Wendy

Finding freedom – Wandel Verlag

To find freedom we may not have to do so much, its free and always there, but if we don’t see this directly, then there is so much richness and diversity in the different aspects of the dharma with which we can engage with, and which may release some of the rigidities and tensions…

…some of the teachings are spoken, some are written, and some are neither.

The books may bring great richness and depth to the dharma view to which they pertain and each book is the fruit of the labours of many different people, some of the the last being the publishers.
The latest work of James Low –  ‘Finding Freedom’  will shortly be published by Wandel Verlag  a small publishing house in Germany… and i’d like to appreciate and highlight how valuable is all the work that goes on behind the scenes there and elsewhere in the world, in the production of books which encapsulate the richness and diversity of the dharma in a way which maintains the integrity of the flow of the continuous stream of dharma teachings into and through the world.

The various books James has written all have quite different flavours and reading thinking about and absorbing them into practice/life brings about different possibilities of being. This recent book will be readily accessible to practitioners of different strands of dharma…and illuminating of their interrelatendess.*

Some of the other books published are of practices which are very particular in their context, application, and effect – including the works of Martin Boord (Rig-‘dzin rdo-rje) . As with all teachings these are tools to be picked up and used in the correct way, a way which needs to be explained by someone who knows how, or they will be ineffective or have the potential to harm. Recently I met someone who had spent eight years doing a Tara practice from a translated text which he had found, and said it had made no difference… I’ve also met a Chod practitioner who said she had been practising for seven years… but was just miserable… neither were taught or supervised within the tradition from which the teachings come.

*Ordering ‘Finding Freedom’ from Wandel Verlag before August 3 bring benefits in terms of discount and timing!

 

 

 

 

Two updates… The book – ‘Finding Freedom’ also a change for Friday 8th November

Firstly just to draw your attention to the change of venue in Oxford on the evening of Friday eighth of November.

The public talk James is giving will now be held in Talbot Hall, Lady Margaret Hall – the same venue as for the Saturday and Sunday.

 

Secondly the book: Finding Freedom

…. you may have noticed some publicity…some of which is included below… around the latest book ‘Finding Freedom’ which will be published and widely available from 3rd August…however, pre-payment to the publisher has benefits! (see bottom of post.)

‘Finding Freedom’ includes texts from the Theravadin, Mahayana and Dzogchen Buddhist traditions, introduced and translated by James Low. The book consist of profound introductions and revised translations of classical and some more recent works, most of which had been first translated under the supervision of Chimed Rigdzin Rinpoche.

These texts, which were very important to him, are of immense value for our practice, e.g. to deal with everyday difficulties, to recognise and include the cause-and-effect principle in our path, to recognise emotions and their cause and to cut off the illusory ego, or, in the final section, to experience and realise emptiness in its diversity through the wide all-inclusive view of Dzogchen. All texts are a deep inspiration and this collection shows the great richness of Buddhist teaching’.

 

The Four Immeasurables

Here is the link to that prayer.

The words in the translation wish for all beings to have happiness and the cause of happiness…
To  be free of sorrow and the cause of sorrow.

Following James’ talk in Macclesfield  this year i have changed the words above that to those he used:  wishing ‘for all beings to know the root of happiness’ and  ‘for them to cut the root of suffering’.

Apologies… and also

Just to apologise to those who have already read Dungeons and dragons 1.

It was unfinished, incomplete, the ‘key note’ was a bit off…i’ve revised it so please would you have another look.

And just to draw your attention to the recent posting of the Emerson 2018 recordings shown below…i made two posts at the same time…and i’m not sure how the notifications work but you may just have noticed  ‘Dungeons’ which would be a shame as these invite a beautiful and much deeper look at ‘what is’.

Dungeons and dragons 1

When I was first finding some freedom in living, I found myself on the seafront at Sidmouth and the jazz festival had just begun. It was early evening, the sun was setting over the sea, and a young guitarist was playing a song about the world being divided into prisoners and jailers. A woman next to me was enjoying the song just as much as I was and we exchanged a few words and smiles. I had a feeling that she also felt that he had missed out another vital group – the liberators.

I identified strongly with the prisoners without seeing that, relatively speaking, the jailers are equally imprisoned and, at that time, I had a sense that for the prisoners to escape, it just required the glorious liberators to arrive with the keys, unlock the doors to the cells, and then they would be able to walk out  into the sunshine… Forever free!

Somewhat wiser now I realise that whilst the ‘liberators’ with wisdom can do a great deal with compassion to help if the circumstances are right…
They can help the prisoner check out whether or not the walls are as strong as the prisoner feels they are, whether there is really a locked door to the cell; give the prisoner some sense of their own capacity and what they might enjoy were they able to move in an unconstricted fashion. They may also use their own life force, their time, their energy to encourage this move towards wisdom in any way they can… 

But the prisoner has to actively engage in this process, overcome the fear of the unknown – dragons, ghosts from the past, or whatever makes them shrink…stepping into the bright light…
But also, having walked through the open door, to grow… through the growing pains as the tightnesses work free… into a shape fitting to the spacious environment…and keep releasing…and releasing…no prisoner, no imprisonment. 

The key point is for the prisoner to discover how the prison was created and their part in that. That the walls are made of thoughts, held together by attachment, arising from the misidentification, the misunderstanding, as to the prisoners own nature…and, concomitantly, that of the jailer and all other phenomena used in the illusory creative construction. 

Without this wisdom it’s a case of ‘out of the frying-pan into the fire’ – never mind ‘pop-up’ shops…’pop-up’ prisons are two a penny!

So this wisdom is the true key, one which unlocks all doors; one you can always use as the ‘get out of jail card’ if you sense yourself imprisoned by falling into constrictions and fusions arising due to previous deluded activities. 

By ourselves or with some help, eventually we realise that these jails occur when we get small and tight…and hot and dense and dim! 

If we’ve not been using the key for a while, have gone to sleep, and woken up in the dark and forgotten where it is…don’t worry… just relax, this makes the practice of releasing from con-fusion with the mental construct  easier; if you’re not at home with that practice, then ask and pray and use whatever practice you are familiar with…the dharma always responds. The light will come on, brightly or as a little glimmer, and you’ll sense it’s at your fingertips (where it always was, both as the ground of your embodied existence and that of all arising phenomena).
You’re never truly trapped though, without space, it can surely feel like that.

Qs as clues, reminders, aides memoir:
Which is bigger: the mind or the jail?… and where exactly is the jail located?
Which is real and persists unchanged through time: the pattern or the ground – the ‘jail’ or the mind itself?
What is the relationship between the ‘liberator’ and the nature of the mind,
the relationship of the ‘prisoner’ to the ground,
the relationship between the ‘liberator’ and the ‘prisoner’? 

And if this realisation is merely intellectual how much will it help in the lived situation when old patterns are insisting?
How would that result compare with regular on-going practice to actualise the view and keep the lens clear?
Is it perhaps something to do with our own huffing and puffing on the lens that mists it up, our tensions that distort it ?
: )… knowing that answer from experience! and going Key-less is the way:

Like the Moon’s Reflection on the Water

The enlightened mind
Is without coming or departing.
It is neither outside nor within.
Transcending thought, it has no partiality.
It is ultimate reality, unlimited and unconfined,
Wherein there is no wide or narrow
And no high or low.
So set aside all anxious search for it.
Excerpted from:
Finding Rest in Illusion
The Trilogy of Rest, Volume 3
Page 35
Finding Rest in Illusion

 

Emerson 2018 audio recordings

These recordings are now available for your delectation…sweet music for your dharma ears!

Here’s the link to their location, with lots more, under the audio section of the simplybeing.co.uk website.

 

Springing into life… at Emerson College and Oxford

I realise that it’s time to spring-clean and blow the dust off this website…various projects and a pilgrimage have intervened…and it’s so long since I wrote anything that it just taken me twenty minutes to find the password!

Someone sent me an email today asking when James was next teaching in England… so i can see that it’s good to have this up-to-date, supplementary to the Simplybeing.co.uk website.

Today it’s a pleasure to bring dharma spring, summer, autumn, and winter together in a  paragraph or two.

Spring – new leaves will be showing on the Emerson recording tree with the completion of editing and sound improving the recordings from last summer. Hopefully these will be ready for posting in  the audio section of the Simplybeing website ( you’ll find it under publications) in a week or two. It has taken a very long time to get this to spring back to life and you would be amazed at the amount of energy of various kinds… from buddhas and beings… have gone into this, from inception to delivery, all for our ease.

For various reasons I have listened to most of these recordings many times and, as usual, every time I listen different aspects sink in deeper.
A long time ago James alluded to a friend of his who just got a teaching from his teacher every six months…  the friend made good progress –   digesting, assimilating, and then attempting to apply what he had learnt before he met up again with his teacher for something more.
There is an enormous depth and richness to those few days of teaching and i would have liked you to have the full six months to enjoy this before we are meeting again… but it’s, as usual, a case of working with circumstances.

Summer – the time and date at Emerson College is now shown here, as well as on the Sb. website.

Autumn – well probably early winter really, but anyway… will see us meeting up back in Oxford on 8-10 Nov…details coming soon.

Winter – the Oxford recordings from last December are also now available. You can now listen to the public talk  as well as the weekend teachings.

– James has agreed to teach again in Oxford 8-10 Dec. at Gio’s invitation. Further details will soon be available.

I once heard someone sing a song about the yogin Milarepa and his disciples… ‘their meeting and their parting mark the change of time’ …..and so it does for us

Photo credit

Being your (appropriate) size…whatever that is!

Once upon a time long,long, ago… I was meditating, sitting on the grass in the Deerpark at Sarnath. It was early morning and relatively quiet, the light was soft and there was not yet much heat in the day. There were no deer, I had checked that out earlier… the animals had changed… there was  a crocodile instead!

So I was sitting at a place where I had sat in before and slipped into some meditative state. I always used to sit cross-legged with my small pack underneath my right knee and I would often slip the leash attached to this around my leg.

Packs can disappear in a flash, one moment they are beside you, the next moment whisked away.  I had found the advice I was given to put a leash on my big pack also useful in England before setting off – looping it through a chair or table leg to slow down anyone wanting to snatch it for long enough for me to get a drink. There would be some commotion in the pulling over of the chair or table which might help…and usually i had my weight on it too…so this leash gave me freedom from clutching my belongings with security.

So…there i am, meditating…and dropping into a state of being less conscious of what is going on around me… then suddenly feeling a tugging. Tugging where? Lots of different places!….
From whom… Lilliputian thieves!

Very strange  to have some of this gang of little beings trying to pull your pack away at the same time as others worked on removing your shoes, undoing your watch strap, removing your necklace….etc.

They were too small for me to whack at, and that thought did not cross my mind at the time – but anyway it was too muddly – using force i might injure one accidentally… If i had focussed on stopping one pair of hands in particular, another pair might have succeed…

So i just kind of exploded up and out… very, very, big… and they ran away..no harm done.

With the thoughts envisaged as little binding threads, as in the previous Gulliver post, practice of the hinayana in the bodhisattvayana and tantrayana methods can bring about a change in the kind of thoughts or apparent quality of the thread.
With each view, because of the varying way oneself and  ‘others’ are regarded, a ‘revising of sizing’ is required and facilitated.

In the practice of dzogchen, resting in the openness, the variations in focus from infinite to very small, openness to precision, is ongoing and become more attuned.
The use of the syllable ‘phat’  can break the ‘golden threads’ as well as the ‘mundane’; or one can simply relax out of any particular shape or size …….

….becoming more and more shapeless gives more potential for different shapes to show…

 

The little story above relates to the second time that slipping into an altered state had been an unhelpful disconnection from my lived situation. The first time was when my bag was stolen, in a library in England, as i stared transfixed at my first sight of the Simplybeing website… which had just come into being! It’s much safer to be awake, able to take different shapes, than in a fixed or altered state, when moving in the world.

P.S. The crocodile was in my mind…and so were the deer in their pen…leaves were being brought in from the countryside to feed them. The deer park was not as i had imagined!

 

 

On being… or caught by thoughts

What a distressing picture I beheld as a child…. opening the book ‘Gulliver’s travel’s and seeing the poor man stretched out on the ground and pinned there by hundreds of tiny ropes. There were so many that despite their insubstantial nature he was fixed so tightly to the ground that he could not move at all.

More than ten years ago I repeated James words that he ‘would never be caught by a thought’ to a student. She was so taken with those words that she relayed them to a lady on the checkout in the local Morrisons store. ‘ You must never be caught by a thought!’ she laughingly admonished….and the lady thought that was such wonderful advice.

I also told her that James had once instructed me to… ‘take the ring from out your nose’.  Clearly he was referring to my lack of   freedom in being led around like a cow… both by the nonsense of others (first step to be free of that) – then secondly, and with much more difficultly, to be free of the nonsense of myself!

Since then both she and I – and no doubt the lady in Morrisons – have been captivated by many a thought.
Knowing what’s  good for you when you hear it one thing… consistently applying the advice for long enough to bring about a change is very much another!

At first noticing the difference between moments of openness… and then the felt tightening in the body as an attention-invested identity-thought fuses  (or goes into a fugue) with another…or  noticing the rudderless, life-consuming drifting, and the ‘home-coming’ in meditation… over and over again. Being helped  to understand the nature of thoughts, the nature of the mind… the dharma has so much to offer us. Seeing what is going on and releasing from these old habits, allowing the thoughts to move freely without locking on…
It’s no quick fix…but it can be done…and it’s not a bodge job which just keeps your head above water!

Keeping some form of meditation going through all the ups and downs – not resting the oars – is great if you can. Some just drift away after a while…but some, like this dharma student, find that after each period of disconnection with practice the healthiness of the return becomes more evident. She recently told me that she had realised that it was the only thing that was really going to help her.

As the buddha said in the Kalama sutra ‘When you know for yourself, Kalamas, these qualities are skilful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them’.

Gradually you reset your own compass away from the rocky shores into the open waters…the threads that seemed to hold you, fixed in place and time dissolve…and freedom from the mind-forged lilliputian manacles is yours!

Cartoon credit

Homme-âgé – reflections 3

Evening time

meditating in the graveyard

Birds, bats, thoughts flitting

Father-in-law dying

 

shimmerings

of the infinite

 

the shift to

con-fusion with false identities

 

It’s when,

it’s when,

and only when see…

and stop the conning and the fusion

and then, and then, and only then

we feel ourselves at-oned,

at home again.

Homme-âgé – reflections 2

Evening time –

meditating in the graveyard…

birds, bats, and thoughts

flitting…

father-in-law

dying 

from old age…

this world, from lack of love

from  lack of wisdom

 

All this confusion

breeds,  hatred,  greed…

and our pollution

from tensions, torsions –

 

all distortions and contortions 

stops

 

only when

we stop the conning and the fusion

and then… and then, and only then

in truth,

released

we can begin again.

 

 

Homme-âgé – reflections 1

Once of a time he made –
sandcastles by the sea
and kites that flew…life opening…
so much that he could be

He studied hard, his knowledge grew,
at university he made
‘things’ from new materials…

…he made his girlfriend blush
married, made babies,
made the children laugh,
(did he… or did I imagine that?)

made money – house and garden…
retired, grew flowers

grew old

and now he makes, increasingly,
a nuisance of himself

– so I am told

credit for picture

 

 

 

 

The perils of perching – advice for parrots!

Whatever the position taken up with assertion, the egoic or  separated sense-of-self will cling to that self-created perch for stability.
With fear of falling from that perch (or being pushed) the claws tighten and tension in the body increases.
There is a locking on and locking up which makes release and flying far less likely… and eventually inconceivable.
Welded to the perch, identified with the perch, by the ‘guano’ accumulated from relieving the bowels in the same place, or constipated by fear of letting go…  starvation and immobility lead to death.
Who died?
Was there ever a ‘parrot’ or a ‘perch’ in truth?

Woolly minded!

In mid July I was in a little tent with some friendly faces talking about the view of dzogchen under the title ‘Who dies, who dances?’

Over the years I have taken different props with me, from crystal droplets to bubble blowers. This time it was to be a little box of sheeps wool collected from Dartmoor.
In the event I left it behind… things have been pretty busy lately… but it didn’t much matter because it’s fairly easy to imagine. So I thought I’d see whether the metaphor means anything to you.

If you take a piece of sheep’s wool and try to look through it… that may not be possible.
If you squeeze it and squash it into a little box then, of course, seeing through it becomes impossible.
Cold water washing won’t help but will stick the threads closer and hot water washing will felt it so that it will be quite impossible to see through.

But if you gently tease it apart so the little strands of wool separate, you can see the space that was always there and you can see right through it.

The mind is a little bit like that… (and  quite a lot not like that)!

It’s a bit like the mind because… when we as ‘subject’ focus our attention onto the thoughts, feelings and sensations – the threads – which arise (the movements of the mind) as if they were objects, we become mesmerised and lose touch with the spaciousness from which, and back into which they go. With this comes more sense of solidity, density, weightiness, certainty…which increases the sense of being a separate subject and decreases the ability to see what’s really going on.

A deception is played out so often it seem true… inflation of the ‘I’-thought, believing in it (and with that the thought-threads wrapped round it) as a true identity.  Then relating to other arisings depending on the perception of their impact upon our created construct.

Seeing how any trick is performed requires very close attention. There is usually a moment of created diversion, a distraction, and during that moment of slippage the sleight of hand is performed…

When you know how it’s done you can still be taken in…it’s a big habit, easy to fall into…but instead of saying ‘you got me (or got to me!) again’…you know you confused yourself!

There’s a great poem by Portia Nelson about how you can reposition yourself relative to the hole in the pavement. Meditation which allows the mind to move but does not follow the movements – is a practice which goes with that. ‘Oh..i’m tightening up, narrowing my focus, condensing, putting weight into story-line, falling down the hole’….relax, release…begin again…

The more we fuse and entangle with the tanglings the tighter things get.
Relaxing more into the spaciousness, holding a very wide-angle view… this allows the con-fusion with the tanglings to release, we don’t have to tease them apart. ‘Tanglings’ then move as the transient energetic display aspects of the mind itself…movements which awareness, or the mind itself, doesn’t grasp.