Friday, March 27, 2015

"Those colours which have no name...are the real foundation of everything."

-Vincent Van Gogh 

(quoted in Pat Schneider, "How The Light Gets In", p. 3)

Five Ways of Sustaining The Essence

Elevate your experience and remain wide open like the sky.

Expand your mindfulness and remain pervasive like the earth.

Steady your attention and remain unshakeable like a mountain.

Brighten your awareness and remain shining like a flame.

Clear your thought free wakefulness and remain lucid like a crystal.

-Dakpo Tashi Namgyal, "Clarifying the Natural State".

Effort and Effortlessness

Do not think, "I will practice later." That attitude makes it never: our time simply runs out . Time will not wait for us. The ultimate practice is undistracted nonmeditation, which obliterates the root of confusion. It totally and permanently obliterates all karma, dusturbing emotions, and habitual tendencies.

To begin with, we need some method, some techniques to lead us to the ultimate. The best method is of course effortlessness, but effortlessness cannot be taught or striven after. Even if we try- especially if we try- we can't become automatically effortless. Though effortlessness just does not seem to spontaneously take place, yet it is a fact that confused experience will fall apart the moment we simply let be in a nondualistic state. Right now, for most of us, every moment of ordinary experience is governed by conditioning. Our present habit is deliberate effort. Therefore, we have no choice but to use our present habit of deliberate effort to arrive at effortlessness. Once we are accustomed to effortful meditation, we can make the leap to the effortless state.

- Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, "Present Fresh Wakefulness" 

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Spiritual Friend

Friends, until you attain awakening, you need a
teacher, so follow your spiritual friend.
Until you realize the natural state, you need to learn,
so listen to his or her instructions.

Atisha (980-1054)

(from "Jewels of Enlightenment", Erik Pema Kunsang
modified for gender neutrality).

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Francis Lucille on "The Teacher" (including some discussion of Ramana Maharshi and Robert Adams)

Q: What is the role of the teacher?

A: The teacher does not give you a new necklace but just asks you to look in the mirror. The teacher does not give you anything new. One should be careful about any misunderstanding in this respect. Indian society is very hierarchical, highly differentiated and, due to these social traditions that have nothing to do with the truth, the guru is way above the fray. For instance, the Brahmin caste is above everybody else and this is an impediment at some point. Although Ramana Maharshi was a Brahmin, he would eat with everybody else at his ashram. There was a special dining room for the newcomers who were Brahmins and initially they would eat there. However, since the teacher was not there, they would eventually move in with everybody else. He was always very careful not to be put on a pedestal. He would even become angry if he received special treatment and rightfully so, because he didn't see himself as different from anyone else.

One has to be careful about traditions that make a god of the teacher. It is true that the teacher is speaking the truth, but from his or her vantage point, everything is speaking he truth. For instance, when the student is asking a question, it is truth speaking to the teacher. Usually, when the teacher dies, when his body dies, his pedestal is raised up to the ceiling at least. Then, each subsequent year, it rises a couple more meters, and so eventually it is at an almost infinite distance from us! We forget that the teacher was and is what we are.

A teacher is very human as a person, very much like us. There is a beautiful poem by Thayumanavar, a 16th century Indian poet, in which he compares the teacher with a deer who is sent towards a herd of deer, in order to lure them towards the hunter. God is the hunter in this metaphor and the teacher is the deer that is sent to the herd. There has to be a real deer or the herd would feel that there was a trap and would not follow.

There should not be any difference between the teacher and the student. It is natural that there is respect because the teacher sees the Self in you. Respect calls for respect, Love calls for love. At the same time, the teacher should make realization seem easy. If a teacher makes it seem difficult and out of reach, then find another one!

The teacher that takes us to freedom, known in India as the Satguru or the Karana guru, wants our freedom above all else. In the Karana guru's presence, we feel this total freedom with respect to the rules. Deep inside we know that there are no rules, although it may be appropriate to follow the rules if a situation requires it. There is totoal freedom. The teacher doesn't judge you. Everything is OK. You are OK.

Take Robert Adams, for instance. He was a beautiful loose cannon! He was an expression of this freedom. It was this quality that enabled you to be free from your own conditioning, from what you thought you ought or ought not to do.

Freedom is the highest good. It is that which is closest to the Self. Above love, above intelligence, above beauty, there is freedom. That is why the game we are playing is called the game of bondage and liberation.

- Francis Lucille, The Perfume of Silence

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Kosho Uchiyama: The Heart of Nembutsu

The Heart of Nembutsu

I eat food from the whole heaven and earth
I drink water from the whole heaven and earth
I live the life of the whole heaven and earth
Pulled by the gravity of the whole heaven and earth
I become pure and clear, one with the whole heaven and earth
The whole heaven and earth is where I return

- Zen Teachings of Homeless Kodo

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

New Blog!

I have launched a new blog here: http://hashkata.com

It is called "Voices: Comparative Theology and Intertraditional Polylogue". Yes, that's a mouthful, but it goes with the over-all tone of the site :)

I am creating this blog as a place to host a particular type of writing I do and find myself doing more of as time goes by. This is writing which presents voices in dialogue from across religious and philosopical traditions. I see this as both intrinsically valuable and a way of promoting peace and understanding among different religious and cultural groups.

I hope you'll take a look. http://hashkata.com