Intention: the ability to direct attention; process of awakening; guided meditation practice for working with intention.
Joe: Good morning.
Ken: No. This morning. [Laughter] Good morning, Joe. We’ll get into this chorus and response thing in a minute.
This morning we want to cover three topics. A bit more about intention and the practice of intending. The first set of meditations, to work with the internal material that blocks presence and the ways of working with presence. And a way or ways to bring all your, all aspects of your being into alignment in the practice.
To intend is to direct attention. So one moves to a higher level. Which means that attention necessarily penetrates deeper into your whole system and because attention penetrates deeper into your system, the various forms of conditioning that comprise the habituated personality—you’re going to come into connection with them in a conscious way.
A rough analogy which owes something to Sleeping Beauty, which is exactly about this, and a couple of other fairy tales. In Buddhism, presence, pure being, mind nature, wisdom, whatever you want to call it, is symbolized by the feminine, uncreated, so a woman who is asleep. And around her are bears, and tigers, and lions, and dragons, soldiers, ogres, trolls, so forth and everybody’s asleep.
The active principle of intention is symbolized by the masculine—in fairy tales, the prince. And the prince moves or walks or rides into the neighborhood and the resonance between attention and pure being is activated. So the princess wakes up. But as soon as she wakes up so do all the bears, the animals, the elephants, and the dragons, and the soldiers, trolls, the ogres and so forth. And they immediately start hunting.
Student: They immediately start what?
Ken: They immediately start hunting for whatever disturbed the peace, the peace of ignorance. And so they locate the prince and they drive him away or they kill him, whatever’s necessary. And then everybody goes back to sleep. So we’re working with the principle of attention. It’s going to wake things up. And part of this practice, very much part of it, is how to meet all of the ogres, and bears, and lions, and tigers, and dragons and so forth and not be killed by them, not be driven off by them, so the princess stays awake. That’s presence.
Last night, I gave you the primary practice which is a practice of the genre called direct awareness. It moves you directly into awareness and presence. It’s a simple practice. It does the job.
Today I’m going to give you a more complex practice. The intention which is to help you get in touch with intention. This is a first, or the first two actually, of the series of six practices that we’re going to work with in the next few days. And they’re all outlined in here, rather than you having taking notes like mad because these are fairly complex practices, I wrote them up for you and you have, all of you have a copy of this, should have a copy. Do you need one, Diane? And these are not for public consumption at this point, these are for you.
Now, I’m going to walk you through the practice as I want you to do it in meditation period. And put the booklets down ’cause I want to walk you through it, but what I’m going to be going through is described in here so you will have a record of it and you can study, learn it on your own.
There are three phases to the practice, what might be loosely called preparation or integration. Then there’s the main practice itself, meeting the internal material and that’s going to change. And then there’s the conclusion phase. These practices are derived from a number of different sources including Vajrayana principles in Tibetan Buddhism.
So to begin, just rest in intention. Let your attention rest on your breath. Become settled in your body.
And for these practices it’s usually easier if you close your eyes. So just rest for a few moments with the breath so the body, mind relax and you start dropping into attention.
And then imagine you are in a place that is real or imaginary, natural or constructed. It is a place that is personally significant to you, remote and un-peopled. For some people it’s a meadow, for others, a cliff, for others, the side of a hill. But it has one characteristic, and that is in one direction it looks over a vista, a large spacious view.
One person who grew up in New York, used his high school gym. Or you can use looking over a valley, Yosemite, something like that. Looking over the sea. This is your place. Be there looking over the vista and then turn to your right and look over the terrain, whatever’s there, so you’re familiar with it. What sounds, smells and is there the feel of the wind? The aroma of trees, plants, flowers. Note the details of rocks, trees, wind, water, or anything else that’s there.
Look in the direction opposite to the vista, maybe it’s open too, maybe it’s a wall of a cliff, whatever’s there. Now look to the left. Look above and below the horizon. And then turn again and face the vista. Now you know your place completely. You know what’s behind you, what’s to the left of you, what’s to the right of you, what’s ahead of you. You know it completely.
And imagine you sit down, facing the vista. You can feel the contact of the ground.
And rest your attention about four fingers below the naval, the very center of your body, where a sphere of yellow light appears. About the size of a marble. Anywhere from the size of a pea to the size of a golf ball.
This is the earth element. Think of the ground, rocks, sand, mountains, solidity, buildings, structure, order. In your body the earth element manifests as bones, muscles, the actual structure of your body. Tendons, ligaments, everything which holds the body together.
Experientially earth is the experience of stability, richness, support. It can also be experienced as rigidity, control, a structure, even prisons and fines. In terms of mind itself, it’s the ground in which all experience arises.
As your attention rests on the yellow sphere, it begins to vibrate. And the thin shaft of light comes straight up to the point halfway between the naval and the solar plexus, where a white sphere, same size, a white sphere of light forms.
This is the element water. Rest your attention there, including the earth element, but resting principally with the water element. And think of rain, water, rivers, oceans, flow, cohesiveness, fluidity, anything that flows.
Internally, the element water manifests as blood and the other fluids in the body and the way they circulate through the body. Water is experienced as clarity, seeing, including or as dispersion, flowing out of objects, being engulfed. In terms of mind itself, the clarity of mind nature is the water element.
The water spirit begins to vibrate and the shaft of light comes straight up to the level of your heart where a red sphere of light appears.
This is the element fire. Rest attention at the level of the heart in the element fire. Think of sunlight, illumination, candles, a fire burning in the hearth, a raging forest fire, burning houses, the warmth of the sun on your skin.
Internally the element of fire is the warmth of your body. It is the metabolism. The burning of fuel in the body which produces warmth and energy. Experientially fire is passion, creativity, directness. It’s also, consuming experience or being consumed by experience in order to feel that you exist. In terms of mind nature, it is the direct knowing where you just know, without concept, without framework.
The fire sphere begins to vibrate and you feel the connection with the water element and the earth element. And the shaft of light rises straight up to the level of the throat where a green sphere of light forms.
This is the element air. Rest attention in the element, in the air element. Think of wind, breezes, hurricanes. Think of how air surrounds everything but is not changed by what it surrounds. Of how you can only be aware of air when there’s motion, when there’s movement. Either you have to move your hand or the air has to move, otherwise you don’t sense it.
Internally the air element of the body is the breath. Feel the coming and going of the breath. It’s also the subtle energies – chi, quantum. Experientially air is the ability to know and to act on the knowing. Alternatively it’s being in constant activity. Having an intellectual relationship with experience, rather than a direct relationship. Knowing the world through the intimate rather than directly. In terms of mind nature, this is movement in the mind. The arising and subsiding of thoughts and opinions. Coming and going.
The air sphere vibrates and you feel the connection with the other elements. And light, shaft of light rises up to the level of your eyebrows. In the center of your head a blue sphere forms.
And this is the element void. Rest attention there. Think of sky, space, open space. The emptiness of a cup which allows you to fill it with a beverage. The still point at the center of a wheel around which the wheel turns. The space in any joint, whether it’s one’s joints in the body or in any mechanism which makes movement possible. The open sky which includes everything without becoming any of it. In the body it is the cavities, spaces in the body, in the hollow orb, lung, stomach and so forth. Spaces in the joints that allow movement.
Experientially void arises as a sense of union, oneness, empty presence, non-separation. Negatively it arises as bewilderment, confusion and fragmentation into the other realms. In terms of mind nature, it is the emptiness of mind. The quality of being no thing.
The void sphere vibrates and you feel its connection with all the other elements and now they all vibrate together and they radiate light and this light fills your body.
Now imagine as you rest in your power location, your power place. Sitting facing the vista, you open your eyes and you look out over the vista and you feel all of the elements present and lined up inside you. And you see in the sky in front of you a small black dot that grows larger. It’s coming towards you and it becomes like pair of French doors, a portal.
Sorry, got ahead of myself there.
Go back to the power location. You become aware that there is someone behind you. And you turn and you see a person standing. There’s the person, several feet away from you. You are in no physical danger. And the person is the same gender as you. And they are holding a sword. The sword is in the scabbard, a sheath, and they’re standing there holding it.
You stand up and you turn to face them, face this person. You look into the sword bearer’s eyes and he or she looks straight back into your eyes. And feel that.
Then look at the sword. Form the intention to take the sword. And you reach out with one or both hands and you take it. The sword bearer doesn’t give it to you, but neither does he or she offer any resistance. But the action comes from you. You reach out. You take it. And you can feel the weight in your hands. And the sword is in a sheath and the sheath is attached to a belt and you strap the belt on with the sword now hanging by your side.
And then you look into the eyes of the sword bearer again and in whatever way is appropriate for you, you acknowledge what you have received. And you turn to the vista and the sword bearer goes away. And you draw the sword with your right, left hand, depending on which you are. And you are holding a two edged sword in front of you, vertically, as you look over the vista. And all of the elements are lined up inside you.
And as soon as you draw the sword a sensation arises in your chest. It’s as if an old wound opens and you feel all of the old pains. The pains you have buried, forgotten or pretended never existed. And you look at the blade shining in the sunlight and you see that it has two edges, one of them faces out and the other faces towards you.
Now the god appears in the sky and moves towards you and becomes a pair of french doors or a portal. And inside is a scene from some point earlier in your life. And you remember this scene because there was a specific action which you knew to do, but were not able to do at that time. It may have been a physical action such as jumping across a ditch but you were too frightened, you were scared you wouldn’t make it. It may be a verbal action were you knew that something was wrong and you knew what to say, but you couldn’t get the words out of your mouth. Maybe something else. But that inability to act has stayed with you and there it is, the same scene in front of you now.
You enter the scene, you walk through the doors into the scene, but there is a difference now. You are filled with light from the elements. The sword is drawn, which is a symbol of attention, and the wound is open. You are not ignoring anything. But all the feelings arise right there. Don’t hide from them. Don’t inhibit them. And now, fully present, do what you couldn’t do before. Just do it. Do what you couldn’t do, no more, but no less.
And then return to your power location, to the power place. The portal disappears. Light radiates from your body and from the sword. The light is so intense that your power location, you, the sword, everything becomes light. Rest in being the light.
And then form the intention to be here in the meditation hall. And when you are ready, you open your eyes, and you are here but the light comes with you.
Now this is your practice. It takes about fifteen minutes, fifteen to twenty minutes depending on how long you sit with each of the elements. So in the half hour sessions we’ll be doing in the next meditation period I want you to do it in each one of those. So you’ll be doing it three times.
You can read it over, this is exercises one and two in the red pamphlet, so you can read those over. Many of you are familiar with the elements from other work that we’ve done before. Some of you, this is new material—may feel a bit overwhelming. That’s good. Just meet it. And when anything comes up, saying I can’t do this, move into that experience. Move into your intention and just do it.
[Excerpt from The Time, the Place and the People from
King, in the country somewhere in central Asia, noticed that there was a dervish in his court. When he said, “Master of the wise, I wish to learn from you. Teach me wisdom.”
When the dervish replied, “Is this a command or a request?”
And the king said, “Take it as you wish. If you take it as a command, I will learn. If you take it as a request, I will still learn. Treat it as you wish.”
And the dervish sat for a long time. And everybody in the court was quiet, silent. And finally the dervish replied and said, “Yes, your highness, I will teach you, at the right time, in the right place, in the right situation.”
And the king said, “Okay.” But he wasn’t very happy because he thought he could be taught right then.
So the court went on with its affairs. And every day the dervish came and attended in the court. And the counselors advised the king about various matters. And the dervish mingled with the other courtiers. They laughed and joked and ate. He never said a word to the king.
And days went by and then weeks. And the king went, “What’s going on?” And the weeks became months and still the dervish said nothing.
Then one day one of the counselors of the king said, “There is this extraordinary singer in town. He sings with the beauty of a thousand nightingales.”
And the king said, “Well, we should hear this. Bring him to me.”
And so an emissary was sent to the singer. But the singer’s reply was, “I sing when and where I please, not at the behest of a king, for that is what makes me a great singer. I know when and where to perform. I don’t heed just anybody’s wishes.”
And when this message was relayed to the king, the king was very, very angry. He was not used to people speaking in these terms. But before he took any action, the dervish stepped forward and said, “Your majesty, if you wish to hear the singer sing, I can arrange that.” And the counselors all looked on the dervish with some skepticism and dismay. But this was the first words that the dervish had spoken to the king in several months and the king paid attention.
And so he commanded a garment, a set of rags to be brought to him and he put them over his robes and went off with the dervish. And the dervish took the king to the singer’s residence and knocked on the door. The singer’s servant came to the door, and the request made, could they hear the singer sing?
The servant went back, came back a few moments later and said, “He’s not performing.”
So the dervish and the king couldn’t do anything, but the dervish sat down outside the singer’s house, told the king to sit down beside him. And the dervish began to sing the singer’s favorite song. And he sang it quite well. The king couldn’t pick up the difference. And when he finished the king said, “That’s beautiful. Sing it again.”
But before the dervish could do anything, the singer threw open the window says, “No, don’t sing it again. That was terrible!” And started to sing it himself. And it was beautiful beyond words. And when the singer had finished, the king rewarded him.
And as he and the dervish walked back to the palace, he [the king] said, “So how is this possible?”
He [the dervish] said, “It’s all a question of the right time and the right place and the right conditions.”
This is about intention. There are many ways to interpret this story, but one is about intention. And part of intention is how to make things manifest in the world.
Now, in this short amount of time we have remaining, there are various ways of looking at intention. I’m going to give you three or four. These are all in groups of three.
Bring attention. When you bring attention to something, your relationship with it changes. It starts to reorganize. And when you maintain consistency in that, things start to happen. So that’s the first set: attention, reorganization, consistency.
Another formulation, See clearly. When you see clearly you can know what is. When you know what is, act without hesitation, because anything else, once you know what is, is thinking, is distraction, is the movement out of presence.
Another way, and this is very useful for working in difficult situations either internally or externally, Follow the gesture. This is a way of knowing what is happening. When you follow the gesture and know what is happening then go another way. Do something different. Doesn’t really matter what you do as long as it is different. When you do that you will experience everything that tries to constrain you to the original way the system operates. So you have to cut.
Student: You have to what?
Ken: So follow the gesture, go another way, cut.
And finally, Learn the technique, get it into your body so it’s just there. And then remove all of the material that gets in the way of its operation, so it can happen.
These are all different approaches to the same principle and that is, being able to implement intention. This takes place on your meditation mat and it takes place in your life. The way that you strengthen intention is that you intend to do something and then do it. You intend to do something, then do it. And this is the primary practice or the principle practice you should be doing during the time between meditation periods. Intend to walk somewhere and then walk somewhere. Intend to put something in your bowl, lunch, and put it in the bowl. Intend to have a rest after lunch. Have the rest. Or go for a walk, intend to go for a walk. And whatever you’re doing, be in the one thing you are doing.
Okay. Questions? Carolyn?
Ken: Follow the gesture means, whatever’s arising, you’re right with it. That’s the first stage. This is how you get to know it. It’s comparable to attention. As you do this, as you follow the gesture in attention, your understanding of what it is develops. Your capacity in attention develops. And you reach a point where you can go another way. When you can you do, because you know what the results are if you don’t, all too well probably. Okay?
Other questions? Yes?
Ken: I’m not sure that there is a set answer to that. It really has to do with the way that physical challenge arises and the patterns associated with it. You will find, probably, that one of these works better than the others, because they all come from different ways of working. So what I suggest you do is you experiment and one will make sense. But it may be that for one physical challenge, one makes sense but for another, another makes sense.
Other questions? Yes?
Ken: No. It’s the internal material that keeps us from doing what we need to do.
Ken: That’s right.
Ken: That’s right.
Ken: Yeah.Well, it’s a simple matter, who’s going to live your life, you or the ogre? How often has the ogre lived your life for you? Do you want to change that? It goes back to that old saying from the west, this town ain’t big enough for the two of us. [Laughter] And that’s how it is. That’s what we’ll be working with because as long as you’re unable to face that ogre, it lives your life. And tomorrow we’ll be talking about that very explicitly.
Ken: No, the story’s simply a manifestation of the internal material.
Ken: Well, as I say the story is simply a manifestation of the internal material. So you come into a situation and you feel uncomfortable in it. You know what you need to do but you aren’t comfortable. Then the stories start up. Well, this is not a good idea to do this because x, y and z is going to happen. That’s a story, right? So it’s a manifestation of the internal material.
Ken: It could be any of the emotional reactions. And you’re going to have physical manifestations, you’re going to have emotional manifestations, all of the different emotions that arise. And you’re going to have cognitive manifestations, that’s all of the different stories and associations and memories. “I can’t do this because, if I do this, this is going to happen” etc. And when you are seduced or enchanted by the story, then you fall out of attention and you can not do what you intended to do.
So in the primary practice, you include all of that internal material but you are in attention. You are not consumed by it. It’s a way of developing what we call pre-attention, attention which is at a sufficiently high level that the energy of the attention isn’t consumed by all the stories and the other stuff. You don’t need a lot. All you need is that much. But you have to have that much.
Ken: A good point. At this phase, I recommend that you do what you originally intended and regard anything that arises contrary to your intention as the operation of pattern material. Intended to go here? Fine. Something may come up next practice session you may want to go over that one. But whatever you intended in this practice session, you do that. Okay?
Ken: [Laughs] Yes.
Ken: Yes. Yes. And you just do the action. Now if, when you’re doing this and find: I can’t do it, there’s a definite experience right there. It’s a very explicit experience, right? Be right in that, because that is the internal material that prevents you from doing what you intended right there. So experience that. And then tomorrow I’ll be introducing an extension of this practice which will take you further into it. But be right in that.
And if you really can’t do it then pick something else you can do so that you have the experience of doing. But if you can work with this one, be fruitful.
Let’s close. Last question?
Ken: Right and you just go through the door. That’s what you intended to do. That’s what you do.
Okay, positively the last question. Diane?
Ken: Oh, that. That’s what we’re going to do right now. We’re not going to do it now, right? [Laughter] Catch me afterwards because we need time to take a break before we do sitting.
We’ll be sitting around here and, Alicia? Have we set it up so that there are actually…Okay. And so we’re just going to go around the room. Now you need to take—and I don’t think we need to go to the fourth person, we’ll stay with the third. That’s what we’ve usually done in the past.
So you need to take note of the person. We’ll go around, well we’ll go around counter-clockwise just to make it interesting. So if we’re starting with Susan, say, then you’re going to be tapping Peggy.
Ken: Yes, I’m not saying that. I’m just giving that as an example. These people are going to be in place so. And, but, take note of who that person is at the beginning because it may be that the time for your interview comes during the qigong so you need to know who the person that you’re going to be tapping is. And as Alicia noted yesterday, when you come back from the interview, number one thing is you tap that person. [Laughs] Then if you need to go the restroom, go to the restroom. But the first thing you do, and this is your intention, is after the interview you come back and you tap that person. Okay?
Ken: Yep. So there’ll be two people waiting, one in the interview. And that way, the reason we do this is so that I can see people, one right after the other. There aren’t long waiting periods, because I can just see 42, 43 people in one day but only if it’s just going straight through. If there’s a long gap, then I very quickly fall behind. [Laughs]
I would really like to see everybody everyday because I found it makes a great deal of difference. For me it makes the difference in, I know where everybody is at in their practice. And many people have told me it makes a difference because we all get stuck in our practice and this is a way of undoing something at each point, so that there’s a sense of moving through, you don’t stay stuck in one place for a long period of time.
Ken: Yes, you’re going, read this over, you’re going to be doing exercises. The introduction is for people who don’t have much meditation, but everybody here has some meditation practice. So they just take a few minutes, like five to ten minutes at the beginning, to let the mind settle down and then you’re going to do exercises one and two. So you’re going to do the five elements, you’re going to take the sword, move into the portal, do what you couldn’t do, come back, and dissolve everything into light. And you’re going to do that once in each of the three periods.
Okay? All clear?
Ken: That would be preferable. Yes. Okay. Susan?