Nature of the mind
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Sun Dec 26, 2021 11:48 am
Hello All,

Just wondering: we are a small sangha forum, and are getting some good discussions.

We are in many different places in the world, and maybe very different personal situations.

But we clearly have a common interest - related to Buddhism, Dzogchen - and Rinpoche's teaching.

I suggest that we could each introduce ourselves, in the forum - about our different background history stuff - that may be relevant to our current discussions.

Maybe this could be interesting and useful to connect our differences and our commonality - in developing our sangha.

I wonder what you all think?

BEST WISHES TO YOU ALL

Jim
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Sun Dec 26, 2021 6:16 pm
To me is fine, if all agree, we can start
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Sun Dec 26, 2021 10:18 pm
If others are interested, sure, I'd be up for that.
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Mon Dec 27, 2021 11:57 am
Hi Folks,

This is my brief bio. Born in NW England 1944. Met my life partner Birgitta in 1963. Now retired living with Birgitta, in a secluded valley in SW Wales.

We have 3 childen - Mia(age 56) in Sweden, Jonas (age 53) in VietNam, Louis (age 47) in England.

I worked many years as community dentist, treating people with special needs - in Sweden, in Wales. After retiring we did volunteer dental work in VietNam, Ladakh, Nepal and Kenya.

I have a life-long interest in Buddhism. My main teachers are Tibetan Kargypas - Akong Rinpoche, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche,Thrangu Rinpoche. I have Dzogchen teachings from Namkai Norbu Rinpoche, and Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.

I'm quite busy in retirement - working with my wife in our big garden, do lots of painting. I play music in a trio (piano, fiddle, bass)- we play for fun, mainly at local events and parties locally.

That's a brief "me". I am interested to know some brief "you's".

BEST WISHES Jim

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Tue Dec 28, 2021 4:21 am
It's hard for me to know what's most helpful to share, but here goes.

Next month I turn 41. I was born in Jersey, we didn't have a lot of money, my dad was often violent and controlling, my mom and brother had many problems in life, and in general my family growing up was very troubled. My dad died when I was 15, and my mom lacked money and experience so many things were hard. I always liked learning how things worked, always taking apart broken things to fix them, and got a job in high school working on cars and organizing up the shop.

Going to college was a partial escape from my family situation, a lot of fun, and exposed me to new personalities, beliefs, and ways of looking at the world. The friends I made and the ideas I came across benefited my life immensely. Eventually I moved to New York City. I held jobs working in the financial industry as a programmer (I loved computers), then programming video games (I loved video games), programming educational software, then making consumer electronics (learned and came to love electronics), then assistive technology (felt great inventing things to help people with disabilities), and recently with a company teaching kids programming and electronics.

During college I became aware my view of myself and the world was distorted. In many social situations I was nervous and shy without cause, in other situations I took careless risks with my life, enjoying the thrill of it. Luckily many things worked out, but that was mostly luck rather than clear thinking or wisdom. I also had a lot of trouble with relationships. I always tried to sort through my problems on my own but eventually realized therapy might help. Luck struck again as one of my therapists insisted that I start regularly going to this place called Tibet House for meditation classes. The talks and experiences there made a huge change in my life. They also led to many more questions about life.

My life continued to improve. I met Elizabeth, we supported each other and helped each other to grow, we eventually got married. Wanting to protect and water that relationship as much as possible, I dove deeper into teachings. I had read almost every book Thich Nhat Hanh had written, and he wrote a lot. At one point I realized I was becoming addicted to knowledge and was lacking in committment to practice. It's silly to say, but I vowed not to read another book till I could put into practice what I had been reading up to that point. I was going to be mindful of my breath and body as consistently as possible. Soon after that decision I broke my foot and was on crutches, and it was an amazing opportunity to practice acceptance of the current moment, gratitude for what I still had, and mindfulness in general.

Eventually I gained a misunderstanding I'd have to resolve later. I was at a point where I was very peaceful, things were going well, and I 'think' that I was mindful of almost every single waking breath I was taking, which took some time to attain. But even while attending to every single breath, I was still thinking, and I was sure 'thinking' was the root problem. I could forcefully shift my focus away from my verbal thoughts to my breath, but thoughts still came up, and in fact I realized it was just a choice of focus. I could focus on breathing and even non-stop thinking at the same time. Breathing the way I was would not magically stop me from thinking. I could focus deeply on my breathing to almost the complete exclusion of thought, but it was a struggle and felt like I was also numbing my life somewhat. My focus was laser focused, narrow, instead of open and natural. I had not yet found what I was looking for. So I started reading every book and watching every video I could from certain other teachers like Shunryu Suzuki, Alan Watts, and Jiddu Krishnamurti. I was grateful for books by Sharon Salzberg, Pema Chodron, and so many others.

6 years ago my daughter Caroline was born. Deeply desiring to be the best father I could be, and to share with her the best understanding of life I could, I was further motivated. Eventually I came across lucid dreaming which I already posted some of my thoughts on. I saw understanding how our minds fabricate dreams and reality as crucial to not making a mess of our lives. If you dig into researching lucid dreaming, several books come up again and again, one of which is The Tibetan Yogas Of Dream and Sleep, written by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. At first, I very narrowly read parts of that book. Only one small bit seemed to be the practical steps that I wanted, the rest seemed to be wrapped up in too much Tibetan culture and belief, and I saw it as an unnecessary distraction and a waste of time for anyone of a different culture. Yet, something about Rinpoche's writing inspired me to look into some of his videos and his other books, and I'm very glad I took the chance. A couple years later I reread that first book with a much more open and curious mind, and with a better background and understanding of where Rinpoche was coming from. I had gone from seeing various types of energy work as unscientific imagination to instead a powerful and equally valid way of working with our life. By this point I started seeing all these ways of looking at the world as simply alternate ways of framing our experinece. All equally valid and in some ways equivalent, helpful when applied correctly, harmful when applied incorrectly or stubbornly.

Through Rinpoche's clear teaching, I believe I've healed that misunderstanding I made many years ago. Being aware of the base, the stillness, the silence, the spaciousness, it has no need of blocking out thoughts or any other experience. It can easily and happily hold them. You don't need to split awareness from vision. In fact in some ways you can not. Vision is not the problem. Emptiness is clear light, clear light is emptiness. Vision and awareness are inseparable. But, if we lose the awareness aspect and get lost in the vision aspect, our view becomes distorted. Then we begin acting in ways that are unskillful.

During one of Rinpoche's classes, "Who Am I?" I was inspired to seriously reconsider my various identities. Out of this I reconnected with my mom and brother in Jersey and have been seeing them every week, and many things in all our lives have improved.

On a lighter note, I learned to ride a unicycle 14 years ago, and most days I ride it on various errands, shopping, etc.

On an even lighter note, my wife plays violin very well and I decided to give learning it a go at one point. I got to the point where I could play Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star not too badly. Then I was determined to play it while riding my unicycle down the street. I had made some progress on this, I believe most people could tell what I was playing, but it didn't sound all that good. I have not tried the violin at all in many years, but who knows what the future may bring.

-Bob
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Tue Dec 28, 2021 10:20 pm
Thanks Bob - great to read .. lots of points of contact.

All the best .. Jim
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Wed Dec 29, 2021 6:24 pm
Hello everybody,
Thank you so much for your stories, Jim and Bob!
I will also write something. I am from Amsterdam, Holland.I worked as a social worker with heavy criminals and later with Jewish kids. When my 2 sons were little I started a yoga teacher training and I became a yogateacher. Now I am retired and I spend the winter and spring with my husband near the Medeterranean Sea in Spain.Here we live at the top of a rock, I can see the sea but also the mountains with snow on them, the village below us and the wide sky with beautiful clouds. It is so quiet and spacious here and this really helps to open my mind.
Many years I was a student of the Tibetan teacher Sogyal Rinpoche but in 2016 there were a lot of accusations against him and I left the sangha and stopped being his student. Of course that was a difficult decision...
What attracted me in Tenzin Wangyal was his work with the 9 breathings, the tsa lung exercises, working with the chakras, the elements and the subtle energy. I started following his teachings on facebook and workshops he and his senior students gave and I followed his weekendretreats about A-Tri and creativity in Amsterdam. I very much like his no nonsense approach and his simplicity!
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Wed Dec 29, 2021 8:08 pm
Thank you to have sharing details about you!
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Thu Dec 30, 2021 2:07 pm
Dear Marijke and ALL,

It's great to read your story. I like the description of your view from the mountain, and I see a lot in common in the work we did.
The simplicity and no-nonsense teachings of Tenzin Wangyal is very special.

I do like to read personal stuff - about us as living people.

Dear "Sangha folk" - from our posts, I see we are all very different - but have a commonality, which is fascinating and brilliant.

BEST WISHES for 2022
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Fri Dec 31, 2021 11:42 am
Thanks Fabio and Jim! All the best to you all for 2022!!!
love from Marijke
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Fri Dec 31, 2021 8:59 pm
All the best for the new year to all of you!

Fabio
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Sun Jan 02, 2022 7:03 pm
Good afternoon to all.

There are many funny coincidences in this group: my best friends they called Eleonora, Marika, Roberto and Giovanni. Like you: Eleonor, Bob ( Robert), Jim ( Giovanni) and Marika. Eleonor is a musician, Jim too, Bob son's play the violin and he would like to play it too. I'm a violinist, an orchestral conductor, a violin maker and historical violins dealer. I'm 58 years old and I live in Bologna. I'm married and I have a son.

This is my story in relation with the Dharma. In the very beginning I was the favorite son of my mother, a very sensitive person. Life was wonderful: the sunshine, the nature, her sweetness. But when I was 4 years old she become a sever psychiatric patient. The suffering was enourmous. This was my first meeting with the body, speach and mind of suffering. Because I couldn't sleep, my father made me listen music constantly: Bach, Mozart and it calm me. This was the first time I met the music and her healing power.

One day, I was 5/6 years old, I was in the terrace, looking to the sky and to the sunrise. Suddenly my mind stopped and I thought: I'm eternal! The cosmo is like a matrioska, infinite worlds one inside the other. This was my first meeting with the inner refuge. Outside me there was the hell and I was terrified, but I had my inner refuge and the silence.

My father, an eccentric person that loved me deeply, educated us to the arts, culture and to aspire to the highest things of the spirit. I was listenig music constantly and at 13 years old I started to study violin and music composition professionally in the conservatorium; music saved me.

When I was 18th I had a nervous breakdown and I started a psycoanalitic cure: this was the first time I understood the existence of the vision. In 6 months I reborn again. I become an happy man! The main exercice of this period was to learn to unify the ego, it was too much frangmented because of my story: I couldn't control the emotions. Meanwhile I started to study “psicosintesis” a kind of psycolgie that unify the Junghian psicologie with the oriental philosofhies. One time my theacher asked to me: if you are'nt your body, your feelings,sensations and your thoughts what are you? I was very impressed! I undrestood that there is something else behind the ego, a person can evolve to a new identity. I threw myself into studying everything I could,I started to do zen meditation, but at that time the attractive of the samsara was very strong.

I become an orchestral conductor traveling everywhere. It was important because I faced and solved two problems: to control the fear of the pubblic and to persuade other people to follow me.

In this period the Dharma visit me many times, in dreams and with coincidences. I attended a course about the dead held by an old man, Sergio Boni. In 1945, during an operation he died but after few hours he woke up. Because he rembered eveything he dedicated all his life to study the dead, lived in India for many years studying with many important guru. He wrote many books in wich he showed how the process of the dead, the bardos etc, are described as the same in many culture and historical periods. In the Buddhis, Ebraism, Egyptian, etc. I become very good friend of him. I had a contact with Sogyal Rimpoche too, I organized a retrat and a concert for him in Bologna, but I have seen very questionable things and I did’nt want to became part of his sangha.

16 years ago my son was born, a magic experience. And my father and brother died too. It was an honor to accompany them during the dead. My mother start to get worse with her psychiatric disorder, but it was discovered that she was born with a disease called congenital hydrocephalus, this was the origin of her madness. She had an operation and the most of the problems desappeared. What a mocking karma she had! A symply magnetic resonance would avoided to her a life of suffering.

Since I was 7 years old I had suffered of a very painful neuralgia, but with anesthetics I could manage it. 5 years ago again came out violently. Nothing worked. Together with this strong tremors, intense cold everywhere. Nobody could help me. I was worried to have some autoimmune disease. So I started to meditate intensivly and little by little it has improved, and sometimes disappears. My wife gave to me a present, the dream yoga by Tenzin and others book from him. I was so deeply fascinated! I read them constatly. To me he is preciuous. Thanks to Tenzin.

I know that the Dharma has court me since all my life, without all the sufferings I could’nt understand its preciousness. It’s time to marry him! Dead could arrive any moment, I don’t have to waste time, I hope I have enought time left.

Thank you for you attention
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Sun Jan 02, 2022 7:29 pm
your attention, sorry
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Sun Jan 02, 2022 10:12 pm
"Dead could arrive any moment, I don’t have to waste time,"
I remind myself of this often, not to be negative, but as urgent and strong motivation. Life has made it abundantly clear to me that even the next hour is not guaranteed.

"I hope I have enough time left."
In both my past struggles with addiction, and my current struggles to build good habits, I'm often humbled when I see how long some things take to change. Progress can have such ups and downs, sometimes some steps backward after steps forward. Not knowing how long something will ultimately take, I also often "hope I have enough time left," and am further motivated to not take any unnecessary steps backward.

Here's two older videos from Rinpoche I'm reminded of that are somewhat related to now being the time:
"When you believe you can´t practice":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fq1eD8JvE00
"Are You Living Life Right Now?"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcGz_njDfCU

As always, thank you everyone for sharing! And happy new year!
Best,
-Bob
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Tue Jan 04, 2022 12:32 pm
Thank you so much for being so open to us, Fabio!
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Tue Jan 04, 2022 12:47 pm
This is the first time in my life that I can share experiences about Dharma and in particular the nature of the mind with others people. To me is a pleasure to share with you this path. It's interesting, since I did this retreat I meditate a lot and others poeple around me, my son, my wife and my brother started to meditate with me. These theachings are magnetic, attract others people. And Tenzin is incredible. Great theacher.
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Wed Jan 05, 2022 5:31 pm
Dear Fabio,
It touches me to read this is the first time you share these experiences. Thank you for your trust! Let us all create a safe space to keep on sharing!
Marijke
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Wed Jan 05, 2022 6:19 pm
Your welcome
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Thu Jan 06, 2022 7:45 pm
Hi everyone:

I haven't been very regular in checking in to the forum, but I appreciate all the posts here.  The recent retreat with Rinpoche was my first experience with him, and with Dzogchen more generally, and I found it very very useful.  It seems to have been just the kick needed to establish (at least so far) a consistent meditation practice, something that has long eluded me.  Since the retreat, on a recent trip while browsing a used bookstore, I came across his book on Sleep Yoga, and I am about half way through that.  It has been fascinating, and eye-opening.

As this is the place to introduce some of our 'stories', here is a quick overview of what brought me here.  From an early age I was curious and looking for anything that seemed to explain what was behind it all as I might have phrased it back then.  I have many brothers and sisters, but none that I could share that curiosity with.  When I was a teen (mid 70's), transcendental meditation was quite popular in the U.S., and when one of my older brothers decided to try it, I was able to convince my parents that it was a good idea for me, too.  I appreciate their bravery in saying yes, by the way!  I meditated up until I left for university, and also experimented a very little (all on my own) with a book by Robert Munroe on out of the body experiences.  I think that the organization that hosted the course we all just took is somehow connected to that -- an odd coincidence 45 years later....

Once in university, I began a very extroverted search and exploration.  I began studying aikido, Japanese, and became intrigued by 4th way ideas (Gurdjieff and Ouspensky).  Eventually I came across a 4th way group, and spent nearly 2 decades with that.  For various reasons (not least of which I was not getting what I expected from a spiritual path), I stopped that path and began diving into non-dual approaches.  After some testing out of various approaches, I found that Advaita Vedanta fit well, and have spent the past 10 or so years studying and practicing (to the extent I understood what there was to 'do') that.  I began to understand, however, that there are real difficulties in transplanting to the west a path/system/philosophy that has so many roots in such a profoundly different culture, as does Vedanta.  Primarily, it seemed to me, much of the preliminary work that Vedanta assumes and requires is done prior to, and outside of, the actual study of Vedanta.  

And at that point, about 2 months ago, my wife and I took a quiet weekend up in the mountains, and happened across a youtube video of Rinpoche speaking on the three pills.  As you all know, it came across as profound and genuine, and in short order we found a retreat beginning the next week!

David
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Fri Jan 07, 2022 1:29 am
Thank you David to have shared your experiences with us! I would be very happy if you will tell us your experiences with vedanta. I've read a lot about it in the past.
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Fri Jan 28, 2022 12:12 am
Hello, I am not a very good blogger, but I find the latest posts to be very inspiring. Thank you all. First a brief introduction of " the person": originally from Argentina, studied music and philosophy, moved to the US because of a spiritual group loosely based on Gurdjieff ideas, leaving behind a very suffocating family history ( I'll spare you the details). In 2000 I read I am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj, which changed my life. I got deeply into traditional Advaita Vedanta but explored other traditions like Direct Path and Theravada Buddhism. I very strongly resonate with Dzogchen teachings, so here I am. I have this natural impulse to find the common thread behind all formulations, maybe because I find the particular cultural forms a bit difficult to connect to.
I am now facing some family challenges ( mother and sister) and find the five fold meditation to be very helpful. The way it works for me is that rather than dissolving thoughts as they appear, I find it more manageable to view the whole manifest universe as one all encompassing thought and dissolve that. That's the key commonality I find between Advaita Vedanta and Dzogchen: the dream like quality of it all, including this body/ mind complex. But the dream goes on and I find I don't much believe in doing practices, other than seeing again and again the illusory/ conceptual nature of it all and the radiant being-awareness behind and through it ( sometimes I see it clearly, sometimes I don't;
sometimes through a fog). Maybe that is the point of the practices anyway. The insight has to be reflected in how the dream is lived. I guess that's why I join "people" like you.
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Fri Jan 28, 2022 2:13 pm
Thank you Eleonora to share your profile with us
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Fri Jan 28, 2022 4:01 pm
Yes, thanks for your post Eleonora.

"Hello, I am not a very good blogger..."
Me neither. I'm just gonna keep posting to at least keep myself going with this. I hope the posts help others or at least get them thinking about the practice, but I can never know. When in doubt, I'll post.

"In 2000 I read I am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj..."
Yeah, that I really enjoyed that one as well. The other ones of his conversations in later years come off very strong. I do think he was very wise and realized a lot. But I do think it's sad he continued to smoke and eventually die of throat cancer all while declaring this body isn't him, it can keep some harmless habits if it wants, etc. We'll keep coming back to the fact that there are so many paths, but I'm personally interested in working with and enjoying the dream. Using the deepest realization that I can get that it is a dream to live it in the most beautiful way possible. I am far from this. But I'm working on it!

"I have this natural impulse to find the common thread behind all formulations..."
I do as well, and for a reason essentially the same. I want to make it part of my life in a deep way. I think there's a common core, but to be embodied in life it will have supports and manifestations beyond that core. I think we have a choice of taking wholesale the supports and manifestations presented as-is by various traditions, or crafting them ourselves. I think for most people, neither road is simple or quick, and is instead often a process that continually deepens over one's lifetime.

"... the dream like quality of it all, including this body/ mind complex... ... seeing again and again the illusory/ conceptual nature of it all and the radiant being-awareness behind and through it..."
Yes. And as you all know, for now I'm playing the game of figuring out how stable can I be in this, by what method, etc. BUT while honoring the light and the space equally, or knowing them as the same thing. Maybe as they say I'm trying to "have my cake and eat it too" but I actually think we can and should. If this is as Rinpoche says "sacred space" then I think what's in it is also sacred. Which brings me to...

"But the dream goes on"
Yes, I agree. I want to emphasize here that I think this is great because as far as I know all the beauty that can be seen, can only be seen in vision, in dream. I know there's pain also, trust me, my dad was physically and verbally abusive to my family for many years. And I know very well from when I was battling addiction how we can be fully responsible for creating great suffering for ourselves. I 'think' it's about understanding dream for what it is and knowing how to work/flow with it. That way we can best appreciate and enjoy the beauty, and realize where we're creating suffering unnecessarily.
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