Thursday, December 30, 2010
I finally completed a translation and update of the 48 vows of Dharmakara, a Bodhisattva who upon enlightenment merged with Amida Buddha, became Amida Buddha, and radiated the enlightenment energy of Amida Buddha into all worlds. When we chant the mantra that he empowered, we undergo a similar process and also become Amida Buddha, merging with this enlightened energy of unconditional love, letting it fully heal us, letting it shine into and through our whole life, and even radiating it naturally outwards to heal all others. It is Dharmakara who "stamped" the 48 vows into the Amida field and empowered this specific wish focus. It is his dharma expression:
The 48 vows of Amida Buddha
through Tenabah, copyright 2010
I am here writing a modernized and revised version of the 48 Amida vows. This is done for a few reasons. One is that the original version used some specialized terms that do not make immediate sense to many English readers. I want the particular vow to be understood by those who are not familiar with those terms. Two is that there are some verses whose wording or phrasing does not honor the ideal of male and female equality. It seems in some areas of the world there has been a belief that women are inferior to men on the spiritual path and even resorted to teaching the esoteric practice of helping women to reincarnate in the next lifetime as males. There might have been some practical reason for this, because in some of those societies the life of women was worse than males, not because of gender inferiority, but because of the oppression or prejudice that women may have endured in those societies. In one version of the vows, one verse talked about women being reborn as males in the next lifetime or reborn as "daughters of kings" (aka princesses). This indicates that some women were doing okay socially and would not be impeded in their enlightenment process. Buddhism has had a practical realism about the difficulties and challenges of becoming enlightened, and that women have, at times, have had some social difficulties that males have not had. I did find that one Tibetan Lama reinterpreted those verses more psychologically in a way that I liked and I am following this lama's lead.
Part of Amritayana Buddhism is to address the gender imbalances of the last Kali Yuga. I follow Sri Yukteswar in his assertion that the last Kali Yuga ended in the 1800s with the "orb" of the Kali Yuga ending 200 years later. I would revise his more general calculations by aligning them with the Mayan astrology of Jose Arguelles who has calculated the importance of the 2012 solstice as a key transition point in human history. In this revision, the Kali Yuga would have ended on the solstice of 1812 and the orb of the Kali Yuga will end on the solstice of 2012. Using the same Arguelles calculations, I would also recalculate the Kalachakra prophecy dates from either 2024 or 2027 also to 2012. This would match the magnetic field null zone that we are starting to move through where the pole shift happens. It would be an approximate 500 year transition from the Piscean era dominated by faith and dogma to the Aquarian era dominated by futuristic vision and universality. In this recalculation, the Aquarian era would begin on solstice of 2512. In the Kalachakra teachings, there is a kind of "final war" which happens between 2412 and 2512, where a false religious power which seems monotheistic, dogmatic, authoritarian, and political, organizes an attack on Shamballah and fails to win. Afterwards there is, at last, world peace. I do gather that this war is mostly metaphorical, though it could take the shape of a literal war. It is more of a struggle between dogmatic monotheistic faith which characterized the previous religious orientation of the Piscean era and the universal vision of the Aquarian age (which is necessary for world peace). The latter is based on esoteric science, internal psychological processing, and personal knowing.
My feeling is that during a previous Kali Yuga that there was a Matriarchal oppression of males, who were considered inferior to females. It was a parallel to the Patriarchal oppression of females during the Kali Yuga that is finally passing away. My way of characterizing the Matriarchal Kali Yuga is that it was the "egg fertilizer" era. This is where the feminine was considered to have the mystery of birth, that females always gave birth to children through a "virgin" process, with the male only "fertilizing the egg" or activating the egg. During the Patriarchal era, the metaphor was reversed. It was the "seed soil" era. Where the male had the "seed" which was planted in the female and the female was only the "fertile soil" (or "barren soil" if not productive) for the seed. This made the female like an oven to bake the bread, with the males giving the loaf to the oven. The next series of yugas will be the "zygote" era where the male and the female share half of each of their DNA to make each child. This more accurate scientific metaphor will allow gender equality to fully appear. There are many differences between male and female around the mystery of birth. But it seems that nature herself wants males and females to be in near 50/50 ratio to each other. Although the odds of giving birth to females should be equal to giving birth to males, nature has birthed more males than females. This is because more males die than females, for all kinds of reasons. Nature has a kind of future seeing so that by the time males and females reach adulthood the ratios between them are close. It is usually about 52 percent female to about 48 percent male. I also feel that nature is inspiring people to not have children or as many children as before, and even inspiring, biochemically and hormonally, many pairings to be homosexual so that they are not reproductive units. This is because the planet was not meant to carry 6 billion humans and nature is trying to gently reduce this number through nonlethal population control. It seems, too, that a number of people are being inspired to change their gender through science, with males usually wanting to become females than the other way around. I wonder if many of these people were women in previous lifetimes who bought into the "reincarnate as males in the next lifetime" teaching of various religions and who are unconsciously correcting this. These science created gender shifts would be characteristic of the Aquarian scientific uptopian vision and would also lead to nonreproductive pairings to help the population gently come to more balance with the ecosystem. I suspect that there are more female homosexuals (lebians) than male homosexuals (gays), too, because of the 4 percent difference between males and females in the overall population.
Part of Amritayana Buddhism is to revise the Buddhist teachings in such a manner that gender equality is more clearly apparent. I feel that the general sentiment of Buddhism has been male and female equality, but as Buddhism spread from culture to culture is oftened got colored by the patriarchal energy of the various cultures it encountered. Unlike Christianity and Islam, which, upon converting others to their religion insisted that people renounce their previous religion as being false and often even unholy, Buddhism never required that people give up their previous religion but merely to add the Buddhist teachings to them. In some circumstances, Buddhism would question and challenge some beliefs of other religions, just as the Buddha challenged the caste system of Hinduism and Padmasambhava challenged the animal sacrifices of Bon Shamanism, but it was more on a case by case basis. Buddhists were more inclined to see if all the elements of the Eightfold Path were already present in other religions, to see which ones were missing, and add them back, especially their emphasis on effective meditation practice.
Strictly speaking, the 48 vows were not done by Amida Buddha, but by Dharmakara, who was an advanced bodhisattva who was soon to become another Buddha during a previous aeon in galactic history. When a person becomes a Buddha, he or she creates what may be called a "dharma expression". Their teaching is not a carbon copy of the previous Buddhas. Every Buddha teaches something similar but different to the other Buddhas. They follow what the Sufis call "time, place, and need". There was a story where the Buddha took four leaves from a tree and placed them in his hand. He asked his disciples how many leaves were in his hand and they said "four". He then asked how many leaves were on the tree and they said, "more than we can count". The Buddha then said, "On the tree are how many teachings I could teach to you, in my hand are the teachings that you need to hear and learn right now." The four leaves, of course, are the Four Noble Truths, the Fourth Truth being the Eightfold Path (and the first precept of the Eightfold Path being the 12 Nidanas and the fourth precept being the five behavioral ethical ideals aka one teaching naturally leads to all the others). A Buddha has the goal of helping all beings to become enlightened. The goal is not to create believers in a religion, but to awaken each person to his or her true nature as a direct and living experience. What this requires changes from time to time and place to place, and even person to person.
Dharmakara chose to open up a "path of tariki" or divine grace. It is a blessing energy that carries those who trust this energy all the way to supreme perfect enlightenment. It is meant to be an "easy path" since the "other power" (which is what tariki means) does all the work. Our part is to open up, surrender resistance, allow ourselves to be carried by the energy, and trust the process. Because divine love is nonviolent, it cannot force us to become enlightened. It can only work with our moment to moment permission. The "grace fire" will burn away all the obscuring karmas that prevent us from "pure perception" of our true nature. We need to allow this grace fire to burn away all that is within us that needs to be released. As our karmas burn away, our own true nature will manifest a higher and higher life condition with more happiness, more love, and more material abundance for us and those we care about, and even eventually conquer aging and death, and even eventually transform our physical bodies into a light body. This is what is behind all the 48 vows.
I am writing the 48 vows as "intentions" to simplify the verbal expression. I am also translating the meaning of the vow into politically and psychologically correct English. People are invited to compare this translation with the originals and to ponder why I am making the changes that I am. I may occasionally make some commentary to explain why I am shifting the words and their meanings some, but on the whole I would like the words to explain themselves, since the entire 48 vows is really a commentary on what Tariki can do for us.
(1) In my pure land, there will be no places of fighting, torment, and pain, no places of unconscious compulsive addictive habits, and no places of anguished unfulfilled longings or people searching in vain for satisfaction.
(2) In my pure land, people will not fall into lesser life conditions of chronic fear, anger, and sadness.
(3) In my pure land, people will radiate health, compassion, and happiness.
(4) In my pure land, all people will feel themselves to be members of one species and feel each other to be equally beautiful.
(5) In my pure land, all beings will remember all their past lifetimes.
(6) In my pure land, all beings will have an awakened third eye able to see all the infinite Buddha worlds throughout this universe.
(7) In my pure land, all beings will have the inner ear to hear all the teachings of all the Buddhas within all the Buddha worlds throughout the universe.
(8) In my pure land, all beings will be telepathic, able to read the thoughts of each other, and able to commune with those who are also telepathic.
(9) In my pure land, all beings will be able to travel throughout the universe at the speed of thought, by simply intending to appear at a certain place and immediately arriving there.
(10) In my pure land, all beings will be completely, perfectly, and permanently free of the central mental poison of self clinging and have no thought of self clinging ever bring their consciousness down to a lesser state of happiness.
(11) In my pure land, all beings will be blessed with the secure and realistic faith that they will without fail attain supreme perfect enlightenment.
(12) From my pure land, a radiant light that will illuminate every actual and potential Buddha world with a supportive and powerful blessing energy able to illuminate and release all obscurations and able to carry anyone to supreme perfect enlightenment.
(13) In my pure land, my life span will not be subject to aging, diminishment, or death, and will be eternal, so that my support for all those who take refuge in me will be unfailing forever.
(14) In my pure land, there will be no limit to the number of people who will be liberated by hearing the dharma that I radiate forward through the mantra that I teach, no limit to the number of beings that I can support, and no limit to the number of beings that I can bring to supreme perfect enlightenment.
(15) In my pure land, all beings will be free from aging and death, will be free of any karma of disease, accident, poverty, or any life condition that could age them or kill them, and will only be able to age or die if it is their conscious choice to release their body in accordance with their chosen loving service or mission to any world.
(16) In my pure land, even the thought or rumor of evil will not arise in the consciousness of anyone.
(17) The energy I radiate from my pure land will be known to all the Buddhas of all worlds because all Buddhas commune with each other and honor each other.
(18) The energy I radiate from my pure land will connect with those who use my mantra for even just ten repetitions or even just one sincere repetition, who joyfully entrust themselves to me, who wish to be reborn in my pure land, who allow me to bring them to my pure land, who repent and have deep remorse for having done any of the five most negative karmaic actions (killing their innocent and kind mother out of malice or greed, killing their innocent and kind father out of malice or greed, killing a saint, killing a buddha, and creating discord, conflict, and division among the community of spiritual seekers), and who repent and have remorse for any unwholesome and unloving actions, and who are transformed into the unconditionally loving mood of my pure land, and then I will carry all of them into my pure land and they will be reborn in my pure land.
(19) The energy I radiate from my pure land will inspire many to awaken the motivation to attain supreme perfect enlightenment, to do meritorious deeds of compassion, to be reborn in my pure land, and those who live in this manner will, upon their death, see me appear along with other saints and enlightened beings to welcome them into my pure land.
(20) Those who hear my mantra, concentrate their thoughts on my pure land, visualizing aspects of its landscape and its noble inhabitants, are inspired to do meritorious compassionate actions and dedicate the merit to rebirth in my pure land, and wish to be reborn in my pure land will, without fail, eventually be reborn in my pure land.
(21) In my pure land, all those who are reborn there, or who live in the energy of my pure land in whatever worlds they are on, will evolve the 32 physical marks of the Buddha and have perfect balance, harmony, and integration of their inner male and inner female.
(22) All advanced bodhisattvas and dakinis who even visit my pure land and open up to the teachings, blessings, and trainings found here, will reach supreme perfect enlightenment without needing to involuntarily die and be reborn ever again, will quickly pass through the maturing stages of the path, will have the protection and blessings of my energy, will commune with Buddhas from all other worlds and learn from them also, abide in the primordial presence at the heart of all the paths of all the genuine religions, liberate sentient beings from sorrow and teach others how to become liberated.
(23) All advanced bodhisattvas and dakinis who appear in my pure land will be able to commune with Buddhas from all worlds, honor them, receive their blessings, and learn from them with the ease and speed of eating a simple wholesome meal.
(24) In my pure land, all advanced bodhisattvas and dakinis will be able to increase their merit by chanting the mantras of all other Buddhas, honoring and revering their blessing energy and deeply receiving their wisdom and teachings with my support, help, and blessing so that it will be easy to reach them all.
(25) In my pure land, all advanced bodhisattvas and dakinis will be able to teach the Dharma with confidence and mature all knowing wisdom, infused with a living energy that will help and allow people to understand its deepest meaning.
(26) In my pure land, all advanced bodhisattvas and dakinis in my pure land and within my supportive energy will attain bodies immune to illness, filled with strength and health, and invulnerable to any harm.
(27) All advanced bodhisattvas and dakinis in my pure land will awaken the highest divine aspect of the third eye and be able to see in great detail all the wonderous manifestations of all the Buddha worlds, their teachings, their manifestations, and their attainments and even be able to number them and expound on them as precisely as needed.
(28) Even bodhisattvas and dakinis who have accumulated only a small amount of merit will be able to see a radiant many colored Bodhi tree from my pure land, feel blessed by its energy, and feel wishes spontaneously fulfilled.
(29) In my pure land, advanced bodhisattvas and dakinis will be able to recite sutras and expound on sutras with wisdom and eloquence.
(30) In my pure land, advanced bodhisattvas and dakinis will be able to speak peacefully, eloquently, clearly, and insightfully about the dharma.
(31) My pure land will illuminate and reflect all other Buddha lands within its radiance, like images reflected in a mirror.
(32) My pure land will be composed of precious gems, crystals, fragrant woods, and medicinal herbs, generating an energy field that manifests beauty such that those who experience this world will be inspired to deeply meditate and move towards supreme perfect enlightenment.
(33) My pure land will radiate a light will penetrate into all the Buddha worlds and bless them with inner peace, contentment, and happiness.
(34) Within my radiant light, sentient beings in the Buddha worlds will gain insight into how the causes of sorrow will never have to arise and know dharanis worth chanting to deepen this insight.
(35) Within my radiant light, may the life condition of women be infused with the courage, protection, and concentration of ideal male energy and may the life condition of men be infused with the caring, sensitivity, and devotion of ideal female energy.
(36) Within my radiant light, all the bodhisattvas and dakinis will be inspired to perform sacred practices and daily meditation until they reach supreme perfect enlightenment.
(37) Within my radiant light, those bodhisattvas and dakinis who chant my mantra with devotion, bowing, and prostration, rejoice in their faith, and practice daily meditation will be respected by all the devas and people of the world.
(38) In my pure land, all material needs, when they arise in the minds of those in need, will appear immediately and spontaneously, and even be of fine quality.
(39) In my pure land, the paths of householder and renunciate are fused together and transcended so that everyone has the comfort and happiness gained by both journeys.
(40) Within my radiant light, permeating the entire universe, bodhisattvas and dakinis who chant my mantra will be empowered to see all the buddha worlds with the ease of seeing their face reflected in a mirror.
(41) Within my radiant light, permeating the entire universe, bodhisattvas and dakinis who chant my mantra will have all their sense organs fully healed.
(42) Within my radiant light, those who hear my mantra will attain the concentration upon the enlightened space of pure liberation, be able to dwell within this space without distraction, and through pure immediate intention will be able to make magical offerings to all the Buddhas of the entire universe, accumulating merit able to heal all sentient beings.
(43) Within my radiant light, those who hear my mantra, receive and hear the energy of the mantra, will at least be reborn into superior life conditions within noble and compassionate families.
(44) Within my radiant light, those who hear my mantra, receive and hear the energy of the mantra, will rejoice and dance, do wonderful spiritual practices, and accumulate great merit for the sake of healing themselves and helping others.
(45) Within my radiant light, permeating the entire universe, when bodhisattvas and dakinis everywhere chant my mantra, they will rapidly attain the concentration and abiding in the enlightenment space of universal equality and feel all the beings moving towards this space with them and feel all those who have arrived.
(46) Within my pure land, bodhisattvas and dakinis will be able to hear, immediately and spontaneously, whatever teachings that they wish to hear and whatever teachings that they need.
(47) Within my radiant light, permeating the entire universe, those who hear my mantra, receive and take in its energy, will instantly attain the stage of non-regression, never falling back to an inferior life condition and always from that point onwards, advancing and maturing on the spiritual path.
(48) Within my radiant light, permeating the entire universe, those who hear my mantra, receive and take in its energy, will instantly gain three insights into the nature of all the material elements composing the universe, seeing their nonsubstantiality, their interdependence, and their arising within the field of cause and effect, and through these insights firmly abide in all the deep truths that allow the Buddhas to fully realize supreme perfect enlightenment.
Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh.
Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh.
Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh.
Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh.
Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh.
Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh.
Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh.
Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh.
Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh.
Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh.
Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh.
Om Namo Amida Buddha Hreeh.
Opening up, letting go, and allowing Tariki
to burn away all obscurations,
Opening up, letting go, and allowing Tariki
to burn away all obscurations,
Sincerely opening up, letting go and allowing Tariki
to burn away all obscurations,
Totally opening up, letting go, and allowing Tariki
to burn away all obscurations,
Fully trusting, fully rejoicing, fully awakening,
Calmly abiding in the Presence of Inner Peace
within the radiance of the Dharmakaya
effortlessly touching all sentient beings in all worlds
with the blessing energy
of radiant compassion.
Monday, December 27, 2010
(1) As a healer, energy worker, and bodyworker, I have found that even many fairly advanced meditation practitioners, even teachers and Zen masters, have postural defects that I feel are exacerbated by prolonged use of sitting meditation. This also includes myself. If a person has the intention to master Padmasana, they really need to commit to a full Hatha Yoga routine and wisely master this whole yoga system. It would probably be wise to do other kinds of bodywork to support this. Most of us cannot really maintain a loose and erect sitting posture. We have been raised in a culture where unwholesome postural habits abound. We hunch forward too much and thereby put a strain at L4-L5 (lower back) and C1 (upper neck). One person that I worked with, who was a Zen teacher with about 30 years of sitting meditation, had to have a surgical intervention near C1. I have had a childhood scoliosis which is still slowly straightening out, but which still requires some strain to hold the posture erect. Prolonged sitting puts a vertical pressure at L4-L5. Also, because people normally do not really do Padmasana, but have an asymmetrical cross legged pose, the stretch to the lower back is unbalanced and can make the posture even more unbalanced. These things are correctable. When Padmasana is combined with a wise and devoted Hatha Yoga practice, it can even be healthful in the long run. But it needs this kind of support or a similar bodywork system to pull this off.
(2) If you are lying down in Shivasana and go through all the check points, checking your jaw to see if the upper and lower teeth are lightly touching, checking the shoulders to see if they are raised or dropped, checking the chin to see if it is pointed up or opened gently towards the heart, checking the lower back to see if it is relatively flat, checking the knees to see if they are relaxed, checking the ankles to see if they are relaxed, checking the palms to see if they are opened upwards and relaxed, and generally traveling with relaxed awareness through the body and intentionally relaxing as much as possible every part of the body, and then checking again a few times, then you can keep your spine loose and erect (straight). The support of a level surface helps to restructure the spine to become looser and straighter over time. I would still recommend some Hatha Yoga poses (asanas) to help even here, but you do not necessarily need the support of a whole systematic practice of Hatha Yoga. With Padmasana, more of your body needs to be in proper alignment and balance in order to hold it. With Shivasana, a little support is definitely helpful and a whole Hatha Yoga is very helpful too. It is no surprise that a very large number of Hatha Yoga teachers end their practice sessions with Shivasana.
(3) Inwardly, Shivasana is about totally and completely letting go of all effort, which is the final mudra of the Heart Sutra in Buddhism. With Padmasana, there is still a subtle effort required to hold the body erect. It is still possible to do the deep and full letting go in Padmasana, but it makes simpler and more logical sense to do it in Shivasana. All the effort of meditation is taken out of the practice from the very beginning.
(4) Many Buddhist teachers have not recommended meditating in Shivasana with eyes closed, because you are likely to fall asleep. However, this is really a minor obstacle. With daily practice, people will learn how to not fall asleep. I also find that people are spontaneously learning "Yoga Nidra" in the process. They are learning how to fall asleep and get regenerated by a deep sleep. The kind of sleep that you get through such a practice is deep and renewing. Also the kind of attention that requires effort and strain in sitting to keep alive does not long serve a meditator. Attention needs to have the quality of being relaxed and allowing. Beta frequency brainwave attention is usually tense and is the mastery of "type A" people who are productive in the world, but run the risk of aging and dying soon because of stress. If there is any risk in Shivasana in this regard is that when the right kind of attention is mastered, one can be both relaxed and alert, and one can regain so much internal energy that it is actually harder to fall asleep. Then Yoga Nidra needs to be mastered in order to fall asleep (BTW the secret is to just keep on meditating). I find that Shivasana is superior that even the Tibetan Buddhist Dream Yoga pose (this is like Shivasana but has the legs crossed and the body tilted at an angle, partly raised up). But either the Tibetan Buddhist Dream Yoga pose or Shivasana addresses similar postural concerns in a similar manner. I do recommend trying a variety of meditation poses to get some direct experience of these things.
(5) I do feel that it is good to "deep retreat" and have meditated for very long stretches of time, even 14 hours straight. Shivasana is vastly superior to Padmasana when it comes to handling these long stretches. I usually do some Hatha Yoga and bodywork before these long stretches of time, do Rebirthing breathing in a hot tub (or at least take a hot shower) before and after these long sessions, and drink some herbal tea. I find that hunger shuts down during these times. The body lowers its metabolism and does not need as much food. Usually a light soup, a small green salad, and some herbal tea is enough. Drinking some very pure water is helpful at this time, because the body kicks into regeneration mode and likes to excrete toxins into some surplus water. I do recommend microclustered/ozonated water if possible.
(6) Shantideva, the favorite Bodhisattva of the Dalai Lama, reached a very deep level of enlightenment solely through lying down meditation. Although story does not say which lying down posture he used, it was most likely Shivasana, since there is really no other lying down meditation that is as completely effortless. If it was not Shivasana, then it was a variation of Shivasana. At one point, Shantideva levitated while channeling the words of the Bodhisattva Mansjushri. For some reason, lying down meditation seems helpful for levitation. One will feel a lightness come into the body. Gravity is more of a mystery than we realize. We still imagine it as a kind of impersonal force pulling us down and do not see it related to "curved space" like Einstein did. I see it as "the embrace of the Earth" and much relaxation is about allowing ourselves to "be held" by the Earth, releasing ourselves into this greater power that meets us in "gravity". When doing Padmasana, one might still struggle to maintain erectness against gravity and not arrive at this space.
(7) There are deeper levels of meditation beyond the physical body, like moving into the dreambody and traveling to various places, like Sukhavati, the homeworld of Amida Buddha. When the physical body is totally relaxed and we leave in the embrace of the Earth, then we can peacefully let it go and travel to these worlds and learn much from them. There are Dream Yogas which can be mastered when our attention is released from the need to maintain our physical body and our physical life. Paradoxically, from this larger world and larger space, we can often more easily heal or help the physical body, our physical life, and our friends in the physical world.
(8) In Shivasana, one can immediately learn "psychosomatics", how our mind and emotions tenses and makes our body ill. One can become aware of all the tension we hold in our physical body and how we are causing it psychologically and how in order to relax the body we need to "let go". This becomes an ideal learning space for the deepest lesson in meditation.
(9) Shivasana is still "mudra yoga". By taking on the posture of an enlightened being we can learn to enter the mind of the enlightened being. There are Buddhist masters like Shantideva and the supreme Hindu master, Shiva, behind this one.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
In writing all this, I am going to keep out personal details so that the identity of the person in question is left unknown. It is part of my path to always keep sessions confidential in this manner, even if the person is okay with others knowing about their situation and even if the person has given permission for the situation to be known. I do not keep historical notes about the person for a similar reason, though I occasionally write down a few temporary notes that are important for a future session and then let go of those notes when whatever protocol has been done.
The Medicine Buddha Sutras in Tibetan Buddhism are about what I call "enlightenment therapy". They are an important contextual shift in understanding enlightenment, because it reveals that all illness is ultimately mental illness and enlightenment heals this mental illness by restoring sanity to consciousness. The sutras to do not deny that there are pathogens out there and do not deny that you can get infected by those pathogens, but assigns them the role of a contributing cause. By themselves they do not explain why some people get infected and some people do not get infected, particularly in the time of a plague, when everyone has some exposure to the pathogen, and some who do not get infected are even working with the infected every day.
The Buddha taught interdependence as a key understanding enlightenment and even said one time, "A person who deeply understands interdependence understands the whole of my teaching." By meditating on interdependence, all the cause and effect links in the chain reaction of sorrow can be understood and transcended. By meditating on interdependence, the illusory isolated separate sense of self which is at the root of all sorrow can be exposed as an illusion and transcended. By meditating on interdependence, we can understand our connections with each other and how we depend upon each other for survival, healing, growth, and celebration, by this meditation feel gratitude, appreciation, and compassion for each other. By meditating on interdependence, the three poisons of the mind, addictive craving, judgmental negativity, and obscuring delusion can be released and replaced with the four inexhaustible states of kind friendship love, empathic sensitive love, joyful contagious love, and eternal unconditional love.
The Medicine Buddha Sutras add an awareness that the three dosha types in Aryurveda relate to which of the three mental poisons are the strongest in a person. What this ultimately means is that our physical life condition can be improved and healed through meditation. Herbs can help. Medicines of all kinds can help. Symptoms can be relieved. But if the root inside the mind is not released, then the healing is not complete and there is the likelihood that the illness will regenerate. At this point, I have witnessed a number of people who have been treated for cancer and who eventually died when the cancer reappeared a second or third time.
The Eightfold Path is a simple teaching of a minimalist spirituality that is meant to be a foundation for complete self healing. The eight precepts are (1) right understanding, (2) right commitment, (3) right speech, (4) right behavior, (5) right livelihood, (6) right effort, (7) right awareness, and (8) right concentration. The first two are the foundation. There needs to be an understanding of the teachings and a commitment to live them. The next three are the ethical ideals and can be summarized in learning how to be kind to others and not harm others. You learn to speak kind and truthful words, not steal, not lie, not kill, not sexually exploit anyone, and not intoxicate the body, and you earn a living with serving others without scamming money from them. Buddhist ethics are not isolated to the human species and includes compassion toward animals, hence one is vegetarian, does not support the killing of animals, does not buy animal flesh, and does not work in slaughter houses. By living the right kind of ethical life, you do not create any more bad karma that needs to be erased through painful events in the future. The last three precepts are about meditation and are about wiping out all the existing karma, stored as samskaras in the subconscious mind, so that one can be free here and now. Right effort is mainly about gentle correction of thought, speech, and behavior as temptation arises to violate the ethical precepts. Right awareness is a moment to moment nonjudgmental awareness of whatever is arising, clinging to nothing, resisting nothing, and letting content flow without reaction like a mirror reflects whatever is present without getting caught up in the reflections or like watching a movie and remembering that it is only a movie and not getting too wrapped up in the drama. Right concentration is about staying in this impartial attitude and never falling into reactive states of clinging, resistance, or delusion. This is usually supported by keeping attention centered in the breathing and/or in the repetition of a mantra and/or in the visualization of a Mahasattva.
What I have learned is that Parkinson's is a Dissociative Panic Attack. The person is reacting in terror about something, shaking and trembling about it, and yet is so disassociated that he or she does not feel the emotion. In order to maintain this disassociation, the person will make the muscles chronically rigid in a perpetual effort to keep the emotion from entering conscious awareness. When certain samskaras are triggered, the person will start to shake, because the mental impression that is underlying the illness is activated and starts to overwhelm the rigid muscle structure that is trying to keep the emotional terror from surfacing. Very often it is easy to notice the fear thoughts which should have the corresponding emotion of terror infusing them, but often the person is reporting his or her emotion in a zombie voice.
For most people, meditation is about making peace with anger, fear, and sadness and the possibility of dying that is behind them. The death can either be of them or their loved ones. The death can be literal or metaphorical, like the ending of a relationship or the small death of losing a job. Some loss or threatened loss triggers the panic attack. Other emotions can be present, including rage and grief. The Parkinson's profile is not wishing to feel any afflicted emotion for any length of time. Sometimes there is a childhood history of being punished for feeling anything but what is appropriate within a rigid and authoritarian family environment. It may be related to a dogmatic religion where feeling certain things, including sexual temptation, runs the risk of burning in eternal torment forever. Such extreme teachings are considered unwholesome, delusional, and unbalanced in Buddhism. The law of karma has a sense of balance, order, and proportion in what happens to everyone. The law of karma is not meant to be feared, though a wise caution is meant to be present when we respect how this law operates. It is the same wise caution that we are meant to have when we learn not to walk off of high buildings, fall down to the ground, and break our legs.
Because of the disassociation, learning from direct experience the cause and effect connection between the inner terror and the outward shaking takes some time. I found that focusing attention in the center of the chest and doing breathing, gently expanding the rib cage on the inhale and keeping the exhale slow, soft, and smooth on the exhale, is enough to bring up the emotion, though sometimes the jaw will shake intensely as the person re-assembles another resistance pattern between the belly and the head. It is as if the emotion surfaces, chakra by chakra until released through the crown chakra, through the soft spot at the top of the head. If the jaw relaxes, the person will then tense his or her third eye. The resistance to feeling emotion is highly committed in the Parkison's profile and represents a system of learned and deeply embedded attitudes. This learned pattern was often done in childhood and even beaten into the person by a tyrannical parent or learned through extreme withdrawal of affection or approval when something was done wrong. The child learns to live in terror and eventually disassociates from this feeling just to feel a little better about himself or herself. It seems that later on in life the burden on the body towards living in this pattern is too much. One more trauma added to the body, the straw the breaks the camel's back, and the body starts flooding real emotion through the rigid defenses and makes the person shake. In the person in question, it was the death of a lover that finally caused all the defenses to become partly undone. She did not want to live anymore, had extreme grief that she did not want to fully feel, and started to show the Parkinson's symptoms afterwards. She could not talk about the death of her lover for years without starting to shake again.
The conventional medical model considers the advent of shaking to be random and episodic. It assumes the cause of Parkinson's is the progressive degeneration of the substantia negra. Yet it is paradoxical that a progressive degeneration would have episodic symptoms, rather than steadily getting worse and worse symptoms. A fair number of holistic healers have had no trouble identifying the emotional component to Parkinson's. Some have used acupuncture to help the flows open up more. But unless the terror is embraced and worked with, the treatment becomes another form of care and maintenance of an "incurable" disease. The care seems to be wiser and has less side effects, but the end result in the same. The hidden gift of Parkinson's is that the person needs to become fully enlightened in order to get healed. With most illnesses, a partial enlightenment or partial illumination is sufficient, the release of maybe one attachment may be enough. But in Parkinson's the pattern runs so deep and is generalized to every afflicted emotion, every emotion with some kind of pain associated with it. There is a learned committed response that is very immediate, uncompromising, and strong that needs to be unlearned.
What is interesting about working with Parkinson's in this manner is how much conventional medicine supports the disassociation. The diagnosis does not acknowledge the repressed panic attack, even though an aware series of conversations can pick up on verbal triggers to the shaking and see a pattern in them and even test the connections by asking the person to talk about certain emotionally charged subjects. It is easy to notice "flat affect" when there should be more emotion and notice that shaking happens rather than emoting. Once the diagnosis is pronounced upon a Parkinson's person, they are locked into a rigid protocol that is hard to break. It is strangely like the rigidity of the illness itself. The person is monitored tightly to make sure that the "meds" are taken. If a person skips his or her meds, then some notation of the violation is noted down in some invisible log that the Parkinson's person never sees and enough violations mean that there is a "discussion" and more enforcement, with more aggressive caretaking done to ensure compliance. It can become strangely like the way that a Parkinson's person was raised and reinforce the victim set that the person already feels. The response to such a protocol is a mixture of extreme internal resistance with outward slavish fearful compliance. All this is with the belief that he or she is never going to get better but is going to get worse and worse anyway. I found this interesting, because usually the tyrannical parent is believing that the child is bad and is going to get worse, never succeed in life, and fail at everything, at the same time expecting perfect obedience. These kinds of double messages further fry the poor Parkinson's person's brain. Inside the Parkinson's person is a sensitive and wounded inner child who has been buried by all this and which needs to surface, resurrect from the dead, and learn to live again.
I found that what helped the particular Parkinson's person that I worked with was "teaching the Dharma". Taking take for her to mentally understand the teachings. Behind Parkinson's is a very busy mind that is over thinking, running all kinds of fear scenarios and extrapolations so fast that a slight threat is already felt to be a big one. For instance, a doctor appointment (and anyone in authority is likely to trigger her) makes her start to shake because she is afraid of a bad evaluation and then getting kicked out of the facility for being a bad person, even though she feels a hyper-compliant personality who is terrified of asserting herself against any rule, no matter how unfair the rule is (with an unconscious personality that is resisting every rule and fighting everything in a desperate attempt to feel any kind of freedom in her life). It is easy for anyone with some background in developmental psychology to see how such a person was raised. The pattern is so extreme that it is not hard to verify either. Yet this whole inner aspect of the illness is not even looked for or double checked for in a society where the mind/emotion/body split is actually assumed. Psychosomatic illnesses are still viewed as rare, while the deeper insight of the Medicine Buddha Sutras is that ALL ILLNESSES HAVE A PSYCHOSOMATIC PRIMARY CAUSE AND ARE NOT FULLY HEALED UNTIL THIS IS RESOLVED and enlightenment cures the basis for every illness.
In witnessing and supporting her process, I have observed her stop shaking when she suddenly understands, in her experience, not just with her mind, some point of the teaching. The first point was when she understood what it meant to live in the present moment. The second point was understanding "emptiness". She said she could feel her thoughts become softer, less dense, and more flowing when she felt their emptiness. Another time is when she glimpsed what it meant that her identity was radiant awareness, rather than an ego or personality. Her body relaxed and she felt peace. The whole terror pattern fell away. I found that a phrase from Dogen Zenji helped that roughly went like this, "Better to live one day on the path, without fear, and then die, rather than to live a whole lifetime in fear, never truely living at all." Every time she gets this, she relaxes, because it embodies the attitude which is the remedy for Parkinson's.
What I find interesting is that she first needs to feel and embrace her fear, to accept her fear fully, and then transcend it. She cannot really leap from the disassociated state into fearlessness. She cannot see enough cause and effect connections to learn from her direct experience. Yet if the fear is too overwhelming, her resistance is too locked up in the fear to have enough "free attention" to learn also. In the Gendlin Focusing method, it takes some time to get the "right distance" from emotions. Not so far away that you do not feel them and not so close that you get overwhelmed. The key is the breathing and keeping the primary attention on the breathing. When the inhale is deep, full, and intentional and the exhale is soft, smooth, and relaxed, and the inhale and exhale flow into each other without pauses, then the breathing keeps the process balanced. There is also a kind of bodywork that I have done to support her that I call "neural net repatterning", a way of educating the nervous system so that trauma locks are released and a kind of neural net learning process can be freed up. It would take a whole essay, though, to explain this process, but in summary, it is like assisted Chi Kung broken down into its most basic components and tracking each meridian point.
The key thing is the quality of attention, that it learns how to watch without clinging, resistance, or judgment, stays centered in the breathing, and does not get lost in thought. The latter happens very often and as a guide I am constantly calling her back. There is a delicate walk in this process, because some contact and sharing of thought is useful and getting lost in thought and merely running her story is not useful. The key is that if the breathing is flowing then her process is useful. If she is talking while restricting her breathing, then she is merely stuck in her story and not making progress. Almost always her process has started with her being stuck, because being stuck is actually valued. Being stuck means that story is not moving any deeper into the terror that is being repressed. Very often she has stopped the process from moving forward into an actual feeling. The number of frozen faces I have seen in her has been legion. Frozen grief, frozen terror, and very occasionally frozen anger. Getting her to "breathe and feel", "breathe and feel", and "breathe and feel" (right concentration) over and over again keeps her unstuck, with many conversations about resistance to these instructions and looking at how deep the commitment is to not want to feel anything at all. When we do not feel anything, we cannot even feel alive, we become a zombie. It is better to be alive and in some pain than this. Having the right commitment to the process (the second precept) is key for a Parkinson's and needs to be revisited at intervals.
In terms of where the process is, the Heart Sutra core mantra: "Let go, let go, really let go, totally let go, awake, rejoice." The first two are practice letting go (hence repetition). She has really let go many times, but has not yet totally let go. She has already beaten the odds and has come back from the "choking phase" and has not returned to the choking phase. She can walk often and take care of herself, but still does not have a full autonomous life again, because the crippling shake does appear still at random and prevents her from taking care of herself for an unknown period of time. She is meant to go into meditation and release the inner cause of her shaking by breathing, entering her fear, and then surrendering "self clinging" (fear of death and trying to protect herself against death). When she is able to do this, then she stops shaking and can live her life. She is still more successful when I am guiding her than when she is alone. This is because to two factors. One is that my enlightenment energy is within my aura and fills the room. It allows her to more easily feel her own true nature. Two is that I can help her to notice what she is neglecting to see, fill in the missing pieces, and then she can move on. She is doing more and more of the step on her own over time. But when you have learned to repress your emotions so thoroughly and habitually, it is sometimes hard to see how rapidly and unconsciously one is doing the repression, and therefore hard to undo it. After having spent about 30 years in my own daily meditation process, I have learned how to track and release these things more quickly and easily, but even with all the practice I have had I do not take it for granted. I choose to relearn each time I work with anyone. I try to make each new person I work with a co-exploration where I learn something too.
Friday, December 10, 2010
About seven years ago, I tore a major structural support ligament. I was putting an elderly client to bed as part of a healing house call and she dove too fast downwards. My lower back spun counterclockwise and tore a ligament between L4 and the right femur. For about 3 months I could not stand, lie down, or sit without pain. The only relief I found was to go into Shivasana and do conscious connected breathing. Later on I was able to Chi Kung. I had also built a special kneeling bench which would evolve the hip stabilizers to compensate for the wound. Chiropractic and Prolotherapy helped immensely in this healing process. I later found several herbs, including Turmeric, Clove, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Kava, and Ginseng to be helpful, especially when combined within a tea.
Having been symptom free for over a year, I decided to do some Raquetball for an aerobic workout. But found that it retriggered my injury, relapsed my condition to how it felt 3 years ago (the injury was 7 years ago and it has felt like rebuilding the body from the ground up). With some Chiropractic, TENS, MSM, breathing, walking, and herbs, three days later it felt like it was 1 year ago. I am hoping that after another round of Prolotherapy that it will be back on on course in about 6 weeks.
There is some mystery, though, in physical pain and physical injury. It is an interesting state to explore, though a challenging one too. The pain signal has a feeling of something that is meant to be obeyed immediately. There is a rush to accomplish something to end the pain. To slow down this process and be present to what is happening takes some meditative skill. When one has the philosophy of physical immortality in the background of this process, there is a difference. One is that you do accept the condition as it is, but without resignation to the condition. You do not conceptualize this as something permanent and necessarily leading to death by a series of slow collapses to our living system. Two is that you witness "regeneration" as a living force in your system. I do find it interesting that this kind of tissue regeneration appears even in very late stages of aging, that new tissue can still seal a cut. The process may have slowed down, but it is still working almost to the very end. The body seems capable of a lot of repair. The body must be damaged a lot before it ceases to be able to repair itself. I think, too, when humans better understand better how certain lizards regenerate their tails that we will be able to understand how to regenerate our limbs. I think the learning will be about stem cells and also about why there is a high voltage bio-electric field are the edge of the tail regeneration process. There was a story I heard where an elderly man was near hit by a lightning bolt. He was far enough away to not get fried on the spot, close enough to get thrown by the blast, and far enough away to not get any broken bones. It seems he may have gotten a massive dose of ionized plasma. In the month or so after this experience, his gray hair turned brown again and he regrew a third set of teeth. Tesla lived past 90 years old and in his later years he had made a small TENS like machine which he gave himself a bio-electric treatment every day.
During dreamtime, I came to understand what this inner voice shared about the "twofold egolessness" of Primordial Consciousness. I found I could synthesize the insights of Nassim Haramein, a physicist and mystic who might be on the verge of completing the unified field theory of Einstein (the search for one equation that would show the inter-convertibility of all the forces of the universe). What is interesting is that he is not using algebra or calculus, but geometry to describe this inter-convertibility. I find this fascinating, because the Five Dhyani Buddha Mandala is an yantric geometric artform that might be intuiting the same thing. What is curious, too, is that Quantum physics reduced the forces down to four, vaguely similar to the four alchemical elements of earth, fire, air, and water. By adding a fifth element (ether or space), the four become inter-convertible and therefore unified. There are more levels, though, since yin and yang, cosmic male and cosmic female energy, form yabyum pairs within each element, each enlightenment family. The main enlightenment family that I work with has the Amitayus-Pandara yabyum with the element of fire. The male energy represents the inner principle and the female energy represents the living experience. There is a point in meditation when the entire mandala becomes alive and reveals something that feels like a living mathematical/geometric equation which seems fundamental to how everything in the universe actually works.
Avagosha in AFFIRMING FAITH IN MIND talked about "the pure thoughts of the luminous void". I found his text interesting, because he mentioned how the Buddha did attain physical immortality, attained "a body that could live out this entire aeon", but did a special tonglen, drawing in enough planetary karma into himself so that his physical body could die, and by transmuting the energy created a "storehouse of merit" that the Buddhist sangha could draw upon to help the enlightenment process of everyone involved as well as alleviating an enormous amount of human sorrow that would have otherwise been experienced. The 16th Karmapa may have done something similar during the last years of his life. Having scientist witness this process, they noticed that it seemed that one disease after another was arising and dissolving in his body, as if each one was in some sense being cured and then another one being taken on.
The death of the Buddha was not a usual death. The historical rumors were that he had died of eating poisoned pork. But Buddha was a vegetarian and near the end of his life he was mostly likely even vegan. He did eat some mushrooms that were called "Delight of Boar" and were well known in the region. His last meal seemed to be at a house where a mushroom collector had prepared a dish from them. These mushrooms are sometimes poisonous, but usually not poisonous. But it would be odd for only Buddha to have died of the same batch that others had also eaten. The name of the mushrooms must have confused some later historians and they may have assumed pork poisoning from it.
But the story that seems most correct to me is that the Buddha did a combination of tonglen and phowa (conscious intentional ejection of the individual principle of consciousness from the body) to release his body and "die". The reason why this seems to be so is that after the Buddha gives his last discourse and dialogue with his students, he does go into a meditative trance, and started intentionally releasing his body. Someone comes late to the gathering, apparently having come from a long way to see the Buddha one last time. The Buddha senses him and returns back into his body, re-animates it, and has a long discourse/dialogue with him, and once done returns back into his phowa process and does release his body.
By doing this, he demonstrated how to "die consciously". He fulfilled several purposes by doing this. One was to show a teaching about how to handle death should it happen. Two was the release his students into their own process so that they would no longer lean on him as a personal teacher. They needed to "find their own way on their own". Every teacher eventually must release his or her students to do this. There is a tremendous temptation to lean on an enlightened teacher. It happens for a thousand reasons. There is a deep love and intimacy that happens between teacher and students that is very nourishing and very healing. I think it reparents us and heals our inner child. Yet the final lesson is to "fly the nest" and become enlightened oneself. One can then return to the nest later on, but then one has changed and can love the teacher without attachment. The Buddha then created another physical body from the Quantum field and still teaches advanced bodhisattvas and dakinis to this very day. The Lotus Sutra is symbolic of the gatherings that one can attend to in dreamtime even now.
Although the dreamtime voice talked about a "twofold egolessness", there are really three. One of them is so very basic to Buddhist meditators that it was not touched upon by the voice, which only wanted to point to a more subtle distinction between two different kinds of advanced egolessnesses. For the sake of comprehensiveness, though, I am naming all of them:
(1) the egolessness or emptiness of the material universe and material bodies.
(2) the egolessness or emptiness of internal phenomena, of sensations, emotions, thoughts, intentions, memories, directed attention, impulses, drives, and reactions.
(3) the egolessness or emptiness of the individual radiant point which dwells in luminous emptiness.
Each category of egolessness is worth deeply feeling in meditation. The first one is to realize that everything that we experience outwardly is transitory, always changing, interdependent, subject to cause and effect, connected by karma, and never truly solid, permanent, or isolated from anything else. When we understand and feel this always, then a certain kind of sorrow and loneliness ends. We relax into being at home everywhere and anywhere. We realize that everything is unfolding perfectly, that even all the power possessing beings who seem to run the sometimes corrupt world of conventional disinformational politics, greedy corporations, drug cartels, and dogmatic angry religions, cannot violate the law of karma and can never be above the process of recipocal maintenance of the universe.
The second one goes deeper and this is where we see that what we thought to be our self is also not solid, permanent, and not even sentient. We learn to notice how all our thoughts do not have a self, all our emotions do not have a self, all our sensations do not have a self, all our impulses, reactions, memories, attention locks, and mental conditioning does not have a self. We learn to watch this internal tapestry of interconnected phenomena constantly unfold and change, and we see that there is no permanent abiding core of self identity that is integral to all these states. There is a paradoxical process where we reown what we had repressed and alienated, and then release it again consciously by noticing how there is not self within the phenomena. At one point in this process, we release our grip and our resistance to anything transitory, and relax into the eternal, the unborn, the unchanging, and undying. There is an experience of lucid clarity, thoughtless inner peace, and calm knowing. The material universe feels transparent and vivid when this happens. We realize that the imagined solidity of the material universe was something we projected. We also noticed that the universe is not merely physical but psychophysical, that it is constantly interacting and responding to our mental and emotional states.
What Nassim Haramein talked about is that our physical body emerges from a geometric field that has at its center a point sized micro-black-hole. This black hole is at the center of two tetrahedrons, one pointing down and rotating counterclockwise and one pointing up and rotating clockwise. This black hole driven geometry then produces a toroid vortex where the energy flowing up the spinal core is meant to flow upwards. This spinal core has seven basic sub-vortexes which are the chakras of Buddhist and Hindu energy yogas. The individual core of self identity, which is sometimes called the soul or atman, is a radiant point that resides where the heart is beating. It is really meant to be at the thymus gland behind the sternum, but it moved into where the heart beats out a kind of fear to directly meeting life as it is. It is like it is used to being one step removed from life experience. The fear of getting hurt makes us a little guarded with each other. Even in its current place, we can deeply interact with each other and feel depths of intimacy with each other, but it is still one step removed from a kind of deeply felt oneness with each other. Actually, two steps removed.
What I find interesting is that the radiant point aka black hole is mentioned in one Buddhist text authored by Longchenpa (I think). It is still considered one step short of full realization of egolessness/emptiness. It is still subject to the Madhyamika logic, this shows that any solid thing, like an empty point, is an illusion, that it is still interdependent, nonsubstantial, subject to causation, subject to karma, etc. At this point, it is like the particle/wave controversy in Quantum physics, where two rigorous empirical/logical thinking process arrived at quanta as particles and quanta as waves. Eventually the idea of a "wavicle" came up to unify those two lines of thought. The atman (self) versus anatta (no self) is a similar controversy and does unify in a similar way. I did find that I had to penetrate the radiant point itself and feel its emptiness and when I did there was an explosion into unity. I went from the 9th consciousness to the 10th through this. The radiant point both exists and does not exist. There is a curious phrase that it exists by "mental imputation", that the mind can label something like a "chair" and make a valid mental imputation (versus invalid one where you call a table by the mental imputation "a chair"). There is something similar going on with the luminous void, because it has "pure thoughts" within it and "we" are those pure thoughts. In other words, pure thought of a fundamental core individual identity is a kind of mental imputation that takes chunk of emptiness and labels it, and then gives it a kind of reality. The difference is that it is not part of our external conditioning, it comes from within, from the luminosity itself. In Jungian psychology, they would call the core individual identity an "archetype". It is what can say, "I AM" within us. When I was inquiring into this, I felt my breathing spontaneous move into a deeper and fuller breath that felt like it was breathing itself. I felt a kind of "empty self" that was relaxed into infinity and which included the physical body on the other side (which was feeling at peace with the injury process and is feeling better now). Everywhere was felt a warm feeling of Presence. Dogen Zenji seemed to describe this when he said, "The universe is a bright pearl (and there is nothing else but this).
I am quite sure that I will have refined my understanding later on about all this and put all this into clearer words. But I wanted to share something of what was actually contemplated as it flowed within me, what connections were being made, and what resulted.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
"From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me."For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. "Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. The Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid." And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead." And His disciples asked Him, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" And He answered and said, "Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist."
The above passage I have always found interesting. I have commented on this in my blog before. A friend of mine has read some material that suggested that the main image of Jesus is of an apocalyptic prophetic messiah. This is a view that both fundamentalist and liberal scholars seem to agree upon. The issue is that there is a verse embedded in this passage and in similar passages in the synoptic gospels that suggests that Jesus expected to return within the lifetime of the generation of people present around him. Fundamentalist scholarship kind of does a time stretch on this verse, like a day for god is like a thousand years, and skips over the literalness of "some of you standing here will not taste death". All the people of this time period, with the exception of possible humans who attained physical immortality, have long since passed on, and yet the "second coming of Jesus" has not yet happened. Liberals assume that Jesus made a prophetic mistake.
My own understanding is that there was a document called the Q document and that the Greek Matthew Gospel was compiled by some scholar and editor who synthesized the Q document with as Aramaic Matthew, and, quite probably, other documents. Later on, paragraph breaks were placed in the manuscript that would tell the narrative according to an orthodox Christian interpretation that was becoming dominant over time. But the dividing the narrative between chapter 16 and 17, I feel, was a mistake, that the answer to the "some of you standing here will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming into his kingdom" is present in the next chapter, in the event called in later Christian tradition by "the transfiguration". This is where Jesus turns his physical body into a light body. In New Age spirituality, this has been called a "light episode". It is an evolutionary forerunner to a state of being and consciousness that will eventually be more permanent to us. Life tends to not drop a new state of being upon us all at once. Everything in nature grows and evolves, step by step, and Jesus is no different.
He would often go up to the mountains to "pray". It is clear to me that this is a code word for a meditation process. Theistically oriented religions tend to use "prayer" rather than "meditation", but it is clear that they are similar. Jesus talks about going into an "inner closet" and to "not use many words". I do feel that it was a breathing process. One verse talks of "praying continually in the breath (pneuma)" and I Thessalonians 5:16-17 to "rejoice always, pray without ceasing". With the Aramaic word for god, "Abwoon" being a breathing mantra ("Ah" on the inhale and "Bwoon" on the exhale as a whisper chant riding the breath), there is a method that is described that is very quick and powerful to attain a result. Swami Yogananda felt that this verse did refer to something akin to Kriya Kundalini Pranayama, especially because it leads to "rejoicing always".
One book that I read talked about the desert mountains being bio-electrically charged, having lots of ionized plasma. This would explain the "burning bush" that Moses saw and why it would be wise to "take off sandals" (to ground oneself) and why the bush did not actually burn (being a plasma glow rather than a real fire). It would be ideal to absorb highly charged prana for evolutionary prayer, though any circumstance would work. The disciples ask Jesus how to pray. Conventional Christian and Jewish prayer has been mainly about throwing words up at god and they observe Jesus doing something different. It is likely that they noticed his breathing changing and his body undergoing first relaxation and then cellular change. It is clear that conventional prayer is not what he was doing and that whatever he did was visibly different. It is also clear that whatever he was doing needed some teaching to learn. Throwing up words to god does not really need any kind of educational process.
When the body of Jesus turns into light, he meets and talks with Moses and Elijah. It used to puzzle me why they would appear, but it seems that Moses used Egyptian Alchemy to attain his light body and that the "manna from heaven" was part of this process. Elijah used a "merkabah" meditation to do the same. Jesus is adding a third method using "the holy breath". This shows that Judaism has within itself valid transformational methods. The methods are a little esoteric and not commonly known, but they are represented in this meeting on the mount of transfiguration.
What the passage shows is that the "kingdom of god" is a kingdom of light. The "son of man" is the next mutation in the human species. The word "son" being the offspring of the present generation. It is a valid evolutionary term given the language of the time. There is no evolutionary biological science and terminology to reference and so it is a decent metaphor given the choices. Jesus shows the mutation to show it is not merely an idea, but something verifiable. It is a kind of science.
The fear that the disciples feel is understandable. It is a primate attachment to a solid world. When the entire physical world is seen as a creation from a cloud of luminous intelligent quantum energy it is usually a little terrifying. There is nothing to fear, but it is an unknown when the shift first happens. Even friends who have meditated for a while and who have felt a light episode or felt a higher being appear before them, fear sometimes arises. Part of meditation is learning to release this primate reflex. In the Heart Sutra of the Buddha, the teaching of "emptiness" is given. It has to do with opening up a Quantum vision of the universe, both outwardly and physically, and internally and psychologically. It has to do with seeing everything being nonsubstantial, nongraspable, and nonseparate.
From this view, the crucifixion of Jesus is a scientific process of showing how this quantum vision can overcome conventional death. It is why Saint Paul talks about the resurrection as being the key to Christianity. If the atonement theory is correct, then the crucifixion pays the price and the resurrection is less necessary. But if victory over death is key, then the resurrection is the key. The beauty of this kind of interpretation is that it becomes a scientific demonstration that the "holy breath" can heal everything. The event does not need to have any exotic interpretations involving angry gods, sin, wrath, and human sacrifices. Jesus has confidence in his prayer process, because of the transfiguration, and can envision surviving death itself. It would make sense if he was feeling the very cells of his body transform in this experience.
The phrase "come after me" is interesting in the above passage, because it suggests that we are meant to follow the mutation process, to crucify the old self and resurrect into a new being. It is also clear that the new being sees life differently, that ordinary human concerns are no longer relevant, especially the usual fear of death and how to guard one's life. Peter is rebuked for not understanding the immensity of what wants to happen. There is talk of "losing one's life to find it". The process of "losing" and "finding" is outlined in the example of Jesus who does lose his conventional life to find a resurrected one. In other words, the mutation process is pointed to in all these metaphors. In I Corinthians Chapter 15, there is a clear hint of cellular transformation. If you take in what has been shared above and look at the passage, you can see how I am feeling confirmed:
I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all. Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them? I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, LET US EAT AND DRINK, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE. Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals." Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God I speak this to your shame. But someone will say, "How are rthe dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL " The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, will also bear the image of the heavenly. Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.Behold I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."
The above passage is sometimes related to the second coming, but the context that I am sharing is a little different. There is a talk of some kind of cellular change (flesh). Different kinds of flesh differ in "glory" (energy, radiance). The ordinary physical body undergoes change from perishable to imperishable. It becomes a light (heavenly) body.
There are a lot of other passages I could quote that fit into this framework, like Jesus being "the first fruit of those raised from the dead" with the expectation of more to come and a mass mutation to the next evolutionary step ("the second coming"). What I would suggest is to try to go back to this time period and see what it would mean to try to speak of a quantum biological mutation in our species, beyond aging and death as we know it, that involves a breathing pranayama prayer. You do not have the language of evolutionary biology to draw from, no Quantum physics, and no biofeedback machines to register what the cellular change is about. You do the best that you can. You demonstrate the mutation in your own body, more than once. You do feel it is "soon" in biological time and geological time, because you feel this process working inside yourself and wanting to happen in others. But you do not know "the time or the hour" of the actual transformation. But you do predict that "some of you will not taste death" before they see you demonstrating "entering the kingdom" by turning your body into light.
I want to add one more point here which is beyond scholarship. The reason why I do feel that this interpretation is probably true is because my own body has undergone many light shifts. They have happened when I have been in meditation. They fit the teachings that I have discerned inside the New Testament, though much has come from Buddhism and Zen meditation. For instance, in meditation, "the holy breath" will call to remembrance everyone and anyone with whom we hold resentment towards. We are meant to forgive very deeply everyone until we truly learn to "love our enemies" and "resist not evil". This process is far deeper than I think people realize and is enough to create some light body shifts inside us. It burns away a massive amount of karma. It is why the "Lord's prayer" is so integral to transformation. It deeply emphasizes forgiveness as a karma eraser. Jesus also gives the evolutionary key to forgiveness in one of the lines he says from the cross, "Abwoon, forgive them for they know not what they do." This short verse has a lot of levels of meaning. It is the only verse in the entire Bible that explains "why forgive". It locates the cause of sin, not in willful disobedience, but in unconscious ignorance (like the Buddha). It also shows that the desire for vengeance is very strong in humans, so much that Jesus, who normally just forgives, must ask the holy breath to forgive for him. This is psychologically brilliant. What this means is that forgiveness realigns us with unconditional love, which does not need any wrath, sacrifice, and atonement to forgive anyone for anything. You simply release the condemnation. You see that people do not know what they are doing, that they are innocent and unconscious, and therefore can be accepted and forgiven. It fits with Jesus quoting the OT a few times and saying, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice". The phrase about forgiving unconscious ignorance, too, is something I meditator would need to know at a certain part of their process. Our own anger is crucifying us all the time and this is the way out.
In terms of scholarship, I do not have a massive stake in any view being right. What I can share is the Jesus the healer and light being is what I see and read in the verses. This Jesus has been a guide for me in my own process and I have found a lot of stories and passages very relevant to my own transformation, and that I have experienced light episodes a number of times, and even had a few of them witnessed by others. I can make them happen through intention to a certain extent, but I am not, as yet, masterful enough to simply surge my face like the sun as Jesus and Moses did. When I tried to show my right hand turning into light to a friend who needed a demonstration, I was successful, but I found I had a blood sugar crash shortly afterwards and needed to eat a lot of crackers to recover from it. There is a biological side to this process that I am understanding better over time. I do feel that it requires us to at least be vegetarian and that Jesus was vegetarian. He may have eaten some fish early in his process, but in his later process even this was probably abandoned. He does not eat the Passover Lamb and he opposes animal sacrifices happening in the temple. It seems that certain herbs and essential oils were helpful to his process.
To me, I can and do accept that the Bible is a kind of scrap book with lots of stuff. Some of it is inspirational and some of it has to do with tedious lists, historical records of wars, many contradictions between different human authors, and other things. I wish for scholarship to keep evolving and sorting all this out, to discern what is most reliable historically. But I wonder if something might be easier for a meditator to understand and put together. There is a Jesus who taught a wonderful level of love in the Sermon on the Mount and who seems to have undergone a wonderful mutation into a light being. I would like to feel that this has some historical accuracy behind the mish mash process of historical records, compilations, rewritings, and overlays.