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"It is mind that journeys as a guest in the physical body until we take full possession of the boundless wisdom and compassion that are innate to us, and realize the freedom and purity of our abiding nature." ~Dzogchen Ponlop,
Mind Beyond Death

A Special Message from The Gyalwang Karmapa Concerning

the Recent Earthquake on April 25, 2015

Today, in the morning of the 25th of April, in Nepal, the land where Lord Buddha was born, there occurred a devastating earthquake. Many thousands of people have been killed or injured, and historic buildings and private homes have been turned into ruins. As soon as I learned of this painful and distressing situation, I made my deepest aspiration prayers and dedications for all the people affected, and continue to do so. Especially at times when we are faced with such a desperate situation, we cannot sit idle, unfeelingly. We must join forces and carry the burden of sorrow together. It is important that each one of us light the lamp of courage. Additionally, it is important that each of the Karma Kagyu monasteries in Nepal, while looking after their own pressing needs for immediate protection, also extend any and all aid and protection they can to the public in their surrounding communities. From my own side, I will make every effort to come personally in the near future to offer my solace and support as well.

August 18, 2013: Here are the most recent submissions to this page.
(Holy Smoke! just below.)
Please scroll down to the lotus blossom for
Signposts on the Way
To upgrade this Wisdom Forum page, we have removed older posts. If you are a return visitor and wish to see an entry for reference, just contact us, for we have the posts archived.

I recently signed a copy of my novel The El-eventh Hour to a friend with this inscription: "Why the term 'spiritual practice'? It takes practice to do this: "'If we can manage to recognize at the moment when the breath ceases and we are separated from this illusory body, we can in three seconds perfect the strength of that recognition and stabilize it.'" -p. 55, quoting from As It Is, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche.

Our Newest Gift to You!
Ancient wisdom guides us through deeply personal evolution. Foundations of The Third Verse Trilogy are based on guidance each of us need right here and now. At last, the audio MP3 "Facets of the Diamond" is available to you as our gift. These are higher wisdom excerpts, the underpinnings of the trilogy, such as: "A thought is simply the extroverted expression of knowing, of awareness." "Most sentient beings do not know how to recognize; they are carried away by thoughts." "The sorrows created by the mind can be untangled." "No matter what kind of disturbing emotion you feel, look into the emotion and it tracelessly subsides." With this outpouring of gratitude to venerable teachers, we offer their insights to you.

The True Nature of "Reality"... the recognition of emptiness. All "this" is a karmic apparency, including the you (I) that appears to be present. All like a dream, a mirage, a reflection in a mirror. Just be "unaffected awareness." ~ From Bob, 5/24/2013.

"Holy Smoke" ~ To wisdom-seekers drawn to Sacred Mount Shasta:

To use a rough analogy for a visitor or new arrival exploring offerings in the Mount Shasta sphere of spirituality, this is like receiving a scholarship to a university where there is a range of courses to choose from ~ say the sciences, athletics, mathematics, journalism, psychology, and more. It would be easy for one to get diverted into the glittery allure of athletics, this is such a draw for so many people...and miss out on studies for real advancement.

We offer these comments, then, about what some have come to term "Holy Smoke." It's not even feasible or desirable to list the teachers, groups, workshops, and events taking place here in current times, many relating in some way to Mount Shasta. It is important for the true seeker to investigate any or all leaders, teachers, or central focuses, for largely there is ignorance (or ignoring) of verifiable ancient lineages through which methods and knowledge are available to do the deep inner work that results in psychological clearing (liberation), evolution. Whether Holy Smokers would or wouldn't consciously recognize their unwillingness to do inner work, it's not for us to make conclusions. What does appear to be a pattern, however, is that a linguistic culture has formulated, so a Holy Smoker can adopt a generally common argot to make any claims they wish ~ in the process, projecting the I out there rather than diminishing of ego, one result of deep inner work.

So what are Holy Smokers usually into? Self concepts: higher self, real self, I AM presence, etc. In truth, there is no self of any kind, just (simply put) habits and patterns of behavior; all manifestations of mind. The ego-self is not the true nature of reality. This is why the aforementioned methods and knowledge are fundamental to evolution.

For real change, whether inner or outer, we have to do the inner work without distraction. That is no fantasy, no smoke. Examples abound. Real teachers do, too. This is not meant to discourage visitors or new dwellers at this fabulous mountain. It is meant to clear the smoke from the air so that we can see what really matters, so we can truly "bring the mind home."

-Lily & Bob Stephen

On a personal note: Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche, my teacher from the 1990s, left behind his earthly life in 2002. At some time during 2009, a website that was part of the Chagdud Gonpa project showed a photograph of quite a young Tibetan in a windy, outdoor setting who was said to be the next Chagdud Tulku. Now, at there appears a more updated photograph of Chagdud Yangsi, as recognized by Khenpo Ngagchung in Tibet. Let us join our prayers for him in the most profound hopes for his health and well-being. ~Lily G. Stephen

Sogyal Rinpoche: In meditation take care not to impose anything on the mind, or to tax it. When you meditate there should be no effort to control, and no attempt to be peaceful. Don’t be overly solemn or feel that you are taking part in some special ritual; let go even of the idea that you are meditating. Let your body remain as it is, and your breath as you find it. Think of yourself as the sky, holding the whole universe. —Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, chapter 5

Sogyal Rinpoche: "Whatever thoughts and emotions arise in meditation, allow them to rise and settle, like the waves in the ocean. Whatever you find yourself thinking, let that thought rise and settle, without any constraint. Don’t grasp at it, feed it, or indulge it, don’t cling to it, and don’t try to solidify it. Neither follow thoughts nor invite them; be like the ocean looking at its own waves, or the sky gazing down on the clouds that pass across it.

"You will soon find that thoughts are like the wind; they come and go. The secret is not to “think” about the thoughts but to allow them to flow through your mind, while keeping your mind free of afterthoughts."

As posted at

Pema Chodron as posted on Facebook:


"When you’re like a keg of dynamite about to go off, patience means just slowing down at that point—just pausing—instead of immediately acting on your usual, habitual response. You refrain from acting, you stop talking to yourself, and then you connect with the soft spot. But at the same time you are completely and totally honest with yourself about what you are feeling. You’re not suppressing anything; patience has nothing to do with suppression. In fact, it has everything to do with a gentle, honest relationship with yourself."

From Practicing Peace in Times of War

(Thanks to Shambhala for their weekly Pema quotes! Sign up


"Rather than going after our walls and barriers with a sledgehammer, we pay attention to them. With gentleness and honesty, we move closer to those walls. We touch them and smell them and get to know them well. We begin a process of acknowledging our aversions and our cravings. We become familiar with the strategies and beliefs we use to build the walls: What are the stories I tell myself? What repels me and what attracts me? We start to get curious about what’s going on." (From The Places That Scare You)

Lily G. Stephen: "From this precious teacher, advice about what really matters ~ change from within to dissolve limitations, to bring about observation of our individual habits and mental obscurations. Thank you, Pema Chodron."

"Occupy Wall Street" from one spiritual point of view, by Lily G. Stephen, 10/12/2011

In my opinion, making a public statement about inequity and wrongs has a valid place. When the statement becomes redundant the public statement becomes a public nuisance, the protesters are caught up in the group angst, and the actions move in a counter-direction. The protesters would make a much more powerful statement by moving into the public forum armed with abilities and intelligence to make the changes that need to be made. Barack Obama is a prime example. He is still a lone person, even being president. Imagine the clout that would come with the most intelligent and able of the protesters, as a group, in the poltical arena. Obama's hands have been tied, and in some cases, he's had no choice but to go along with those behind the scenes.

The phrase "behind the scenes" is key. There's tons of information about the powerful families directing matters on this planet for millennia. That's how the big banks etc. got so big and powerful.

As one who personally witnessed the demonstrations of the early 70s (yes, even right outside the White House, but I wasn't a demonstrator), I can state that we have the advantage of retrospect. Those demonstrations also made public statements. The eventual end to the Viet Nam war came about, but certainly not in a timely sense, and not largely as a result of public opinion.

This morning I read a piece online about Occupy Wall Street. The source appears in a footnote following this essay. To draw from a statement made by an Occupy Wall Street press team member, here's Mark Bray, stating: "To tell everyone that we have the solution to their specific problems, that would be what the political parties are already doing," Bray says. "That isn't working. And that's the whole point."

Okay, the online piece starts out to justify the lack of focus, a major criticism of the effort. My comment: We cry out about problems, with no solutions to offer? Anyone can do that. That sounds like an angry three-year-old.

There's no bringing about lasting, evolutionary changes through anarchy. Anarchy: "Absence of government; lawless confusion and political disorder." Yes, people all over the globe are rising up against governments. I shudder to contemplate how many lives have been lost, how much suffering brought about, and what kind of government is to replace the former. We are idealists, but Samsara is not an ideal world. If these Arab rebels are of such violent mentality, are they fit to govern? Who do they offer to replace despots?

We are not sheep, to follow crowds driven by anger. Their anger is understandable and each one of us should have vast empathy for their suffering. Yet they waste themselves in tremendous expenditure of time and energy, fanning their anger, not offering viable solutions. What is the nature of their anger? They are angry due to feeling backed into the corner economically by elite entities; they are victims. Are they? We hear the term "victim mentality" for good reason. We are no more victims than we are sheep. If we have met with misfortune due to inequity, there are ways to turn matters around. Neither are we simply karmic victims, because we create evolved karma in every passing moment. Examples and anecdotes revealing this process abound. We can learn from them.

As spiritual path travelers, certain reminders are essential in order to be fully present with penetrating insight, to utilize this precious human life for the highest realization of our true nature. Here's one of these reminders, articulated by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche: "Underlying all of our experience in the bardo of this life is a fundamental level of ignorance that simply does not see the way things are. The ignorant aspect of the basic mind incorrectly perceives the self and outer phenomena to be real -- to inherently exist when they do not." ~Mind Beyond Death, Dzogchen Ponlop, Snow Lion Publications, 2006, p. 31.

To rise above this ignorance in our personal spiritual practices and our behaviors and actions transforms the nature of this physical existence. A little historical knowledge also helps when we review past revolutionary behavior and what the results were.


Reference from

God, the Buddha, & the Divine
Lily G. Stephen ~ August 19, 2011

Years ago I wrote down a short insight which I think I authored, but it could also be a quote from someone else: "God is not an entity. God is an energy;" an energy many people interpret as "He." There is "something" that helps me through challenging moments. This something I often envision or sense as "help" coming from above, as when I reach upward in a Qi Gong-like stretch. Such a concept may help, it seems to, but in fact the help has developed from diminishing of obscurations to harmonious universal energy that comes from within as much as from without. While reading The Way of the White Clouds by Lama Anagarika Govinda, I looked up a reference in another of his books, Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism. There is a much nicer copy here in this home library, but I took down the old much-read paperback that traveled around with me in the 1970s. The book opened to a photograph of an Amitabha Buddha statue that is so Tibetan, a much more ornate depiction than the Japanese Kamakura statue, and so captivating. That page with the picture along with adjacent page 90 was loose from the old binding. I slipped them out and kept the picture at my work station for some time, then brought it to the shrine room to have as a visual aid for the Pure Land of Great Bliss recitation. Back in the first half of the '70s I marked two passages on page 90:

"If the urge towards light were not dormant in the germ that is hidden deep down in the darkness of the earth, the lotus would not turn towards the light. If the urge towards a higher consciousness and knowledge were not dormant even in a state of deepest ignorance, nay, even in a state of complete unconsciousness, Enlightened Ones could never arise from the darkness of samsara....Superficial observers try to point out the paradox that the Buddha, who wanted to free humanity from the dependence on gods or from the belief in an arbitrary God-Creator, became deified himself in later forms of Buddhism. They do not understand that the Buddha, who is worshipped, is not the historical personality of the man Siddhartha Gautama, but the embodiment of the divine qualities, which are latent in every human being and which became apparent in Gautama as in innumerable Buddhas before him. Let us not misunderstand the term 'divine.' Even the Buddha of the Pali texts did not refrain from calling the practice of the highest spiritual qualities (like love, compassion, sympathetic joy, equanimity) in meditation a 'dwelling in God' (bramavihara), or in a 'divine state.' It is, therefore, not the man Gautama who was raised to the status of a god, but the 'divine' which was recognized as a possibility of human realization."

Ever noticed how a concept or person comes to us, then it seems like everywhere we turn, it...he...or she appears? So to carry on the train of thought emerging from "God is an energy," I was just gifted with another book by my husband. It's all shiny and new. According to a little personal tradition, I first opened the book randomly (Mind Beyond Death by Dzogchen Ponlop) to read: "Generally speaking, when we want to acquire liberation, it is impossible. However, if we can let go of the concept of enlightenment, then liberation comes naturally. Accordingly, we should not hold too tightly on to the concept of liberation or freedom. Holding rigidly to any view or belief usually results only in more suffering, as we can see from many examples in our world today." Dzogchen Ponlop continues in his clear, pure style to describe relaxing into the nature of mind without striving or grasping.

So we can subscribe to isms; we can proclaim the one true god or deity, or we can deny there is one with equal fervor; we also have the choice to recognize in "direct and naked experience" what is right there always, an integral nature we live with. Call it an energy, call it the divine, call it grace or by any other name, there it is. As it is.

In the calm, still quiet before dawn, philosophic thoughts are not present. Thoughts of the divine do not enter into presence. Eventually one returns to words, if only to carry out demands of the day. Here are other words conveying the supremacy of true wisdom woven throughout one's actions: "When we recognize the true nature of mind, we see not only its empty essence, but also its quality of wakefulness, of lucid awareness that is fully and vividly present. That awareness is the naturally abiding wisdom and compassion of the enlightened state. It is primordially present within the nature of mind. It was not created in the past by a divine being or act; it is beginingless and endless, beyond concept and philosophy. It is the nature of our mind and of the universe." ~ Mind Beyond Death, p. 95, Dzogchen Ponlop, Snow Lion Publications, Ithica, N.Y., 2006.

Remember Always and Everywhere

Whatever presents itself to you as happiness or misery, whatever is being done, whatever is thought about, i.e., the apparent sufferings of humanity to the "pressures" of the day, are all no more or less real than last night's dreams (a rainbow in the sky) ~ the combination of emptiness and luminosity. No "self." No other, no things.

The consciousness or "self" that perceives this dream (reflection) is a total mirage. No distinction between the perceiver and whatever appears to be perceived, whether it be thought, feeling, sensation, or apparent "happening."

All again, just the combination of luminosity and emptiness ~ something there but not really...Distilled from Bob Stephen's meditations and from his teachers.

"The greater our imperfections, the more we are inclined to see the faults of others, while those who have gained deeper insight can see through these faults into their essential nature. Therefore the greatest among men were those who recognized the divine qualities in their fellow-beings and were always ready to respect even the lowliest among them." Tomo Geshe Rimpoche as quoted by Lama Anagarika Govinda, The Way of the White Clouds.

"The absence of the spoken word...can bring about a deeper awareness and a directness of experience which generally is drowned by the incessant chatter under which human beings hide their fear of meeting each other in the nakedness of their natural being." Lama Govinda, The Way of the White Clouds, pp. 13, 14.

January 1, 2010 - Bob has been studying (among other works) the writings of Herbert V. Guenther, an adept philosopher and linguist (he mastered Chinese and Sanskrit by high school graduation, then learned 10 other languages, not counting others learned just for enjoyment - read about him at Wikipedia). Bob offers here two excerpts from Guenther's book The Life and Teaching of Naropa that help us recognize the nature of what we consider "reality":

"...a dream is not a passive surrender to a stream of images of which the dreamer is unwitting plaything and that it also cannot be judged as complimentary to and compensatory for the waking state. This at once disposes of the dream theories of Freud and Jung. There is no sharp division between waking and dreaming. On the basis of a strictly phenomenological investigation Medard Boss can say, 'Yet, so far, we have been unable to determine a criterion whereby the essence of our dream life as a whole could be distinguished from waking life.' Further on he declares: 'Neither waking nor dreaming can be adequately described as independent interconnections of experiences or conceptions. Whether man is awake or dreaming he always fulfils one and the same existence.' A dream is as much an immediate reality as is the waking state." -The Life and Teaching of Naropa, translated from the original Tibetan with philosophical commentary based on the oral transmission by Herbert V. Guenther, 1963, Oxford University Press, p. 183; Medard Boss, The Analysis of Dreams, Rider, London.

As always, comments and insights on these topics are welcome through our contact page.

Signposts on the Way

It is our hope that the following excerpts and contributions offer clarity to spiritual aspects and precepts, as well as to recommend works from teachers who benefit us. Additions will expand over time.

Here is a now expanding list of topics you may scroll down to:

Grasping and Clinging





Symbols, Mandalas and Deities

Bob's Challenge


Grasping and Clinging:

"To cling to a particular concept is like a bird that flaps its wings and tries to fly but cannot, because it's bound by a chain. The training in the true view is not a training in holding concepts, even the subtle types. It is a matter of recognizing what already is, by itself. Our nature of mind is naturally empty and cognizant; it is not of our making. There is no need to hold a concept about it. In other words, when you remember to recognize, you see immediately that there is no thing to see. That's it. At other times one has forgotten, and it is lost.

"First we need to recognize self-existing wakefulness. Slowly, slowly, we need to repeat the instants of uncontrived naturalness, developing the strength of the recognition. Once we reach stability, there is non-distraction day and night..."

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, As It Is, Vol. II, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2000, p. 146. Visit


"It is only when there is benevolence and interest in others' happiness that the more active compassion (karuna) can operate, although 'more active' does not mean that benevolence is a mere 'passive' sentiment. Compassion makes the heart of good people beat more quickly when they see the misery and plight of other fellow-beings, and so it attempts to dig out the roots of misery that it may be destroyed forever. In this way compassion is like a stream that turns to all who are afflicted and like rain pours relief on them. Compassion is therefore a steady current which carries all misery away with it. It is a feeling which is unable to bear the misery of others and it manifests itself in such a way that no annoyance can befall people. Thus the basis on which compassion operates for the well-being of sentient beings is an awareness of the helplessness and desolateness of all those who are afflicted by misery. But compassion also has its negative side. While on the positive side through compassion all that annoys us is removed, on the negative side it is the futile crying and whimpering over the misery of the world. Therefore the very fact that the misery and frustration we observe everywhere makes us sad and depressed, it is the proximate enemy of compassion. So depression is something we have to guard ourselves against and in spite of the saddening things we see we should strive to have all beings liberated from misery."

Herbert V. Guenther, Philosophy and Psychology in the Abhidharma, Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1976, pp. 107, 108.

"'An effortless compassion can arise for all beings who have not realized their true nature. So limitless is it that if tears could express it, you would cry without end. Not only compassion, but tremendous skillful means can be born when you realize the nature of mind. Also you are naturally liberated from all suffering and fear, such as the fear of birth, death, and the intermediate state. Then if you were to speak of the joy and bliss that arise from this realization, it is said by the buddhas that if you were to gather all the glory, enjoyment, pleasure, and happiness of the world and put it all together, it would not approach one tiny fraction of the bliss that you experience upon realizing the nature of mind.' [Nyoshul Khenpo, as quoted in the following citation] To serve the world out of this dramatic union of wisdom amd compassion would be to participate most effectively in the preservation of the planet....As a famous Tibetan teaching says: 'When the world is filled with evil, all mishaps should be transformed into the path of enlightenment.' The danger we are all in together makes it essential now that we no longer think of spiritual development as a luxury, but as a necessity for survival."

Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, HarperSanFrancisco, 1994, p. 363.


"Properly used, under competent guidance, mantra is an effective instrument for dispelling the ignorance on which our anxious lives are founded. It can lead the practitioner to a realization of the true nature of mind, for mantra is not a form of magical incantation, but rather a scientific method for bringing the mind into harmony with subtle levels of awareness and reopening avenues of communication that otherwise remain closed."

Yeshe Tsogyal with contributions by Tarthang Tulku, Padmasambhava Comes to Tibet, Dharma Publishing, 2009, p. 201.


"Suffering comes from not recognizing the emptiness of things, which results in our attributing to them a reality that they don't actually have. This grasping at things as real subjects us to painful experiences.

"We can get a better understanding of this by using the example of a dream. When someone has a nightmare, that person suffers. For the dreamer, the nightmare is real; in fact, it is the only reality the dreamer knows. And yet the dream has no tangible reality and is not actually 'real'; it has no reality outside of the dreamer's own conditioned mind, outside of the dreamer's own karma. From an ultimate perspective, it is in fact an illusion. The dreamer's illusion is in failing to recognize the nature of his experiences. Ignorant of what they actually are, the dreamer takes his own productions--the creations of his own mind--to be an autonomous reality; thus deluded, he is frightened by his own projections and thereby creates suffering for himself.** The delusion is to perceive as real what actually is not....The nature of all things and all appearances is like the reflection of the moon on water....It can really help to understand this, because, although they have no true existence, we attach to all of these things as though they were real. The objective of Buddha's teaching is to dissolve this fixation, which is the source of all illusions and is as tenacious as our own karmic conditioning."

Kalu Rinpoche, Luminous Mind, Wisdom Publications, 1997, p. 42.

**Remember: You who are reading this on your screen right now -- the experience you are having is no different than last night's dream.

"When hearing about awareness or primordial wisdom, it's very easy to think, 'Oh, what kind of a special consciousness is this? What kind of a wonderful thing is it? Where is it? What is it worth? How much would I have to spend to acquire it?' In comparison to awareness, even a trillion dollars is nothing special; it's just paper. Awareness, on the other hand, is the cause of omniscience. The awareness in question is simply natural, ordinary awareness without any type of modification, without any fabrication. It is without beginning; it is without birth, remaining, or cessation. Failing to recognize its nature, we enter into dualistic grasping, grasping onto ourselves, grasping onto others, grasping onto our own personal identity, grasping onto the identity of other phenomena. In this way we grasp onto that which is nonexistent as being existent. As a result of that, we continue to wander in the cycle of existence."

Padmasambhava, Natural Liberation, Wisdom Publictions, 2008, excerpt from commentary by Gyatrul Rinpoche, p. 124.


"Our subject matter is warriorship. Anyone who is interested in hearing the truth, which in Buddhism we call the dharma; anyone who is interested in finding out about him or herself; and anyone who is interested in practicing meditation is basically a warrior....The warrior tradition we are discussing is a tradition of bravery. You might have the idea of a warrior as someone who wages war. But in this case, we are not talking about warriors as those who engage in warfare. Warriorship here refers to fundamental bravery and fearlessness.

"....Experiencing the innermost core of their existence is embarrassing to a lot of people. Many people try to find a spiritual path where they do not have to face themselves but where they can still liberate themselves--liberate themselves from themselves, in fact. In truth, that is impossible. We cannot do that. We have to be honest with ourselves. We have to see our gut, our real shit, our most undesirable parts. We have to see that. That is the foundation of warriorship and the basis of conquering fear. We have to face our fear; we have to look at it, study it, work with it, and practice meditation with it."

Excerpts from "Facing Yourself," Introduction by Pema Chodron, based on Chogyam Trungpa's Smile at Fear, appearing in the November, 2009 issue of Shambhala Sun, p. 50.

Symbols, Mandalas and Deities

We include this topic as part of launching "Signposts on the Way" because it may be helpful to offer insights from a beloved scholar and author now departed who was English, yet who was drawn to Buddhism while still a child, studied with teachers of varying sects in pre-Communist China for twenty years, and eventually held a university post in Bangkok where he worked with the United Nations. Translator of classic Ch'an and Zen texts into English, John Blofeld was adept at translating Eastern concepts for Western understanding.

The symbols, mandalas, and particularly the deities encountered in Tibetan Buddhist practices can perplex some meditators and students. Here are two excerpts from one of his books (a text that traveled all over the U.S. with me and with the help of tape, hasn't fallen apart in some thirty-seven years):

"The ancient yinyang symbol of the Chinese Taoists makes a useful introduction to what will be said about the Tantric symbols, because it illustrates how conclusions arrived at by experimental science have sometimes been anticipated by ancient sages who reached them intuitively by delving deep within their consciousness; moreover it leads up to the principle underlying the Tibetan mandala. Indeed, for that reason, it is widely known in Tibet as well as China. Though antedating Buddhism, it is in perfect harmony with the Tantric conception of the universe and, as what it symbolizes has been largely corroborated by modern physicists, it is germane to our thesis, which is that such symbols are not arbitrary creations but arise spontaeously from the depths of consciousness."

" and large, the Lamas are not concerned with such metaphysical arguments but with practice leading to Enlightenment. They employ the mandala to illustrate existence at whichever level is best suited to the intelligence of the disciples they are instructing. In considering Buddhism in general, but especially Tantric Buddhism, it should be remembered that the prime concern is practice. If something is conducive to spiritual advancement, it is good; whether the theory behind it is properly understood or not matters much or little according to the extent to which that understanding affects the quality and direction of the practice. True, Buddhism is a religion that vaunts reason, but it is reasonable for a man to use the electric light in his dwelling whether he understands how the current is produced or not. In my view, this analogy is very pertinent to the evocation of Tantric deities. Their power is there to use whether we understand their nature or not."

These two excerpts represent John Blofeld's overview in thirty-one pages, Chapter IV, "Psychic and Material Symbols" that unfolds a panorama of symbology ranging from the practical to the profoundly mystical. These include mandalas and their deities, both peaceful and wrathful; the vajra or adamantine sceptre; the wheel of life; the chorten, also called the stupa; and more. Recommended reading for in-depth consideration.

John Blofeld, The Tantric Mysticism of Tibet, E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1970, pp. 99 and 113.

Bob's Challenge:

Can you be this? Guarantees full enlightenment -- realization of the 'true nature' of apparent reality, within this 'lifetime.'

Mahamudra or Dzogchen

It is:

Too close to be recognized

Too deep to 'grasp'

Too easy to believe

Too amazing to be intellectually understood

The mind of immediacy - (the 'ordinary' mind):

1) No contrivance - Leave the mind as it is, no preferences or resistances; no trying to produce, alter, or improve the present apparent state of mind. No interference with thoughts, emotions, etc.

2) No distractions - (identifications, graspings, or fixations) on any thoughts, emotions, forms, sensations or anything else. No loss of awareness (sleepiness).

3) No structured meditation technique - Leave the mind as it is, in its natural state, without straining; unimpeded, empty awareness (detached observations with no 'one' doing 'anything').

The practice is doing-being in this state (which is really not doing, is it) over and over and over, moment to moment, increasingly all the time.

It works and can be done!

All above with much help from the Very Venerable Kalu Rinpoche.

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