Thursday, March 13, 2014

Introduction to Buddhism session IV: Tibetan or Vajrayana Buddhism

 



A Very Brief Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism with links



"We live not only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow-men; and along those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects."
 - Herman Melville

Brief History of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism

Historically, "Tibet" refers to a mountainous region in central Asia covering 2.5 million sq km. Today, "Tibet" officially refers to the Tibetan Autonomous Region within China, which is about half the size of historical Tibet.

Tibet remained independent until the early 1900s, when it was occupied first by Britain and then China. The Tibetans reasserted their independence from China in 1912 and retained it until 1951, when it was "liberated" by China.

Today, Tibet is still occupied by China. The Dalai Lama, the spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people, lives in exile in India, and Chinese officials outnumber Tibetans in their own homeland.

Certain Buddhist scriptures arrived in southern Tibet from India as early as 173 AD during the reign of Thothori Nyantsen, the 28th king of Tibet. During the third century the scriptures were disseminated to northern Tibet. The influence of Buddhism was not great in Tibet, however, and was not yet in its characteristic Tantric form, for the earliest Tantras had just begun to be written in India.

The first significant event in the history of Tibetan Buddhism occurred in 641, when King Songtsen Gampo (c.609-650) unified Tibet and took two Buddhist wives (Princess Wencheng from China and Princess Bhrikuti Devi from Nepal). Before long, King Gampo made Buddhism the state religion and established a network of 108 Buddhist temples across the region, including the Jokhang and Ramoché temples to house the Buddha statues his wives had brought as their dowries. Conflict with the former national religion, Bön, however, would continue for centuries.

The most important event in Tibetan Buddhist history was the arrival of the great tantric mystic Padmasambhava in Tibet in 774 at the invitation of King Trisong Detsen. It was Padmasambhava (more commonly known in the region as Guru Rinpoche) who merged tantric Buddhism with the local Bön religion to form what we now recognize as Tibetan Buddhism. In addition to writing a number of important scriptures (some of which Tibetan Buddhists believe he hid for future monks to find at the right time),

Padmasambhava established the Nyingma school from which all schools of Tibetan Buddhism are derived.
Tibetan Buddhism exerted a strong influence from the 11th century AD among the peoples of Central Asia, especially in Mongolia and Manchuria. It was adopted as an official state religion by the Mongol Yuan dynasty and the Manchu Qing dynasty of China.

Tibetan Buddhism spread to the West in the second half of the 20th century as many Tibetan leaders were exiled from their homeland. Today, Tibetan religious communities in the West consist both of refugees from Tibet and westerners drawn to the Tibetan religious tradition.

Tibetan Buddhist Sacred Texts

Between the 11th and 14th centuries, the Tibetans translated every available Buddhist text into Tibetan. Today, many Buddhist works that have been lost in their original Sanskrit survive only in Tibetan translation.
The Tibetan Buddhist canon is a loosely defined list of sacred texts recognized by various sects of Tibetan Buddhism, consisting of more than 300 volumes and many thousands of individual texts. In addition to earlier foundational Buddhist texts from early Buddhist schools, mostly the Sarvastivada, and mahayana texts, the Tibetan canon includes Tantric texts.

The Tibetan Canon underwent a final compilation in 14th Century by Bu-ston (1290-1364). It is divided into two parts:
  • The Bka'-'gyur or Kanjyur ("Translated Word"), consists of canonical texts. The Kanjyur is made up of 98 volumes containing some 600 texts. The first printing of the Kanjur occurred not in Tibet, but in China (Beijing), and was completed in 1411. The first Tibetan edition of the Kanjur was at sNar-tang in 1731.
  • The Bstan-'gyur or Tenjyur ("Transmitted Word"), consists of semi-canonical commentaries and treatises by Buddhist masters. The Tenjyur contains 3626 texts in 224 volumes, divided as follows:
    • Sutras: 1 volume; 64 texts.
    • Commentaries on the Tantras: 86 volumes; 3055 texts.
    • Commentaries on Sutras; 137 volumes; 567 texts.
The most famous Tibetan Buddhist text is the Bardo Thodol ("liberation through hearing in the intermediate state"), popularly known as the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The Bardo Thodol is a funerary text that describes the experiences of the soul during the interval between death and rebirth called bardo. It is recited by lamas over a dying or recently deceased person, or sometimes over an effigy of the deceased. It has been suggested that it is a sign of the influence of shamanism on Tibetan Buddhism.

The Bardo Thodol actually differentiates the intermediate states between lives into three bardos (themselves further subdivided).

The chikhai bardo ("bardo of the moment of death") features the experience of the "clear light of reality," or at least the nearest approximation to it of which one is spiritually capable.

The chonyid bardo ("bardo of the experiencing of reality") features the experience of visions of various Buddha forms (or, again, the nearest approximations of which one is capable).

The sidpa bardo ("bardo of rebirth") features karmically impelled hallucinations which eventually result in rebirth.

The Bardo Thodol also mentions three other bardos: those of "life" (or ordinary waking consciousness), of "dhyana" (meditation), and of "dream." The "six bardos" together form a classification of states of consciousness into six broad types, and any state of consciousness forms a type of "intermediate state" - intermediate between other states of consciousness.

Distinctive Practices of Tibetan Buddhism

Non-initiates in Tibetan Buddhism may gain merit by performing rituals such as food and flower offerings, water offerings (performed with a set of bowls), religious pilgrimages, or chanting prayers. They may also light butter lamps at the local temple or fund monks to do so on their behalf.



In Bhutan, villagers may be blessed by attending an annual religious festival, known as a tsechu, held in their district. In watching the festival dances performed by monks, the villagers are reminded of Buddhist principles such as non-harm to other living beings. At certain festivals a large painting known as a thongdrol is also briefly unfurled — the mere glimpsing of the thongdrol is believed to carry such merit as to free the observer from all present sin.


Tantric practitioners make use of rituals and objects. Meditation is an important function which may be aided by the use of special hand gestures (mudras) and chanted mantras (such as the famous mantra of Avalokiteshvara: "om mani padme hum").





A number of esoteric meditation techniques are employed by different traditions, including mahamudra, dzogchen, and the Six yogas of Naropa.

Qualified practitioners may study or construct special cosmic diagrams known as mandalas which assist in inner spiritual development. A lama may make use of a variety of ritual objects, each of which has rich symbolism and a ritual function.


Another important ritual is the Cham, a dance featuring sacred masked dances, sacred music, healing chants, and spectacular richly ornamented multi-colored costumes.



Mudras are used by the monks to revitalize spiritual energies which generate wisdom, compassion and the healing powers of Enlightened Beings. With accompanying narration and a monastic debate demonstration, the program provides a fascinating glimpse into ancient and current Tibetan culture. However, due to China's occupation of Tibet, this ritual is now forbidden.


Schools of Tibetan Buddhism

There are four principal schools within modern Tibetan Buddhism:

Nyingmapa ("School of the Ancients") is the oldest of the Tibetan Buddhist schools and the second largest after Geluk. The Nyingma school is based primarily on the teachings of Padmasambhava, who is revered by the Nyingma school as the "second Buddha." Padmascambhava's system of Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism was synthesized by Longchenpa in the 14th century. The distinctive doctrine of the Nyingma school is Dzogchen ("great perfection"), also known as ati-yoga (extraordinary yoga). It also makes wide use of shamanistic practices and local divinities borrowed from the indigenous, pre-Buddhist Bon religion. Nyingma monks are not generally required to be celibate.

Kagyüpa ("Oral Transmission School"; also spelled Bka'-brgyud-pa) is the third largest school of Tibetan Buddhism. Its teachings were brought to Tibet by Marpa the Translator, an 11th century Tibetan householder who traveled to India to study under the master yogin Naropa and gather Buddhist scriptures. Marpa's most important student was Milarepa, to whom Marpa passed on his teachings only after subjecting him to trials of the utmost difficulty. In the 12th century, the physician Gampopa synthesized the teachings of Marpa and Milarepa into an independent school. As its name indicates, this school of Tibetan Buddhism places particular value on the transmission of teachings from teacher to disciple. It also stresses the more severe practices of hatha yoga. The central teaching is the "great seal" (mahamudra), which is a realization of emptiness, freedom from samsara and the inspearability of these two. The basic practice of mahamudra is "dwelling in peace," and it has thus been called the "Tibetan Zen." Also central to the Kagyupa schools are the Six Doctrines of Naropa (Naro Chödrug), which are meditation techniques that partially coincide with the teachings of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Sakyapa is today the smallest of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. It is named for the Sakya ("Gray Earth") monastery in sourthern Tibet. The Sakya monastery was founded in 1073 by abbots from the Khön family. The abbots were devoted to the transmission of a cycle of Vajrayana teachings called "path and goal" (Lamdre), the systemization of Tantric teachings, and Buddhist logic. The Sakyapa school had great political influence in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Gelugpa (or Dge-lugs-pa or Gelukpa, "School of the Virtuous"), also called the Yellow Hats, is the youngest of the Tibetan schools, but is today the largest and the most important. It was founded in the late 14th century by Tsongkhapa, who "enforced strict monastic discipline, restored celibacy and the prohibition of alcohol and meat, established a higher standard of learning for monks, and, while continuing to respect the Vajrayana tradition of esotericism that was prevalent in Tibet, allowed Tantric and magical rites only in moderation." {1} Practices are centered on achieving concentration through meditation and arousing the bodhisattva within. Three large monasteries were quickly established near Lhasa: at Dga'ldan (Ganden) in 1409, 'Bras-spungs (Drepung) in 1416, and Se-ra in 1419. The abbots of the 'Bras-spungs monastery first received the title Dalai Lama in 1578. The Gelugpa school has held political leadership of Tibet since the Dalai Lamas were made heads of state by the Mongol leader Güüshi Khan in 1642.


The Dalai Lama



The Dalai Lama is the head of the dominant school of Tibetan Buddhism, the Gelugpa (or Yellow Hats). From 1642 to 1959, the Dalai Lama was the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet. Until the Chinese takeover in 1959, the Dalai Lamas resided in Potala Palace in Lhasa in the winter and in the Norbulingka residence during summer.

The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the 14th in a line of succession that began with Gendün Drub (1391–1475), founder and abbot of Tashilhunpo monastery (central Tibet). He and his successors came to be regarded as reincarnations (tulkus) of the bodhisattva of compassion Avalokiteshvara.
The second head of the Gelugpa order, Gendün Gyatso (1475–1542), was the head abbot of the Drepung monastery on the outskirts of Lhasa, which became the principal seat of the Dalai Lama.

His successor, Sönam Gyatso (1543–88) received from the Mongol chief Güüshi (Altan) Khan the honorific title ta-le(Anglicized as "dalai") in 1578. Ta-le is the Mongolian equivalent of the Tibetan rgya-mtsho, meaning "ocean," and suggests breadth and depth of wisdom. The title was applied posthumously to the abbot's two predecessors. The Tibetans themselves call the Dalai Lama Gyawa Rinpoche ("Precious Conqueror"), Yeshin Norbu ("Wish-fulfilling Gem"), or simply Kundun ("The Presence").
The fourth Dalai Lama, Yönten Gyatso (1589–1617), was a great-grandson of Altan Khan and the only non-Tibetan Dalai Lama.

The next Dalai Lama, Losang Gyatso (1617–82), is commonly called the Great Fifth. He established, with the military assistance of the Khoshut Mongols, the supremacy of the Gelugpa sect over rival orders for the temporal rule of Tibet. During his reign the majestic winter palace of the Dalai Lamas, the Potala, was built in Lhasa.

The sixth Dalai Lama, Jamyang Gyatso (1683–1706), was a libertine and a writer of romantic verse, not well-suited to his position. He was deposed by the Mongols and died while being taken to China under military escort. The seventh Dalai Lama, Kelsang Gyatso (1708–57), experienced civil war and the establishment of Chinese Manchu suzerainty over Tibet. The eighth, Jampel Gyatso (1758–1804), saw his country invaded by Gurkha troops from Nepal but defeated them with the aid of Chinese forces.

The next four Dalai Lamas all died young, and the country was ruled by regents. They were Lungtog Gyatso (1806–15), Tsültrim Gyatso (1816–37), Kedrub Gyatso (1838–56), and Trinle Gyatso (1856–75).

The 13th Dalai Lama, Tubten Gyatso (1875–1933), ruled with great personal authority. The successful revolt within China against its ruling Manchu dynasty in 1912 gave the Tibetans the opportunity to dispel the disunited Chinese troops, and the Dalai Lama reigned as head of a sovereign state.






The 14th in the line of Dalai Lamas, Tenzin Gyatso, was born Lhamo Thondup in 1935 in China of Tibetan parentage. He was recognized as the incarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1937, enthroned in 1940, and vested with full powers as head of state in 1950. He fled to exile in India in 1959, the year of the Tibetan people's unsuccessful revolt against communist Chinese forces that had occupied the country since 1950. The Dalai Lama set up a government-in-exile in Dharmsala, India (known as "Little Lhasa"), in the Himalayan Mountains. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in recognition of his nonviolent campaign to end Chinese domination of Tibet. He has written a number of books on Tibetan Buddhism and an autobiography.

The Panchen Lama
The Panchen Lama is the second highest ranking figure in the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism after the Dalai Lama. The Panchen Lama bears part of the responsibility for finding the incarnation of the Dalai Lama and vice versa.

The current Dalai Lama identified Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama on May 14, 1995. The People's Republic of China did not recognize this choice, naming Gyancain Norbu to the office of Panchen Lama instead. The whereabouts of the original Panchen Lama are currently unknown. Many observers believe that upon the death of the current Dalai Lama, China will direct the selection of a successor, thereby creating a schism and leadership vacuum in the Tibetan independence movement.


 The Karmapa Lama

Karmapa means "one who performs the activity of a Buddha". The current incarnation (2002) is the 17th Karmapa. Two individuals have been declared the 17th Karmapa; Orgyen Trinley Dorje is generally and officially recognized as the official 17th Karmapa, however a rival Buddhist group give their allegiance to Trinlay Thaye Dorje.
Above from: http://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/sects/tibetan.htm 


Special features of Tibetan Buddhism

·                          the status of the teacher or "Lama"
·                          preoccupation with the relationship between life and death
·                          important role of rituals and initiations
·                          rich visual symbolism
·                          elements of earlier Tibetan faiths
·                          mantras and meditation practice
Tibetan Buddhist practice features a number of rituals, and spiritual practices such as the use of mantras and yogic techniques.
Supernatural beings are prominent in Tibetan Buddhism. Buddhas and bodhisattvas abound, gods and spirits taken from earlier Tibetan religions continue to be taken seriously. Bodhisattvas are portrayed as both benevolent godlike figures and wrathful deities.
This metaphysical context has allowed Tibetan Buddhism to develop a strong artistic tradition, and paintings and other graphics are used as aids to understanding at all levels of society.
Visual aids to understanding are very common in Tibetan Buddhism - pictures, structures of various sorts and public prayer wheels and flags provide an ever-present reminder of the spiritual domain in the physical world.
Tibetan Buddhism is strong in both monastic communities and among lay people.
The lay version has a strong emphasis on outwardly religious activities rather than the inner spiritual life: there is much ritual practice at temples, pilgrimage is popular - often including many prostrations, and prayers are repeated over and over - with the use of personal or public prayer wheels and flags. There are many festivals, and funerals are very important ceremonies.
Lay people provide physical support to the monasteries as well as relying on the monks to organise the rituals.

Tantra

Tibetan Buddhism was much influenced by Tantra, and this has brought in a wealth of complex rituals and symbols and techniques.
Tantra originated in India and appears in both the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. It brings Tibetan Buddhism a magical element and a rich portfolio of heavenly beings. It also brings a wide variety of spiritual techniques such as mantras, mandalas, ceremonies, and many varieties of yoga.

Rituals

Rituals and simple spiritual practices such as mantras are popular with lay Tibetan Buddhists. They include prostrations, making offerings to statues of Buddhas or bodhisattvas, attending public teachings and ceremonies.
Tibetan temple ceremonies are often noisy and visually striking, with brass instruments, cymbals and gongs, and musical and impressive chanting by formally dressed monks. It takes place in strikingly designed temples and monasteries.

Advanced practices

Tibetan Buddhism also involves many advanced rituals. These are only possible for those who have reached a sophisticated understanding of spiritual practice.
There are also advanced spiritual techniques. These include elaborate visualisations and demanding meditations. It's said that senior Tibetan yoga adepts can achieve much greater control over the body than other human beings, and are able to control their body temperature, heart rate and other normally automatic functions.

Living and dying

Tibetan Buddhism emphasizes awareness of death and impermanence. Everything is always dying - the cells of our bodies are dying even while we live, reminding us of our own impermanence. And all the living things around us are dying, too.
This awareness should not produce sadness or despair, nor should it cause a Buddhist to start a frantic pursuit of the impermanent pleasures of life. Instead, it should lead the Buddhist to see the value of every moment of existence, and be diligent in their meditation and other religious practice.
Awareness of death, combined with the understanding of the impermanence of everything, leads the Buddhist to realize that only spiritual things have any lasting value.

Preparing for death

Tibetan Buddhists use visualization meditations and other exercises to imagine death and prepare for the bardo. They work towards a holistic understanding and acceptance of death as an inevitable part of their journey.
Another way of preparing for death is to take part in helping those who have died through their experience in the bardo. This not only aids the dead, but enables the living practitioner to gain a real experience of the bardo, before they themselves enter it.
Even those who cannot gain the spiritual awareness to have a consciousness of the bardo are helped by achieving a greater experience of the impermanence of everything.

Tibetan Book of the Dead

This is one of the great texts of Tibetan Buddhism, and a big seller in the west. The English title is not a translation of the Tibetan title - the book's true name is Great Liberation through hearing during the intermediate state, commonly known in Tibet as Liberation through hearing.
The book deals with the experiences of a person as they pass between death and rebirth.

Bardo

Bardo is the state between death and rebirth. The different schools of Tibetan Buddhism have different understandings of this state which is regarded as lasting for 49 days.
The experience of a person during bardo depends on their spiritual training during life. An untrained person is thought to be confused as to where they are, and may not realise that they have died. People are often unwilling to give up attachment to their previous life - and their negative emotions - may cause their rebirth to be less good than it would otherwise have been.
In traditional Tibetan Buddhism, the dead person is helped through bardo by a lama who reads prayers and performs rituals from the Book of the Dead, advising the deceased to break free from attachment to their past life and their dead body. In some schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the lama will actively help the dead person to transfer their consciousness from their body, in preparation for rebirth.
Many Tibetan Buddhists believe that it is possible for those left behind to assist the dead person on their journey by doing spiritual work that increases the merits of the deceased and thus helps them to a better rebirth.
During the 49 day period the dead can see clearly into the minds of those left behind, which allows the living to help the dead by thinking good thoughts, meditating on Buddha and other virtuous beings, and engaging in spiritual practices.

Above from: http://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/sects/tibetan.htm 

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/history/tib_timeline.htm  Great historical timeline for history buffs.


THE PRACTICE OF TONGLEN

In order to have compassion for others, we have to have compassion for ourselves. 

In particular, to care about other people who are fearful, angry, jealous, overpowered by addictions of all kinds, arrogant, proud, miserly, selfish, mean —you name it— to have compassion and to care for these people, means not to run from the pain of finding these things in ourselves. In fact, one's whole attitude toward pain can change. Instead of fending it off and hiding from it, one could open one's heart and allow oneself to feel that pain, feel it as something that will soften and purify us and make us far more loving and kind. 

The tonglen practice is a method for connecting with suffering —ours and that which is all around us— everywhere we go. It is a method for overcoming fear of suffering and for dissolving the tightness of our heart. Primarily it is a method for awakening the compassion that is inherent in all of us, no matter how cruel or cold we might seem 
to be. 

We begin the practice by taking on the suffering of a person we know to be hurting and who we wish to help. For instance, if you know of a child who is being hurt, you breathe in the wish to take away all the pain and fear of that child. Then, as you breathe out, you send the child happiness, joy or whatever would relieve their pain. This is the core of the practice: breathing in other's pain so they can be well and have more space to relax and open, and breathing out, sending them relaxation or whatever you feel would bring them relief and happiness. However, we often cannot do this practice because we come face to face with our own fear, our own resistance, anger, or whatever our personal pain, our personal stuckness happens to be at that moment. 

At that point you can change the focus and begin to do tonglen for what you are feeling and for millions of others just like you who at that very moment of time are feeling exactly the same stuckness and misery. Maybe you are able to name your pain. You recognize it clearly as terror or revulsion or anger or wanting to get revenge. So you breathe in for all the people who are caught with that same emotion and you send out relief or whatever opens up the space for yourself and all those countless others. Maybe you can't name what you're feeling. But you can feel it —a tightness in the stomach, a heavy darkness or whatever. Just contact what you are feeling and breathe in, take it in —for all of us and send out relief to all of us. 

People often say that this practice goes against the grain of how we usually hold ourselves together. Truthfully, this practice does go against the grain of wanting things on our own terms, of wanting it to work out for ourselves no matter what happens to the others. The practice dissolves the armor of self-protection we've tried so hard to create around ourselves. In Buddhist language one would say that it dissolves the fixation and clinging of ego. 

Tonglen reverses the usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure and, in the process, we become liberated from a very ancient prison of selfishness. We begin to feel love both for ourselves and others and also we begin to take care of ourselves and others. It awakens our compassion and it also introduces us to a far larger view of reality. It introduces us to the unlimited spaciousness that Buddhists call shunyata. By doing the practice, we begin to connect with the open dimension of our being. At first we experience this as things not being such a big deal or so solid as they seemed before. 

Tonglen can be done for those who are ill, those who are dying or have just died, or for those that are in pain of any kind. It can be done either as a formal meditation practice or right on the spot at any time. For example, if you are out walking and you see someone in pain —right on the spot you can begin to breathe in their pain and send some out some relief. Or, more likely, you might see someone in pain and look away because it brings up your fear or anger; it brings up your resistance and confusion. 

So on the spot you can do tonglen for all the people who are just like you, for everyone who wishes to be compassionate but instead is afraid, for everyone who wishes to be brave but instead is a coward. 

Rather than beating yourself up, use your own stuckness as a stepping stone to understanding what people are up against all over the world. 

Breathe in for all of us and breathe out for all of us. 

Use what seems like poison as medicine. Use your personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings. 



The Practice of Essential Phowa

First sit quietly and settle yourself, bringing all the energies of your mind and body back home. As far as possible, relax into the deep presence and spacious awareness of your being. Before you begin, arouse a strong compassionate aspiration such as that described in The Tibetan Book of the Dead: "By means of this death, I will adopt only the attitude of the enlightened state of mind, loving kindness, and compassion, and attain perfect enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings who are as limitless as space."

Invocation

With all your heart, invoke in the sky before you the presence of a buddha or a Divine Being for whom you feel a devotion. See the form of this Presence, not as flesh and blood, but as radiant light. Recognize that this being's qualities of perfect wisdom, boundless compassion, and limitless power to benefit beings are no different from the qualities of your own wisdom nature.
Consider this Divine Presence you have invoked is actually present--alive, breathing, and gazing toward you with kindness and love. If you cannot clearly visualize a buddha or Divine Being, then simply imagine that a brilliant and loving Presence, who is the embodiment of truth, is in the sky in front of you, in the form of light. Allow yourself to relax deeply and establish a personal connection with this Presence you have invoked.

Calling out

Open yourself now, and acknowledge the aspects of your being that need purification, forgiveness, and blessing. Acknowledge any regrets, harm, negativity, or destructive emotions that you want to release and purify. Become aware of any places in your body where there is disease, weakness, or even a fear of illness. And recognize any doubts, fears, or old wounds in your heart that need healing and love. Then call out sincerely to the Divine Presence in front of you and ask for help.

Receiving the blessing

Immediately this buddha or Divine Presence responds, sending love and compassion from his or her heart in a stream of tremendous rays of light directly into your being.

Allow these powerful rays to penetrate you and purify you--filling you with forgiveness, healing energy, confidence and unconditional love. Consider that these brilliant light rays of compassion and love dissolve all of your fears and defenses, so that you are totally immersed in light. To make yourself more receptive, you may want to recite a short prayer or mantra during this part of the practice.

Visualize that this profound blessing streaming towards you purifies and transforms every aspect of your body and mind--even your painful memories, part harm and regrets. Then, after some time, consider that the purification has been completely effected, so much so that your whole being--body and mind--is entirely transformed into light. Now your being in the form of light rises up and dissolves into the heart of this Divine Presence--completely mixing with it, like light mixing with light.

Remain in this peaceful state as long as you can. This nondual, natural simplicity and inspired openness is your being. If thoughts rise, or a "sense of self" begins to form, simply allow them to dissolve back into emptiness. Letting go, naturally remain.
At the conclusion, consider that your awareness is once again centered within your body. Resolve to continue the presence of pure, clear awareness as you enter into daily activities. And when you notice that you have lost it, gently bring your mind home to its true nature, again and again.

Dedicate your practice

Dedicate your practice as you conclude, sharing the merit of blessings and wisdom with all beings, praying that, in whatever ways you can, you may be able to relieve their suffering, bring them happiness, and, ultimately, help them to realize the abiding peace of their deathless, true nature of mind.


Related Articles

Links on Tibetan Buddhism

More about Pema Chodron:  http://pemachodronfoundation.org/
More about Shambhala, a style of Tibetan Buddhism specially crafted for the Western Practitioner:  http://www.shambhala.org/

No comments:

Post a Comment