This is a transcription of a lecture recorded at the 2019 Meditation Retreat. Also please note that this lecture was given inside a Tibetan Buddhist temple where photographs are forbidden, thus some descriptions do not have an accompanying image.
The teachings that we study have a truly incredible complexity. So, for the new person, it can appear overwhelming, confusing, and it takes a lot of study and a lot of patience, to organize in yourself how everything fits together. That can be a frustrating process. Many do not try. Instead, they pick this or that part that appeals to them, and set the rest aside. The result of that, is the same as a child who starts school and quits, and ends up as an adult, being unable to survive. They wind up suffering, because they are confused, because they lack the education that they need, in order to stay afloat in the stream of life.
When we study spirituality, specifically in a tradition like this, we need an organizing principle. We need to understand some simple things with great clarity, so as we become educated, and as we learn, we become organized, efficient, effective, no longer confused. That is why we study the Tree of Life.
This structure, which here is shown three times, in three ways, helps us to organize our understanding. More importantly, it helps us to understand our experience. This is of great significance. The reason that we suffer now is because we don’t understand. We suffer a profound ignorance, and to fix that we need a specific knowledge.
That is why, in the heart of the Bhavachakra, which is that great wheel depicted on the painting outside [of this temple], you find three animals. These animals symbolize the axis upon which all suffering beings repeat and repeat their suffering. Those animals represent a fundamental ignorance about ourselves, a mistaken craving, and a mistaken aversion. These three are intimate with each other. But, the most profound, and the one that initiates everything, is ignorance [avidya].
If you look at that word ignorance, you find, right at the beginning of it, the letters GNO… which, you might recall, that this is a Gnostic group, which means that we study “knowledge.”is the opposite of iGNOrance. Real is not what we read or believe, rather is is knowledge of oneself. The Tree of Life is a map of yourself.
In Sanskrit, that knowledge of self is called vidya. When you do not have self-knowledge, you suffer from avidya (a + vidya: "lack of knowledge, or ignorance"). So, ignorance [Greek, “lacking knowledge”] is the same avidya, “to lack knowledge.”
That knowledge that is lacking is not so much this type of graphic, or study of scripture, or study of religion; it is a lack of knowledge of oneself. If you want to answer the question, why do we suffer, it is simply because we do not know ourselves. And, because of that lack of self-knowledge, we have ignorance, out of which emerges a craving to know. But, because that craving is driven by a lack of knowledge, a lack of experience, a lack of understanding, we tend to grasp at things that are not self, but that make us feel a “sense of self.” And, we tend to try to avoid things that cause pain, or cause a contradiction to that “sense of self.” That begins an entire, very complicated and very painful cycle called suffering, Samsara, which means “to circle, to repeat.” Which is what we’re doing (ignorantly, without knowledge of it).
If you’re observing yourself, really observing, you will recognize that you repeat. If you study the thoughts that you’ve had today, then you’re confronted with the unavoidable fact that you had all the same thoughts yesterday. That is Samsara, "circling," and that circling extends out into all of our behaviors. We repeat ourselves endlessly.
If you observe your desires today, and your aversions, your fears, your antipathy, your hatred, your resentment, your frustration, it is a repetition of what you had yesterday, and last year, and five years ago, and ten years ago… repeating endlessly. And yet, we fail to see it.
So, by studying this structure of the Tree of Life, not just with the intellect, but with our sight, with our hearing, with all of our senses, but most particularly, but with our sense of cognizance, our sense of understanding, which is not intellectual, but is emotional, we can start to learn. When you study this structure, and the laws that it symbolizes, with your heart, you start to grasp truths about yourself, things that otherwise you could not explain, like dreams, like spiritual experiences, like the longings in your heart that have no explanation, but that persist; the longing to know God, to understand divinity; the longing to pierce the veil of illusion, and to see something fundamentally real. That longing does not get an answer in the intellect, or in any belief. It is only answered by experience. This symbol helps us to understand experience. That is why we call it Gnosis, knowledge, but knowledge that comes through experience.
We are not going to study the details of the Tree of Life today. I show you this today because I know you’ve seen it, and I understand that it can be confusing, and that there is a lot of depth and complexity there… so it appears. But, your heart has an innate capacity to understand this in a way that is not intellectual, but intuitive. That is how we teach. That is how we should study. The intellect is necessary because it helps us to organize concepts, meanings and interpretations, but real understanding is not in the head, it is in your heart.
So, let us simplify.
This structure is called the Tree of Life. It is composed of ten circles on three pillars, connected by paths. It represents the universe outside of us and the universe inside of us. This same symbol is this temple that we are in now, itself. Everything about this building that we are in, is mirrored in this structure. In the temple, it is organized according to Tibetan Buddhism, but it is precisely the same symbol. It is just slightly different in appearance.
On the most basic level, the thing to grasp about this, and to never forget, is that both, most importantly, represent yourself. Everything that is symbolized on this graphic is you. And, this temple is the same. Everything in this temple is a mirror to what is in you. So, a simple example of that, is this trinity at the top of the Tree of Life:, , and , in Hebrew. In Buddhism, they are Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Nirmanakaya. They are the same symbol, without any difference whatsoever except the language used. It is precisely the same. When you study the symbols of Buddhism, and you study the symbols of Hinduism, and the symbols of Christianity, Judaism, and all beautiful traditions that we have inherited, you see that they all represent the same fundamental forces, laws, and intelligences, all of which are inside each one of us.
More commonly, these sculptures are called Buddha, in the middle, theTara on the right, and Padmasambhava on the left. These three represent great masters. Some can call them gods, but that is only the literal or surface meaning. The inner meaning, the true meaning, is that these represent parts of yourself. Those three figures symbolize three primary forces that are in nature, and that are in us. They organize, they establish, they unfold everything that exists. So, all of the universe is the result of those three forces, and each have a role in this beautiful harmony of very subtle things. In the beginning, as a student, this all seems very abstract and very distant from our personal experience, from the pain that we undergo on a daily basis. But, let me give you a little secret. Every single movement that you make, every thought and every emotion and every gesture is three forces in action: these three, particularized through you. Yet, you fail to see it. That is avidya, ignorance. It is that simple. That is the purpose of religion, to help us see how we receive and transform forces all the time, and that we change them by our state of . Our current state transforms them into causes of suffering. We need to change that.
If you look at this structure as a map of yourself, and you understand that, into you, is constantly flowing energy. And, that energy is organized in layers of three. You can see these layers of three on the Tree of Life, in the form of triangles; three triangles, and underneath them, a tenth circle that receives them all, which is, your physical body. Those threes are three triangles, and those threes are in three pillars, and all of that is in the body, right now. This is us, as the body, mind, and : a transformer of energy. We are that wheel that is spinning, and what moves the wheel is energy. But, the energy that is spinning our wheel is spun by ignorance and craving and aversion, because we fail to see how we behave, how we transform energy, constantly, all the time, without ever resting, without ever stopping, without ever ceasing, even when you’re sleeping at night, that energy is moving. It is what gives us life.
Let us look at a little more detail on these three sculptures. The central sculpture is called Buddha Amitabha; that symbol, that sculpture represents, which Christians call the Father, which Buddhists call Dharmakaya. Dharmakaya means, “the vehicle of truth, reality.” It is the boundary between everything that exists and everything that may. This space symbolized on the Tree of Life is above , is called the Absolute, the emptiness, it is an Abstract Space. That is why, above the Buddha, on the wall, very high at the top you see a rainbow, and in the midst of that rainbow is a Buddha in sexual union with another Buddha. That is called Adi-Buddha, the first or primordial Buddha [Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri]. That light around them is the light of the emptiness, which here is symbolized as a ray, the ray of the , that unfolds all things.
So, you see, these symbols are identical to each other, precisely the same. That primordial Adi-Buddha, or Samantabhadra, is inside each of us. It is a pure potentiality. It is an unmanifested potential. It is utterly without definition, without form, number, weight. It is beyond the ability of the mind to conceive. But, it is the origin and the destination of all things. When that becomes, it unfolds into that Buddha (the Father,, the Dharmakaya, the truth-body, reality-body), which all of us have, in potential. In us, that is not developed. Instead, in the ancient past when we first emerged into existence, that, like a lightning bolt, flashed through the levels of existence and emerged as a tiny spark of life that did not have any knowledge of anything, except the fact that it was. We call that spark Essence ( , , true nature). But, it is raw. It is undeveloped, it lacks knowledge.
Through centuries, millennia, it slowly developed. We have a long history that led us to this moment now. A long history of mistakes, misinterpretations and misunderstandings. Yet, in the midst of all the things that we’ve ever experienced, throughout all time, remains that pure spark of potential, that is directly connected to that ultimate purity. This is why we meditate. This is the reason. It is not to make you suffer… I know in[on this retreat], you are suffering. We’re not trying to make you suffer, the purpose of is to peel away the layers that cloud your perception of reality.
Those layers begin with the body,. It is a very dense and heavy layer, that all of us are very much attached to, and afraid to let go of. That is why, when we sit to meditate, and we’re supposed to be focusing on an image or , instead, we are focusing on our pain, our suffering. That is a mistake. You see, where you place your attention, you invest your energy. Did you know that? It is a very profound thing; this is physics. Where you put your attention, you invest energy. So, when you place your attention in your pain, in your suffering, in your psychological song, in your pride, in your - and you are identified with it - you invest energy, you spin the wheel, you perpetuate that pain, you nourish it. However, when you are not identified with it, you can see it for what it is and become free from it.
This is why, in, we are always emphasizing; learn to concentrate, learn to pay attention, learn to hold attention on this one thing – a deity, a , a breath – benign things, beneficial things, in order to help you develop willpower, so that you can sustain your attention where you will, when you will. Why is that significant? Because, if you want to stop suffering, you must stop creating it. It is that simple.
This is why we learn to observe ourselves, why we learn to meditate, why we learn psychology, why we learn the Tree of Life, why we learn, why we learn so many complex and beautiful things, it is all organized around this simple fact: every action has a consequence. Therefore, know how to act, to create the consequence that you long for. But, to do so, you need knowledge. Not the knowledge you already have, you need new knowledge. That is not knowledge of the outside world. It is not knowledge of teachers [so-called “masters”] and schools. It is not knowledge of this group or that group… “those Gnostics over there must be better. I must go and study with them.” No. That is not going to help you. The knowledge that you need is in a mirror. It is the only place you’ll find real knowledge. We call that mirror ( , cognizance).
The body: all of us can perceive it, so that is where we start. We start working with what we can directly perceive for ourselves. We start to work with that. To take advantage of it, to utilize it to its fullest potential. And, how do we learn to do that? First, we learn to relax the body. We learn to control the body. We learn to understand all of its energies, and all of its sophistication, and we learn to take very good care of it, to keep it healthy. To not put things into it that cause damage, and to not take things out of it that damage it. That takes time to learn. Not only to learn the information in your brain, in your intellect, but to learn it in your actions; that takes time: years. It is slow, gradual, observing ourselves, studying the teachings, learning to change.
The most significant forces that are at work in this structure are described throughout the books, throughout the lectures, throughout the courses, and we have talked about many, many details. It is probably quite overwhelming to a new person to study all of that, and to try to organize all of that, into something that makes sense and is practical. So, today I want to go further with the simplification of this, and to give you a simple principle by why you can understand the teachings as a whole.
I am going to invite you to think on a question, to contemplate this question. Whether you study the temple as a symbol, or the Tree of Life as a symbol, and whether you understand it deeply, or it is new to you, just think on this question for a moment: what is the glue that binds everything together? What is the unifying force that makes this structure stand? What is it that holds these deities in their places? What is it that holds us where we are, in our life? It is one thing, one substance, throughout all dimensions, throughout all time. It is one substance. Do you see what it is? Do you know what it is, with your heart? I’m sure your intellect is throwing a lot of names at you… is anyone bold enough to try to answer the question?
Yes! It is love. Love is the organizing principle of all things. It is what keeps the gods in their places. And, in fact, it is what keeps us in ours. So, then you might think to yourself, “Wait a minute… I’m in pain here. And I am suffering, and ignorant, and I’m not getting my questions answered, and you’re telling me that love is what keeps me where I am?” And the answer is yes. But, you have to look very deeply into this, to see why this is the case.
For now, though, just understand that as love is the organizing principle of all things, it should also be the organizing principle of our spiritual study and practice. For that, however, you have to understand that by love we do not mean profane love, or sexual love, or temporary love, but something far more real.
The Tree of Life, this structure of nature of which we are a mirror, is an unfoldment of that light (, or Amitabha), which I explained, emerges out of the emptiness, the potential; and it manifests, firstly as that Buddha. That Buddha, as Dharmakaya, is reality, truth.
That reality (Dharmakaya), immediately upon perceiving existence, becomes the second force, which is, on this altar, the.
In Nyingma Tibetan Buddhism (which the temple belongs to), theTara is a symbol that represents Sambhogakaya, which comes from सम्भोग sambhoga, which literally means "sexual intercourse, sexual union, sexual joy, delight, enjoyment, pleasure" with kaya, “body.” Thus, the words literally means, “the body of sexual union.” It is usually just called “vessel of perfect resource.” That is why She, It, is represented as a woman, in this context. Ultimately, these forces are androgynous. This is just a symbol. These are not people in space. These are fundamental building blocks of nature.
If you study this beautiful symbol of that force, you see that she gazes upon things with a very peculiar face. It is intended to depict the purest, most profound love: compassion. And, the reason in this tradition that force is represented as a woman, is because a woman, in terrestrial life, has an innate, immediate love for children, for nature, for others. The woman, being so deeply connected to the forces of nature, and the forces of creation, spontaneously has that experience. So, that is what this symbolizes for us: that power of love, compassion.
It is good to know that in Hebrew, compassion is rachamim רַחֲמִים, which comes from the root word for "mother” or “womb."
Regarding this, Dante wrote:
Virgin Mother, Daughter of your Son, more humble
and sublime than any creature, fixed goal decreed
from all eternity, You are the one whom gave to
human nature so much nobility that its Creator
did not disdain His being made its creature
That love [compassion] whose warmth allowed this flower to bloom within
the everlasting peace was love rekindled in your womb; for as
above, you are the noonday torch of charity, and there below,
on earth, among the mortals, you are a living spring of hope.
Lady [ , Tara, Sambhogakaya], you are so high, you can intercede, that
he who would have grace but does not seek your
aid, may long to fly but has no wings.
Your loving-kindness [compassion] does not only answer the one who asks,
but it is often ready to answer freely long before the asking.
In you is compassion, in you is pity, in you is generosity,
in you is every goodness found in any creature.
This man, who from the deepest hollow in the universe,
up to this height, has seen the lives of spirits, one by
one, now pleads with you, through grace, to grant
him so much virtue that he may lift his vision higher
still, may lift it toward the ultimate salvation.
And I, who never burned for my own vision more than I burn
for his, do offer you all my prayers — and pray that they may
not fall short, that, with your prayers, you may disperse all of
the clouds of his morality so that the Highest Joy be his to see.
This, too, O Queen, who can do what you
would, I ask of you: that after such a vision, his
sentiments preserve their perseverance.
May your protection curb his mortal passions [ ].
- The Divine Comedy, Paradise, Canto XXXIII, verse 1-37
Now, in Christianity, that force of compassion is called the Son, which is. And, as well, in the Buddhist tradition, you’ll sometimes find that, that is sometimes replaced by an either male or female figure – it can be either – called Avalokiteshvara or Kuan Yin; the Tibetans call it Chenrezig. It is the same force; these are just different symbols of the same thing. They all represent divine compassion, concern for others. But, not just, “Oh look, how sad, they suffer...” It is not that. That is why you see her foot leaping out. That foot leaping out means, the instant that she sees suffering, she leaps into action. That is what that represents. All of the symbols around her are all the many forms that she takes, whenever necessary.
Let me emphasize for you: these are not people. These are symbols. Divinity does not have form, a body; it is a force, it is a power, which has these different aspects when it flows, when it moves. So, different traditions represent this in different ways. For example, in Islam, this aspect is the love that God has for the pure. There is no form there. It is just the purest love. That is all. We put a form to it, because our minds are so limited. It is hard for us to understand abstract things, so we use symbols to help us understand.
That force, in order to act, must unfold further, and it unfolds into that third force, which here is symbolized by Padmasambhava, who is a great master in history, but that here represents an archetype within us, which is on the Tree of Life as, the third sephirah.
means “intelligence.” , the second, means “wisdom.” So, you see, wisdom and intelligence… they are not people. They are aspects of cognizance or knowledge.
Padmasambhava, if you know any of his story, you understand that Padmasambhava is a very impressive master, a very powerful master; a prophet, you could say, who has tremendous wisdom  and intelligence [ ], tremendous power in action (as Nirmanakaya: action body or maniferstation body). That is what is symbolized here.
Just open your intuition, don’t get caught in the forms of it; just think of a fundamental light that is emerging out of emptiness, and then immediately manifests itself in order to help those who suffer, which is us. There is primordial knowledge, truth, reality, of Buddha, and all of that is within us, but is undeveloped.
That word Buddha simply means “awake.” So, it symbolizes a perception that is unclouded, and perfectly clear, that sees reality. And, upon seeing reality - our suffering - then compassion emerges. When that compassion emerges, it must act. That is the third force, which in Sanskrit is called Nirmanakaya, which means “body of formation, body of action.” It is from there that things can happen.
As an aside, to those who know these teachings a little deeper, what you see here are the first three of the four worlds. Do you see it?( , Buddha, Dharmakaya, Father); ( , Tara, Sambhogakaya, Son); ( , Padmasambhava, Nirmanakaya, Holy Spirit); below. This is how they emerge.
For us as simple beginners, what this means is, in your heart, that thing that is pushing you to figure out why you are in pain, is this: it is the force of divinity pushing on your heart, tapping your heart, saying, “Pay attention to what you are doing, because your actions are producing your suffering.” That is why it is tapping on your heart; to pay attention, to learn, to understand. That is why you feel that discomfort in your heart. That something that is almost painful. Have you all felt that? An inquietude, a longing, an anxiety… that is what draws you to these teachings. Your mind does not produce that. Your heart does, because of this ray, this light. That light is coming from inside of you, not from outside. That is the presence of God. Anyone want to know if God is real? There it is, in yourself. But, it doesn’t feel comfortable. It doesn’t feel blissful… It is like an intense pressure, internally, in your heart… especially when you do something stupid. Because, when you do something stupid, what do you feel? Pain, remorse… what is that? It is Her, your, crying; or Him, if you wish, or It. There is no form there, no gender, it is a force, moving in your heart. It is alive in you, even though it is very small. But, it is there.
The purpose of these teachings, the whole of it, all of it, all of these things we study – the laws, the names, the languages, all of the very complicated things – are all about this one simple thing: learn about that force in yourself and develop it. I can’t teach you that. No one can. That, you teach yourself. And, here is how you do it.
“is insatiable and is a great devil. Know this as the enemy. As the fire is covered by smoke, as the mirror by dust, and as the embryo by the amnion, similarly, self-knowledge gets covered by the different degrees of this insatiable , the eternal enemy of the wise [ , Samboghakaya].”
Those three forces at the center of the Bhavachakra – ignorance, craving and aversion – are the three forces from above, but inverted. That is a very profound thing to consider, to think about.
And, the evidence is radiantly clear, in everything that we do. You see, we study nature in terms of physics. We know that in physics, to create anything, you need three forces, always. Those three forces are symbolized here. Yet, when you act in a mistaken way, those three forces, instead of creating benefit, create pain. Those three forces flow through us, we act, we utilize them, and we direct them in a harmful way, and we create consequences, so we suffer. That is why that Tree of Life is layers of threes. By the time that ray, and all the complications it passes through in nature, arrives in our physical body, it is heavily modified, greatly changed. We are very far from these three forces in their purest form… very far. That is why none of us know about it; for us, at our level, this is just theory.
Those three forces are there, in everything we do, in an atomic way. Through harmful action, they produce pain.
Harmful actions (whether in deed, thought, word, imagination, etc) invert the Tree of Life. The light casts a shadow. That shadow is called hell. It is a mirror of the worlds above. It is where the consequences of harmful action are processed by nature.
The hell realms are in us as subconsciousness. All of the hidden, submerged impulses in us, that manipulate us and cause us pain and suffering, are our own inner hell realms. They are the shadow of the Tree of Life.
The heavens are symbolzed by the upper regions on the Tree of Life. The hells are symbolized by the lower regions, the shadow of the Tree of Life. Those heavens and hells are within us. We do not experience the heavens because ouris trapped in , in hell, in our minds. To experience the heavens, to experience real happiness, real love, must be destroyed.
“In the region of Light live the beings who adore each other. In the region of Darkness live the The Perfect Matrimonywho become inebriated with the chalice of , and who after getting drunk spill the cup. Those are consumed in the fire of their own .” - ,
The origin of all suffering is. By simple axiom, the origin of all happiness is love. These are opposed to each other. That is why love and and 100% incompatible. They cannot be mixed, ever.
"Whatever joy there is in this world
All comes from desiring others to be happy [compassion],
And whatever suffering there is in this world,
All comes from desiring myself to be happy [ ].
But what need is there to say much more?
The childish work for their own benefit,
The Buddhas [awakened ones] work for the benefit of others.
Just look at the difference between them!" —Shantideva
As soon as there is an atom of, there is imperfection, thus perfection is gone. It is that simple. That is why said this:
“is insatiable and is a great devil, know this as the enemy. As the fire is covered by smoke, as the mirror by dust, and as the embryo by the amnion, similarly, self-knowledge gets covered by the different degrees of this insatiable , the eternal enemy of the wise.”
In all the different religions, that is always symbolized by devils and dragons, many types of ferocious creatures. It is why we suffer.is the original sin; the cause of all the sufferings in the Bible, the cause of the dramas in all the scriptures in the world.
“The origin of the sinful “I” lies in The Perfect Matrimony. The , Satan, is subject to the Law of the Eternal Return of all things. It returns to new wombs in order to satisfy desires. In each one of its lives, the “I” repeats the same dramas, the same errors. The “I” complicates itself over time, each time becoming more and more perverse.” - ,
Of everything that we study – all the terms, definitions, words, languages, structures and laws – if you can remember this one simple thing, you will understand many things, which is this: be aware of, turn your attention away from it, because when your attention goes to , you feed it, you nourish it. And, I don’t just mean in the sexual form. , as that primordial spark, became many things: envy, greed, anger, violence... What happened with Adam and Eve? An instant of produced all of the suffering of human-kind. It was the same with Pandora; the same story. Just opening that box to peek within, all suffering came out. All of the pain, all of the suffering, from that little curious peek. It is this depicted on this graphic, it is simple; it is not complicated.
Initially, this is the point of today’s lecture: compassion andare opposites. If you want spiritual development, liberation, then is your greatest enemy.
So: this is how you organize your spiritual study and practice. Comprehend compassion (love) and comprehend.
This is not hard to memorize, is it? It is only two words. I am sure you can remember it. Particularly because, this little word at the bottom [of the graphic] is with you all the time, and you’re not going to forget it. But, what you might forget is how to deal with it. That is why we are here, to learn how.
When we give you instructions in– teaching you, in the beginning, how to concentrate, how to relax – it appears at first glance, that it is the same as any other tradition, because you are hearing the same terms, the same techniques. You may think, “I’ve heard all this before, I’ve done all these things; I know what this is all about.” Well, let me tell you something, you do not, because you are still suffering. You have not changed. Do you have evidence to the contrary? Are you awakened? Can you go into the astral world at will? Can you control your senses at will? Can you stop thoughts, at will, for as long as you want? Can you utilize the powers of your Inner God, right now? If not, then you do not know anything. You might have theories, you might have beliefs, and this is fine, but what you need is power: that power [pointing towards the third force, ]. That power of Padmasambhava.
If you study the mythology of Padmasambhava, it is very beautiful. He goes from India to Tibet, out of compassion. He is invited because, in the lands of Tibet during the times of this story, there was a tremendous amount of suffering, because Tibet was overrun by black magicians, sorcerers, who were mixed up in all kinds of spiritual practices to feed their desires. And, any time you’re feeding desires, you’re creating suffering. So, Padmasambhava, out of compassion for those who were suffering there, came to Tibet. What he did, was to go from place to place, and explained to all the people and the creatures living there, that they were behaving badly. He didn’t come there to punish them, to persecute them, to whip them, to humiliate them, to lord over them, saying, “I am better than you guys, you better calm down!” Nothing like that. He came out of love, and, through the power of his love, they were transformed. He didn’t come to say, “You bad people...” He came to say, “If you look at such, and such, you’ll understand you’re behaving wrong.” Through the power of his compassion, he transformed the whole country. That is how the myth, the story goes. That force [of transformation] is in us. It is part of us, part of our, part of our inner divinity; it is the power of the magician, the priest. The work of that priest or priestess, that magical power, is to transform the demons into protectors of the traditions. That is what is on the back wall of this temple. If you look at all these ferocious creatures on the back of the this temple, they are called Dharmapalas. They look very demonic: they are not demons. They are ferocious protectors of the teachings. We heard these words “fury, furious, ferocity” earlier this week. That is them. And, again, they are not outside of us; they are inside of us. All of these symbols represent parts of ourselves. As you grow and develop in these teachings, you learn to access that power of your inner Padmasambhava [ , Nirmanakaya], and utilize it for the benefit of yourself and the benefit of others, from compassion, out of love.
I have a little story for you. It occurred once that I became very sick – it was a very unexplained, mysterious sickness. Nothing helped. I couldn’t eat anything. After five days being unable to treat it, I was taken to the hospital and run through all the machines and all the tests that the doctors had; they tested me backwards and forwards. They came back and said, “We don’t know what you have. Just go home and try to eat something.” Thanks a lot, right? … I had a feeling about it, so I meditated, and I prayed and I asked. Eventually, my Being took my into the astral plane, and I saw three nereids – which in the Tibetan tradition are called nagas, and you’ll see them depicted in certain places on the walls here – those are creatures of nature, some call them elementals, that magicians of different kinds utilize, in order to perform their magical acts. When I saw those three elemental, feminine forces, I told them to stop what they were doing. And, when I did that, they immediately returned back to nature, because they are innocent; they are like your pets, or any other animal in nature, they do not know right from wrong. But, when a being with more power than them comes along tells them to do something, they try to do that. That is how magicians, both positive and negative, work with nature. They command different creatures in order to perform actions.
So, when I saw them, and told them to stop what they were doing, I immediately knew what the source of the problem was, where it originated and instantly went there. The place I arrived was very deep in the underworld. And there, in that cavern, was what was called a Nibelung. A Nibelung is a dweller of the underworld, and there are different forms of Nibelungen. When I arrived in this place, the creature was absolutely terrified. I blessed the creature and I said, “Don’t be afraid, I am not here to hurt you. But, you need to stop what you’re doing, you’re causing suffering. Please show me how you learned to do what you’re doing.” He immediately grabbed a stack of papers and handed them to me. I studied those, and they were very old parchments, written by hand, by. So, I understood what was happening there, and I told the creature, “You’re going to stop doing this now, because you’re creating suffering.” And, he agreed, and apologized. I blessed him, and that was the end of that.
I meditated on this experience, and I understood that, that creature is part of the subconsciousness of a student of this teaching; a part of the subconsciousness that, in a previous existence, was performing black magic, and continues to perform black magic, even knowing this doctrine. That part of that student’s mind is continuing to do harmful actions. Unfortunately, it affected me. I wasn’t mad, because I understood the suffering of that person; I understood that the elemental creatures weren’t responsible, and that person wasn’t responsible, that element from his mind wasn’t responsible – that this has a long history, and that the responsibility for what occurred was actually on me. This is because, the magical act, the only way that it could affect me was because something in me was vulnerable. And, what is that? An. Some quality in myself that does not belong to God. So, instead of being angry with this entity, and the person that created it in the past, I was grateful, because now I discovered a vulnerability that I will never suffer from again.
Normally I do not talk about these things, you guys know that. The reason I am talking about it, is because it perfectly demonstrates the power of, when is working through you. If that had been my Human- , my human part, I would have gone in there with zeal and anger and punished him and slapped him around and said, “How could you do this to me?!” My , my human part would have been mad. Fortunately, that is not the part of me that acted. The part of me that acted was the part of [my inner] Padmasambhava [ , Nirmanakaya], who is an embodiment of this compassion [ , Sambhogayaka], who is an embodiment of truth-reality [ , Dharmakaya]. So, in that experience, all of those parts of myself were seeing the truth of it, and were acting on the truth of it. Not only for my benefit, but for the benefit of the one that is in the middle of that problem. Because, truthfully, even though I became sick and had to go to the hospital, etc, the one who is suffering the most, is the one who doesn’t even know about that entity in himself. He doesn’t even know about it. And, I cannot say it, it is not my place; I am not allowed. It is up to that person to discover that, and to work on that. If I said something, I would mess it up, make it worse for him.
I am not relating this story to you because I am special; I am not. I am explaining this story to you, so that you understand these principles. It is not complicated. It is simple: compassion. This is our goal, it is our purpose, it is our way of being, it is the organizing principle of the entire teaching. It is everything.
In your practice, in your study, make compassion the foundation. Always, in everything; in your, in your , in your , in your intellectual studies, in your work in the world, in dealing with your family, your spouse, your children, your friends, your community. In everything that you do: compassion. This is why the scriptures explain so beautifully that the cause of all suffering is thinking of “myself.” And, the cause of all happiness is thinking of others.
That principle is right here on this graphic.is about me [ ], compassion is about others.
If you have questions, you can ask.
Audience: So, you talked in this lecture about the Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya, and you drew correspondence between them and, and . In a recent lecture you posted on the website, called Kosmos-Human, talked about a fourth Kaya...
Instructor: Yes, Adikaya.
Audience: And he said that the development of that Kaya comes between the Sambhogakaya and the Dharmakaya. Would you like to elaborate on this?
Instructor: It is the union of them. It is a binding agent. It has different names. It is somewhat like an equilibriating force; a force that makes action possible between these forces.
Audience: Between all three of them?
Instructor: Yes. Adikaya means "body of light" or "vessel of light." It is related to Adi-buddha, the primordial, formless buddha that we call "absolute abstract space." Light may have substance or form, but its true nature is elusive to the intellect. Similarly, Adikaya is a level of development that is very difficult for our intellect to grasp.
The thing is that, these don’t really have form, so we’re using terminology to explain a formless thing that is in the process of manifestation. And, in the stages of development, when a Buddha is being fully manifested, it is both a subtle and complex thing. That is why that symbol is there. It is extremely elusive to the mind to understand. There are schools of philosophy that fight each other about this for centuries, because their way of interpreting it varies. But, simply put, it illustrates the relationship between those parts. That is all.
Audience: Could you say that compassion is the greatest protection against black magicians?
Instructor: Yes. And you can see that in the story that I explained. People, rightly, are concerned about black magic. There is good cause to be concerned, because all of us are vulnerable, precisely because we have thealive. When we have the alive, that provides elements that can be manipulated very easily by others.
Part of the reason that we study magic, we study ourselves, is to recognize those vulnerabilities, and change. The greatest defence against black magic is knowledge, ultimately. But, that is Dharma, as. As I explained here, that is compassion, when it is in the manifested presence; love. The difficulty there is, you can love someone and they can still hurt you. To be able to love someone, and understand them, to be able to love someone and prevent harm requires knowledge; it requires a kind of power that can provide.
When we study these teachings, we’re really studying about a lot of virtues. Each of these spheres also represents virtues. In the Bible, the Sephiroth are described as jewels, gems, which are symbolized all of this temple. At the bottom of this painting, you can see these shapes that look like eggs are actually gemstones, and they represent virtues. You can see them all around on all the different symbols here. Those virtues are, in Sanskrit, Paramitas. That word means, “conscious attitudes, virtues.” They are love,, diligence, all of those attributes of a pure , a that is unblemished. The unifying force of them all is compassion; the continuity amongst them all.
Those of you who have studied a little more, and have gone further in the teaching, the technical term in Sanskrit, is. If you know that word, you know that is very deep. has levels and levels of meaning; it is not just compassion like an emotion, it is a substance, it is a form of matter and energy and . It is that light that emerges out of the emptiness, to give rise to all things. And, it particularizes in us as sexual energy. That is Bodhicitta, in its raw, undeveloped form. That is precisely why marriage is sacred, why sex is sacred, because that is the force of love, of divinity, in us. You see that word, , can be translated directly as “sexual energy.”
But, in us, we convert that to, instantly, easily, all the time. Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. That is why here we learn to conserve that power, purify that power, work with that power, try to transform it, and take it out of a harmful manifestation, and convert it into something pure, and create a human being, and later create a superhuman being. That is the whole path. That is what we are always studying. But, in essence, it is compassion, Bodhicitta, freed from , developed, perfected. In its synthesis, that is the perfect protection from black magic. That is why the black magicians can’t touch these deities [depicted around the temple], because they have no vulnerabilities; they have no egos, no imperfections, they are just compassion, pure. So, that means the black magicians have no choice but just to attack you and me. As much as they would like to overcome these guys, they can’t… so they see us, and go, “Oh, these guys are easy.”
Audience: So, are you saying that anyis a vulnerability enough? Anyone who is not resurrected is vulnerable?
Instructor: As long as you have anyalive, you remain vulnerable to black magic in some form.
Audience: To that?
Instructor: To all kinds of these. Much more than my example… far more than that. The example I gave is just one. We could be here a long time, if you want to hear the stories… that is one that illustrates these principles well.
Audience: Some of us in the path that are new, maybe only a couple of years, are we, maybe, vulnerable to that sort of thing? You were describing somebody that is a Gnostic that is practicing black magic, and they, I am not sure if this is the right word, but they infected you...
Instructor: That is the right word.
Audience: What are the chances that someone like us would potentially run in to that, and what can we do that to avoid it? How can we be wise to see that coming?
Instructor: It is a good question. I am glad you asked. Everyone here is already suffering from this problem; all of us. Every single one of you has this problem. That is partly why I explained it. We all have the problem of the one who is causing the problem, and the one who is suffering from the problem.
We, whether knowingly or unknowingly, are making others suffer, all the time. Our anger makes other people sick. Ourmakes ourselves sick and other people sick. Our thoughts, our feelings, our emotions – we make other people suffer. Not just in visible ways, but in invisible ways. And, it is because the is alive in us.
So, all of us suffer both sides of that story. It is why we need knowledge, we need to learn. But, mostly, we need to know about ourselves. We need to study ourselves, to study the impulses, thoughts and feelings that we have all the time. Those are not hidden away inside of a bubble in yourself. We are not an inside of impermeable sphere. We are constantly within each other. We don’t realise it. We interpenetrate each other, very deeply, all the time. Physically, we are sitting apart, but your mind is not physical and your emotions are not physical, they radiate out from you, quite a long distance. And, if you’re focused, they can go anywhere in the universe, if you know where you’re sending it. So, if you are thinking of a particular person on the other side of the planet, they are affected. They may not be aware of it, but they are.
This is a two-way relationship. We have multiple layers of responsibility that we need to deal with. \Yes, we are being attacked; yes, we are being made to suffer by other people and their anger at us, their envy of us, their jealousy of us, and all the other things that people have directed towards us, yes. But, that is the smallest of our sufferings. We are producing most of our own suffering, ourselves.
So, the antidote is; the study of oneself. It is to study oneself during the day, and to study oneself in every day, and to start to recognize the patterns, habits and tendencies that we have, and to change them, profoundly. Why? Compassion. Firstly, so that you stop suffering. But, also because others are suffering from those qualities that you have. If you really love someone, truly, and you really see how much you make them suffer, that hurts, a lot. But, usually we don’t look at it. We’re too busy looking at how they make us suffer, and that has to be switched. That is why in these traditions, in Tibetan Buddhism and the Gnostic tradition, we do practices to exchange our point of view; to turn our point of view around, to learn to see ourselves the way others see us, to learn to see through the eyes of other people. Not only to see our own behaviour, but to see why others are the way they are, so that we can understand them, so that we can love them better, so that we can serve them better, so that we can be better people. This is the point.
Now, regarding black magic, the number one way to defend yourself is to eliminate your. That is number one: destroy your . That will end the problem of black magic for you. But, that is a long process. You’re not going to do that in a couple of weeks. So, along the way, there are many things that you can learn to protect yourself. The number one thing after that, is to learn about love, to learn about forgiveness, to learn about tolerance and understanding, compassion. When someone is causing pain, you have to understand why, not just attack them back. There is a certain practice that you can use to trap someone who is doing a work of black magic, and many students read that and think, “I’m going to trap them, and I’m going to give them a beating, so that they never do that again!” This is the way we think. We all think this way. That is wrong.
The right way is to teach them with love, to treat them with respect. That experience that I related to you was my Being showing me how to deal with someone who is causing pain, a black magician. It wasn’t to go and give them a beating, it was to give them love, understanding, strictness – severity, yes, because in that experience, my Being was severe, but with love. That is partly also why I emphasized this, because these three figures (in the temple) sit atop those three pillars of the Tree of Life that we have already talked about a little bit. The central pillar is the pillar of equilibrium,, equanimity. The pillar of the right is mercy, love. In Hebrew, this word in the middle of the right pillar, / , means “love, mercy.” And, the left pillar of the left, is severity or justice. So, the pillar of mercy, the pillar of love; the pillar of severity, justice. We need all of these forces in balance in ourselves.
The next thing about black magic is that there are prayers that you can learn, techniques you can learn; tools that you can use, to help defend yourself. They aren’t perfect. They are useful, and they are powerful, but they are directly proportional to the amount of power that you can wield. It is not that complicated. Anyone can have a pencil in our hand, but who can recreate these images that adorn this temple? Creating art like this takes skill, training. It is the same with prayers, with conjurations, with magic, ritual. You can begin, but, in the beginning, your rituals and prayers will be a little “rough.” It might not be perfect, because we are weak, we are impure, we don’t have a lot ofand we can’t control our attention very well, so, we’re a little shaky. But, you can start. That is how you learn.
On that note, I want to point out one little detail that might be useful to you. I recently heard someone say that to develop mastery in some thing takes at least 10,000 hours of experience. You’ve probably all hear that, right? How many hours have you guys meditated on this retreat? So far, 15 or 16 hours? Something like that… you think it is a lot, right? It isn’t. It is about 6 hours a day, and we’re on the third or fourth day now. It is not much. Give yourself time. Give yourself a break [from ambition, expectations]. Slow down, and think about it like this: if it is true – we’re just assuming this statement is true about these 10,000 hours – and you want to become skillful, when you go home from the retreat, think about how much you’re meditating during the week. Be honest. Is it 15 minutes a day? 15 minutes a day, and it takes four days to make an hour, that means it is going to take you 40,000 days… [laughter] I don’t think any of you are going to live that long. Try to increase the time. Grab it when you can.
Truthfully, the length of time is not that important, but quality of time is. What matters is the effort and the continuity. Even on retreat. Ok, we take a break in the afternoon, so you go running screaming through the woods, forgetting all about the practice… You can joke around with others, etc, that’s fine, but don’t forget your practice. Take a few minutes, observe yourself, calm yourself, observe your mind. And, in that way, with constant attention, you do develop skill. Eventually, you can develop mastery.
Audience: How much of black magic is simply just our own subconscious, negative emotions… for instance, if I am constantly thinking resentful thoughts about friends. I know that might be considered an act of black magic, as the definition is broad, but sometimes when we think of black magic, we think of sorcery, spells, and things that we see in the movies. Is that really something that each of us will face? Are there people that are actually consciously directing black magic towards us, or is most of us just unconscious, egoic thoughts and emotions directed towards us.
Instructor: It depends on you and your own karma, as to how to answer that question.
Most of what we experience as our modern world is black magic. Advertising, for instance, is black magic, because it is attempting to coerce your will, in order to get money. There is no spiritual value [in ads], there is no one in advertising trying you to encourage you to become chaste and patient and loving, and for free. If they’re going to tell you to do those things, they want you to pay them. That is black magic. Understanding that, we understand that, everything related with the inferior worlds, the subconsciousness in us, is essentially black magic, because it is a misuse of power.
The word magic has a bad interpretation nowadays. It comes from the root word “mag,” which means, “power.” That is power [indicating the symbols on the altar]: divinity, is where power really lies. But, when that collection of forces descends into our body, and we have a percentage of that power, and we utilise, and unfortunately we utilise it selfishly, and that, in itself, is a form of black magic. It might not have a great reach, but it is a form of black magic, because it is selfish; it is rooted in desire, in ignorance.
So, having established that foundation, then you need to understand that there are beings – many beings – who have the cleverness and the desire to cultivate more power than the average person, and to utilise it for their own pleasure. We call them black magicians. There are many, many, many, many people like that. We need to be aware of it. We don’t need to be afraid, because they have no power over God. None. If you put your faith in divinity, and you follow the guidance of divinity, you have protection from divinity. As in the case of my story: I was relying on my divinity to help me. I wasn’t doing that myself, I was meditating and praying for a solution to the problem. The doctors weren’t helping, my home remedies weren’t helping me, nothing was helping me, so I worked on that.
Audience: In your story, was this someone that had a grudge against you?
Instructor: I can’t say further about the cause. Suffice it to say that there was a power put in motion that had an effect, that affected not just me, it spread out. This is the nature of any action; a given action always has consequences greater than its origin, and I just happened to get caught in it. But, I got caught in it because of a vulnerability in myself, something that I am now trying to fix.
The bottom line is: black magic exists. There are remedies: learn them. The more you learn and the more you develop your own power, your own magi, which is Padmasambhava within you, also Moses – the same symbol – then you become more and more able to rise out of that influence.
Audience: You said earlier that the more attention you put into a thing, the more powerful it becomes. So, what is attention? It is a forceful force? And, in me, as I stand here now, putting attention into my heart… what is that attention? Who is putting that attention there?
Instructor: Well, now you’ve answered exactly why we meditate: it is to answer that question.
Here is the reason. Let me elaborate on that. This whole symbol of the Tree of Life is an illustration of exactly that question, “Who am I?” To answer it, we need profound, deep self-knowledge. Our perception of our true nature, self, is veiled, which is what the quote explained, by layers of, crystallized, which is our subconsciousness… layers, in different forms. It is that has become anger, pride, fear, envy, jealousy, and all the other forms of suffering that we are trapped within. That is what veils our perception of our identity; we are trapped in that.
When we learn to meditate, the goal is to extract attention out of the pain and desire , physicality [ ], energy [ ], emotion [ ], thought [ ], will [ ], [ ], spirit [ ], the three kayas [ , , ], emptiness [ ]. Attention, its ultimate root, is here, in the emptiness. But, to experience that, you need the capability to strip away all these veils – both the impure ones “below,” and the layers of which are symbolized here as “above.” That is something that takes a lot of skill and a lot of understanding to be able to do. But, every one of us has the capability.
That light is our innate nature. It is the essence. That is where we have attention
Audience: So, advertisers are able to control us because we have, because we have, gluttony, greed, etc. So, they are able to manipulate those egos in order to get our energy. The makes us vulnerable, is the black magician some how manipulating that?
Instructor: 100%. And, they’re gaining power.
Audience: How is it different than your everyday...
Instructor: Because it’s deeper, and because it is conscious. So, a black magician who knows what they are doing ismanipulating the subconscious elements of another person, in order to gain power; to manipulate that person for example, to hypnotize them, to get them to do things. The goal of the black magician is to make themselves more powerful, to build themselves up, by taking advantage of others. All of us are vulnerable, all of us are suffering from that already, in layers and layers. All of us. Without any exception. It is sad, but it is what it is [because we made it this way]. The way to break that, is to eliminate the. It isn’t to blame the black magician or to attack other people, to go around saying, “You’re a black magician!” etc. No. The black magicians are not at fault. The fault is mine, because the one with the defect is me. The black magician is deluded and confused, just like I am. There is no difference. How can I blame them for having when I am the same?
Audience: But is it the case that, I have anger with this person who is hypothetically able to make me more angry about something, so that then I act in a way that brings them power? So, if I become aware of what in me is being manipulated, would then I would have some more power to control my own anger?
Instructor: You would, that is true. And, who would you have to thank? The black magician. [laughter]
There is a teaching inthat explains that we have to learn to exchange our view, to learn to see others as our protectors, as our teachers, as our guides. So, we have to learn to see, even those who irritate us, attack us and annoy us, as our teachers, as our guides. Because, when they provoke a response of your , they are showing you your ; they are showing you why you suffer, showing you that is the thing you need to fix. What a beautiful gift.
Who else is going to that? Your mom is not going to do that. Your mom is going to go, “Oh, sweetheart...” But still that problem will persist. But, the jealous friend, the envious coworker is going to be gossiping about you, making you feel pain, your first reaction will be to get mad. But, if you learn to transform, comprehend, you’ll see that they’re doing you a big favour. Because, if you can change that, you’ll never suffer that pain again.
“The Gnostic teachings show us how to crystallize the Second Force [The Revolution of the Dialectic, Avalokitesvara, Tara] that is within us, by means of a postulate which states: one has to receive with gladness the unpleasant manifestations of our fellow people. Found in this postulate is the way to transform the impressions that the words of an offender produce within us. Receive with gladness the unpleasant manifestations of our fellow people. This postulate will naturally lead us to the crystallization of the Second Force, , within us. The practice of this postulate will cause the [compassion, ] to come and take shape within us.” - ,
Audience: Does that mean that we are being annoying and irritating, or we observe a negative thought – you see it, there it is – and you know that you need to meditate on it later. But, in the moment, do the prayers, the practices that protect us from others, can we use them against our negative thoughts, emotions, etc?
Instructor: To conjure yourself? Yes. Absolutely. When you discover in yourself a strong defect – you feel angry, lustful or envious – yes, say the conjurations, because that element in you is a demon, that you made. So, conjure it, conquer. And, you do it with the force of love.
Now, there is a little distinction here. When you conjure, you are directing the power of divinity, when you use alike the Lord’s , and you’re directing power: you’re invoking and directing power through the use of attention. That, ultimately, is the power of love. All divine power is the power of compassion, focused. When you’re directing your energy to destroy an , it is the same power. This seems strange, right? “I am going to kill that , but it is compassion...” And, it is, because what is trapped in that is a part of yourself, a part of your . That part is suffering. That is why the is the way it is.
So, there is a ferocity to the work. There is an intensity to the work. But, it is not unbridled violence, for the sake of violence. It is a power of compassion that wants to free what is trapped and to remove the impurity. Makes sense? So, even when you find a defect in yourself, there is compassion there and so it should be… What it shouldn't be is, “I am so terrible, I hate myself, I am doing all these bad things...” And you fall into self-hatred, depression, anger – that is 100% bad. It will only lead you into wrong action. Compassion must not only extend to all living things, but must also include yourself: to have compassion, patience, with yourself.
The whole battle of the Mahabharata is about that. In that battle, Arjuna must destroy and kill all of his relatives, and he can’t do it. He sees all the people he loves… but they represent the; those parts of ourselves that we see ourselves in. They must die. But, that death is a death of compassion. That killing is a compassionate act, because it is a liberation: you are liberating what is trapped there.
Audience: My question is on eliminating or weakening anwith the . So, in the moment where a surge of anger or comes up, and lets say that you don’t physically act on it, but you’re imagining or thinking something, what can one do in that moment to not create karma, using the ? Or is it that you can only eliminate it with comprehension? What can we do in that moment when it comes, and it is so strong, and it sticks like glue? You’re observing it, and you know you don’t want that...
Instructor: The same way: remember divinity, pray, be patient. All things subside. As strong as the manifestation of a defect can be, it will subside, so persist in the. And, when it subsides, then you return to , and you work on that. You can use any , any thing that calls the power of divinity will help you to become stable; the Lord’s is the most powerful, in those moments. But, any , any conjuration will help you, because you're just invoking that power to stabilize yourself, to get out of the clutches of that thing that wants to make you act, so, pray! In doing so, you’re calling a superior force to overcome an inferior force.
Instructor: Ultimately. That is what real self-knowledge means: the essence comes back, but knows itself.
Audience: Instantly? In that comprehension? In that elimination?
Instructor: In levels. Comprehension has so much potential, because it has a direct connection to the heights of divinity. So, the power of the essence to understand is infinite, because it is the power of God. So, when we need then is the ability to access that:.
Anyone, anywhere, can access the Absolute, because it is inside of us. The reason that we don’t access it is because we are afraid. We are afraid to let go of all these things that we have become conditioned by, that feel like “ourselves.”
So, let me pose a question to the group. Imagine how you see yourself. Everyone have a picture? What are your qualities, how are you, what are you like as a person? It doesn't have to be a perfect, all-encompassing image, but you have a picture, right? Everyone has a vague sense of who you are? Ok. Raise your hand if you pictured a skeleton. [no one raises their hand; laughter]. Why not? Each one of you, right now, is sitting inside of a skeleton. I am sorry if that seems gross… you’ve been carrying that skeleton around your whole life, but you don’t see it…
In the story I told you about becoming sick, thethat is the vulnerability that I had is like that; I didn’t even know I had it, in the same way that we are unaware of our skeleton. That is how deep that thing is in myself. It is like a bone; I had no awareness of it. All of us have that. Layers and layers… and we’re just talking about the physical body. You’re with it right now, and you don’t even know about it, you’re not even aware of it. You’ve been carrying it around your whole life… it’s right here: your skeleton! What about the subconsciousness and the unconsciousness, we don’t even know. So, we need to meditate.
Audience: Even though you didn’t know about it, was there an agitation…?
Instructor: When the whole thing started, I had a feeling, but I didn’t know why.
Audience: We continue to fool ourselves, thinking we’re OK...
Instructor: We always think things are going to work out in the end… such an illusion. It is just layers and layers of self created illusions. No basis in reality. That is why we are so radical in the teachings. It is why we need to be so revolutionary in our approach. Not revolutionary to the outside, but to ourselves.
Audience: How can we become enabled to see that we are not a singularity, that we are a multiplicity? Because, like when you asked how we see ourselves, “Well, I am this, this and this...” but it is all one thing, which is me. How do we comprehend whattalks about that we are a conglomerate of I’s? How can we experience that?
Instructor: Look. Keep looking. Keep opening your view, all the time, constantly checking yourself, “Am I really seeing? Am I really seeing?” And keep expanding your view, keep turning it different ways, looking at yourself always, always always. Expanding. Trying to renew your perspective of yourself. Always trying to make it fresh, always questioning. Always watching for the presence of defects.
Part of the problem that we have, is that we are very comfortable in our defects. We are very comfortable in our sense of self, in our habits and patterns. We are a machine, and we repeat. So, we need to watch for repetitions, and to stop them. We need to watch for patterns and to confuse them, undo them, unravel them, change them. Change your patterns. Question them. Do things differently. But, mostly, we need to always been on guard for the presence of negative emotions. In the scriptures, there is a beautiful passage that always comes into my mind about this that says, “Any time that you get even a glimmer of anger,or envy, you should react as though you’ve seen a poisonous snake: you must leap.” But, we don’t do that. We say, “Oh yeah, anger. ...” We’re so relaxed with it. We don’t hear this ticking clock. With each moment, life is shortening, death is approaching. We don’t see that death is getting closer moment by moment. It is a fact. Are you ready for death? We’re not aware of the approach of death, but we need to be aware of it. Constant. Not with morbidity, not with fear, not with terror, but with seriousness. That is compassion for myself, for others, let me make the most of every instant. Let me not waste an instant. Let me not show any wavering. Let me not allow the defects any room [in my mind or my life]. The passage that I was quoting to you continues, and says, “When you find the defect, you must not allow it the space of a single strand of hair in yourself.” That means, the instant that you sense it, you must be fully cognizant of it. Not just be on autopilot, which is what we tend to do, continuing on with this noxious atmosphere, being OK with the defects within us. If you persist in that, you have the right to do so, but your life will end in despair… if I am to be frank with you.
Instructor: It is exactly the same.
Instructor: Self-reflection, self-awareness, clear insight, expanded awareness. You see, when you open your perception to fully see, to clearly see, you must set aside defects, vices, errors. Because, if you’re seeing through the lens of anger, you only see angrily, thus, you don’t see reality, you don’t have compassion. When you’re angry, you hate; you are bound by anger, trapped, conditioned, suffering and you only want to produce suffering.is the same, but the suffering you will produce you don’t perceive, because makes you think that there is only pleasure there. That is the illusion of . It thinks that the pleasure will last, it does not realise that, that lustful pleasure is actually suffering. It doesn’t see it, because it is not clear .
When thereally sees the truth of , it does not fall victim to the temptation; it sees that is just suffering and pain.
Instructor: Yes… all three of the animals at the center of the wheel are reflections of each other. We talk about them in a separate way, similarly to how we talk about these three forces in the superior level. They really aren’t separate, but because our minds are really not able to conceptualize these very abstract and expansive powers, we talk about them as separate things. The same is true of ignorance, aversion, and craving; they are really one thing, not three things.
Audience: You mentioned that we should not let negative thoughts have any space, and, sometimes, when we have negative thought, we try to rid ourselves of it and it produces a reaction, and it almost seems like that the more we try to get rid of it, the more it stays the same.
Instructor: Suppression doesn’t work.
Audience: Like, an obsession or an intrusive thought, and you’re trying to get it out of your head…
Instructor: You see, that is avoidance, that is aversion...
Audience: I’ve seen it recommended that we should treat the thought as if it’s no big deal, and to be more gentle with it, so that it doesn’t have that strong reaction to stay… how would you approach this?
Instructor: When you have a strong aversion to a thought, you are spinning that three-animal cycle at the center of the wheel of Samsara: aversion, craving and ignorance. You’re wanting to ignore, you’re avoiding and craving serenity, or comprehension even. So, suppression or repression or avoidance are ineffective strategies.
When we talk about not allowing space for that thing to be, for being quick to respond to it, we’re talking about being quick to establish an equanimity of mind, and equanimity of perception, that isn’t victim to craving and aversion, that is serene. And, that is a kind of in difference in that you are able to observe it, without being tempted by it, without being repelled by it; but, just to see it for what it is. And, that requires skill, and that is why we meditate, because, when you’re meditating, you’re learning that. Your leg hurts, you feel it, but you learn, “It hurts, so what.”
Audience: Could you give some insight into the nature of the types of egos that we find repulsive, that we seem to want to reject from our mind stream… it almost seems as though the thoughts have a mind of their own…
Instructor: Oh, they all do.
Audience: And they seem to want to impose themselves on us, against our will. Is that a certain type of? A certain strong type of ?
Instructor: All defects are trapped. When we produce a defect through wrong action or wrong thought, wrong emotion, we propel our to be trapped in a conditioned element, that we call an or a defect. It is the energy of the action that crystallizes into a form of matter and conditions the , which remains trapped within it. is perception, but, now trapped, it only perceives through its conditioned state. So, someone hurts us, we feel pain, that hurt pride becomes anger, resentment. And, that element, any type that it comes to the fore, within our machine, only perceives through its conditioned state… resentment: “You did this to me. I will get revenge.” It always perceives that way. It has its own thoughts, its own emotions, its own impulses to act. Makes sense? It is that simple; every is like that, every defect, and we have many. And, they have all different forms, according to our own idiosyncrasy, according to our own actions in the past. The more we feed them, the stronger they get.
Audience: So, eachcould be an inverse in of the Tree of Life?
Instructor: They are that. They are a mirror of us.
Audience: That is a lot of work.
Instructor: It is. But, listen, it is a lot of work, and I know it sounds overwhelming – and in a sense, it is overwhelming – but, we have something on our side… [indicating the temple all around the group]: divinity. That is why I am always trying to suggest to you guys that, while yes we need to study the, but we need to also study the virtues. We need to study the defects, but we need to study God; we need to study joy, patience, happiness, but mostly, we need to study compassion.
There is a balance that we need to develop in the process of organizing all this information in ourselves, which is why I’m giving the lecture today. The organizing principle is compassion, the opposing principle is. Everyday, we must work on . But, everyday, we must work on compassion; together. We can’t exclude one or the other. If you only work on , you will become very dark. You will have a sour atmosphere, because you won’t have any joy. You will be like a worker in the trenches, covered in mud and filth. And, everyone will avoid being around you, because you will be cranky all the time. They’ll ask you, “What’s wrong?” “I have so much !….” [laughter] Don’t do that. It is a compassionate act to be a pleasant person.
Audience: What does John the Baptist represent, in terms of internal. And, is there a Buddhist correspondence?
Instructor: John the Baptist symbolizes the death of the, the death of the “I.” He is the one who makes the way for the , who announces the arrival of the , and subsequently is killed. He is demonstrating to us that we need to imitate that. That, in order to have that pure embodiment of compassion emerge within us, the must be dead. That is what this all represents. A perfect being is a resurrected master, in these upper levels, who is an embodiment of compassion. There is no defect in them, there is no in them, they are psychologically dead. They are perfect. They are not done, because there is still work to do beyond that; there is another process that they undergo.
In terms of symbols in Buddhism, I am unaware of any direct correspondence. There are hints, symbols related to that process, but they are very much veiled. Most of them are hidden in Tantric ritual; there are ritual processes that are not publicly known, generally, but, effigies are “sacrificed”– not anything living – they’ll create a human-like form, and perform a ritual where the thing is destroyed. It represents how themust die. In terms of the mythology, I don’t know of any direct relation, but in terms of ritual, yes, absolutely.
Audience: Can we say that there is a difference between the thinking and the thought, and likewise the feeling and the emotion, the acting and the impulse? So, say, something arises within us that is negative, but see that thing as it arises, and instead of thinking the thought, we see the thought. In that observation, do we take power away from that thing?
Instructor: To a degree. But, there is a relationship that is formed. And, what happens after that depends on the circumstances, on the conditions. It is a subtle thing. What is the difference between the observer and the observed? Between the thought and the thinker? The awareness of that thought and that thinker?
“Whosoever truly wants a legitimate silence and not a false silence, a true quietude and not a false quietude, must be integral—that is, to not commit the error of dividing himself between subject and object, thinker and thought, “I” and not “I,” controller and controlled, Superior “I” and Inferior “I,” me and my thoughts, etc. To know how to meditate is to be on the path of inner illumination. If we want to learn how to meditate, we must comprehend that between me and my thoughts—in other words, between thinker and thought—there is no difference whatsoever.” - Spiritual Power of Sound,
If you’re talking about a defect, you have to take responsibility for the defect; to not attempt to separate and say, in the sense that... there is a certain philosophy that thinks that, if you become aware of a certain negative thought pattern, and stop thinking it, then you are free of it. That is wrong. It is fundamentally mistaken. The producer of the thought does not die by the ignorance of it. Do you understand? The producer of the thought remains, which is the, the defect. The only way that is eliminated is through transmutation, through , through a chemical process that must occur. So, simply becoming aware of a thought, aware of an emotion, does not liberate, fully, that which is trapped there.
There is an idea in Tantric philosophy: some schools posit the idea that if I become aware of the inherent nature of a thought, then the essence of that is self-liberated, and there no more work to do. And, this is a fundamental mistake in that philosophy. That is why those schools have deviated away from the path. They are ignoring the origin of the thought [which is the], and the karma [the results that must be answered for]. That “being aware of the emptiness of the the thought” does not solve the karmic debt or the that created it. That defect still must be killed. Follow?
Audience: Yes. But, let’s say for example – like when you were speaking about black magic, in the sense that, any time we think about someone in a negative way, with anger or whatever it is, we are hurting that person. If we become aware of the thought of anger, but don’t think the thought of anger, are we preventing that from hurting that person?
Instructor: You can limit it to some degree, but as I said, as long as the producer of the thought remains, the danger continues, you just may be unaware of it. And, in the case that I cited tonight, I had a vulnerability that I was unaware of, and it was producing consequences that I did not perceive until now, by the grace of my Being. In the same way, I have other elements that are producing suffering, and I don’t even know about them. Yet, I am responsible for them. So, I become aware of one, a negative thought, and I don’t think the thought, that is good, but, theis still there, as an inherent cause...
Audience: But, making this sort of effort as a means of attaining to modicum of psychological equilibrium?
Instructor: Yes. You must attain that, because that is your platform to work from; that is necessary. But, it doesn’t solve the problem. It only gives you a place to start working on the problem.
Audience: So, let’s say you may have a done a lot of harmful action, where do you go about trying to repair that? When I look back at how far some of my actions have expanded, it is like a bomb has gone off…
Instructor: You start with your immediate environment: yourself. Start with exactly where you are. And, you do your best with what you have available to you in your immediate environment: yourself. You start there. You change. You study those causes in yourself: what produced those actions? And, learn to change them. From that center, the change will radiate out. In the same way that the mistakes radiate out pain, you will start to radiate out healing. You will solve the problem. But, it begins here [in yourself]. You can’t go out [and chase down everyone in your life], apologize, try to say “I am sorry…” it is good to have that attitude, to want to do that, but you must start here, in yourself: change. Because, without that, those apologies will mean nothing, they really will. Start here and now.
Audience: Following from a previous question, it is said that the transformation of impressions is the first step to the liberation of the…
Instructor: It is one of the steps.
Audience: So,said, we must transform the impressions of our adversaries with happiness, kindness, compassion… it is so hard. So, for most of us, we are very ignorant. I had an experience of , where I saw a lustful image, and it stayed in my mind, even in my dreams. So, like the person was asking before, in that moment of the transformation of the impression, what can you do, besides asking your to help us? How can we transform that?
Instructor: Patiently. Those are difficult to transform.is the root of all of it: it is difficult. And, the way you do it, is with the help of divinity; you pray. But, you must see the truth of the thing, and you must study the reaction that it produces in you. Otherwise, you will gain nothing. If you avoid it, repress it, it will just fester.
Now, that said, as beginners, we are weak. It is very difficult to manage the transformation of impressions, especially in relation with. But, we must learn. So, we need to develop skill. That, again, comes from . It is the skill that develops the stability in the . With , you learn to be serene and conscious in all circumstances.
Let me put this in a very broad perspective for you, so that you can understand what I mean. Things are going to get really hard for us, really hard. The way that we live now is not going to be the same. Life is constantly changing. It is going to get harder. So, if you’re struggling to meditate now, with things being easy... it is going to get harder. Learn now.
The reason that it is so important is, when you learn how to reach equanimity, psychologically; meaning: you sit to meditate and you have equanimity, peace, no matter what is happening. You need this skill. This is not a game. It is not something optional, it is not something to play with. It is so important, because the things that are going to happen to our world, to our civilization, to our country, to our cities, are going to make it very difficult for us to have serenity. Very painful. Very hard. So learn to meditate now.
Don’t avoid unpleasant impressions in your life. Learn to receive them with happiness. It is not easy, of course, it is painful, it is difficult. You might make a mistake, you might transform the impression wrongly, but learn, learn to transform the impression. Become stronger, become capable, so that as things become more difficult, you’re ready, you’re on top of it, you’re capable.
Are you following what I am suggesting here? Serenity is so important. We talk aboutas having a lot of parts and a lot of science, and it does; it is a very beautiful and very subtle system. And, it is important to learn all of it. But, it all comes naturally when you acquire serenity.
You develop serenity not only when you’re sitting infor a few minutes, but all day, in how you transform impressions. In how you deal with life. People are rude to you, people are mean to you, people are ungrateful, or they don’t pay attention to you at all and it hurts, and you have to learn to receive that with happiness, with compassion, with understanding. And, in all those transformations, you are meditating. All day. Constantly; from moment to moment, aware of your mind, observing your mind. Controlling, with will, how you behave, compassionately. So that, by the end of the day, when you sit, you have been preparing all day long, you sit to meditate, relaxed, focused, because all day long, you have been focusing, controlling your attention, not on autopilot, not just reacting all the time to everything, but in control of yourself. So, you sit to meditate, you’re relaxed, calm, and you can review things and go deeper in your observation. This is so, so important. I can’t emphasize that enough.
Before we begin the question time, I have a small epilogue to yesterdays lecture that I would like to offer.
This morning, in the astral plane, a certain master came to offer a follow up to yesterdays discussion, about compassion and about the elimination of the. And, I felt that, that teaching that he gave to me was not for me, but that it was for you. So, I would like to explain it to you.
In the astral plane, this master took me to a market. In this market was being sold all the types of things that you would expect at a place where you buy food. He called the owner, a woman, and told her to bring something. She shouted out some commands, and some of her workers brought, on their shoulders, a big slab of meat. They came and sat it on the ground in front of us. And, when I observed it, I saw that it was alive. It was the form of a pig, the shape of a pig, but, it had no feet, no hands, no teeth and no skin. But, it was alive. And, it was in terrible suffering; writhing, trying to scream, but could not. It’s tongue was also removed. But, I could see it’s eyes, and it’s eyes were wild with pain. So, of course, I felt a lot of compassion for the intelligence that was trapped inside of that suffering. The woman that owned the market stood there with her arms crossed, and her servants departed. The master who was showing me this, walked firmly over to the creature, put his foot upon it, tied a rope around its neck, and pulled. And, in those moments, I looked into that creatures eyes, to see who is this, what is this? Because, I thought that I would recognize myself. But, it wasn’t me, it was the master himself. It was one of his egos. And, he was showing me how he is working on it. His foot is his will, and the rope is his vigilance. He is killing it, out of compassion, to save it from its misery, because his ownis the one suffering in that animal desire, in the form of a pig. I was very moved. This has been with me all day, so I felt there was something valuable in this that you can learn from. I thought that was a beautiful teaching that this master gave to us.
What it represents, what it demonstrates, is that themust die. Our . And, we must be the one to kill it. The interesting thing is that the woman, the owner of the market, owned that creature. She was there to sell it for profit. She represents lunar nature, who, whether we kill that , or nature kills that , will always be the one that benefits. She will be the one who reaps the elements, in order to return them to nature, in one form or another. She didn’t care whether he killed that animal, or whether it was disposed of some other way.
The critical thing was that this master demonstrated for us the elements necessary to progress in this work. It isn’t a matter of beliefs, or imitation. It is a matter of recognizing the suffering that is in us, and having the will and the compassion to end it. That is not easy. There is pain; that animal, that form trapped theof that master, and it was in terrible suffering. It is something I cannot convey with words, but I think if you imagine the imagery, you can invoke that impression for yourself… terrible suffering. And, he didn’t avoid it; he looked directly at it and knew the thing to do. The compassionate thing to do, is to kill that, to put it out of its misery, to liberate what is trapped in that body. And, that form exists in the internal worlds as an animal form; those are the egos that we have, they have animal forms, because they are crystallizations of animal desire – , pride, gluttony, anger, envy, and all of those things that we, ourselves, made, and that master himself had made in the past, and was working to eliminate. So, that is my offer to you, as an epilogue to the lecture, and I hope you contemplate it deeply.
I was very blessed with your free resource material it was only right for me to be to support. The world often forces us to support huge capitalist models with questionable ethics and so I'm grateful for your life enriching material.
I cannot thank you enough for all that you are doing and providing to spread the opportunity of true. I have greatly benefited from the information on the website...
Your lectures, books, practices, etc. have radically changed my life in a profound manner. Especially putting into daily practice the teachings from the lectures... Your efforts making the lectures and everyone involved who makes it possible are a true blessing to humanity and beyond.
These books have helped me changed my whole reality,..... Tragic and beautiful that pendulum we swing,...
Your books, lectures and courses have made the last years of my life complete. When that final hour comes, I know I will land in the right place.
What you guys are doing is really wonderful. You have helped me understand in my spiritual practice. I am truly grateful that your works is changing lives. When the student is really ready, the teacher has finally arrive to guide.