Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy: Fear Not

When the obstacles from earth, water, fire or air
Endanger or destroy our illusory bodies,
Without hesitation or divided mind we pray to you;
Orgyen with the female deities of the four elements,
Without doubt will pacify the elements instantly.
Padmasambhava of Orgyen, to you we pray;
Please bestow the blessing of spontaneous fulfillment of our wishes.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sky Islands, Time Islands

In autumn, there is always one special morning of singular light and meaningful wind. Many magicians have tried to name it, usually with indirect reference -- calling it "this" wind or "that" light -- but no single name suffices. Even if you were born in another season, you feel it, but if you were born in autumn, you feel it acutely: it is the very core of your physical existence. It is raw life. This morning, after the Orionid meteor shower cleansed the heavens with star rain; this morning, as the Ch'ang Ho bells ring beneath west wind -- the wind of gates shut upon effulgent sunlight -- this morning, my October birthday morning, autumn's special life came to me again. 

What is it like? 

It is like falling in love.

In preparation for today I set off last Thursday, to ride the high ridges before first snow and forest wardens closed the trail gates. I was retracing the annual spirit journey of the Serrano band of Native Americans. The Serrano held polity over the San Bernardino Mountains, in what is now my stomping grounds. I wish you would take a few moments to read about these mountains. If you do, you will come to find they are what is known as "sky islands," defined as "...a high mountain region whose plants and animals vary dramatically from those in the surrounding semi-arid lands."

So, the San Bernardinos -- once the property of Spain -- are unique unto themselves. You will encounter many things here that you will encounter nowhere else. The photo above was taken at about one mile high. That dry lake in the distance is where my journey began.

Moving east, around a mountain lake and up to the 8,000 foot ridges, one finds the self-arisen stupas flourishing amid trees. Up here there are many glens and glades, populated by all manner of spirits. This is a beautiful place to set up camp.

Moving higher still, and looking back west, behind you, is a portion of the lake. I actually made it up there, with pounding chest, shaking leg, and the plaintive wish that I had not forgotten to bring the Nitrostat. The entire following next day was given over to recovery. 

Still, it all worked out for the best, as Friday and Saturday were given over to working my way back down from the ridges to the desert floor -- to a time island reckoned as inhabited 11,000 to 12,000 years ago.

At least once in your life, try to witness a desert sunrise. There is a exquisite tension between strength and gentleness; again, one of those things better experienced than described.

This picture and the picture above were taken just moments apart. This shows you how quickly the morning light arrives.

Looking back from the gate to the edge of a lava flow. I have taken some of you here before. According to the University of California, this is an ancient shaman's den.

You find yourself in a labyrinth that time has carved into the desert floor. A most remarkable and powerful place for ritual, if you like that sort of thing.

The clues are recorded everywhere upon the face of the stones, but it is a lifetime's challenge to read them.

This overhang is above what the university researchers call the "rattlesnake shaman's cave." The photograph below is of the interior of the cave itself.

I have to believe that the plants growing here are particularly meaningful, but I have not investigated the matter in any depth.

In the spirit of mutual cooperation, the shamans left instructions, but we have forgotten how to read. "Mutual cooperation," is, in fact, the theme of this year's birthday post and annual appeal for live release.

Just the other day, someone published a quotation from one of the Dalai Lama's books, and it seems to be the watchword for this particular season -- a sort of textural (not textual) commentary, like the textures in the photograph, above:
"Because it is a reality that we are by nature social animals, bound to depend on each other, we need to cultivate affection and concern for other people if we really desire peace and happiness. Look at wild animals and birds. Even they travel together, flock together, and help each other. Bees do not have a particular legal system, they do not follow any spiritual practice, but for their livelihood and survival they depend on each other—that is their natural way of existence. Even though we intelligent human beings must also depend on each other, we sometimes misuse our intelligence and try to exploit each other. That goes against human nature. For those of us who profess to believe in a particular religious practice, it is extremely important that we try to help each other and cultivate a feeling of affection for each other. That is the source of happiness in our life."
I came home, and I sat on the front porch, really exhausted by my travels. As I sat there, suddenly two ravens came howling over the ridge, screaming bloody murder. One took up a position in a tree nearby Rabbit Central Headquarters, and began alarming the rabbits. The other took repeated, aggressive dives at the stupa! From my limited knowledge of raven, it seemed as if they were warning the rabbits that a bobcat was laying in wait.

Indeed, they were! This bobcat was hiding amid the stupa's walls, looking to pounce upon an unsuspecting rabbit. The ravens would have none of it, and drove the bobcat away with a cacophony of cat castigation that made the rattlesnakes blush.

So, it comes to me, as it no doubt comes to you, that if the ravens can protect the welfare of the rabbits -- an act that does not benefit the ravens in even the slightest degree -- why can't you and me learn to care for each other that very same way? Whether we are stomping around on our sky islands, or nosing around our time islands, we are all part of the same texture.

Feel the October sunlight. 

Embrace the October wind. 

Let love come into your life and stay there, by being born anew every day.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Beautiful Rosary of Jewels

"Supplication to the Lineage, Beautiful Rosary of Jewels

Homage to the single mother T’hroma Nagmo!

The lama, the massive mountain of the white snow, embraced by the sunlight of the fortunate ones’ devotion, ripens the fields of the devotees with the rivers of blessing; the choice sprouts of whatever mind desires flourish and come to fruition year by year

Yogic practitioners, male and female, with fervent minds
And pleasant measured speech
Palms joined and moved to tears
Supplicate in this way free from doubt:


In the palace of the field of reality, free from emanation,
the embodiment of total meaning, Kuntuzangmo
mother of the Prajnaparamitra
A son of the Dharma mother (woman) supplicates from the heart
Grant the blessing of arriving at the place where reality is exhausted

The glory of the self-arising, unobstructed play of the vast dance
The self-liberated five elements, the five great pure consorts
Self and others supplicate with a mind of great faith
Grant the blessing of going to the limit of pure presence.

In the pure realm of the completely pure dakinis’ great bliss
To the lady, the queen of the dakinis
I supplicate with the whole of mind in great faith
Grant the blessing of increased comprehension of the all-ground

In the self-arisen appearance of the field of Yulokod
To Tarema, the royal consort of the unity of appearance and emptiness
The child dependent on appearances and cognition supplicates
Grant the blessing of the manifestation of the appearance of pure suchness

In the mansion of the Lotus Light of great bliss (Dewachen)
To Mandarava, secret consort of Demchok Padmasambhava
I, the child desiring bliss, supplicate from the heart
Grant the blessing of attaining inexhaustible bliss

In the mandala of the supreme secret excellence
The teacher of the supremely excellent vehicle, the Lady Tsogyal
Supplicated by her disciples, possessors of the supreme vessel
Grant your blessings that the supreme union be attained.

In the self-arisen palace of the Lotus Net
To the chief of the Lotus Dakinis, Lapdronma
I supplicate the holder of the Lotus lineage
Grant the blessing of the non-duality with Padmasambhava

In the palace of the vast expanse of the profound secret suchness
The master of profound treasure, Kunzang Dechen Lingpa
I supplicate with the fierce devotion of my deepest heart
Grant your blessing that I attain the profound ground of freedom from conceptualization

In the mansion of the great bliss purity
All the omniscient root and lineage lamas
I supplicate with great devotions to each and every one
Grant the blessing of power that benefits beings purely

The field of great bliss at the crown, best of the noble fields
To the precious root lama, best of the noble ones
I supplicate after the noble ones
Grant the blessing of inseparability from the lama, best of the noble ones

Lord of the great self-arisen cemetery, Urgyen
Lady of Urgyen, the single mother T’hroma Nagmo
I, the representative of the Urgyen’s descendants, supplicate
Grant the blessing of equaling you, Urgyen and Macig

From the sphere of the peaceful field of reality which is unmoving
She who causes peace, Dechen Karmo Yeshe,
I supplicate the peaceful Vajra Dakini
Grant the blessing of the heart of the peaceful vajra

In the mandala of pure natural increase
She who causes increase, the yellow Dondrup Yeshe Ser
I supplicate the Ratna Dakini who causes increase
Grant the blessing of accomplishing the undertaking of increase

In the pure realm of the powerful lotus net
The mighty red Dradok Yeshe Mar
I supplicate the ruling Lotus Dakini
Grant the blessing of possessing the best of great power

The chief of the fierce, awesome, blazing field
The fierce and wrathful green mother Natsok T’harchin Yeshe
I supplicate you who blazes with ferocity and power
Grant the blessing of possessing the wrathful might

Also, in this mandala of the fierce lady of magical display
Transform into the supreme dance-display of benefitting others
I supplicate those whose kindness to others is beyond thought and word
Grant the blessing of skill and method in taming the mind-streams of others

Emanated messenger, guides dwelling in the Buddha-word (samaya)
Sprung from the Buddha-word 1000 wondrous lightning flashes
I supplicate the obedient mamos and dakinis
Grant the blessing of protecting the teachings of the Buddha-word

The fierce, awakened activity of protecting the four doors
Separating perverted understanding from the doors as soon as it arises
I supplicate the four great door-protecting kings
Grant the blessing that the three doors mix with the Dharma

By the blessing of supplicating thus
I supplicate that you grant that, accordingly,
All malign obscurations be pacified
All siddhis be instantly accomplished
And blissful listening  itself be attained,

(By supplicating the vital lineage in this way, the continuity of the gentle rain of blessings will not be cut; at present, obstacles will be pacified, and in the future dakinis will follow.)


On the tenth day of the new moon, Kunzang Dechen Lingpa brought this down from the casket of intent, innate, expansive and pure. May virtue increase!"

Copyright (c) Kunzang Dechen Lingpa. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Photo by David Scharff. Used by permission.

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Saturday, October 06, 2012

His Eminence Tulku Rinpoche

His Eminence's profound, silent commentary on the nature of karma. Ah, there but for fortune, you think? There but for "fortune," or something much, much finer. 

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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Suffering at Cox's Bazar

This past Saturday, at Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh, thousands of suffering beings inflicted further suffering upon thousands of other suffering beings, believing that to do so would bring happiness.

Names have been given to the perpetrators and the victims -- Muslims ran amok, killing and injuring Buddhists, and burning Buddhist temples -- yet, in the reality of things, it is impossible to distinguish between them.

We can sit around and work up a fine head of steam "for" and "against" the components of this affair -- a self-righteous fury that causes our blood pressure to rise, our bodies to perspire, and our eyes to weep. We can even entertain thoughts of doing an equal if not greater wickedness upon those we perceive as foes.

Theirs was a thoroughly wicked deed, was it not? We'll have to deal them out come Shambhala time, won't we?

We can think that way, or we can sit down and calmly consider the matter as Lord Buddha would have wished. 

The images that are being shown around the world do tend to excite the emotions, but our young monk friend in the picture above seems to have them all trumped.

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