anybody else who’s done a retreat like this—come into me. And, you know, well at least not starving so I’ll give…the fact that I have some food.” That maybe all you feel you got..at that point to give to somebody. And that’s it. So you can do that. And that’s what Kongtrul is saying, “This present mental state is fine. That’s just what is.” Here we find the essence of Buddhist practice is experiencing whatever is arising. When we do that there’s several things that come from it.

Up to this point, in this terrible experience we’re having right now, we felt that if we experience that stuff we’ll die. We are heavily identified with that material. But when we sit in the experience, a strange thing happens. We experience it, we experience it, we experience it. Maybe we experience it for five minutes or so. Maybe we experience it for two or three of our half-hour sitting periods. Maybe we experience it for even three or four days. If you’re really thick like me, you may experience something like that for two weeks. It’s happened to me repeatedly during the three-year retreat.

And there it is, all of this pain, difficulty, emotional turbulence, and these damn stories which just keep screaming at you. And you can’t turn them off, so you just keep plugging away at the practice, and then one day you sit down, and it’s not there! And you kind of poke around; it’s not there! Then you’re just resting very peacefully, and your body doesn’t hurt anymore, there aren’t any of those stories, and there’s no emotional upset.

This is a very important experience. Not only is it an object lesson in impermanence; it’s more important than that. Previously we were identified with all of this. When we actually sit through the experience and it comes and goes, then we know that whatever that was, it’s not what we are. Because it came and went. It arose in our experience and then released. So it can’t be whatever it is we are. Because we’re still there.

And another way of thinking about Buddhist practice is it’s a way of coming to know what we are not. We’re not our thoughts, we’re not our feelings, we’re not our beliefs, and just goes on and on. And everything time we come to know we’re not one of those things we gain another dimension of freedom. We can see more clearly; a greater range of action is available to us.

It’s very, very difficult to say what we are. But we can come to know through our own experience what we are not.


Warning: include(transclip.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 149

Warning: include(): Failed opening ‘transclip.php’ for inclusion (include_path=’.:/home/96629/domains/unfetteredmind.org/html/web_includes/’) in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 149

And I’ve read some of Serlingpa’s teachings which Kongtrul included here:

Flatten all thoughts.

All remedies are weapons to strike with.

Concentrate all plans into one.

All paths have one goal.

As soon as thinking arises, either bring it into your taking and sending practice or open into awareness so the thinking…so the air goes out of it. That’s what it means to flatten. It’s not really going around with a mallet going pound, pound, pound. That usually doesn’t work very well.

The various tools you develop—you learn and develop in your practice—don’t leave them lying around: use them. Use them right in your life, in your meditation, become skilled in their use. So that when a reactive emotion comes, start working with it immediately. Don’t think, “Oh, I’ll work on that this evening, or I’ll work on that tomorrow.” Right then, just bring in the taking and sending, so you move straight into the experience of that reactive emotion. Because it’s by moving into the experience and experiencing it in attention, that we find what I was just saying before, we come to the knowing that it is not what we are.

Don’t plan many different projects for the present or the future. Concentrate only on what helps your mind and in doing the best you can to destroy this tendency, this sense of self-importance. It’s the most important thing in our lives. Why? Because it’s attachment to a self-image that prevents us from actually experiencing our lives. Since freedom from attachment to a sense of self is buddhahood this single goal is enough. There is no need to enumerate the stages. Something we covered before.

Next one I’ve already done,

Adverse conditions are spiritual friends.

Devils and demons are emanations of the victorious ones.

Illness is the broom for evil and obscurations.

Suffering is the dance of what is.

Student: What page are you on?

Ken: This is 48, 49.

Another one is,

The unwanted is the most wished for.

The worst portents are joyfully accepted.

Again, When you are suffering, don’t despair. When you look at just what it is, it disappears as being empty. In addition to the appearance of suffering, take on the suffering and unhappiness of all sentient beings… Sorry, that’s a reference to another instruction.

When everything you don’t want, or don’t wish for descends on you, it gives you a lot of fuel to work with in your practice. So, and when you encounter bad portents and hallucinations, same thing. “Oh, I must be getting somewhere. Good.”

This last teaching, I don’t think this is from Serlingpa, but it’s a wonderful instruction,

Turn error around and look right in.

Relax completely and rest at ease.

Not being held, they go freely.

And what Kongtrul has to say about this: If you follow or get involved with any thought or emotion you’ve fallen into error, you turn it around. As soon as you recognize that, you look in.

Student: Would you repeat that poem again, turn error around.

Ken: Yeah. Turn error around and look right in. Relax completely and rest at ease. Not being held, they go freely.

So, as soon as you recognize that you’ve been distracted by a thought or emotion you’ve gotten involved in and lost your attention, then just look right into your mind. That’s what it means to look right in: look right into the mind. When you look that way you see nothing. Rest right there. Now when thoughts arise, they just arise and release by themselves. There’s no confusion. And so what was previously getting caught up in the thinking process now becomes something which just illuminates awareness. This is essentially mahamudra instruction.

Student: Could you finish the sentence, if you follow and involve with any emotion…

Ken: You fall into error.

Student: You fall into error.

Ken: As you fall into confusion. Probably should change “error” there into “confusion” actually. Yes?


Warning: include(transclip.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 188

Warning: include(): Failed opening ‘transclip.php’ for inclusion (include_path=’.:/home/96629/domains/unfetteredmind.org/html/web_includes/’) in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 188

Student: Is it possible with what you just said to give a concrete example because I’m struggling with…?

Ken: Anything happen in your practice…or anything in your life which disturbs you?

Student: Everything.

Ken: Well, pick one. You don’t have to tell me, just pick one. Okay?

Student: I take my question back. [Laughter]

Ken: Too late! [Laughter]

Student: Then let’s all pick one and do…

Ken: Of course! So, there you have some emotion. It could be grief, it could be anger, doesn’t matter. Just let yourself feel it. Now, look at it. And ask, “What is this? What is this experience?” When you do that, you look that way, you don’t see anything. You may still feel the emotion. But when you look at what it is, you don’t see anything. Now, just rest in that looking. That’s what he’s talking about.

Student: If you look at it, you don’t see anything…How do you rest in nothing?

Ken: I didn’t say rest in nothing. I said rest in the looking. When you look at the sky, what do you see?

Student: Blue sky.

Ken: And you look right into that blue, all the way into that blue-what do you see?

Student: [Laughter] Atmosphere.

Ken: Pardon?

Student: Atmosphere.

Ken: What?

Student: Atmosphere.

Ken: Atmosphere. I’m sorry, we do not see atmosphere. [Laughter]

Not unless it’s really, really thick. You see, you know atmosphere is there because of your scientific training, but you don’t see it. This is…our practice is about dealing with what we actually experience, not what we infer. But when you’re…I mean, it’s a curse to have a scientific training, it really is. Because it continuously short-circuits our direct experience.

When I was doing my MA in math, I was about four or five years older than most of the grad students, because I came back after I’d been away for a while. And one day we were sitting around in our office discussing things, and somebody brought up the experience of pain, so I just, I felt like being mischievous that day, said, “So what experiences the pain?” And everyone of them went…[dumbfounded?]. I said, “Your brain experiences the pain?” “Yes, absolutely.”

This was back in the 1970’s, long before a lot of modern brain studies. I said, “Look, if I stick a pin in your foot, you’re going to tell me that you experience that in your brain?” And they all said, “Yup. It’s where we experience it.” I so wanted to stick a pin in their foot!


Warning: include(transclip.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 214

Warning: include(): Failed opening ‘transclip.php’ for inclusion (include_path=’.:/home/96629/domains/unfetteredmind.org/html/web_includes/’) in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 214

Alex.

Alex: What’s the turn around part of the instruction [unclear]?

Ken: Well, ordinarily when a thought arises our mind goes out to it; we get involved with it. What we do is we turn it around and look in. That’s the turn around part. Okay? Okay.

So, we covered a great deal of ground in the course of this retreat. We covered this whole text, and effectively you received the transmission for this. Mind training in seven points is one of the great teachings in the Tibetan tradition. It was originally composed in the twelfth century. And traces its origin back several hundred years earlier than that. It’s a practice which has been immensely important and crucial to the awakening of countless people in the course of centuries.

We’ve been able to spend this time together, and this is the best kind of circumstance for learning about taking and sending and mind training in seven points because we’ve had these four or five days in which to practice this. And you know there’s a huge difference from learning about something from reading a book etc., etc. and practicing it. Particularly when we have the chance to practice it and ask questions, and refine our practice and work the difficulties.

And that’s why we have retreats such as this, it’s because here we can learn not only the intellectual or conceptual component, but also the experiential component. We learn actually how to do the practice. And this is what is most important. Anybody can read books, but learning how to do the practice and understanding what that means experientially, how to meet the various difficulties and challenges, and how to balance that: this is what’s really important.

So, that’s what we’ve been able to do here. And I’m very, very glad about that, because this is a very wonderful teaching, and some of you may say, “Okay, this is it. I’m just going to practice this.” And that will be a very, very good thing. There are many teachers who I’ve met whom this particular practice has been one of their principal practices. It’s something that has been extremely helpful, and continues to be very helpful to me, because sometimes it’s the only way I could keep any thread of attention going through various difficulties. Various other practices I just couldn’t maintain the consistency with them. But this one it’s so easy to come back to—you can always use it.


Warning: include(transclip.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 228

Warning: include(): Failed opening ‘transclip.php’ for inclusion (include_path=’.:/home/96629/domains/unfetteredmind.org/html/web_includes/’) in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 228

So I’m very, very happy to be able to work with you this in this time. And what I want you to do this evening is as I said is do taking and sending while you feel that everything you experience is a dream.

Now, this opens a possibility to an additional wrinkle in taking and sending. Any part of our experience which causes us pain, or threatens our sense of self, we tend to dislike or fear or disconnect from. That part of our experience may be another person. It may be a memory of a very painful experience or situation. It may be part of our body, or it may be certain feelings that we just don’t want to have anything to do with.

I’ve found it’s actually quite helpful to do taking and sending with any part of your experience from which you feel alienated, because there’s always some pain or hurt or fear or negativity wrapped up there. And by keeping it away we don’t experience it, and because we don’t experience it drives our reactive patterns. Because the reactive patterns are all set up to keep us from experiencing it.

So when we do taking and sending we break that cycle. We do taking and sending with that part of us we break that cycle, we actually form a relationship with those parts of us that are alienated, and now we’re experiencing more completely exactly what comprises our life and that brings us into our life more fully.

You may think, “Well, why do I want to experience all of this pain?” By ignoring it, by keeping it away, we insure that we live our lives in such a way that we create suffering for ourselves and others. By opening to whatever arises in experience, and experiencing it in complete attention, we’ll find ourselves touching into what I call an exquisite joy. The joy of touching what is true. And as we talked about up in the fire circle, when we touch what is true in our experience, two things happen: one, we relax, because all that effort of holding that away can now be let go. We relax. And second, we taste joy, because we are touching what is true.

So, my wish for you is that you take what you’ve learned these few days and you use it in your lives in whatever way is appropriate for you. And if you have any questions, need clarification on any points, all of you know how to get in touch with me, and I’ll be more than happy to respond to that.

Now we’re going to break for dinner and I will continue the interviews. I may or may not get through everybody today, and if I don’t it doesn’t matter because we have another two hours tomorrow. So nobody’s going to miss an interview. So please don’t let that bother you in your meditation. Okay.

Romy. Okay. Molly? Are we finished? Do we need to record this?

Molly: No.

Ken: Okay, so…


Warning: include(cclicense.html): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 245

Warning: include(): Failed opening ‘cclicense.html’ for inclusion (include_path=’.:/home/96629/domains/unfetteredmind.org/html/web_includes/’) in /nfs/c06/h06/mnt/96629/domains/yeolde.unfetteredmind.org/html/wp-content/plugins/exec-php/includes/runtime.php(42) : eval()’d code on line 245