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Sat Dec 18, 2021 10:48 pm
Hello friends,

This is my first post in the Sangha forum.

My story here is quite personal - and you may recognise from my posts in the workshop.

The workshop with Rinpoche was very special - and the 5 line teaching quite incredible. Rinpoche's teaching was most inspiring.

However - during the workshop period I was personally facing problems, with some very "famous people" in my life (family stuff, illness), which has made it difficult for me to find a calm place in my meditations. I have been rather stuck with a lot of emotional stuff (anger, fear) and not able to settle. Although I have recognised the value of the 5 line practice - I can often get stuck with the "view is mind" stage - tangled with difficult emotional attachments.

So now - following Rinpoche's advise I am first focusing lots more on zhine (shamatha) practice - with focus on breath. Once calm - I can now feel better able to slowly go through the 5 line practice.

It feels good now to go back to the basic zhine practice - and gently integrate with the 5 lines. This 'going back to basics' has helped a lot in my sitting meditation and brought more peace and calm into my daily life.

I welcome any comments.

Best wishes to you all

Jim Edwards
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Sun Dec 19, 2021 2:12 am
Hello Jim,

Thanks for posting. I'm reminded of what Rinpoche wrote in Tibetan Yogas of Body, Speech, and Mind:
"When the mind is contracted, it is difficult to open it through mind alone. It is easier to change the way you breathe than it is to change your mind; and it is easier to change your physical posture than it is to change your breath. You can learn to change what is easiest to change in whatever way will support your meditation practice."
In hard times in life, indeed I have just tried to focus on my breath. In even harder times, just to still my body and be aware of that stillness is helpful and just that is good enough.

Eventually, if time allows, and if the internal and external situation allow, that stillness of my body provides such a contrast to the situational storm, or the emotional storm, that awareness of it produces a shift in me. But I can't command that shift to happen. If it happens, it happens on it's own time, I just do my best to give it the necessary space.

I wish you the best of luck with everything. To me it sounds like you're on a good path.

Best,
Bob
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Sun Dec 19, 2021 9:23 am
Dear Bob,

Thanks for your reply - which is very helpful.

Best wishes from a valley in Wales - very cold this morning.

Jim
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Sun Dec 19, 2021 3:30 pm
Hi Jim,

what you pose as topic is very deep and important. Because it's possibile, not easy, to follow the theachings in normal life when we face ordinary issue. ( job, love, etc) But very difficult when we face big problems ( illness, dead, strong physical sufferings) . But as the 4 nobles truths say: life is suffering. All we do is, according to this very basic Buddha teaching, to free ourselves and other people from suffering. This is very, very concrete and to face strong suffering and dead is the destiny of all of us. Could happend every moment. I agree the zhine practice is very important. I do myself before the 5 lines theachings. To be able to point our attention on what is important is crucial. Yesterday I was looking at a movie of Paolo Sorrentino. There is a central scene in wich the protagonist says: do not disunite yourself! Do not! First we are unite in the zhine on the object, later we are fuse with the clearlight. On the other hands life doas her best to disunite ourself. Unfortunately we grow with the training to be desunite. That why is so hard.
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Sun Dec 19, 2021 3:41 pm
Thanks Fabio - your comments are helpful

Cheers

Jim
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Mon Dec 20, 2021 9:47 am
Dear Fabio - Yes .. you make good points.

The 4 noble truths - is basic key .. facing suffering!!

Uniting - 'do not dis-unite youself' .. 'we grow with the training to dis-unite' .. in cultures based on competition!

Ciao - Jim
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Mon Dec 20, 2021 10:04 am
Hi Jim,

one of the best quality of buddhism is that is very essential, goes stright to the point. Life is suffering, we have to free ourself from this. This is the port from wich to start the journey. The rest is a consequence.
Because we face suffering constantly, to me Buddha was incredibly genial to point it.

In induism and in other philosophy/ religion, this point is present , but is not considered crucial. For example in cristianity is more important the prayer and intense desire of union with god.

As "all the roads lead to Rome", all the religions are good, each person, according with his dharma and character, choose his way. Buddhism, with his piercing vision fits perfectly with me. And it also compatible with all the others religion, a cristian could be buddhist with no conflict at all.
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Mon Dec 20, 2021 12:42 pm
well said Fabio!

and I like - the phrase " all roads lead to Rome"

all good
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Mon Dec 20, 2021 1:17 pm
It's a latin phrase. Not easy for me to write in english about these matters
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Mon Dec 20, 2021 10:48 pm
Just finished band practice - fiddle / accodian-piano/ double bass - trio

also a kind of 'back to basics' - a mix of "folk music' and experimentation

just now, we don't know when we play in public - but we rehease - play with the tunes

in our house, in a valley in Wales
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Tue Dec 21, 2021 3:24 pm
Great!
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Sat Dec 25, 2021 5:19 pm
Hi everybody, hi Fabio! You write in an answer to Jim: "In christianity is more important the prayer and intense desire of unity with god".
I think it is also true in Buddhism.For me it is the essence of Guru yoga to unite with the mind of the Buddha, who represents our own true nature which is in the end the unity of openness and awareness. This brings us back to the fourth and fifth line of the fivefold teachings...
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Sat Dec 25, 2021 9:25 pm
I should be more precise about what I mean with prayer: invocation to a divinity to ask for favors, help, protection. In cristianity god is an entity different from us. And because of the original sin the uman being is a sinner and trought the prayer he asks god to be forgiven and through grace, to be unite with him. In the buddhism this conception doas'nt exist at all and we all are Buddha; there isn't any external god to pray to.
As Rimpoche says, the Guru Yoga, is a way to discover our own nature, a tantric meditation. Any form of devotion is substantially a devotion to the true nature of Buddha, so to our true nature. The use of the word "prayer" in the buddhism seems to me a kind of meditation and while the prayer presupposes an external entity to which one can pray, this is not the case of the buddhism.

I hope I have been clear, to me is very, very difficult to speak in english about this matter!
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Sun Dec 26, 2021 5:57 pm
I believe what you are saying is clear to me, but I do want to dig more into how Buddhism still allows an idea of appealing to something greater than how you may currently experience yourself. Sometimes in Zen you have this notion of small mind and big mind, or small self and large self. So, in the moment that you are feeling truly stuck in some problem, you are identified with small self. And as small self, yes, you can and should appeal to something larger than you and your problems to help you. That thing larger than you can be seen as a larger, more open, more expansive, version of yourself, or your true nature. This true nature is larger than this small you and its problems.

On one hand, you are never separate from this larger self, because it is your true nature. But still, a more limited sense of self has manifested in this moment, and it is asking for help. If it can immediately dissolve into the true self, OK. If instead, this smaller self reaches out to some representation or manifestation of the larger true nature, this is also fine. In surrendering to it, you are again dissolving I think, just by a different road. I think these and other different ways of framing are all included in various branches and practices of Buddhism.

This all reminds me of a quote I like from Rinpoche's Healing with Form, Energy, and Light:
These three dimensions are separated only conceptually. This is an important point to keep in mind… It is a mistake to think that external, internal, and secret can truly be divided, or that external practice, tantra and Dzogchen are mutually exclusive. Confusion on this point leads to many of the great divisions in belief…
The view of Dzogchen is ultimate and contains the others, but this doesn't mean that the lower views should be neglected. Believing that everything is insubstantial luminosity is very different from being able to walk through walls. The highest practice is the one that is most effective, not necessarily the one categorized as "higher."
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Sun Dec 26, 2021 9:42 pm
the more we speak, the more there are things to deepen!
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Mon Dec 27, 2021 5:34 pm
I think that at some point the conceptual structure becomes clear, but then you have to walk the talk, or embody the teachings. Yet, we also know that the one that " has to walk the talk" is not a solid entity, it's a construct of the mind...so this apparent contradict ion presses the stop button of the whole mechanism. In that space ( this is how it works for me) there's no doubt, no concepts, there is true freedom. This is not even just Buddhist, although the Buddha showed the way with great mastery. In devotional traditions, I think, the unreal nature of the little self is seen through surrendering to an externalized ultimate reality, God. Eventually the devotee and God merge. It's their way of pressing the stop button. All roads lead to Rome!
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Mon Dec 27, 2021 5:46 pm
Would any of you be able to explain what the term tantric refers to? I have some idea but would appreciate your input. Thanks!
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Mon Dec 27, 2021 7:59 pm
For what it's worth, I'd like to share 2 quotes of classifications from Rinpoche's books. I 'believe' in general he has said and written that these systems all contain and support each other at the deepest levels, and at any given moment one given practice may be more helpful to us than another, so they all have their use.

From Healing with Form, Energy, and Light:
//=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
THREE LEVELS OF SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

The use of elements in spiritual practice varies according to whether the
approach is through shamanism, tantra, or Dzogchen; that is, the external,
internal, or secret levels.

External

Externally, the elements are not only the raw elements of our sensual experience
—the earth we live on, the water we drink, the fire that warms us, the air
we breathe, and the space through which we move—they are also the spirits
connected with the elements. These include goddesses, elemental spirits, and
other beings. Working with these beings is a common practice in Tibetan
culture and is the domain of what I’m calling shamanism, though I want to be
clear that there is no word like “shamanism” in the Tibetan language.

Tibetan traditions of working with spirits originated in Bön but are now
found throughout Tibetan culture. Many decisions made by Tibetan officials
and high lamas of monasteries of all sects are made partially through
consulting human oracles and non-physical beings. Tibetans do not like to
think of this practice as shamanism because for some Tibetans the word is
related to animal sacrifice or to a more primitive spirituality. What I am
addressing here has nothing to do with such things. Rather, these are practices
taught in the first four of the nine levels of spiritual teachings of the
Southern Treasury of Bön teachings.

Internal

The internal elements are the elemental energies rather than their forms. In
our bodies these are the physical energies that pump our blood, digest our
food, and fire our neurons, and also the more subtle energies upon which
our health and capacities are based and depend. Some of these subtle energies
are now recognized and studied in the West through a new familiarity
with the Eastern medical models that inform acupuncture and the new uses
Western medical researchers are finding for different vibratory treatments.
There are also much subtler energies that cannot be detected by physical
measurement but that are available to direct experience through yogic and
contemplative disciplines. This subtler level of elemental energy not only is
found inside the body but is also the dimension of energy that skilled practitioners
of feng shui—the Chinese art of appropriate placement of objects—
sense in the environment. These are also the energies that build in group
phenomena like crowd behavior and patriotism and so on. Tantra works
with these energies by guiding them in the body for specific purposes using
direct yogic means involving physical posture, breathing, visualization, and
mantra. Tantra recognizes the energies as divine forces.

Secret

The secret dimension of the elements exists beyond duality and is therefore
hard to describe with language, which necessarily divides experience into
separate objects. This most subtle dimension of the elements is the radiance
of being, the “five pure lights,” aspects of the luminosity that, inseparably
united with emptiness, is the basis of everything. The practices and teachings
associated with this level of the elements are from Dzogchen, the Great
Perfection.
//=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

From Wonders of the Natural Mind:
//=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Sutra, Tantra, and Dzogchen

According to Bon, the five passions-ignorance, attachment, anger, jealousy, and
pride  -  are  the  principal  cause  of  all  the  problems  of  this  life  and  of
transmigration in samsara. They are also called the five poisons because they kill
people.  These  are  the  passions  that  we  must  overcome  through  practice.
According to the Sutra view, it takes many lifetimes to purify the passions and
achieve  enlightenment,  whereas  according  to  the  Tantric  and  the  Dzogchen
views the practitioner can attain enlightenment in this very lifetime.

Different  religions  and  spiritual  traditions  have  devised  various  ways  of
purifying the passions and attaining realization. In Yungdrung Bon, these are the
method  of  renunciation,  the  method  of  transformation,  and  the  method  of
self-liberation.

For dealing with the passions, we can use the example of a poisonous plant.
According to the Sutra interpretation, the plant must be destroyed, because there
is  no  other  way  to  resolve  the  problem  of  its  poison.  The  Sutra  practitioner
renounces all the passions.

According to  the  Tantric  system,  the  tantric  adept should  take  the poisonous
plant  and  mix  it  with  another  plant  in  order  to  form  an  antidote:  he  does  not
reject the passions but tries to transform them into aids to practice. The Tantric
adept is like a doctor who transforms the poisonous plants into medicine.

The peacock, on the other hand, eats the poisonous plant because he has the
capacity  to  use  the  energy  contained  in  the  poison  to  make  himself  more
beautiful;  that  is,  he  frees  the  poisonous  property  of  the  plant  into  energy  for
growth. This is the Dzogchen method of effortlessly liberating passions directly
as they arise.
//=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
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Mon Dec 27, 2021 9:28 pm
Bob, you are doing a huge job! You are transcribing massive part of the book for us. Thank you very much, I appreciate very much!
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Mon Dec 27, 2021 9:54 pm
You're very welcome! But don't give me too much credit. In some cases I had a digital form of the book, so the main task was remembering/finding the relevant parts. In cases where I typed it out by hand, I see it also as helping myself especially since it helps cement it in my memory for when I'll eventually need it.

I am grateful to Rinpoche for writing such useful books. I would suggest no one hesitate to check them out.
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Mon Dec 27, 2021 10:20 pm
He is a great theacher, really
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Wed Dec 29, 2021 6:52 am
Thank you Bob, extremely clear, I really appreciate it! Rinpoche's explanation makes a lot of sense.
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Sat Jan 08, 2022 7:41 pm
Hello All,

I post this as "back to basics" because thats what it feels like - but I mean in the most positive way.

Many thanks to you Bob, Marijke, David, and Fabio for your personal stories.

Fabio's story moves me lots - a brave man to share this.
David's background in Vendanta is very interesting - non-dualism!
Thanks Bob for talking about awareness and being here now.
Thanks Marijke for refering to "naked awareness" as big words ... they are.

For me - "back to basics" just now is very much about Buddha's early teaching on the illusory nature of "I".

My daily focus is around taking refuge - daily meditation practice.

I am reminded constantly of the "4 thoughts that move the mind" - which Tibetan Buddhists often refer to.

At this time I can get very worried about my adult daughter dealing with depression, following years of treatment for cancer. We do what we can, but sometimes it seems awful ... My famous person lives in Sweden. I find it very hard.

in the meantime, life goes on, my wife and I go for walks in the valley here in beautiful west Wales - I make frames for paintings, and play / compose music with my son.

We are very lucky people - and really it's all good.

BEST WISHES TO YOU ALL

Jim

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Sat Jan 15, 2022 12:34 pm
Thank you very much for your post, Jim, I read your post and posts of others again and it is so great to hear about your lives and how you are working with the dharma. It is stimulating to know we are all on the same path in our own way, with all the ups and downs but we all never give up.These days I have an issue with accepting some things that happened. Every time they come back to my mind. I want to change the situations but of course I can only change the way I deal with them...This morning I mooved on to the third line "Emptiness is clear light".I want to keep the lines close to my heart today and not engage in all kind of activities to really keep feeling the space, the openness and being aware in stead of turning around in my emotions and thoughts...
love to all from Marijke
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Sun Jan 16, 2022 12:09 am
Good afternoon , to be honest to me are even very difficult the first an second steps. I explain better. Difficult to choose the  object, or famous person. Many times, I don't have the famous person  to observe and  dissolve.  So I abite the spaciousness and  try to dissolve what emerge.  I understood that any emotion  starts with a thought. So I try to note the thoughts before they become an emotion, but very often they are too fast to keep and dissolve. They are like thieves who enter very quickly without being seen in the house. The same I try to do during the day life. Something it happens that  I have a thought and after the  emotion comes and finally I act. This process happens constantly, but the 99,999999% of the time I'm not conscious. When I act I even don't why I have done. The result it's that the most of the times I regret about the action. For example now I had this thought, I want some chocolate, urgently! Without observing the vision I would get up from my chair and go to eat some chocolate, that  because I'm allergic I can't eat. So I would regret about my action.  And  I'm not hungry, I had lunch one hour ago. From where comes this thought?  What is behind a shortage? I am sure that most of the actions come from a necessity, that if we were fully aware of the process, we would have no task.  During meditation I try to observe what there is before the thoughts come. Or I generate a thought and I observe what happends.  I have the feeling that to dissolve the emotion it's to late and even too hard. Better to dissolve what there is before the emotion emerges.
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