Presented by Jhampa Shaneman
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity. These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
Jan 7, 1990
Although in the development of enlightened consciousness, the more enlightened mind we develop as we go along, is something which is in the immediate moment. When you become enlightened it is not something which is outside the immediate conscious moment that you are experiencing. One still needs to have a context of what one is working for. It is necessary. One can't completely reject all of the intellectual framework within what one is doing.
The meditations we have been doing to this point have mostly been dealing with the development of a conscious attitude or awareness which is trying to become more conscious of the integration of our own physical body in the universe. That the very atoms and molecules of our being are continually interacting with the molecules of the air and everything around us. And as we become more conscious, we should see ourself like a sponge in water. Completely part of the environment around us.
Although we do have some independence to be able to move here and there and do things, really our whole existence, the very life that we feel, is totally inter-connected. That, translated into Buddhist terminology would be that we are not independently self existent. So although the techniques taught in traditional Buddhism are very much along the lines of the seeking out of the independent self and the "I", you try to find it, and in not finding it, because when you try to find it you will find that it keeps disappearing. Although you might have a concept that "I am here." You have this concept of me, when you search for it and you try to find and identify it clearly, sort of like you can put your finger on it, you can't because it changes. You know your own conscious belief about yourself is different when you were twenty to whatever age you are now. We have a different idea about ourselves. So what is ourself?
In the traditional approach, you would search for the self. And upon not finding it, you would realize I am part what it means by the voidness. The voidness or the emptiness, the lack of independent self existence. So within that there are analogies to help realize that.
The technique that I am trying to work with you is the realization of the complete emersion, complete atonement of our actual body and the world around us. That we really are part of the world around us. And that helps you realize that you are not independently self existent. In that it helps you relax and become more a part of the world around you. If you can realize that about your body, then obviously your mind and your conscious awareness, whatever it is, whether it is male or female, then it is also an interdependent phenomena. It is not something that is sort of there suddenly. It is a phenomena which was actually developed and cultivated. The only facet that is difficult to to consciously experience is previous and future lifetimes. But we can certainly agree that in this lifetime our conscious growth is a evolution from our experiences of interacting with the world around us. So again we are not an independently self existent entity on the side of our personality, emotional experiences and such.
So you start to dissolve that sense of independence, that sense of self existence which is if you were to spend some time thinking about it, you would find that most of your problems, all of them when it gets down to a very fine level, arise from the sense of I am an independent, separate and self existent entity. I am egocentrically here.
That sense of self existence creates all your problems. And when you can start to dissolve that you will find you have less emotional problems, less suffering in your life. That is one facet of our meditation technique which we are developing which we could term as wisdom technique. Because it is analysis and awareness. It is the development of the true nature of reality.
The second facet we have been slowly getting into is the awareness of to use an example, just as a stick of incense placed in the middle of this room will pervade it with a beautiful smell, so also within your heart, if you have a sense of love and compassion, then you will be affecting the world around you. Even if you don't do anything. Even if you are just quiet and a shy or reclusive person. You are not too active, even though you might not be active, if you have that attitude, you are an effective person because you are part of the world. Maybe you are not as dynamic as someone who is out there doing other things, but it doesn't negate that you are doing something.
What I am trying to affirm for you is the fact that you don't need to be a highly motivated bodhisattva out there trying to transform the world. If your attitude inside of yourself is of that nature, it is sufficient. And as you grow in your practice, and maybe as circumstances change, you might find that you are in an environment or circumstance where you could do something actively. And it's more comfortable for you. And so you do it. But if you have that attitude, you are alright, you are fine, it is perfect. Because that attitude is the most important thing. Circumstances change and sometimes it is not easy to help the world or help other people. But as long as your attitude is always the same, you are receptive. Then you are doing something good. Like a stick of incense. Although it might be a very huge hall, even though there is only a little stick of incense burning, it is still doing something to the environment around.
So your love and compassion are doing something. As you grow and develop more awareness, you can maybe see how you can help the world and do things. So it is not just that you are compassionate and loving. It's that you develop how to help people. And helping them on a mundane level, being generous or kind or however you do it. or helping them on an ultimate level of trying help people realize themselves and become a little more enlightened and wise. That is a deeper way of helping people. Helping them realize something which is integrally part of their being.
So you have two facets there. The one of my whole physical being, and actually my whole emotional being is not independently self existent. That is the wisdom of your practice. The other side is the love and compassion. And as I say, it doesn't have to be dynamic and incredibly altruistic. It just has to be the feeling in your heart.
In the technique we have moved into, the breathing, is just that you inhale air and it comes into your lungs, and when you exhale it it goes back out. You can to use a silly example, if you eat garlic, when you breathe back out it has a flavor of garlic. So it is a good example. Because what you should visualize is when you inhale that it touches the love in your heart, and when you exhale you exhale back out love. A graphic way of how you can feel that you are working with the world around you. So the technique of being aware of your breathing and love and compassion, unbelievably integrated. If you are aware of what breathing means, if means you are completely part of the world. Because you are taking in oxygen, and its transforming you and keeping you alive. And that provides wisdom.
The second facet is having that breath mix with the love that you have in your heart, the concern and compassion, whatever good feelings you have, so when you exhale it, it goes out. And it is there in the world. So you feel that you transform the very breath that you breathe out and you change the world.
In Buddhism it is said that your breath actually carries some of the message of what you are thinking and feeling. So they say that if someone is hurting or actually suffering very badly you could say a mantra by them and blow on them. They say it helps them because of the positive energy on the breath goes into them and such. Things which in Asia are ways of helping ill, sick, or dying people. To say mantras on your breath, or to breathe or blow on them. This is just a way of doing it.
Now the facet that I want you to now develop is to just allow yourself to believe that you are a magician. By that, I mean, if I look at each one of you, each one of you are different people and I know a little about what each one of you needs. I don't know intricately because I am not omniscient to know what you really need, but I know what you need. So that is sufficient. So what I want you to do is to allow yourself that you can do something about the world around you. And so as you exhale, and this is a very traditional technique, but I wanted you to think about it, when you exhale and the air goes out of your nose, each one of those molecules of air is a little bit of enlightenment energy. It is a little bit of bodhicitta. Bodhicitta works for the benefit of sentient beings. So you have to think of is that it goes out and for example goes to Tom and gives Tom the things that he needs to become more enlightened. And goes out to Maria and makes her happy. Goes to each person in the room. Whatever each person needs. And that is the mundane level. And then also you can think that it gives them the more real realizations. But, like I say, you have to creatively visualize that you really have magic. And that you are talking about the energy of love. If you love someone, you try to do things for them. Maybe we get too caught up with someones life, but at least you are trying to help them. You are putting out energy and being kind and considerate.
So visualize just as you inhale exhale, allow your exhalation which is love energy, consideration, kindness compassion for the world around you, to have magic. That it does what it needs to do. Allow it to be magical. And in that way, it gives you that added quality to yourself which makes you not feel that you are pathetic or can't do anything or something. Makes you feel that it is alright.
It is true that as you grow in your practice, you will have more subtle insights into people and you will know just what people need to do as the years go by and you really understand. So if you are already doing this as a technique, and it is such a natural technique, it will help develop that side of yourself. Develop a very positive side, a creative side.
In that, the aspect that is important isn't the judgmental side. It's not like you think about too much, it is like the thought, like the example we have used... manure. It becomes fertile and wonderful. Same thing. think of your love as it goes out not as being something laying a trip on someone, but learning how to mulch them, learning how to creatively change them.
So when you are in your meditation, you are breathing and you inhale, and you feel your love mixes with that. And as you exhale, then feel that it goes out. You have to have in the mind the idea, and it's not like a big intensive idea, but that there is magic in there. And that magic is helping everyone. Allow it to be that way. It sets up a positive attitude. It is not too artificial. If you have really worked on the fundamental of the meditation of being part of the world, then you can add to that so naturally the quality of love, a little bit of wonderfulness, a little bit of magic.
That is the style I would like for your meditation. To allow yourself to initially sit there and breathe and realize that I am fully interdependent with the world around me. Or I completely lack my sense ego. Sometimes I get so uptight and egocentric. That is really a false sense, its not true. If I look at my body, it is part of the world around me. Completely is not independent or self existent. My personality, when it feels independently self existent makes a lot of trouble. When it is part of the world, relaxed and softens, becomes more like the quality of a good feeling. Like a warm fuzzy, it makes also really good things in the world. So you start working that way. Naturally working with the breathing. Relax your sense of independent self existence. From there, move into love and compassion and try to move in some magic.
Copyright 1994 Daka's Buddhist Consulting
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