Monday, May 26, 2014



Amogasiddhi is one of the Five Family Buddhas.  

His pure land is Karmaprasiddhi, representing the accomplishment of perfect activity.  His color is green, representing the activity of subjugating and overcoming resistance, obstacles and problems.   His element is wind, representing movement and change, along with the continual energetic process occurring in the outer world and in our own body and mind.  His right hand is in the mudra of fearlessness, representing an authentic refuge that protects from the fears of cyclic existence.  His left hand rests in his lap in meditative equipoise holding a crossed vajra, representing an immovable foundation and support.  The crossed vajra also represents the vajra seat, the immovable posture in which the Buddha gained enlightenment.  The vajra seat, or vajrasana, in the outer world is Bodhgaya, but it also represents the unshakeable ground in which all beings awaken to buddhahood. 

Amogasiddhi is the Buddha that represents completely purified jealousy.  Jealousy or envy manifests as paranoia, an internal dialogue that plays itself out again and again with fear of failure or not being chosen at its very root.  In order to combat this internal struggle, we often assume very negative postures- we become power hungry, manipulating and controlling people around us to uphold and maintain our status.  We dominate the conversation so no one else has an opportunity to outshine us.  Amogasiddhi represents the transformation of that jealousy and insecurity into all-accomplishing wisdom, the wisdom of spontaneous fulfillment. 

Amogasiddhi rides a garuda possessed with all the major and minor marks.  A garuda is a great eagle-like bird, a mythological horned golden eagle.  The garuda is a powerful guardian, offering servitude and often shown biting down on nagas.  Nagas are serpent-like human deities that live in bodies of water.  They are said to be the holders of great treasures and secret teachings, but if upset cause disease and create unpredictable weather patterns.  The garuda also has an unusual birth, for as soon as it hatches from its shell it is able to soar in the sky.  The shell represents the limitations of our own five skandhas and upon breaking free from their confines, great spontaneous awareness is able to soar in the sky of awakened mind. 

In regard to our own mind and self, Amogasiddhi represents the skandha of mental formations, ideas, concepts and opinions along with the habitual patterns associated with these.  Throughout the day we enter into numerous mental states, high and low.  We are continuously trying to 'make sense' of our world and justify who we are and our place in the world.  This process of thought and intention creates action and karma.  As we cycle through this process of cause and effect, we are constantly fighting to guard ourselves from loss and vulnerability.  We fight day and night to control our fate in hopes of accomplishing our aims and finding happiness and prosperity. 

When we deeply contemplate and integrate the wisdom and symbolism of Amogasiddhi, we can learn to transmute this insecurity and paranoia into the wisdom of spontaneous fulfillment.  We take our vajra seat amidst the unceasing windstorm of thoughts and mental states with the firm resolve not to waver from this immovable ground which is the way of abiding.  Breaking out from the confines of the shell of ignorance and mistaken views, great spontaneous awareness takes its second birth and flies unobstructedly, riding the winds of change.  This awareness is practical and effective, efficient, timely and in sync with the world around it.  It does not manipulate or control, demand or distort.  No longer needing to justify your own position or qualifications, you discover a natural ease and fulfillment, a profound sense of inner wealth and satisfaction.  Having fulfilled your own aims, you are able to work for the aims of others, sheltering them from fear and vulnerability. 

Others see you in a dynamic dance, awed by your fearlessness.  Yet you never waver from your unshakeable ground, the unchanging vajra seat that supports the whole universe.  In this way you abide in Karmaprasiddhi, the accomplishment of perfect activity. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

It's a trap.

The endless variety of sights and sounds, experiences and feelings.  The unceasing stream of thoughts and ideas, memories and wish lists.

We rely on mind as the basis of experience, even if we train the mind it is still mind on which we rely.  Relying on mind, we cannot escape mind.

It is the ground that we walk on, no matter how much we train, how fast we can run or how far, all we experience is a temporary rush and a fleeting high.  We can never expect to fly.

You need to create a distinction between mind and the nature of mind, between ordinary mind and naturally occurring timeless awareness.

You can chart and explore the earth for ages, and you should.  But you also need to see the view from space. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Three Hats.

1. Debater.
The debater uses reason and logic to examine a claim.  People can say whatever they want, but the debater asks, Why?  Why is what your saying actually the case?

2. Scientist.
The scientist wants evidence and supporting facts for your claim.  They want to see a real life example, some data that actually support your claim.  You can be skilled at reason and logic, but if reality doesn't match up with your claims, the scientist rejects it as false.

3. Yogin.
The yogin is a practitioner.  It is a lived experience.  They have first-hand experience, a testimony to share and a legacy to pass on.   

You need to wear all three hats.

If you only wear the yogins hat, you may have profound life experiences and a great deal of certainty, but doubt can easily creep in when people question your experience.  They can expose potential flaws or different views which may create uncertainty and doubt in your own experience.  When you doubt your own experience, you essentially have nothing, so the yogin needs the debater and scientist hats to eliminate and manage doubt and also to analyze the validity of their experience. 

If you only wear the scientist hat your understanding is limited to an objective frame of reference.  The scientist by necessity really needs to also wear the debater hat, but without the yogin's hat they are always somewhat removed or distant from their subject matter.  They don't allow their subject matter to change them, it remains an object of knowledge and a concept.

The debater may also wear the yogin's hat, but without the scientist's hat they risk falling to the extreme of a televangelist.  The debater can formulate concrete proofs and use a wide range of logical reasoning to support their position and indeed a deep heartfelt experience, but if they are not open to the scientist's view they may be fighting for the side of ignorance.  When reality and the facts don't match up to your view, sometimes it is your view that needs changing not the tone of your voice.

When you wear all three hats you have a complete practice.  You really have something worth sharing.  You not only know the practice, you know why the practice is important and what effect it has.  You know where the potential sources of error and problems lie, you know how to approach failure and mistakes.  You know what is authentic, and what is not.

With all three hats, you develop certainty and confidence.  With certainty and confidence, you fulfill your own aims and you can truly act for the aims of others.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Temporary and Final

Why do people meditate?

Is it to experience a calm mind?  To rest in peace?  Is it an escape from the constant turmoil and stress that pervades our day?  Is it to experience blissful mental states and profound happiness?

The reason people meditate varies, but all of them can be summarized as being of temporary or final benefit.

All of the teachings given by the Buddha were simply meant to accomplish the welfare of beings.  This welfare of beings is considered to be two-fold: the temporary goal of the joys of this life, a better future and a higher rebirth; and the final goal of complete freedom and total omniscience.   

Many people strive diligently for the aims of this life in hopes of securing happiness and a better future.  Actually, looking around that is pretty much the mold we are all made from.  Rare indeed is it to encounter those who honestly seek out complete freedom and profound insight into the human condition. 

Meditation can help you accomplish both.  In the beginning in brings you great joy, frees you from suffering and discontentment.  In the middle you abandon chasing temporary and fleeting apparitions and you encounter a deep sense of freedom and insight.  In the end, you tirelessly work to accomplish the welfare of beings.  Just like the Buddha. 

Why do you meditate?

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Messiah.

The chosen one. The savior.  The liberator. 

It seems like we are all kind of waiting for them to show up.  The one who changes everything.  The one who overcomes all the resistance.  The one who forges a new path.

Where are they when we need them?

Where are they when the going gets tough, when the way seems blocked and our chances seem unlikely? 

The messiah is the chosen one, but it is not the people who choose.  She chooses.  She decides to actually do the practice.  She decides that impossibility is an empty threat and no one is ever going to be available to do the work for her.

This time.  This life.  It's up to you.  Your choice. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Finding the right pair of jeans.

If you need a pair of jeans, it is customary and often expected that you go to a number of different stores and try on a bunch of pairs.  You feel them out, see how they fit, if they look good on you.  You might try different styles, different colors, different textures.  Some look really nice and clean, others are more worn and rough around the edges.

There are so many options and you keep looking until you find the right one. 

Sometimes, often when you least expect it, you see a pair of jeans and you know you need them.  Those are your jeans.  You don't even really need to try them on, you know before you try them on that they were meant for you.

It is often the same with friends.  Over time, you can become acquainted and build a strong friendship with just about anyone.  But some people, for no apparent reason, you instantly have a connection.  It is like you already know each other, you don't need a lot of explaining or justification.

It is kind of like that.  

Monday, May 12, 2014



Akshobhya is one of the Five Family Buddhas.  

His pure land is Abhirati, Manifest Joy, representing the great joy and happiness experienced by the awakened ones.  His color is deep blue, like the depths of the ocean representing his activity of pacification.  His mudra is the earth-touching mudra symbolizing mother earth bearing witness to his victory over Mara.  His left hand rests in his lap in meditative equipoise holding a five pointed vajra.  The vajra represents the indestructible, immovable and impenetrable awakened mind which is the enlightenment of buddhahood.  

In regard to our own mind and self, Akshobhya represents the skandha of consciousness.  Consciousness serves as the basis for all of our experience, whether it is our experience of sense perceptions or our experience of mind and mental states.  Consciousness can be both non-conceptual knowing or experience or it can involve concepts and thought constructs.  It is important to recognize that the skandha of consciousness is not the forms that appears (the first skandha), it is not sensation (which is the second skandha), it is not perception (which is the third skandha) and it is not judgement or concepts themselves (which are the fourth skandha).  Consciousness as the basis of experience focuses on what is useful or what validates our sense of self and ignores whatever conflicts with what we perceive as our 'self'.  Our constant struggle to find 'who we are' involves this never ending play of the skandhas with consciousness serving as the stage in which these stories play themselves out. 

Akshobhya is the Buddha that represents completely purified aversion or aggression.  As our sense of self hardens we become more self-righteous, more opinionated and critical of others.  We become very authoritarian and assertive.  These mental states naturally encounter conflict and problems in our world and relationships which provoke anger and aggression.  This is much like being on the surface of a great ocean, the winds of change stir up great waves of emotion and we are constantly struggling to stay afloat.  Akshobhya represents the transformation of that aversion and aggression into mirror-like wisdom.  A mirror is crystal clear, empty and luminous.  It perfectly reflects whatever is placed in front of it without any distortion, manipulation or contrivance.  It holds everything but is not stained by the defects of whatever appears.  A mirror is like a completely placid ocean in which everything is perfectly reflected but you can also peer into the profound depths. 

Akshobhya rides an elephant possessed with all the major and minor marks.  A wild elephant represents the undisciplined mind and is very difficult to control and can easily cause a lot of damage.  A trained elephant is able to withstand much trauma and hardship, it can easily remove obstacles and can make its way through a thick jungle by clearing a path with its tusks of mindfulness and vigilance.  An elephant has great endurance and is unassailable by its enemies, yet it is also wise and dignified, moving with great majesty and beauty. 

When we deeply contemplate and integrate the wisdom and symbolism of Akshobhya, we can learn to transmute aversion into mirror-like wisdom.  Rather than getting caught up in situations and reacting to them, constantly fighting them like the waves of the ocean; we can relax into the depths of the ocean and experience the immovable and unshakeable depths of awakened mind.  Water seems fluid and ethereal, but it is extremely powerful and can carve out rock without requiring violence or aggression.  When we realize the indestructible nature of mind, like a mirror we can hold whatever hardship and adversity we experience, we can work with whatever problems and obstacles Mara conjures up and we can gain complete victory in the impenetrable fortress of the true nature of reality.  In this way all obstacles and negativity are naturally pacified and abiding in Abhirati, one experiences great joy and happiness at this triumph. 

It is easy for others to bear witness to this victory, because it is not stained by self-righteousness or egotism.  The holders of the indestructible awakened mind ride elephants, blazing paths where the way seemed too fraught with danger.  They move with majesty and poise and tirelessly carry others to the far shore. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Letting sadness wash over me.

I am giving my heart over to sadness,
no longer holding it at bay. 
Feeling it overwhelm me, overcome me,
letting it remind me of all the pain,
the sorrow and disappointment.
I am letting sadness wash over me,
because the sadness is carried by love.
Sadness at those lost, lost loved one, lost memories,
lost days, weeks and months,
lost moments and lost opportunities.
When my heart breaks with sadness,
I feel awash in love.
This love is overwhelming,
it breaks me and I want to be broken.
I no longer want to hold back,
to distance myself from the pain,
from the turmoil and sadness.
Love is enduring, it carries you through,
it holds you when you are broken,
waits for doors to open and gives you time to walk through.
When my heart is filled with sadness,
gratitude and appreciation arise at every step,
every street corner and every face.
Happiness is a shooting star across a magical night sky,
but sadness, include sadness in your love,
and love is everywhere.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Dancing Partners

It's tempting when you go dancing to only dance to the songs you like and the people who dance like you.  It feels safer to dance with those who have the same tempo and those who make you look good.

The problem with this sort of dancing is that you spend most of your time waiting.  Waiting for the right song to play, waiting for your partner to be free, waiting for the right time to start.  You want to dance, but you never actually get around to dancing.

Start dancing with those who are bad dancers.  Be patient.  Slow down your tempo and adjust your posture.  Cut them some slack and give them time to catch up.  Listen to what they need and guide them with tiny steps and repetition.  You actually learn a lot about your own dancing when you teach others to dance.

Start dancing when it is not your song.  Explore a new tempo, a new style.  Feel the music and the beat, listen closely and let it guide you.  Trust your instincts, your intuition.  Dance on the edge of unknowing and fear.  Dance on the edge of 'you might look stupid'.  Watch what others are doing, adapt and adjust.  Make it your own.  You're still dancing.

Start dancers with others who are so much better than you.  Be awed by their grace and poise.  Mimic their moves.  Embody their grooves.  You might not have that much style and definitely don't have their grace, but let them lift you.  Be inspired.  Want to leap higher and with some extra pizzazz.  Now you know it is possible, keep dancing.

When every song and every partner presents themselves as an opportunity to dance, your practice has reached its consummation.  Now you are practicing the art of dance, so just keep on dancing.

Then you just need to learn how to bring those skills off the dance floor.  Dance in the streets, dance at work.  Dance with anger, dance with love.  

Friday, May 2, 2014

Practice ain't easy.

It's easy to practice when everything is going right.  Hard to practice when everything is falling apart.  And that's why they call it practice. 

Take patience for example.

It is easy to be patient when you have time to spare and plenty of space.  Easy to be patient, relaxed and easygoing when it is a nice day, your to do list is finished and you have a patio seat with a view. 

Much harder to practice patience when you haven't eaten, have to go to the bathroom and things just aren't going your way.  When reality and people seem to be intentionally scheming against you, when the conditions aren't right and you wish you had just a little more time...that is when you practice patience. 

That is when you are really practicing. 

Your practice is to meet adversity and dance with it.  It is to make friends with your enemies and to participate when you feel like giving up.  Real practice doesn't come with a timetable and a map, it is raw, emotional and difficult. 

And when we see you practicing despite all of the chaos, we are impressed.  Then we don't hesitate in calling you a practitioner. 

Keep practicing.