Somnambulation: how many seconds can we really stay awake?

Most of us spend most of our lives asleep!  We fall into routines often by choice exactly so that we can sleep. We walk down a busy road in a dream staring into the wide-open sleeping eyes of passersby. We try to get our obligations fulfilled, our daily chores and duties finished quickly so that we can get back to sleep. We let most of our lives fritter away while sleeping.

You may be able to stay fully awake for a few seconds while something takes your attention, for example, the incredible curves, points and texture of these ice mountains, but then you drift off into your slumbers again.  And increasingly, it is only the visually sensational that holds your attention, so we are completely unaware of so many other invisible dimensions. 

If you close your physical eyes and hold back the constant stream of images and words which flood by, then perhaps you can count 3 or 4 of your own breaths before you are distracted again by the flooding. But this place of stillness and near-silence is REALITY! – the place where your spiritual eyes open wide. 

It is remarkable that human beings so rarely directly experience the full force of our natural and intended condition.


So, please remember to wake up for tiny periods during the day ahead. Take a moment to count your breaths deepening them as you go, or close you eyes and count from 1 to 10 without being distracted. This wide silent focus is reality, is being fully human! It is being entirely integrated and not separate from the Universe!

For me, this reality is heaven! And I go there whenever I can.

          

                                                       

                                                                        TRUE NATURE : Our Supreme Inhertance


Advertisements

The Human Papers: an extract

 

greater awareness

 

Monk of the World

“They have always told me that the first time is the worst, so I should cultivate fear before I jump or enter the freezing torrent inch by inch.  That makes me smile.  They also firmly assure me that to talk to myself indicates madness! Ha!

I was told take this orange and eat it ‘only when you are alone,’ but I protested, saying, ‘I am never alone because I am part of the universe.  I am not separate or different.’

I tried to explain that the shiny peel of the fruit I turned slowly in my hand as I spoke was my skin, its microscopic pores allowing the inside of the fruit out and the outside in.  I said, ‘this fruit can breathe just like me. This concentration of the pungent and dazzling essence of “orange” was made visible exactly to make our human lives possible.  Its heart of sparkle and freshness is my heart too.’

But the subject was quickly changed to something banal and I was condemned as a mad eccentric!  

‘Alone’ is a human excuse, a weakness, an inability to accept that one is not an island. Thinking that we are ‘alone,’ ‘solitary,’ ‘unique’ is the sheer fantasy of a deluded arrogant mind. Indeed, thought itself is a dead thing which disconnects us from the universe. 

At this moment my critics seeing me standing waist-deep in this deluge would ask indignantly, ‘How can you stand the racket of the water in torrents, let alone stand under them. You seem to welcome the pelting of its icy dollops on your head?’

They are afraid because they have made themselves separate, aloof from nature’s tears of joy. I raise my open hands eagerly towards the cascade to connect with other universal evidence which is identical to me.  Ah!  There I go!  There is no ‘me.’” 

The monk of the world splashes the surface aggressively, sometimes momentarily angry that he has become flesh with all its conditions, its catapults and trip wires. But it is only a lightning flash of what completely consumes and disables most humans.  At these minute incidences of human anger, he knows overwhelmingly that overcoming this is his mission, his very mission.  He must not get tricked, must not fall into the trance that most flesh-dwellers fall into with alacrity, but that also he must never deny his blessed flesh.  It is always a source of sunshine and joy to him with its ever-changing texture, it’s hot and cold spots, its expanding and contracting, dilating and retracting, its inner winds and tides. Planetary. Wandering. This shocks other celibate clerics whose flesh is extinct.

The moment in his childhood when he sat on the deserted beach of his homeland and the sea and sky became one, floats peacefully by before his eyes in the watery chaos.  He knew then that the horizon was just a device of the mind and that the blue and the green were not separate, not water and air distinct from each other.  Their blue and green actually flowed in his own eyes and arteries. And he felt sad for all the people around him who misunderstood their existence and in so doing created a perpetual drama, swinging helplessly between heaven and hell, manufacturing fear and pride from their factories.  Without these fabrications, life was timeless, limitless, positive and exuberant.  

‘The water fall is stingingly silent now and yet deafening at the same time. But I am no longer the listener.  What the trapped would perceive, do perceive, as slapping icy pain, assault, arctic torture, is in truth the universe dancing on my skull and shoulders.  It in itself will never break me, but the thought of it, the fear and anticipation of it might, I realize.

The taste of blood comes from the searing cold pellets scratching and chafing my skin, but how do I know it is blood, or that it is my blood.  No, I cannot know that. It is not my mission to identify with this form I am lodging in to complete my mission, to rise to my next evolution. The manifestation of my vibrations only exists for others, their eyes and ears recurring the birth and death of my flesh.

Audience

The two trapped peers watch from above.  They must always observe this exotic creature asking how he came to exist, jealous of his determination and worst of all of his power. Everything he has touched has benefited and all he has encountered have loved and attended to him. They shout loudly to each other above the din below.

‘How many thousands of years has he been here? And why does he make us feel so insecure?’

‘Perhaps he’s a gongen or god of the mountain forests? He never seems to eat or sleep, only to go in search of beautiful women to woo and flirt with, and to conquer. A shaven-headed being has never been seen in these parts before.’

‘Con, have you ever cut your hair since you became a man?’

‘No, never. Because I know it’s the source of my manhood. That I will get many children with this strength that I cultivate each day with rare herbs and wild garlic oil.’ He caresses it as he speaks sliding his fingers along its length hanging down his back.

‘Why doesn’t he realize that do you think? He just shaves his off with his sword the moment it starts to sprout while staring into a still pool. Or does he know a secret we don’t? Do you think we have been tricked, Doi?’

They both simultaneously lift off their conical straw hats, pulling down the chin strap and letting them float in the steaming bubbling pool they sit dangling their feet into to warm them. Meanwhile, still keeping a watchful eye on their bald charge, they adjust their top knots, gathering the fallen hairs and tightening the leather tie.  Their special lacquered combs are always kept at hand to scrape back fine hairs that fly away when it is so freezing. Hair, after all, is their future happiness.  They must look after it well. 

After checking their top knots and replacing their warmed bamboo hats which bring a smile to their icy cheeks, they simultaneously undo the ties of their top robes, their several under robes, and finally unwrap the silk binding shielding their withered penises from the cold. They are also their future happiness and the source of their descendants so they must tend them carefully.  And at this point, they turn away from each other for privacy and to do what they must individually. 

They each have different beliefs about their body fluids: Con that he should never let sperm escape from his body in order to preserve his essence for forthcoming generations; and Doi that he should let out his sperm every day so that the amount he produces will increase like a bottomless well. So, there they sit, back to back, peeking down into the deep watery valley below, one breathing deeply to make his penis wither even more and to enhance his supply of sperm deep inside him, thanking the ancestors for the cold weather which makes it so much easier, but secretly dreading the hot summer; and Con, caressing and pulling to make himself larger and larger, battling against the freezing cold which touches his pinkening scrotum, occasionally stopping to warm his hands in the steaming water, then continuing on, willing the moment of ejaculation to come. 

Neither of them has a thought or erotic image in their heads, no flashing picture show of slow unveiling or forbidden scenes because humans have not fallen from godhood so nothing has been hidden or become unknown. The evil and distraction of the secular have still not developed so their minds are truly pure and if an impure sensation is detected, they tell each other immediately and help each other to realize that they must not interfere, must not try to go upriver even if unconsciously. It is simply their duty to tend their hair and their manhood because they are told that this is their mission in life, to preserve the generations of their line making them strong and wise. 

Unlike the smiling apparition below in white blood-stained robes standing directly beneath the waterfall waist-deep in the shallow pool, they have been instructed what to do and how to do it to preserve their generations, to hand down the wisdom, to be a respected member of their community. They are all practical, loyal and devoted, while he is ethereal, unidentified with anything or any idea, flowing downwards with the torrent and going where he must.

For both Con and Doi, pleasure and duty are indiscernible. Their clear mission is to follow the wise. They must not be different or stand out in any way.  Con is calm, reduced, his inner storehouse full and potent, his heart somehow warmed and reassured by the concentration of energy down into his feet: he is relieved in one way.  Doi is also calm now, breathing quite quickly and feeling the warmth of his sexual energy rising and then falling. His tide comes well in, crashes hard on the beach with a slapping noise audible to Con despite the waterfall din, and then ebbs away and he sighs and shudders.  He is relieved in another way.  They turn to each other now and check and admire the wilt of their respective vegetables, Doi wiping and commenting on the thickness and quantity of his produce.

‘There! Duty done. And all the warmer for it too!’

They wrap themselves away, binding their testicles separately to their scrotums in a matter of fact way, lifting a leg or a buttock to make sure the silk is straight and does not later irritate or chafe them as they climb and descend the forest slopes in pursuit of the ice-bather. Then they pull down their various layers, straighten their dresses and check themselves once more, settling down to observe in silence, turning their satisfied gaze to the waterfall. But in simultaneous tension, they guffaw that the creature has gone.  Vanished!  Not a trace!

They cautiously inch down the steep path to look for traces of him.  The ice is thick in places but they lower themselves down with bendable bamboo holding onto each other.  Once standing at the edge of the pool shivering, holding their ears, they comb the surface for a trace of his blood, a shred of his white robe, a scatter of stones as he staggered out stiffly to run for cover.

They look at each other dumbfounded.  Perhaps they also had dreamed they saw him, as others reported they had done. 

cold water ablution

Temple Chronicle: 21st February

architects of our world

Our human lives are a process, a means whereby, but what is the result, the end-product? Our story began with the moment of birth and it will end with the moment of death. Between these two points our physical form develops and matures, and then as its season draws to a close, it starts to shrink and slow. We, our spirits, are temporarily housed in a flesh form to participate in the visual material world which is subject to varied and numerous conditions. It is logical then that the conditioned mind expects results from the progress through the years of our lifespan.

Religions use certain terms for this end-product, this resolution of the years and the effort – Heaven or Hell, Nirvana, Enlightenment, Paradise, Zion, Avalon, Swarga, Valhalla, and so on. But words and images die the moment they appear or are uttered or thought. ‘Birth’ and ‘Death’ are also only words, but we identify ourselves with them – ‘my birth,’ ‘his death,’ and so on, and once again they are dead, in the past, dropped like a heavy stone into a deep pool.

Without using any special labels or grand proper nouns, we have always flowed in the vast wide river of all energy, and we always will. Energy is vibration and light which is subject to no conditions, not even human’s facile ‘time’ or ‘space.’ It goes where it will dependent on nothing, consuming the darkness, flowing and flowing. There are no rewards or results in any dimension except the joy of being and loving with company in our human boats, and breathing in concert.

The conditions throw up obstacles in the way of our flow which create detours, sluggish pools, and rapids. The build up of the heat of negative emotions and violence acted out in the form world, the jarring of separations and limitations, the tattering and fraying of the fabric of the universe at our human hands, causes drought and the flow dwindles to a trickle, or floods which extinguish the divine flame of the flow.

Can you desist from throwing obstacles into the flow now and here? Can you give up your addiction to collecting, to hoarding, to getting and spending, to violent acts of separation from your fellows? Can you say you will no longer depend on creating parallel worlds in your mind with words and images so that you can just flow and flow, laughing and loving? Slap bang in the centre of this moment and in no place in particular, can you accept that there is nothing you have to do except be, and in your full being the flow flows without end?

self-knowledge

Temple Chronicle: 9th February

no demons or dialogues

Our minds trick us into living constantly with negative and unnatural thoughts. All around us, there are many other negative energies exhibiting themselves in the world which overcome us with their cheap perfume. But they are unreal and regularly projected onto vulnerable beings. The state of ‘LovingKindness’ means that we gently but firmly refuse to take on these negative missiles, and with the vibration of pure love and light, bring a new awareness to the projectionist. A smile, a loving touch, can bring something new to someone who is jostled by fear. Those who project have wide staring human eyes, but they are outcasts from their own hearts, shivering in the cold. They understandably lash out at the nearest person, and likely those they are closest to.

The outcasts are not separate from us. We cannot reject them or escape from them because they are mirror images. All humanity is viewable in the cosmic mirror in one vast sky. It is only the thoughts which prize us into separate beings, arms and legs, parted lips, and certain permissions – to condemn, to adore, to decline from comment. The awakening of the entire species is our collective concern. A sincere smile is sufficient to rouse the oblivious, and eventually, the fragrance of divinity will seep through the strata.

LovingKindness is not something spiritual traditions have created or generated. It is eternal and interstellar, but we have found a way to uncover it. It is the fragrance of the flame of divinity which we can kindle with our wisdom at this time of disintegration.

Each flame is different and essential to the completed glow of full harmony and happiness.

image

Temple Chronicle: 7th February

healing 4

She dreamed that she was talking to a group of people, looking into the eyes of all her spiritual children, when slowly, outside her control, her own eyelids closed and she could not open them ever again.

There was panic all around, urgent movements, many different fingers touching her arms and shoulders, voices of such tenderness and tears rising in the air.  But she continued to talk from her sincere heart, and gradually the sobs and cries died down. She invited everyone to close their physical eyes as she spoke.

‘We need to close our physical eyes so that our inner spiritual eyes will open. For the physical eye, though a remarkable anatomical evolution and a powerful tool, sees only through the graded lenses of the ego. The material world becomes the only reality that it can perceive.  It is blind to the vast invisible world which is our real home.’

It takes practice to be able to look into the physical world with spiritual eyes.  To gaze without taking possession, without categorising or judging, without accumulating worldly status and merit.  To perceive directly instead of interpreting, making copies. The desperate craving of the worldly human incarcerated in constant suffering while careering towards oblivion in their death is acute.  They cannot let go, always hedging their bets, having reserves, in case they are left with nothing and fall into an abyss created by their terrible fear.

This way of looking can dominate in the presence of sacred images.  The serene Buddha images and altar adornments are rendered permanent by the physical eyes; continual shots are taken by the acquisitive camera and then archived.  The master carved sublime images of all emanations of the Buddha so that disciples could overcome this kind of obsessive greed and self-centred cherishing.   The spirit does not need to rely on memories and labels, or stored images.

We have the choice to gaze on these images without greed so that they connect us firmly to the spiritual world. In this way, the spiritual eyes are wide open. Holy sculptures are manifest as permanent in their gold and bronze inside man-made temples exactly so we do not possess them. This is for our spiritual growth.  The Buddha is mere energy just as we are.  We give this powerful energy the name ‘Buddha’ but that label can be abused. To find enlightenment we need to let go of it and allow the power to merge with our own power. To allow all divisions disintegrate.

When will she have paid all her debts?  Debt is such a negative state which worries and disturbs the natural equilibrium.  Debts to parents, to masters, to husbands and wives, to employers; an endless queue of beneficiaries. They make an elaborate maze in the mind which we get trapped in.  This cannot possibly lead to spiritual liberation. If we are in touch with our divine origins, if the flame is lit, then we naturally give to others, we trust unconditionally, we breathe with a genuine smile, and we truly love people because we are not separate from them.  Debt makes us separate and exacerbates the suffering of samsara.  It suspends us in murky water above the mud so that our lotus cannot bloom freely.

If we are motivated to practice spiritually from our thoughts, then this is flawed.  Thoughts are dead things which obscure the truth: They are worthless in spiritual terms.  Spirituality is living organically, is only being in the great stillness and silence.  If we manufacture thoughts of a religious kind and then use them as our propeller, we are creating everything from our side.  This is not the truth, the suchness, the shinnyo, but we can habitually mistake it as such.

And if we merely imitate the masters, cloning ourselves in their likeness, then we are ignorant of our individual mission, our unique spirit. The master engraves Buddha images not only in physical form, one bow for each tap of his chisel but in each disciple’s heart.  We can embody that heart in each moment of our daily lives, living as Buddhas, undistracted by the trivialities of the worldly mind.  This is the only way we can change the suffering world because our environment in the world of flesh is exactly a reflection of our minds. And if our minds expand into the field of consciousness, then the world will truly be a Buddha world.

She is restless in the temple precinct because she is attached to it. It has become her temple and everything is invested in it. Her living space, though full of light and the warmth of loving kindness, has become oppressive because of the outside view.  Beige concrete buildings with identical balconies, impede the view so that she cannot see beyond them to the mountains.  This way of viewing the environment is bedded in her DNA, has been the way of looking of her ancestors for aeons. The view reflects the mind, so she is keen to change it and live in a penthouse. Never content, and she will never be so until she lets go of physical dimensions.

May she put aside her physical eyes, open her spiritual eyes and so live with panoramic vision now and here, plum in the centre of the moment.

May she climb the temple steps of her own divine heart where ownership and mementos are unheard of.

spiritual practice

Temple Chronicle: 6th February

ellipse 2

It is entirely possible to become attached to practice, to achieving and succeeding, either cheered on or envied by our Dharma siblings. It is a human characteristic to compete with others, but it is not natural because it involves a separation. These distinctions that we make when comparing ourselves with others both outwardly and in our own mind secretly are imaginary. Status and its indicators have become a requirement of modern life, and in achieving that status many of us come to believe that it is due entirely and exclusively to our own effort. The mind gets carried away with itself and forgets all the myriad conditions that allow us even to take a breath of oxygen.

In short, we are liable to place too much emphasis on achievement and success in human terms. This is perhaps inevitable in our huge urban communities in which most people have a strong survival instinct for themselves and their families. The way these large groups are managed also provides perfect conditions for self-centredness to thrive: we are forced to comply with education, health and governing systems, often abdicating responsibility for ourselves and so losing contact with our own hearts and talents.

To adapt to and flourish in these situations that most of us cannot avoid, we need to treasure ourselves without over-cherishing, so that the ego does not become an impenetrable but transparent screen. If we are intimate with ourselves, entirely self-honest and appreciative of our innate goodness, then we can use the mind as a bridge to pass into the limitless field of consciousness. There, we can live each moment without escaping the suffering, without creating a gap between what is suffered and the one who is suffering. They are not different. We don’t have suffering like a possession, we are suffering. We are suffering. But it is the habit of the mind always to be at the side of our experiences, interpreting, analyzing, judging.

Loving-kindness or compassion is the main constituent of our nature, so if we let the mind fall away and stop all resistance to what is natural, extending it universally to every being we encounter in daily life requires little effort. We imagine that we have to do something, to achieve, to struggle, to reach out in kindness to others. But there is nothing to do. We only have to be.

Breathing is a wonderful practice in this respect. Focusing on the breath closes down the doing, achieving mind. The breath links us to the universe, so the Buddha taught this as his first meditation. Without borrowing oxygen from the atmosphere, our lives would be impossible. It is the basis of chi, fundamental life force or energy. Breathing occurs automatically in the majority of creatures when a demand for air is made. The breath is invisible, so it links us with the infinite invisible and natural world and removes our arrogance. Watching the miracle of the breath rising and falling takes us into our unique core in the same way that sound does.

Sitting together with sangha members, she watches her breath and listens to the voiceless voice of the Dharma. There is no duty, no guilt, no comparison because there is no achievement to make or end to gain. Allowing air inside where it is purified, then the detrimental gasses expelled, makes her part of everyone else and the master. The master breathes with them all linking them to the spiritual current of the Buddha-dharma. Breathing with the Buddha as he reached enlightenment under the Bodhi tree out in the field of all awareness. Breathing as a Buddha. Benefits and concerns have no place in the breathing field.

cropped-breath-and-love.jpg

 

Temple Chronicle: 5th February

 

higher mind

The objective of all Buddhist training, of any spiritual training, is to first become a better, happier person, and then to look after other sentient beings, developing unwavering respect and compassion in that pursuit. The majority of humans aspire to ascend and so get clarity on themselves and their place in the world. They have deliberately sought a method of getting control of their negative emotions so that they can allow their natural goodness to prevail at every moment.

According to the Buddha, we are each a stupa, a shining tower to house the essence of the Great Truth (Tathata {Skt} Shinnyo {Jpn}), but the divine can only work in us when we are empty of delusions, self-serving desires and attachments. There are numerous ways we can ‘practice’ to realize this emptiness, but there is a danger that we ‘practice’ with ego, becoming attached to the practices themselves, forcing and striving to achieve these states. The word ‘practice’ is unfortunate in many ways because it implies imperfection, apprenticeship, and an impending performance. However, immediate realisations are numerous in the same way that performances can be spontaneous and their performers unknown.

This struggling against the current of the natural, this shouldering and manipulation and grasping by religious means, is perhaps burying our true nature even more deeply. Aspirants in Japan must start from scratch in terms of their faith, so are often initially benefit seekers, believing that they can acquire protection and benefit from the deities. These expectations are ingrained in the popular Shinto practices, and the line between Shintoism and Buddhism is quite blurred. So, they often barge into zealous practice, giving it their best for a probation time, and then, if they are not happier, wealthier and wiser, they may go on to try some other faith path.  These tactics often come from fear and superstition in my experience.

It is interesting and at the same time quite shocking that human beings often long to wipe clean the slate of their beings, to erase everything so that they can be reborn, totally transformed. Many of us view our thinking as flawed so we block it, hide it away; we experience a frisson of guilt at having such thoughts and then bury them, perhaps forever. We have rendered thoughts permanent and visible as everything and everyone else is. But it is possible to just let our thoughts appear, let them surface as detritus or debris in water. We do not need to condemn ourselves for having so-called bad thoughts, in the same way as we do not applaud ourselves for having so-called good thoughts. Thoughts are epehemera.

It is impossible to wipe the slate of our human existence and our spirit entirely clean, unless we synthesize amnesia or undergo brain-washing. Instead, we can adapt and accept – making the effort to free the flow of the water of our life. We humans are essentially beings of light, formless tennants. Water is similarly formless; in its natural state it flows wherever it wants to, wherever it can. Sometimes over-zealous practice can freeze that flow, fixing our nature into a glacier. Emptiness is the free flow of our waters, which are healing and cleansing, refreshing and exuberant.

Once we did not need to make an effort to keep our divine flame alight by spiritual practice. We were truly living out our original nature, flowing freely, merging with the fluid natures of those around us in loving harmony. Then, we learned to utilize the intellectual mind to interfere in this natural process, and our blindness began, leading us to go our own egocentric way towards the secular and personal power.

We may meditate, we may reflect, we may take empowerments and initiations, we may doggedly follow the letter of our teacher’s advice, but we must not lose sight of the truth, the suchness, which is deep inside ourselves, inside our unique stupa. We must not rule out the possibility that our ancestors were divine beings who handed on their divinity through the generations to us, and that in simply being, sitting with ourselves exactly as we are, that spark will burst into joyful flame once again.

The master invites us to appreciate ourselves, our inner beauty, while at the same time making certain we are completely honest with ourselves.  What are we really feeling?  What are we imagining we are feeling?  What are we hoping we will feel?  This is the true basis and function of meditation. Before embarking on a spiritual path, we must come face to face with our deep selves, naked, so that our true nature will be revealed.

Do we truly feel the icy stab of the first pail of water poured over our own warm flesh? Or do we feel it vicariously as our Master pours it? Do we rise before dawn with our entire consciousness, 100% present, in order to watch the reality of the sun rise in the sky, the sun rising inside our sky? Is it really our true nature which takes the prayer beads now, in the centre of the moment, completing it with all our might? Is our stupa dedicated and perfectly purified in order to embody the light of the great truth?

Mindfullness engenders enlightenment.

stupa