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PEAS AND PANIR CURRY केराउको र पनिरको करी

Ingredients

2 cups Panir (tofu) cubes
2 cups peas
4 tomatoes (medium) chopped
2 onions finely chopped
2.5 cm ginger piece
2 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin powder
2 cardamoms (black) ailaichi
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons oil/ghui
2 cups of water
Coriander leaves chopped

Process

Fry panir cubes till golden. Remove and drain out. Grind ginger, garlic, turmeric and cumin seeds and make a paste. Heat oil, and add cardamom and bay leaves. Fry onion till golden. Add the paste and salt and again fry. Add peas and tomatoes. Again fry for a few minutes. Add water. Cover and cook till peas become tender. Add fried panir cubes and again cover for 2 minutes. Add mixed spices and garnish with green coriander leaves. Serve hot with bread or rice.

bon appetit

Source:  Joys of Nepalese Cooking , Indra Mahapuria

MINT CHUTNEY – पुदिना को अचार

Mint leaves are not used for making chutney in Kathmandu Valley where they grow wild, but they are generally used in the Terai region of Nepal.

Ingredients
1 cup of green mint leaves
2 small garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoonful of chili powder or 1/2 green chili
1 teaspoonful of salt
2 tablespoons of mustard oil
1/2 teaspoonful of fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoonful of turmeric
Juice of one or two lemons

Process
Grind mint leaves and garlic in a mortar.  Add salt and chilis.  Squeeze one or two lemons for juice.   Heat the mustard oil in a small frying pan and fry the fenugreek seed till they become black.  Add the turmeric and turn with a spoon.  Now add the mint and garlic mixture.

Time required 10- 15 minutes

THE RINGU TULKU ARCHIVE

 

Launching The Ringu Tulku Archive

By wangdu on Aug 29, 2017 05:13 pm

Dear Friends,

It is with great pleasure that we announce the launch of The Ringu Tulku Archive.

This website will become a repository for all of the teachings given by Venerable Ringu Tulku Rinpoche that have been recorded since January 1990 when, at the invitation of students and friends, he first began to travel in the West. He has given countless teachings during that time, on all levels and on all kinds of topics, according to whatever is requested and whoever is listening. The range of topics is immense and varied, interesting for newcomers to Dharma as well as long term students. Rinpoche’s command of the English language means the teachings are given and received with incredible ease – as if, he often says, “I’m chatting with friends while on my holidays”. Even repeated requests for the same topic are responded to with a wonderful freshness and delivered as if for the first time. He has said that what we are receiving through these Dharma teachings is very, very rare and there are actually very few places in the world, even in Tibet, that this level of instruction is given.

What an extraordinary opportunity.

The majority of those teachings were recorded and we are currently uploading them to the new Archive website. We have uploaded almost all recordings received since 2011, and we are now beginning to work on the previous years’ which will take us to prior 2008. As well as this, the website also includes recordings from Rinpoche’s future teaching tours as they happen, which means that as a member you will be able to listen to those while Rinpoche travels and teaches around the globe.

The next stage will be to make it possible for individual members & Dharma Centres to upload recorded teachings. We hope that this will fill in any missing teachings and also offer opportunities to upgrade any low quality recordings.

Rinpoche doesn’t charge for his teachings and all initial development costs have been generously funded by Bodhicharya Publications. However, storing and making such a body of material available in a secure and professional way requires a paid delivery system. Each time a video or audio file is accessed by you, we pay for that delivery. Therefore a membership charge will be essential to the survival of the website: an annual membership fee will allow you access to the full archive of teachings and courses – with the exception of certain restricted teachings for which you must apply for permissions. Please see more information in the About section.

As a member you can also become involved by giving feedback through listening, informing us of any technical errors, and also providing a synopsis to summarise the content of a teaching.

Given the preciousness of what we are storing and delivering, we think it’s worth it and we hope you do too.

Finally, it is Rinpoche’s wish that as time goes on this website will become a key portal where he will be able to both communicate with his students and also deliver and curate longer courses for different levels of study and stages along the path. We hope that in the near future our Courses section will come alive with an array of rich and diverse teachings for student members of any level and experience to follow.

It is our wish that this website becomes an invaluable resource for many people and that the benefits for all beings will be vast and far reaching.

You can visit The Ringu Tulku Archive here: https://bodhicharya.org/teachings

Paul O’Connor
Webmaster & Project Coordinator

Copyright © 2017 Bodhicharya

 

LIVING AND DYING IN PEACE

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REACHING OUT TO ANIMALS AND ALL CONSCIOUS LIFE

 In ANIMALS by Lyse Lauren08/07/20170 Comments

Reaching out to animals and all sentient, how would this change our world? If everyone understood that all beings, whether animal, insect, bird, plant or even mineral, are sentient and therefore conscious, how would this change the way we interact with them? If we understood and began to appreciate all living beings as sacred and intelligent, what impact would this have on us, and all the other living forms with whom we co-exist on this planet? The mind boggles…


I remember as a child that one day my mother asked me to go over to the neighbours house to find out if they were at home. At that time we were living in Nelson, a small town in the north of the South Island of New Zealand. Our neighbours were a husband and wife and their two children with whom we young ones often played of an evening. They had not long moved to Nelson and being so near by, our family had instantly warmed to these new arrivals.

I ventured over the side fence and made my way up the staircase to the front door. Their tabby cat was sitting on the doorstep imbibing the warm noon sunshine. I was already acquainted with her and so gave her a nod as i climbed past to ring the doorbell. I pushed the button a few times but there was no response from within and so, without thinking, I sat down next to the venerable puss and asked her where the family had gone. She looked up at me, made a little feline squeak and we amicably bumped heads and then sat a while in companionable silence.

After some time I slowly got up and made my way back over the fence to tell my mother that the family were, at that minute, away somewhere. When I entered the house a chorus of giggling and squeals of laughter greeted me. Evidently, my mum and sisters had been watching my encounter with the neighbours cat through the back bedroom window which directly overlooked the neighbours staircase. They had overheard our conversation.

For some reason they found it inexpressibly silly and funny that I should have been sitting there verbally interacting with a cat! I found it equally silly and funny that they did not understand that one could. I was sometimes reminded of that incident whenever family members would begin to recount stories and memories of our childhood days, yet, from then until now, I still do not see what they could possibly have found so strange or amusing.

All life that is sentient, is therefore conscious! 

It is incredibly important for us to take this statement seriously and give it the consideration that it deserves. Day after day we can witness around us acts of callousness and cruelty of which most people are not even aware. They are not aware because they simply do not acknowledge that other life forms are sentient and therefore feel and respond to energy, moods and pain, just as we do. This is an extremely crucial point to understand if we are ever to come into greater harmony with all other life forms with whom we share this world. The various forms of sentient life may not speak our language but there is a place where understanding can occur naturally no matter what the outer form may be.

Many who own so called pets become conscious of this truth by necessity of close association and yet somehow they often continue to exclude other forms of life. If we can ever begin to question our assumptions and reactions towards all living beings we would quickly be forced to change many long held beliefs. If we want to allow the extra ordinary bio diversity of life on our planet to continue to, not only exist but thrive, then a shift must take place in our perception.

At the moment human beings predominantly have the supremely arrogant view that everything in nature, be it animal, plant or mineral, exists for their use and convenience alone. How primitive and barbaric is this view?Thankfully this is beginning to change, there is something of an awakening in the consciousness of a growing number of people. It is not yet widespread, but it is a beginning. Many of the so-called primitive societies understood and lived by the natural laws of respectful and sustainable co-existence. But in recent human history most of these intuitive qualities have been lost and forgotten.

Awareness does not discriminate between forms. It is the inherent nature of all sentient life, how ever and where ever it may appear…

What we begin to see now, even though it is in a very nascent stage, is something of a quiet opening and awakening. At this time it is just a few people who are paving the way in inter species communication, but their work is sending out ripples, which in time will have a profound impact on the way we view the living world around us. However, each and every one of us can help to accelerate this process through our every day small deeds and by changing the way we think. Then like a shift in the tide, almost imperceptibly but slowly with a gathering momentum it can begin to catch on and start challenging old and previously unquestioned beliefs.

There will come a time when we will look back on current accepted norms and behaviours and be amazed that we could live in such a barbaric and unaware world such as we have been living in for so long. It would seem that the more, so-called advanced today’s societies think themselves to be, the more unaware and brutal they actually are.

When ingrained beliefs begin to under-go a shift, when we begin to become aware of who and what we really are, we can not help but start to notice that this same beingness which is in us, also pervades everything else. Everything includes everything, animals, plants, insects, and the planet on which we live, move and have our being. Interconnectedness is vaster and more thoroughly integrating than our mind can ever really comprehend or grasp, therefore we need to move beyond mind in order to begin to really get a sense of the underlying reality out of which all of life arises. The implications of such a shift in awareness are truly immense.

An appreciation of the unity and sacredness of all life is integral to awakening to our own awareness.

Awakened beings have long understood the interconnectedness and inherent divinity in all sentient life forms. From the Buddha, to Ramana Maharshi, and countless others besides, great sages have communicated with animals in such a natural way which is completely respectful of who and what really exists. For them this truth is a living reality, not something to be questioned or doubted, their experience which moves from the heart in an ever fresh exuberance of being, is a timeless and constant affirmation of unity in diversity.

We are all sacred drops
from the same sacred ocean of life.

Those who stayed near Ramana Maharshi and who were honoured to witness his many exchanges and relationships with animals, birds, and at times also the plant life, took it all quite for granted. The animals simply became a part of the life of the ashram. The Maharshi treated them all as his own children, showing them the same care and respect that he bestowed upon all the people who were drawn to be near him.

A Jnani can differentiate between the different forms of life, but to him all are inherently divine.

The changes which can be initiated by humans in their interaction and effect upon the different kingdoms of life, begin in our mind and thinking. When the energy of the heart is enabled to speak through the mind anything becomes possible. This is not mushy, sentimental talk, but truth based on a profound and inherent law in nature that always moves towards harmony and balance. As in all things, we are inevitably drawn back to the one and central tenet, the inherent divinity within all sentient lifeTo find out who and what we really are is so vital in reclaiming our true inheritance and in recognising that all living beings have an equal claim in this same inexhaustible spring of life. However we, as human beings, hold a unique position and responsibility within the kingdoms of nature. We have the capacity to know who and what we really are to live  and let live by this truth.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lyse Lauren

LYSE LAUREN

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Having attended Australian International Conservatorium of Music, Lyse is a student of three outstanding masters of recent times: Dilgo Khyentse, Tulku Urgyen and Chatral Rinpoches. She facilitates groups and individuals in meditation retreats, while writing books as well as articles for Ever Here Now website. Other LEVEKUNST articles by the same author.

Photos provided by the author.

[This article was sourced in LEVEKUNST art of life]

Thanks to the author for permission to publish.

SUMMER CAMP PORTUGAL 2017

Casa da Torre near Vila Verde

Using the deity as meditation practice, in particular White Tara, was the topic for this years summer camp held for the 6th time in northern Portugal. The venue was once again Casa da Torre near Vila Verde, and the delightful Portuguese sangha were as welcoming as ever. It is always lovely to meet so many now familiar faces after twelve years of Bodhicharya Summer camp retreats here and in France since 2006. The warm weather and fresh vegetarian food laid the ground for a spiritually nourishing week with Ringu Tulku Rinpoche.

Rinpoche told us that White Tara was the first sadhana taught by the Buddha: in India, where White Tara was already a common practice, she was known as Saraswati and associated with healing and long life. The great yogi-saint, Atisha Dipankara, felt he was guided by White Tara and believed himself to have been saved by her, and when he was invited to re-introduce Buddhism to Tibet from India, he brought this practice with him. Gampopa later inherited the practice and passed on the sadhana to the first Karmapa, Dusom Khyenpa. Since then White Tara has been regarded as an important bodhisattva in the Tibetan school of Vajrayana Buddhism and this particular sadhana has been recited throughout the entire Karmapa lineage until today.

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SWEET CORN PUDDING मकैको खीर

In Nepal, several types of pudding are prepared.  One popular kind of pudding is that made from fresh corn.

Ingredients
1 cup of fresh corn

4 cups of milk
1 cup of sugar (honey can be used as a substitute)
1/2 cup of dried fruit
1/2 teaspoon of cardamon
2 tablespoons of grated coconut

Process
Boil the milk on a low heat.  stir frequently till it boils down to only 3 cups.  Add the corn and continue heating till it thickens and the corn is tender.  More milk can be added if required.  Add the sugar or honey and the fruit.  Heat for a few minutes more.  When cook, serve in small bowls.  Top the with cardamon and coconut.

Serves 6 persons

bon appetit

Source:  Joys of Nepalese Cooking (S. Devi, Lashkar (Gwalior), India)

HARRIET TUBMAN

 A story of overcoming fear in your workplace, and in your heart. Excerpted from Jaiya John’s new book of healing, Your Caring Heart: Renewal for Helping Professionals and Systems. Online where books are sold.

Harriet Tubman was a baaad woman. She didn’t play. One story I appreciate telling about her (creatively adapted, of course) is a story of leadership. So, the story goes that Harriet and her people had been discussing for some time the idea of breaking away from their plantation and finding freedom. Now, freedom can be a very frightening idea to a slave. Sure enough, as the designated night approached in which the group would escape the plantation, the people began to voice their concerns. Their fears.

Many of these people were menfolk, and Harriet being a woman, was used to the challenges of being a female leader. Folks started in with fear talk: “Now, Harriet, this freedom thing of yours sounds great in theory, but I don’t know if it is realistic. Look at our life. We have so much to deal with. So many bad things could go wrong. I don’t know if we have time for this freedom thing. I need to get back to my work or Massa gon’ whup me good. I can’t afford to lose my job. How much work is this freedom thing going to require?”

Does this litany of fear talk sound familiar to you? If so, it is because, bless us all, the slave is alive and well in our society and work. It is a spirit of self-oppression that burrows deep into people and groups, rendering their idea of reality as one of impending doom.

 Harriet listened respectfully to her people. But Harriet knew fear. It was in the nature of being a slave. In fact, her people harvested fear more than they harvested cotton or other crops. It was fear that they brought home to their slave quarters. Fear that they ate together for dinner. Beds of fear that they slept on. Dreams of fear in the night. Fear was their sunrise, their clothing, their daily industry. So, Harriet, she knew fear. And she would not let it get in the way of freedom. On a night absent of moonlight, Harriet gathered her people down by the riverbank. The murmuring water would be their chaplain for this freedom service. The people were now terrified. They risked death, dismemberment, whippings, dogs tearing at their flesh. They risked disappointing their overseers and their masters. They risked losing their precious jobs as house slaves, for few wanted the backbreaking life of a field slave. They risked being sold. This entire river of fears was now pushing up their throats, coming out as angry resistance to freedom.

 Harriet wasn’t sweet. She was fire. A woman, slave, nurse, social worker, leader, healer in those times had to be fire. She used hers. Lifting her sawed-off shotgun, she pointed it directly at the men challenging her leadership. Harriet said these words: “I understand, my people, the ferocity of your fears. But we have been slaves far too long. We have lost the taste for freedom. But here, under cover of this black night, I’m fixin’ to make an executive decision. Those who choose to stay in this life of suffering may do so. Otherwise, whoever wants to have freedom sing in their bones and dreams tonight, follow me. Tonight, my people, we fixin’ to be free.”

 In every group of human beings who care deeply to do this healing work, in the right way and spirit, there must be those, of any title, willing to walk the group through their long night of fear into the astounding daybreak of freedom. There is no other way than directly through our fear. We should do this now, good souls, before we further lose the taste of freedom.

 

INSPIRATION

“But what is self Love?” she asked.

And Love answered:

“When your sacredness becomes your deepest song.”

Dr. Jaiya John has served organizations, agencies, schools, and initiatives globally for many years. He is an internationally recognized speaker, trainer, consultant, book author, poet, spoken word artist, and youth mentor. Jaiya is the founder of Soul Water Rising, a global human mission that has donated thousands of Jaiya’s books in support of social healing, and offers scholarships to displaced and vulnerable youth. He is a former professor of social psychology at Howard University, has authored numerous books, and has addressed over half a million professionals, parents, and youth worldwide. Jaiya is a National Science Foundation fellow, and holds a doctorate degree in social psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. As an undergraduate, he attended Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and studied Tibetan Holistic Medicine through independent research with Tibetan doctors in Nepal.

Soul Water Rising  |  jaiya@soulwater.org  |  soulwater.org

Quantum Emptiness -The Quantum Illusion-like Nature of Reality by Graham Smetham


 

In his book the Dalai Lama has sketched the beginnings of an exploration of the interconnections and parallels between modern Western science and Buddhist metaphysical philosophy.  The Dalai Lama, true to his nature, is extremely humble about Buddhism’s achievement in this area:  “Our explanations and theories are rudimentary when compared with those of modern science … and will have to be modified in the light of new scientific insights.”  However, in this brief article, based upon the ten year research project which led to my recent book Quantum Buddhism: Dancing in Emptiness–Reality Revealed at the Interface of Quantum Physics and Buddhist Philosophy, I shall endeavour to show that Buddhist philosophy, based upon direct insight and the rigorous dialectical analysis exemplified by the Madhyamaka (Middle Way conceptual analysis), achieved an extraordinary understanding of the ultimate nature of the phenomenal world, an understanding which only became apparent within the West with the advent of quantum theory at the beginning of the twentieth century.

In his interview Nottale focuses primarily upon the central Buddhist notion of ‘emptiness’ (shunyata) as indicating the relativity of all phenomena:

None has its proper existence, but only an existence in relation to another object acting as a reference point.  They are couple properties which cannot be attributed to either of the members of the couple taken separately.

In other words the actual ‘physical’ properties of any apparently independent ‘material’ object are not purely determined by the nature of the object itself but also depend upon its relationship and interconnection with other objects.  However, there is another, perhaps more fundamental, aspect to the Buddhist insight into the emptiness of phenomena which is that all phenomena are inextricably and intimately connected to, and even created by, the minds of observers.

This insight provides the fundamental perspective for the Yogachara-Vijnanavada (Consciousness-Only) and Chittamatra (Mind-Only) Buddhist metaphysical perspectives:

..all these various appearances,

Do not exist as sensory objects which are other than consciousness.

Their arising is like the experience of self knowledge.

All appearances, from indivisible particles to vast forms, are mind.[i]

Common sense, of course, would indicate that such a notion, that what appears to be an independent ‘material’ reality is actually of the nature of mind or consciousness, must be misguided, and in the ‘classical’, or pre-quantum, era of Western science such a notion would have appeared outlandish.  However, with the advent of the quantum revolution the notion that the ultimate nature of the physical world is mind-substance, or Mindnature, has become increasingly inescapable.

This was the conclusion of many of the ‘founding fathers’ of quantum mechanics. Erwin Schrödinger, the discoverer of the fundamental quantum equation, for instance, came to the conclusion that:

Mind has erected the objective outside world … out of its own stuff.[ii]

And Max Planck, the physicist who inadvertently initiated the quantum revolution, came to a similar conclusion:

All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force… We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.[iii]

More recently, in an article in the New Scientist (23rd June 2007) Michael Brooks, commenting on quantum entanglement experiments carried out by teams led by Markus Aspelmeyer of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and Anton Zeilinger of the University of Vienna, tells us that the conclusion reached by the physicists involved is that:

… we now have to face the possibility that there is nothing inherently real about the properties of an object that we measure. In other words measuring those properties is what brings them into existence. [iv]

This conclusion agrees with the fundamental insight of the Madhyamaka, or the Buddhist Middle Way analysis, that all phenomena lack ‘inherent existence’ or, to use Buddhist technical terminology, all phenomenon lack svabhava (‘own-nature’ or ‘inherent existence’).  Thus Vedral, in his recent book Decoding Reality, has concluded that:

Quantum physics is indeed very much in agreement with Buddhistic emptiness.[v]

Emptiness, or shunyata, is, in one aspect, the Buddhist concept of a fundamental non-substantial ‘empty’ ground of potentiality which gives rise to the multitudinous productions within dualistic experience through the operation of an internal primordial activity of cognition. Within Dzogchen (the ‘Great Completeness’ teachings) for instance the ultimate nature of reality is characterised as being a fundamental ground comprised of ‘emptiness and cognition inseparable’, or ‘empty cognizance’.[vi] And this is the kind of vision of the process of reality which Vedral considers is necessitated by the evidence of quantum theory:

The Universe starts empty but potentially with a huge amount of information. The first key event is the first act of symmetry breaking…[vii]

The results of quantum experiments indicates quite clearly that quantum reality consists of a field of non-substantial (using the term ‘substantial’ here to indicate materiality) potentiality which is triggered into experiential manifestation through the operation of the cognitive activity of consciousness.  This perspective is indicated in the most recent quantum proposal that quantum reality is ‘epiontic’, as quantum physicist Wojciech H. Zurek has indicated:

…quantum states, by their very nature share an epistemological and ontological role – are simultaneously a description of the state, and the ‘dream stuff is made of.’  One might say that they are epiontic.  These two aspects may seem contradictory, but at least in the quantum setting, there is a union of these two functions.[viii]

This cogent insight makes clear that, at the quantum level, being and knowing, perception and reality, epistemology and ontology, are inextricably entangled.  The ‘epiontic’ nature of the fundamental quantum ground, therefore, indicates that in some manner perception creates the ontological fabric of reality. The ‘first act of symmetry breaking’, then, is an act of primordial consciousness. As the physicist Henry Stapp, who has discussed such issues with some of the early quantum physicist, has indicated:

…this evolving quantum state would represent the ‘potentialities’ and ‘probabilities for actual events.  … the ‘primal stuff’ represented by the evolving quantum state would be idealike rather than matterlike, apart from its conformity to mathematical rules.[ix]

The greatly admired physicist John Wheeler wrote that:

The universe does not ‘exist, out there,’ independent of all acts of observation.  Instead, it is in some strange sense a participatory universe.[x]

Wheeler suggests that quantum theory requires a participatory universe, which means that somehow phenomena which appear to be external and independent of the minds of sentient beings cannot be so.  The Astronomer Royal Professor Martin Rees agrees with him:

In the beginning there were only probabilities.  The universe could only come into existence if someone observed it.  … The universe exists because we are aware of it.[xi]

As does cosmologist Professor Andrei Linde:

Thus we see that without introducing an observer, we have a dead universe, which does not evolve in time.  This example demonstrates an unusually important role played by the concept of an observer in quantum cosmology.  John Wheeler underscored the complexity of the situation, replacing the word observer by the word participant, and introducing such terms as a ‘self-observing universe.[xii]

As does Steven Hawking in his most recent book (written together with Leonard Mlodinow) The Grand Design; in fact according to Hawking (following Wheeler) observations have a creative impact even backwards in time:

…the universe doesn’t have just a single history, but every possible history, each with its own probability; and our observations of its current state affect its past and determine the different histories of the universe…[xiii]

Quantum theory, then, suggests that the universe might actually be vast cosmic dream created by all of its inhabitants. This might, at first sight, seem far-fetched, but it is not, which is why Zurek refers to quantum ‘stuff’ as ‘the dream stuff is made of.’[xiv]

Quantum physics clearly shows that we are involved, or are participators, in the existence of the universe. Indeed Wheeler also wrote that:

…no phenomenon is a phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon.[xv]

And he did not mean by this that some already existing entity is not experienced as a phenomenon until observed, he meant that the observation has a creative role in the existence of the apparent entity revealed by the phenomenon.  Speaking in April 2003 to the American Physical Society, he made the following remarkable; perhaps one might say ‘mystical’, sequence of remarks:

The Question is what is the Question?

Is it all a Magic Show?

Is Reality an Illusion?

What is the framework of the Machine?

Darwin’s Puzzle: Natural Selection?

Where does Space-Time come from?

Is there any answer except that it comes from consciousness?

What is Out There?

T’is Ourselves?

Or, is IT all just a Magic Show?[xvi]

To Wheeler’s question as to the possibility that reality might be an illusory ‘Magic Show’ Buddhist philosophy answers in the affirmative:

Phenomena as they appear and resound

Are neither established or real in these ways,

Since they keep changing in all possible and various manners

Just like appearances in magical illusions.[xvii]

In fact Buddhist philosophers have known about the dream-like nature of the universe for at least two thousand years:

…when we see houses and fields in dreams, we think of them as being external objects that are not created by the mind, even though they are nothing other than projections of our mind. All that we see when we are awake is also nothing other than a creation of the mind.[xviii]

And the Buddhist metaphysical perspective of the Chittamatra, or Mind-Only, philosophy actually gives an indication of the kind of quantum-perceptual mechanism that might be operating at the quantum level in order to create the extraordinary universal dream of the material world and its inhabitants:

The entire world was created through latent karmic imprints.  When these imprints developed and increased, they formed the earth, the stones, and the seas.  Everything was created through the development or propagation of these latent karmic potentials.[xix]

According to the Buddhist worldview all actions performed by all unenlightened beings, including seemingly neutral perceptions, cause repercussions. Karma-vipaka, action and resultant effect, action and feedback, is the universal process of cause and effect which operates on all levels of reality, including the appearance of a material world. This means that there is a dimension of the operation of karma which is involved in the manifestation of what we perceive as an external ‘material’ reality:

…since beginningless time we have been perceiving sights, sounds, smells, tastes and bodily sensations and these perceptions have been creating imprints or latencies in the ground consciousness. Habituation of having experienced a certain visual form will create a latency for that very form.  Eventually, that latency will manifest from the ground consciousness as a visual form again, but it will be perceived as external to ourselves.[xx]

A view which corresponds remarkably well with Wheeler’s assertion that:

Directly opposite to the concept of universe as machine built on law is the vision of a world self-synthesized. On this view, the notes struck out on a piano by the observer participants of all times and all places, bits though they are in and by themselves, constitute the great wide  world of space and time and things.

In other words all the phenomena of the apparently ‘material’ world are produced by the perceptual activities of the sentient beings inhabiting the universe.  And this, furthermore, means that none of the phenomena of the seemingly ‘external’ world are actually independent of mind.

The physicist and philosopher Bernard d’Espagnat uses the example of a rainbow to describe the way that the ‘classical’ world of apparent materiality emerges out of the quantum realm:

…a rainbow, obviously, may not be considered an object-per-se.  For, indeed, if we move it moves.  Two differently located persons do not see it having its bases at the same places.  It is therefore manifest that it depends, in part, on us.  … But still, even though the rainbow depends on us, it does not depend exclusively on us.  For it to appear it is necessary that the sun should shine and that raindrops should be there. Now similar features also characterize quantum mechanically described objects, that is, after all … any object whatsoever.  For they also are not ‘objects-per-se.’ The attributes, or ‘dynamical properties,’ we see them to possess depend in fact on our ‘look’ at them…[xxi]

In other words all the entities and objects of the ‘classical’ world emerge from the potentiality of the quantum realm in a similar fashion to the way that rainbow appear.  They are brought into experienced reality through an interaction of a deep level of consciousness and a quantum realm of potentiality.

The rainbow analogy is also employed within Buddhist exegesis:

By virtue of its all-penetrating freedom this Awareness that has no centre or circumference, no inside or outside, is innocent of all partiality and knows no blocks or barriers. This all-penetrating intrinsic Awareness is a vast expanse of space. All experience of samsara and nirvana arises in it like rainbows in the sky. In all its diverse manifestation it is but a play of mind.[xxii]

In particular the rainbow analogy corresponds with the Mind-Only metaphysical analysis and can be used to illustrate the ‘three natures’ presentation of the way in which the ‘classical’ ‘conventional’ realm emerges from the ground of ‘emptiness’ through conceptual ‘imputation. The Mind-Only viewpoint explains the process of reality in terms of three ‘natures’:

  • imputational nature – an imaginary, and therefore mistaken, perception which imputes an independent existence to an ’object’ which is in fact illusory.  The imputational nature imputes an object as existing independently by its own force or character.
  • other-powered-nature, or dependent nature – what appears as independent  entities are actually devoid of self character, they seem to arise as self contained entities because of the intersection of other causes and conditions.  The other-powered, or dependent, nature resides in the complex field of interweaving causes and conditions which supply the potentialities for possible imputational experience.
  • thoroughly established, or perfect nature – the fact that the other-powered-nature is ‘empty’ of the imputational-nature is called the ‘thoroughly established nature’ or ‘perfect nature’.  This is quite a subtle definition to grasp – it is the relationship of the absence of the imputational nature from the other powered nature which is the ‘thoroughly established nature.

The imputational nature, or imaginary nature, consists of the imputed appearances of definite, inherent and independent entities that are conceived of as existing in an external realm separate from the perceiving consciousness. According to the Mind-Only perspective, the way that the entities of everyday life are imputed as existing independently and substantially from the mind is, from an ultimate point of view, mistaken.  The dependent nature is closer to the way reality actually is, it is a ground of potentiality which arises from the multitudinous perceptions and activities carried out by all sentient beings.  It is a vast karmic echo of potentiality for dualistic experience. The final nature, the thoroughly-established-nature highlights the fact that the imputational-nature is an ultimately illusory imputation, or superimposition, by imagination into the potentialities of the other-powered-nature, or dependent nature:

The non-existence of such an imaginary nature in a dependent nature is a thoroughly established nature.  … An object which is a different entity from a subject does not exist; a subject which is a different object from an object does not exist…[xxiii]

An example which is often used to illustrate the three natures is that of a mirage. The three natures may be likened respectively to (a) the mistaken belief that water exists in a mirage; (b) the appearance itself of the mirage, dependent on atmospheric causes and conditions and the presence of the observer, and (c) the empty nature of the mirage, inasmuch as it is completely dependent on causes and conditions, including the observer. The belief that water exists in the mirage is completely false and is similar to the imaginary, or illusory, nature.  The causes and conditions which give rise to the appearance of the mirage are similar to the dependent nature. The empty character of the mirage, inasmuch as it is dependent and conditioned and exists nowhere except in the mistaken mind of the observer, is similar to the thoroughly-established-nature. The belief in the mind of the observer that there is water in the distance corresponds to the imputational nature.

This analysis can be likened to the quantum situation. The realm of quantum potentiality which includes the observing consciousness or consciousnesses, provides the interdependent ground of potentiality which constitutes the other-powered nature and, because there is a tendency within the process of reality for the inner nature of this ground to misperceive itself, a realm of seemingly independent and inherently existent phenomenon manifests within an illusory field of duality.

It is important to comprehend the fact that the ‘three natures’ analysis describes a deep process of reality functioning at a level of mind corresponding to the quantum level. The Mind-Only analysis asserts that the play of the dualistic world of appearance emerges from a deep nondual realm because of an internal function of cognition which misperceives itself as being divided. The dualistic world is the illusory domain of the ultimately non-existent imputational or imaginary nature, which is the domain of experienced duality of apprehender-apprehended, subject-object. The relationship between the conventional arena of the experienced ‘material’ world, which seems to emerge through the apparent transition from the quantum state to the ‘classical’ state, which is called the ‘collapse of the quantum wavefunction’, can be likened to the ‘superimposition’ of the imputational nature onto the field of other-powered potentiality.

This ‘Quantum Mind-Only’ model of the functioning of reality can be compared with the ‘rainbow’ illustration of the quantum situation (fig 1) offered by d’Espagnat.  In this analogy the sun, raindrops and observer correspond to the other-powered realm of interdependent phenomena and the appearance of a seemingly external rainbow corresponds to the imputational nature.  The Mind-Only perspective uses the term ‘imputational’ to indicate not just a surface conceptual imputation but a directly experienced sensory imputation such as the rainbow example.  The rainbow does not exist at all as an independent phenomenon, it is therefore ‘imaginary,’  This corresponds exactly to the quantum situation because, although all the phenomena of the everyday world clearly are overwhelmingly convincing as being independent of mind and self-existent phenomena, quantum theory tells us this is not so at all. Furthermore quantum theory tells us that all phenomena are like this; they are ‘illusions’ generated out of the quantum realm of potentiality by the operation of mind.  As physicist Lee Smolin has pointed out:

How something is, or what its state is, is an illusion.  It may be a useful illusion for some purposes, but if we want to think fundamentally we must not lose sight of the essential fact that ‘is’ is an illusion.[xxiv]

At the end of the last programme in the television series ‘Atom’ the physicist-presenter Jim Al-Khalili says, looking very serious: ‘if you ever want to see fear on the face of a physicist ask him about the measurement problem.’  The quantum measurement problem is precisely the quantum rainbow problem, the fact that all the ‘seeming’ phenomenon of the ‘classical’ dualistic world are etched out of the deeper quantum level of potentiality by the continuous ‘measuring’ activity of consciousness.  And, indeed, this quantum discovery, the fact that the material world is not really there in the way that it seems to be, did cause, if not ‘fear,’ then absolute astonishment and bewilderment.  As physicists Bryce DeWitt and Neill Graham say:

No development of modern science has had more profound impact on human thinking than the advent of quantum theory.  Wrenched out of centuries-old thought patterns, physicists of a century ago found themselves compelled to embrace a new metaphysics. The distress which this reorientation caused continues to the present day.  Basically physicists have suffered a severe loss: their hold on reality.[xxv]

If one reads accounts of the reactions of physicists as the solid independent reality that we still all think exists ‘out there’ actually disappeared from their grasp one is reminded of the reaction of some of the Buddha’s disciples when he (supposedly) expounded the Prajna-paramita (Perfection of Wisdom) view that:

all phenomena are empty. There are no characteristics. There is no birth and no cessation. There is no impurity and no purity. There is no decrease and no increase. … in emptiness, there is no form, no feeling, no perception, no formation, no consciousness; no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no appearance, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no phenomena … no ignorance, no end of ignorance up to no old age and death, no end of old age and death; no suffering, no origin of suffering, no cessation of suffering, no path, no wisdom, no attainment, and no non-attainment.

It is remarkable to find this central Mahayana Buddhist teaching echoed by respected quantum physicist Henry Stapp:

…no such brain exists; no brain, body, or anything else in the real world is composed of those tiny bits of matter that Newton imagined the universe to be made of.[xxvi]

In the Vajjracchedikasutra we are told that there is a danger of becoming fearful upon hearing such an emptiness teaching. As Buddhist scholar G. Schopen points out:

The repeated emphasis on fear, terror and dread in connection with hearing the Perfection of Wisdom being taught or explained would seem to indicate that the authors of our texts were clearly aware of the fact that what they were presenting was above all potentially terrifying and awful, and that a predictable reaction to it was fear.[xxvii]

As physicist Brian Greene has pointed out:

…because experiments confirm that quantum mechanics does describe fundamental physics, it presents a frontal assault on our basic beliefs as to what constitutes reality.[xxviii]


[i] Thrangu Rinpoche, Kenchen (2001)

[ii] Schrödinger, E. (1944) p121.

[iii] Das Wesen der Materie” (The Nature of Matter), speech at Florence, Italy, 1944 (from Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797)

[iv] Michael Brooks: ‘The Second Quantum Revolution,’ New Scientist 23rd June 2007

[v] Vedral, Vlatko (2010) p200

[vi] Schmidt, Marcia Binder (Editor) (2002) p29

[vii] Vedral, Vlatko (2010) p211

[viii] Barrow, John D., Davies, Paul C. W., Harper, Charles L. (eds) (2004) p136 – Wojciech H. Zurek: ‘Quantum Darwinism and envariance.’

[ix] Stapp, Henry (2004) p223

[x] Dolling, L.M.; Gianelli, A. F. & Statile, G. N. (eds) (2003) p491 – John A. Wheeler (1978): ‘The ‘Past’ and the ‘Delayed Choice’ Double-Slit Experiment.’

[xi] Rosenblum, Bruce and Kuttner, Fred (2006) p

[xii] Barrow, John D., Davies, Paul C. W., Harper, Charles L. (eds) (2004) p450 – Andrei Linde: ‘Inflation, quantum cosmology and the anthropic principle.’

[xiii] The Grand Design p83

[xiv] Kaufman, Marc: ‘Shining a Light on a Dream’ – FQ(x) (The Foundational Questions Institute) February 8th2008.

[xv] Dolling, L.M.; Gianelli, A. F. & Statile, G. N. (eds) (2003) p492 – John A. Wheeler (1978): ‘The ‘Past’ and the ‘Delayed Choice’ Double-Slit Experiment.’

[xvi] Sarfatti , Jack ‘Wheeler’s World: It From Bit?’ – Internet Science Education Project, San Francisco, CA.

[xvii] Brunnhölzl, Karl (2007) Straight from the Heart: Buddhist Pith Instructions p25

[xviii] Thrangu Rinpoche, Kenchen (2001) p16

[xix] Thrangu Rinpoche, Kenchen (2001) p28

[xx] Thrangu Rinpoche, Kenchen (2001) p34-35

[xxi] d’ Espagnat, B (2006) p348

[xxii] Dowman, Keith – Flight of the Garuda

[xxiii] MOE p389

[xxiv] Smolin, Lee (2002) p53

[xxv] Herbert, Nick (1985) p15

[xxvi] Stapp, Henry (2007) p139

[xxvii] Schopen. G. (1989) The manuscript of the Vajjracchedikasutra found at Gilgit. In Studies in the literature of the great vehicle: Three Mahayana Buddhist texts )pp 89-140). L. Gomez & J. Silk (Eds.), Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.

[xxviii] Penrose, Roger (1995) p237


Author’s BiographyGraham Smetham, B.A., studied Mathematics at Essex University, England and Philosophy of Religion at Sussex University. During his time at Sussex he taught a subsidiary course for scientists on the interconnections between Western science and Eastern philosophical perspectives and it was through the investigations undertaken during the preparations for this course that he began to have the insights which later developed into wide ranging and detailed explorations contained in his book Quantum Buddhism: Dancing in Emptiness. At Sussex he was also part of the Religious Studies society and at one of its meetings he met the inspirational Western Theravadin monk Ajahn Sumedho, then the abbot of Chithurst monastry, Sussex, who electrified the audience with his joyful effervescent presence. At the time Graham was becoming increasingly disillusioned with the Western academic practice of endless conceptual juggling with no transformational practice and the contact with the community of Chithurst monks and nuns convinced him of the need for both intellectual understanding and transformative meditation practice.

Although at that time Graham had a publisher eager to publish his work, personal misfortune, illness and increasing disillusionment with Western-style academic life forced him to abandon an academic career and he subsequently began to lose contact with his intellectual and spiritual roots as he pursued other aspects, ultimately less fulfilling, of life’s pathways. During this time, however, Buddhism and the philosophy of science always played a part in the background as he was always drawn to these subjects and somehow ‘knew’ that they were significant for him. It is very difficult to explain this strange feeling that somehow something which had been left behind was still lingering in the wings, so to speak. An example would be the fact that he would be drawn to various books on the philosophy of science and when he read them instantly and intuitively saw mistakes and ‘knew’ at an intuitive level that Buddhist philosophy had something to offer but did not at that time have any idea of the full scenario.

At a later point, some twenty years after leaving Sussex University, at a time of extreme personal crisis, Graham returned to a serious meditation practice, something that had fallen by the wayside. During one meditation session he was astonished to have a profound meditation vision, like having a cinema screen inside his head, during which he was surrounded by an assembly of Manjushris whilst a bowl of orange nectar at his heart radiated channels of orange nectar to the hearts of the surrounding Manjushris. At the time Graham was not aware of the spiritual identity of the buddhas with yellow hats, previously he had only studied Theravada philosophy. Graham was even more astonished to come across a book in which the vision was described as being one of a set used by Buddhist philosophers prior to writing dharma texts. Graham subsequently joined a Buddhist community and resumed the researches that he had abandoned twenty years earlier. The result is Quantum Buddhism: Dancing in Emptiness–Reality Revealed at the Interface of Quantum Physics and Buddhist Philosophy.

Graham’s website is at http://www.quantumbuddhism.com./ where you can find details of where you can buy his book.

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Happy New Year – 2017 from Ringu Tulku Rinpoche

Circumambulating the freshly renovated Boudhanath stupa I observed thousands of people from all over the world walking around it peacefully with their prayers in heart. This world heritage pilgrimage place was not built by a powerful king, a wealthy sponsor or a teacher with many followers. It was built by a poor and ordinary village woman who worked at the kings chicken farm solely with her resolution, resourcefulness and resilience.

I would like to share with you the peace and tranquility of this stupa and wish that you will face 2017 with resolution, resourcefulness and resilience.

Wish you a Very Happy New Year.

RINGU TULKU
30.12.2016
Kathmandu

གསར་དུ་ཉམས་གསོ་བྱས་པའི་མཆོད་རྟེན་ཆེན་པོ་བྱ་རུང་ཁ་ཤོར་ལ་དལ་གྱིས་སྐོར་བ་བྱེད་སྐབས་འཛམ་གླིང་གི་ཕྱོགས་ཡོངས་ནས་ཡོང་བའི་སྐྱེ་བོ་སྟོང་ཕྲག་མང་པོ་ཞི་འཇམ་གྱིས་སྐོར་བཞིན་སྨོན་ལམ་བཟང་པོ་རྒྱབ་བཞིན་པ་མཐོང་། འཛམ་གླིང་གི་ཕ་ནོར་བྱིན་རླབས་ཅན་གྱི་གནས་ཆེན་འདི་ཉིད་ཐོག་མར་དབང་ཆེན་གྱི་རྒྱལ་པོ། རྒྱུ་ཆེན་གྱི་ཡོན་བདག འཁོར་མང་གི་བླ་མ་སོགས་ཀྱིས་བཞེངས་པ་མ་ཡིན་པར། བུད་མེད་དཀྱུས་མ་དབུལ་པོ་བྱ་རྫི་མ་ཞིག་གིས་རང་ཉིད་ཀྱི་སྙིང་སྟོབས་དང་ཐབས་ཤེས་བརྩོན་འགྲུས་ཁོ་ནས་བཞེངས་གྲུབ་པ་ཞིག་རེད།
2017 ལོ་སར་གྱི་ཉིན་མོ་འདིར་ཁྱེད་རྣམས་ལ་རང་བྱུང་མཆོད་རྟེན་ཆེན་པོ་འདིའི་བྱིན་རླབས་ཀྱི་གཟི་འོད་འཕྲོ་བས་ལུས་ལ་བདེ་ཐང་དང་སེམས་ལ་ཞི་བདེ་འབད་མེད་དུ་འབྱུང་བ་མ་ཟད། མ་བྱ་རྫི་མའི་སྙིང་སྟོབས་དང་བརྩོན་འགྲུས་ཐབས་ཤེས་ཀྱིས་ལོ་འདི་ལེགས་ཕྱོགས་སུ་བསྒྱུར་ཐུབ་པའི་སྨོན་འདུན་དྲག་པོ་དང་བཅས། 2017 གནམ་ལོ་གསར་དུ་བཞད་པ་ལ་བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས་ཞུ་བཞིན། རི་མགུལ་སྤྲུལ་མིང་ཀརྨ་ཚུལ་ཁྲིམས་འགྱུར་མེད་ཕྲིན་ལས་ནས་གུས་ཕུལ། །

Source bodhicharya.org

NEPALESE CULTURAL BELIEFS

MAINLY ABOUT FLORA

Image result for image for flora

 

  • The first harvest of paddy is received into the house with due ceremony, with rice, curd and a lighted wick.

  • Fruits and flowers may be stolen but whoever steals a pumpkin will grow a goiter.

  • Don’t point at the fruit in a tree with your finger; the fruit will go bad.

  • The bachelor’s button is essential for ceremonies during the Tihar festival.  Because the flower keeps fresh for a long time, it is a symbol of longevity.

Image result for bachelor's button in nepal

Bachelor’s button

  • The red rhododendron is Nepal’s national flower.  It is found in the hills at an altitude of about 6,000 feet from the sea level.  The colour of the flower changes to a light pink in higher altitudes.

  • The peepul tree is sacred as it is believed to be the god Narayana; only a Brahman may pull it out.  On all the main trails in many parts of the hills, platforms known as chautara are built and peepul and banyan trees provide shelter and shade for travellers. The construction of the platform is more than a public service.  It is the joining of the two trees in sacred wedlock.  The peepul is also the haunt of the goddess Kumari.

  • Image result for banyan tree photos

    Children playing on a banyan tree

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Leaves of the peepul tree

  • Neither the banana nor the bamboo should be grown near a house.  The man who plants these must not let his shadow fall on the plant;  for if he does, the plant will not grow.  On the other hand, if the man steps into the shadow cast by the plant, he will die.  If a bamboo bears flowers, the man who owns it will die.  The bamboo must not be cut down on Sunday.

  • The tamarind tree must not be grown near a house either.

    Image result for photo of tamarind treeTamarind fruit

  • The palm tree is sacred in Patan.  It was brought to the town centuries back along with Machhendranath, the patron saint of the town.  The tree must not be cut down but it may be killed by driving a nail into it.  It must be allowed to grow wherever it takes root.  If it grows inside a house, a hole is made through the roof so that it can grow unchecked.

  • When a tree has to be cut down in a forest, it is customary to worship Ban Devi, the goddess of the forest.

  • The tulsi (balsam) plant is sacred and is grown in a pot or in a specially raised platform in the courtyard in many homes.

  • The kush is a sacred grass needed for certain religious ceremonies.  The dubo used as an offering to the gods is evergreen because the crow is said to have wiped its beak upon the grass after taking amrit, the elixir of life.

    Dubo Grass Garland – (हरियो दुबो घास को माला)

  • The seeds of the rudraksha tree (eleocarpus ganitrus) are used to make rosaries.  A seed without crinkles is very rare.  There is believed to be only one seed in Kathmandu – in the temple of Pashupati.  To test if the seed without crinkles is genuine, pour some water upon it and it should rise up with the steam of water.

    Image result for rudraksha tree imagesRudraksha seed specimens

  • The lotus is the seat of some gods.

    Image result for photo of lotus flower

  • The Kalpabrisksha is a mythical tree that bears anything one can wish for.

    Image result for kalpavriksha

Faith and Doubt: Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel

elizabeth 1The path begins with an investigation of the unreliability of things. Sometimes when we contemplate impermanence and the unreliability of things we feel afraid or insecure.

 

Question: In my mind my primary deity, Guru Rinpoche, is the only reliable refuge. Is there any difference between Guru Rinpoche and the outer refuge you describe in your talks? Thank you so much for your talks I found them empowering in many ways.

guru

Response: Thank you for your question Danny. I’m trying to recall how I spoke about outer refuge…and I can’t remember. But maybe I can take this opportunity to talk about refuge and we can look at different ways we do take refuge and how it does or does not support us. I will try to address your question. It seems to me that we all take refuge in our attempt to find a resting place…a place of ease…something we can trust. In an ordinary way we often take refuge in relationships, in our work, in our beliefs about how we think things are, in material wealth and so on. But because the nature of things is that they change, we often experience a lot of heartbreak.

This is why the path begins with an investigation of the unreliability of things. Sometimes when we contemplate impermanence and the unreliability of things we feel afraid or insecure. But there is nothing more scary than relying on something that is not dependable. So to begin understanding refuge we need to look at our ordinary ways of taking refuge and how it doesn’t serve us. When we free ourselves from the fantasy that we can find ease in worldly things, we naturally begin looking deeper. The Buddha suggested we look into the causes and conditions for happiness and suffering. It is noble and reasonable to want happiness…but if we just follow our impulses rather than deeply investigating these causes and conditions, our actions won’t meet our intention for happiness. It is all quite practical…if it were not practical, what would be the purpose of following a path?

So when we start to question cause and effect we ask: what happens when we practice patience vs. aggression, generosity vs. selfishness, compassion vs. fear? When we practice compassion or patience we observe freedom in the mind. Freedom from discord and fear is a sense of wellbeing and clarity…a place of ease. This is what we want. So finding this kind of freedom, wellbeing and refuge is really the purpose of the dharma. So we can use the Buddha (as an example) the dharma (as a path) and the sangha (as our companions on the path) as a support of refuge.

I am in the middle of reading a very touching and profound book by Fleet Maull called “Dharma in Hell.” He talks about practicing the dharma in prison. He says that in prison he decided to take some Buddhist precepts, not because they were morally ‘right’ but because he had to find a way to support his mind not to fall into the darkness and confusion of the prison environment. One of those vows was to engage in what is called, “right livelihood.” In other words, he decided not participate in the smuggling and black marketing that goes on in prison. He got involved in hospice work and was there for the passing of many prisoners…In such a place where the odds are so against anything positive taking place, this man found creative ways to support his wakefulness. These positive supports are refuges.

There are infinite ways to support wakefulness. Extending loving-kindness to others supports our wakefulness. Structuring our lives in a wholesome way, supports wakefulness. Not acting out aggressively or blaming others, supports wakefulness…even recognizing the goodness in others supports wakefulness.

Relying on these kinds of supports is taking ‘outer’ refuge in the Buddha, the dharma and the sangha. This has nothing to do with deification. Deification is looking toward something outward to save you and perpetuate your fantasies. Taking refuge in the Buddha, dharma and sangha is seeing how there is something we can rely upon to support an inner wellbeing. It is the alternative to relying upon our fantasy that the outer world can save us.

In the 3rd series of teachings the Buddha gave (the third turning) we find an interesting explanation of the outer refuge that begins to move us to an even deeper way of seeing things. In a very famous text called “Uttaratantra Shastra”, rather than speaking about the Buddha as an external being or historical person, it describes the Buddha as: that which is inseparable from our own true nature – the mind that is completely blossomed and clear of defilements.” Then it describes the dharma as the mind of natural intelligence. This is an intelligence we all posses…but it is obscured by ignorance. According to the text, the dharma of realization (not the dharma of letters) is the ultimate refuge. There is no higher refuge than the realization of the nature of things. The sangha refers to the unbroken line of realization.

So we see in the later teachings of the Buddha how the refuge changes. This text is said to bridge the notion of ‘outer’ refuge with the Vajrayana refuge. It is seeing the ‘inner’ aspect of refuge. The objects of refuge are not personified but rather seen as qualities innate in all beings.

Now in the tradition of the Vajrayana we practice deity yoga. So for instance, we take on a support like, Guru Rinpoche, and develop a relationship. When I think of GR, I think of him as completely awake and fearless…just based on the qualities I read about him and what I understand from practicing his sadhana. But this fearlessness and wakefulness is not separate from our own nature. We can recognize it more and more in ourselves as we practice. So the relationship with the teacher or deity is meant to connect us to a way of being that goes far beyond ourselves or the teacher as a person.

It seems like people approach this relationship in different ways. In a place like Tibet it is just natural to love Guru Rinpoche. In modern cultures people often question whether the Guru is real or unreal…or worry about blind faith. But in Tibet to simply say his name or mantra, to simply honor his qualities is the support or skillful means for awakening. I have spent a lot of time in Tibetan culture and I can see elderly people who just recite his name…and they have this incredible sparkle in their eyes…and you see they are not afraid to die. You see they are so open and beautiful…and that everything is simple for them.

I know a lot of modern people have trouble with this approach. To adapt this foreign image and then just chant the mantra can feel quite artificial for them. I really understand this too. I am also a Western practitioner. So, it is important to look deeper into the nature of this relationship. It challenges a lot of our cultural concepts. But if we are willing to try it, it can be really powerful and amazing to open up into such a world.

So in short, I suppose the difference between the outer refuge (which is seeing the Buddha as the historical Buddha), the dharma (which often refers to the dharma of letters\texts) and the sangha (our community) and the practice of guru yoga (for example taking refuge in GR) is that in the Vajrayana there is more emphasis on seeing the qualities of the guru as inseparable from the nature of our own mind. I suppose if we see Guru Rinpoche as a person, that is also an outer refuge. If we see him as the embodiment of our own nature, then he is the ‘inner’ guru. It seems like both can be powerful.

For example, when we are studying a text (the dharma of letters), it can really give us a great deal of confidence and clarity. In this way we can take refuge in\trust the information the text imparts…but ultimately, the greatest dharma (as it says in the Uttaratantra) is the dharma of realization.

This article published with the kind permission of Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel

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Calm Abiding Instructions

monk

A first practice: meditation – training the mind

Introductory notes
Our minds will naturally find peace, compassion and wisdom if we give them the opportunity. Living with these qualities present leads to a very good life – a content, happy – even an enlightened life. However, due to the way we’ve lived our lives and the mental habits we’ve developed we no longer know how to find this good and pleasant state. So ways of training the ‘heart-mind’ have come into being to help with this – meditation practices.

There are many meditation practices, some come within a religious framework and some do not. Basically though they all fall into one of two types – ‘calm abiding’ and ‘insight’.

‘Calm abiding’ meditation helps you become more at peace and helps you stay in that state even after you’ve finished the practice. It can also help you see your life more clearly – and so give the opportunity to make changes and live life in a better way.

‘Insight’ meditation helps you develop the qualities of calm abiding meditation more deeply – you find yourself becoming more compassionate, and insights into the nature of your life arise more frequently. We come to see ourselves, others and the world about us to be inherently perfect, and we find ourselves living in ways that produce good results for all.

You do not have to believe anything in order to do this practice – except that you can change, can live life in a better way. And you have to want to do that.

Calm abiding – practice guidelines for counting the breath
Meditate in a quiet, well ventilated room. The room should be neither too bright nor too dark. Wear clean clothing that does not restrict your waist or legs. Find the most stable position you can – sitting on either a chair or on a meditation bench. If you are very flexible you can use a meditation cushion sitting in a cross legged position. Sit on the front half of the cushion and, with each meditation period, alternate the leg you place on top. Do not persist in using a meditation cushion if you find the position painful.

The most important thing is to be sitting in an upright position, not resting against anything, and at the same time to be completely relaxed. The stomach in particular should not be held in or constrained.

To centre yourself, sway the body gently from left to right and then backwards and forwards. Allow the natural curves of the spine to form at the neck and in the small of the back. The head should be held upright – the chin should be slightly tucked in. The tongue is held lightly against the back of the top teeth with the lips and teeth closed

The hands are arranged into a kind of circle – put your right hand on your lap and then cover the fingers of the right hand with the fingers of the left-hand. Now bring the two thumbs together to touch in such a way as to make a circular shape. The hands should then be placed gently against the stomach with the thumbs roughly at the height of the naval (an alternative to this is to place the hands separately each one on or near its knee). Keep the eyes open and lowered, allowing your gaze to fall on the wall or floor in front of you. Keep the eyes gently focused – do not stare. If you wear glasses it’s generally best to leave them on.

Now check and make sure that there is no tension anywhere in your body or even in your neck, head or face that you are able to let go of (some tension is so habitual we cant completely let go of it).

For this meditation practice there’s no need to try and adjust the depth or speed of your breathing. But, just to start with, take two or three deeper breaths – follow the breath up the back on the inhalation and down the front of the body on the exhalation, thus describing a circle. Then sit steadily with an alert and bright mind.

Now we come to the counting practice: as you exhale the first breath count ‘one’. Then inhale. As you exhale the second breath count ‘two’. The counting should be continued throughout the whole out-breath. Carry on in this way counting up to ‘ten’ and then return to ‘one’ and repeat the sequence. If a thought comes along, finish counting that breath and then return to counting ‘one’ on the next exhalation.

Meditate regularly, every day if possible, if only for a few minutes. Mornings and evenings or a regular quiet time in your day is best. Decide how long your sessions will be and keep to that as much as you can. Meditating with others in a group is helpful, as is keeping in touch with a teacher.

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Best wishes with it all, Rinchen monk.rinchen@gmail.com

What the Buddha Said About Eating Meat

Ajahn Brahmavamso

vegetables


Since the very beginning of Buddhism over 2500 years ago, Buddhist monks and nuns have depended on almsfood. They were, and still are, prohibited from growing their own food, storing their own provisions or cooking their own meals. Instead, every morning they would make their day’s meal out of whatever was freely given to them by lay supporters. Whether it was rich food or coarse food, delicious or awful tasting it was to be accepted with gratitude and eaten regarding it as medicine. The Buddha laid down several rules forbidding monks from asking for the food that they liked. As a result, they would receive just the sort of meals that ordinary people ate – and that was often meat.

Once, a rich and influential general by the name of Siha (meaning ‘Lion’) went to visit the Buddha. Siha had been a famous lay supporter of the Jain monks but he was so impressed and inspired by the Teachings he heard from the Buddha that he took refuge in the Triple Gem (i.e. he became a Buddhist). General Siha then invited the Buddha, together with the large number of monks accompanying Him, to a meal at his house in the city the following morning. In preparation for the meal, Siha told one of his servants to buy some meat from the market for the feast. When the Jain monks heard of their erstwhile patron’s conversion to Buddhism and the meal that he was preparing for the Buddha and the monks, they were somewhat peeved:

“Now at the time many Niganthas (Jain monks), waving their arms, were moaning from carriage road to carriage road, from cross road to cross road in the city: ‘Today a fat beast, killed by Siha the general, is made into a meal for the recluse Gotama (the Buddha), the recluse Gotama makes use of this meat knowing that it was killed on purpose for him, that the deed was done for his sake’…” [1].

Siha was making the ethical distinction between buying meat already prepared for sale and ordering a certain animal to be killed, a distinction which is not obvious to many westerners but which recurs throughout the Buddha’s own teachings. Then, to clarify the position on meat eating to the monks, the Buddha said:

“Monks, I allow you fish and meat that are quite pure in three respects: if they are not seen, heard or suspected to have been killed on purpose for a monk. But, you should not knowingly make use of meat killed on purpose for you.” [2]

There are many places in the Buddhist scriptures which tell of the Buddha and his monks being offered meat and eating it. One of the most interesting of these passages occurs in the introductory story to a totally unrelated rule (Nissaggiya Pacittiya 5) and the observation that the meat is purely incidental to the main theme of the story emphasizes the authenticity of the passage:

Uppalavanna (meaning ‘she of the lotus-like complexion’) was one of the two chief female disciples of the Buddha. She was ordained as a nun while still a young woman and soon became fully enlightened. As well as being an arahant (enlightened) she also possessed various psychic powers to the extent that the Buddha declared her to be foremost among all the women in this field. Once, while Uppalavanna was meditating alone in the afternoon in the ‘Blind-Men’s Grove’, a secluded forest outside of the city of Savatthi, some thieves passed by. The thieves had just stolen a cow, butchered it and were escaping with the meat. Seeing the composed and serene nun, the chief of the thieves quickly put some of the meat in a leaf-bag and left it for her. Uppalavanna picked up the meat and resolved to give it to the Buddha. Early next morning, having had the meat prepared, she rose into the air and flew to where the Buddha was staying, in the Bamboo Grove outside of Rajagaha, over 200 kilometres as the crow (or nun?) flies! Though there is no specific mention of the Buddha actually consuming this meat, obviously a nun of such high attainments would certainly have known what the Buddha ate.

However there are some meats which are specifically prohibited for monks to eat: human meat, for obvious reasons; meat from elephants and horses as these were then considered royal animals; dog meat – as this was considered by ordinary people to be disgusting; and meat from snakes, lions, tigers, panthers, bears and hyenas – because one who had just eaten the flesh of such dangerous jungle animals was thought to give forth such a smell as to draw forth revenge from the same species!

Towards the end of the Buddha’s life, his cousin Devadatta attempted to usurp the leadership of the Order of monks. In order to win support from other monks, Devadatta tried to be more strict than the Buddha and show Him up as indulgent. Devadatta proposed to the Buddha that all the monks should henceforth be vegetarians. The Buddha refused and repeated once again the regulation that he had established years before, that monks and nuns may eat fish or meat as long as it is not from an animal whose meat is specifically forbidden, and as long as they had no reason to believe that the animal was slaughtered specifically for them.

The Vinaya, then, is quite clear on this matter. Monks and nuns may eat meat. Even the Buddha ate meat. Unfortunately, meat eating is often seen by westerners as an indulgence on the part of the monks. Nothing could be further from the truth – I was a strict vegetarian for three years before I became a monk. In my first years as a monk in North-East Thailand, when I bravely faced many a meal of sticky rice and boiled frog (the whole body bones and all), or rubbery snails, red-ant curry or fried grasshoppers – I would have given ANYTHING to be a vegetarian again! On my first Christmas in N.E. Thailand an American came to visit the monastery a week or so before the 25th. It seemed too good to be true, he had a turkey farm and yes, he quickly understood how we lived and promised us a turkey for Christmas. He said that he would choose a nice fat one especially for us… and my heart sank. We cannot accept meat knowing it was killed especially for monks. We refused his offer. So I had to settle for part of the villager’s meal – frogs again.

Monks may not exercise choice when it comes to food and that is much harder than being a vegetarian. Nonetheless, we may encourage vegetarianism and if our lay supporters brought only vegetarian food and no meat, well… monks may not complain either!

May you take the hint and be kind to animals.

References:

[1] Book of the Discipline, Vol. 4, p. 324
[2] ibid, p. 325

Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera, known as Ajahn Brahm is a British Theravada Buddhist monk. Currently Brahm is the Abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery, in Serpentine, Western Australia, the Spiritual Director of …Wikipedia

ajhan                                                       Ajahn Brahmavamso

 

Green Sweet Cicely Seed Sweets

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How to make sweet cicely seed brittle, a form of boiled sweet, and mukhwas, a foraged wild take on Indian sugar coated fennel seeds.

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Sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata) is found growing wild in the parts of the British Isles that have a cold enough winter for the seed to set. This is mainly north Wales and the Midlands and north, being abundant in Scotland. It is easily distinguished from other umbillifers as it has a distinctive aniseed smell, has velvety soft leaves that are marked on the base fronds with faded, whitish patches that, at a casual glance, look like a bird shat on it. It has very juicy stems that, containing anethole which is sweeter than sugar, can be boiled with rhubarb instead of sugar. It makes delicious crumbles, ice cream and an excellent rhubarb, sweet cicely and ginger jam. Alternatively infuse it in vodka to make a wild sambuca!

The seeds, eaten young and raw, are reminiscent of the aniseeds found in the centre of traditional gobstoppers (in the US, jawbreakers). So it was only a matter of time before I experimented with sweet cicely candy!

Ingredients

2 cups of young green sweet cicely seeds
2 cups of granulated sugar
1 cup of water
1 dessertspoon of glucose syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Directions

Pick the young sweet cicely seeds when still tender. If you leave it too late in the year they become fibrous. Late May is a good time to harvest in Scotland.

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Put the water and sugar into a saucepan over a gentle heat, stirring, to slowly dissolve the sugar. Then bring to the boil. Once it has reached a slow boil, add the sweet cicely seeds. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you can put a drop of the sugar solution onto a cold plate and it keeps its spherical shape without collapsing flat onto the plate.

Now, using a pot holder to hold the pan, hold the pan lid on leaving a small gap, tilt and strain the excess sugar solution off into a silicone flan case leaving the seeds trapped in the pan. (Carefully: Hot sugar burns!) Allow it to spread out thinly in the case by tilting it from side to side while still warm. Leave to cool before scoring and breaking into pieces.

sweet 4Return the pan to the heat and ensure any remaining sugar solution is mixed evenly through the seeds and fully absorbed. Empty onto a silicone sheet and separate with a fork to make a version of mukhwas – a take on Indian sugar-coated fennel seed mouth fresheners.

sweet 5Store both, when cool, in airtight containers.

Mixed Vegetable Pulao – Nepali: तरकारीको पुलाउ – नेपाली

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This type of mixed vegetable pulao is occasionally prepared, especially for feasts and in picnics.  It is a very rich dish.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups of rice (basmati or masino/fine)
3 tablespoons of ghiu (clarified butter)
1 cup of cauliflower pieces
1/2 a cup of peas
1 carrot thinly sliced
1 onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
4 green cardamoms  or 2 black cardamoms
6 black peppers
2 cloves
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 a green chili
1 or 2 bay leaves
3 cups of hot, boiled water
small quantity of chopped coriander leaves

Process
Soak the rice in water for five minutes.
Wash and drain the water from the rice.
Heat the ghiu and fry the onions till they are brown.
Add all the spices.
Add all the vegetables and cook for a few minutes.
Add the rice, salt and green chili.
Fry the rice till it is dried and looks brownish in colour.
Pour three cups of hot water (2.5 centimeters above the level of the rice).
Cover and boil gently till the rice grains become tender and the vegetables are cooked.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.

bon appetit