Wanting To Hear and Not Wanting To Hear

As a student, I know how this feels!
It all depends on who is explaining;

Spirituality is not about being a fanatic.

There are some things in spirituality that are a bit… heavy ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ve been reluctant to put Guru Rinpoche’s (Padmasambhava) writings on the blog as they are very precise, to say the least. They are the ultimate upgrade. It all depends from which yana/level we are viewing these; Theravanda, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Dzogchen/Mahamudra. All views are inspiring but much depends on one’s personal leanings and tendencies – some traditions are strict and some are loose. I’m all for loose!

One has to approach Padmasambhava’s teachings with a relaxed understanding. If one takes them literally, one will be turned off. They should be taken expediently to start with, and then literally – with a skilful mind. It’s still all about the nature of everything, which is emptiness. His teachings are more to do with conduct and ultimate refinement: we push with our practice, which allows blessings to pull us through to enlightenment.

If one is merely resting in pure awareness, one is completing all vows in all disciplines. That is what it’s all about. These teachings are for those who need rules and regulations. And remember, this was written for Tibetan ears; modern people need to be relaxed. I’ve put this the blog so that, if you come across teachings like these, you can be relaxed about them โ€“ they’re not scary!

I’ll put in a couple of extracts to illustrate this point.

This is from โ€œDakini Teachingsโ€, which was written by Yeshe Tsokgyal, a female disciple of Padmasambhava in the ninth century. She was a dakini and an emanation of the female Buddha Lochana, the consort of the Buddha Ratnasambhava as well as of Vajrayogini appearing in the form of a woman. Yeshe Tsokgyal wrote these teachings in a secret, coded language called ‘dakini script’ and concealed them as precious terma treasures to be revealed by tertons many centuries later.

Lady Tsokgyal asked the master: โ€œWithout receiving empowerments from one’s master, will one attain accomplishment or not?โ€

The master Padmasambhava replied, โ€œTo exert yourself in study and so forth without attending a master and without having received empowerments, you will have no results and your efforts will be wasted. Empowerment is the entrance to the secret mantra. To enter the secret mantra without empowerments being conferred is pointless, since it will yield no result and your stream of being will be ruined.โ€

Lady Tsokgyal asked the master: โ€œIf the master himself has not been conferred empowerment and he gives them to others, will they receive the empowerment or not?โ€
The master Padmasambhava replied, โ€œAlthough you may be appointed by a charlatan to the rank of a minister thus entrusted with power, you will only meet with misfortune. Likewise, although you may have an empowerment conferred upon you by a master who himself has not received it, your mind will be ruined. Moreover, you will destroy the minds of others and go to the lower realms like cattle yoked together, falling into an abyss carried away within an iron box with no exit. You will be sent to the bottom of hell.โ€

OK. I can feel your hackles rising. You are now spitting blood and probably muttering about how ridiculous this is! But it’s here that we have proceed intelligently and carefully, remembering that this is from another culture and another age. I can only talk for myself as a student, reflecting how I reason this. For the word ‘hell’, read deep, dark confusion.

We have to take responsibility for our choice of teacher, and we have to test them. Then, having chosen, we have confidence in practice. However, there are times when we just have to move on, and maybe find another teacher. As our understanding changes, so does our perception.

We can regard this earthly existence in our human form as either heaven or as hell โ€“ or as both. And that will dictate how we practise. When we first start practising, we practise with a rather blunt knife; we’re walking on a blunt edge. As we progress, the knife become sharper and we have to tread much more carefully, because we have a greater effect on others.

Taking on a teacher is precarious. An authentic teacher is like fire; get too close, and you will be burned but stand too far away and you won’t feel the warmth. There are certain teachings that are very heavy and a turn off, but it’s important to get an inclining of such teachings to sew the seeds of refinement for the future.

In spiritual practice, our pride has to be loosened, and there comes a time when this pride is totally smashed โ€“ and that happens only through a relationship with an authentic, qualified teacher. I remember one of my teachers telling of how scared he was about going to see one of his teachers, because he knew that asking a question meant you had to obey whatever answer you may receive (remember here that we are talking about a high level of advancement).

Monks and nuns take many vows to keep them on the straight and narrow; it’s a very precise life. We, as householders, are responsible for our own spiritual welfare, and in this day and age, rarely get the opportunity to have a close relationship with a teacher.

Padmasambhava’s teachings are inspiring, but they are concerned with discipline, when one is ready โ€“ when the synapses are in conjunction ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ We don’t want sloppy connections!

Teaching should make you smile,
and not scowl.

It’s all about the end of confusion!
When resting in pure awareness,
even if a thousand Buddhas tell you you’re wrong,
you know you’re right.

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  1. marcel says:

    “We have to take responsibility for our choice of teacher, and we have to test them. Then, having chosen, we have confidence in practice.”

    Tony, where do we start from here? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • tony says:

      Hello Marcel,
      I think much depends on what comes our way. We can learn something from everything and everyone.

      However confidence in a teacher, is when they tell you what you already know – they just confirms it or clarify it.

      It feels like the ‘universe’/ ‘life’ is telling us something step by step. I think it is more to do with our “synapses” joining up.

      I have found that when joining a group,they have a system set up and expect us to just join in without any explanations.

      Then there is the problem of different traditions and different approaches.

      The one thing we can trust is the Buddhas words and our own connection with them.

      Buddhism is perfect,
      buddhists are not
      ๐Ÿ˜€ “D “D

      What have you found?

  2. marcel says:

    Hello Tony,

    I’ve found out a lot of things since my visit to Lerab Ling in the south of France, about a year ago. I learned 4 noble truths and I learned that I should head towards Vajrayana/Dzogchen/Mahamudra.
    Since then, I am floating around a bit, studying this, exploring that. There is definitely some hesitation to engage with a certain school and/or teacher.
    For example, I joined Trungpa’s school for a weekend, but just like you said about joining a group, they have a system set up and they expect you to join in and speak their language. I’m not ready for that.
    At the same time, I agree with you quoting guru Rinpoche: โ€œTo exert yourself in study and so forth without attending a master, you will have no results and your efforts will be wasted.” I see that practice and guidance are needed to get there, to get some real results. Can it be done, in a loose way, without joining a cult or a school? Where to start?

    • tony says:

      Hello Marcel,
      There’s a bit of a game to be played, and in doing so we keep loose, by taking the Buddha’s teachings to heart…”Not too tight and not too loose.”

      Dharma centres are strange places, with serious people…serious is too tight. and then there are the air-heads…too loose.

      It’s good to meditate with others, as a support in our discipline, and it’s good to hear teachings, as a support in our understanding. It’s good to help out, but don’t hang around!

      I’ve experienced Trungpa’s centres they are pretty heavy, as Trungpa leave you nowhere to hide. This is also the Kargyu way.

      Dzogchen which is the Nyingma way, is totally relaxed as there is nothing to do but recognise. Even then some act very strangely!

      I’ll have to admit I too find Dharma centres a bit cultish…that’s humans for you.

      Once we ‘get’ the essence of the teachings we can practice happily on our own. Dharma centres are just a doorway
      to our essential nature. Take what is satisfying and go home to practice, and have fun with family and friends.

      When we feel ourselves slipping then we need good company. Best if we are that good company for others.

      It’s all about being natural and confident, and not feeling guilty. Perhaps it’s the age we are in but most ‘spiritual’ people do seem a bit up tight!

      Dharma centres are like a catalyst for intense emotion, it bring them all out…arggg and hiss! This is where compassion for one’s own reactions are truly needed. This is where we start to unwind our neurosis with a great dollop of humour.

      We and ‘they’ will not be perfect until enlightenment. Our dissatisfaction is the way. The phrase “attending to the master…” has to be read carefully. The master/teacher is the teaching. For some at some time need the physical presence of a teacher to inspire them. This is good.

      But it is only to keep the teachings in mind, to remind us. There is always help when we need it.

      All masters represent primordial wakefulness – Buddha nature.

      Once we understand the essence of our being, then everything else is a reflection of that.

      Start with short relaxed meditation, “Not too tight and not too loose.” Don’t doubt that pure awareness is not present. Buddha nature is always present.


  3. marcel says:

    And, hence, the birth of the first online dharma center in the world.. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks Tony, as always, this is some very helpful, timely and practical advice. Please, let me know if you need some help to further the idea of the virtual dharma center.

  4. marcel says:

    At the pinacle of their practice, at the sommet of the mountain, I suspect that all these practicioners in Mahamudra/Dzogchen/Tantra/Vajrayana/Ati/.. meet each other, ending up with the buddha sitting in their middle. Different paths, same end-result..

    Now back to serious matters ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve decided, actually now in fact, to follow the Dzogchen path, and to stick to it. I’ve found a Dzogchen teacher, on a site called buddhainthemud, who I esteem capable of showing me the direct way to the natural state of pure awareness, and helping me to stay there.

    A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky to experience a moment of pure awareness, just a couple of minutes, but it was there, very clear, very simple, before it passed away..

    As you suggested, Tony, I’ll start, with short relaxed meditation 2 times a day 5 minutes and continue to follow your blog on a daily basis.


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