From: What to Do about Christmas?
When something is experienced completely, good or bad, it’s done, that’s it. Yes?
All of this is connected with impermanence because we know the passage of time by recalling what we’ve done and that engenders all of these feelings. But as we’ve seen, if you experience things completely in the moment, they tend to leave fewer traces and fewer reverberations or resonances around. So that’s one of the things to take out of this.
In the Zen tradition, Suzuki Roshi says, “Whatever you do, do so completely that there aren’t even any ashes left.” Which is an extraordinary intense way of living. But you see this reflected in the attitude of a lot of athletes, of basketball players or somethings that don’t leave anything on the court. Which is: do it totally.
So I just want you to think for a few moments about what it would be like that everything you do, you do with your total attention. Complete, there’s nothing left. What would life be like that way?
From: A Trackless Path 12
Full transcript: (available soon)
Full transcript: (available soon)
To take refuge in the buddha is to rest in the emptiness of original mind, free from any reference or defining characteristic. To take refuge in the dharma is to experience the clarity of original mind, the natural awareness that knows what experience is and how experience arises. To take refuge in the sangha is to be one with the unrestricted arising and subsiding of experience, free from the three poisons of attraction, aversion and indifference.
From: The Warrior's Solution 8
Ken: Now to complete the warriors solution. We've talked about intend, sacrifice and die. One way to look at this is, this is the effort one makes, or the steps one takes in addressing imbalance.
Deborah: A sense of resting.
Ken: A lot of the replies that people were giving me were ways of not feeling that discomfort, and so that happens, I mean, maybe a couple of people here, not me certainly, haven't cut through all of that reactivity. It arises. There it is. Now whatever arises, move into the experience completely. If it's a sense of sweetness move into that. Anxiety: move into that. Irritation: move into that. Happiness: move into that. And experience all of the reactive tendencies associated with it. So you're in your experience as raw as you can be.
Now associated with any reactive tendency is a projected world. With irritation the projected world is having to oppose something. With anxiety the projected world is having to run away. With sweetness the projected world might be, "have to hold on to this, have to maintain." So note the projected world that arises, and interrupt the projection by experiencing completely the reactive tendencies that give rise to it.
Now you come into presence. And in presence you have a sense of balance, and in that you can perceive imbalance. And when you perceive imbalance then you intend, sacrifice, die. Look at who dies, rest, emotional projection, move into presence, balance.
Now initially these are two different processes, but as you gain facility it will become one continuous effort. That's the warrior's solution.
From: A Trackless Path 13
Full transcript (coming soon)
Full transcript (coming soon)
Ken: Let's start with a simple question. How many of you have expectations about your practice? What it should be like and how you should be in the world as a result of this practice? Well, one of the more relieving and one of the more troubling instructions in The Great Path of Awakening is, Rely on the principal witness.
And the commentary says, as you practice mind training, people may come to you and say, "Oh, you're a much nicer person than you used to be. You're much easier to get along with. You must be making great progress in your practice." And so you think, "Oh, I'm getting somewhere." But that's regarded in mind training as an unreliable witness because people don't know what's actually going on inside you. All they're doing is basing it on behavior.
And this certainly has happened to me. In the first three-year retreat I got a note from my wife, who was in the women's retreat saying, "From what the other guys are saying you're making great progress in your practice because you're much easier to live with now." And this was further confirmed many years later when I was in Vancouver helping to establish a center there. I was visiting with some old friends, and we were chatting in the kitchen. She came up, put her arm around me and said, "I think I can say this now, Ken, you really were an asshole." [Laughter]
So, what do you do with that? So that's the unreliable witness.
And Kontrul goes on in his commentary to say...I'm going to experiment with getting rid of the word mind for awhile and see what that's like.
When you are clear inside and not experiencing regrets or shame about your actions, that's the reliable witness
Student: Could you repeat that?
Ken: When you are clear inside and have no regrets or shame about your actions, that's the reliable witness. What he's saying is the reliable witness is mind itself.
From: Awakening From Belief 6a
Full transcript (Available soon)
Full transcript (Available soon)
Student: This stems from yesterday from a question about the practice of shamatha leading to insight as different from that leading to compassion To my experience, the two seem so intertwined. I was unable to catch where it separated and how they are not almost one and the same.
Ken: Compassion and insight? Well, they're quite different.
Student: But don't they arise almost co-emergently?
Ken: [Laughter] That's a big word. Where'd you get that one? [Laughter] Where's my dictionary? Ah, the lhan cig skyes pa'i ye shes (pron. lhenchik kyé pe yé shé), co-emergent or co-natural awareness, I guess. Okay, how much do you want on this?
Student: I'm asking the question because it's--
Ken: I can give you a three- or four-sentence answer or I can give you two hours.
Student: Make it two hours. [Laughter]
Student: Middle way.
Ken: Ah, there we go. What's behind your question?: What's the practice experience?
Student: Again from my own experience, it's that compassion has continued to grow as I've been involved more and more in practice, and that the insight that develops from the practice reveals the relationship to all sentient beings. Maybe I am using or hearing the word insight incorrectly.
Ken: Compassion is the ability to be present with suffering. It's necessary if you're actually going to help somebody. If you can't be present with the suffering, then you will try to change the situation so that you don't feel the suffering. That's not helping the person. So, the number one requisite in compassion is to be able to be present with the pain in the situation. To do that you have to let go of control, which for some people is a bit challenging.
Now, when we use the term insight in Buddhism we are pointing to something that's quite different from the way the word is used in ordinary English. And even within Buddhism there are significant distinctions in how the word is used.
In the Theravadan tradition, the word mindfulness refers to what in the Mahayana tradition we refer to as the union of shamatha and vipashyana. It's quite different usage. Even within the Mahayana, in the Gelugpa tradition, insight is used to refer to working with such questions as what is the nature of mind, what is the color of your mind, where is your mind, all that kind of stuff--you know what I'm talking about.
In the Kagyu tradition, those questions are viewed as the preparation for insight, and insight actually refers to seeing into mind nature. That's insight.
Now, it's quite possible to be able to stand and be present in the presence of pain and suffering and have no insight. And it's quite possible to see into the nature of mind and have difficulty being present with suffering. It's possible and, unfortunately, that happens.
In the Mahayana tradition, emptiness--which is the result of seeing and compassion--are regarded as...well, the phrase that my teacher, Kalu Rinpoche, always used was stong nyid snying rje snying po can (pron. tongnyi nyingjé nyingpo chen). stong nyid is the Tibetan word for emptiness, and sngying rje is the word for compassion, snying po is the word for heart and can is the word to have. To have the heart or the essence which is the union of compassion and emptiness. And this is, I think, one of the aspects of the genius of the Mahayana, is the recognition that you need both.
In terms of practice, as you cultivate compassion--that is, as you become more and more able to be in the presence of suffering--then you can open to more and more experience. You can open to the experience of everyone you encounter. You can open to the totality of your experience because you can be present with the pain in others and you can be present with the pain in you. So, you open to the totality of your experience, and this provides you with a stability of attention, which is awfully useful when it comes to developing insight.
At the same time, when you really see into how things work--and we're talking about mind, but it's the same in other areas of knowledge--compassion arises quite naturally, unless there's an emotional block against it. So, for instance, if you have mastered a body of knowledge--you know, carpentry, psychotherapy, linguistics, it doesn't matter--but you really know it, you understand it very deeply, what do you experience when you see someone fumbling around and making mistakes in the area of knowledge that you know so well?
Student: You help them.
Ken: Yeah, you feel compassionate. So that's why I say compassion arises naturally from deep knowing, unless there is an emotional block. And there are all kinds of people who have very deep knowledge of a particular area and aren't particularly noted for their compassion.
So, yes the two work with each other and can and do enhance each other, but it's not a given. It's not a given, and that's why one is encouraged to cultivate both.