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.
Oct 2 1990
Last time we talked about death and dying, the dissolution of the coarser levels consciousness. There are two ways people work with themselves. One is the philosophy is presented, and if it is well presented, it seems applicable. I have dealt in depth with the meditations of love and compassion, but I think they were touched in a authentic manner, there was nothing too exaggerated in trying to transform one's mind and trying to become a more compassionate person. All of the techniques taught were logical. But again, that is philosophy, and is dealing with your conscious experience, but in the more day to day relationships which is common. So there is nothing unique about that. In that way you can say there is a presentation given which is quite logical but on a surface level.
Another set of teachings which we have to take faith in, are the teachings of higher or refined levels of consciousness, and more a spiritual experiences, higher levels of sensitivities and such. They are based on mindfulness and deeper concentration. They can open up areas we normally do not have access to and therefore, if one dies not have them, like I could talk about all sorts of spiritual experiences, and it is lots of intellectual fun, but on the other side, if you have an experience within that realm, it is opening up a whole new vista to you and puts your spiritual practice on a new level.
So I thought, certainly we have had no small amount of teachings on the general transformation of the conscious attitude, that we would swing over into something more experiential. It means I am going to teach you some different techniques this evening in such a way that if you apply yourself, you gain some conscious experiences which are of a non common type.
So this evening, I am going to give you all a tab of acid! Just joking. It is said that the physical body we have has six consciousness within it, the five physical eye ear nose tongue and body consciousness, and mind consciousness. It is on the basis of this that the techniques you develop are based. Most of you have been taught the nine cycles of breathing, three cycles of inhaling right nostril, exhaling left, three cycles of inhaling left and exhaling right, and three cycles inhaling with both nostrils and exhaling out the crown of the head.
It is said you have a central channel running from the crown of your head down to just below your navel in front of the spine, and you have a right and left channel coming from the right and left nostril up and run beside and do a loop around the central channel at the crown, one at the throat, one at the heart and one at the navel. The two side channels are a little longer than the central channel. When you do the three inhalations, you should feel these two channels plug in together, and when you inhale, you visualize that the light and energy enters the central channel and comes down and pushes all of the fogginess of mind out of the central channel, then you reverse the process, and then in the last cycle of three, you visualize the two side channels unplug from each other and plug into the central channel. And when you inhale you draw the energy down, enters into the central channel, and when you exhale feel all of the fogginess of mind is blown out the crown of the head. Thus you do what is called "The Nine Cycles of Breathing".
This is done to balance the nervous system, to give you some sense of harmony. In the Buddhist teachings, it is said if you become more aware, you will feel you have either the right or left nostril in predominance, and in that is a psychological state that goes with that. For example, if your right nostril is more active, it is said that the side of attachment and grasping is stronger, and if the left is more active, it is said that anger and aggressiveness is stronger. Generally these are the delusions said to be related with the channels. I think is immaterial which delusions are related with it, because there can be many versions of particular delusions. However, our energy normally runs on the right or left channel, it does not run in the central channel. So this is a technique to try to make us more centered within the central channel in our nervous system.
Last week we dealt with the process of death and said when you dye, the various elements of your consciousness dissolve back and slowly your mind becomes finer and dissolves back into the heart from which it will pass out of your body and then you are dead. However they say in the teachings, when you go to sleep at night the same process happens, that you have a minor version of it, like a small death. When you go to sleep, your five sense organs have to withdraw from the outside sense data. When you think of sit, this is apparent. If the eye consciousness remained sensitive to light or the ear consciousness remained sensitive to noise, you would not sleep well and would wake quite quickly. But that is not the case. There has to be quite a bit of noise, or quite a bit of light, or quite a big shake for you to wake up. So there has to be a lot of energy placed on any of the sense doors to re-animate your mind.
And if you think about it, when you wake up it is sort of as if you are coming from somewhere deep and you slowly start to get functional. Well in the Asian perspective they say the consciousnesses withdraw from their sense organs and leaves them being there, and absorbs to the heart level. So when you go to sleep at night, there are two things which happen. You normally have two focal points of energy. One resides at the navel, and the other resides at the forehead as your awake. When you start to go to sleep, the one at the navel will drop to base of the spine, and the one at the forehead will drop to the throat. At that point you are in deep relaxation. When you move into deep sleep, the energy at the throat will drop to your heart, and the energy at the the base, for a man will come to the end of his penis, and for a lady to pubic area, whatever. And that is why they say a make will get an erection when they go to sleep, because the lower energy drops to that point. And the upper energy is dropped to the heart.
When you start to awaken, the energy rises up and comes back inside the body into the throat, at that point then you would be dreaming, and when it comes to the forehead and to the navel, you are awake again. That is the process, and you can think of it as in three phases. From forehead and navel to throat and base of body, from there to the heart and sex organ, and again, back up. So you have these three cycles happening at all times.
The energy in your body is riding in this way. Being that people with higher consciousness, higher meditative mindfulness, spend a lot of time being conscious with what is happening within these processes. They have come up with particular techniques which help us access higher levels of consciousness we do not normally access. In this way, these teachings are more on the experiential side. Some are lucky and can do it quite quickly, others have to apply themselves more.
What I am aiming at, is when we go to sleep is similar to having a small death experience, and if your mind will absorb to the deepest level of consciousness just for a moment when you go to sleep, and from there will re-animate when you start to dream, and rise then to your throat level and you will have various experiences. The experiences of deep sleep, the experiences of the intermediate state after death is like a dream state. And waking is like taking rebirth or just waking up in your bed in the morning.
I want to deal with a technique to help you access your dreams a little more directly, the point we are going on. The central channel is the point where you should try to be a little more focused. They say if you can start to channel your energy more in that area, that the general sense of being in harmony and equilibrium becomes more easy. Also these practices work more powerfully. Whether on a physiological basis you are just tapping into your spinal thing, I am not that realized. Certainly it is a more central focus of nervous energy for yourselves.
The technique is this. There are two ways to realize dreams. One is by intention, and the other way is through yoga. By intention, it means every night you go to sleep, you sit there and push, I am going to remember my dreams, and to be more specific, you say I am going to be conscious in my dreams. Secondly, you actually meditate in a particular way, and when you go to sleep you put your concentration into a particular point in your body. In doing that, you allow yourself, when your consciousness goes through its phases of night time, you can set yourself up in the right position, so when dream time starts to happen, that you already have a strong imprint there to help you remember you are dreaming, and lots of interesting things can happen in your dreams.
So when you go to sleep, if you could spend some time with the cycle of nine breaths. Three cycles of drawing in white light and energy, good thoughts and clear clarity of mind, blowing away all the negative energy. And they say the best posture is to sleep on your right side. Or you can lay on your back. I find personally I hate sleeping on my back. But if I force myself to roll on my back while I sleep at night, for some reason I do not like that posture and become more conscious in my sleep. If I want to sleep heavy, I roll over. So play around with your own body pasture and see which makes you more possible of being more conscious. There are a few other tricks. One is, don't sleep in an overly hot bed. Don't have heavy blankets. Less bedding keeps you cool. And don't eat a heavy meal at night which will affect your dreams.
As a visualization, if you want to sleep deeply, they say you should visualize sleeping in a very warm red disk. Another thing they say, is you should meditate down in your sex area if you want to sleep very deeply. If you want to sleep lighter, meditate on the throat, and visualize that the bed you are on is cool like a white cushion, a white light energy environment. In that way you help your mind become more conscious.
So when you go to bed, do the nine cycles so your partner can wonder what you are doing. It is said the dream state is related with the throat center. So visualize strongly a red light at the base of your throat. So as you go to sleep put a lot of energy on intention, that I am going to wake up in my dreams, and secondly, that you put conscious energy on your throat. You are trying so that when your mind becomes more active and starts to rise back up, upon reaching the throat chakra, it is like you are already programmed to be conscious that now I am in my dreams. In that way you set yourself up in a good manner to experience your dreams in a conscious manner.
Another thing to help with intention is the recitation of mantra. There are a few different practices you can do. If you have a guru yoga practice, you would do guru yoga and make many prayers to the guru visualized in the space before you for you to please to be more conscious in your dreams. And you visualize them sending out much white light and energy.
Another technique is to work with your mind. So we are gong to do a mantra, and I am going to give you a mantra to develop wisdom energy or wisdom consciousness. It is the mantra of the Buddha Manjushri, the Buddha of wisdom. The syllables OM AH RA BA SA NA DHI are visualized in the center of your chest emitting an incredible amount of light. You visualize that mantra and recite it. Visualizing the white light increasing mindfulness, awareness, and such things like that, putting a lot of energy in your mind saying, wake up, become conscious.
With the mantra, you should visualize it as at the level of your heart. Simply you could have it on a white disc or moon cushion. And the white light energy awakens your mind and all of the awareness, intelligence that you have become increased which is the development of higher mindfulness, the way that you would access the higher wisdom.
So I have given you three different basic features. One is taking your body and doing the nine point breathing technique and trying to balance the nerve energy in your body. Also the idea that your consciousness absorbs to your heart and re-animates back out. The second is that when you go to sleep you should visualize yourself on a white cushion and that you should try to focus your energy at the level of the throat. And the third things is a mantra which is focus for the mind. The mantra is sharp and pointed, and there is much visualization technique, but as that is quite complicated we will not go into that. We will just focus on the syllable, the pronunciation of the mantra, and that will be sufficient.
This is presented because it is not easy to give you all conscious experience. Sure I could give you a tab of acid and wouldn't that be wonderful and easy, and you would all have an interesting trip tonight. Maybe you wouldn't. It depends on your karma, I guess. But that is not really a true experience, because it is a drug dependent experience, not the ones which we want. It would be more wonderful to develop an experience based on our own concentration and intention and have an experience which helps us to appreciate our own levels of consciousness that we have. And it is tied in with the process of death and dying, about the fact that when you die, your mind becomes clear and finer levels of consciousness are revealed. That is nice theory and some of your had interesting thoughts about it, but, there are ways to start accessing really consciously, finer levels of consciousness. And this I have touched on tonight. And every night you go to sleep and so every night you have a chance to practice. And it is an eight hour meditation.
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