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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Child of Buddha...

Chapter 11 of Avatamsaka Sutra
Child of Buddha, if enlightening beings use their minds properly, they can attain all supreme qualities, can have a mind unhindered in regard to all enlightening teachings, can remain on the Path of the Buddhas of past, present, and future, never leaving it even while living in the midst of sentient beings, can comprehend the characteristics of all things, cut off all evil and fulfill all good. They will be physically most excellent, like Universally Good; all of their practical vows they will be able to fulfill, and will be free in all ways, and will be guides for all sentient beings, How can they use their minds so as to attain all supreme sublime qualities?

Enlightening beings at home should wish that all beings realize the nature of "home" is empty, and escape its pressures.

While serving their parents, they should wish that all beings serve the Buddha, protecting and nourishing everyone.

While with their spouses and children, they should wish that beings be impartial toward everyone, and forever give up attachment.

When attaining desires, they should wish that all beings pull out the arrows of lust and realize ultimate peace.

On festive occasions, they should wish that all beings enjoy themselves with truth and realize amusement's not real.

If in palace rooms, they should wish that all beings enter the sanctified state, forever rid of defiled craving.

When putting on adornments, they should wish that all beings give up phony decoration, and reach the abode of truth.

When climbing up in balconies, they should wish that all beings ascend the tower of truth, and see through everything.

When they give something, they should wish that all beings be able to relinquish all with hearts free of clinging.

When in gatherings or crowds, they should wish that all beings let go of compounded things, and attain to total knowledge.

If in danger and difficulty, they should wish that all beings be free unhindered wherever they go.

When they give up home life, they should wish that all beings have no hindrance in leaving home, and that their minds can be liberated.

Entering a monastery, they should wish that all beings expound various principles of non-contention.

Going to tutors and teachers, they should wish that all beings skillfully server their teachers, and practice virtuous ways.

Seeking initiation, they should wish that all beings reach the non-regressing state, their minds without impediment.

Shedding lay clothing, they should wish that all beings cultivate roots of goodness, and abandon the yoke of transgressions.

When shaving off their hair, they should wish that all beings forever divorce all afflictions, and pass on to ultimate tranquility.

Putting on religious garb, they should wish that all beings be undefiled in mind, and fulfill the Way of the Great Sage.

When they formally leave home, they should wish that all beings leave home with the Buddha, and rescue one and all.

Taking refuge in the Buddha, they should wish that all beings continue lineage of Buddhas, conceiving the unexcelled aspiration.

Taking refuge in the Teaching, they should wish that all beings enter deeply into the scriptures, and their wisdom be deep as the sea.

Taking refuge in the Community, they should wish that all beings order the masses, all becoming free from obstruction.

When receiving the learners' precepts, they should wish that all beings learn self-control well, and not do any wrong.

Receiving a mentor's instruction, they should wish that all beings bear themselves with dignity, and that their actions be truthful.

Receiving a teacher's guidance, they should wish that all beings enter the knowledge of birthlessness, and reach the state of independence.

Receiving the full set of precepts, they should wish that all beings fulfill all means of liberation, and master the supreme teaching.

When entering a hall, they should wish that all beings ascent to the unexcelled sanctuary, and rest there secure, unshakable.

When setting out a seat, they should wish that all beings cause good principles to bloom, and see their true character.

Sitting up straight, they should wish that all beings sit on the seat of enlightenment, they minds without attachment.

Sitting cross-legged, they should wish that all beings have firm and strong roots of goodness, and attain the state of immovability.

Cultivating concentration, they should wish that all beings conquer their minds by concentration, ultimately, with no remainder.

When practicing contemplation, they should wish that all beings see truth as it is, and be forever free of opposition and contention.

When uncrossing the legs, they should wish that all beings observe that all acts and all things, return to dispersal and extinction.

When lowering the feet and resting, they should wish that all beings attain liberation of mind, resting at peace, unstirred.

When raising the legs, they should wish that all beings leave the sea of birth and death, and fulfill all good qualities.

When putting on lower garments, they should wish that all beings wear the foundations of goodness, and have a sense of shame and conscience.

When putting on a belt, they should wish that all beings bundle roots of goodness, and not let them be lost.

When putting on an outer garment, they should wish that all beings attain supreme bases of goodness, and reach the Other Shore of the teaching.

Putting on monastic robes, they should wish that all beings enter the foremost rank, and attain imperturbability.

Taking a tooth-stick in hand, they should wish that all beings attain the wonderful teaching, and be ultimately pure.

When chewing on the tooth-stick, they should wish that all beings be harmonious and pure in mind, biting through all afflictions.

When going to the toilet, they should wish that all beings reject greed, hatred and folly, and clean away sinful things.

When going to wash thereafter, they should wish that all beings speedily go to the transmundance.

When washing off the body's filth, they should wish that all beings be pure and harmonious, and ultimately without defilement.

When washing the hands with water, they should wish that all beings have pure clean hands to receive and hold Buddha's teaching.

When washing the face with water, they should wish that all beings attain the pure teaching, and be forever free from defilement.

Picking up a staff, they should wish that all beings establish great works of charity, and point out the road of truth.

Taking up a bowl, they should wish that all beings perfect the vessel of truth, and receive human and divine support.

Setting out on a road, they should wish that all beings go where the Buddha goes into teh realm of non-reliance.

When on the road, they should wish that all beings engage into the Path of the Buddha, and towards the dharma of non-rest.

When on the road, they should wish that all beings tread the pure realm of reality, their minds without obstruction.

Seeing a road uphill, they should wish that all beings forever leave the world, their minds free from weakness.

Seeing a road downhill, they should wish that all beings be humble in mind, and develop enlightened base of virtue.

Seeing a winding road, they should wish that all beings abandon false paths, and forever purge wrong views.

Seeing a straight road, they should wish that all beings be straight and the true in mind, without flattery or deceit.

Seeing a dusty road, they should wish that all beings get rid of dust and dirt, and attain the state of purity.

Seeing a dust-free road, they should wish that all beings always practice great compassion, their hearts refreshing and nourishing.

Seeing a dangerous road, they should wish that all beings abide in the realm of truth, and avoid the troubles of wrongdoing.

Seeing a group of people, they should wish that all beings expound the most profound teaching, that all be harmoniously united.

If they see a big tree, they should wish that all beings divorce egotistic contentiousness, and be free of anger and resentment.

If they see a grove, they should wish that all beings be worthy of the respect of celestials and humans.

If they see high mountains, they should wish that all beings' roots of goodness stand out, their peak beyond anyone's reach.

If they see thorny trees, they should wish that all beings may quickly cut away, the thorns of the three poisons.

Seeing trees with luxuriant foliage, they should wish that all beings make a canopy of light, with stability and liberation.

If they see flowers blooming, they should wish that all beings' mystic spiritual powers be like blossoming flowers.

If they see blossoms on trees, they should wish that all beings' features be like flowers, with all marks of distinction.

If they see fruits, they should wish that all beings attain the supreme teaching, and realize the way of enlightenment.

If they see a big river, they should wish that all beings gain entry into the stream of truth, and enter the ocean of Buddha-knowledge.

If they see a reservoir, they should wish that all beings quickly awaken to the truth of the oneness of the Buddhas.

If they see a pond, they should wish that all beings be fully accomplished in speech, and be skillful in preaching.

If they see a well, they should wish that all beings have full powers to elucidation to explain all things.

If they see a spring, they should wish that all beings' skill in means increases and their good roots be inexhaustible.

If they see a bridge, they should wish that all beings carry all across to freedom like a bridge.

If they see flowing water, they should wish that all beings develop wholesome will and wash away the stains of delusion.

Seeing a garden cultivated they should wish that all beings, in the garden of sense desires, clear away the weeds of craving.

Seeing a forest of "sorrowless" trees, they should wish that all beings forever divorce greed and lust, and not produce anxiety and fear.

If they see a park, they should wish that all beings diligently cultivate the practices, leading to Buddhas' enlightenment.

Seeing people wearing ornaments, they should wish that all beings be adorned with a Buddha's Thirty-two marks of distinction.

Seeing the unadorned, they should wish that all beings give up decorations, and practice austerity.

Seeing people attached to pleasure, they should wish that all beings delight themselves with truth, not abandoning love for it.

Seeing the unattached, they should wish that all beings have no care in their minds for fabricated things.

Seeing happy people, they should wish that all beings always be peaceful and happy, gladly supporting the Buddhas.

Seeing people suffer, they should wish that all beings attain fundamental knowledge, and eliminate all misery.

Seeing people with no maladies, they should wish that all beings enter true wisdom, and never have sickness or afflictions.

Seeing people sick, they should wish that all beings know the body is empty and null, and divorce opposition and conflict.

Seeing handsome people, they should wish that all beings always have pure faith in the enlightened and enlightening ones.

Seeing ugly people, they should wish that all beings not become attached to anything not good.

Seeing grateful people, they should wish that all beings be able to know the blessings of the Buddhas and enlightening beings.

Seeing ungrateful people, they should wish that all beings not increase the punishment of those who are bad.

If they see mendicants, they should wish that all beings be harmonious and tranquil, ultimately conquering themselves.

Seeing brahmins, they should wish that all beings always maintain pure conduct, getting rid of evil.

Seeing ascetics, they should wish that all beings by austere practices reach the ultimate state.

Seeing self-disciplined people, they should wish that all beings strongly maintain their will in practice, and not give up the Buddhas' path.

Seeing people wearing armor, they should wish that all beings always wear the armor of virtue, heading for the teacherless state.

Seeing the unarmed, they should wish that all beings be forever rid of all, doings that are not good.

Seeing people debate, they should wish that all beings be able to relate all erroneous doctrines.

Seeing people of proper livelihood, they should wish that all beings succeed in pure livelihood without improper behavior.

If they see a king, they should wish that all beings become kings of truth, always expounding the right teaching.

If they see a prince, they should wish that all beings be reborn from the truth, and be children of Buddha.

If they see an elder, they should wish that all beings be able to clearly cut off, and not practice evil ways.

If they see a great minister, they should wish that all beings always maintain right mindfulness, and practice all virtues.

If they see a castle, they should wish that all beings gain strong and firm bodies, and indefatigable minds.

If they see a capital, they should wish that all beings collect all virtuous qualities, and always be joyful and blissful.

Seeing someone in a forest, they should wish that all beings be worthy of praise and honor of celestials and humans.

Entering a village to beg, they should wish that all beings enter the profound realm of truth, their minds without impediment.

Coming to someone's door, they should wish that all beings enter into all doors of Buddha's teaching.

Having entered a house, they should wish that all beings might enter the vehicle of buddhahood, which is equal in all times.

Seeing someone who doesn't give, they should wish that all beings never give up supremely virtuous ways.

Seeing those who give, they should wish that all beings forever abandon the three evil paths and their miseries.

If they see an empty bowl, they should wish that all beings be pure of heart, and empty of afflictions.

If they see a full bowl, they should wish that all beings completely fulfill all virtuous ways.

If they receive respect, they should wish that all beings respectfully practice all the Buddha's teachings.

If they get no respect, they should wish that all beings not act in any ways, that are not good.

Seeing people with conscience, they should wish that all beings act with discretion, and cover their organs.

Seeing the shameless, they should wish that all beings give up shamelessness, and abide in the way of kindness.

If they get fine food, they should wish that all beings should fulfill their aspirations, and be free from envy and longing.

If they get poor food, they should wish that all beings should not fail to obtain the taste of all meditations.

Getting soft food, they should wish that all beings be imbued with compassion, their minds becoming gentle.

Getting coarse, dry food, they should wish that all beings have no attachments, and cut off mundane craving.

When they eat, they should wish that all beings feed on the joy of meditation, and be sated by delight in truth.

When tasting flavor, they should wish that all beings attain the supreme savor of buddhahood, and be filled with the elixir of immortality.

When the meal is finished, they should wish that all beings accomplish all their tasks, and fulfill the Buddha's teachings.

When they explain the teaching, they should wish that all beings attain inexhaustible eloquence and widely expound the essentials of the teaching.

When they leave a place, they should wish that all beings deeply enter enlightened knowledge, forever leaving the triple world.

When they enter a bath, they should wish that all beings enter omniscient knowledge, knowing past, present, and future are equal.

While washing their bodies, they should wish that all beings be undefiled in body and mind, radiantly pure inside and out.

In the blistering heat of the day, they should wish that all beings cast off myriad afflictions, putting an end to them all.

When the heat subsides and begins to cool, they should wish that all beings experience the highest truth, and be ultimately cool.

When reciting scripture, they should wish that all beings accord with the Buddha's teachings, remembering without forgetting.

If they get to see a Buddha, they should wish that all beings be all like Universally Good, handsome and well adorned.

When seeing a Buddha's tomb, they should wish that all beings be honored as the shrine, and receive the offerings of celestials and humans.

Reverently gazing at the shrine, they should wish that all beings be looked up to by all celestials and humans.

Bowing their heads to the shrine, they should wish that all beings be exalted beyond the view of gods and men.

Circumambulating the shrine, they should wish that all beings act without offense, and develop omniscience.

Circling the shrine rightly, they should wish that all beings practice and attain all kinds of wisdom, without mistake of engagement.

Circling the shrine thrice, they should wish that all beings diligently see the Buddha's path without indolence of mind.

Praising the Buddha's virtues, they should wish that all beings fulfill all virtues extolled endlessly.

Praising the Buddha's distinguishing marks, they should wish that all beings develop the buddha-body, and realize formless truth.

When washing their feet, they should wish that all beings fulfill the bases of spiritual powers, unhindered wherever they go.

When going to sleep at night, they should wish that all beings attain physical case and undisturbed minds.

Awakening from sleep, they should wish that all beings awaken omniscience, perceiving in all directions.

"Child of Buddha, if enlightening beings use their minds in this way, they will attain all supremely wonderful qualities, which cannot be dislodged by any gods, demons, monks, brahmins, gandharvas, titans, etc, or by andy Buddhist followers or self-enlightened ones."

Life Purpose, Life Goals, and the Meaning of Life

Life Purpose, Life Goals, and the Meaning of Life

I'm always talking to people about life purpose, vows, commitments, and making life matter. The method for doing this is practicing selfless deeds to help others (meritorious/compassionate behavior) and engaging in spiritual cultivation to realize and master the Tao, but let me take another angle to explain this.

Richard Schulze, the herbalist who dealt with terminal patients, once wrote a book where he said that in his early career he decided to spend some quality time with each and every terminal patient. Almost every one of them, he explained, had regrets. He wrote, "It's really sad to see people live to be seventy, eighty, ninety years old, and then sit on their deathbed sand say 'I wish I would have done it differently.'"

He'd then ask them what they regretted and he actually kept a tally of those reports. As you may well know by now, I love people who actually record things, tabulate them and test them because I likeproof and evidence and that's what we find here. That's why the report is so valuable because it is not mere subjective opinion, but a tallied report that has weight. Schulze kept the recording up for a long time -- about 4 or 5 years -- and the big results he heard people say were:

o I wish I had more sex; I should not have worried about what the neighbors thought because that didn't matter. Women would say, "I wish I hadn't been so frigid, I wish I hadn't been a prude," or "I didn't want to say I wanted it because I was waiting for him to do it and he never did," or "I bought that sexy outfit and never had the guts to wear it and now I do, but I'm too old."
o I wish I had traveled more
o I wish I had spent more time at home, on vacations, or with my family

Now let's toss the first regret out, because it simply goes to show that we are indeed denizens in the Realm of Desire, as Shakyamuni Buddha stated.

Sex is a powerful motivator, and old as these people were, they still clamored after more sex and sexual gratification illustrating once again that control of your vital energies, and getting over lust and identification with the physical body, are the big barriers to spiritual cultivation. No, what I want to talk about are the next two regrets -- the desire, basically, not to have spent so much time on work but on family, travel, and other things.

As I tell people over and over, rare is the man or woman who can find work with a purpose, or inject work with a greater purpose such that it offers meaning to their life. In most cases, the job of work is simply to pay the bills so that one can live life. That means money is to be used for living, and for helping others. Free time is rare and hopefully it is spent in spiritual cultivation or service-filled functions to make life something that matters, for most of the things we get into are simply distractions to busy our mind. Free time is so rare, that's one of the reasons I teach people how to run their businesses more efficiently to free up time for cultivation, as that's one of the big hang-ups.

When people ask the purpsoes of life, I always tell them that there is no purpose other than what you decide the purpose to be, so make it a big purpose and take upon yourself a BIG vow to help others, and as a famous Zen master said, "Since everything is empty, put an extra load of troubles (burdens) on my back."

You have to try to do something great in this life to help others other than just consume things and experiences, and that's what gives life meaning. It all comes down to service. You have to give back to your country, culture and community. For instance, I can barely make a living at it, but I try to give back y outlining breakthrough concepts for the culture in medicine/health/healing, agriculture, education, business practices, prosperity methods, spirituality and so on. It's small, but I do my part.



Some people say there is "God's purpose," but is it God's purpose that an innocent baby is born with cancer or suffers other painful calamities? No, as the sages all explain, such things are just KARMA. God isn't a person anyway, AS AS EVERY RELIGION TELLS YOU (see all the quotes in the articles), so there is no such thought in the mind of a person named God.

I always wonder why people don't think things through when I hear someone escaped a near-fatal accident where others were killed and they say "Thank God for saving me." If you think in that way, you also have to thank God for killing the other people in the accident, or ask why did God put you in the accident in the first place? Do you see the illogic in what I'm saying? If you interpret such events in terms of karma, however, then all those logical inconsistencies are cleared up in an instant.

That's what Buddhism teaches: how to jump out of this endless cycle of reincarnation and control the process of birth and death. Why do you want to control the process? Because there is no Fourth Realm you can go into, and so in being stuck within the Three Realms, it's best to cultivate a state where you can decide where you want to go, and what you want to do and accomplish. It's best to become the master rather than the slave of this process of interdependent origination. Since you cannot escape it, the next best thing is to learn how to control it.

For this reason, the precious teachings given by Buddha on enlightenment and practicing for the Tao are revered throughout all the Three Realms of existence. You can master all the samadhi that allow you free entry into all of these realms, and yet you can still remain unenlightened if you cling to the subtle notions of a self, which means clinging to subject-object dualities. If you can attain enlightenment, then you can become free of the karmic pull of the Three Realms so as to control your birth and death, and be able to come and go wherever and whenever you wish. You can also learn how to manipulate things in the realm of interdependent origination in order to accomplish great deeds for the benefit of sentient beings.

Imagine that! There is no realm or station in the cosmos where you can permanently rest and call it quits. There is no security in the universe for even a single moment! In other words, there is no science fiction parallel universe or some other unmentioned place you can go to, even after awakening! Everything is right here in the present, all of universal potential is right here, right now folded into this present moment. There is no Fourth Realm you can go to, so there is only the possibility of mastering the process of coming and going in these realms called birth and death, and of choosing what you vow to do in this realms, and then accomplishing it.

... You've got to decide upon a LIFE PURPOSE yourself!

As to spiritual cultivation, it is the only means of learning how to gain this mastery and perfection, and so how can we adequately thank the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for revealing this path to us, and how to ultimately achieve it? When you truly comprehend the incredibly precious nature of these teachings, how can you possibly repay these spiritual teachers for their past kindness?

Shakyamuni and the other Buddhas surveyed all of existence and expediently partitioned all of the cosmic realms according to the short synopsis presented. There is no Fourth Realm you can go to after you achieve Tao, no place to go other than to cycle backwards and forwards within these Three Realms. However, these great spiritual leaders also provided us with a means to become our own master who can control our activities, or manifestations within these Three Realms.

You're caught in the process of continually cycling through these realms according to your karma and merits unless you can eventually become a totally enlightened being, a total master of this process. Then you can choose where you'll go next and what you'll next do according to your personal vows and commitments. The big thing is to self-determine what vows you wish to accomplish on behalf of others, and then actively live out full lives to achieve them. And since there is no Fourth Realm to go to, it only makes sense to continue increasing your perfections during this time, and to take on various challenges to help others. One such involvement is to help others escape from suffering, and the way to do this is to also teach them how to become Buddhas.

You can understand that there is no ultimate rest because the Lankavatara Sutra says, "there is no nirvana of the Buddha and there is no Buddha in nirvana." What is therefore left is the challenge of perfecting your functioning expression in the universe through countless acts of compassion, whether great or small. Until you become a Buddha, there is also always karma to be paid for, so you're always working off bad karma and burning up your good karma in this process, as well as making new good and bad karma in its stead. Hence there is a great importance on learning how to act skillfully in the universe so as to create good karma for the future, burn away any bad karma from the past, or even change it into something positive.

That's what cultivation is all about, for it teaches you how to do this as well as how to skillfully extend this knowledge to others.

You can set out to learn cultivation for a variety of reasons. One reason is that you want to learn how to bear any bad karma that comes your way and learn how to always be able to change it into something better, for everyone has bad karma that will eventually come due. You can learn cultivation from the positive motive of wanting to develop much better karma for yourself and others in the future. Or you can devote yourself to spiritual cultivation so that you develop both the necessary merit and ability to help others on a vast scale, for you cannot help people unless you accumulate the merit to do so. Perhaps the motivation is that you just want to improve yourself or increase your health and longevity. Perhaps it's because you want to become a perfected being. You can even learn cultivation in order that your wisdom opens up and you become capable of helping the fate of races and nations.

In any case, you'll need to perform countless good deeds in order to achieve these goals because that's the only way to accumulate enough merit to have the power to transform things on such a large scale. Accumulated merit is like money in the bank that you can spend on transforming things for the better. You can use it to help change fate and fortune. The best thing is, when you use your present stores of merit to perform even more merit (such as using your wealth to do countless charitable deeds), you in turn accumulate even greater merit which makes you even more capable in the future!

Even if you have sufficient wisdom, it's possible that you lack sufficient merit for having the power to help others. That's why many cultivation masters always remain poor, for while they can reach high stages of cultivation from many lives of practice, these lives may have been spent in purely meditational efforts without many acts of charity or offering to others (or chances to do so). When they are born in the future, these practitioners therefore have wisdom merits beyond compare, but lack the worldly merits needed for being able to effect other changes in society. They are teachers of culture, for the true cultures of societies, at their root, are always based on the ideals and teachings of true cultivation as we have been going over. The higher the sage and his initial teachings, and the better they are elucidated and spread throughout the culture, the higher the culture.

Yes there is a high and a low. Skip all that nonsense about relativism. A culture without cultivation teachings is not very high stage. You not only need good teachings about virtue, ethics, morality, responsibility, positive human traits and characteristics to cultivate ... and models of the proper relationships between human beings and others (nature, society, etc.) but YOU NEED CULTIVATION TEACHINGS. And you need teachings that get you to the TAO rather than just samadhi or side-paths of gong-fu!


This is why the Bodhisattva path of Buddhism always counsels people to engage in selfless service to others. This is also why the Bodhisattva path produces countless world saviors, whereas the Hinayana path only produces enlightened beings who have little ability to impact society. It's gopt the whole shebang, but whether or not people can live up to it or not is a different matter. In fact, in terms of the ideals of Buddhism, people practicing Christianity tend to do a far better job than Buddhists.

Anyway, a lack of power in this life is usually the result of past charitable deeds being insufficient, and so it's absolutely essential that you cultivate morality, ethics, virtue and helpful charitable deeds in order to experience better states yourself in the future. You must also cultivate them in order to be able to bring better states of existence to others. Charitable works, after all, are the proper exercise of enlightened compassion. That is why they are particularly emphasized in Christianity and in all other genuine religions.

A higher cosmic existence is just one of the side benefits of merit cultivation. It's a natural result which falls out of the merit you must practice to succeed on the path, and the merit you accumulate from selfless behavior. But while it's true that you need merit to succeed in cultivation, don't forget that you also need prajna wisdom as well because merely accumulating merit (by doing good deeds and acting in a virtuous manner) will not remove ignorance. Enlightenment is screened by our ignorance, so it's only in dissolving this ignorance that we can awaken.

It's interesting that people always complain that our modern use of scientific findings seems divorced from wisdom, ethics and morality, but progress in cultivation science is not divorced from such things because without them you absolutely cannot ultimately succeed! You always need this type of merit to make progress in spiritual cultivation. In their deep minds, we know that people inherently recognize this fact because we always equate high virtue with spirituality. So let me say it again: merit and wisdom are the two requirements for success in spiritual cultivation, which is why the first stage of the Mahayana path is the Stage of Accumulating Merit and Wisdom.
The Flower Ornament Sutra says, "Everything is due to true mind. All phenomena are due to consciousness." In other words, everything is consciousness only and there is no real object of consciousness; even the object of consciousness is consciousness! It's because of this principle that we can finally go beyond all religion and superstition to see things as they truly are, and it's the teachings on the alaya consciousness which enable us to do this.

The phenomena of the world are all due to consciousness, and so ultimately it is you who decides everything we call fate and destiny. There are only your actions reaching their completion stage, for there is nothing ultimately controlling you such as a God or some higher being. Of course there are gods who intervene in our world of affairs just as we intervene in the affairs of animals, but with cultivation you can overcome any of these influences and even equal the gods in their abilities. It's all a function of your merit and prajna wisdom. Essentially there is only vast emptiness, and from the conventional sphere an automatic process called empty, interdependent origination defined by the influence of all the interconnected seeds of the alaya. There is only your own fate unfolding due to the previous karma you have created, and since it is something you have yourself created, it is also something you have the power to change.

The purpose of life is whatever you choose it to be, whatever you choose to accomplish, whatever you select to build. Life purpose is a subjective thing ... something you choose and define yourself. If you think there is some ultimate something or some reason for life, then you are wrong . From the ultimate sense there is no such thing as a being, ego, I, personality or life and life itself is only a number of conditions arising and coming together. There is no being within life because that "ebing" we imagine top be ourselves is just a thought construction, for only the ultimate nature is real. That's why the job of cultivation is to reach It. All the endless lives ahead of you are therefore about what you select them to be about. That is, if you cultivate enough to become an actor who chooses his part in this mara play rather than someone compelled by karma without knowing it.

This is therefore how the mind should practice: always let go and never play with your idle thoughts. Yet because of the alaya, you absolutely can accomplish whatever you set out to accomplish in the universe, and it's my fervent hope you will choose goals that embody the great compassion and great welfare offerings of the Bodhisattvas and Buddhas. To become able to do this, to become master of your fate, to become the master of yourself and the phenomena of birth and death you have to cultivate to find your original nature and let its clarity become one with your actions. And the only way to empower yourself in this fashion is to master the principles and processes of spiritual cultivation.

Everything is essentially resting in the unborn state of original unproduction, and yet we're screened from this absolute state because we attach to delusion instead. This is why we say "recognizing that deluded mind is not Mind is called [finding] Mind." That very same delusion that obstructs us has an ending when you awaken, so there is such a conventional thing as an ultimate release from falsity. That's what's called enlightenment, bodhi-mind, clear light, awakening, Buddhahood, liberation or nirvana. How do you awaken from primordial ignorance? By cultivating prajna transcendental wisdom that abandons all duality and perceives the true nature of things as they really are. It's through prajna wisdom that the human consciousness attains awareness of its own universality.

This is the apex of evolution, the highest accomplishment of spiritual striving, the highest status of the universe. Since the path to Tao is the only path that embodies this, the path to Tao is really the only path involved with true human perfection. How do you accomplish it? By cultivating prajna and merit, by perfecting the mind and behavior. The Zen school calls this the pathway of seeing the Tao, cultivating realization, and carrying out vows. All three are essential for finding your own mind and becoming a Buddha. These three things-seeing Truth, cultivating realization (Truth), and carrying out vows--are the crux of spiritual cultivation.

If you eliminate all mental grasping due to likes and dislikes, what "is" or "is not," what "exists" or "non-exists," then you'll surely be on the path to genuine spiritual awakening. As an expedient method, the meaning of the path to teach you emptiness and non-grasping is usually taught as "all is unreal," or neti-neti "not this, not this." However, the actual path is "it's neither real nor unreal, neither existent nor non-existent." This is the Middle Path, which actualizes prajna wisdom.

You have to remember that the mind's actual mode of existence is the mere absence of inherent existence. For a Bodhisattva to reach the higher realms of attainment, even the subtle latency of the conception of inherent existence will cause them to lose their degree of enlightenment. A Bodhisattva never attaches to any of the seeds or fruitions of the alaya, whether they're of discrete or flowing form. A Bodhisattva's mind always abides nowhere, because it is essentially a mind of no-mind. They let thoughts be born when they arise and after they appear they hold not to them. Neither do they hold onto any ideas of being a being, an ego, a personality or life because there is no such thing. Those ideas are thoughts, and everything is just the Tao. Intune with the Tao, their mind being the Tao, they hold no such illusions and yet function in line with the Tao.

The Heart Sutra tells us that "Form is the same as emptiness, and emptiness is no different than form." When we therefore try to grasp onto appearances and make them real, however, then it's the same as the man who wants to scoop up the water's reflection of the moon with his hands, thinking that the reflection is something real and solid. It's like a man in a dream who thinks that everything he experiences is real and true with concrete, tangible existence. So the Diamond Sutra warns us against this by saying,

All phenomena are like
A dream, an illusion, a bubble, or shadow
Like dew and lightening,
Thus you should view them.

The alaya consciousness itself isn't real, but the pure ground upon which the alaya is based is real. Don't think of this pure ground as a substance because it's empty, formless, void. It functions like a clear mirror which reflects everything, and all the while the images it reflects lack any substance. The images lack substance, and so they don't interfere with its clarity.

Being completely empty we can also say that this ground nature is empty enough to be full, and thus we have the world of images of consciousness and yet, these visaya are all empty. Can you access the pure nature of the Tao this very moment, or are you veiling it, ignoring it because you're fixated on these visaya taking them as being real? Even if you go to Hell, the Buddha mind is just right there for wherever you go, it is only the environmental scenery that changes. As the Koran (57:4) says, "And He is with you wherever you are." The Bible has similar statements... go find them and see for yourself. But will you interpret them correctly?

Think about it then: the Tao isn't in cultivating chakras and chi mai and blisses and samadhi-the Tao is each empty moment of mind. There isn't even time, there is only Tao! The Tao is pure presence, the Tao is Now. Phenomena have no duration whatsoever and disappear as soon as they appear, so it's the state of Presence behind them which is the important thing. As the Samkhya philosophy of Hindu yoga states, you are after "sasksitva," which is sheer, contentless, nonintentional presence.

As one function among many, the Tao has infinitely open, vast empty awareness that can be aware of these infinite changes lacking duration. So from the viewpoint of the Absolute nature the alaya consciousness isn't real at all, and yet it appears to be there because of ignorant perception, because of a fixation which screens the true emptiness nature of things. That's where the error of ignorance comes in through forming the alaya, and our propensity to remain in this state of delusion, due to the continuance of habitual error, is an energetic momentum you must break via the process of spiritual cultivation. But since ignorance isn't real, you can actually detach from this stream of false mentation and then its momentum, due to the lack of an on-going energetic reinforcement, will die down into a state of extinction just as any habit would when you don't give in to it anymore. Ignorance will depart to reveal what's always been there and what can't change or depart. All it takes is to let go of the mind's thoughts by practicing cessation-contemplation, but Buddha warned to be careful because:

Old habits flow like torrents in
Alaya's subtle consciousness.
Since the real yet unreal can create confusion
I have refrained from revealing it to you.
If mind be set on searching for the mind, that which
At heart is not illusion becomes illusory.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

From Zeebie - with love!

A Parable from Silence
About 3 weeks ago, before the family went on a short vacation, I needed to mow the back lawn. I got on my small riding lawnmower and proceeded to mow the few green parts left. (The rest of the backyard is a pattern of brown pee-pee circles created by our Labrador Retriever LOL) Anyway, while I was mowing along, a large dark, loud, fearful looking insect came straight at me out of nowhere. A huge rush of fear-filled adrenaline exploded in my brain and I reacted by jumping off the mower and ran for cover-anywhere that this monster of a beast was not!

At that moment, I was not. There was only the fear which was followed by some thoughts about being bitten or stung by this terrible menace. It was amazing that I was aware of all this happening, as it occurred. So having recovered somewhat, I very swiftly walked into the house to calm down. I was very disappointed that here I was, this towering giant (in Dragonfly standards) and I was undone by this relatively small creature. I thought I had no fear of bugs, having dealt with 3 inch cockroaches in South America and Southeast Asia, and having been stung a few times by the good ol' U.S. Yellow Jacket. Obviously somewhere in my memory, or perhaps in my DNA itself, there was a frightful aversion to this giant bi-plane dive bomber. I had to know more.

I went onto the Internet and began to read about Dragonflies. What I read amazed me. I won't bore you with all the details but here was a creature older than the dinosaurs by millions of years, a creature which has not changed much through evolution (apart from not being it's ancient size: A THREE FOOT WINGSPAN!!!!!) and is a gentle, non-biting, non-stinging relative of butterflies and moths. And here is what touched me. Most Dragonflies only live for a few weeks. With that in mind I hurried out to the backyard with a mantra "they do not bite, they do not bite."

I went to the area of the yard where I had been assaulted, stood very still and waited. Sure enough, the creature approached me, as if we were drawn together by some ancient mystical attraction. It buzzed me a few times and then did a remarkable thing. It hovered a few feet from my head. It was almost as if it was facing it's own fear or instinct to escape or attack. It was checking out this large life form called a human and remaining still. Then the bug settled on a tomato plant stake. I sat down on the grass and we were there together, each life form relaxing in the presence of the other, nothing to say, nothing to feel, no fear, just a simple sharing of that moment. It was then that I noticed it's absolute magnificent beauty. It had black and white stripes like a zebra and so we named him (or her) Zeebie.

In the following weeks Zeebie was always there, always checking us out, always near the tomato stakes. As a matter of fact, at one point there were 6 or 7 Zeebies buzzing around, dancing together. I introduced my children to him and them and we enjoyed their majesty, their grace, their formidable appearance and mostly when they landed on the stakes, resting, just being, in black and white.

[Epilogue]

It's been two days since we've seen any Zeebies. Perhaps they are gone. Perhaps they have disappeared into the Pure Silence from which they had arisen. Perhaps we will never see Zeebie again. All I know is that this beautiful insect, this glorious form, had taught me more about myself than any book or any teacher. I am thankful to him, for his arising, for the miracle of his coming to meet me and now for his departing. And isn't this the simple meaning of life, of Pure Silence? It is right here, every second if we would just be aware and awake. All we need to do is look, listen and allow it to be.

From Zeebie - with love!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Gift of Insults

Zen Stories to tell Your Neighbors
There once lived a great warrior. Though quite old, he still was able to defeat any challenger. His reputation extended far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study under him.

One day an infamous young warrior arrived at the village. He was determined to be the first man to defeat the great master. Along with his strength, he had an uncanny ability to spot and exploit any weakness in an opponent. He would wait for his opponent to make the first move, thus revealing a weakness, and then would strike with merciless force and lightning speed. No one had ever lasted with him in a match beyond the first move.

Much against the advice of his concerned students, the old master gladly accepted the young warrior's challenge. As the two squared off for battle, the young warrior began to hurl insults at the old master. He threw dirt and spit in his face. For hours he verbally assaulted him with every curse and insult known to mankind. But the old warrior merely stood there motionless and calm. Finally, the young warrior exhausted himself. Knowing he was defeated, he left feeling shamed.

Somewhat disappointed that he did not fight the insolent youth, the students gathered around the old master and questioned him. "How could you endure such an indignity? How did you drive him away?"

"If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it," the master replied, "to whom does the gift belong?"


You DOn't Spin Your Chi When You Meditate

You DOn't Spin Your Chi When You Meditate
Quite a few people always ask me about various Tao school, qi-gong,yoga, Tibetan, even sexual methods for spinning the chi within the physical body. Or they tell me of Sufist or Sikh methods, based on yoga techniques, for trying to force the chi to arise.

They read old translated texts talking about the chi flows through the chi channels and nadis, particularly the microcosmic and macrocosmic circulations mentioned in Taoism or the channels mentioned in Tibetan Buddhism, and because it's all so NEW they feel they've discovered a great secret and the key to successful spiritual cultivation. They think, "Wow, I finally found it. This stuff must be what I've been searching for as it will produce all these strange effects and they're spiritual results!"

Folks, you don't need to know any of that stuff. Actually, most probably it will tend to lead you astray. In fact, it's more than likely to cause troubles by deflecting you from the important thing, especially if you don't have a good teacher.

If you cultivate correctly, all the chi movements necessary for cultivation will happen naturally just as a vacuum sucks up air. Just save up your sexual energies and cultivate emptiness and your kundalini -- your real chi or vital energy -- will naturally awaken and all these things will happen. It will awaken, start coursing through your chi channels to clean them, and all those marvelous things you read about will happen. But they're only a stage of purification of the physical body. Even if they happen, you still have to cultivate samadhi andultimately enlightenment.

When you think about, the only ontological spiritual path that has validity is and must be mental resting, rathe rtthan spinning chi or chakras. Sure that stuff happens, but you don't have to do it, you don't have to know about it, and experience shows that those who fixate on it tend to cling to form and rarely make any progress, so go with the tried and proven ways instead of wasting your efforts..

On the other hand, to focus on yoga methods AS THE PATH breaks many rules of cultivation:

(1) you're playing with thoughts and sensations,
(2) you're bringing consciousness into the body rather than letting it remain non-local
(3) you're usually creating mental realms of delusion to some extent
(4) you're focusing on the body rather than consciousness,
(5) you're wasting time because it doesn't lead to anything.



Consider this.

Did Shakyamuni Buddha ever tell you to rotate your chi, or play with sensations of chi and consciousness?

He surveyed hundreds of cultivation and meditation methods in ancient India, from which many of these tantric techniques are derived. At the same time, he desperately wanted us to succeed quickly at cultivation, but never once advised people to do these practices after having practiced them all. What does that tell you (and don't say he didn't know about these techniques -- just go read his story)?

Did the Zen school ever mention these things and say they should be practiced?

No! In fact, Zen masters went out of their way to tell students to ignore these techniques and their results, and you can easily see that in its heyday, more Zen students reached enlightenment (not samadhi but enlightenment) than almost any other school in existence.

What about Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu for the schools of Taoism?

What about Socrates or Confucius and Mencius, all of whom became enlightened? Did they tell you to focus on chakras or your chi and so forth?

No, no, no, no and no again. This is not spiritual cultivation but cultivating gong-fu and potential functions of the body. Yes, you can do this to lay a good foundation for the path, but the original nature is outside of form and phenomena . That's what you want to get to.

Frankly, t hese spiritual greats never mentioned these practices because they tend to deviate people from the correct path. A deviant path is something that looks for enlightenment outside the mind, and that's exactly what we're doing here. We're playing with the energey currents of the body, which do indeed exist and do produce gong-fu, and to the detriment of higher progress because you never end up letting go of the fixation you're creating.

Did you ever notice that lots of artial artists have storng chi but it's all "dirty"? Taht's because they cultivate their chi and spin it this wayor that, but because they have no emptiness they simply end up recirculating pollutions.

First please recognize that your body's natural and correct chi flows, and more, will become ignored and transpire naturally when you start cultivating correctly ... and "correct cultivation" means cultivating an empty mental state. It does NOT mean cultivating a state where you are amplifying or clinging to sensations or observing the body all day long.

Cultivating awareness of the body?

That's another practice that will tend to get you nowhere. It doesn't mean you can't use such a method to attain samadhi, but most people who follow this technique do so incorrectly and once again get nowhere. What you want is efficiency, what will work for you!

As to playing with body energies, most people just end up playing with the "wind chi" in their body (called "fan chi" in Chinese) and create realms of mental delusion mixed with sensations.

All this trouble, at least as regards the Tao school, started because in the Sung dynasty in China. Some Tao masters, wishing to help later generations, started writing autobiographical accounts of their progress and later students, thinking this is what's supposed to happen in cultivation, started trying to force these circulations into initiation. They thought you HAD to force them into happening.

This basically mirrors the Tibetan idea of the "resultant vehicle," in taking the results of the path and trying to make them into a causal force for the path, but applied to Taoism. But as Nan Huai-chin -- recognized as an "enlightened master" of the Esoteric school AND Taosim-- always says, the Tibetan tantric practices usually just lead to failure and certainly to more disasters than can be imagined. They tend to destroy the culture of countries rather than elevate them.

Take a look at Zen, on the other hand, and it's elevated things wherever it's gone. That is, as long as it went somewhere with an ENLIGHTENED master. You can forget about looking for any true Zen master today. Except for Nan Huai-chin, no one is left (but of course they all claim it). Typically in Japan the title of enlightened master is handed down on a piece of paper, and is meaningless. In the later days of Zen, people would purchase such certificates, too.

The same logic applies to qi-gong practices, which are just Indian yoga pranayama (breathing practices) combined with concentrations on thoughts and sensations. They never lead anywhere ... and I've met tons of the "top" qi-gong "masters" from China. Not a single one had samadhi or pre-samadhi and never will with the methods they follow. People sit next to them and feel uncomfortable because their chi is all screwed up.

Same with many Indian yoga masters and students I've met. They know all these specialize yoga techniques, but their chi is dirty as can be and they still have no samadhi because they never cultivate emptiness. It's a pity--the traditon is right there and they still don't have the dharma. But go read quite a few Hindu biographies of Hindu masters and you'll see countless stories of students coming tot them with starnge notions of proper cultivation, and then the teacher teaching them how to empty their minds to attain samadhi.

Yes, i'ts true you can produce some unusual results with qi-gong, and move the energy currents fo your body at times, but who said you couldn't? You can with pranayama breathing practices! You just have to do them. You can even learn physical yoga gong-fu techniques of all sorts, where starange powers will come out, but what will it win you? You still die, and then have to start all over again without having dealt with the fundamental issue.

The big thing is, who said that clinging to your chi or playing with your vital energies was the spiritual path? Such practices never lead you to get the Tao or even the very first dhyana. To get tot he first dhyana, your chi mai must all clear and then you rest in emptiness rather than cling to spinning. So which qi-gong master has the first dhyana? No one!

These practices were the most materialistic form of cultivation left over after the Cultural Revolution and the Chinese, with everything else destroyed and the desire to state they had something of their own, promote the heck out of basically nothing. Everyone does that, so it's to be expected and understandable. The Chinese want to be proud of something, so slap a few pranayama techniques together with martial arts, some "practice virtue teachings" and you have something you can take to the masses.

But a route to enlightenment or samadhi even? Forget it. Ridiculous. Search the holy books of religion -- where do you see the instructions to go spinningyour chi? Yes, you'll sometimes find them describing the fact that your chi moves, spins or rotates for early stages of the path, but at the higher stages they're all talking about emptiness cultivation, in one form or another, but use different words to do so as would be expected.

Qi-gong? Same old stuff -- nothing, absolutely nothing new inside it but a big chance to promote something with which to make money. The Chinese themselves know very little about their own spiritual culture and the methods available from other countries so of course it's easy for them to be blind about the big picture and about how little they have in what they are promoting, and what they're missing that's actually IN their culture and is the real thing.

But the truth is, bad currency drives out the good, and the REAL stuff is never popular. The real stuff takes time, effort, wisdom, patience and practice.

If you should engage in all sorts of practices where you use your mind to spin your chi, why didn't Lao Tzu or Chuang Tzu also mention them? Chuang Tzu said that cultivation was "forgetting about material things and the human body, viewing birth and death as a unified whole, making all things equal and dwelling in the formless."

All the ideas of Taoism are based on "quiet sitting" instead of playing with one's chi and sensations. The ideas of Wei Po-Yang, the great Taoist unifier, involved "cleansing the mind and retiring into secrecy (emptiness cultivation)." Where is there a spinning of chi and chi channels in this?

It's all a matter of cultivating mental peace. That's a code word phrase for emptiness, no wandering thoughts, no-mind, empty mind, absence of mental fire, killing the monkey mind, stillness, and so forth. Different words, same object, which is the entry way into samadhi and then with wisdom, possibly enlightenment.

Master Nan always states that anyone who cultivates a quiet mind will naturally feel the chi start to pulsate through their channels, and that these are physiological reactions that naturally occur in quiet psychological states. Happens to me all the time. Happens to all my friends who cultivate and cultivate correctly after a certain period of time.

No big deal...so what?

There's nothing strange about these results as they only verify the initial effects of quiet cultivation. It was only by the Ming dynasty that the original lofty methods of Taoist cultivation had fallen from their profound sublimity to mistakenly focus on the chi channels. Big mistake ... go see The Insider's Guide to the Best and Worst Spiritual Paths and Methods and you'll not only understand how Taoism went astray, but you'll find all sorts of other traditions and see where they went wrong and how they tried to correct themselves over the last few thousands of years. Usually they went looking for samadhi, or physical immortality, or superpowers or strange mental realms/heavens and found none were the Tao, so had to correct themselves.

Happens everywhere. Everything degrades over time as the purity is lost. Nothing lasts forever.

The Zen school recognizes that gong-fu phenomena do indeed happen but since they occur without any special efforts and are the just the passing scenery of the path, they are ignored just as are every other type of phenomenon that arises. That's why the Zen school produces more enlightened successes than any other spiritual school in existence. It's extremely high, which is why there are virtually no qualified Zen students today. It seems we all need too many explanations and aren't willing to put in the work of Zen.

Confucius and Mencius never bothered to talk about these chi-rotation practices that are popular either. The most Mencius said is that you should cultivate your chi to a state of fullness (sexual non-leakage required once again). So where do you find the "great ones" saying to do this? Like Chu Hsi who destroyed true Confucian cultivation with intellectualization, it's the intellectuals who don't know what they are doing, and want something solid that produces a physical result (rather than the real Tao), who go off and encourage people to cultivate this nonsense.

When I was young I did it, too. I didn't know any better. Those spinning instructions or descriptions were all that was available in books. That's the type of stuff that gets translated because no one wants to translate the wisdom stuff (since no one will buy it and they don't understand it). But it's just wrong. I could give you a thousand reasons why, but the big thing is when you correct someone who's been doing that and teach them true emptiness meditation, they get immediate results they've been seeking for years. Then they wake up when they see a bit of emptiness and moan the fact they wasted years of efforts.

Buddha never mentioned these things because they are just the phenomena that happen when you "harmonize the four elements of your body." They only deal witht he wind element. That's how Buddha explained it. You cultivate meditation, the chi channels (wind element) and the other elements transform and become harmonized. End of story because it's such a low stage on the path.

Buddha called all the low stages of transformation a transformation of the four (five) elements of the physical body and harmonizing of its nature. That's all it is because if you do that you get samadhi and then you never talk about that stuff again. But people mistake this stuff for the path and think it's the way TO GET SAMADHI, which it never does. These ancients who wrote about these things wrote about what happened WHEN THEY CULTIVATED EMPTINESS.
Enough is enough. Folks, skip all that nonsense. Don't waste your precious time. Find some technique that helps you cultivate one-pointed concentration. Find some teacher to orient you (you only need 5 minutes to get it down right), and then practice the heck out of it, letting go of your mind and giving it a natural rest. THEN you'll make progress. The rule is frequency + intensity for meditation progres or Method + Practice Effort + Time + Patience = Result.

Promise!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mis-Identification

From Psychology to the Listening Attention:
The Path of Becoming, by Bob Fergeson

Can we get past the illusive psychology of the flight-or-fight syndrome and the resulting egocentric personality? A discussion on how knowing yourself can lead to greater spiritual possibility. Through becoming objective to our own psychology or personality, we begin to take spiritual work personally, and thus Become.

sleepyhead, by Startzman I've come to see two dominant types of personality, especially in those involved in spiritual seeking or self-definition. These two types, though polar opposites in character, spring from the same cause: our mis-identification with the ego as the real 'I' or Self. These two personalities are the twin modes of action formed from the ego's perceived threat of annihilation at the hands of the Not-self, the environment outside of the body. These types can be defined as the reaction patterns to each half of the fight-or-flight syndrome. What I define as the sleepyhead is the dreamer, the introvert, lost in their imaginations, the somnambulist type. The sleepyhead can be also defined by its opposite, the egocentric type or knucklehead. The sleepyhead flees, runs away and hides from the not-self while the knucklehead tries to control, project and manipulate the environment. Each is relatively unconscious of itself, and thus thinks its manner of dealing with the world is the right or correct way.

The egocentric or knucklehead likes to butt heads with and have control of everything. All has to be done outwardly through the ego to control and force conditions to being favorable to the ego. He stays in the right by learning to fight. The opposite reaction pattern is true of the somnambulistic or sleepyhead, who is lost in dreams and reverie. His reaction, instead of attacking the problem, is simply to ignore it through running away, hiding in dreams, and keeping the ego afloat by living in the imagination. This comes from the passive or flight reaction of the two different halves of the fight-or-flight syndrome.

Sleepyheads and their knucklehead opposites are simply two different unconscious response-patterns to the perceived threat to the individuality-sense by the world or not-self. We don't know we've fallen into identification with a mechanical pattern when we react as a sleepyhead. We may think we're even acting spiritually (being superior), in that our way is the right way. Through self-observation, we can come to see that it all stems from our past and whichever path, fight or flight, we happen to have fallen into.

Paradoxically, in trying to escape the threat of the world, we dive deeper into it by striving to become better and better sleepyheads and knuckleheads. That cannot cure us, since we are trying to solve the problem only on the level of the problem. Through psychology, analysis, and over-thinking, we plot to escape from our pattern, through our pattern, thus the pattern is never ending. The only cure, finally getting well, is in seeing ourselves as we really Are. We may become subtler in our self-delusion and think we're spiritual, but we still have not come to a true understanding. The cure begins when we get to the stage of raising mind, in learning how to stay in the moment: facing the present without self-identification with reaction, only.

We could not do this as children; we were helpless. But as adults, with the help of a spiritually oriented group, teachers and friends, we have the chance to act in self-knowledge and find our way back to innocence and silence. This is often only brought about through trauma, which clears the pattern, at least temporarily, enabling us to glimpse the world from a clear perspective. This can lead into the listening attention, to being able to stay in the moment, without being identified with the animal reaction-pattern.

One of the dangers facing the sleepyhead is that when he hears a talk on effortlessness, mindfulness meditation, or the various schools that say there is nothing to do as we are not the doer, it sounds great. He jumps on this subject of effortlessness because it fits his ego pattern. He thinks he understands what they're talking about. It's only until after he comes to know himself, through hard practice leading to a realization, that he comes to understand that he did not know what effortlessness really was, that he had no idea of the Void, true detachment, or of not being the doer. He didn't have the true sense of it. All he had was a pattern of blocking things out through distraction, imagination, fear, pride, and laziness, being in the reverie of the sleepyhead. He mistakes being hypnotized, by dreams, reverie and moods, for doing nothing or no-mind. Habitual reverie is usually a sign of this mistake. Some people, being in reverie much of the time, may get quite defensive when it's called to their attention. A period of time in a group that practices confrontation might do wonders for pointing this out, if they can stand the tension. Our society and home environment are our first teachers, forming the basic personality. Where did our basic reaction of either fight or flight come from? It was a sane reaction to madness. We ran away from the moment because it was unacceptable. Thus, our innocence was lost, and we eventually became what we were running from. The fearful or aggressive reaction to life and its tensions led to the destruction of innocence and removed the ability to stay in the present. Through cunning, we learned to escape the present, and eventually came to be asleep with our heads in the sand. All that we were left with is that very cunning, operating through fear or violence. Eventually, we became that which we despised.

Knucklehead Smiff A pivotal moment in my own loss of innocence came about at a young age one morning in my grandfather's backyard. I was playing with the gardener's son; we were fast becoming friends as the rapport deepened. I suggested that we should get together and spend the night at one of our houses and have dinner together. This was a relatively normal event at that age with other friends. He agreed, and we went to the gardener, his father, and proposed the idea. The look on his face when hearing of our idea is something I will never forget. Until that moment, I had not realized that he and his son were black, and that I was white. That he was the servant, and I, the grandson of his master. He told me in no uncertain terms that his son and I could never be friends. I then had a very clear moment of realization. I saw that the world of the gardener and my grandfather, and that of all adults, was insane. It was based on rules of behavior that were false and contrived, and yet somehow functional. I resolved then and there that I would never enter the adult state of mind. Decades later, I had the equally clear realization that this decision had somehow led me into the very state of mind I had sworn to avoid. I had become that which I despised: a fearful adult living in a false paradigm of isolation and ignorance.

This second realization and the circumstances that precipitated it, lead me to the further realization that there was a way out of the action-reaction trap. I began to see that there was a third possibility, above and beyond that of child and adult. I had taken a small but sure step within. The subjective world of mindless action-reaction was replaced with a compassionate intelligence that had no interest in the ego games of the sleepyhead-knucklehead dichotomy.

We can't receive from the Higher or Inner Self if we are mechanical and asleep, emotionally and mentally, projecting an unreal "self" of unconscious psychology. To make contact with something Higher, we must find ourselves as observers rather than pattern-projectors. Raising mind, through focused attention in the present, leading to the listening attention, is a way to wake up for sleepyheads. Learning to listen, to have a passive but attentive reaction, can help knuckleheads to become objective. This listening attention, alertness without past or future worries, gives both types the possibility of receiving from the Inner Self. A rigid pattern-reaction solely based on the past is devoid of real intelligence, much less Being.

Being aware of who you really are in the moment, or the listening attention, is a wonderful paradox in that it's how we may stop the ceaseless mind chatter of the internal dialogue. Instead of stopping the mind chatter by force, by thinking other thoughts through an act of will, all we do is simply listen. You may find that there's something within that wishes to start conveying information, to tell you something that maybe you need to pay attention to. This quiet inner voice, our conscience, can only be heard when the mind is relatively quiet. Then, you can start seeing what your real problems are, why you're running from the present, and perhaps thus discover your deeper motivations, freeing your attention from the self-survival obsessions long enough to take a deeper look within. While you're in that state of listening, you can turn the attention inward and look within at what you're looking out of, and perhaps come to a startling discovery.

We're not going to make contact with the Inner Self, the source of wisdom, and find inner peace and stability, without setting up the right conditions. Now these right conditions are not as much an effort or trying to control something as much as a returning to what we might call innocence. We need to have a quiet mind, a stillness in the animal body. Overwhelming desires and obsessions must be faced and dealt with, cleared out of the picture. This doesn't mean we fight or control them, or run away and ignore them, as much as become aware of them and see the difference between them and us. Then we can come to the point of focused attention in the moment, and possibly, the listening attention.

The daily remembering and clear admission of our internal angst is key to the eventual ability to face the moment. It gives us energy and incentive to separate from being identified with the psychological manifestations of personality in the drama of the sleepyhead-knucklehead, and how this misidentification traps our attention in the illusions of the mind. Once relaxed, we can jump straight into the still, aware silence: the listening attention. In other words, we go straight from personality right back up to what we really Are. We go from being a very complicated psychology, to being a very simple two-way seeing. We learn how to listen, to just look at the facts always in front of our vision, while simultaneously looking back at what we really Are. Psychological work is used only to show us that we don't have a quiet mind, no freedom of attention, and thus cannot tell the real from the false. Once we realize that having a quiet mind is something you simply find, it's always there just under the surface, you no longer have to think about it, put effort into it, build it up. It's a retreat from complicated error and projection back to the simple truth of ourselves as aware capacity, indescribable and real.

After we come to the psychological realization and self-admission that we're misidentified spiritually, that we have become our own enemy, even that which we despise, we can come back from psychological theory and find what we need to do; to take action rather than talk and analyze. We must say to ourselves: "now that I realize I do not know the truth, I also realize this way that I am does not work, that it has not brought me happiness or peace, power or fulfillment; that there has to be some other way." Then we can begin to look within, and find what we really are through the listening attention. We see the value in being able to receive perceptions without the filter of our errant psychology. We no longer take our sense of "I" from the active personality-self, the psychological part we play as sleepyheads and knuckleheads. This sense of "I" has moved within, into our very seeing. We now take our lead, or our feeling of who we are, from farther within, rather than from a changing reaction-pattern to the world without. Now, "looking back at what we are looking out of" has a chance of becoming something more than clever words.

The point of all of this is not to make ourselves into more efficient persons, with better, more flexible personalities, though this may be the case. The point is to separate our inherent, basic awareness from the world of action or mind. Awareness and action are not mutually destructive. They can co-exist without interference. The problem is in the placement of our sense of "I." When the sense of "I" is lured into identification with the ever-changing picture show of action in the mind, the movement hypnotizes it and we are lost, separated from our Source in motionless aware silence. Through self-knowledge leading to pure observation, we can return to our true Home in simple awareness, no longer lost in the drama of movement in mind. Paradoxically, the play may continue, with the outer man remaining fixed in his pattern, whether a sleepyhead or not, but he will no longer be us.

See Bob's web sites, The Mystic Missal, the Photo Site, and The Listening Attention.

Doing & Letting Go