Scent of the Divine

 

 

What can we learn from those deprived of fully or normally functioning senses about accessing other ways of being? How can we avoid the domination of visual processing, the consequent ownership of everything we see, and the blind instinct to pin everything down into permanence in the realities we create in our minds? Everything, and often everyone, we see we want to possess and fossilize, preserving them in aspic, making them permanent. These collections often become our reality and naturally, we fear their loss.

For urban dwellers in the developed world, the allure of millions of visual signals pulls us out of our true nature. We are provoked by their sight to make choices, to possess or reject. In modern life, the monopolizing visual sense can generate synthetic conditions in which we ‘see,’ but more importantly ‘are seen,’ and we interpret everything to suit us, on our terms. Whereas the non-visual senses – listening/hearing, tasting, smelling, feeling – receive concrete data from the environment, e.g. sound, scents, textures and shape, flavours and temperatures, etc. that need no interpretation as they are un-seeable, invisible to most humans.  In a series of articles soon to be made into a book, I will explore these ancient senses that I believe link us with our innate divinity.

Our true nature is both visible and invisible, never limitable to man-made concepts like space and time, to merely seeing and being seen. Our sacred responsibility while inhabiting the visible world is to live out our unconditional love and compassion so we can convey the lessons of humanity to others. As well as to revive our divine energy in these days of shocking social deterioration and urban isolation. In simple terms, our senses are out of balance in modern life so by closing down the visual sense and ‘going inside,’ we can make contact with our higher self and the vast magical land of the invisible.

The ‘I,’ the ego, and the physical eye operate in a similar way. As mentioned, the visual sense is the most dominant in our consumerist acquisitive societies, manufactured diversity and pluralism overwhelm us with choices, alternatives, get-out clauses, and so on. If we cannot see something, there is a possibility that we consider it not to exist, or at the very least to have no validity. We need proof either with the naked eye or in writing to make things valid because our trust in others and in our perceptions of reality is so weak.

It is no wonder then that we cling desperately to the ‘self’ as evidence that our flesh and blood actually exist. But in that clinging, there is a possibility that we may have lost all contact with our true self our true nature; that our divine flame is either guttering or has extinguished altogether.

 

 

In respect of the above, the visually impaired are fascinating. If we take away visual data from human existence altogether, then how do we make sense of the world? I have had the privilege of working with visually impaired children and adults as a Music Therapist. They have taught me so much about concrete communication, contributing to my own spiritual insights and helping me to step beyond the straitjacket of duality which most of us wear.

Before writing in detail about my professional experience, I would like to recount a film which movingly depicts how a person deprived of sight as an adult, makes sense of his new world. The title is ‘Scent of a Woman’ 1992, based on an Italian film released in 1974 Profumo di donna, (director Dino Risi, leading role Vittorio Gassman, based on the story Il Buio e il Mieleby Giovanni Arpino).

A colonel is injured in an accident, losing his sight entirely. He adapts badly to his disability by drinking heavily and lashing out obnoxiously at everyone around him. He sees no reason to go on living so he employs a young student paying his way at a local university to accompany him to New York to take his final pleasures before shooting himself, his pristine gun in his suitcase, his practice at assembling and cleaning it copious.

Booking into the best hotel, he lavishes them both during their stay. In the hotel, there is a dance floor, a small band playing Latin American music in the afternoon where guests are dancing formally. The colonel senses the fragrance of a woman sitting nearby them and somehow knows that she is alone. He goes to ask her to join them for a drink, and then to his helper’s incredulity, forcefully invites her to dance the tango with him. He knows the steps intimately and the floor clears to watch the spectacle. His helper is nervous at first but soon relaxes as they stride out together confidently, victoriously.

 

 

Personally, this scene has incredible nobility because of my experience of visual impairment. Apparently, all the visually imapired colonel needs to achieve the impossible is the fragrance of a woman, his healthy body receptive to vibrations, and his kinesthetic memories of dancing the Tango, all of them concrete data.

Is it possible to reconstruct a visually accessed environment in terms of sound and movement? I know first-hand that this is what the visually impaired do to make sense of their world. A young female client blind from birth had never seen anything or anyone; unusually, she did not experience even faint patterns of light or shadow. She had no choice but to utilize sound and movement as her environment, making mountains out of piano chords and snowy summits with her agile voice. She could create a journey in a ship by jumping high to make wave patterns and the rocking of the vessel, using her fingers and voice as the people on board.

She was happiest without words, entirely nourished by the vibrations of sound and sensing them in her body. I often envied her freedom from intellectual assessment or interpretation, craving only spontaneous integration with the stimuli.

Jiddu Krishnamurti, spiritual teacher and visionary, said, “The description is not the described; I can describe the mountain, but the description is not the mountain, and if you get caught up in the description as most people are, then you will never see the mountain.’ Of course, my young client had never seen a mountain and never would be able to do so, so instead, she could sense it made of sound and smells combined with her own bodily movements in space. This can demonstrate just how attached the sighted become to words and their meaning. Being receptive to only the sound of the word and not its meaning can liberate us, so we are able to revert to our true spirit nature beyond mere symbols. As we listen to music, imbibe the fragrance of toasted bread, taste a freshly picked ripe plum, finger fabric made from silk in the dark, words become redundant and shockingly inadequate except in the hands of a talented poet.

Colonel Slade on the other hand, had seen many mountains and had actually experienced their descriptions but was now dependent on memories of mountains. Would he be content with this vagueness when he had made mountains so permanent in his life? Would his awareness of mountains gradually dissolve if it could not be refreshed? Would his sense of loss, of the living reality that everything is impermanent, finally hit home and bring him to an awakening, or would it be utterly unendurable. Perhaps he was now consumed by the description of himself as a blind helpless and pitiable being and failed to see that he was not the described. It would seem that his decision to kill himself in some way represented the final irreversible permanence.

 

 

Although occasionally troubled by the language and words of her carers and therapists, which she was often unable to interpret, my young client was completely happy and reasonably well-adjusted in normal life. But she became aggressive if she was not allowed to move her body through the air or blocked from feeling the vibrations of sound because this was the only way she could be certain that she existed. So, in terms of her inner spiritual life, she was not beleaguered by dialogue from either her demons or her false angels, not attached to concepts and theories, and not hampered by the acquisitive ‘I’ or ‘eye.’ Whatever she needed to affirm her identity came from sounds and smells, touches and tastes. Words were not symbols which developed an intellectual reality of their own to her and caused her to live in an abstract world of the mind.

The visible. The invisible. A famous blind and deaf phenomenon Helen Keller, who eventually learned to live in the visible and audible world said, ‘the best and the most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt in the heart.’ This spiritual view of life comes from a grueling heart-breaking training as a child to be able to live in the world of the sighted and the hearing. Her complete adaptation is testimony to our ability to overcome anything if the divine flame in the heart is strong and we do not allow our senses to be out of balance.

As the world is designed for the sighted, it is impossible for the majority of the unsighted to make sense of it. They experience existence more directly, more concretely, often from the higher self. This is an inspiration. Many of us have learned to access the higher self through meditation or prayer, which invariably entails closing the eyes and focusing our listening. But how we struggle with distractions in the form of words – notions, speculations, justifications, judgments, criticisms, ad infinitum.

We naturally want to escape from this relentless barrage of concepts, so look for a path leading away, taking us out of ourselves. It is ironic that all we need is already located inside us if only we can quell the noise of our minds and just be in silence and stillness. The blind cannot escape and have no desire to usually. They are content to finger the complex textures of an item on and on or jump continuously to experiment with their balance or to mingle with concrete energies.

In spiritual practice, we aspire to go beyond words and other habitual interpretations of reality. We can learn to sink down into the firm yielding of now and here, of the great still silence where we too, like the unsighted, can detect vibrations and use other tools accessible to humans such as clairvoyance, perfect pitch, telepathy, that we once utilized. Colonel Slade’s tango with a beautiful fragrant woman almost pushed him over the edge, sending him to lock himself into his room and prepare his gun. Then he felt the love of his young accomplice in an angry invective about his cowardliness and self-pity and knew he could play a useful role in his young life. He could settle for concrete stimuli in time and found wisdom behind his irascible intolerance, and he could still believe in questions and their answers, somnambulating around the visual world learned from memory, at least for a while longer.

The questions the congenitally blind may pose are mere sound-play empty of meaning: hearing their own voices, imitating other voices, projecting the sounds their being can create to chart their environment. They are not desperate jabs at understanding existence, of ‘seeing’ through or behind impressions, of ‘understanding’ and interpreting everything as those of the sighted, because they know there are no questions, so there are no answers.

They are not separated away from existence because they cannot see to measure and compare, to judge and sort, to speculate or criticize. We sighted need to accept everything and step beyond duality to reconnect with our divine origins. Whereas the blind are embedded in existence; they cannot easily move around in their concrete environment as we do in the virtual worlds we invent.

It is difficult for those who have always been able to see the world to imagine the world of the congenital blind. They are like ghosts using their body form as an instrument to detect their environment. They themselves become concrete in the same way that what they perceive best is concrete. They do not take what is visible and transient deep inside them and make it invisible in order to learn lessons and connect with the invisible world. They are invisible already.

They are usually calm and steady because everything is already lost in their world; they can hold onto little and describe nothing. Voices come and go and textures and temperatures are continually changing beyond their control. There is no light or shade. There are no models to imitate except vocally which means they are often excellent mimics because of their exclusive audio focus. We often pity them, their deprivation of the treasures of the visual, but their insight into life is extraordinary and their link with the divine I believe functions strongly.

My blind client knew my inner thoughts as I worked with her. She had clairvoyance without doubt, and she could predict my future. As a music therapist, I was one of the few people she wanted to be with all the time because I could make soundscapes for her and with her, and she could use instruments and her voice and body to act in them.

Our environment can provide concrete data such as resonances, smells, textures and temperatures, tastes and kinesthetic awareness, none of which are open to the same kind of interpretation as visual data perceived only by the physical eyes. These data are invisible, the dimension and substance of our spiritual origin. The shaman in primitive tribes enters into a trance to connect with the world of spirits to access wisdom of the elder ancestors. He or she can no longer ’see’ in the physical sense. Soothsayers and seers have traditionally been visually impaired. We are told by Buddhist Masters that during our time in human life we are living in a dream world in which everything is impermanent and created by our minds.

 

 

The blind colonel on the dance floor moving his own body and his unknown partner’s through space to the majestic rhythms of the Tango inspired by the fragrance she is wearing is a moving feat to the sighted. There is no hesitation, no speculation, just beautiful bodies moving trustingly through space, responding to resonances and scents. This is surely an unconditional act. At first, he intends this performance to be his swan song – resonance, rhythms, fragrance, bodily accompaniment- all that he needs to shift to the invisible world. But soon he realizes that he can adapt and at the same time can find peace with his true self.

 

..and after Nirvana?

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Once the beautiful mandala, painstakingly created following precise ancient formulae with the utter devotion of the creators, is carefully dispersed to the elements, what happens next?  The gorgeous colour and structure, visually irresistible, are destroyed, are given back to the universe, but where does that leave you who have allowed yourself to become attached, smitten by what humans can do?

What if this act, strange in human terms, is a test or a cheap trick? What if it was all a beautiful dream? Such mysteries and evocative rituals are all very well, all entertaining and hope-giving, but our principal mission in life is truly no mystery. Beyond all these intricate distractions caught up in the name of religion or pursuing faith, reality waits for us right under our noses.

 

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Through spiritual training, it is possible to move beyond all appearances.  We are surrounded by buddhas and gods in every moment of our human lives.  They may not match up to our deluded images of what gods and buddhas should look like, but in each core of each human being there is True Nature, our divine essence impregnated with the details of our exact mission as human beings.

True Nature is invisible, but it has an unmistakable fragrance of eternity which can suffuse our human existence in every seemingly prosaic ‘now ‘and ‘here.’

 

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Linden Thorp is principally a human being though has lived through many other emanations in order to wake up to her humanity!

The Origin of Meditation: Making Bonds with the Universe

I’ve just published an article in Meditationmag.com: http://meditationmag.com/buddhism/origin-meditation-making-bonds-universe/

Please visit this wonderful magazine. Kevin Ellerton, the editor, is doing such a great job in spreading the magic of meditation. Meditation is the greatest resource foreach of us in the secular and plural age!

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The Buddha, founder of Buddhism, 2600 years ago made it clear that we should create and maintain bonds with the Universe even though we have been born into human life. This was a common notion in ancient India before his time.

The Universe encompasses everything that exists, according to our current understanding: spacetime, forms of energy and the physical laws that relate them, history, philosophy, mathematics and logic. Buddhists refer to the Universe, both visible and invisible phenomena, as the Dharma.

The Cathars (medieval Christian mystics pronounced heretics by the Church of Rome and exterminated) also were constantly connected to the spiritual or invisible world although they strived to liberate all beings from the physical world of suffering. They regarded death, the ending of human life, as a simple veil that could be easily removed.

The halo (a circle of light around the head of a holy being depicted in Christianity) and the aureole (a circle of light around the head and/or body of a deity in Buddhism), were and still are used as reminders of the spiritual origin of all things appearing in the visible world of form. In both systems of living out the lessons and struggles of human life (Christianity) or samsara (- the world of human suffering-Buddhism), we aspire to make the transition back into the spiritual, formless world, and if possible, to take all living beings with us.

The Cathars, who were vegetarians apart from eating fish occasionally, prescribed the endura, a form of ritual suicide brought about by refraining from taking any food or water as death approached, preceded by the administering of the consolamentum, a special cleansing meditation or blessing. In Buddhism, diet is always key as it is important to allow the subtle inner winds (vayu in Sanskrit) to blow naturally through the channels of the body. The body and mind are unable to function at subtle levels if these winds are not balanced.

So, in both schools, the awareness of what substances from the Earth we put inside our bodies is central to the way we use them. These rules about living allow us to connect with mystical knowledge so as to be able to be a channel for such universal energy. They provide an opportunity for us to fine-tune ourselves in order to receive the countless messages and signs from invisible sources surrounding us.

 

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The mystical has always drawn me personally since being a young child. I could never accept that worldly achievements were the pinnacle of all existence. I was certain there was much more to it than that. Of course, children are usually not yet conditioned as adults are: they are pure and still close to the universe before their intellectual capacities develop.

My dream of being touched by the mystical came steadily true through the Buddhist pathway and gnostic traditions such as Catharism and also Sufism (mystical/Esoteric Islam). In Japan, I am presently involved with the Nirvana Teachings of Shinnyo-en, Esoteric (transmitted orally from Master to pupil) Shingon Buddhism. These are the very last teachings the Buddha gave on his deathbed when he revealed a new aspect of the teachings just before he died which took his disciples and followers by storm.

He announced that every single being, regardless of spiritual training, gender, or any other classifications, is endowed with Buddha Nature, the seed for enlightenment (perfection). If we live life in a sincere way putting others before ourselves, the rain of Dharma will water that seed and it will ripen in time.

This changed the direction of Buddhism forever because everyone universally had the potential for enlightenment in their own lifetime, not only those who gave up their everyday lives as householders to become monks. The best place to become enlightened is in everyday life, here-and-now.

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In Esoteric Buddhism, the mandala is the traditional way of mapping out the Dharma lineage which is passed down through the ages from the original Buddha Shākamuni, about 2600 years ago. The mandala represents the whole Universe and if you are correctly connected to that lineage known as the Dharma Stream, there is nothing and no-one outside you, no ‘us’ and ‘them!’ You are actually positioned in the dead centre of the universe.

Buddhists strive to release themselves from attachment to objects and people because attachment means separation – it requires the attached and the attacher. Once we are truly one with the Universe and all sentient beings, then we have realized ‘emptiness’ and the native silence and stillness of the heart. All our worldly desires are extinguished and it is said that we have crossed the great Ocean of Nirvana to the other shore.

In Japan, there is a strong tradition of mountain ascetics – those who deprive themselves of luxuries and comforts in order to quieten their egos, shugendo in Japanese. Yamabushi (Jpn: one who ‘likes mountains’) follow a special doctrine combining Esoteric Buddhism, Taoism and Shinto.

These practitioners are usually solitary and today mostly lay (non-monastic). Emphasis is placed on physical feats of endurance in the open air where the trainees live in the untouched forests of rural Japan. Their goal is to be touched by supernatural powers and the universe through such practices.

 

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Yamabushi (photograph deliberately blurred for privacy) can often be seen engaged in waterfall training – standing under waterfalls in freezing winter, ridding themselves of their ego so that they can receive the esoteric messages. My own masters did this practice regularly, as did many other key teachers in Shingon Buddhism.

The Cathars also had a strong reverence for and involvement with nature and the Universe. The sacred caves of Sabarthes in Languedoc, south-eastern France, are known as the ‘doors to Catharism.’ Part of initiation as a Parfait (a Cathar Perfect) was to climb a steep path leading up to these caves (a practice common also in shugendo) to the Cave of Bethlehem.

There were four important elements inside the caves:

1. a square niche in the wall which could have conceivably contained a mandala or manual of some kind;

2. a rough granite altar;

3. a pentagram carved into the wall, possibly symbolising the 5 elements of the universe (a common symbol in Esoteric Buddhism);

4. the telluric currents emitted from the rock walls and cave floor.

The atmosphere in these caves fills one with awe. I was particularly sensitive while inside and after visiting had a series of dreams in which Cathars appeared as Buddhist monks. There are so many similarities.

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As mentioned, Buddhists work to achieve emptiness and liberation from all attachments. If you step out of the enclosure of your mind, the view of the world you construct with your intellect, then you step into the Buddhafield or mandala where you are protected and qualified to receive the wisdom of the Dharma stream orally. At this moment, you become united with the Universe. This is reality. You can take refuge in this powerful mandala whilst struggling in samsara to liberate all sentient beings and bring them to enlightenment with you.

Although many different spiritual traditions employ meditation in their training, it could be said that the notion of making ‘bonds with the universe’ began with the young Buddha’s first experience of meditation. Prince Siddhārtha was 7 years of age and already showing promise in his studies to succeed his father and become King of the Sākya clan. One day, he accompanied his father and entourage to an agricultural festival dedicated to the Earth deity.

While there, the young prince noticed a small bird pecking at a worm that had been turned up by a plough. He felt such compassion for the worm that he was inspired to sit in a nearby grove under a jambu (rose apple) tree and soon shifted into an advanced meditative state.

The sun was high in the sky, but the shade provided by the surrounding trees stood still, keeping the young child cool and sheltered from the hot sun. This first meditation inspired by nature demonstrated the highest respect and reverence for the treasures of the universe.

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In my own meditations which bring together many coloured threads, I often use the image that everything inside me, beneath the thin membrane of my skin, can amalgamate with everything outside. That my heart can beat in unison with all the hearts in the universe and that I can breathe as one with all beings in the universe. It is easy to transcend the thin membrane of skin and realize deeply that this is all that makes me a physical individual being, able to act in the world, fulfilling my own unique mission.

The Universe is the Spiritual Source. The Moon and Sun are our protectors. We climb the mountains, flow into the oceans down wide rivers, and swing from stars and planets. It is only the mundane mind that hems us into its synthetic reality, imprisoning us away from the natural glory of the great Universe.

 

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images courtesy of Linden Thorp and megapixyl.com

 

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Linden Thorp is a teacher/author (both non-fiction/fiction)/editor (academic/general/religious) living and working in Japan. She is an ordained Japanese Esoteric Buddhist priest (Shinnyo-en), Alexander Teacher, Sound/Music Creativity Therapist, Meditation facilitator, Indigenous Peoples’ Advocate and is involved in the Cathar revival. Her mission is world peace and harmony. Her religious pathway has been from Christianity, through Hinduism, Islam, Sufism, Humanism, Catharism, to schools of Hinayana, Vājiriyana, and Mahayāna Buddhism, and so to Oneness and Self-Realization.

Cosmos Zen

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I strive to keep in touch with the Universe through various means because I deem the sense of awe humans are capable of to be a fundamental of our unique spirit.

Living in extended urban sprawls with the resulting and increasing dependence on material commodities for our survival and happiness, means that it is likely that we will separate ourselves away from the great cosmos of which we are each an essential component. I find myself always returning to this separation in all my channels of expression because it is our divine right to be one with the whole cosmos. In other words, it is our sacred mission of love and light.

My favourite Japanese artist Mariko Kinoshita (website under construction – watch this space) shares my passion for preserving our sense of awe and embracing all that we cannot see with our limited intellectual view. She paints naturally and exactly the ‘integration’ I am referring to.

Her Shintoist (the state religion of Japan until 1946) ancestry with its reverence for the 80 million Kami-Sama (god spirits) has created an indestructible platform for her way of seeing human life. I also live in such a way, acknowledging that everything, as well as everyone, has a spirit!

 

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Origami the art of paper-folding, so familiar to us in modern life, is a superb example of this. Folding paper requires no cutting with metal instruments exactly out of respect for the ‘tree spirit’ which enabled us to make this precious material.

I want to always walk in the enchantment of the Cosmos in my daily life. In fact, I refuse to ever be separated from it by mundane and finite thoughts and beliefs.

Kinoshita’s painting evokes exactly my determination. I am so grateful for this gifted artist’s existence and I have pledged myself to make her work as visible as possible.

 

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All images courtesy of Mariko Kinoshita, Linden Thorp and megapixyl.com

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Temple Chronicle: Winter Training

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Our human lives are a process, a means whereby, but what is the result, the end-product? Our story began with the moment of birth and it will end with the moment of death. Or will it? Between these two points our physical form develops and matures, and then as its season draws to a close, it starts to shrink and slow.

We, our spirits, are temporarily housed in a flesh form to participate in the visual material world which is subject to varied and numerous conditions. It is logical then that the conditioned mind expects results from the progress through the years of our lifespan.

Religions use certain terms for this end-product, this resolution of the years and the effort – Heaven or Hell, Nirvana, Enlightenment, Paradise, Zion, Avalon, Swarga, Valhalla, and so on. But words and images die the moment they appear or are uttered or thought. ‘Birth’ and ‘Death’ are also only words, but we identify ourselves with them – ‘my birth,’ ‘his death,’ and so on, and once again they are dead, in the past, dropped like a heavy stone into a deep pool.

 

 

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Without using any special labels or grand proper nouns, we have always flowed in the vast wide river of all energy, and we always will. Energy is vibration and light which is subject to no conditions, not even human’s facile notions of ‘time’ or ‘space.’ It goes where it will dependent on nothing, consuming the darkness, flowing and flowing. There are no rewards or results in any dimension except the joy of being and loving with company in our human boats, and breathing in concert.

The conditions throw up obstacles in the way of our flow which create detours, sluggish pools, and rapids. The build up of the heat of negative emotions and violence acted out in the form world, the jarring of separations and limitations, the tattering and fraying of the fabric of the universe at our human hands, causes drought and the flow dwindles to a trickle, or floods which extinguish the divine flame of the flow.

 

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Can you desist from throwing obstacles into the flow now and here? Can you give up your addiction to collecting, to hoarding, to getting and spending, to violent acts of separation from your fellows? Can you say you will no longer depend on creating parallel worlds in your mind with words and images so that you can just flow and flow, laughing and loving?

Slap bang in the centre of this moment and in no place in particular, can you accept that there is nothing you have to do except be, and in your full being the flow flows without end?

 

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In Japan, this is the most intense season of spiritual training – Winter Training. Over the next few days I would like to share with you some insights as we consider our previous year of practice and awareness.

 

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images courtesy of Linden Thorp and megapixyl.com

Atisha and the 7 mind trainings: try it for yourself.

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Atisha, Indian in origin, spent his whole life spiritually liberating Tibet.  It could be said that he founded Tibetan Buddhism which it is estimated has about 350 million adherents today – about 6% of the world population.  He is highly unusual in that he had not one but three highly realized masters – Dharmakirti, Dharmarakshita, and Yogin Maitreya.

One of his most precious teachings is the ‘Seven Points of Mind Training.’  These are merely fingers pointing to the moon – the fingers are not the moon –  so once you have opened yourself to these very practical ways of liberating your spirit from the prison of your mind, please forget about them.  They will work their way into your unconscious mind and assist you in singing your own song and dancing your own dance. In other words, once absorbed they will polish your true nature, your Buddha Nature until it shines out into the universe. The mind creates all of our miseries in human life, so by following this formula you can become free of it.

It is important to say at the outset that this article represents my response to Atisha’s wisdom.  I am simply a valley echoing it into your heart.  I am simply an objective messenger passing the wisdom on.

1 : Learn the Preliminaries:

a) Truth is being – we are already immersed in it.  Humans are truth.

b) Mind is a Barrier – the perpetual film playing out in the world distracts us from what we actually are.

c) No-mind is the door.  Atisha called this Bodhicitta (to be explained later) – by putting aside the mechanism of your mind, you will attain the unattainable. 

2 : Think that all Phenomena are like Dreams

The seer is never seen, the experiencer never experienced, the witness never witnessed because we are always looking outwards.  What truth can there be in a dream?

3 : Examine the Nature of Unborn Awareness

We were not born and we will not die. We are pure energy. We are pure awareness. We can use this awareness as a crystal mirror.

4 : Let the Remedy Itself Go Free on Its Own

It is our habit to cling to what cures us, but for what reason.  Once your are cured be in full health. You can forget the remedy and be grateful in every moment of your perfect existence.

5 : Settle in the Nature of Basic Cognition, the Essence

Do nothing. Relax into your True Nature, your Buddha moments. There is nothing to do.

6 : Between Sessions consider Phenomena as Phantoms

If you have to move away from your meditation, your True Nature, remember that you are walking into a dream and participating in it with phantoms.

7 : Train in Joining, Sending and Taking Together; Do this by Riding the Breath: Three Poisons = Three Bases of Virtue

Breathing is being so breathe each borrowed breath carefully.  First, breathe in the suffering, ignorance and darkness of all humanity. Hold them in your heart to transform them with compassion.  Then breathe out the pure joy contributing it to the whole of existence.

We can convert the 3 poisons – greed, hatred and ignorance – into the 3 virtues by overcoming Aversion, Attachment and Indifference. The 3 poisons will be converted into 3 nectars with this simple technique. This is No-Mind – Bodhicitta – the Mahayana ideal of liberating all beings.

 

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The above is not philosophy or religion, but sheer science.  So, experiment. Try it for yourself.  In this way, you can experience your True Nature. At first, you may only get a passing glimpse, a faint scent of something.  This is the energy of your true beauty and fragrance. The fragrance of your unique Truth

I will focus on each of the 7 stages in the Soul Management daily meditation over the next 7 days if you would like to join me.

 

images courtesy of megapixyl.com

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Embracing death and therefore life

 

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Buddhists keep themselves very close to death as part of their practice. It epitomizes the notion of impermanence (Skt.; Pali – anitya), the first of the three marks (trilaksan) which characterize all conditioned phenomena.

One of the fundamentals of Buddha’s teachings say that all formations – things that come into being dependent on causes and conditions – are impermanent.  Things, matter or form, rise and pass. They change constantly, from moment to moment, eventually decaying (Skt. dukha) and disappearing entirely. Due to this constant changing dependent on causes and conditions which is called samsara, we can never find permanent happiness. So, Buddhist practice is focused on escaping from samsara by following a strict moral code and working to purify negative karma (Pali Kamma).

 

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Keeping death and impermanence close at all times banishes all doubts and fears.  There is no use in struggling against visual loss and oblivion. It is the only reality. But this awareness forces us to realise that we are manifested in the world of form to learn these fundamentals, and wakes us to the knowing that we are essentially spirit, and spirit is empty of ego. They move us in the direction of the unknown, the invisible and the mystical which are our true dimension.

If we know death at each moment we also know life.  If we accept death then we can truly accept life.  If we practice desirelessness to avoid falling into the deep grooves made by millennia of conditioning and systematically eliminate negative karma, in addition to generating Bodhicitta (our aspiration for enlightenment, quitting samsara and taking all living beings with us) we will create new grooves in the universal consciousness, our true and divine nature. Then the world will change.

The world will only change if we humans change, for we are the world. 

 

 

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Images courtesy of magapixyl.com

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Not the same for even a moment

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Maulinputta, a devout disciple  came to Buddha and humbly apologized for having offended the Buddha the previous day. This disciple had been enlightened for a long time and was a great scholar of the scriptures, one of the most famous pundits of the realm.  The Buddha was taken aback and claimed that he had done nothing to offend. 

But Maulinputta insisted that he must apologise and vowed never to make the same mistake again. And again the Buddha denied that one of his most respected disciples had done nothing wrong.  

A third time he came to apologise, but Buddha turned to him and told him that he promised to convey his apology to the person he had offended if he came across him. Once again he reassured the disturbed Maulinputta that he had not offended the Buddha. 

Then seeing the distress of his beloved disciple, he sat down with him and explained tenderly.

Maulinputta, the man you think you offended no longer exists.

The disciple was perplexed by this, asking urgently for more clarification for fear of losing his indispensable guru.

I am not the same as I was even 1 second ago.  So I am completely different to the man you think you offended yesterday.

Maulinputta’s eyes lit up realizing that Buddha was teaching him.

Maulinputta, you are still attached to these visual tricks of the mind. Remember, all life is sheer energy constantly moving, like a fast-running mountain stream.  You cannot hold on to anything except the fast-running spirit enveloping us. Step in the stream and feel the flow. This is your liberation Maulinputta.

 

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Words and ideas dropping away

A young fair-headed child looks softly into a mirror. She wonders at her pale skin and iceberg eyes, becoming involved in intimately experiencing herself directly, the eye seeing exclusively. She is certain that there is no imaginingat all.

Each slow blink of her long lashes reveals a different person there in the large mirror surface: male, female, young, elderly, of many different complexions – a compendium of karmic identities. And someone photographs this procession of reflections obsessively from behind her, flash bulbs sizzling, the shutter rasping.

Then, as the rapid flick of images stops, from the side, dark elegant hands offer white robes of fine cotton to decorate the smooth skin of this mirror child. The child accepts them, slowly raising them towards her nose to absorb the scents of “jasmine” and “Japanese cedar,” names which she repeats to ensure that sensing is exclusive, then letting the sounds of the words drop away with their idea.

The dark hands then offer a large stem of pink lotus complete with several woody seed-cases. The lotus is the only plant in existence which produces seeds whilst still in flower, and which can thrive in the poorest patch of mud.

The child smiles and walks out of the reflection, cool bare feet spreading on marble.

art by Mariko Kinoshita

The Peacock: connecting humans to the Universe

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Ancient Indians, like the Aborigines of Australia and Japanese Shintoists, believed wholly in the supernatural and the natural world and especially envied the characteristics of some animals. The peacock was one such creature they revered and desired to emulate. At first, they were afraid of the peacock with its mournful cry, its fantastic plumage and feral ways, and especially shocked when they realized on observing that it was capable of eating poisonous spiders and snakes in order to nourish its large physical structure, and could survive. Quite naturally, they also wished to transcend such poisoning and human fragility, and so came to worship the peacock out of a mixture of envy and fear.

At this time in India there were 2 powerful religions: Hinduism for the masses and Brahmanism for the elite, and all beings aspired to spiritual liberation through these pathways. Therefore many mantras, or invocations, were used as a matter of course in everyday life, the Indians possessing an authentic insight into the use of the spiritual voice to communicate with the invisible world. So, such mantras were developed to emulate the peacock and bring this animal god closer to the human world—mantras, which even incorporated the doleful cry of the peacock, for example, the Great Peacock King mantra from Tibetan Buddhism: “Om Mayura Krante Svaha.” They really believed that by calling upon this magical and terrifying bird, they may themselves gain some of its divine qualities, and so transcend their weaknesses and limitations.

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So, Mantrayana, the next stage of Buddhism after the Golden Buddha’s initial teachings and death (circa 2600), was created, and the idea that all poisons are the same, pondered upon, so that in time, the negative aspects of the human mind such as ignorance, greed, and hatred, became known as ‘poison’ which required an ‘antidote.’ Mantras or invocations were viewed as just such a kind of antidote, and so eventually were recognized as a part of nature and not created by man at all. They represented an esoteric or secret language, which nature or the universe would respond to, and a way of fusing with the microcosm.

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The people had enormous imagination not having yet learned the passiveness of modern, intensively technological societies. As today, poisonous snakes such as the cobra were common, so protection and awareness was essential to prevent fatal bites or stings. One method was to mesmerize the snake with the sound of a flute so that it would obey, but another way was to worship creatures that could dispose of them. When a peacock comes face to face with a snake, it purposely pretends to be scared and allows the snake to wrap itself around its body. Then just as the snake is about to attack, it spreads out its wings and feathers with great force and sends the snake flying.

The image of the elegant peacock driving away a poisonous snake, like a beautiful woman driving off an evil beast, impressed people. They thought this bird had god-like powers, and so gradually this image metamorphosed into a Buddhist deity or holy being. Much later in Japanese Buddhism (7th Century), this image below became known as Peacock Myoo or Guardian of the Law.

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The guardian is riding on the back of the peacock and holding sacred instruments in each of her four arms: a lotus, a peacock feather, a fruit resembling a lemon, and pomegranate. The lotus represents benevolence and kindness. The lemon cures the diseases of anyone that eats it. The pomegranate drives off evil spirits. But the mighty peacock feather has the power to actually prevent disasters such as earthquakes and floods. This painting was made using luxurious materials like silver and gold leaf to make it sparkle and shine with the Peacock’s mystical power. However, the metals have tarnished over time.

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In general, the peacock is a symbol of openness and acceptance. In Christianity, it is a symbol of immortality, and in Hinduism, the patterns of its feathers, resembling eyes, symbolize the star constellations. And in Buddhism as we can see above, wisdom is its attribute. The five feathers on the peacock’s head are said to symbolize the five spiritual paths and the five Buddha families. Their beautiful colours give pleasure to all beings in the same way that setting eyes upon a Bodhisattva (an enlightened being) or Buddha (an awakened being) can bring comfort and provoke bliss.

Human intelligence, the unique human spirit naturally will find many ingenious ways to communicate with its origin, the invisible world, and this is the way to true balance and happiness.

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Images courtesy of Megapixl.com: Peacock by jessealbanese; Three Peacocks-kvkirllov; Indian Architecture exterior-Jaipur City Palace-twinandphotography; Peacock Myoo-Japan Temple exhibition-clthorp; Beautiful Peacock Roof design-Japan-Lucyinsisu; Japanese Peacock – Krookedeye