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Posts Tagged ‘Tibetan Buddhism’

I am a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner, and so much more. Very fortunate am I to have met multiple different lineages of healing wisdom, some secular and others quite nonsecular.

One thing I must be discerning about however is that with so many tools and techniques under my belt, I still must practice efficacious self care. I don’t have a lot of time to waste – I see clients, socialize, try to get outdoors, etc – so I only have about an hour or two / day to take care of myself physically and psycho-spiritually.

Therefore, what is one of the most powerful practices I can do? As a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner, it is the Tsok / Ganachakra feast offering along with Lama Chopa. This is a potent practice which invites the lineage masters past and present to be here with me / us. We offer them food, pay homage and receive blessings equal to our devotion.

I have heard this is the most singularly powerful practice a Dharma practitioner can do. It purifies eons of negative karma as it strengthens our connection with the living lineage of luminous healing wisdom (of which there are many).

Occasionally, I will notice a brief period of non-conceptuality when I do this practice. At times though, I will get drowsy half way through the practice. (I try to do the full 1 hour plus practice.) My eyes begin to close as I chant the mantra. I take a sip of (herbal) tea and chant some more. I complete the mantra, mentally transform my body, offer the food and hopefully receive a few blessings.

It is best to do this practice on two days in particular according to the Tibetan Lunar calendar – the 10th day and the 25th day. These are the Linage Lamas – Guru Rinpoche Day and Dakini Day (enlightened wrathful feminine liberator energy beings). We can gain great merit from doing a Tsok practice on the Full Moon or other days as well, but the 10th and 25th are most efficacious – the connection to the Lamas or the Dakinis is easiest, so why not take advantage of it?!

Being gentle, being kind. Just pushing myself enough to grow and be able to digest these inner changes, may I creep (ever so slowly) toward enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings! May all beings create the causes to connect with authentic lineages of healing wisdom! May we all be liberated from suffering and its many causes.

Thank you for reading!

km

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Every once in a while (or in my case, several times a year), I come across a rare book in Tibetan Buddhism which I wonder how it made its way to the public.

Personally I am very inspired by some Dharma stories of previous Tibetan Masters – like Dzo Khyentse Rinpoche or his student, Patrul Rinpoche. I love the book by Lama Surya Das – the Snow Lion’s Turquoise Mane. It is full of inspiring stories of Lamas making subtle or abrasive emphatic moral points, while practicing humility and grace. So very inspiring. That is not the book I am going to talk about here though.

I inherited a small library from a Dharma practitioner who recently passed away – early this year. I was amazed and awe-struck by how gracefully she passed through the hellish gates of cancer. And I am sincerely grateful for the Dharma artwork and the books she left for us. May her Dharma activities spread far and wide!

One of the those books is by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, a Nyingma mater of Dzogchen and Dream Yoga. The title of the book is Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light.

In this particular case, this is not a special retreat book – only for the eyes of people who have received special instructions or special transmissions or initiations. I have been fortunate to see a couple of those books, but the wisdom contained in Chogyal Rinpoche’s book is still vast and precise. It is not a long book. But he covers – very rapidly I might add – the basics of Dream Yoga and the stages that we might pass through as our practice stabilizes and our realization becomes more pure.

He does go so fast through some topics (which I am glad for) that it is very important that we find an authentic teacher to lead us through this complex and potent practice. One of my heart teachers, Drupon Thinley Ningpo teaches Dream Yoga – he is based near Tampa Florida (Drupon is also my root lama, so I am a little biased in recommending him). He is an incredible practitioner, his presence is so compassionate and wise and he is not afraid to tell you how he really feels – like if you are ready for the practice you are asking about. (You might not want to hear it but Dream Yoga is NOT a beginner’s practice. It is quite advanced. Without a foundation under us, we are just wasting our time trying for such a profound practice. It is highly recommended that we finish our Ngondro before attempting such a subtle practice.)

In Dream Yoga (the book), Chogyal Rinpoche talks about several dreams that he had when he was younger. Let me just say it is extremely inspiring to hear what is possible. Who knows, maybe if I apply myself diligently for fifty years or more, I might one day have a dream full of mandalas and dakinis like he describes!

If you can get your hands on this book – it is cheap on Amazon – I would highly recommend it. Even if you are not working on this particular practice, hearing about what is possible is very inspiring and motivating!

Good luck on your journey!

km

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Every winter, my friend and mentor and bodywork teacher and coach, Janet Evergreen hosts a retreat for 10 days at her Sanctuary space.  Last year, I was going through a tough stretch and I did not make it to much, if any of that retreat, which I would later regret.

I say that because this retreat is like a sling shot for the new year.  It is a shot in the arm of Dharma juicy-ness.  Even if I could only do a couple hours a day of meditation, the combined space created a mandala of potency, of virtuous momentum and resourced support to lean into.

Due to work – December and the holidays are our busiest time of the year – I missed two days of the retreat.  Then with family in town, I missed another two days.  But I’m so glad I went to some part of every other day – six or seven days total.

I would be lying if I said I did not experience any resistance.  For instance, I woke up a couple of days at 5 am with the possibility of going to the 6 am session, only to choose to fall back asleep (! ^ !)  What can I say, I am human and sometimes a bit lazy.  I also needed my sleep as I have been quite stretched and stressed out with work.

The session I went to most often was from 10 am until noon, and then I would stay for a delicious, dynamic, organic lunch which was eaten in noble silence.  Occasionally there might be a little playfulness at lunch (silently) but for the most part we could all just enjoy our food at our own pace, in peace and quiet and good company.

From 10 until 11 am, we did a breath meditation (following, analyzing, shifting, exploring, stretching, resting of the breath) called the Anapanasati Entryways.  These were fairly powerful, but I never got through all 16 stages in one 50 minute segment.  Nonetheless, it was very potent just to track the mind and breathe, to track the body while breathing, to get distracted for a moment with thoughts and come back to the breath.  I would usually get through at least 4 or 5 of the stages of breath awareness – opening up to, deepening, refining, refreshing, calming, stabilizing the breath.  This was the hour where I usually experienced some resistance, so there was less enjoyment than I would have liked.  If this sounds interesting to you, go to http://www.liberationpark.org

But then from 11 am until noon, we did a practice called the 8 Jhanas.  This is more of an analytical meditation, where we are aware of our breath, then that fades into the background and we become more aware of a pleasant physical sensation (which can be as simple as a forced smile).  That pleasant sensation can become more intense and we can notice joy and happiness arising.  Etc etc and eventually it leads to contentment, equanimity, awareness of a boundless space around us, etc.  The end result being to rest in a vast open spacious aware of a tiny spot close to our face with our state of being having no characteristics.  This is extremely simplified.  See http://www.leighb.com for more!

One thing I especially like about the Jhanas is there is a recommended daily recollection to do before and after the practice:

  1. Aging happens, no one avoids it
  2. Illness and sickness happen, no one avoids it forever.
  3. Death happens, no one gets away from death.
  4. Everything that I love is and will change.
  5. I am responsible for my actions (karma).  My thoughts words and deeds create happiness or suffering.  I am born of my actions (karma).  I will inherit my actions (karma).  Whether good or evil deeds, I will always inherit my actions.

There are 5 things to do at the beginning of a session:

  1. Gratitude
  2. Why am I doing this (motivation)?
  3. Working up some determination – for instance, practicing for the benefit of all beings (self included)
  4. Wishing ourselves and others, well-being and happiness
  5. “Breathing in I calm my body, breathing out I smile.”

Then at the end of the session:

  1. Recapitulation – what did I do to get here?  How did I get here?
  2. Impermanence – whether highs or lows, our emotions, feelings, sensations are changing and are gone or will be gone shortly
  3. Insights – did I get any?  What were they?
  4. Dedicate the merit earned for the liberation of all beings
  5. Resolve to be mindful as I go about my activities

This is a good stopping point for now.  All in all, so glad I attended this year’s winter retreat.  Next year, here is what I would change to prepare better for it:

Start preparing for retreat weeks in advance – have all errands and nursing school requirements done by December 15th if possible.  Do all Christmas shopping (if any) before Dec 15th.  Do more resting down, self care and Dharma practice two or three weeks before retreat starts.  That way I can be more receptive to retreat mind mode.  This year, it was a bit jarring to be really busy up until retreat started and then to hit the brakes hard.  Fortunately I would still gain benefit from that less-than-kind version of preparing… but I could prepare better!

Thank you for reading!

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I have titled this post “progress in the Dharma.”  I want to be clear about what I mean by that (and describe what this post will be about).  It is not supposed to be a catchy title to hook readers.  Rather, I am making progress in my heart and it is showing up when I repeat inspiring stories of enlightened masters.  How can I tell?  Good question.  I’m not 100% certain I am making progress, but at least on one level I believe I am.  Read on to discover what I am trying to get at.

To provide a bit of context here: I have been doing treatments with babies over the past few weeks (craniosacral treatments to help the infants unwind any birth trauma).  Therefore, on some level, I have made a commitment to do my own pre- and perinatal psychological work (on myself first, so I can do it more easily for others).  And I have been assisting in teaching Vagus (Nerve) System work – moving toward self-regulation and emotional stability by resourcing the social nervous system (strengthening the parasympathetic nervous system).  And on top of all this, I had a bit of a fight yesterday with a good friend, which triggered me and I got poor sleep last night in a new and different bed as a result.

With all of that in mind, today I had about 20-30 minutes to kill at work, so I was talking with a friend there about Dharma teachers and great enlightened masters and their stories.

I mentioned Asanga and how difficult it was for him to attain enlightenment (with Maitreya Buddha).  http://www.lamayeshe.com/article/chapter/asanga-and-maitreya-buddha

I mentioned a couple of the stories about Patrul Rinpoche from the Snow Lion’s Turquoise Mane.  That book has an incredible array of inspiring stories by the way!  And it is so cheap?! http://astore.amazon.com/kirmoosblo-20/detail/0062501836

And the most bizarre thing happened to me as I was relating these stories: every time I got to the kicker about how the realized master was acting extremely compassionate or displaying Bodhicitta and skillful means, my voice cracked and I teared up.  I got emotional just relaying a simple story!

Well let me tell you something.  For me, this is progress.  I have gone entire decades wishing I could cry.  I was in the military for five years and I may have cried once that entire time I was enlisted.  There were times I gave up on my desire to emote through crying because it was so foreign and distant!  And now it is happening three times in a row, within a 10-minute span, as I relate these Dharma stories?!

Something is up.  Either the person I was talking to has a special connection to the Buddha-Dharma (quite possible, as he is very sharp, both logical and intuitive) or I am making progress with my own heart chakra work or my lack of sleep caused me to be unusually, radically emotional today (or some of all of the above!).  I never teared up for any other reason tonight though, so I think I can rule out that last option.

No matter what is the case, I love telling those stories as they inspire me to do my own personal Dharma practice.  And if there is a willing listener who is not shutting down upon hearing the stories and seeing my joy in telling them, then that is a great start!  🙂

Thanks for listening to my confused mind ramble on and on,

~Kirby

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I have observed my relationship to Tibetan Buddhism (and Buddhism in general) mostly wax over the past 9 to 13 years, with a little bit of waning.  And in that time, I dove in deep and yet I am still understanding new realizations everyday.  Because I dove in so deep, my current realization does not shatter the earth or boggle the mind, but it is more of the subtle type of “Ah-ha!”

I am understanding more about the concept that most Westerners have been spending all of their time worried about the material realm – getting ahead, going to school, earning, churning, burning money.  Why?  Because our culture says to, and because they mistakenly believe that having every possession (or plastic surgery or fashionable toy dog etc) leads to happiness.  And this time spent in the material realm is known as the Compassion side of the Wisdom / Compassion balance.  Most mainstream Westerners do not spend much time in the Wisdom sphere – meditating, working with spiritual teachers, doing truly cathartic psychological work on themselves (sure we do what we must to get by, but a lot of mainstream types avoid the discomfort of elective process-oriented psychotherapy or bodywork as much as possible – so we tend to only do the psychological work when there is a crisis or sickness – when it is a necessity).

I am not like most mainstream Westerners (in case you are not a follower of my blog or if you did not notice that fact).  I was raised Christian but I always knew in my heart that that religion was not complete (enough), that it did not go deep enough for me, that it was not the faith in which I felt at home.  Sure being Christian is probably better (due to having a moral compass) than being an anarchist atheist, but I have always known that something else existed beyond Christianity’s limits.  And I think this is the reason my mother says that I have always been Buddhist, while it was only in 2002 that I encountered Zen Buddhism and I started meditating, and it was in 2006 that I met my heart teachers in the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.  And then I felt at home and began to do (efficacious) spiritual practice in earnest.

Aside from my religious leanings, I am also not like most mainstream Westerners because I have always felt guilty when I did not do my spiritual practices.  I feel guilty if I “waste” a day resting and reading and watching movies without doing any formal Buddhist practice.  But self-care is vital.  And I believe that guilt is going away with this new realization.

I watched a documentary on some of the Dalai Lama’s students, and the beautiful thing was that they spoke about His Holiness’ emphasis on staying in the world and practicing compassion alongside wisdom.  I suspect it is a small select few people who get told – “You must go into retreat!  Do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars, go sit now!  And here is the retreat master to study with…”

As an astrological aside, if someone has a North Node (of the Moon) in Pisces or in the 8th house, then that person might be needing to get their butts on a meditation cushion.  They might be the type to be told to go into retreat quickly – forsake the worldly householder life.  But for the most part, the rest of us need to stay put in the world and do spiritual practice as we benefit others IN THE WORLD.

My North Node is in the 2nd House, which means the South Node is in the 8th.  I am coming from recent previous incarnations where I was the spiritual person in the community – I was the medicine man or the monk or the nun or the Brahmin, whatever you want to call it.  I relied on my tribe to support me as I strove toward Wisdom, leaving Compassion for another time.  This explains why I have always yearned to do retreat.  I love spending time with my root Lama – Drupon Thinley Ningpo.  I would do any retreat he was leading if I had the time.

But even my root Lama said to me that I should get a good paying job in order to support a family and support my spiritual practice in the future.  He suggested I become a nurse.  I resisted that advice for about a year (because I wanted it to come from my heart) and now I feel fully in control and fully confident that that is the right thing to do for me and for my path, and it is coming from my being.

And because nursing school is so tough, there are some days that I can only go do clinical work in the hospital for 8 hours and then come home and nap.  And then I have to study or work on care plans.  There is an avalanche of assignments which I can barely stay in front of.  And there is less and less guilt about missing time on my meditation cushion.

In fact, learning how to be of benefit to others, but helping to heal the sick or at least provide comfort to those ailing, this is a spiritual practice.  This is the Compassion side of the balance.  Sure as a busy nurse, I will rarely if ever get time to meditate in the hospital, but if I am being of benefit to others, while causing very little harm to myself or others, then this is the highest form of right livelihood there is.  And this is what I must be doing right now.

So if I were to die tomorrow (knock on wood, hoping that is not the case), I would be fairly content with my life.  I yearned and pulled and struggled to get more Wisdom time into my life, I even had the good fortune to be able to attend dozens of Buddhist retreats between 2006 and 2012 (see all my posts in the Dharma category of this blog).  But now I realize that I need more Compassion time.  It is time to be present with others, to start a family, and to be a mentor to younger practitioners and sentient beings.  Maybe when I am 60 years old, I can do a longer retreat.  For now though, get through nursing school, make some money, and do the rarer formal practice on the side, when I can.

Kindness to self means realizing when to practice more Compassion and when to practice more Wisdom.  Speaking to a wise spiritual teacher can help you to know which would be better for you on a higher level (many people unfortunately struggle against their heart’s true desires – you see it in almost every spiritual community).  And perhaps knowing your astrology chart really well could also shine some light on this fine balancing act.

Thanks for reading and happy holidays!

~Kirby Moore

Konchog Chakchen

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I just returned from a weekend with His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon, Chetsang Rinpoche.  I will post pictures soon (hopefully).

I am in the midst of one of the busiest times of my life as I prep to enter nursing school this summer and in the fall.  My next day off with nothing on my to-do list might not be until August…  Ugh!

And in the midst of that busyness, I set things aside and went to sit with H.H.D.K. and about a dozen monks and nuns.  It was a great turn out – at least 100 people were there most days.  And for the Great Drikung Phowa on Saturday, there may have been 200 people (with a lot of local Tibetans attending).

I received the Amitabha empowerment (or at least His Holiness gave this empowerment, not sure if my mind was cogent enough to actually receive it).  We did a lot of Amitabha practice (mantra recitation with sadhana practice).  Then there was the Drikung Phowa Chenmo and an Amitayus sand mandala which was dissolved on Sunday.

Pretty amazing!  Fairly rapidly I settled down into a clear, aligned state where I did not need to “do” or “fix” or “create” anything.  To be honest, the first two days of retreat were a little tough – body aches and pains, mind was distracted and wanted out, and I watched my resistance slowly melt away.  Sitting in that potent energetic mandala of His Holiness and other highly realized Lamas was special indeed.

And now I feel more motivated and clear about everything on my plate at present.  (And there is a bunch…)

Please wish me luck with finding balance!

And may all sentient beings put the causes of happiness into place, leading to greater peace and harmony.

Thank you for reading,

KM

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I have written about this topic in the past.  I definitely experience this time of year (a time before the Tibetan new year – Losar – where things need to be reconsidered at best, and I often have to slow down to get through it with a modicum of ease).  Not everyone is going to feel it though, and perhaps, depending on other astrological factors, some years will be more intense than others.  So take this with a grain of salt if you like.

From February 8th until the 17th, we might encounter extra obstacles to spiritual practice, obstacles to mindfulness, or possibly even physical obstacles.  It is recommended that during these ten days, we should do Vajrasattva mantras (purification), or Protector practices (Achi Chokyi Drolma or Mahakala, etc) and this is often the time of the year where Tibetans literally clean their houses.  I think it is viewed as a time to move stagnant energy out.  On Feb. 18th, it is a new cycle, a fresh start.  So get ready ahead of time!

I would recommend this article on the topic as well: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/02/don-season-how-to-survive-the-next-10-days-of-chaos/

Thanks for visiting!

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