Today's lecture is called Saga Dawa. That is a Tibetan phrase, and it comes from the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
The tradition that we practice here, thestyle and the lineage that we come from, is very closely related to Tibetan Buddhism. You could say that our tradition, the type of , and our approach to developing are easy to understand if you know a bit about Buddhism and Christianity. These two traditions relate to each other, compliment each other, and fit together like pieces of a beautiful puzzle; when combined as one, they reveal something greater than what they are by themselves. Esoteric Christianity and esoteric Buddhism, together, express something complete. When I talk about Buddhism, Christianity, different styles, or Tibetan Buddhism, I am not speaking of them as a believer or representative of those traditions. I am just someone who practices . But if you study a bit of those traditions, you will learn more about , you will understand more. Especially if you study Buddhism and Christianity together, you will understand far more than you would if you studied only one.
Saga Dawa began yesterday, so today is the second day of a month-long celebration common in Buddhism, although it has different names in different traditions. The dates vary by their different calendars, but in the Tibetan calendar Saga Dawa has just begun. In Tibetan Buddhism, it is called Saga Dawa, which means “fourth month,” referring to the fourth month of the lunar calendar. On the central day of this month they celebrate the birth, enlightenment, and death of that historical figure that we call the Buddha, or Buddha Sakyamuni. By way of comparison, those who were raised Christian can imagine if all of the Christian holidays happened on one day. What a big deal that would be here, in the West. This is what Saga Dawa is, it's all of the holidays wrapped up in one short period time. For Buddhists this is very important, and it receives a lot of attention, it has a lot of gravity in society. This is a relatively recent photo of a Saga Dawa celebration. Everybody's there and they're raising a flag, as a community, as a part of the process of celebrating the festival.
What's most important about this period time is that Buddhists in general worldwide, but particularly in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, view this time as the most important of the entire year, not simply because it's a recognition of the founder of their traditions, the historical Buddha, but also because in nature, this time is a pivotal circuit when energy in nature is more impactful. The way we behave and the way we act has more importance, it has more reverberations. You can understand this by comparison if you think of it in this way: at certain times, when the weather is a certain way, your voice can travel further because of the atmospheric pressure and the way nature is at that moment, whereas at other times, your voice doesn't carry very far. It's somewhat like if you're in a canyon or a mountain range and you shout, your voice is conveyed by the conditions of that environment. Similarly, in a subtle way in nature, in this fourth lunar month, our actions are magnified, focused. What we do now has more potential impact.
That's why in this month of Saga Dawa, beginning at the new moon, through a full moon and back to the new moon, Buddhists worldwide intensify their spiritual life to acquire merit and wash away as much karma as they can. So they perform more rituals, more, and especially more service, more sacrifice, more and greater acts of generosity. During this time they do not eat meat, they do not drink, they fast (somewhat like Ramadan; it is a very similar experience). They dedicate themselves to , they give up comforts, they give up their selfish attitudes and they seek out ways to serve others and help others and be of benefit to others. For example, they will free trapped animals. Not only do they stop eating meat, they'll go to the market and buy the animals that are due to be slaughtered, and release them. They'll go to the fish market and get live fish that were going to be sold for food and they'll put them back into the waterways to free them, to save those lives. These are symbolic acts that they perform at this time because they believe that during this month, everything they do is 100,000 times more impactful. Tibetans call this Bumgyur Dawa, “the 100,000 multiplying month,” to indicate that during this time the effects of actions are much stronger. This implies that your harmful actions are also more impactful, so they make extra effort to not be angry, lustful, arrogant, and instead try to be more kind, patient and gentle, praying more and more. All of this effort is to harness this influence in nature. It's all in recognition of the birth, enlightenment, and death of the historical Buddha.
As you know, in this tradition, we respect the literal, physically visible aspect of all religions, but we are more interested in why. What are the reasons? Why, really, is this done? Not just to understand it out of curiosity but to understand its practical importance. What was the original intention, the original meaning of all this? To understand that we need to understand something about religions in general, and that is that they have always been taught in levels. In Buddhism, this system is still clearly maintained and in the traditions of Buddhists around the world we have three main varieties: an introductory form, a greater form, and an esoteric form, and all three overlap each other. If you've studied any Buddhism you may know about Sutrayana, Mahayana and Tantrayana Buddhism.
Sutrayana is the type of Buddhism that you hear about on television, magazines, and books. It's the public level of instruction. This is comparable to the public level of any of religion: it is what the average person knows about religion.
In the introductory levels of Buddhism people learn and believe that there is a person named Buddha (some people call him a god), and may worship him. In the introductory levels of Buddhism people learn the basis of Buddhism, that there is suffering, which is caused by desire, and there is an antidote to suffering, which is a path called the eightfold path. That is 'The Four Noble Truths', which is the essential basis of Buddhism worldwide in every tradition. That is Sutrayana, the beginning level instruction that every Buddhist receives. This is exactly the same as what is taught in every religion in the world, with different words. Other religions call it morals or ethics, such as do not kill, do not steal, do not lie, do not drink intoxicants, do not commit sexual misconduct and those types of guidelines that embody the different rules given by the founders of religions. The public is given those rules in order to practice them and put them into action in their daily lives but, of course, most people don't. Most people hear those instructions, and say, "Oh! That's sweet..", but they go and they drink anyway, they sleep around, commit adultery, fornicate, steal, lie, commit murder and all the different crimes that everyone on this planet is guilty of. So even if we respect religions or believe in religions, very few people actually practice even the introductory level. It's rare for anyone to take ethics very seriously, and it's no wonder now that religions are so widely mocked. It's because the people who profess to practice them, don't. They talk about them, but they don't really live it.
In the traditional structure of any religion, those who actually live by the ethical rules, putting them into practice, will gradually, by way of the evidence that shows up in their lives, be introduced to more profound teachings, and in Buddhism that would be Mahayana or the greater level. They will become the elders, monks, nuns, the ones who take the vows, the ones who put on robes, ones who enter into more advanced instruction in order to take the ethical foundation that they built and go further with it.
The chief characteristic of this level of instruction is the development of compassion. The first level is really all about me and myself. "I shouldn't do this". "I shouldn't do that because if I do I'll create suffering for myself." That's the introductory level of instruction in all religions. In the greater level of instruction,you learn that those actions are not really about you, they're really about others. You learn not to be so concerned about your own well being, but to learn to start to serve others more and focus on others more and the well being of others more.
The ones who really live that, who don't have the ambition to become something terrestrially, to become respected or loved or be famous, or get wealthy and all those other desires that we all are afflicted with, i.e., the ones who are living by the ethics of the beginning level and living by the compassion of the second level are then capable of being introduced to the third level, the secret level, which is called Tantrayana in Buddhism. And that is how you learn to harness the ethics of the first level, focused through the compassion of the second level, in order to make it more expedient, more powerful, more direct.
Real Tantrayana is kept limited from the general population because of its power and the responsibility that comes with knowing it. Ones who receive that level of instruction are typically priests, imams, Lamas, swamis, people that have proven through many years of dedication that they can be trusted to handle power with ethics, compassion, and without pride, desire, or ambition. Of course, nowadays, none of this is being respected. Nowadays people hear about esoteric, secret teachings, they hear that there are secret practices and they want to skip the beginning levels and dive straight into the highest practices. This is similar to bringing five year old children into a hospital, giving them scalpels, and allowing them to perform surgeries. The result, as you would expect, is a disaster. Those people become horrible, destructive for themselves and everyone else. This is very common nowadays, and really started since the 1960’s.
During the fifties and sixties, the doors to the higher teachings were opened. As you know, knowledge is power, and when power is given to vain, lustful, foolish people, they use it badly and create harm. So, the vast majority of what you hear about as being esoteric or Tantric, is a lie, is garbage, is corrupted and cannot be trusted, and it's important that you know that. There is a genuine tradition of very powerful knowledge that exists in every religion of the world in some condition or another. Some are purer than the others, but it is always there. Nowadays, it's easier to find than it ever has been in the past.
So why are we explaining all this? Because it has to do with Saga Dawa. It has to do with what we are learning about.
Saga Dawa, which means "fourth month,” is from a lunar calendar, which means that it's based on the phases of the moon.
Lunar months begin with the new moon, which was yesterday; today we are on the first or second day, depending on how you calculate it, of the lunar month. In Sanskrit, the moon is called Chandra; that is only one of the names, there are many others. In Tibetan, it's Dawa.
Science has recognized that the moon has a very profound effect on us, even just physically. There are measurable effects of the moon worldwide. Have you ever heard of the tides? That's a very obvious example. The entirety of the world's ocean moves because of the moon. That is an enormous influence!
We have life on this planet because of the moon. The very delicate balance of the Earth, the Moon and the Sun creates the circumstances that support life on this planet, and lets us be here alive now. So on a terrestrial level, on a visible level, the moon is extraordinarily significant to our lives. We have no awareness of that.
Just as the moon is pulling on the world's oceans, it's pulling on the waters in you. The physical body that we have is mostly water — well actually, it's mostly nothing, it's mostly empty space (on the atomic level). But when you go into the more physically dense level of matter, you find that it's mostly water, it's mostly liquid. That water is profoundly affected by the movements of the moon, in the same way as the ocean. Our body is not immune from the influence of the moon, it is not an exception to that power. We like to think that we are not influenced by nature, we have this notion that somehow we are separate from nature, that we are observers, like gods walking amongst nature, unaffected by it, but that isn't true. We are profoundly affected by nature. The moon pulls on us, manipulates and affects us every day, constantly.
So think about this, really reflect on this: Your body is mostly water, your brain floats in a liquid, your nervous system is a liquid through which electricity moves. Where do thoughts happen? Where do emotions happen? In the liquids and in the energy, the electricity of your body. That's how you perceive, sense, feel or experience them, through these liquids and energies that are moving inside your physical body all the time. You are not aware, however, how all of that is being affected by everything outside of you, especially nature. The moon is constantly affecting us, but we have no awareness of it.
Now, this is just on the terrestrial level, very visible level, even though we are not aware of it at all. If you look at it, you can see it, but otherwise we are not aware of it, we have no cognizance of it, noof it, even though it affects the way we think, the way we behave.
Everyone has heard the word “lunatic,” haven't they? That word is used to describe a crazy person The first part of that word is luna, which means the moon, and there is a reason for that. “Lunatic” implies that that person is being influenced by the moon in a negative way. Why is it that on the full moons we always think about werewolves and vampires and all these other myths and traditions that we have related to the moon? It is because there is a truth hidden there. One that we don't perceive, that we've forgotten. So it's important to remember these things, and become aware of nature.
Here's the lunar month [of 2017], just to get a sense of this. Yesterday it began May 26th, the new moon, and day by day the moon will grow bigger in our sky, until we reach the full moon which is June 9th . Scientifically, in terms of physics or astronomy, this is a simple thing; the moon rotates around the earth and this collection of bodies rotates around the sun and that beautiful dance is all about energy. That's all it is. It's energy, matter and their delicate relationship with each other. In this brief moment that happens between the new and the full moon, the change that occurs is simply that the relative positions of those bodies change so that firstly, the moon is not reflecting any sunlight on the earth, and at the full moon, the full face of the moon is reflecting the light of the sun. This is easy to understand. We should've all learned this when we were in grade school. What we don't learn in grade school is how the change from new moon to full moon happens here in the mind as well: we change. Start watching yourself today. Watch your behavior, tendencies, emotions and see how they change for the next 15 days. Do this again the following month, and the one after that. You'll start to see a rhythm, tendencies that you never saw before. Qualities, emotions, habits, that the moon pulls out of you. We change our behavior, but we are unaware of it. We think we are the same every day, though we are not. We change.
The point of Saga Dawa, this time for Buddhism, for all the Buddhists worldwide, is to intensify the practices of, , and rituals more and more until they reach the full moon. On the day of the full moon, all they do is religious observances, nothing else. They spend the entire time of the full moon at rituals, fasting, performing services, sacrificing for others, performing acts of generosity. It's during this period of time that the monasteries get most of the money for the year, because everybody comes with suitcases of cash to donate in support of their teachers and their spiritual community.
It's during this time that people go on pilgrimages. They leave home and they spend those 15 days walking to holy places, praying, circling them. They undergo penances. These are not easy pilgrimages, the way we do things in the west where they rent a nice car, they go for a beautiful drive and they eat at nice places along the way, it isn't like that. They walk, they only get what they're given, they beg for food. They perform acts of charity along the way, they sleep outdoors, they take nothing with them, no comforts. The purpose of these pilgrimages is self-purification, the renunciation of comforts and pleasures in order to see one's self, in order to conquer weakness, and to purify oneself of pride, sloth, laziness and all these other qualities that cause suffering.
All of this accumulates at the full moon day, the main day of the month. In 2017, it is June 9th (the date changes every year). This is when they perform many services and rituals in recognition of the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha. Then they spend the rest of the 15 days of the lunar month doing practices, but also declining.
So why do they get stronger towards the full moon and weaker away from the full moon? It's because during the waxing moon, the influence is growing more and more. During this time, it's best to begin projects, new things, to undertake a new endeavor, to start something. The influence of the moon causes conception: it gives birth, life, and energy to start, to initiate.
But that's not the main thing. Let's talk about Buddha.
There is an historical Buddha, and there are interesting quotes that are attributed to him:
"I've seen an ancient path, an ancient road, traversed by the rightly enlightened ones of the former times."
That quote says directly that the Buddha did not invent anything. Many people think that the Buddha invented Buddhism, and that's not true. He never claimed this. Only the so-called Buddhists have claimed that the Buddha invented something. He didn't. Moreover, he synthesized his teaching in this simple passage:
"I teach about suffering and the way to end it."
That is the heart andof Buddhism. He did not come to start a religion or to acquire followers, or to get rich or famous. The Buddha was a human being just like the rest of us. This is a part of the beauty of the tradition that he left behind. He wasn't something extraordinary, someone specially gifted, or specially blessed, he was a common person like you and me. But he understood something that we haven't, and it is about suffering. We ourselves create suffering. He understood that. Moreover, he dedicated himself to find out why, and how to change it. That is what he taught. He taught very beautiful, very psychological, very practical way to change; he did not teach anyone to believe him or follow him. He said, "Do what I have suggested, and test it. And if it works, keep going." He never said that you should just take his word for it. This the great power of Buddhism as well: It is in our hands to apply it. The really amazing thing is that that's exactly what the founders of other religions also taught. Jesus said exactly the same things, and so did Mohammed, Krishna, but their followers forgot this. The followers are the ones who convert the teachings into "-isms," beliefs, dogmas, rigid structures that we have to conform ourselves to so that the priest will have power. That's what all the religions in the world have become now, power structures.
The historical Buddha was a person, but he's not the point. He didn't start Buddhism or teach what he taught so that we would remember him, but he did it because we have within us what he discovered. We have the same potential to become something more than just a person who suffers relentlessly. There is a path out of suffering. So let us understand what that means.
The word Buddha is not a name. There is not a Buddha, singular. People nowadays use that word as a name and that's incorrect. The name Buddha doesn't exist. The title exists. The word Buddha is Sanskrit for 'Awakened'. It also means 'Conscious', 'Expanded', 'Developed', 'Knowledge', ' Intelligent', 'Wise'. It is a state of, a state of being. The name "Buddha" emerged because when the historical person that we call the Buddha went through his many trials and came out of them with understanding, he met a person who saw him and was so struck by his appearance, that he thought he was a god. And the person said, "What are you, are you a man?"
"Are you a god?"
"What are you?"
"I am awake [buddha]."
In Sanskrit, that is buddha, "I am Buddha [awake]." So people started calling him "Buddha." It isn't a name.
To be awake is to be in a state ofthat perceives reality, that's all it is. We in our current condition do not see the truth. We are very confused.
These two images show: the historical Buddha (Sakyamuni Buddha or Gautama), and this image shows many Buddhas. In truth, every living thing has potential within it to become that. Over the course of millennia, many have. In Buddhism, they call them Buddhas, in the west they call them angels, jinns, devas, masters, gods, demigods, names for human beings who became something more, who were as we are now, but they changed.
The terrestrial world, the way society projects the world to us, is not reality. It is not all there is. There is much more to the world. To understand that we study this image called the tree of life.
Every tradition has this in a symbolic form. This arrangement shows 10 spheres in a structure of triangles and pillars, and it reflects everything in existence, including us. This chart or graphic might look complicated, but it really isn't. It's beautiful and simple. It is a language that you have to learn, that is you're patient and persistent, will unlock for you any religion that you study.
Every religion is an expression of one thing, which is 'truth'. What happens though is that if 5 or 6 different people see that truth, they all see the same truth, but they all express or explain it from their own perspective. That is what has happened with religions. All of them are expressions of one light but projected through different lenses, through the psychology of the people who received it.
Every religion is an expression of one thing, one truth, and that is what's on the tree of life.
This light, up at the very top of the graphic, is the heart and essence of everything that exists. It is a non-existence. it is a kind of space, a kind of potential, to be, that is not yet being. It is an abstraction, it is not spirit or matter, but beyond them. It is the source of them, but it is not them. It is pure potential, a pure becoming, that when becomes something, expresses itself as radiance. Religions use different analogies or types of metaphors in order to help us understand this incomprehensible state at the base of everything. They call it God, emptiness, sunyata.
When that potentiality emerges into something, it expresses as a light, from which we have everything that exists. So we look at this as a spiritual sun, not physical, and a root cause, but that is not anything in itself anything, but the pure potential to become something. In the Bible, this is hidden in the first few passages of Genesis, as that first emergence of something, and it's hidden in the beautiful layers of the Hebrew letters that Moses encoded there. To understand that you have to study.
In Buddhism, it's called Sunyata, Samantabhadra-Samantabadri, or Adi Buddha. In Hinduism, it's called Para-Brahma or Brahma.
Every religion describes that, and when that expresses it becomes the trinity, i.e.:
Every religion has a trinity, right? That's the first trinity on the tree of life. All religions are simple expressions that are trying to understand the vibrating reality that those who awakened thewere able to see, which is something that we can learn to see if we awaken our . That's why we learn , to see this for ourselves. To acquire this, we need to become 'awakened', conscious, expanded, developed, or in other words, we need to become a Buddha.
We are not awake. We scarcely see the physical world, i.e., we are not that aware even of the physical environment. We are seeing, but none of us are really aware of our eyes. We are thinking, but none of us are aware how we think, feel, or perceive. We are especially not aware of these things on a continual basis, from moment to moment. We are not consciously managing all that sensory data that's coming to us from moment to moment. We are not activly observing.
We are not aware of how we interpret sensory data and create impressions psychologically, that we then react to psychologically. We experience emotional states and mental states in response to that data. We are not aware of any of that. We just keep on reacting mechanically to events, dreaming and fantasizing and day-dreaming, and imagining, overreacting, and having fantasy conversations with people, constantly dreaming about the past, constantly imagining fantasies about something that might happen, or that we want to happen, or something we are afraid will happen in the future. We live in a fantasy land, a self-projected, self-created illusion.
There is a reality here physically, but we don't see it. We go to our car, we drive home, we go to our house, to our room, into the kitchen, but don't 'see' any of it, because we are walking around in this fantasy land in our heads, that is churning thoughts and emotions that are constantly afflicting us.
We are asleep, dreaming all day long, and all night long. We are unconscious.
That's why in everytradition, and every spiritual tradition, at the introductory level, we are taught to be here and now, to be present, mindful, and to pay attention and observe what we are doing. To stop doing harmful things and start doing beneficial things. But we don't do it. We think that just because we heard the concept of being mindful, we got it. "Well yeah I heard about mindfulness, yeah, I got it. I'm present, I'm here and now." Meanwhile we are day-dreaming, not here and now.
I knew somebody who is a student of this tradition who had the good fortune to go on a long trip to visit an ashram and meditate for a few months, so she did. She went to this ashram in India and spent months there meditating, really focused on her spiritual life, doing everything she could to develop her, and awaken and be present, be here and now. She came back home, and all of her friends came over asking about the trip, and while she was plugging in her cel phone to charge it, she grabbed the house phone to call the cell phone to check if it was working. She said, "The trip was great, I feel so much more awake and so much more spiritual..". She dials her cell phone number, continuing," Yeah! It was a great trip!" She goes on to say," Yeah! I feel so conscious now," and then she looks with astonishment at the cell phone ringing, surprised that as soon as she turned it on it was ringing, so holds up to her ear and she says, "Hello?" She thought someone was calling her. She totally lost awareness that she was calling herself, while telling everybody how conscious she was.
All of us are like that. We think we are so awake, but we are not.
A Buddha is a person who has awakened, who is in an awakened state, established. We can reach that, but it is a process of work and is very scientific. It isn't a matter of beliefs, it is a matter of changing what causes us to be asleep. It's the same thing that causes us to suffer.
We suffer because we are asleep. By awakening ourselves, we see the cause of suffering and we change that. Every religion teaches this, in its own language.
We need to understand that the Buddha is not outside of us, but inside. It is here in us, in the tree of life, symbolized by the sephirah, which is Hebrew, which translates into English as "mercy." It is also called , which means "love." This sephirah is a symbol of at your own inner Buddha, which in Hinduism is called . In the old testament, it is called Abraham. There are historical figures like the historical Buddha, there is a historical Abraham, and he represents an archetype, just like the historical Buddha represents an archetype that is inside of us. We have our own inner Buddha. We have our own inner Abraham. It is a part of us.
The tree of life maps everything that we are. I explained a little bit about the upper trinity which probably to everyone of us may seem quite abstract, and then I mentioned the Buddha. We can call this "self," in a sense, because it's whatmeans, but it doesn't mean 'self' in the way we think of it. And that Buddha, that inner being, that , unfolds itself as a light called or divine , which is in Hebrew. That unfolds into in Hebrew, which means "beauty" and that as well is a light that we can call human . So in Sanskrit, these are: Buddha, , and Buddha-dhatu. These three in conjunction, , Tiphareth, are spirit and in us. Those are the english words.
In English, these words don't mean anything nowadays. Nobody can define spirit andnow. We got these words so confused in English. But, it's important that we start cutting away the bad interpretations and come to the practical importance of them.
Spirit,(Buddha, Abrahama, ) is that which gives us existence. It is our root as a person, as a human being, as a sentient living thing. It is the fire of divinity that burns deep inside of us, but is very faint, because we are so filled with afflictions.
That light shines inside of, . So if you imagine a beautiful vase, and inside that vase is a flame, the vase is , , and the flame inside of it is , your Being, your father, you , your Buddha.
And that light, that radiates out from the flame and the vase, is.
Now this all seems a little abstract, but if you meditate, you will start to grasp what this is, you will start to understand it.
That ray, that little light that comes out when it descends into the world to take a life through a body, it inhabits a mental form called, an emotional form called , energetic called the , physical called . ALl of that results in what we experience as life.
The physical body is symbolized by. It is able to be active and energised and do things because it has energy, subtle, that is , that is vitality. Within the physical body, we can sense thought ( ) and emotion ( ). So you see, the physical is obvious to our senses, but the energy is subtle. I can't grab it, but I can sense it. It's the same with emotion and the thought, I know they're here, but they're more subtle.
What happens when we meditate? We sit, we place the physical body, we relax. Our energy is all over the place, our emotions are all over the place, our mind is all over the place, it can't settle, it can't be still, it's too agitated. All of these aspects, these lower parts, these four spheres, cannot rest. Why? Because of how we pay attention. We do not control attention. We do not know how to pay attention and hold it. We don't know how to concentrate. We live a very distracted life. Especially now with our phones and our T.V.s and our e-mail accounts and all the social media that we have to be on top of all the time, and all the distractions and all the news that's coming out everyday. So many things to be worried about. Our mind is in a constant state of chaos. How can the body be relaxed if the mind is not?
The tree of life shows subtleties, densities. The very top are the most subtle, and as you come down, things become more and more dense, more and more concrete, more and more heavy. The physical body is quite dense. When we are in the physical body, then we are afflicted with fear,, pride, anger, resentment, anxiety. Those that are more dense, are here, in the shadow of the tree. This is the environment we live in psychologically. This is what we call hell. Your anger is hell. So is envy, jealousy, pride and . Those are all demonic. They don't belong to the divinity, they belong to demons. We have them, we make them. We make them everyday when we wrongly react to circumstances and to impressions. When people say things, we get our feelings hurt, our pride gets hurt, we get angry. We dedicate our energy, our thoughts, our emotions, our physicality to feeding and sustaining that anger and acting on that anger. So we suffer, and we want to spread that suffering to others. And we do that with pride, , envy, jealousy, greed and laziness, all of them. We all do it worldwide. That is why we suffer. That is why we are asleep, and don't know what divinity is. We have caged ourselves in a very dense heavy bondage, which is self-made, self-produced, and we suffer because of it.
Because we are trapped in that condition, we have no clue of what divinity is. No idea. We have a lot of theories, lots of beliefs, but no practical experience. We may believe in Jesus, Buddha or Mohammed, but we've never seen for ourselves the reality of that which is divine.
But you know what, we are really lucky that we still have a conscience, that we have the potential to change. This is the key thing. A lot of people in the world now do not have a conscience anymore. They're lost. There's no redemption for them until they are purged of all their criminality that they have inside. That is the process of getting recycled in hell. Nature will take that psyche, and crush it to liberate anything good, that's what is called hell. It doesn't last forever, but it last as long as it takes for nature to destroy all that impurity. We will go through that as well, unless we do it ourselves. That's whatis for. It is to self-discover the crimes that we have within and to change them. To do it willingly.
We do that by working working on ourselves every day. If we want to understand the Buddha and become awakened, which means that we want to move our center of gravity as a person out of physicality, and move it in the more subtle, spiritual aspects, here related with, Buddha. We want to become that, don't we ? In the higher regions of nature, there is no suffering. Our Buddha doesn't suffer, it is divine, there is no there. There is no , there is no anger. The nature of a Buddha is compassion, love, wisdom, insight, patience. We have that potential in us and that potential is what is called the Buddha-dhatu. It is a spark of that. That is here in us in that vast collection of garbage that we have in our minds, hidden amongst all of that filthiness, there is something extraordinary. Something divine, that has absolute peace, no fear, and it's very nature is love, compassion, patience, tolerance, wisdom, intelligence, and all of us have it. So what we need to learn is how to strengthen it, how do we make that Buddha-Dhatu strong. Let's understand what that means first.
In English that word is translated as Buddha nature. It implies that we all have that within, we all have the Buddha nature, we all have the potential to become a Buddha. So many people nowadays interpret that as, "Well I already am Buddha. I have the Buddha nature, I'm done." It would've been so easy if that were true, but it isn't. If that were true, we wouldn't need all of the scriptures. We would already have it. But we don't. Buddha-Dhatu literally means, "awakened state cause. principle root element, or metal." If you know, you'll know why that's significant.
Buddha-Dhatu is used interchangeably with another word "Tathagatagarbha", which means "seed embryo of that one who knows reality." Garbha is that embryo or womb and dhatu is like a seed or a principle or a cause. So these are kind of interchangeable terms in Sanskrit. Sugata Garbha is also one of them, another variation. you take them in conjunction and you'll understand that they're expressing that we have within us a seed.
If I bring in an acorn and I show it to you, can you see the oak in the acorn? No, right? But that acorn can become an oak tree if the conditions are exactly right. If I place it on the carpet here in this room, nothing will happen. It's the same with our Buddha-nature, our seed. It is buried, it is afflicted with problems, soaked in alcohol and chemicals, buried in garbage inside of us. How can it grow? How can you grow a seed if it's kept locked away from the sun and has no food or water? What will happen to a seed like that? It won't grow. This is scientific. Basic. It's the same with us: we have a Buddha-Dhatu, but if you don't know how to use it, it cannot grow, and moreover if you don't know how to nourish it, it cannot grow.
That is why Saga Dawa is important. In the four weeks of Saga Dawa, Buddhists strongly dedicate themselves to spiritual practice in order to nourish the Buddha-Dhatu, the seed in themselves. They take a break from all their worldly concerns, set aside the materialism. selfishness and all the day to day mundane obsession with needs and wants, and instead to dedicate themselves to becoming something more, something better. To set aside pride,, anger and fear, and instead cultivate the best qualities in a human being. What is the best quality in a human being? The number one best quality? Compassion. All of the qualities of the Buddha, Buddha-dhatu are summarised in compassion. So that's why they practice service, helping others, generosity, doing acts to express that quality of compassion towards others.
“…hidden within the kleshas [negative mental traits] of greed, desire, anger, and stupidity there is seated augustly and unmovingly the tathagata's wisdom, the tathagata's vision, and the tathagata's body. Good children, all beings, though they find themselves with all sorts of kleshas, have a tathagatagarbha that is eternally unsullied, and that is replete with virtues no different from my own.” —Tathagatagarbha Sutra
You yourself have everything the Buddha has, hidden inside your negative mental qualities. So, break them, kill them, destroy them and free that which is trapped inside of that.
What is anger? It's hate. And what is that? It is a quality ofthat was traumatised through a misunderstanding, a mistaken information. That quality of that's trapped in anger, is love, but inverted. So if you can crack open that anger, if you can understand it,not just act on it, react to it, or let it control you, but take control of it and crack it open, you can liberate that energy that's trapped in it, and instead of expressing anger, express love. You can understand, "I'm feeling this anger because my pride got hurt. Why do I have pride?" Pride is the same thing. It is a misinterpretation, a misapprehension, an illusion.
The Buddha is our inner spirit, our inner Being, that with whom we want to become one with. That's what self-realisation really means, it means to realise one's true inner nature and to become that. This means that ultimately, the goal of any spiritual person, no matter what they call themselves, is to become aware of all of this on the tree of life. To be it.
Remember that we are barely aware that the physical body is here. We definitely don't know about the energy in it, we know very little about emotion and thought, and we know next to nothing about the, Buddha-Dhatu, and we know zero about the rest. Someone who is self-realised, an actual Buddha, knows all of that, lives it. They are that. In the same way that you and I are embodiments of pride and anger, greed and all of those qualities that we have created, a Buddha is compassion, is wisdom.
There are grades and grades of Buddhas, every religion expresses that. Angels and archangels and many levels and types of beings in the universe. It is the same among the Buddhas, there are many types. But they share that common characteristic, that they're awake, they perceive more than we do. Someone who is developing in that path, becoming like that, is awakening and becoming more and more aware of more and more reality.
The ultimate perception is to become aware of the absolute. That emptiness, that primordial potentiality from which all things emerge. That is the greatest type of insight, vision or knowledge. And it is not a theory, belief, or a dogma. It is a form of seeing. We all know that saints and masters can see other dimensions. This is the third dimension, physicality, Malkut. Our energy is in the fourth, our thoughts and emotions are in the fifth, will power in the sixth, and beyond that is the seventh or zero dimension. And there is more beyond that too. Buddhas see that, here and now. Just like you and I open our eyes, and we see the physical world, someone who is awakened, sees more. Not through effort, not through being blessed, or having some gift that they got from the gods, but by awakening. That is the measure. It isn't what one believes. It isn't because you believe in the Buddha, Jesus or Mohammed or Krishna that you become something. You become something by changing. And you know it by seeing, by experiencing. It isn't belief. One sees, knows and experiences.
This Buddha-Dhatu or seed that we have within us here and now needs to be nourished and grown, needs to be worked with. It in its essence is what we call. We call it the essence. In scientific or modern terms you can call it the . It is that which gives us existence being, life. Every living thing has a in its level. That is Buddha-Dhatu. But of course, to develop that is something else.
Someone who adopts a spiritual path, begins to meditate, pray and reflect, to change and adapt the principles of their religion and live by them, to some degree or another can grow the Buddha-Dhatu, can expand it to some degree. That's why we see throughout all the various traditions, saints and masters of varying degrees of development. Some smaller, some a little more and some very high. It's reflective of several things. The level at which they accomplish depends on many factors. Depends on not only how hard they worked, but also the type of education they had. How much knowledge or training they had. For example, someone who is training in the Sutrayana level would only have a certain amount of information available to them. Their development would only be possible within the range of that type of training. Same as a child who goes to school. The child may aspire to become a doctor but if it never goes past third grade, it won't. So it's the same with spirituality. If you want to reach the highest grades, you need the education, the clue to growing the Buddhata fully, to becoming a being capable of incarnating or knowing the entirety of the tree of life, to knowing all of reality, to become among the greatest of the great ones, like Jesus and Moses or Buddha, the clue is in the very nature of the Buddha-Dhatu. It's compassion. There is a scientific word for that, which has many different levels of meaning, and it is called, which I've written here on the tree of life.
is a very sophisticated term that has levels of meaning. Literally translated, means wisdom-mind. But the actual interpretation of it amongst different schools of Asia depends on what level of instruction you're receiving. In the Sutrayana level, is simple altruism. In Mahayana, is Prajna, which is that type of vision that sees the reality, that in Tantrayana, means . That's the literal meaning. All of these are one thing.
Now think about it. When someone is in the introductory level of any religion, what do they learn first? Ethics. Do not commit sexual misconduct. Do not commit adultery, do not fornicate. these are rules. When someone enters into the next level of instruction, they become a priest, a monk or a, taking vows, they become celibate. This is a sexual rule. Why? Because that energy is the power of creation. That's what creates life. Physically, it is obvious. The sexual matter that is in our body creates life. We use it irresponsibly. We use it for animal pleasure, desire and because of this we create suffering. But someone who is learning about Bodhicitta, if they're learning on all the levels, gaining Prajna, the type of insight into reality that sees, that reality is more than what we think of it through our physical eyes. There is much more to reality. They start to see that, experience that.
In Tantrayana, those monks, nuns and those celibates are introduced to how to harness that energy that they have been retaining. You see,is a scientific method to store the sexual energy and harness it not for pleasure but for spiritual growth. The atomic energy that is contained in the sexual matter, is the most powerful energy that we have access to, physically speaking.
If you look at the course of our lives, what has the most impact in the course of our lives is the sexual act. Nothing else compares. What can change your life the most? One moment of passion. One moment of, and you can have children, you can get a disease, you can create a family, you can bond with your mate, you can develope love. Sex is the power that does that.
That minor pleasure that we gain physically through theis transient and brief. But it does show that in the sexual power there is tremendous energy. Abd when someone learns to retain that, to renounce the animal aspect, and instead convert that energy into a spiritual power, becomes what in Sanskrit is called Ojas, what in the Bible is called pentecost, and in Sanskrit is also called . This is a divine fire, a creative fire, that comes inside of us, through the power of divinity. That is in .
The wordin latin just means seed. That's both in males and females. To create life, you need to combine the two seeds, right? A man alone can't create anything but a mess, and a female alone can't create anything. They have to cooperate. The male and female seeds combined produce life. that's what sustains living. And that's why when you study the Tantric imagery, it's always about the union of male and female. means continuum, energy, flow, and it's about taking that energy that we use in an animal way and restoring to it to its rightful place as something divine. That's what the book of Genesis is all about. Adam and Eve represent the primordial sexual nature of humanity before they fell into desire. They were naked and not ashamed. They walked and talked with the Gods.They saw God face to face, without fear. But then they were seduced by desire, they committed that sin, the original sin, . They discovered the . Because of that, they ejected themselves out of Eden. Eden means pleasure by the way, in Hebrew. It means bliss. And that's where suffering began in the Bible. That's what Buddhism explains in the four noble truths. In Buddhism, this is all hidden in the story of Sujata.
Buddha was born as a prince, he has everything, women, power, wealth, beauty, strength, everything that you can imagine in the world. But he didn't know what suffering was. And when he saw suffering people, he was so overcome with fear and confusion and compassion, that he abandoned all his possessions, his family, his children, his wealth, and went to the woods renouncing everything. Ate a single grain of rice a day and meditated for years. He withered into a skeleton with skin on it and was at the verge of death. Suddenly he realised that all he did, was swing the pendulum from one side to the other. From the extreme of indulgence to the extreme of rejection. And in that moment this woman arrived. Her name is Sujata and she brought him a bowl of rice milk. And since he understood in that moment that he had been a victim of the extremes of the mind, he realised that he needed to walk in the middle. He needed to be balanced. So he accepted the rice milk from the woman and was instantly restores to life, and he took the bowl of rice milk and he put it into the stream of water that was flowing down, and it flowed up, against the flow of the water. The name Sujata literally means 'Good Birth'. What happened in that moment? The Buddha, that person, was on the verge of death, ceasing to exist. But he comprehended the extremes of his mind. Indulgence is wrong. Avoidance and oppression is wrong. Middle, is the right way. That woman appears and offers him rice milk. Rice is a nourishing element in a milky fluid. It is a symbol of. It's sexual matter offered by a woman. And he takes it and is completely restored back to life, back to health. That's the sexual energy. Moreover when he places that bowl in the flowing waters that are flowing downwards in nature, that bowl goes against the current. It goes back up. So that represents how you transmute that energy, transform it. Instead of going with the flow of nature, you go against it and you adapt to the middle way. That is to be as Paul advised in the Bible: "to be as though you were before you were married." To be married, but to be a though you are not .What is hidden in those lines is that: "you were chaste, retaining your sexual energies before you were married, now you're married, continue being chaste,retain your sexua lenergy, but be, arried." Be in the sexual act with your spouse, but do not waste your energy through . that's , that's . That's how you make love, not .That's how a couple, Buddha and Sujata, Rama and Sita, Krishna and Radha, Jesus and Mary, all of the great masters have always developed all of the best qualities of themselves: love. There's nothing shocking about that. Humanity just wants to have and pleasure and not worry about the consequences of those behaviours.
is how all of these factors are united. Someone who has learned to behave though altruism seeing the truth, the reality of nature, inside and outside, and harnessing the power of the sexual energy, takes that power that was formerly given to animal and desire and trains it to instead nourish the . To nourish the . That is why we have such rich traditions related to the inner physiology of the body. All of this relates to the redirection, redistribution of that seual matter. That's all is. The whole science of yoga. That's what is, from the west. is about turning the lead, the base matter, into gold, purified matter. That's it. All the symbols of the alchemists were about that.
This is a diagram from Tibetan medicine that shows energetic channels of the body.
That within your body, there are three fundamental channels that move the energy. The central channel is called the Sushumna, and it is a very delicate, semi-physical, semi subtle channel in the spinal column. But it is inactive. But on either side of it, there are two other channels. Here, they are depicted as Red and White. they're called, Rasana, and Lalana. If you've studied the yogic, then you might've heard about Ida and Pingala. If you've studied the old testament, then you might've heard about Od and Obd, and what Moses called Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve have this symbolism as well, they represent these channels in us. These forces, these two channels of energy that manage our subtle physiology. Now without giving you a whole lesson and anatomy, let me just synthesise it by saying that this white one, is related with the moon. Remember we started with talking about the moon. So what else does the moon influence in our lives? Conception? The ladies must know about that. There is a cycle in nature that all women live with day in and day out. And the moon is what directs that. There is a flow of energy, a flow of water, a flow of matter and energy in the body of every female in the world. Now in the Bible, that channel is represented by Eve. As you know, Eve gave into temptation, ate the forbidden fruit, was cast out of Eden, and after that, child birth was with pain. Suffering came from the abuse of sexual energy. So if we want to end suffering, we must return to Eden through the same door that we left, restoring the sexual energy to its rightful place, as something that belongs to the divinity, and not to the animal mind. Making the sexual act something prayerful, sanctified, pure and not something for the animal to indulge in. Also, not repressing it and avoiding it, as the Buddha discovered. Not to go on these extremes, but to be in the middle. We are sexual beings and creation of life depends upon sex. But it must be managed according to laws. The laws that determine what we become in the hierarchies of nature, very directly measure us on the way we use our sexual energy. The purer our sexual life is, the higher we rise. Those who indulge in sink inevitably. Just look around in society and you'll see that. iT's obvious. So that is the relationship of the moon here. This energy, related with the lunar channel in us is directly under the influence of the moon. Now where do these waters, which are the most profound waters in the body, the sexual waters, obviously, which are related with the moon, connect to directly? The spinal column which is filled with a liquid, a fluid, all the way up through the spine to the brain, in the cavity of the skull, which floats in a liquid as well. These bodies of water are represented in the Bible. So by harnessing that energy, controlling it, and learning to elevate it, we restore these channels back to their proper functioning. Adam and Eve properly restores. We return back to Eden, happiness, we escape suffering.
The basic emphasis of the month of Saga Dawa is to adopt these type of behaviors:
▸ Generosity (dana): sacriﬁce for others
▸ Ethics (sila): stop harmful action, adopt beneﬁcial action
▸ (bhavana): self-discovery
On the surface, all the Buddhists around the world perform the acts of generosity, they try to do good deeds and they try to meditate more, as we explained. If you want to go in the deeper level and understand what Saga Dawa is what Buddha is whatis, you need to understand these qualities in your day to day lifein very subtle ways. Not only in your external actions, but in your psychological ones. It is not so hard to open the door for someone. That is not sacrifice. It is not so hard to smile, even though we don't. But that is not a sacrifice. Moreover, it is not that hard to hard to say kind words, even though we don't. And it isn't so hard to restrain a painful and unpleasant reaction. To do the physical action is the easy part. The real change comes when we don't even commit it mentally. When the thought doesn't even occur to us. When we aren't even tempted. That's when you know that you're making progress. That there is purity emerging. And these things become possible when we learn how to meditate properly. Reflecting on ourselves, studying our behaviour, studying the reality with this endeavour to change. Now the thing that's going to unite all this and make it vital and real is . There are millions of people all over the world practicing these things, generosity, ethics, . They're all trying to follow the ten commandments, or the different rules that they've gotten from their traditions. but the world is not improving fundamentally.That;s because they are avoiding the main ingredient for self transformation which is .And again that has levels of meaning. Many people adopt altruism, but how many can awaken to the point where they can see the reality and not be confused by the illusions of their own mind? And how fewer many people are willing to sacrifice their beastial pleasures in order to gain something greater? This is the fundamental fact. All the greatest saints and masters throughout history, practiced this, and the evidence is in every tradition. If you look, you will see it. The problem is that we have not been educated in it. But nowadays, fortunately, the evidence has been opened, it's revealed, it's all there, exposed, it's easy to see it.
So I'm going to conclude all of that with this passage:
"Whatever joy there is in the world, all comes from desiring others to be happy,.
Whatever suffering there is in the world, comes from desiring myself to be happy.
What is the need to say much more...
The childish work for their own benefit,
The Buddhist work for the benefit of others.
Just look at the difference between them."
Any one of you can do this. If we have the conscience, we have the capability to achieve it. It all depends on how hard we are willing to work. Success in spiritual life depends on three factors- Birth, Death, and Sacrifice. We've to give birth to the Buddha inside of us, to virtue, to all of the potentials that we have within the Buddha-Dhatu. The death is the all of our vces, defects and errors, have to be eliminated. that doesn't come through making statements and believing in things. It comes through work. Sacrifice, is to give up our own pleasures and help others come out of their own suffering. To recognise that others are suffering more than we are, and ther is something that we can do today. Not just to have the idea of it, but to act. So please ask if you have questions.
So you all know what to do for Saga Dawa? You're going to meditate now seriously?
A bunch of students heard a talk like this, they got inspired. And when they all went outside, and saw a beggar, they all gave him money, feeling good about it. They came back to the teaching the next week, and the guy wasn't there, so they asked," What happened to the guy?!" The teacher said," Well, he got so much money that day that he bought a lot of alcohol and drank himself to death."
Don't do that. Be smart. Help others, but smartly.
Audience: "So how, exactly do you channel that sexual energy into a spiritual one?"
Instructor: The way we transform that energy firstly is by avoiding the. So that means that we have to abandon that primarily. If we are single, that means we adopt practices to transform that energy so that it doesn't afflict us with it's burning desire. There are a variety of techniques for that. There are breathing practices, bodily movements and types of prayers that you can implement that take that energy and train it to move back the way it was supposed to move. It takes a period of training to learn that. If someone's married, they learn to do basically the same thing but in the sexual act with their partner. It's the same way, through , through breath and through , By learning about it. The body can do it. the body has the capability to do it. It's just that we've not taught it. We've taught it how to abuse the energy, not to recirculate it. So the potential is there, the ability is there, it's just a matter of training. There are a variety of books that you can read, but the method is simply that. To avoid the , to not let that energy to be wasted to that explosion. The thing is, that the is the short circuit of energy. Where the body's glands become overcharged, and there's a burnout of energy. It actually damages the nervous system. that;s why people who indulge in the repeatedly, lose this ability, and they have to sort to chemicals and drugs to try to continue with their addiction to that stimulation. It's not natural. The body is not built for that. So it is basically a process of training and there are some books that you can read about that. It's very simple. But it does take some time and will power. The benefit is, that as you learn it, and your body gets trained, the effects are immediate, on a lot of levels. When that energy starts to circulate the body, the mind changes. Where before the mind and the body are always agitated and stressed. Think about what that energy does, when you are a youth, before you start to abuse that energy. How are you as a young person? Happy, energetic, always running around, always enthusiastic, with a very active imagination. All of that is restored. That's why you see that people who practice that and that have become very skilled in it have those qualities. They become more innocent, happier, more content, peaceful, serene, relaxed and very active minded, in a good way. Active imagination, an ability to perceive imagery very clearly. Because that energy instead of being wasted, is restoring the pineal and the pituitary glands in the brain. Those glands control the sexual organs. There is an intimate relationship. If you study endocrinology, you see that. Also all the other glands. the adrenal glands change, the thyroid glands change, all of them get restored. So there are physiological changes, psychological changes and physical changes. There is a lot there.
Audience: "I'm just trying to think how a person would feel when they're in a divine spiritual state. Is it any different than what you just explained?"
Instructor: That's a great question, let's talk about that. I showed you this graphic.
Its obviously very technical and it's hard to explain everything in one lecture. But al of this is inside of us. Physical body is here. So when we sit to meditate, we put this body in a position where it can be at rest and be still. Our goal is to still everything. So when we relax the physical body, we also want to relax it's energy, so that we don't feel agitated, we are not going to fall asleep, nor do we feel like running around. Emotion and intellect also are to become still. Tiphareth is where we experience, it's also what we can call willpower. So when we tell you to sit and relax in a , and to focus your attention on something particular, you're focusing , willpower, in a directed way, to fix on that with a purpose. Not only developing that ability to maintain concentration on one thing, but so that everything else becomes stil, meaning that they no longer condition . With us, we are trying to concentrate on using our will power Tiphareth, but thoughts, emotions and the energy keeps bothering us. The body won't relax. This is why most people give up. They don't learn how to ‘still’ all of that. But if you learn to make it still, and you become very centered in that concentration, you have access then to these upper, more superior parts of yourself. Firstly, you can start to see the images clearly without the conditioning of the mind. this is what we call visions. It relates to superior types of dreams. And that's related to type of imagery that's reflected here, that's . They're more like visions of things that you've never seen before and it is something that you weren't intending to see. Lijke visions you read about in scriptures for example. For example, when Daniel has his dreams, and he is shon, visions from god, that's related with . Most dreams relate to these lower aspects, because we dream about being at work, or our desires, fears or our parents. All that type of stuff is related to these lower parts. The superior types of dreams come from here. Those are messages from divinity, received by , perceived through will power. I'm explaining it in this technical way because when Tiphareth, will power, controls the mind, or in other words, our attention is the dominant force in our psychological atmosphere, the mind and body become pliant. That's what is represented at the top here. This elephant, here is a mind and body that has become a willing supporter of the , effort. We access then what we call , and can be interpreted in that way, will over intellect. That's a Sanskrit word but it corresponds exactly to the tree of life in the Hebrew. Now that experience opens the potential to have what in yoga is called a Samadhi, which means ecstasy. The hebrew correspondence is Eden, bliss. In that type of experience, you can perceive the divinity directly. you can talk with it, receive visions, walk and talk with god the way the prophets and saints did in the Bible. Enoch, Abraham, Moses, all of the saints. Remember that Moses went up on a mountain? This is the mountain. Here si the mountain. He took of his shoes, the lower part, that is the physical body. And bowed before the burning bush, the tree, right? And was able to receive instructions directly from God.That brief experience can become the permanent experience when all these lower conditions are removed. When the is completely eliminated. That's what is represented in all the scriptures by the death martyrdom of the saints. Jesus on the cross represents that. Buddha also died, and so did Moses, Abraham. That death symbolises how all the lower terrestrial inferior parts die so that all of the superior aspects can be united as one. that's what is called self-realisation. So it's a process. In you may have a variety of types of experiences, alone in the way to that. They are not enlightenment or development in themselves, they're just sort of like peeking through the window. You get a vision, okay. But that doesn't mean that you are a master or a saint. It just means that you're seeing that window in yourself, of what's inside of everyone.
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