Annual India Tours
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.
Nanaimo November 10, 1992
We are the subject matter of what you could term personal appraisal and being able to engage ones more harmonious way to be with the world, termed mahamudra within the mahayana tradition of Buddhism.
For mahamudras, the investigations that are done are not the end result. It is not the investigation that is important, but rather to coming to a realization or understanding about the nature of one's being which would incorporate the greater scope of reality. Within that one would try to adjust one's attitude and one's understanding of the world. It can be said that the investigation, like to sit down and calm oneself to be able to investigate, that is the process is arriving at the realization or the conclusion. Št is a step in the process. And so one should never think that the meditations are just investigative or such, it is also to bring one to a state of realization or awareness which allows one to be in tune with reality.
Within that, I am going to read a section, do a short commentary and do a meditation. So the investigation is on ourself in the sense of our sense of self in our day to day activity. So it says
THUS A PERSON OR A SELF IDENTITY BEING MERELY A LABEL ON A COLLECTION OF SENSORY SPHERES HAS NO ULTIMATE TRUE INDEPENDENT EXISTENCE. MOREOVER, NONE OF THE SENSORY SPHERES HAS INDEPENDENT EXISTENCE EITHER, SINCE EACH OF THEM TOO IS A LABEL ON A COLLECTION OF PARTS. THEREFORE, IF YOU TRY TO FIND YOUR SELF IDENTITY IN THE LIGHT OF THESE TEACHINGS ON THE NON INDEPENDENT EXISTENCE OF ALL THINGS, YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO FIND THE TRUE INDEPENDENT EXISTENCE OF EVEN THE SMALLEST PART OF A MEDITATOR WHO IS SETTLING HIS MIND SINGLE POINTEDLY IN MEDITATION.
A few weeks ago I took the idea, I took a watch. In your mind, there has to arise the idea of watch. And in there is a very solid thing. Or for myself over the last week I have had some experiences in that very often when we have an experience, we make that experience very strong. Like a very sort of real thing. And in doing that, our mind completely forgets thats the circumstances that led to the experiences, or the experience, when it was had, how it was that it was set up. The environment of that immediate thing. Then, as it finished and as we went into other things, we made that a sort of very real thing.
For each one of us, we will have various things which when we come to, for example if we are walking down the road that invokes a certain memory in us. I've met a person like this before. Let's take a bag person. Maybe you have had experiences of being aggressively approached or abused by such a person. Then, that memory comes very fixed in the mind. There is no memory of other than that distinct experience. And because of that we set up or emotionally shift ourself into being tight or apprehensive. We are living in the memory of an experience, we are forgetting the actual more expanded detail of the experience which would be difficult anyway, and we are using that as a criteria for the next experience we are going to have. So we have almost eliminated the opportunity of having a new or fresh experience because we are holding that very strongly in our mind.
We have eliminated any reality from what we are experiencing as the meditator, as a person who is trying to be in tune with the world around us. And so, that, to try to have a fresh face for the world in each thing that we meet, requires that we can refute the grasping at any one experience as being too real! As being a fixed idea that this is going to be a bad experience that is coming up! This particular bag person would have to do a lot of something different to have us somehow maybe change our mind. To break our projection or image on them!
It would be better if we were more in tune with reality. Sure there is some angry people in the world, and there is also some very happy people in the world. There are also simple people!
I am trying to identify that a lot of our experiences or relationship with the world is based on memories of experiences which completely jade our fresh experience. So it is necessary that we have very strong fuel to be able to help us overcome our experiences which we tend to grasp at. And normally we tend to cling harder to bad experiences and get uptight and change our way of relating. So it is important that we do some investigative meditation which helps us become more fluid and help to overcome our rigidity based on previous experiences. Specifically negative rigidity which shuts us down in regards to relating to things freshly.
In doing that, the section I just read is to help us realize that we are interdependent. And other than names we give to things, we label and identify them in that way, the entity does not have fixed independent existence. Even in this watch, it is not just suddenly there. Does not miraculously appear. It was produced into a factory out of many little parts which were at some point put together. It becomes this watch. And then it is shipped, and in time I have purchased it. Even since I have purchased, the thing keeps breaking! So even the watch itself is demonstrating the fact that it is a changing entity. First off, it has not eternally existed. It is produced, so it's nature is that it is a product of activities. Then even as I have it, it is still always changing. As I wear it each day, it tends to break a little more in the wrist band. So a more real picture of the watch is that it is flexible in it's reality, right now it's holding it's own, but at some point the band will break totally, and the battery wear out! Maybe it will break and I will throw it away and it will turn into rust and dust! So maybe a deeper realization of watch is to know it is an impermanent, independent phenomena. With that, I don't get too uptight about that it is breaking. Whereas if I am an uptight person, I may get angry! Which is completely ridiculous. Things are just produced products. I don't need to get emotional and negative.
The point is what we do to ourselves because of the way we hold to things. And is it valid, is it in tune with reality. That is the question we are bringing into line.
Regarding what I just read and ourselves as experiencing individuals, it is important that we spend time investigating our experience as a phenomena. And we are a phenomena right now! In saying that word, doesn't that give you a sense of being something which is produced? Something which eats food every day, drinks, has to stay warm, and so on? I am actually very interdependent phenomena. Whereas if I identify strongly with name being Jhampa, or identify strongly with my body, I can set myself up into a very brittle mode. As one of my Lamas used to say, become very fragile. So when anything goes wrong, they used to say ego's broken! It is such a good expression. Because, if you freak out about something, your ego or personality got to a certain point and it could not handle what was happening and freaked out! So ego's broken!
So when our personality freaks out or our ego breaks, lit is that we have not been able to adapt to the new situation coming our way. So we should try to help ourselves become more fluid or adapt. And that is the objective of good meditation. That we do become more pliable or adaptable person. That our awareness is more capable of changing to different circumstances that we experience. That would be a good indicator of a good meditator. And of course the manifestation of that adaptability is a sense of peace, less stress, because we are more capable.
Within that is the nutshell of the whole teachings. It depends on the investigation into ourself and coming to a clear realization of ourself. Or a clarification of our own experience in the light of what is more real about ourselves. Within that we attune ourselves or come in harmony. With that it is possible to become a happier person, part of the objectives of why you meditate.
For investigation, you want to catch yourself when you are really holding to yourself. When something comes up really strong. You are accused of something false. Or a time when you experience fear. The object is how do I hold myself as a person! It is not the issue of the thing, but how our emotions make us take up a position which is very fixed or afraid or uptight! If you pick items such as picking up a hitch hiker, you can get a very clear image of how you hold yourself! And we are talking about holding yourself based on previous experiences, isn't maybe always appropriate. For example, if you looked at yourself as interdependent and such, that we are a phenomena that has various things around us. I want you to address yourself as a person, not what we would do in the realm of these things. Try to make again an experience, try to gain fuel so that in the less stressful things that we deal with, that we can maintain some fluidity or at least not buy into our old head space where we become very negative and fixed in our opinion. Because in that, our conscious experience has really become limited. And that is a shame, that we completely stop ourselves emotionally and consciously, in a way you have become unable to handle reality. And that limits your emotional and spiritual expression.
This meditation is aimed at holistic experience. A way to deal with the world where we maintain our fluidity. The objective is to generate an image or emotion which makes you identify strongly with yourself. Then investigate how valid is that feeling? Does it have validity? I have generated it, so I must have believed at some point that this sense of self, like fear of being attacked, was generated. This strong sense of fear generated this sense of self as me being violated. In having that sense, you have to then be able to go in and say, where is the sense of me? Definitely there is the sense of fear. But if you go into yourself, you will not find the basis of that. The solid independent sense of self will not be there. There is you, and you in reality is a phenomena who is breathing, eating and so on, but you as an independent self existent person cannot be found!
If you see a bag person, and you have had a bad experience, you can recognize that your projection will say, I don't like this person, maybe I should cross the street to avoid them. So you have actually stopped engaging reality. You have overlapped on that a very negative projection which has stopped you from seeing the person as a nice person, whatever! Something you don't even understand, about how this person really is1
The issue is the actual engaging of reality versus responding to negative projections which actually stop us from seeing the world as it really is. That is the issue we want to deal with.
With our meditation, I would like us to work with a bag person. Just trying to recognize that sometimes that we do paint the world differently from what it is. And all we are doing is really short changing ourself. Like I say, seeing the world freshly. And in doing that, stopping ourselves from having an opportunity to grow, maybe having joyful experiences.
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