This year I’ve finished reading two books: “Awakening the Sacred Body” and “Awakening the Luminous mind” both from my Tibetan teacher Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. Tenzin is a Geshe, which is he went to school as a monk through elementary, middle, high school, and college.
The lockdowns did a lot of good, it gave some time to work on the meditation systems I learned back in college decades ago, but I found something interesting. My Tibetan teacher has simplified his teachings greatly, but with keeping the essence intact if not even better. Stillness, Silence, and Spaciousness is his current lessons over the recent years and so he wants newcomers and senior students alike to have a strong foundation in these basics of meditation.
Remember, meditation should not change your personal beliefs and religion, but we can gain a lot of insight into our true nature when we go inside and dissolve our ego through the practice of meditation.
Awakening the Sacred body: he narrows down some of the physical Tibetan Yogas into two primary methods for beginners to experience the body, energies, and mindfulness. The 9 breathings of purification, a method we always began practice sessions with were re-emphasized. The 9 breathings are basically the pranayama “alternate nostril breathing” taught in many yoga schools worldwide. His pranayama version is specific to his Tibetan tradition, not quite the same as Hatha yoga.
Tsa-Lung or Tibetan “Wind and channel exercises” were also emphasized. There are like qigong, 5 simple exercises to move prana or qi in the body and transform the mind and body. There are 5 based on the 5 elements in Tibetan medicine. Not quite the same as Chinese 5 elements. The element of Space is about the space we have in our body and mind. Understand that even atoms in our body are 99.99999999% empty space!
The second book, “Awakening the Luminous Mind” was less on physical exercise like Tsa Lung, but more on the mind development in meditation by developing the “3 refuges” in the body, speech, and mind. Here the emphasis is on keeping the body still in sitting posture, quiet the mind to halt internal talking to develop silence, and third, find the true nature of mind which is like a spacious empty sky.
The second part of the book was a meditation on one of the ancient poems of his Tibetan lineage.
The 5 fold teaching of Dawa Gyaltsen:
Vision is mind.
Mind is empty.
Empty is clear light.
Clear light is union.
Union is great bliss.
What does this mean? Its meaning is simple but profound:
“Vision is mind” is all about how we create illusions in our mind. Tenzin says: “Often with a sense of subject or self, or objects or appearances formed by our imagination”. Our mind is always making projections taking us into various rollercoaster of emotions, His advice is to keep looking closer and closer at your problems and projections and you may come to understand they are not true reality. One part he says, “Gaze at your anger without thought, directly with awareness.” This is one example of examining your problems with his advice to simply just observe.
“Mind is empty”, the mind Dawa Gyaltsen describes is ego. Here he describes it three ways: pain body, pain speech, and pain mind for we experience suffering through those three doors. Each of those is empty. You will understand the mind is empty when it is free of pain body, pain voice, and pain mind. Empty means clear, free, and open, so you are able to experience bliss body, bliss speech, and bliss mind through practice of meditation.
“Empty is clear light”, here he talks about the empty mind is not a place of nothing, as emptiness really contains everything of great quality. In the space of emptiness is where everything is spontaneously perfected. Joy is there, love is there, compassion is there, equanimity is there, and confidence is there. It is available to you if you can cultivate the awareness through meditation to ripen the experience of openness and become familiar with it.
“Abide, dissolve, continue” Tenzin says is a method to maintain the clear light in meditation after acheiving the experience in stillness, space, and silence. It will be easy to get distracted so you will need to use your wisdom mind to coach yourself into deeper experience to observe and move on from distractions.
“Clear light is union”, here he says clear light is clear plus light. Clear as in spaciousness and openness and light as in awareness. There is no separation so finding and experiencing the spaciousness and awareness as non-dual, it is like the child becoming re-united with its mother.
“Union is great bliss” is the final line. Here Tenzin says, “The notion of pain body, pain speech, and pain mind- the whole existence of your personality and characteristics- is caused by not knowing your true self. The definition of not knowing your true self is ignorance, which is the root cause of suffering. There is a new sense of self when you learn and recognize the awareness and openness. It creates a new sense of self and that new sense of self has a deep quality of bliss, joy, compassion, equanimity, loving kindness from that union, from experiencing the natural mind. If union is experienced then the positive experiences will manifest in your life.
This all leads to the treasury of the natural mind. Tenzin says, “According to Tibetan medicine, the source of all illness is ignorance, the failure to recognize the source of one’s own being. When the mother (emptiness, openness, spaciousness) and child (awareness) unite, the causes of sickness are not perpetuated. This is a traditional Tibetan way of saying that the more you are aware of openness as the source, the more momentum of the pain body’s patterning is disrupted and weakened. When stress is reduced in this way, the negative consequences of that stress-your imbalanced reaction to outer difficulties- are also reduced. The ignorant, disconnected, unhealthy mind creates suffering. The moment you are aware, it changes the momentum and trajectory of your suffering. Confusion dissolves at the source.”
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