This morning, not a lot to add, I wanted to do one thing this morning and one thing this afternoon.
Last night, I talked briefly about the three kinds of meditation practices: the practice of presence, or direct awareness, purification practices and energy transformation practices.
Up to this point, the principle way we’ve been working with the dakinis, is as a purification practice. That is, developing a relationship with the dakinis, as a way of transforming the reaction chains associated with each element, into the experience of presence. Particular emphasis on the aspect of pristine awareness associated with each element. And yesterday, we moved from working with each dakini separately, to working through all of them and touching each of the centers in the body.
So today, I want to shift the emphasis of the practice from purification, that is undoing the reactive patterns, to transformation of energy and from there movement into practice of direct awareness. Now some of you who have worked with me before, are familiar with the practice we call ecstatic practice. But I think it’s probably worthwhile to go over it again, particularly for people who haven’t had that opportunity. So, if you just sit for a few moments.
What ecstatic practice consists of is a way of opening to experience. And it can be done in a variety of ways. For today, just pick an object that’s in your natural line of vision or something that’s when you look straight ahead is just there. So you can pick the book besides Dick’s knee. Let your attention rest on that. That step’s called focus. You don’t do anything with it, just let your attention rest there.
And then, without moving your eyes, include in your awareness progressively more, expanding from that book. In my case, to include the floor, carpet, other objects around it, people, all the different clothes they wear, out to the walls and ceiling, windows, everybody in the room. So you see everything, all at once.
When you do this you may find your attention grabbed by a particular object, maybe the color of somebody’s shirt. That’s equivalent of being distracted by a thought. What we do here is a little bit different. If you find yourself looking at something like that, then just begin again, expanding from that object to your whole field of vision.
And as you become used to seeing everything in your field of vision at the same time, slowly move your head and your eyes so you can look around the room. But all the time, you’re seeing everything. You’re seeing both everything and every detail. So take it all in.
Okay, relax your efforts.
Now this is something you can practice when you are walking around. You can look at the river, see the whole river and every swirl and ripple and eddy. You can look at a tree and see every branch and leaf. You can look at a field, and see every blade of grass. And you can look at the road, and see every pebble. If you live in a city—a very good place to practice this, shopping malls. See everything. Go into a glassware store, so you see every glass and the reflection of every glass in every glass.
What do you experience when you do this?
Student: Feeling of expansion.
Ken: Feeling of expansion. What else?
Student: Felt like the top of my head was open. [Unclear] felt like.
Ken: Yeah. Those are often the sensations associated with the transformation of energy. Keep your attention, part of it down here, in the abdomen.
What else do you experience?
Student: Some dizziness. Mild.
Ken: Mild dizziness, like there’s all of that there. A little overwhelm? Peter.
Peter: More vividness.
Ken: Vividness. Okay.
Student: Less control.
Ken: Less control. Mmm-hmm.
Randy: Space, ease and relief.
Ken: Space, ease and relief. Expand on those, Randy.
Randy: Well I can only expand from my own experience. I used to do vipashyna, which was a more focused kind of breath awareness, the very…very focused breath awareness. And it kind of for me. I don’t know, it generates more attractive [unclear]. It generates more anxiety and more claustrophobia. When I stop trying and just let everything in. It’s just a relief when everything is [unclear].
Ken: Okay. There’s comment over here?
Guy: I was going to say parts of a whole.
Ken: Can you expand on that please, Guy?
Guy: When you look at the room you see the whole but you are also vivdly aware of each of the parts.
Guy: So it’s part, whole; part, whole.
Student: I think that when you start losing focus you don’t limit your focus, you expand your focus. So that you have a greater clarity about what you’re seeing in the whole.
Ken: Mmm-hmm. So parts of the whole. You can see the whole, you can see all the parts. Martha?
Martha: Much more dream like.
Ken: Much more dream like. Michael, you had a comment?
Michael: I’m less aware of me.
Ken: Less aware of you. So you’re getting the picture here?
This way of experiencing things undermines a lot of habituated tendencies in the way that we experience the world. It reduces subject-object polarity, so there’s more “just experience” and less “me looking at that.” Often that’s experienced as a kind of for shortening, everything becomes flat in a strange way. It’s just all there.
There’s a suspension, at least in part, of things existing independently which contributes to a sense of “like a dream.” We see both the whole and all the particulars. There you have the essence of balanced or sameness pristine awareness in the whole, and distinguishing pristine awareness in the particulars, arising together, as they do. Now we just did this in connection with the faculty of sight.
One can take this a little bit further. So again, pick an object. Let your attention rest there, that’s the focus. Let your field of vision expand to include everything. But now include everything you hear also. Sound of the river, sound of birds, sound of my voice, as well as everything in your visual field.
And you can also include all the sensations you experience in your body. Sitting where you do, texture of your clothes, pressure of your body against whatever you’re sitting on. You may find your attention just goes to that, in that case just expand back to include all the visual, all the sound. So you sit in the totality of your sensory experience. One can also include taste and smell. There is no editing here. One just includes everything.
And now as you rest in your sensory fields, include all the internal material. All of the emotions, all of the stories, all of the beliefs, all the values, all the memories of the past, all the anticipations of the future, everything you’re concerned about right now. Include it all as you rest in the field of sensations, for all your senses. Don’t move from one to the other. You stay present in the sensations and the senses and include all of the internal material.
And there may be stuff pulling here and pulling there. Whenever you feel any of those tugs, expand from there to include everything. And we usually begin with the sense of inside and outside. Sensory sensations are out there, internal material is in here. But all of it’s just experience, so drop any sense of inside or outside. There’s just experience.
As you include more and more, you may find your body tenses a bit. If you find that, just include the sensations of the tension. Maybe it relaxes, maybe it doesn’t. But just include those sensations. Maybe there’s fear or relief—other feelings come. Just include those. No inside, no outside. Just experience. And then pose this question but don’t try to answer it. Just experience the shift and ask, “What experiences all this?” There is a shift. Rest in the shift, including everything.
Okay, relax your efforts. Look around the room a bit.
What was your experience here?
Student: It’s like being turned inside out, you know.
Ken: Like being turned inside out. Remind me to tell you a story about the no-sided strip.
Student: Could you tell us about the no-sided strip?
Ken: No it’s off topic right now. It’s a mathematician’s story. Sharon.
Sharon: I’m feeling alive.
Ken: A little more alive? Okay. Anybody else? Moira?
Moira: There’s a sense of freedom.
Ken: A sense of freedom? Care to say more?
Moira: [Unclear] I could be here and I could be there. Here and there. Look inside and from outside and inside out.
Ken: So many more possibilities. A lot more fluid. Okay. Irene.
Irene: I just felt very relaxed.
Ken: Very relaxed. Okay. Diane.
Diane: I felt like the inside—there wasn’t any inside or outside experience. Sort of just all [unclear]. There’s no separation in that [unclear] joyful.
Ken: Okay. So field of experience, no distinction between inside and outside. Joyful. Okay?
Student: I felt very crowded.
Ken: Very crowded. Go on.
Student: There’s just so many sensations, so many things happening, that it just gave this tremendous feeling of being crowded.
Ken: Okay, crowded or full?
Student: Crowded. Full sounds nicer but it was crowded.
Ken: [Laughter] It was crowded. I invite you to engage in an experiment.
Ken: Okay. Next time you do this and hit that crowded feeling, just take any two sensations, and see if you can put another one in between them. And just keep doing that. I want to see how crowded it is there. Okay. Or I want you to see how crowded it is.
Anybody else? Yes Linda.
Linda: I felt sort of nauseated and overwhelmed and [unclear].
Ken: Mmm-hmm. Yeah. Mmm-hmm That can happen. What you’re opening to is exceeding your capacity in attention to at this point. So when you do this, don’t include quite so much. And you work up to it. Okay.
Student: How about a dream.
Ken: How about a dream?
Student: In a dream you see outside and you feel inside but it’s just a dream.
Ken: That’s right. So was that how this was for you?
Student: What was that?
Ken: Was that how this was for you? Yeah. So it may even intensify the dream-like quality. Okay.
The version I just gave you here is sometimes known as the primary practice. Because it actually works from the ecstatic practice but it actually includes the essential points of both mahamudra and dzogchen all in one very simple practice. Randy, you could try doing vipashyana in that.
Randy: You mean vipashyana and khregs chod (pron. trekchö) at the same time?
Randy: That’s a good idea.
Ken: [Laughter] Maybe it will eliminate that feeling of claustrophobia. Jack Kornfield once asked me, “What do you see as the essential difference between the Mahayana and the Theravadan?” And I thought for a few minutes and I said, “Space.” And he said, “That’s very interesting. Ajahn Chah,” who is a wonderful teacher from everything that I’ve heard about him, “he was the only Theravadan teacher that ever talked about space.”
Okay. Now let’s bring this back to the dakinis. This point we’re working with all five dakinis and we go through the transformations associated with each element. You end up with a jewel, the earth center; mirror, the water center; a red rose, fire center; sword at the throat center, or the air center; and a ring of light at the void center.
As I said yesterday, you can, if it’s easier for you, also use just the colors associated with each of the element. That is a small ball of yellow light, a small ball of white light, a small ball of red light, a small ball of green light and a small ball of blue light.
So right now what I’d like you to do is just to imagine either the symbols or those balls of light, which ever you prefer, in your body at each of the centers. Usually best to start at the bottom. So you start with the earth center and the jewel or the ball of yellow light. And then imagine or feel a filament of light coming straight up center of your body, to the water center, where there’s the mirror, or if you prefer a ball of white light. Feel that. And then again a filament of light up to the fire center of the heart where there’s a red rose or a ball of red light. And then again a filament of light up to the air center, the throat, where there’s a sword or a ball of green light. And then up to another filament of light continues up to the center of your head where there’s a circle of light or a blue ball of light.
So you can feel the five elements connected and aligned in you and when you feel that alignment let your physical posture adjust in any way you wish to reflect that alignment.
And you can imagine or feel or sense or visualize, whatever the better word is for you. All of those centers, the symbols or balls of light and all connected. And it’s best to do this part of the practice now with the eyes open, feeling them all there. And imagine that all of them radiate light which fills your body. And that light doesn’t stop at your skin, but fills everything you experience. So everything you experience becomes full of light, extraordinarily clear and vivid.
And continue to rest this way including all the sensations, all the internal material as we did before, because everything is illuminated by the light radiating from the five elements in you.
And now let the light become so intense, so bright that everything becomes light. And just rest there like that. Rest without distraction. Rest without trying to control your experience. And rest without working at anything. Just rest.
Again, relax your efforts. Look around the room. Move your body a little bit.
What was your experience here?
Student: Before you said relax, it started to become like a mountain of energy burning at the centers. But when you said relax I just kind of [makes relaxing sound].
Ken: Very important to relax here. This resting quality is where all the power of practice comes from. It doesn’t come from pushing, comes from resting. Anybody else? Your experience. Peter?
Peter: I just kept fading in and out.
Ken: Fading in and out.
Peter: Yeah with the visualization. They kind of just…and I’d be off somewhere.
Ken: You’re distracted?
Ken: Okay. So if distraction arises means there’s tension in the system. Include the experience of the tension. Okay? Mary.
Mary: I liked the use of the color.
Mary: I found it easy to remember. And I was glad I could remember [unclear]. And I found it peaceful.
Ken: Okay, anybody else.
Student: I found it very powerful.
Ken: You found it very powerful. In what way?
Student: That if I could have that as part of who I am or as part of how I enter a room, or as part of the way I see myself, that it gives light and brilliance and energy everywhere.
Ken: Mmm. You say, “If”.
Student: Well yeah. You know, it’s practice.
Ken: Why do you say, “if,” as this is not part of it?
Student: It’s really scary to see that you are that.
Ken: Ahh. What’s scary about that?
Student: If you’re really aware and you have all that energy all lined up ready to go, then it’s kind of like being Superman. And it just gives you this enormous edge of awareness.
Ken: So it gives you this enormous edge of awareness, you’re like Superman, so what’s so frightening about that? Though I figured you’d probably be Wonderwoman but…
Student: [Unclear]. Same thing.
Ken: What’s frightening about that?
Speaker: Because you have to engage with people who don’t get it, or who may resent it or who are scared of it too and then maybe you have to shove it back in. [Laughter]
Ken: Very interesting. I’d like to raise the possibility. In experiencing this world, is there any sense of opposition?
Student: Are you talking to me?
Ken: In experiencing the world this way is there any sense of opposition?
Ken: So how do you arrive at opposition? Where does the opposition come from?
Ken: No, it comes from in you. Because you’re thinking, “Well the other people, they can’t take it so I am going to have to stuff it back in. That whole sense of opposition comes from in you. It’s not out there. So that’s something you might work with.
Student: Yes [unclear].
Ken: Yes, they’re all out to get me. [Laughter]
Student: Even you!
Ken: It’s not even me, it’s especially me! [Laughter] You can run but you can’t hide!
There was another comment somewhere, yes, Maya.
Myra: It feels way too simple. It’s unbelievable. This can’t be it.
Ken: Your right, it’s all wrong, forget it, go home! [Laughter]
Ken: Speak to Diane. [Laughter]
Student: Sorry. Llaughter]
Ken: Why can’t it be that simple Maya?
Maya: Everything else I’ve tried to get has always involved hard work. You know, this can’t…I mean, this is hard work too. But the answer is so simple. Or maybe it isn’t hard work. I don’t know.
Ken: There’s a very famous set of instructions from the Shangpa tradition called The Four Faults of Direct Awareness.
So close you can’t see it.
So deep you can’t fathom it.
So fine you can’t accept it.
So simple you can’t believe it.
Maya: Well, since there is no refund, I’d better.
Student: Could you say that again: so deep you can’t…
Ken: So close you can’t see it, so deep you can’t fathom it, so simple you can’t believe it, so fine you can’t accept it. It’s all right, it’s in here too.
Student: Well, I don’t know why it was so easy for everybody. It wasn’t for me.
Ken: What was your experience?
Student: I couldn’t make the light go to anybody.
Student: I couldn’t make the light go from me to anyone. And yesterday, the dakinis were all over the place, so….
Ken: Mmm-hmm. They do move around a lot, don’t they?
Student: Well, they were dancing for me.
Ken: Yeah. They do that.
Student: Ah, it was nice. It was great. [Laughter]
Ken: So, you just feel that it’s happening. Don’t try to see it happening or make it happen. Just feel that it’s happening.
Ken: Okay. Because, what’s very important in there is the quality of resting. You keep coming back to the resting and let anything arise from the resting. Rather than trying to make an effort to make something happen so that you can rest—that’s the wrong way of working.
Diane: That one just, I mean, it just sort of didn’t work for me. But the mahamudra works really well.
Ken: I have a suggestion.
Ken: I think you should see Diane for a refund! [Laughter]
Diane: She won’t give me one!
Ken: I heard she’s really hard that way!
Ken: Okay. Other techniques work for you?
Diane: Yeah. And I can do the visualization with the dakinis, that hasn’t been a problem. But when I tried to put them all together, you could sort of see them. But they kind of were just there, and everybody’s having these great experiences, and it’s just. I’m like….it was just sort of flat for me, whereas…but mahamudra’s not flat.
Ken: Okay. The reason we have a lot of different methods is because different methods work for different people.
Ken: Yes, and so often people get caught, ”Well, there must be something wrong with me because this doesn’t work for me.“ This is very, very rarely the case. The Dalai Lama often said that all the traditional meditations on loving-kindness and compassion didn’t work for him. He got this certain meditation from one of his teachers which did. For me, I I found the four immeasurable very very powerful and very effective. But our retreat director, Lama Tenpa just couldn’t relate to them at all. So we have these differences. It wasn’t that he wasn’t capable of loving-kindness or compassion. He just found those meditations didn’t work for him.
So, it’s important — it’s one of the reasons why we have this array of methods, so that we can find the practices that actually speak to our particular configuration. And so, if you know what does work for you, fine, work with that. One of the reasons we study all of these things is, hopefully, we find something that works for us. For some of us, that can be a very long search. But we won’t go into that.
You had a question?
Student: I was just thinking, in connection to what you were just saying about—if you always go with the meditation that works for you, is that going down the habitual pattern?
Ken: One has to be a little careful, you’re quite right. .Just doing what feels easy. I think we should distinguish between what feels easy and what works for you. Not infrequently, we come across a meditation practice and we go, ”Yuck!“ But we can’t get it out of our head. And we can’t leave it alone. It speaks to us very powerfully.
I was working with a woman who was dying of cancer quite a few years ago. And she wasn’t Buddhist at all, but she was interested in meditation. And at one point, one day she said to me, ”Can you give me a prayer, Ken?“
And I said, ”Well, I can, but you probably won’t want it.“
She said, ”Well no, what’s this prayer? What prayer do you have?“
”Well this is a prayer from the Buddhist tradition:
If being sick will better me, may I be sick.
If getting better will better me, may I get well.
If dying will better me, may I die.
Or May I have the blessing of death, actually in each line. It’s a prayer from the mind training tradition.
And she said, “What sort of prayer is that?!” [Laughter]
I said, “You asked for a prayer. There you are.”
She said, “I don’t like that prayer at all.”
I went to see her the next week.
She said, “You know that prayer you gave me last week?” “Yeah.” “I couldn’t get that out of my head at all! I just found myself saying it over and over and over again. I don’t get it. For some reason, it just helps me feel really peaceful, but I don’t get it at all.”
It’s about giving up hope and expectation, of course. Which is often a crucial point, particularly in dealing with terminal illnesses. So, that’s an example of a practice like, “No!”
So, if you work with a practice over time and it’s just like banging your head against a brick wall. It may not be the right practice for you. But if it speaks to you even if you find it very difficult, then may be worth pursuing. Okay?
Student: Could you repeat that?
Ken: The prayer. It’s in the Great Path of Awakening. It’s may be in here. Don’t know whether it is or not. But I can dig it up for you and send it to you.
Okay, what I want you to….
Student: May I ask you something? Do you do this line up as part of your daily sitting practice or do you do it as your sitting practice or for a short time, a long time?
Student: Okay. Good to go! [Laughter]
Ken: So, for practice. I suggest you return to doing the dakinis in the way that we originally do them. You’ve been doing them, moving into the dakini. If you want to continue doing that to get a better flavor for it, that’s fine. Either way, do all of the dakinis relatively quickly. So you’re just touching into each step of the practice, touching the emotion, not trying to work it deeply, but just touching it. So you touch…
Student: So go through the reaction…
Ken: All the reaction chains, yes. But you, for instance—you touch the rigidity, you touch the hollowness, you touch the fear, you touch the grasping, you touch the imprisonment. Then you touch all of them together.
You touch the light radiating out, transforming them all into light. Touch the stability, that doesn’t require any reference or support. Touch seeing things just as experience. So you just go, touch them that way. And so you do the transformation in each of the centers. Then imagine light radiates out, filling your whole experience, and just rest in that.
That’s why I introduced you to the ecstatic work, at the beginning. So you had that sense of just expanding, including everything, and sitting in the whole field. And you rest that way, without distraction, without control, without working at anything. And you find you rest that way for a while. Thoughts may come and go, but they just come and go. And that’s fine.
And then you run out of juice, or you’ll fall into distraction, or dullness or something like that. When that happens, just relax, reset your body. Reset and then just touch all of the symbols moving up, so you feel them all in alignment. Expand as light, and rest again. So each period, do the dakinis once, and after that, just work with the symbols.
And the idea is to use the symbols as a way of feeling the alignment and straightness in your posture—and I don’t mean just your physical posture—but in the whole way you relate to the world. Transform the energy by radiating light, which is similar to the ecstatic practice, and then just rest in the field, in direct awareness.
So this is a simpler practice, less to work at, more to rest in. And that’s where I want us to go for the rest of the retreat.
Dick, you had a question?
Dick: Where in that cycle does the going from formlessness back to form [unclear] where does that come in? You already had mentioned that. I keep struggling with this. [nclear] I disintegrate, I’m crushed by rocks, and I’m supposed to start back again to form. I mean at what point does the light from my heart show me this is all a phantom [unclear]. I mean…
Ken: Okay, we have the reaction chain, which is a self-reinforcing feedback loop. So we start with the rigidity, I’m just going to do this in connection with earth, okay? And that’s form, when you’re like this. You sense in that the hollowness and uncertainty. And then underneath that you have the sensation it’s like an earthquake. Things are really unsteady, okay? That’s the emptiness.
But there’s a fear of that, fear of that loss of balance, loss of control, however you want to put it. So there’s an impulse to grasp. Now you’ve started to move back to form. And then, when you really grasp, it’s like you’re imprisoned. Okay? Now you’re back in the rigidity, the fully formed. And then the cycle starts again, okay?
Dick: Now each of them are basically the same, right [unclear]?
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. There’s an effort. In water, it’s to disperse. In fire, it’s to consume an experience. In air, it’s to do something so you know you exist.
Dick: See, I still don’t know these well enough [unclear]
Dick: But I say that the introduction of the balls of light for me is just, I mean, “I can move ahead on this now.” Because I’m simply a person, I don’t like symbols. The same thing with tattoos, I never understand how…there’s never an image I see in my life that I want to see continue every day, especially on my body. [Laughter]
How people do this? But I mean it’s the same, having the sword in my throat, I’m just, feel like I’m sticking in the brain…[unclear]…just so vividly…[unclear]
Ken: That’s fine.
Dick: But it seems also to me that this is a different meditation now. I need to know more about this. Do I…do I need to visualize and strain my brain, a shimmering green lady, with her clothes are like leaves on a tree and [laughter]—sorry, can’t even say it—I go there [laughter].
Ken: No clothes, Dick! No clothes! [Laughter]
Student: Can I have what he’s having?
Ken: That’s a line from a movie. Okay. So you go through all the dakinis.
Dick: Well, as best as I can. I just don’t know the processes, that’s my problem. To me, you guys are all academics—
Ken: Yes, okay.
Dick: ….And…fire…ratatatatatatat. Fire. Fire, hot. [unclear]…[laughter].
I’m not falling into that void. Oh, God. I’m really crushed now. I can’t get there. If I can’t get there, there’s no point in going to start to reform. I’m just kidding myself. I feel if I don’t go through this thing and feel each one of these things—
Dick:…..then I’m wasting my time, so—
Student: It’s practice, Dick.
Student: You pretend at first, and then it gets a little [unclear].
Dick: But I don’t know [unclear] is what I’m saying. I hope I’m know when I’m on the moon. I’m not the only one who admits this [unclear].
Ken: Anyway, do the best you can.
Dick: Thank you, Ken. [Laughter]
Ken: You have to do it absolutely perfectly the first time and every time after that, and not the slightest deviation will be tolerated. That make you feel better?
Bruce: All of the failures will be meeting after lunch! [Laughter] We’ll be meeting in this corner.
Dick: Thanks Bruce [unclear], appreciate it….
Ken: On second thought, maybe you should set up another room.
Student: When we go through this—I made myself a little checklist, you know a flow.
Student: And so, I have a sense…I mean, I know what we’re supposed to be doing. But when we get into the fear, the different fears, I think you had said, “Don’t think of real-life situations.” So this is kind of a theoretical “I’m fearful,” but I’m not going to use any particular examples. Is that what we’re doing?
Ken: Well, for instance: Loss of balance, okay? Suppose you’re standing on top of a table and somebody gives it a good hard shove. What does that feel like? [Ken gasps]
Student: I think I understand.
Ken: Okay? For some reason, you’re out in a kayak, and you think, it would be kind of a good idea to get into shore. And you suddenly find yourself on a 20-foot wave! What does that feel like? There’s like, “Gasp!”
Okay? You go into it, you wake up one morning, and you’re in the middle of the desert, and there isn’t anybody around. So the images themselves, I think…and we don’t have to get into stark terror here, it’s just to hit that impulse of energy.
Student: I think we’re saying so that when we tune into experiences later.
Student: And when we start slowing them down, and hopefully if we start….we can say, “Aah!” That’s what happened there.
Ken: Actually, they don’t slow down, it’s just we’re cueing into things that we might experience. I mean, have you ever been at a meeting which you’re chairing which is about to slip out of control? It’s like…[Ken gasps]. It’s exactly like being on top of that table. Or sometimes it’s like being swept away by the wave, you know. And somebody says something and you can feel this energy starts to take over the room and you know you’re dead!
Student: Like when if you’re teaching a class and the principal’s observing you and some kid won’t stop [unclear].
Ken: Yeah, that’d be a little…and you just want to kill! Yeah, things like that.
And so, as you become familiar with those flash experiences through the dakini practice, you increase the probability that you’d actually recognize them when they happen. And that’s the key to being able to transform this in daily life. Okay?
So, here we’re moving from working all of the processes to putting more emphasis on feeling the elements within us. Balls of light are fine, Dick. And just sitting in that and letting that energy suffuse all of our experience and resting in the totality of experience. Again, without distraction, without trying to control it, without trying to work at anything. And that’s the emphasis I want you to put in your practice at this point.
Any questions? Any more questions? Randy, then Peter.
Randy: If you can just sit in open awareness, then why bother introducing even the very light effort of visualization at all?
Ken: Good question.
Randy: What’s the point?
Ken: Can you do that? That’s the problem.
If you can do this, there is nothing more to do. As Suzuki Roshi says, Our practice is absolute confidence in our fundamental nature. Very simple. Not so easy. There’s all the stuff that gets in the way. That’s why we do these more elaborate practices.
Randy: Aren’t they the stuff that gets in the way.
Ken: No, the elaborate practices aren’t the stuff. The elaborate practices work on the stuff that gets in the way.
Randy: Can they not become the stuff that gets in the way?
Ken: Pardon? Can they become the stuff? Yes, but that usually takes quite a lot of hard work. Peter?
Peter: Just a quick question. What you’re describing just now you sound like what you’re saying to go through all the dakinis and go through the reactive part of each one and then come back around…
Ken: And the transformation.
Peter: Oh, and the transformation, okay.
Ken: Yeah, the whole thing. For each one.
Peter: And then all together.
Ken: And then you have them all lined up, and then you just rest.
Ken: Yeah. You go through the process for each one.
Peter: The whole process for each one?
Ken: Yeah. So you have all of the elements at each of the centers.
Ken: Because part of that, part of going through all of the dakinis like this is to touch every aspect of our experience. That’s what the five elements constitutes is every aspect of our experience. So it’s bringing us into the whole, okay?
Ken: Everybody clear?
Student: So the whole process, you mean, the visualization process, the way you did in the first part of the retreat.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. But you go through it more quickly.
Student: No wonder it was easier for me yesterday, I didn’t do that whole middle stuff. I just got the light in awareness [unclear].
Student: I thought it was great.
All right, we’ll take a break here, and meet for practice shortly.