Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A lama speaks in Charlottesville

Last evening we attended a free discussion with Tibetan lama and author, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.  It was held at the Unity Church five minutes from our house.  The session was broadcast over the internet and questions were asked by people in Texas, Brazil, Mexico, and Vietnam!  This is the second Buddhist that I have heard speak and both offered very common sense advice as to how to live life open to whatever comes your way.  This is a topic which many have committed a lifetime to, so my translation is how I understand it from stepping a teeny toe into it.  On the surface, it sounds as if this talk could be monotonous or too serious --- but there were some funny and enlightening moments for the local audience of an estimated 100 people.

Rinpoche discussed "Openness" and three essences - Phenomenon, Mind, and Sky.  All essences are forms of meditation to help you deal with anger, possessiveness, materialization, fixations, stress, or just "life".  First you have to realize "the issue", which is in reference to the essence of Phenomenon.  You need to relax and focus, shutting down half of your brain to rationality, fear, logic, language and open the other side of your mind to peace, quietness, beauty, and emptiness as a way to reduce pain, stress, and anxieties.   For example, when becoming anxious over a given event you first recognize the situation, then be aware of it from a place of stillness, silentness, and eventually discover the positives.  Stated best by Rinpoche, "When you feel a certain wind rising in you, then you can let it go with a breath... but if your mind chooses to reinforce it, then it becomes much harder to let go".

He said to substitute pain for openness.  He guarantees that within 10 minutes of silent thoughts, being physically still  - not guiding or labeling or analyzing the issue - allowing the mind to be clear and luminous - the pain will go away.  This is the essence of the Mind.  You have a choice to put the problem in the open space in your mind in order to get rid of it or let it stew and worsen basically.

I could relate the most to essence of the sky.  This is the ability to (for example) climb a tall mountain and gaze out at the sky all around you and absorb its boundlessness.  It's the power of open attention, simply gazing at the sky and appreciating and understanding its vastness and grandeur.  In this situation you relax and think of nothing, emptying the mind and only having a connection to the sky.  He mentioned taking a group to do just this and one person was looking around and fretting and could just not "get it" -- wanting "stuff" to happen (I guess a fireworks display at that moment would have been nice) to understand joy in the sky.  Personally I found this so sad, to not be able to find joy and calm in the vastness of the universe.

I'll end this post with a few statements from Rinpoche:

To experience true wisdom the three essences are one - the fortunate ones will realize this. 

True realization has nothing to do with circumstance.

True joy is "joy of being".

You must experience self as who you "are not" to understand who you are.

- Rebecca

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