Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Short and simple illustration to what meditation is about. AEN's post at

The Pious Cat In South Korea

Thanks to AEN for posting this in

Yesterday there was a story in the papers about a special temple cat in South Korea, which spend hours everyday gazing and praying to the Buddha. This cat was found as a kitten 4 yrs ago by the abbot with burn injuries. The abbot saved it and gave it the Dharma name of "Liberation". She also gave the kitten 3 precepts for staying in the monastery, which was to 1) refrain from making noise in the Vihara, 2) refrain from eating meat and 3) refrain from killing. Amazingly the kitten could understand her instructions and have never broken them for the past 4 years.
In addition to that, the cat spends hours everyday in the Vihara "venerating" the Buddha images, reluctantly leaving only for its meals. This display of devotion by the little animal puts even the humans to shame. Clearly, this cat was a Dharma practitioner in its past life, but due to thoughts of delusion in its final moments, its consciousness descended into an animal womb during the process of rebirth. It has a good store of worldly merit, but has not developed any insight leading to the end of suffering. This is how the cat managed to find its way back to a sanctuary of Buddhism and gets well taken care of by the nuns in the monastery. I believe it prays everyday in repentance for its past delusion, hoping to leave this animal form soon and achieve a higher realm of existence. This is a warning for us all, not to care only about making merit and neglect cultivating the mind to develop insight. Without true wisdom penetrating into the nature of sankharas (mental formations), all the merit in the universe cannot save us from suffering in the endless rounds of rebirth. May this cat live up to the name given to it and may its wish be fulfilled, sadhu.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Aim of Attention

Shamatha meditation steps by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, from

The Aim of Attention

YONGEY MINGYUR RINPOCHE gives instructions in the liberating practice of awareness
By Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
Self-awareness . . . is a neutral mode that maintains self-reflectiveness even in the midst of turbulent emotions.
—Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence
ORDINARILY, our minds are like flags in the wind, fluttering this way and that, depending on which way the wind blows. Even if we don’t want to feel angry, jealous, lonely, or depressed, we’re carried away by such feelings and by the thoughts and physical sensations that accompany them. We’re not free; we can’t see other options, other possibilities.
The goal of attention, or shamatha, practice is to become aware of awareness. Awareness is the basis, or what you might call the “support,” of the mind. It is steady and unchanging, like the pole to which the flag of ordinary consciousness is attached. When we recognize and become grounded in awareness of awareness, the “wind” of emotion may still blow. But instead of being carried away by the wind, we turn our attention inward, watching the shifts and changes with the intention of becoming familiar with that aspect of consciousness that recognizes Oh, this is what I’m feeling, this is what I’m thinking. As we do so, a bit of space opens up within us. With practice, that space—which is the mind’s natural clarity—begins to expand and settle. We can begin to watch our thoughts and emotions without necessarily being affected by them quite as powerfully or vividly as we’re used to. We can still feel our feelings, think our thoughts, but slowly our identity shifts from a person who defines him- or herself as lonely, ashamed, frightened, or hobbled by low self-esteem to a person who can look at loneliness, shame, and low self-esteem as movements of the mind.
The process is not unlike going to the gym. You have a goal—whether it’s losing weight, building muscles, promoting your health, or some other reason. In order to achieve that goal, you lift weights, jog on a treadmill, take classes, and so on. Gradually, you begin to see the fruits of these activities; and seeing them, you’re inspired to continue.
In the case of attention practice, the important point is to know that the goal is to establish and develop stability of awareness that will allow you to look at thoughts, emotions, and even physical pain without wavering. Bearing that in mind, let’s look at applying the following four steps.
Step One: The Main Exercise
The main exercise of attention practice can be broken down into three stages. The first involves simply looking at a thought or emotion with what, in Buddhist terms, is known as ordinary awareness—bringing attention to thoughts or feelings without any express purpose or intention. Just notice and identify what you’re thinking or feeling.I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m lonely. We practice ordinary attention every moment of every day. We look at a cup, for example, and simply acknowledge, That’s a cup. Very little judgment is involved at this stage. We don’t think That’s a good cup, a bad cup, an attractive cup, a small cup, or a large cup. We just recognize cup. Applying ordinary awareness to thoughts and emotions involves the same simple acknowledgment: Oh, I’m angry. Oh, I’m jealous. Oh, I’m frustrated. Oh, I could have done better. Oh, I said (or did) something.
Sometimes, thoughts and emotions are not very clear. In such cases, we can look at the messages we receive from our physical bodies. Physical sensations could reflect a host of emotional or mental states— anger, frustration, jealousy, regret, or a mix of disturbing thoughts and feelings. The important point is to simply look at what’s going on and acknowledge whatever you’re experiencing just as it is, rather than to resist it or succumb to it.
The second stage involves meditative awareness— approaching thoughts and emotions as objects of focus through which we can stabilize awareness. To use an example, a student of mine once confided that he suffered from what he called a “people-pleasing” complex. At work, he was always trying to do more, to work longer hours to complete professional projects, which consequently stole time he wished to spend with his wife and family. The conflict became intense. He would wake up several times during the night, sweating, his heart beating fast. He felt he couldn’t please his managers, coworkers, and family at the same time, and the more he tried to please everyone, the less successful he felt. He was judging himself a failure, creating judgments about others as demanding, and casting those judgments about himself and others in stone. He had defined himself as a failure, incapable of pleasing all of the people all of the time.
This man had some experience with looking at objects, sounds, and physical sensations, so I advised him to apply the same method of meditative awareness during those moments when he woke up at night. “Watch the thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations,” I told him. “Initially, ‘the people-pleasing’ complex might seem like one giant thing. But as you look at the complex it doesn’t seem like one big giant thing anymore. You’ll start to see that it has a lot of parts. It’s made up of thoughts, like ‘I should have done A, B, or C. Why didn’t I do X, Y, or Z?’ It also comprises emotions, such as fear, anger, and resentment, and physical sensations, including churning in the stomach, an accelerated heartbeat, and sweating. Images may also occur: people being disappointed in you or yelling at you. As you look with meditative attention, the complex becomes like a bubble—inside of which are many smaller bubbles.”
Whatever you’re feeling—whether it’s panic, anxiety, loneliness, or people-pleasing—the basic approach is to try to watch any of the smaller bubbles with the same sort of attention applied to watching a physical object or focusing on a sound. In doing so, you’ll probably notice that the thoughts, emotions, and even physical sensations shift and change. For a while, fear may be most persistent, or perhaps the beating of your heart, or the images of people’s reactions. After a while—perhaps five minutes or so—one or another of these responses, the bubble within the bubble, pulls your attention. Focus on that with meditative attention. In so doing, gradually your attention will shift from identifying as swallowed up in an emotional bubble to the one watching the bubble.
The third stage of the exercise involves a little bit of analysis: an intuitive “tuning in” to determine the effect of the practice. As I was taught, there are three possible results of applying meditative awareness to an emotional issue.
The first is that the problem dissipates altogether. Some of my students tell me, “You gave me this exercise, but it doesn’t work for me.”
“What do you mean?” I ask them.
“These thoughts, these emotions, disappear too quickly,” they reply. “They become fuzzy or unclear. They don’t stay in place long enough to look at them.”
“That’s great!” I tell them. “That’s the point of attention practice.”
The second possibility is that the thoughts, feelings, or physical sensations intensify. That’s also a good sign—an indication that deeply embedded perspectives are beginning to “loosen up.” To use an analogy, suppose you apply a few drops of water to a plate or bowl encrusted with dried food. Initially, the plate or bowl looks messier as the residue spreads. Actually, though, the plate isn’t getting messier; the dried food is dissolving.
The third possibility is that emotions may just remain at the same level, neither diminishing nor intensifying. That’s also great! Why? Because we can use an emotion—and the thoughts, images, and physical sensations that accompany it—as strong supports for attention practice. So often, we allow our emotions to use us. Applying attention practice, we use our emotions as a focus for developing awareness, an opportunity to look at the “looker.” Just as we need sound to look at sound, form to look at form, we need emotions to look at emotions. In fact, intense emotions can be our best friends in terms of stabilizing the mind, giving the restless bird a branch on which to rest.
Focusing on form, sound, or physical sensations develops your capacity to look at long-term, overwhelming emotional states.
Step Two: Try Something Different
In the beginning, it can be difficult to immediately address strong emotions or the biases that have developed over long periods. Emotions can color perception, behavior, even physical sensations. They can seem so solid, so big, that we can’t bring ourselves to face them. As one student of mine commented recently, “Working with big emotions—the longterm ones like low self-esteem that kind of define your life—is like trying to climb Mount Everest before we’ve even learned how to climb a hill.”
So, bearing in mind that the goal of shamatha practice is to develop stability of awareness, I offer people the advice given to me by my own teachers. Rather than try to tackle powerful or long-term emotions, focus instead on something smaller and more manageable.
One method is to generate, by artificial means, another emotion, something simpler or smaller and not so intense. For example, if you’re working with loneliness, try working with anger. Imagine a situation in which you’re having an argument with a coworker who messed up your files or someone who cuts ahead of you in line at the grocery store. Once you begin to feel that anger, use that to focus your awareness. Focus on the feeling of anger, the words that cross your mind, the physical sensations, or the image of the person cutting ahead of you. Practicing in this way, you can gain experience on how to deal with emotions.
Once you’ve achieved some proficiency in dealing with artificially generated emotions, you can start to look at past experiences and deliberately recall situations in which you may have felt anger, jealousy, embarrassment, or frustration. Bear in mind that the point of trying something different is to develop a stability of awareness—to discover the looker rather than being overcome by what is looked at.
Working with artificial or smaller emotions builds up the strength to work attentively with larger or long-term emotions, such as loneliness, low selfesteem, or an unhealthy need to please. In a way, this approach is like starting a physical workout regimen. When you go to the gym, you don’t start off by lifting heavy weights. You begin by lifting weights that are manageable. Gradually, as your strength improves, you can begin lifting heavier weights. Drawing attention to emotional states works the same way. While there is some benefit in addressing large or long-standing emotional issues directly, sometimes we have to build up our emotional muscles a bit more gradually, remembering that the goal of attention practice is to develop stability of awareness.
Another approach involves using the physical symptoms of emotion as objects of focus. For example, a woman attending a public seminar confessed that she had suffered for years from severe depression. She had been taking medication prescribed by her doctor, but she couldn’t escape the feeling that her body was filled with burning lead.
“Where do you feel this burning lead?” I asked.
“All over,” she replied. “It’s overwhelming.”
“Okay,” I told her. “Instead of looking at the overall pain, focus on one small part of your body. Maybe your foot. Maybe just your toe. Choose a small place to direct your attention. Look at small parts of your body one at a time, instead of trying to work on your whole body at once. Remember that the goal of shamatha practice is to develop stability of awareness. Once you’ve achieved stability by focusing on your foot or your toe, you can begin to extend that awareness to larger areas.”
Applying attention to smaller emotions—or simply focusing on form, sound, or physical sensations—develops your capacity to look at long-term, overwhelming emotional states. Once you begin to grow your “attentional muscles,” you can begin drawing attention to larger emotional issues. As you do so, you may find yourself directly confronting the underlying self-judgment and judgment of others as “enemies.” You may unravel the belief in being stuck, or the blind spot that inhibits your awareness of your potential. Almost certainly, you will confront the “myth of me,” the tendency to identify with your loneliness, low self-esteem, perfectionism, or isolation.
It’s important to remember that such confrontations are not battles but opportunities to discover the power of the mind. The same mind that can create such harsh judgments is capable of undoing them through the power of awareness and attention.
Step Three: Step Back
Sometimes an emotion is so persistent or so strong that it just seems impossible to look at. Something holds it in place. Another approach that can be especially helpful when dealing with particularly strong emotions, or mental or emotional habits that have developed over a long period is to take a step back and look at what lies behind the emotion—what you might call the support or “booster” of the emotion. For example, there were times when I would try to look directly at the panic I felt as a child, and I just failed. I couldn’t sit still, my heart would race, and I’d sweat as my body temperature rose. Finally I asked my teacher, Saljay Rinpoche, for help.
“You don’t want to feel panic?” he asked.
“Of course not!” I answered. “I want to get rid of it right now!”
He considered my response for a few moments and then, nodding, replied, “Oh, now I see. What’s bothering you is the fear of panic. Sometimes, the fear of panic is stronger than the panic itself.”
It hadn’t occurred to me to step back and look at what might be holding my panic in place. I was too wrapped up in the symptoms to see how very deeply I was afraid of the overwhelming emotion. But as I took Saljay Rinpoche’s advice and looked at the underlying fear of panic, I began to find that panic became more manageable.
Over the years, I’ve found this approach effective in counseling other people. If an emotion or a disturbing state of mind is too painful to look at directly, seek the underlying condition that holds it in place. You may be surprised at what you discover.
You may find fear of the emotion, as I did. You may find some other type of resistance, such as a lack of confidence in even trying to work with emotions. You may find small events, triggers that signal or reinforce a broader emotional response. Fatigue, for example, can often signal a depressive episode. An argument with a coworker, spouse, or family member can often trigger thoughts of worthlessness or isolation, reinforcing a sense of low self-esteem. When we work with the feelings behind the feelings, we begin to work more directly with the entrenched beliefs that perpetuate emotional difficulties.

Step Four: Take a Break
An important part of any practice involves learning when to just stop practicing altogether. Stopping gives you more space, which allows you to accept the ups and downs, the possible turbulence of the experience that may be generated by your practice. If you don’t give yourself an opportunity to stop, you may be carried away by the turbulence—and by a sense of guilt because you’re not “doing it right” or not understanding the exercise. How come even though I have these very clear instructions, you may ask yourself, they don’t seem to work? It must be my fault.
In general, when you engage in attention practice, you’ll encounter two extreme points at which you know when to stop. One extreme is when your practice begins to deteriorate. Maybe you lose your focus or feel disgusted with the exercise. Perhaps the method becomes unclear. Even if you step back, looking at the triggers or boosters of anxiety, loneliness, and so on, or try something different, your practice doesn’t work. You may think, I’m so tired of practicing. I can’t see the benefit of going on.
The idea of stopping meditation when the focus becomes too intense or your mind becomes dull or confused is actually an important and often overlooked part of practice. An analogy is often drawn from “dry channel” or “empty reservoir” irrigation practices implemented by Tibetan farmers who would plant their fields around a natural reservoir, such as a small pond or lake, around which they’d dig channels that would run through the crops. Sometimes, even if the channels were well dug, there wasn’t much water flowing through them, because the reservoir itself was empty.
Similarly, when you practice, even though you have clear instructions and you understand the importance of effort and intention, you can experience fatigue, irritation, dullness, or hopelessness because your mental, emotional, and physical “reservoir” is empty. The likely cause is that you’ve applied too much effort, too eagerly, and haven’t built up a sufficiently abundant reservoir of inner strength. The instructions I received from my father and other teachers urging short practice periods can’t be emphasized enough. In dealing with intense or long-term emotional states, we need to fill our reservoirs. Even the Buddha didn’t become the Buddha overnight!
The second extreme at which it’s important to take a break occurs when your experience of the practice feels absolutely fantastic. There may come a point at which you feel extraordinarily light and comfortable in your body or an intense state of happiness or joy. You may experience a boundless sense of clarity—a mental experience like a brilliant sun shining in a cloudless blue sky. Everything appears so fresh and precise. Or perhaps thoughts, feelings, and sensations cease and your mind becomes completely still. At this point, you stop.
Sometimes people say, “It’s not fair! I’m having such a wonderful experience. Why should I stop?”
I sympathize with their frustration, since I, too, have enjoyed such blissful experiences. I felt such greed, such desire to hold on to them. But my teachers explained to me that if I held on, I would eventually grow disappointed. Because the nature of experience is impermanent, sooner or later the bliss, the clarity, the stillness, and so on, would vanish, and then I would feel really horrible. I’d end up feeling like I did something wrong or that the practices don’t work. While the real goal is to develop a stability of awareness that allows one to look with equanimity at any experience, there is also the danger of becoming attached to blissful, clear, or still experiences as the result of attention practice.
They further explained that taking a break at a high point cultivates an eagerness to continue practicing, encouraging us to stabilize awareness and “build up our reservoirs.”
Strange as it may seem, stopping is as much an important aspect of practice as starting.
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche is a teacher in the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. This article has been excerpted from Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom, © 2009 by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. Reprinted with permission from Harmony Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

2 Movies, 1 Great Actor, 1 Common Theme, Maybe An Oscar

Leonardo Di Caprio must be very hungry for the Oscars, for the history of winners playing the roles of psychologically inflicted masters is obvious. So we have 2 movies, both starring Di Caprio, one common theme: The Mind.


I caught Inception yesterday afternoon, and walked out almost certain that this reality is a dream. Of course this was just the curious banter of the thoughts, not some direct experiential insight that is the domain of the masters. Dreams are representations of our deepest mental constructs: our desires, aversions and ignorance. The manifestations of these constructs are in interesting ways and are not obvious in most cases and, because of the deeply rooted imprints of these constructs, the experience of the dreamer is alike to that of real life.

The theme of imprinting into the deepest ‘storehouse’ of the mind is similar to the Buddhist teachings of the alaya conciousness that is related to habitual tendencies and karma. Though the idea of going into 2nd and 3rd dream layers to reach this deepest depth is an innovative idea, enlightened masters are able to access this layer through deep meditation.

Lucid dreaming is another main theme of this movie. It’s amazing that the characters in the movie can continue to remain lucid in even the 3rd layer, this should qualify them as supreme meditators hehe. Jokes aside, lucid dreaming is possible, and my guess is the grip of the constructs of desires, aversions and ignorance have to be released to an extent that the experience of reality is radically different. I believe the insight of anatta must have been complete.

Another interesting aspect of the mind is its defense mechanism being an automatic process, seen in the movie as bodyguards in Fisher's dream state. Although it is in dream state, the mind is not able to differentiate any difference, and will repeat its tendencies as though it's in 'reality'. So it perceives the intruders as threats to the subconscious just as it would in the awaken state, dream or awake makes no difference. In other words reality is just a myth, to the mind dream is as real as reality! As the 5 aggregates together creates the illusion of the sense of self and the external world, there's no such thing as a sense of self or the external world to be found outside or within the 5 aggregates.

Finally some spoilers J. Well ok, I’ll not reveal details, will only ask a question. I distinctly remember in an earlier scene of the movie, Cobb spinned his totem and the totem did drop, isn’t it? Could this totem spinning idea be a decoy? Also some nice comments on the movie can be found here.

Shutter Island

Then Selena and Ivan introduced me to the movie Shutter Island, so I watched it this morning (yes I confess, temptation of the World Wide Web is too great). Similar to Inception, the story telling leaves the audience wondering this: What is Reality?

The theme of psychopathic condition and its treatment in this movie is a powerful one. As the character ‘Dr Rachel’, the psychiatrist, said in the movie: once someone is being diagnosed as having a psychotic condition, everything one says and does will be deem to be related to the condition. Wow, so this means one has no chance ever of redemption. This also linked up to some experience as a practitioner, as
Mickey recently just commented to me that 95% of the population doesn’t share the views that I suggest. What if sanity was the domain of these 5% few, while the general perception was actually insanity?

Just as Ted maintained his sanity for much of the movie, one moment of flashback can result in a radical shift in perspective. And the effect of psychedelics is truly amazing, being able to create an altered state of consciousness and remove the veil between imagination and senses. 

Also just as the story is one big fairytale conjured by Andrew, the kind of reality created and perceived by our senses at this moment, due to extent of control the subconscious mind exercise in shaping it, may just be an illusion. Scary thought for the Self. 

So did Ted decide to maintain his dignity and die a sane person? Or did Andrew decide to feign insanity and die together with his pains?

You decide! Probably the fact that both are just as likely also means that there wasn't any Self in the first place in reality.

And by the way, Di Caprio probably told me about the Oscars in a dream, but I’m very sure this is just another figment of my imagination.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Way Of The Bodhisattva 1.29 - 1.36


But those who fill with bliss
All beings destitute of joy,
Who cut all pain and suffering away
From those weighed down with misery,


Who drive away the darkness of their ignorance –
What virtue could be matched with theirs?
What friend could be compared to them?
What merit is there similar to this?


If they do some good, in thanks
For favors once received, are praised,
Why need we speak of bodhisattvas –
Those who freely benefit the world?


Those who, scornfully with condescension,
Give, just once, a single meal to others –
Feeding them for only half a day –
Are honored by the world as virtuous.


What need is there to speak of those
Who constantly bestow on boundless multitudes
The peerless joy of blissful buddhahood,
The ultimate fulfillment of their hopes?


And those who harbor evil in their minds
Against such lords of generosity, the Buddha’s heirs,
Will stay in hell, the Mighty One has said,
For ages equal to the moments of their malice.


By contrast, good and virtuous thoughts
Will yield abundant fruits in greater measure.
Even in adversity, the bodhisattvas
Never bring forth evil – only an increasing stream of


To them in whom this precious sacred mind
Is born – to them I bow!
I go for the refuge in that source of happiness
That brings its very enemies to perfect bliss.

 End of Chapter 1

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Way Of The Bodhisattva 1.17 - 1.28


Bodhichitta in intention bears rich fruit
For those still wandering in samsara
And yet a ceaseless stream of merit does not flow
From it;
For this will rise alone from active bodhichitta.


For when, with irreversible intent,
The mind embraces bodhichitta,
Willing to set free the endless multitudes of beings,
At that instant, from that moment on,


A great and unremitting stream,
A strength of wholesome merit,
Even during sleep and inattention,
Rises equal to the vastness of the sky.


This the Tathagata,
In the sutra Subahu requested,
Said with reasoned demonstration,
Teaching those inclined to lesser paths.


If with kindly generosity
One merely has the wish to sooth
The aching heads of other beings,
Such merit knows no bounds.


No need to speak, then, of the wish
To drive away the endless pain
Of each and every living being,
Bringing them unbounded virtues.


Could our fathers or our mothers
Ever have so generous a wish?
Do the very gods, the rishis, even Brahma
Harbor such benevolence as this?


For in the past they never,
Even in their dreams, conceived
Such profit even for themselves.
How could they have such aims for others’ sake?


For beings do not wish their own true good,
So how could they intend such good for others’ sake?
This state of mind so precious and so rare
Arises truly wondrous, never seen before.


The pain-dispelling draft,
This cause of joy for those who wander through the
World –
This precious attitude, this jewel of mind,
How shall it be gauged or quantified?


For if the simple thought to be of help to others
Exceeds in worth the worship of the buddhas,
What need is there to speak of actual deeds
That bring about the weal and benefit of beings?


For beings long to free themselves from misery,
But misery itself they follow and pursue.
They long for joy, but in their ignorance
Destroy it, as they would a hated enemy.

Commentary on 1.27 and 1.28

Again Shantideva praises the benefits of an ordinary, altruistic thought, while adding how much greater it is to actually follow through. To help others at the most meaningful level, however, we first address our own confusion.

As Shantideva points out, although we long to free ourselves from misery, it is misery itself we follow and pursue. We may assume we do crazy things intentionally, but in truth these actions aren’t always volitional. Our conditioning is sometimes so deep that we cause harm without even realizing it. We long for joy and do the very things that destroy our peace of mind. Again and again, we unwittingly make matters worse. If we’re going to help other people get free, we have to work compassionately with our own unfortunate tendencies. Shantideva, we will find, is an expert in dismantling these repeating patterns.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Match Point

Just watched the movie Match Point last night, very very dark movie I must say. Never have I watched a movie in which all, yes I mean ALL, kinds of desire, aversion and ego manifestations are depicted with such an impact (I think there's not a single precept unbroken in this movie); while yet at the same time captivating, almost seducing us into the depths of such sins (Of cos Scarlett Johansson made the difference here, relatively speaking hehe).

If we want to see an example of what NOT to do in our lives, this is the perfect movie.

Enjoy the trailer!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Be Touched By This!

The most amazing and touching story I've seen, at least so far this year :)

May Patrick Henry Hughes and his loved ones be well and happy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Nice Articles On Non-Dual

Very pin-pointed descriptions directing towards the insight of non-dual.

From "Living Nonduality: Enlightenment Teachings of Self-Realization" by Robert Wolfe, 2009
Duality, which has been referred to by many sages, basically defines a condition wherein exists "more than one" - generally, two (which, in Latin, is duo). In Buddhism it is usually synonymous with "manyness", multiplicity.
The two (or more) things which comprise duality can be any two (or more) things. The proposition that there is "good" at one extreme, and "bad" at another extreme, is an example of duality. If I say that there is "this" over here and "that" over there, two different or "separate" things, that would be a dualistic expression. If I say that "I" )"me") like spaghetti ("not-mine"), this is dualism. To hold the view that there is something identifiable as "me" and something identifiable (or unidentifiable) as "god" is dualistic.
However, even if I say that "I" am "god", I haven't yet exceeded the boundaries of duality. In the same way, if I say, "I feel fear", that is duality; if I say, "I am the fear that I feel", that is still duality.
The nature of normal human thought is divisive. A mother opens the door and steps into the room: all of the stillness and all of the motion in the room are summarized into one immediate, pertinent sentence in Mom's mind; observing little Andy holding a ruler, and hearing wee Carol crying, and Mother's initial thought is, "Andy hit Carol."
Typically, human thought finds its expression in sentences, and these sentences are composed of words. Each word "means" a "different" "thing": Andy is one thing, Carol is another thing, and hit is yet another thing.
Andy is the subject of the thought, Carol is the object, and hit is the action that connects the two, subject-versus-object, things.
Even in the shortest sentence (in the Bible) - "Jesus wept." - Jesus is one thing, his weeping is another thing... although "related".
Primary to all relational, or relative, thought is the self-conclusive thought, the "I" thought, which predicates the existence of the subject of the thought. The formulation of the thought "I am angry" presumes not only that such a specific entity as anger exists, but that there is a particular entity - I - that recognizes anger and has cause to consciously note its presence.
The unquestioned (and in some minds unquestionable) assumption, or conclusion, that there is in reality a separate "self" which exists, is the very foundation of all our common, relational thinking.
To whatever extent that one cannot (at least experimentally) suspend the "certainty" of the sense of self, one cannot appreciate the perspective which the sages have described as non-dual. This is referred to, in contemporary terms, as oneness or wholeness, and in Buddhism as suchness, in Taoism as tao (the way it is).
To minds limited to the mechanics of duality (self versus other, this as opposed to that), even to say that "all things are one" will not transcend the perspective of duality - because they envision that "one" (entity A) containing "all things" (entity B). Not-two implies that there is not ever, under any circumstances, more than (if any) one thing or entity: "all things", and the "one" thing that they are, are the same thing.
The yogi Patanjali is credited with saying, "It is the observer-observed phenomenon which is the cause of human suffering." Krishnamurti was known to have stated this more succinctly, in the equation form: "The observer is the observed."
This statement sometimes engenders confusion in a mind which cannot (even temporarily) suspend its attachment to the dualistic propensity of thought. Its first reaction may be, "If I - the observer - look at a tree - the observed - am I the tree?" To suggest, in response, the true implication that there is, quintessentially, no I (other than as an isolated, thought-created entity) and no tree (ditto) will likely be resisted.
I cannot truly be the tree and have my I-ness remain. And if I, the observer, am the observed tree, the tree is likewise the very same thing that the observer is - which is to say that it no longer retains exclusive tree-ness. My separate identity has vanished into the tree (the observer is the observed), in this manner of speaking; and the separate identity of the tree - both of which identities were only distinctive creations of thought - has vanished into me (the observed is likewise the observer). Two, separate, dualistic identities have evaporated. If we now feel compelled (as thought will) to find a name for what is no longer the observer/observed contradiction, we can call it suchness, oneness, "not-two, not-one", etc.
The mind which is enmeshed in duality is the psyche which is reluctant to surrender its sovereignty; that is, to re-examine the certainty that "I" - me, myself - exist as an entity which is independent and in a subject-object relationship to every other supposed entity.
To realize that the observer does not categorically exist (nor, by definition, that which he alleges to observe) is thoroughly to reorient one's entire mode of thinking. When the observer is actually the observed, there can be no "self" nor "other". Any such distinctions, however subtle, are the dualistic assertions of divisive thought.
"No self?! No right and wrong? No past and future!?." one exclaims. Is it any wonder that duality is a pattern of thought which man finds it exceedingly difficult to relinquish?
At death... or possibly before... that which thinks it is an independent, isolated entity (and that which it thinks it separately and "objectively" observes or identifies) - "self" and all "other" - will disappear: there is not any thing which stands apart from suchness, not one thing.
The No-Thought Experience
In terms of your query, I think we could say that there is a) unrecognized duality; b) recognized duality; and c) nonduality.
We could say that a) is the condition of the ignore-ant person: her perception is mired in a dualistic perspective; and she is not even aware that this is the case, because she has no inkling that any other perception is possible.
Let's say that, at some point, she becomes aware of her dualistic perception, and supposes that another perspective on the actuality of our existence is possible. She conceives of this as "oneness", which she equates with non-duality. But her comprehension of this is that "I am united with everything." Her conception is (despite herassumption) dualistic. There is an "I", on the one hand, and "everything" else, on the other. Item 1 and item 2 are "united". She is still impaled by her subject/object mindset.
Perhaps at some point - c) - the perception dawns that "non-dual" literally posits "not two;" no two "things." She has realized that the (conditioned) conception of "I" and (as opposed to) "other" is false. There being, in absolute actuality, no "this" and no "that," there is no reality that can be described as "uniting."
She has transmuted from not recognizing her dualistic mindset; to recognizing her dualistic mindset; to relinquishing her dualistic mindset (and the "I" who supposed that any of this pertained to her "self.") Her awareness is presently nondual.
In general, Dzogchen characterizes the a) condition as "ordinary" mind; the b) condition as "alaya" (oneness as an "experience"); and c) "rigpa" (nondual awareness which is beyond "experiencing").
In comparable terms, the Hindu savikalpa samadhi is analogous to b); and sahaja samadhi to c). In b), through disciplined concentration or fixation (meditation) on "not-self," she can nullify "self" so as to experience its "non-existence." But there is an experiencer. When the phenomenal experience ebbs (as all do), the "not-self" is no longer a present actuality and the "self" is again a conscious entity.
Attendant to b) is the notion that (first) she is apart from something (desirable); and (second) is driven, by ego motivation, to "attain" or "achieve" it. Subject proposes to "merge" with object. But subject does not comprehend that in a non-dual "merging" bothsubject and object dissolve. The subject, here, expects to remain an entity to which an (unusual) experience is to be added. It is a stultifying, frustrating pursuit, a deadening cycle of "arriving" and inevitably "departing". But because of the (temporary) suspension of "conceptual," egoic thought, it is sometimes presumed to be the "liberation" which is spoken about.
The true liberation is in that nondual awareness of c). Where the inspiration is that "there are not two things," there no longer is a "self" which is apart from the "One"! Thus, no condition such as b); or a). In point of fact, even c) - when conceived of as an entity(such as Self, Buddha-nature, etc) - no longer has any relevance. There is no subject self or desirable experience (such as "no thought") in rigpa or sahaja samadhi.

The Way Of The Bodhisattva 1.15 - 1.16


Bodhichitta, the awakening mind,
In brief is said to have two aspects:
First, aspiring, bodhichitta in intention;
Then, active bodhichitta, practical engagement.


Wishing to depart and setting out upon the road,
This is how the difference is conceived.
The wise and learned thus should understand
This difference, which is ordered and progressive.

Here is the commentary written by Pema Chodron regarding these 2 verses:

Here Shantideva presents the two aspects of relative bodhichitta: aspiration and action. Aspiring, or intentional, bodhichitta is like wishing to take a trip; active bodhichitta is actually setting out on the journey. We first aspire to attain enlightenment and benefit others, then we do whatever it takes to make this a reality.

To give a mundane example: lets say you’re stuck in grasping and craving; you know that you collect and hoard, that you panic when something’s taken from you or you have to let it go. How do you work with unreasonable attachment, for your own sake and the happiness of others?

One way would be to cultivate generosity. At the level of aspiration bodhichitta, you might look around your room for something you love. Then, visualize giving it away: your beautiful red sweater, or that special book, or the chocolate you’re hoarding under your bed. You don’t have to literally give it away, just visualize this. Then expand the offering to include millions of sweaters, books or chocolates. Send these out to particular individuals or into the universe for anyone to receive.

In this way, aspiration bodhichitta accomplishes two things: it fulfills our wish to lessen the pain of self-absorption and our wish to benefit others. Moreover, it we aspire for others to experience not only our gifts but also the joys of an unfettered mind, our intention becomes vaster still.

Intention bodhichitta is a powerful way to work with situations we don’t feel ready to handle. For example, by simply aspiring to give away something we’re attached to, we train our fearful mind to let go. Then active bodhichitta- in this case the ability to literally give- will come about in time.

If we equate ‘giving’ with ‘freedom from craving’ then we become more eager to act, even if it causes some pain.

Is He The Wrong Man For You?

Marriage is an essential platform for some, it provides the partners the opportunity to learn to love and be loved. It is a privilege rendered to two persons to learn to live with each other's dark sides, those sides that only surfaces to people closest to us.

Conventionally, most people believe it's possible to input rationality into romantic relationships, and be able to back off when the warning siren goes off. Realistically, its not as easy as we prefer. 

The mind goes through an automatic process of habitual reinforcement, and this process is called attachment. This habitual process can go either way, it can reinforce the attachment to the person, or the repulsion. What is required are conditions, in the form of memories, past experience, the perception of ego, amongst many others.  The mind will integrate these conditions and presents all the information as a story titled ' How I Feel Towards This Relationship'.

The following article (first taken from, while having some valid points, tends to tilt towards the perceived Self. Probably its the conditioned culture now that more people are looking for external gains out of relationships, ultimately the relationship must make one happy.  Also see for a detailed explanation.

If it is conditional, is it love? 

Is he the wrong man for you?

Is it just jitters or are your cold feet trying to tell you something? Seventeen years ago, Anne Milford called off her engagement to the wrong guy not long before she was due to head down the aisle. In the months after her breakup, all sorts of women began confiding in her with their stories — stories from those who’d broken off their engagement and, more hauntingly, stories from those who hadn’t and regretted it. Eager to find a definitive answer to the question, “Why dowomen marry the wrong guy?”, Milford teamed up with therapist Jennifer Gauvain to write How Not To Marry the Wrong Guy: A Guide For Avoiding the Biggest Mistake of Your Life. Here, Milford and Gauvain answer our questions. 

Q: What inspired you both to write this book? 

Milford: Seventeen years ago, I called off my first wedding. In the months following the breakup, I was astounded by the number of women (and a few men) who confided in me that they wished they had the courage to call off their own first weddings. They all stated, in one way or another, that “I knew I was making a mistake as I was walking down the aisle.” I realized that maybe this was one of the reasons the divorce rate was so high — many marriages are doomed from the start because the bride and/or the groom already know it’s a mistake. And they get married anyway!

I wondered why smart men and women would choose walk down the aisle into a marriage they already felt would be a mistake. I also wanted to figure out why I came so close to marrying the wrong guy myself. Even though my fiancé was a very nice man, he was not the right man for me. Deep down, I had known that from the very beginning of the relationship. Why did a smart and capable woman get engaged to the wrong guy? I knew if I talked to enough women, I would uncover a pattern.

Gauvain: When I met Anne, most of my clients were women who were desperately struggling in their relationships. I felt like I needed to do more to help these women who were finding their way to my couch.

Q: So, what are the red flags that indicate someone is “marrying the wrong guy?”

Milford: Red flags in relationships are problematic actions, attitudes and behaviors exhibited by your partner. But red flags aren’t always so obvious — they aren’t just “bad” behaviors, such as dishonesty or infidelity. Vastly differing beliefs or likes and dislikes (religion, jobs, parenting style, etc.) are another kind of red flag. Whatever kind it is, a red flag should make you stop and think. These warning signs offer clues about your boyfriend’s character. Ignore them at your own peril.

In How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy, we stress the importance of making the connection between red flags and listening your gut feelings. Why? Because red flags are different for everyone. Rather then spell out every possible red flag in a potential boyfriend or girlfriend, we want people to be able to identify what a red flag is for themindividually. (Although we do go through a checklist of possible red flags: Does your partner have a lot of debt? Does he or she have a healthy relationship with family? Does this person have any friends?)

It’s up to you to make the connection between red flags and your gut feelings. We tell people that they can spot a red flag when it causes a reaction in their gut… or that little voice inside starts to speak up. If something feels off, or it doesn’t sit right with you, it’s a red flag.

Q. Why do women marry the wrong guy?

Milford and Gauvain: After talking to hundreds of women who married the wrong guy, we uncovered the three most common reasons why they walked down the aisle:

1. They got caught up in the momentum of the wedding until it was too late to call it off. People incorrectly believe that once the wedding date is set, it’s too late to stop it. Several women said they felt they had passed the point of no return once they received that first wedding gift or attended their first bridal shower. A pile of beautifully wrapped gifts does not have the power to keep you from canceling your wedding. You don’t want a set of wine glasses or a wok to dictate your future.

2. Feelings of fear, shame and embarrassment about publicly admitting that getting married was a mistake.Countless women told us that their pride kept them from calling off their weddings. Openly admitting that you made a mistake is excruciatingly difficult. But we like to remind women that when that marriage ends (and it will), you will still have to admit you made a mistake, but this time it will be in a room full of strangers, a paralegal, your attorney and a judge. How’s that for embarrassing?

3. Financial concerns associated with canceling the wedding. Numerous women told us that they were so swept up with the wedding planning, the dress they already purchased, the reception venue that was already booked, etc. and that they did not want to lose all of that money. There’s no question that there are short-term costs associated with canceling a wedding. But there are many more very nasty, unpleasant and complicated long-term costs that arise from not canceling. The fact is, if you cancel your wedding, you are going to lose some money.

Q. How is marrying the wrong guy related to dating the wrong guy? Could online daters use the principles outlined in How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy to their advantage as they are creating their profiles and choosing prospects for their first and second dates?

Milford and Gauvain: Marrying the wrong guy starts with dating the wrong guy! Women of all ages settle in their relationships. They know the guy is wrong from the start, yet they remain in the relationship. Why do they do it? We discovered five reasons why women date the wrong guy:

  1. Loneliness and insecurity
  2. Believing that the relationship is the solution to their problems
  3. External pressures to get married
  4. Thinking that “he will fix me” or “I will fix him”
  5. Ignoring red flags and gut feelings
We encourage women to really reflect on what it is they truly value in a relationship. Honor those values. As you complete your profile, be honest and truthful about who you are. Be authentic. Don’t try to be who you think Mr. Right wants you to be. If you embellish the real you, then when you do finally get a date, you’re starting off on a weak foundation. Trust your gut feelings about the men you date. If someone exhibits actions or behaviors that just don’t sit right with you, politely say, “It was nice meeting you” and leave. You might disappoint your date, you might get frustrated, but if you don’t walk away when you first get that feeling… you start making excuses. Then that second date turns into a third and a fourth. Suddenly, out of boredom or trying to be polite, you find that you’re dating the wrong guy.

Q. What’s the difference between normal pre-wedding jitters and the legitimate cold feet indicating you’re about to head down the aisle with the wrong person?

Milford and Gauvain: Whenever we discuss having doubts about a pending marriage, people immediately start throwing around the terms “jitters” or “cold feet.” They use these terms interchangeably. “Everyone has jitters,” they say. Or, “All brides and grooms get cold feet before the wedding.” We disagree. While everyone might feel nervous about their wedding day, not all brides and grooms are concerned that they may be making a mistake.

If you are nervous or scared because you have temporary concerns about the event (party, reception, bridesmaid, family issues, etc.), you have jitters. If you have doubts about the relationship itself? Then you have cold feet. The following thoughts indicate cold feet:

  • I feel like I am settling.
  • I don’t like they way I’m being treated.
  • I hope our relationship will improve after the wedding.
  • I don’t think this person is going to make a good spouse.
  • I have to go through with this because we have been dating for so long.
  • If I don’t marry this person, I will never find anyone else.
These thoughts revolve around the relationship, not the wedding ceremony or reception. These are not temporary issues and they should not be ignored.

Theo Pauline Nestor is the author of How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed and a regular contributor to Happenmagazine. Visit her at You can learn more about How Not to Marry the Wrong Guy at

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Way Of The Bodhisattva 1.10 - 1.14


For like the supreme substance of the alchemists,
It takes the impure form of human flesh
And makes of it the priceless body of a Buddha.
Such is bodhichitta: we should grasp it firmly!


If the perfect leaders of all migrant beings
Have with boundless wisdom seen its priceless worth,
We who wish to leave our nomad wandering
Should hold well to this precious bodhichitta.


All other virtues, like the plantain tree,
Produce their fruit, but then their force is spent.
Alone the marvelous tree of bodhichitta
Will bear its fruit and grow unceasingly.


As though they pass through perils guarded by a hero,
Even those weighed down with dreadful wickedness
Will instantly be freed through having bodhichitta
Who then would not place his trust in it?


Just as by the fires at the end of time,
Great sins are utterly consumed by bodhichitta,
Thus its benefits are boundless,
As the Wise and Loving Lord explained to Sudhana.