Monday, June 30, 2014

Problem Solver.

What are the main problems in your life?

Stress.  Anxiety.  Health.  Money.  Love. Work.  Fear.  Busy.  Time.  People.

Normally we relate to our problems with aversion.  We believe, erroneously, that if we can get rid of all our problems then we will be happy and we can live the life we imagine.

What if we change that relationship?

What if instead of trying to avoid problems we sought to derive wisdom from them?

What is this problem, this person, this situation trying to teach me?  Am I willing to listen?  To learn?  How much am I contributing to this problem being a problem?

If we take our problems onto the path they become fuel for the fire of wisdom.  They become a catalyst for change and growth.

If we relate to problems in this way, the problem and the need for a solution fall away.  The notion of problems and solutions has been resolved in its own ground.  As you learn to carry wisdom as the path, listening deeply becomes your greatest asset.

Use it.

Wisdom wants to be shared.  Listen, and share it.  You don't need to be a sage to share wisdom, you simply need to look deeply into your own life and situation; listen, be patient and vulnerable, and be honest.

Problems present themselves as an opportunity for liberation, an opportunity for the sun of wisdom to breakthrough the darkness.

Don't worry, if you can't liberate the first problem that comes up more will always present themselves.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Meditation: A Panacea?

Meditation is all the rage lately.  Study after study has reported its benefits, from
health, to memory, to happiness and even sex.

Is it really the panacea that it is purported to be?

Meditation is a vehicle.  It brings you to where you want to go.  Just as you take a car to go hiking, or a plane to travel abroad, or a boat to go fishing; meditation is a vehicle.

If it is a vehicle, then it is really important that you have a clear intention for where you are going. 

The Buddha divided all types of meditation into two categories- worldly and transcendent.

Worldly meditation involves not only all of the health and wellness benefits listed above, but also includes meditation for the sake of cultivating specific mental states for your own benefit. 

Transcendent meditation is for the purpose of liberation.  Complete awakening has the function of liberating the mind from all suffering and ignorance, but its distinctive feature is the presence of great compassion. 

Great compassion fulfills its own intention by carrying out and ensuring the benefit of others.  In this way, transcendent meditation not only fulfills your own aims, it also fulfills the aims of others. 

It transcends the self.  It is greater in purpose, greater in scope.

With this type of meditation, your life becomes the vehicle for awakening in order to bring benefit to those around you.  Everything is included in your practice everything becomes part of the path.

What is your intention for meditation?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Establishing the Ground: A Short Meditation

Take your seat in a comfortable position, back straight.
Relax your shoulders, neck, jaw.
Notice any tension or tightness in your body, relax.
Start to notice your breath.
Naturally inhaling and exhaling,
feeling the breath fill the lungs. 
Take three long and slow inhales and exhales,
as you inhale, imagine breathing in a pure white light,
purifying and refreshing the body and mind, like a gentle breeze.
As you exhale, imagine exhaling all your stress and static energy,
exhaling all disease, illness and negativity.
Then relax.  Rest.
With your eyes closed, bring your awareness to your heart center.
Imagine in the center of your heart a brilliant white light,
like a brilliant star suspended in the expanse of the night sky.
As you inhale, imagine that light intensifies,
becoming more and more brilliant.
Maintaining that mental object, ride the inhale and exhale.
(Continue 5-10 minutes)

At the conclusion of the session,
imagine that brilliant light dissolves completely into space,
open your eyes,
rest in open, authentic presence.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What is the mind?

Are you aware of the different roles and personalities you play in your life?  How all of them represent a part of you, but do not fully encompass every aspect of who you are.  For example, who you are at work versus who you are with your mother versus who you are when you are with your friends at a game. 

Certainly there are common characteristics that carry through, but each is different and unique.  Who you are is shaped by your environment and the people around you.  None of them is permanent and lasting. 

It is the same with the mind.

The Buddha enumerated many different aspects of mind in order to fully elucidate what it is.  Mind can be broken down in the following eight layers:

1-5. Five sense consciousness (eye, ear, nose, taste, touch)
6. Conceptual consciousness
7. Afflicted consciousness
8. Foundational consciousness

The first five act as witnesses to the phenomenal world.  Conceptual consciousness provides the commentary.  Afflicted consciousness is all of our neurotic habits and biased perceptions.  Foundational consciousness is the platform upon which all of them carry through, day after day, lifetime after lifetime.

Why is this important?

Most forms of meditation facilitate a particular mental state.  A mental state falls within the expanse of conventional mind- it is somewhere within these eight layers.  As long as we are within these eight layers of mind we are not free- we are bound. 

So check your meditation.

Are you grasping to sights, sounds, feelings?  Are you grasping to bliss, clarity or non-conceptuality?  Where are you fixated on a ground?

To meditate and not to liberate, what's the point?

The only way to liberate your mind is to recognize the play of the conventional mind- the play of the five sense consciousnesses, the play of thoughts and the play of neurosis.  Our mind does all sorts of funny things when we watch it.  If we are free from grasping, the play of conventional mind dissolves into the nature of mind. 

The nature of the mind has the quality of liberation.  Recognize it as such- a profound calm, pristine clarity, free from thought or elaboration. 

You can't even say 'This is it' without grasping, but you can know it directly.

Let's get started.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Long Life Prayer

Without wavering from the expanse of the dharmadhatu,
You effortlessly resolve all that appears and exists,
Abiding in the timeless freedom of the single sphere of awareness,
Lord of the deathless Dharmakaya, please abide eternally!

Your body, immovable like a mountain,
Your speech, an unceasing melody borne of experience,
Your mind, resting in unimpeded awareness free of elaboration,
Peerless Teacher, Lord of Dharma, please abide eternally!

From the spacious sky (Kha) of your awakened mind,
Naturally arising wisdom pervades (Chab) all of samsara and nirvana,
Guiding all beings by your complete virtue (Younge),
Younge Khachab Rinpoche, please live long!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Not the same thing.

Accomplishment and fulfillment are two different things.

Accomplishment is like consuming a meal.  You have the erroneous perception that you are full and you exclaim it with joy.  And in a couple hours you will be hungry again.  Spend your life seeking out accomplishments and you might look back at life and realized that you have indeed eaten well, yet thirst persists even on your death bed.

Fulfillment doesn't rely on conditions.  Not relying on conditions it doesn't make any sense.

Which means you need to move beyond concepts and mind.  Which you can do. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

A simple monk.

A while ago I was talking to Rinpoche about the importance of building retreat centers and centers for study and practice in the West.  He recounted to me the origins of the practice and teachings of the Buddha.

At the time of the Buddha, there were no established centers.  Monks and laymen would convene at gathering places, receive teachings and depart.  The monks lived simple lives devoted to study and practice.  They had few possessions, wandered from place to place and were nourished by whatever alms came there way.  The monks would carry a walking stick and a begging bowl, clothed in robes and with shaven head.  All day, every day they were devoted to practice and integrating the profound teachings with their own life and situation. 

This was the way in which the Buddha's teachings were practiced and disseminated. 

We too can emulate this, bring it to its perfection.

We can live simple lives devoted to study and practice.
If our minds are not ensnared by fixation and grasping, we have few possessions.
If we don't hold to fixed positions and establish a ground where there is none, we live the life of a wandering yogin.
If we receive and work with whatever comes up in our experience without acceptance or rejection, we are nourished by alms. 
If we stand firm in our practice, leaning on it when we are weary, our practice becomes an unbreakable walking stick. 
Adhering to a simple discipline, we down robes.
Being free from the eight worldly concerns, we have the shaved head of a renunciate. 
All day, every day, we are devoted to practice and integrating the profound teachings with our own life and situation.

This is the way in which the Buddha's teachings are practiced and disseminated.  

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Readily available.

So often we have big plans. 

In order to make an impact and matter we seek out large scale projects and initiatives.  We need non-profits and funding and community outreach and social platforms for that change to grow. 

What if we simply planned on being more available?

What if our project was to be available when others needed a hand,
if they needed advice,
or a shoulder to lean on.

What if you were always ready, always available when others needed you?  What if everyone shared this same willingness and preparedness?

What would suffering, problems, mental illness and inequality look like if we lived in a community of openness and acceptance?

You might be the one we are looking for.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Lineage is a legacy available to you,
one that you can contribute to. 

Your practice is your opportunity, it is the doorway.  By entering it you contribute to your legacy and the legacy of the lineage.

You're not the first, and hopefully you are not the last.  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

I'm busy.

That seems to be the status update of our day. 

Busy- finishing up a project at work, working overtime.
Busy- with the kids, with the family, with friends.
Busy- with errands, events, and emotional interactions.
Busy- searching, shopping and seeking solace. 

Strange isn't it, how much of your day are you 'busy' trying to create something enjoyable?  Or fun?

Our effort to stay busy is a pretty new cultural invention.  Our grandfathers used to work long hours and did harder work, but did they really describe their weekend and their life as busy?

'Busy' might be the new comfortable, even though we don't admit that we like being busy, more and more often we don't like when we are not busy.  When we are not busy, we feel uncomfortable, like we are wasting our time or that our life doesn't have value.  So we stay busy, because it makes us feel important.  It makes us feel like we are doing something, maybe even accomplishing something. 

But in our efforts to stay busy, we miss a lot of opportunity.  We miss taking the chance on new interactions, we miss doing something important, we miss making a difference in someone's life. We might like the feeling of being busy, but don't make the mistake of being busy when you could be doing something valuable.  

The only way out of this hot mess we call 'busy' is to contemplate our own impermanence.   When we realize that our life is short and death is quickly approaching, you automatically start to do what is important because you know you don't have any time to waste.

New status update to how was your weekend: It was a gift.  My life is quickly passing before my eyes and I chose to do what was the most important, I shared it. 

I shared it in my work, even though they were long days.
I shared it with my family, friends and loved ones.
I shared it on my way to do errands, at events and with those I interacted with.
I shared with myself, in a moment of solace and peaceful enjoyment. 

It was a gift, and I hope yours was a gift too.