Oct 20 – The cook is missing. “He come five or ten minutes.” But in Nepal that’s an aspiration, not something to depend on. I do need breakfast — I just had to make a new hole in my belt. Less food, no meat or beer while I’m receiving teachings, it always surprises me how fast the result comes.
But results from classes come much more slowly. Tibetan Buddhism is an enormous range of training programs among which we search for one that resonates. Then we must do it, over and over and over again. They all have the same purpose, to help us grow more kind.
We have so many ideas and habitual responses, and because we misunderstand the basic reality of existence, our ideas are misguided. That’s why we keep creating suffering. The only way to stop that is to recognize then discard our delusions and habits.
I can’t say what I’m learning in these classes because I don’t understand it well enough yet, but I will in another post say how ritual practices work, including the role of the dough statues (torma).
For now, I’ll just introduce our teachers, Lama Sherab, whose teaching is so clear, Ani Laura, whose translation makes them that way, and our so skillful and patient torma teacher.
The mental clouds parted for an instant just now. Such a blessing! I glimpsed reality not obscured by concepts but as it really is. So hard to communicate such glimpses though, because no matter how skillfully words try to point toward reality, what they bring to mind is concepts.
I’ll try to show what I recognized. Nothing we can observe has a fixed intrinsic nature. Everything is composed of smaller parts that came together and everything we can observe is changing. Each of us is changing in every instant but because we have what we think of as a personality, a unique face and so on, we imagine we have an unchangeable core that is not made up of parts.
I remember the scary suspicion in my late teens that my personality was fake, that I was fabricating it from no real base. When suspicion turned to certainty, I told myself it was a good thing because I could choose what to become — a businessman, a good man, maybe both and more!
But, self-centered as I was, it never occurred to me that nobody else had an intrinsic nature either. I wasn’t ready for Buddhism fifty years ago. I was for Physics but it was not taught well at my school. I knew e=mc2 but had no sense of the implications.
Energy and matter are different manifestations of the same thing. That’s the step I didn’t take to see the true nature of the world.
Our sensory apparatus and brain provide us with the experience of matter. It’s only if we change focus that we can recognize the other view, that there is nothing other than the flow of energy that manifests to us primarily as matter, things we can see and touch. What is this galaxy; matter or energy?
Our body, the vehicle for our life journey, is the manifestation of a highly complex and ever changing flow of energy. It is nothing but energy flowing within a gargantuan ever changing energy field.
What I think of as “me” is a locus of awareness in an energy field like the weather system. The air is still where I am now but there was a breeze at the monastery. Further north it’s snowing but it never snows here because the conditions are different. The weather is changing in every instant everywhere, but within limits created by conditions that change more slowly. Changes in the world in which the weather changes trigger more changes. The interplay of flowing forces shapes their flow.
That’s how it is with you, me, with everything that appears to be a thing. The appearances are real, but they appear as they do only because our mind works that way. They have no intrinsic nature. It’s just our concept that they do, and that they are separate from each other.
When we reach that understanding, we feel compassion for all the suffering that results from misunderstanding. We want to bring it to an end. That’s not a response from logic, it’s just what happens. Interacting with people who do a lot of this training, I’ve seen it to be inevitable. People who train diligently just do grow more happy and kind. That’s why I know it’s worth persisting.
Look at the energy flowing in that brain! It is part of the universal energy field and somehow cognizing the flow. Like the butterfly whose flapping wings spark a tornado, its every action is shaping the future.
Ah, breakfast has arrived. The cook never did, so others took over. He’s probably celebrating Dashain, the big annual festival.