Dharma Notes

Sparks – a bonfire of the vanities, revealing….

Just an attention grabbing line, i hope…

in case you haven’t noticed this latest, very beautiful, publication… ‘Sparks’ by James Low.

Although one can dramatically ‘burn the vanities’… until the underlying sense of need for covering is gone, sooner or later, replacements will be sought.

By inspiring, allowing them right in, the marks on these pages can become heart-sparks… and then through repeatedly breathing onto them with tender attention, slowly or quickly, they will surely glow and then set fire to the soggy accumulated dead wood, so that the brilliance of the source of inherent warmth and wisdom can blaze forth unobstructed.

Mostly ‘though the fire aye burns,
we do not realise, because…
our smoke gets in our eyes!  

I felt moved to write the review below for Amazon:

‘If I had to choose one book to take to a desert island,
one dharma book,
one book for all time,
one book to open the heart to…this is it.

With iridescent lucidity ….moving beyond words
using language which is precise, yet contemporary and very accessible,
with great warmth and encouragement, the wisdom shining through this great teacher of dzogchen illuminates the way from lostness and confusion to the ease of our being, both simply and directly.’

It’s also available through Abe books and, if in London, from Watkins book store.

 

 

Emerson comes early…

Often in July…but not always so!

These meetings and partings ‘mark the change of time’ as a song of Milarepa’s  goes

they may seem a ‘fixture’ but times change, causes and conditions shift, the river flows…

The setting is beautiful…  the teachings beautiful and profound….

It’s always a lovely time…and these freedoms and opportunities to be reminded of our true nature are rare and precious…

Hope you can make it.

 

You can camp or (if you prefer and book in time) stay in the college buildings

Painting by Stewart Edmonson

no commission! – i just like the work…and the way he works.

Latest: Tunnock’s tea cake blasted into space; Emerson recordings travelling through cyberspace…

tea2

‘One of Scotland’s favourite snacks’ according to the Scottish Sun newspaper has been sent 36,000m into space…’and the nation waits’.

I used to enjoy these when I was younger – biscuit base, marshmallow topping, covered in chocolate – but i wouldn’t expect too much from a high-altitude tea-cake!

David Cameron tweeted that he ‘liked the shine on the foil…’

Viewers of this site will probably have more realistic expectations of satisfaction from the recordings of ‘Dissolving Conflict in Life and Death’, this year’s talk at Emerson College, which are currently travelling through cyberspace – ready for Chris to publish when he has a moment – carried on the tail of a hurricane-wind dragon!

Some other work (coming later) has gone on around these recordings so it’s taken longer than usual and i haven’t had time to post… and now need to catch up with other stuff! but i will let you know when this great feast is available on the simplybeing.co.uk website…

 

 

 

Length of audio recordings

We are working to bring you the recent Emerson College recordings…

Until now I have broken the recordings into segments of roughly half an hour but as download speeds have increased i’m wondering whether you would prefer to listen to recordings that are an hour long, or are half hour chunks easier to manage?

If you have a keen preference one way or another send me an email via the contact page and we’ll try to work out what’s best overall.

P.S. i have updated the list of links to all the available audios and videos in the ‘Macclesfield talks’ collection of teachings. You will find the link to this index on the home page… at the bottom of the introduction.

Audio glitch, videos and… live speech!

public-speakingJust to let you know that the audio website is undergoing some remedial work which will take a few days…. Christian is onto it!

His update on 30th June….’the Macclesfield Talks are working again. Also most of the elder records.
The links from Oct. 2015 to Feb. 2017 are still out of order, but we’re working on it.’

In the meantime there are no issues with the videos….

…and at 9.30 until 11am on the morning of Wednesday, 12 July I’m giving a little talk at the Buddhafield Festival. It needed to be early this time as I’d like to be over at  Emerson college by  evening for James’ teaching.

The title of the festival this year is ‘Embracing Simplicity’ so i’m giving a talk called  ‘The dance of becoming – simplicity and complexity’.

I have given a talk at this festival for many years (under the workshop umbrella rather than in the dharma parlour ) as ‘a round peg being offered a square hole’. Could be viewed as esoteric – not in the middle – but maybe just that ~ and appealing to some.
So if you are going to be there it would be a pleasure to see you in the little tent, otherwise maybe in East Sussex…anyway hope you enjoy whatever the summertime offers you!

Buddhism and Psychotherapy

Apologies to those of you who have clicked on the link to this talk only to find that it has already taken place –I’d removed the link to the invitation to the weekend…but not to the Friday’s talk which was on this topic.

However the talk was recorded and it is now available under audios on the simplybeing website….this link will take you to that (it’s at the top of the page) and to other audios on this topic.

If you were recorded and are happy to have your contribution shared that’s lovely, thank you… if not just let me know and i’ll remove it. [I sent an email to go around about this earlier but part of its contents got lost in the email-mill, apologies again!]

Good bye and good luck to those at Wisdom books

Wisdom books (Ilford, Uk) was run by some very friendly helpful and knowledgeable people on a not-for-profit basis – a pretty rare way of operating these days but particularly meritorious in their enabling and facilitating of dharma study over many years.

They recently ceased trading and i wanted to join with many others in thanking them for what they have done and in hoping that their new lives are healthy, enjoyable, fruitful and as full of dharma as before!

The chocolate bar – grace and generosity

220px-Cadbury-BournvilleGrace and generosity….
Generosity exhibited by the giver of the chocolate bar …

and grace by the recipient who, despite finding the words ‘you’re homeless aren’t you?’ uncomfortable, and despite not actually wanting a bar of chocolate, nonetheless accepted it… as he could see the giver wanted him to.

He was moved to tears afterwards by the gesture, this surprised him… he didn’t realise that part of him, the ability to be touched and moved, was still functioning.
Not only that but he now feels directly supported, as a Christian, by angels…not all of whom, he now suspects, are male!

Just about to go a job interview, at which he very badly needs to succeed, the confidence boost is very helpful.

So whilst he felt some discomfort in seeing that his poor state was so obvious to others, and also the gift didn’t match his needs… the giver’s intention came from the open heart…and had a beneficial effect for both.

For now…he’s keeping the chocolate bar !

[this links with the earlier post ‘everything you do makes a difference’]

 

Index to Macclesfield talks and videos

The on-going index to links and titles of the available Macclesfield audios and videos  is available on this website in  Audios/ Videos section.  Its existence may get ‘buried’   so i’m adding a  link to it here.

What, no contest, no goal and no gold!?……but then, do they lead to freedom or steal it ?

images-3

The heart/mind not being different,

this is an excerpt i liked from Embracing Each Moment: A Guide to the Awakened Life
written by Anam Thubten, pages 132–133.

The Spiritual Olympics

We don’t have to try to surrender. That sounds too effortful. Then we will have a surrender competition. There is going to be a spiritual marathon, a spiritual Olympics, how about that? Indeed, there is a spiritual Olympics. It is not officially announced. Many people are working really hard trying to be the best meditator, the best ascetic, the most enlightened. So don’t try to surrender with your personal will or deliberate effort. It sounds like too much work, trying to surrender to everything. Instead, go inside. That is all you need to do sometimes. Go inside and let yourself be in touch with your heart. You know how to be in touch with your heart. Your heart is waiting to be recognized. This is why the Tibetan masters often said there are many forms or levels of meditation. The highest level is what they call effortless meditation. When they teach how to meditate, especially the masters from the Nyingma tradition, they always say, “Don’t do anything.” Rest in the present moment. Relax in the natural state of your mind, because if you can relax, rest in the natural state of your own mind, then you will be in touch with your own heart, with your original heart, with your innocent heart, and then surrender is very easy because all of your heart wants it.

Update on Emerson college recordings / “Courageous Compassion”

IWP_20160713_21_02_00_Pro said it would only take a week or so of free time to get the recordings ready… and this is true, but sometimes there’s more to it than that….

Emerson recordings update  22nd Aug…nearly complete. There have been lots of difficulties in getting hold of the final part of the good recording which Gaynor made…i’ve tried improving mine but the result’s not great… so thankfully a friend who is a sound engineer is going to have a bash today…so…. ready shortly!

The first week back different people i had not seen for years got in touch or visited. Last week I was  away at the Buddhafield festival, which had the theme “Courageous Compassion” and gave a talk in a little tent on the need for wisdom – the wisdom of emptiness or openness – as the basis for the arising of sustainable compassion.

If you are interested here’s the gist of what the talk was based around.

Dualistic, false–relative, compassion… where I am going to act compassionately towards you –  where I, you, and the action are all three seen as entitative –   is a big step up from ‘I just care about me and mine’ but it maintains the sense of separation, of solidity, even superiority …  and, because of its effortful nature, transient effect, and the desire (and often frustrated desire!) involved it can be exhausting.  Jumping in to help a drowning man is great if you can swim and are strong enough to get him safely out without getting yourself into the same predicament…knowing the variable nature of your capacity and working within that is essential at this point.

So different dharma teachings  gesture to the way through this via another approach to suffering.

If we take the bodhisattva vow, as in Mahayana Buddhism, then the intention is to ‘develop’ the mind of the buddha.  Understanding that the compassion that goes with this intention involves a wish to attain enlightenment in order to benefit all ‘others’… to bring them happiness and freedom from suffering in the short term and enlightenment in the longer term…whilst accepting that this longer term may indeed be very, very long!

It seems likely that  in the sustained and concentrated effort of altruistically attempting to attain the perfections of generosity, morality, vigour, patience, concentration and wisdom of a bodhisattva, somehow the custard–like skin of self-referential thoughts holding us in a particular shape thins to the point where there is an understanding of non-duality in the relative sense and perhaps the realisation of prajna as revealed in the Heart Sutra shines through. At this point compassion is fearless rather than courageous.

The view of Tantra  is that of (an initially intentional) transformation of all that is manifesting by viewing it through the lens of the pure relative. Compassion then, as the liberation of all sentient beings, is that of not taking them prisoner, and relating to them as entities in the first place!

The encouragement is to practice until we have integrated the view.  I think it was Gampopa who said to his students who wanted to bring their retreat to a premature conclusion in order to go and  be helpful… ” Do you think there will be nobody left in need of your help down in the valley if you wait until completion of your practice?”

After the initial introduction, the practice of dzogchen is that of absolute compassion arising spontaneously… not being impulsively or thoughtfully contrived but arising naturally from the ground nature, freshly in each moment. So rather than using different strengths of detergent to eventually clean the window, or looking through a different window, its a matter of … throwing the window wide open!

If we overheat or get stuck in the practice of relative compassion we may not get to ask…What  is the nature of this self, this other, these thoughts, this mind?… it is the answer to this that the buddha was seeking… and found and, in deep dharma, taught.

 

Of the different levels of compassion arising from the different views – false relative, pure relative and absolute… these are explained by Patrul Rinpoche in Chapter 7 in the book Simply Being by James Low.

Chapter 3 on the development of bodhicitta is also recommended.

 

 

The scent of bluebells… or bullshit?

Something fresh for you..Bluebell_aka_Hyacinthoides_non-scripta

Recently I was talking with someone and we were imagining the notion of sitting inside  a lotus bud, in a pure–land, hearing the Dharma bells sweetly singing of ways to the truth as we surely grow into buddha-hood…(ok you have to use your imagination for this!)

…and then contrasting that with a common position in samsara where we have climbed inside a dustbin to keep safe and then pulled the lid down tight on top of us. The sights smells and sensations are… ummm…rather different.

Then tidying up some paperwork yesterday I came across a few lines of James’ –                                      “if you believe in conceptual elaboration, if you believe that the creativity of your own mind is telling the truth about the world, you will delude yourself and stay in the staleness of the repetition of your own mental confectionery!”– and the thought of the ego burping away as it chews on all the old beliefs and certainties makes life inside the dustbin seem even less attractive!

 

 

Taxing reminder!

So long as people give priority to material values then injustice, corruption, inequity, intolerance and greed – all the outward manifestations of neglect of inner values – will persist.

(H.H. the Dalai Lama)

Of the many words attributed to the Dalai Lama some seem much more likely than others… but who could argue with the truth of this?