Sunday, December 31, 2006

Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama discusses ethical leadership for a new millennium to promote dialogue and cross-cultural understanding around the world.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tantra

Tibetan Buddhism: Lama Yeshe: Introduction to Tantra (Part1)
Lama Yeshe, teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, gave this teaching in California in 1980 for Vajrapani Institute as an introduction to his commentary on the Thousand-Arm Avalokiteshvara yoga method. Lama Thubten Yeshe (1935–84) was born in Tibet and educated at Sera Monastic University in Lhasa. In 1959 he fled Chinese oppression for India. In 1969 he began teaching Buddhism to Westerners at Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu, Nepal, and in 1974 began traveling the world to spread the Dharma. In 1975 he founded the international Buddhist organization The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), which now numbers more than 150 centers in over 30 countries worldwide.

The Great Jelly Mantra

(Thanks to Justine for sharing this)

Om wibilly wobbly woo, wobbly wobbly wibbily, wobbly woo

This is the spontaneous expression of jelly on the level of taste. 'Wibilly wobbly' means the conventional wobbliness of jelly (red jelly). Meaning the relative aspect of jelly, appearing in the form of jelly wobbling. So then the eye sense consciousness that apprehends that jelly wobbling sees the conventional jellyness and perceives it as real jelly wobbling. So it is this conventional nature of jelly that is misapprehended as existing as jelly from it's own side. Therefore woo is the wisdom realizing this mistaken view, that jelly does not exist from it's own
side, and is empty of any kind of jellyness. 'Wobbly wobbly wibbily' then is the ultimate nature of all jelly, as realized by 'woo'. This kind of stabilizes the wobbliness also, as we may understand the ultimate nature of jelly, but still, it is conventionally wobbling. Finally 'wobbly woo' is the union of the two, the empty nature, 'wibbily wobbly' meaning the aspect of jelly wobbling in conventional jellyness, perceived as real jelly wobbling and the wisdom realizing its empty nature. Then 'wobbly wobbly wibbily' realizes this and stabilizes not only this view in the ultimate sense of a non wobbling inherent jelly, but ultimate nature of all jelly. Wobbly woo. Empty while still wobbling.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Toward the First Revolution in the Mind Sciences

Google TechTalks
August 8, 2006

B. Alan Wallace, Ph.D. has been a scholar and practitioner of Buddhism since 1970. He is currently seeking ways to integrate Buddhist contemplative practices and Western science to advance the study of the mind. He is the founder and president of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies ( http://sbinstitute.com ).

ABSTRACT
Galileo took a seminal role in launching the first revolution in the physical sciences, and a key element in this revolution was the rigorous, sophisticated observation of physical phenomena. Darwin likewise launched a revolution in the life sciences on the basis of decades of meticulous observation of biological phenomena. Although scientists have been studying the mind for more than a century, no comparable revolution has taken place in the mind sciences, and the missing element that may account for this delayed revolution is the absence of rigorous, precise observations of mental phenomena. By integrating the third-person methodologies of the cognitive sciences with the first-person methods for examining the mind that have been developed in Buddhism and other contemplative traditions, our present generation may bring about the first revolution in the mind sciences.

B. Alan Wallace: A Buddhist View of Optimal Mental Health

B. Alan Wallace presents a Buddhist view of optimal mental health at the UVa Medical Center

Diligence

Geshe-la has been talking about the positive attitude of diligence (joyful effort or enthusiastic perseverence), which is about really enjoying engaging with constructive, skilful, positive actions.

The Lamrim teachings tell us about 3 types of joyous effort
1. Armor-like diligence
2. Enthusiastic perseverence of acting constructively
3. Joyous effort of working for the benefit of others

With enthusiasm we can become Enlightened in the short term. We need enthusiasm to overcome our negative states of mind and develop positive qualities. We need enthusiasm to overcome the self-centred attitude, the constant focus on 'me, me, me' which results in over-exaggerating our problems and leads to depression. If we didn't obsess so much about ourselves and instead cared for others we would never feel down or depressed.

Traditional teachings tell us about Bodhisattvas - beings who dedicate their lives to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all beings - whose enthusiasm and perseverence is developed to the point they'd be willing to be on fire for eons for the sake of one single person!

Winter is a good time to practice Dharma, to meditate, relax, calm down and then face our 'problems', by looking at them and asking ourselves what are its causes; by removing the causes we can change.

Just thinking about our full potential as human beings and all the possible positive qualities we can develop will change our state of mind, as it will bring forth the positive desire and enthusiasm to work towards becoming all that we can be and thus the end of all our problems.

Our main obstacle is laziness. Although we are aware of our potential and how to attain it we delay, we postpone our practice. Or we might doubt our potential or believe we can't achieve it. Maybe we think we have plenty of time to get on with it.

Thinking we have plenty of time, we end up wasting the precious little time we have left following whichever desires arise in our minds - usually chasing up things which, although they may bring us fleeting pleasurable sensations, don't really bring us any lasting happiness.

Thinking about death is a good remedy for this. We are going to die. We are going to die. We are going to die. Sooner or later, we are going to die. Has it sink in yet? Death is not something which happens only to other people. Believe it or not, you are going to die too. And at that moment your possessions won't be of any help. All that you've worked so hard to accummulate won't be of any help. You'll die utterly alone even if surrounded by your loved ones. Nobody will be able to take away your fear and pain of death. When this reality begins to sink in we begin to realise how precious our human life truly is. We have wonderful conditions. Right now there's so much we can do. Now is all we've got. Now is the time to create happiness and all happiness is produced by practicing Dharma. 'Practicing Dharma' may sound alien and weird - all it means is letting go of all that brings suffering and develop all that brings happiness.

What stops us from doing this? Sometimes we are overwhelmed by self-contempt, by thinking "I just can't do this! How can I let go of anger, resentment, jealousy, depression, fear, anxiety, etc etc? There are so many negative emotions! It's really hard to stop desire, hard enough not to eat an extra slice of chocolate cake, hard enough to stop smoking, let alone give up all negative emotions! It's hard enough to learn a foreign language let alone attain omniscience... This practice is impossible! Maybe some people have stomach for this but this is definitely not something that I, me, myself can do, no way!" Discouragement and lack of self-belief is a major block. We need to develop great enthusiasm.

We are told that even flees can achieve Enlightenment, that we all have Buddha Nature - please don't be put off by words, all it means is we all have the potential for unlimited unbiased love and knowledge or wisdom. Buddha was a person, not a Creator God, and he represents our potential. We are offered a vision of what we can become and sometimes it is hard to be open to possibility.

We've been conditioned to believe that we are small, insignificant, powerless, even bad or evil. And yet we are not bad, and these ideas are totally wrong. We are amazing beings who constantly limit our potential by wasting time with such nonsense as getting afraid we won't have enough money.

If you feel sad that so far you've wasted so much time, if you're going through a hard time telling yourself off for not having done more to develop your potential then that's a good sign because it means you are trying. You moved on from being someone sitting on the couch in front of the TV watching a football game, believing that playing football is an easy thing to do and critizising the players to someone who's going in the match to play and is realising how hard it actually is. So rejoice and be happy!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Problems

Saturday, October 21, 2006

What The Bleep?

What the bleep do we know?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Emptiness Talks

Christopher Titmuss The Personality And Beyond - the illusion of personality & the truth of selflessness; a talk about how our sense of self becomes a burden. Wouldn't it feel great if we lost all interest in self-improvement?

Prof. Jeffrey Hopkins - Meditation on Emptiness

"Wisdom does not mean 'knowing about'. That's just knowledge. Wisdom is becoming, becoming what we actually experienced and realised." Tenzin Palmo

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Life


My son is 13 today...

To what shall I compare this life of ours?
Even before I can say
it is like a lightning flash or a dewdrop
it is no more. - Sengai

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Listening

Harvest of Peace Address by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche here
Let Us Not be Blinded by "An Eye for an Eye" by Venerable Wuling

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Patience

Yesterday I had lots of opportunities to practice patience! Things just weren't happening the way they should. Doh! How come conventionally existing 'I' keeps assuming things should happen according to plan? Dumb or what?! The relationship between the belief in an inherently existing self, self-centredness, anger and attachment was, for a flashing moment, so incredibly clear! Now, once again, the clarity is gone, gone beyond, gone completely out of sight, it has ceased to be, it's an ex-clarity moment!!!

Anyway, kids are great teachers, constantly challenging us 'ignorant-but-rather-arrogant parents', arrogant in the sense that we simply assume we know what's best. But do we really? Of course not! And of course ego doesn't like being faced with it's utter cluelessness. Observing it can be quite funny, though! At least one is developing a certain ability to laugh at oneself and not take things seriously - not as often as one would wish, but one needs to start somewhere...

Anyhow, things didn't go according to expectations and there I was, observing my conventional self's old habit patterns at work and being aware of extra layers of aversion arising: not just aversion to what-is but annoyance at aversion.

Later on in the afternoon I went to Geshe Thinley's Lamrim class in Corsham. He talked about pacience - just what I was needing to remember... Pacience, pacience, pacience... such a slow process, this one of transforming unskilful habbit patterns... The talk was about pacience with suffering. Wouldn't it be wonderful indeed to spontaneously and genuinely welcome into our lives all that which we immediately reject? Can you imagine how that would feel? I mean, I'm prepared to do whatever it takes to get my fix of pleasurable feelings, even if that means accepting the unpleasant ones! - even though Geshe-la calmly explained that even neutral feelings are actually 'all-pervasive' suffering...

Accepting the unpleasant is supposed to start with recognising suffering and all it's good qualities. Why the heck should I accept suffering? is usually ego's attitude. However, if we dare to have a good look at all that is happening in our lives and at our inner subjective experiences, then - if you're really honest with yourself - you'll have to accept that "the causes of happiness sometimes occur whereas the causes of suffering occur frequently." This is the first Noble Truth, and resistance is futile - it'll only add extra layers of suffering to the original suffering. In order to develop acceptance we also need to overcome the idea that suffering is horrible and to be avoided at all costs, and eventually recognise that accepting suffering is actually appropriate. Tsongkhapa is great at demonstrating this.

Anyway, after Geshe-la's teaching I went back home, expecting a peaceful evening, unaware that yet another challenge was on my way. This time, facing another Aspie meltdown, another opportunity to practice what I preach... Eventually I went to my room and picked up Tsongkhapa's book, sat on the floor and opened the chapter on 'developing the patience of disregarding harm done to you', which includes 'stopping impatience with those who harm you, those who prevent your happiness and with those who cause you to suffer'. DJ, my lovely aspie son, walked in after a while and, while jumping around, listened to my reading outloud: we ended up having a lovely 'debate' analysing whether anger is ever justified considering whether the object has self-control, whether anger is adventitious or inherent; whether the harm is direct or indirect; and so on. All in all, another wonderful day in our fleeting lives!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Just For Fun

I can resist everything except temptation.
Oscar Wilde

Friday, October 13, 2006

Pig & Cock

Analytical meditation on dependent arising - had a glimpse of how right view could help increase compassion. The glimpse has now gone, completely gone, it has ceased to be, it is an ex-glimpse!

I've been observing attachment, the mind projecting all these wonderful qualities onto someone and fabricating all sorts of story lines. Mind has been busy rationalising: out of contact comes feeling, out of feeling comes attachment, out of attachment comes craving, etc Well, so what? Yes, I understand that this momentary subjective experience is dependent arising and empty of existing independently of the coming together of all sorts of causes and conditions. So what? Here I am, facing it, it keeps popping up, so I keep on facing it again and again, and despite the glimpses of the emptiness of my feelings I still don't know what to do. All I know is that there is this strong urge to do something about it, even if that 'doing' stays at the mental level, like 'understanding' this urge. Well, actually there is an urge to understand and an urge to react. Doing nothing is a choice, of course. And yet I wonder about the wisdom of this choice. Observing without reacting sounds wise. But what if I'm choosing not to act out of fear? Well, fear can be wise too. So there is this frustrating lack of clarity - I am not aware of my deepest unconscious motivations, and I'm not fully aware of the consequences of my actions. And this 'not-knowing' brings up anxiety - and analysis is paralysis!

I've been listening to Geshe Tashi talking about 3 levels of concept of selfhood
1) self as permanent, unitary, indivisible reality (atman)
2) self as self-suffient, substantial, real entity
3) self as intrinsic being
Uh? Go figure...!

I've also been trying to do some Analytical Meditation: e.g. how does the I that wants to be happy appear to me? how do I apprehend the 'I' who is meditating? (what the heck?! - feeling the fullforce of ignorance!)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Contemplation

'When this is, that is.'
On what different levels can this statement be understood?

1) When A is, B is; A arising, B arises; this can be understood as explaining dependent arising: all things arise (and cease) in dependence upon causes and conditions. Results depend on causes. e.g. when there is contact there is feeling; when there is feeling there is attachment; etc (12 links explaining cyclic existence)

2) When A is not, B is not; A ceasing, B ceases. It is also the case that when there is no contact there is no feeling; when there is no feeling there is no attachment; and so forth. (12 links explaining liberation from samsara)

3) Results also act as causes. Things are conditioned and conditioning.

4) the statement applies not only to the 12 links of dependent origination but to all phenomena e.g all things and events, from one's unenlightened subjective experiences to Buddhahood, come into being due to the coming together of causes and conditions.

5) if everything is dependent it follows that everything is empty of existing independently.

6) Geshe Tashi also talks about 'A is only because B is' and gives the example of 'over here' and 'over there' which takes us to mutually dependency. It is only because I am 'over here' that saying 'over there' makes any sense. The same applies to 'I' and 'other'.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tears Of Tibet


Underground movie about the situation in Tibet

Tibetan Photo Project


"Visually and Respectfully Yours - the Story of The Tibetan Photo Project" Details on this feature documentary and premiere screening info here.

Free Tibet

Windhorse 1998

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Giving Things Up

Some people talk about 'letting go' and 'giving things up'. I sometimes wonder what they're talking about. Life is constantly forcing us to give things up and let go. Just take a moment and reflect on the many changes & losses that life has thrown at you. How skilfully have you dealt with them? I suppose the Buddha understood that by letting go of certain assumptions, beliefs, dysfunctional emotional habits, etc we’d be able to smile at impermanence.

So you wanna give up stuff? Try giving up these:

Taking your Precious Human Life for granted
Assuming you've got a rough deal in life
Thinking your life has no meaning, no value
Wasting this precious opportunity
Your attachment to material possessions, praise or approval, good reputation, pleasant experiences
Your fear of not getting material possesions or of being separated from them; blame or disapproval, of other people think of you; unpleasant experiences.
Your denial of death: death is inevitable!
Believing your actions have no consequences
Assuming you're not responsible for your feelings and your life
Acting in ways that result in suffering
Guilt - guilt is a waste of time. Messed up things? Learn from your experience and move on.

Not satisfied yet? Try giving up these:

Denial that you experience suffering, difficulties, and problems.
Your assumptions that the causes of your problems are other people / things out there
Your assumptions that this is it, that life is shit and then you die, that there's no way out
Give up suffering: who wants it?
Give up the causes of suffering: your own disturbing attitudes and negative emotions
Give up attachment, anger, pride, ignorance
Give up your misconceptions about the nature of reality, your distorted views, your own subjective interpretation of people, things and events

Want more stuff to give up?

Give up all bias, aversion, clinging or apathy towards others
Stop categorising people e.g. friends, enemies, strangers
Give up your sense of separateness from others
Give up assuming you're different
Give up believing your pain hurts more and somehow others are OK
Give up your denial of others’ kindness
Give up your self-centred attitude
Give up your assumption that self-centredness has benefits, that if you take care of n.1 you'll be OK

Want to really shift your negative patterns?

Give up greed, unskillful actions, anger, criticism, judgments, self-righteousness, etc
Give up laziness & low self-esteem (stop thinking you can’t do it!)
Give up all distractions
Let go of past & future

And most of all, give up your assumptions that
Life is supposed to bring us happiness
People, things and situations are fixed and unchanging

Monday, March 13, 2006

Thank you


This is Geshe Thinley and I just wanted to express my gratitude for his weekly lamrim teachings and for being such a great role model. We are currently going through the Seven Point Mind Training guidelines. These are really useful guidelines on how to deal with life and other people . They come in the form of short sayings, like 'let go of hopes for results', and 'don't dwell on other people'. Great stuff - incredibly difficult to follow...

Today is the day











Today is the day. These precious moments won't repeat themselves, and yet how easy it is to forget this simple fact of life. It's so easy to end up living on automatic, or to drown in the endless stream of worldly concerns. It's a challenge to be aware and to stay aware. It's a challenge to constantly remember to remember your priorities. It's important to prioritise. Life is too short and in this information age it's all too easy to get side-tracked and loose our focus. So what's important? Happiness is important. Learning how to be happy is important. Life doesn't need to be a struggle. Learning to relax, trust and let go, learning to open up to others, learning how to stop creating problems for yourself and others... this is the important stuff of life.