Good morning everyone. So this morning we did a session of shamatha as a way of reminding ourselves that without the foundation of stable calm attention, simply learning produces a lot of mental excitement. It is very easy to lose calmness, awareness, effect on environment. We are trying to balance a lot of material, learning history, including history not by practitioners. Who were the ancestors? What did they teach? How were they preserved? How is all that integrated? hear, contemplate, and integrate by taking that knowledge in in non-conceptual space of awareness. That becomes power when it is part of your mindstream. Shamatha–vipashyna is the bridge.
Just like that beautiful stupa in the slideshow, we know stupa has symbolism – bhumis at the spire. Can’t have that without the foundation. You need shamatha for stability and vipashyna for wisdom. [First, practice the] Four Foundations of Mindfulness, to see experience as non-substantial yet apparent. Then, practice the 4 Limitless Ones to build compassion. Then, practice the Vajrayana, [to] let it manifest, seeing things as they are. Instead of waiting for things to be perfect, which is the samsaric approach, we are seeing them as perfect, which is Vajrayana approach.
Good Afternoon! It’s wonderful to have a talk on the Mahayana be so anticipated. (laughter) the plot thickens.
There are so many ways to think about how to present this material, which is the whole path. We are trying to answer fundamental questions, such as “who are these people!?” (in the long seven-branch offering we have been reading every morning.) For many pages, there are a lot of names. Occasionally, we recognize a name or place. “Who are these people, what is there story, what were their contributions to dharma, how is what they taught transmitted now?” Finally, “what are the pith essence teachings, how do we hold them, and how will they affect us in this time and place?”
Today, we are continuing down the river of lineage, the exciting important development based on 1st teaching, which then came to Tibet, and then to us as practitioners. But first, we wanted to share a deep practitioners’ perspective of this morning. Sharing a timeline which will be the basis of going forward. We said in beginning we would attempt to present the highlights of 1200 years in 5 days, which is laughable. Even the last 50 years would take a week. For reference, on the chart in Deki Gyatsal (a timeline of world history from 3000 B.C. to the present day), we are on the first line of the timeline- still at the orange dot of Buddha. This was the time between Buddha’s enlightenment, and the story of Buddha’s death. Nothing was written for a couple hundred years. The Mahaparanirvana sutra contains elements of the first and second wheel turnings. The point is not to go into which is right, or conspiracy theory. It’s a flowing lineage, flowing manifesting depending on river bends. Depends on trickle, flood, muddy, etc. Us receiving this is a river bend. Continue reading