General practice guidelines; outline of generic sequence for yidam/deity practice; emotional reactivity vs volitional action; earth dakini instructions, particularly loss of balance and internal stability; nature of “practice”
This morning we’re going to put most of our attention on earth dakini. Before we go there I want to talk a bit more on how we do these meditations. In the Tibetan tradition one of the principles techniques for practice is yidam practice or deity practice in which the usual approach is that you visualize your form as the deity whether it’s Tara or Avalokiteshvara, Chenrezig or Vajrayogini, or you know and there are literally hundreds of deities. Then when you can visualize the form clearly then you invest the form with meaning. So that with Avalokiteshvara for instance the four arms are the four immeasurables. And then the white color of Chenrezig’s form symbolizes purity. The deer skin he has over his shoulders symbolizes the softness of compassion and so forth.
So every aspect of the form has a symbolic meaning. And then you have the form and the form invested with meaning. Then you identify with the form so that you now feel you are the embodiment of awakened compassion and, with this very rich symbolic expression. And one makes this as vivid as possible in ones experience. And this works very, very well for some people. A very powerful technique.
And basically what one’s doing is shifting the basis of identification away from our ordinary conditioned sense of who we are to identifying as being the embodiment of awakened compassion and one does this by imagining this form and investing it with meanings associated with awakened compassion.
At the same time, in these deity practices, one’s enacting a drama. And the drama is a condensed version of one’s whole life. One is born, grows up as the deity, takes ones place in the world as the deity, and does what deities do, which is to work for the welfare of all sentient beings in different ways. It can be bashing demons or enlightening the world, or saving the world if you’re Tara and so forth. But you do what that particular expression of awakened mind does. At the end of that you die and then you come back into this life which from the Tibetan point of view, from the perspective of deity practice, our ordinary life is regarded as the bardo the time between death and birth. Now we’re not going to be doing any of that. That’s just a little bit of background.
We are going to make use—in symbolic forms—and I spoke a bit about this yesterday. In which one imagines—well let me back up a bit. There are various ways of working with deities. More advanced methods, as I just described, you imagine that you are the deity. The more elementary methods, you form a relationship with the deity by imagining the deity in front of you. And basically that’s where we’re going to be starting with our work with the dakinis.
And this isn’t really full blown deity practice as in the Tibetan tradition. But is borrowing from these techniques or making use of these techniques, in a way to enact a drama. And the drama here is a very, very specific process which we go through in transforming reactive processes into expressions of awake mind or pristine awareness.
And we’re going to be using the symbolic representations because they speak to us in terms of imagery and emotion directly rather than simply through a conceptual framework. And in that way we take in things more deeply. And in the exercises we’re also going to work these through the body. So you can actually feel them through the body. So we’re going to be working at all three levels: conceptual, emotional, and physical.
And the way the practices work is that we begin by imagining the dakini, in this case we’re going to be working with the earth dakini. And the first step in that is to feel what it’s like to be in the presence of this embodiment of balanced pristine awareness or sameness pristine awareness.
What’s it like to be in the presence of that? Imagine her as a woman, age isn’t particularly important. Dakinis are usually described as being 16 year-old women, in full flower of their youth. But whatever her age, this woman is in the colors of earth, which for our purposes are the colors of fall, the colors of the harvest. A sense of the natural richness of the earth. So gold, and russets and reds. She is clothed in however you want to visualize her.
But when you imagine her in front of you, you feel you’re in the presence of someone and the presence is sufficiently strong that it may be a little bit intimidating. Maybe it’s very intimidating. Here’s a person who embodies the stability of earth. So you have that feeling that you’re not going to be able to disturb her very easily. She’s really, really there.
Now right here, we’re dealing with our own mind. Probably some of you, in the course of your meditation, have encountered a quality of mind, maybe frequently, maybe just fleetingly, in which there is an extraordinary stability. A stability that’s based on an internal balance it doesn’t require any kind of external referent, it is just there. It’s that aspect of your mind, of your own potential for relating to the experience that you’re imagining in front of you.
And when we encounter that, on the one hand it feels like a tremendous relief. It’s like, “Oh, I could really be here.” On the other hand it can be a little intimidating. Because there is such stability, you’re not quite sure who you’d be. You know, all of your usual petty concerns and reactions like they’d have no place to land there. So because that’s a little difficult for us to connect with inside, we’re actually putting this in front of us as a symbolic form. But that’s the sense that you have okay. What’s it like to actually encounter that stability, that balance?
And there’s another quality here too, which goes with balanced pristine awareness. There’s absolutely no judgment. Now how many of you who’ve had an experience of being with someone and you know that they were not judging you in any way? At the same time there’s a quality of relief. There’s also a little bit of anxiety. I’ve got to be able to do something; something that’s going to upset them. [Chuckles] You don’t know how to connect with them. They’re just totally there.
So in encountering the dakini this way, it can have both aspects to it. And one of, “Wow,” and the other is “Uh-Oh!” And which of those you’re going to experience more is going to be entirely up to you. Some of you may be very much on the “Ahhh,” or the “Wow!” side and the others will be just like, “I’m not sure I can handle this,” side. But I’ll leave that up to you. We can discuss that in our individual interviews or you can bring it up as questions.
And then, one of the key things, and I was struck by some of the comments yesterday when we were opening the retreat. Ahhh, I think someone says, “I’m here because so and so said I had to come.” Well in such a statement there’s a wonderful deflection of responsibility. And we generally feel that we’re passive—to a certain extent passive—participants in our lives. And things happen to us and things make us do things that we may or may not want to do.
A favorite example is a mother who’s struggling with a child in the supermarket, and the child does something unpredictable and causes a big scene, and the mother just explodes with rage and she says to the child, “See what you made me do.” [Chuckles] And it’s never the case, but this is how we relate to things: “See what you made me do.” No. Everything we do, everything we do, comes either because a reactive pattern has taken over and we’re doing it, or because we decide to. And taking that responsibility is very, very important.
And I know all of you know this intellectually, but I pay very close attention to the use of language. Because the use of language tells what the internal postures are. The words and the grammar are very, very real and revealing about how things are configured inside. You need some explanation on that? Well, you just….
Student: You mean I should think of this…
Student: You mean I should think these things?
Ken: No, no, when I hear people talking, and they say, somebody says “Well, so and so made me do this.” I know that internally They’re configured in a somewhat passive way. And I’ll usually poke them about that. Because one of the key points in spiritual practice is that we’re becoming active agents in our lives. And that is how we come to have a different relationship with patterned behavior. Is that, I mean I like the saying, you know when you run into a pattern, your realize, “This town’s not big enough for the two of us.” [Laughter] And so something’s going to have to be worked out. Most of the time we just let the patterns run roughshod over us and pick up the pieces afterwards.
Where this element, this aspect is reflected in the dakini practice is, there’s the dakini in front of you and nothing happens until you’ll ask for something to happen. And you have to make some indication to her that you are interested in transforming this particular reactive chain yourself. That is, you have to connect with your own volition and act on it. Otherwise she’ll just sit there in front of you or stand there in front of you. The two of you will look at each other for half an hour. Which could be useful in its own way.
So you make some gesture, verbal, physical or something, saying that you want to experience this transformation, and then she steps forward. And in her left hand she holds a vase, or some kind of receptacle, which is filled with liquid light which symbolizes pristine awareness. And she pours this over you. And so your whole being is flooded with this liquid light. And you imagine this liquid light coming into your body. And as it comes into the body it comes down, right down to the earth center which is situated four—it’s same as the dantien—four fingers below the navel, a couple of inches in front of the spine. But as the liquid light, this elixir comes into you, you become aware of all the rigidity in your being.
You don’t need to take notes, this is all in the book. Some people I guess learn things while writing. I’m just putting it out there for what it’s worth. And, now if you notice when you’re rigid. For instance if you recall something over the past week where you were rigid. Can any of you think of anything like that? Okay, check.
Okay. Just go back to that feeling of being rigid. And let your attention go beneath the rigidity. What do you find there?
Most of the time, and actually I’d probably say all of the time, you find that that rigidity is kind of a hardness which is covering a sense of hollowness or uncertainty. And that’s why you’re rigid because inside there’s this uncertainty. If you’re really confident about something you’d never get rigid. You always stay very relaxed. But it is that little lack of confidence which causes you to clamp down. “I’m not sure it should be this way,” so you clamp down. You become rigid.
Now if you go a little bit further than that, you get in touch with an internal feeling that things are actually pretty unsteady inside. The ground is shaking and this is the earthquake and you’re not sure if you’re going to keep your footing, or you’re going to keep your balance. And there’s a very definite fear here.
Now in the ordinary course of our lives this stuff usually goes by so quickly we don’t even notice it. And what we’re doing in this practice is actually slowing the whole process down so we actually feel each component of this.
And I think if you review situations in which you react rigidly—you just dug your heels in and became very stubborn and stiff. You’ll see that there’s an underlying fear of losing your position or losing your balance. And that’s what’s provoking you actually.
So here I’ve described the movement from form which is this rigidity and stiffness. To emptiness, which is this open space when it feels like the ground is shaking, in which there’s a fear. A fear of losing balance.
Now when we hit that fear, it’s very predictable. What happens?
You know if you stand somebody on a table or something like that and then you start shaking the table that’s like the ground is shaking. What’s the first thing that a person does? They grab something, just like that. That’s what we do. That’s the reflex reaction. And so we grab anything in order to keep our balance
Now, once we grab that thing and because we think I need this to hold onto my balance, now we hold on to it. And then something very interesting happens. We’re holding onto this so tightly, like this. We can’t move. We’re stuck. We’re in imprisoned. And you see this in people all the time. That they are so, holding so tightly to certain principles or certain ideals or certain aspects of their life that there’s no flexibility there and they themselves are imprisoned by their perspective. So that describes the movement from emptiness to form.
And the reaction chain is, it just cycles around and around and around. We become rigid as a reaction to fear. We grab something. It imprisons us. And because it imprisons us we become very, very inflexible. And any kind of movement puts us in touch with the underlying shakiness again, and so it just keeps cycling around becomes more and more intense.
So this is what we become aware of. And as we identify each component of that reaction chain, we include all of them so we can experience the whole thing happening in us. And that’s the result of the increased level of attention, which comes because of the liquid awareness that’s been poured into us.
Now the next part is, we imagine light radiating from that, the earth center. And this is the light of awareness, it’s very intense. You can imagine it having a rich yellowish golden hue if you wish. And that light is so bright, so intense that all of the components of that reaction chain dissolve into light themselves. And now you’re free. You don’t have to hold on to anything. You don’t have to puff yourself up. You don’t have to dig your heels in.
And the dissolution into light or into energy of the reaction chain opens up other possibilities. The first thing it opens up is that whatever arises in experience is just experience. No good, no bad. It’s just what it is. That’s kind of interesting.
Another thing that it opens up is a sense of internal stability that doesn’t need an external stabilizing factor. “Oh, I can just rest in my experience right here. I don’t have to grab on to anything.” You might say, it’s the stability of groundlessness. I was trained for it in English but there it is. And that possibility is symbolized as a jewel. So you imagine this jewel, this gold jewel, deep yellow jewel, forming at the earth center. And it’s a symbol for that internal stability that doesn’t require any external support. And you just rest with that sense.
And you may find within that experience the possibility of just experiencing things as they are, without judging. Everything. And that’s in the direction of balanced pristine awareness.
Now you imagine light radiating from your heart and inviting all of the earth dakinis, from every aspect of experience. So you imagine from the sky, from the ground, and from everything, just hordes and hordes of them. And they’re exactly like the one you started with, the one that’s still standing in front of you. And this is like connecting with the earth energy in the totality of our experience. And they all come, and all of them pour elixir into you. And your whole body is filled with this elixir. And becomes shining and bright and then all of the dakinis themselves dissolve into you. So you’re filled with all this energy. And you just rest there.
And see what that’s like.
So that’s the practice we’re going to do. Now I’m going to walk you through the practice. You’ve been sitting here listening to it. Some of you have been taking notes. Before we do that, I want to take up any questions. Karen.
Karen: There’s two things going on in my mind. One is over the years we see various forms of the power of positive thinking. Now we have The Secret, you know book, that a lot of us think…there’s always something new.
Ken: Oh The Secret, yes. [Chuckling]
Karen: Well, lets say the power of positive thinking on the one hand. And then I’ve been to your teachings, and the experience, you know life, I don’t know how, you know how to say it.
Ken: The power of negative thinking? [Laughter]
Karen: No, no. That life is just experiencing, you know, your just sort of let go with all your business.
Karen: So, what you’re saying, sort of reminds me of some of the power of positive…excuse me for saying this…sounds like the power of positive thinking. [Chuckles] I’m saying this must be different—this imagining the deity. So how is what we’re doing different from the world of positive thinking and all of its outlets?
Ken: How is what we’re doing different from the power of positive thinking?
Karen: I know of course I know it is but I just wanted that sort of….
Ken: Clarified. I’m going to have to push you a little bit. Why do you want this clarified?.
Karen: Well it kind of nags me because when I read your book, and what it stands for I sort of put aside that—somehow or other I thought that the power of positive thinking and all those constructs should be put aside. [Chuckles] And I come now and I’m starting—well it sounds like some of the same, and the question was, why am I asking this question?
Ken: Why do you want it clarified?
Karen: Because I want to feel that what we’re doing you know—I’m trying to separate with how it’s different.
Ken: Yeah, why is that important for you?
Karen: Because I want more confidence in the situation. Not just confidence, but that it’s, that it’s not just, in terms of what we’re doing—
Ken: That it’s different?
Ken: That it’s different. And what if I said to you, for instance—I’m sorry I have to push you on this. Ah, what if I said “Oh it’s just the same. [Laughter]
Karen: I mean, this is the path I’m heading on and I can’t imagine it’s another version of The Secret! [Laughter]
Ken: Why not? I mean that would be disappointing in some way right? There would be a problem there?
Ken: There would be a problem if I said, ”Oh it’s just the same.“
Karen: Oh no, maybe it’s good because I can see the truth in some of those things so this is just another, not another Secret. [Laughter] So it’s okay I guess if there’s a similarity.
Ken: That’s not where you started from. You wanted assurance that it wasn’t some other….
Karen: I was kind of concerned that…[Chuckles]
Ken: That’s what I’m trying to get at here. What’s the concern?
Karen: That I don’t understand the difference?
Ken: Why is it important to understand that there is a difference? Or why is it important that there be a difference?
Karen: I’m just totally just [unclear]…I think I’ve had enough.
Ken: Yeah well, you’re already firmly trapped in this. You’re in a ten foot hole. You can either keep digging or you can own up to where you are. [Laughter] It’s about being different, isn’t it?
Karen: It’s about being different?
Ken: Hmm, that’s why this is important for you. It’s not just The Secret, it’s not just positive thinking, there’s something special here.
Ken: “Yeah,” she says cautiously. [Laughter] Okay. It’s earth reaction. Because another aspect of the earth reaction is giving up specialness, little bit of pride. Now to my mind, there is a difference, and I’m going to go into that. But what I wanted to point out: there’s that component of “doing something special.” And if I say, “Oh, it’s just the same as everything else.” Well, it’s just like that earthquake isn’t it? Now you don’t know where your footing is. “I thought I was on firm ground going somewhere special.“ Maybe I’m being a little unkind, but do you see my point?
Ken: That’s how quickly these reactions come up. They’re all over the place. I’m not an expert on the power of positive thinking. [Laughter]
You guys were a little slow on that! [Laughter] But I would have expected something much faster from Diane and Jeremy on that one. [Laughter]
Jeremy: That’s an understatement. [Laughter]
Ken: You couldn’t believe that I said that.
Jeremy: Yeah I… [Laughter]
Ken: Unexpected, why it is guffaws and laughter to it instantaneously?
The power of positive thinking is, in many cases, based on a kind of naive materialism. A combination of naive materialism and naive idealism. And it’s to some extent based on magical thinking. That if I think things are this way then I can make them that way. Now there is truth in that, but there’s also a great deal of confusion in that. What we’re doing here is we aren’t trying to make things a certain way. We’re not actually trying to manipulate or control our experience. Again, there is a lot of that in the power of positive thinking and in The Secret. Make the world what you want it to be.
In this approach we find that there are ways that we react to experience which limit both what we experience and what we can do. And our interest is in dismantling those restrictions. And then what becomes possible becomes possible. It’s not about manipulating, or controlling or manufacturing some kind of experience but about removing what is actually getting in the way. That’s, that’s a somewhat different approach than the power of positive thinking. And it also avoids the naïve idealism that you can just create your life as you wish.
We’re very fortunate in this culture to have a great deal of opportunity to influence the way our lives—but in other cultures people just don’t have those opportunities. You’re born the son of a shoemaker and you are a shoemaker and that’s that.
In the power of positive thinking, if something bad is happening to you then you’re doing something wrong. That’s a kind of underlying assumption. If you have cancer why are you choosing to have cancer? Well most people don’t actually choose to have cancer. And so I’ve come across instances where people, because they were not able to influence the course of actual events by the power of positive thinking, they end up feeling like a failure. Particularly in the light of many devastating personal situations such as terminal illnesses, or loss of relationships, and things like that. I just think that’s a totally inhuman way to present the world or view the world, because we do not control what we experience. We simply don’t. What we can do is change how we experience things, but none of us can control what actually happens to us.
My favorite cartoon on that subject is one of Gahan Wilson’s. It shows this middle aged woman surrounded by a few onlookers looking at this hat on the ground on which there sits a meteorite. [Chuckles] And the caption is, ”Harry always felt it’s fun to get it from a meteorite.“ [Laughter]
So, you know things happen. [Laughter] I love that cartoon. So….
Student: That would be in character.
Ken: Pardon? That would be in character, thank you.
Student: That would be in character. [Laughter]
Ken: He has a very, very dim view of me. [Laughter]
Student: That’s why you’re such good friends. [Laughter] That would be in character. [Laughter]
Ken: So does that answer your question? Ahh, you have another step to take. Please take it.
Karen: Well I guess I was referring to the energy of the deities.
Karen: And the action, the interaction between us and the deity. So that’s not doing, imaging things. Well, it is imagining things.
Ken: Yes. The overlap here with positive thinking is that by imagining this process we’re familiarizing and going through this in the practice. We are creating the possibility of actually doing things a different way. And there’s some ways—for instance you have a lot of athletes, like an MBA player. An astonishing number of MBA players when they’re asked, ”How can you shoot so accurately?“ Is that when they’re taking their shot they actually visualize a tube starting from where they are and ending in the basket, and all they’re doing is putting the ball in the tube. And it just follows and goes into the basket. So, by thinking and feeling in certain ways we shift energy from reactive processes into more constructive processes, and so we create possibilities. There, there is an overlap with positive thinking. But as I said earlier it’s avoiding the naivety of what I see in a lot of positive thinking. “If I do this, then this will happen.“ It’s a very naive sense of causation. We don’t know actually what’s going to happen.
Everybody here will have a different experience at this conference. And it’s going to bring them in touch with different elements of internal material. So it’s not like it’s going to produce a uniformly good result. Some are probably going to be quite upset about what they encounter, some quite relieved by what they encounter. Some will sense possibilities. Others will—like Pat’s experience—will feel like this is all very confusing. ”I don’t understand how to work things.“
Ken: But each of these things puts us in touch with another level of experience. And so what we’re working through, rather than trying to manufacture a result, we’re using these methods to move deeper and deeper into our experience. And by becoming aware of first and then developing the capacity we’re able to let go of that stuff which ordinarily clouds and confuses us. And then more and more things become possible.
Whereas my understanding of positive thinking is you visualize a certain result and try to make that happen. That’s not the approach.
Student: You know the goal of intention seems to be a noble act.
Ken: Why don’t you elaborate on that.
Student: Well I was going to ask you but you know you just said to shift energy from reactive to a more intentional practice. But that’s another part of why..the whole psychology, you know, setting what your intention.
Student: But and that seems to be an overlap, but well that seems—there’s that sort of a limit in terms of what that intention can imagine.
Ken: What in positive thinking, or in this?
Student: In positive.
Ken: Well the power of intention is very important so you’re quite right. And as I said I’m not an expert in all of the different systems of positive thinking. But what I find frequently is that actually you get into a whole earth cycle reaction of positive thinking if the people think, ”If I just think this hard enough I can make it happen.” Meanwhile they’re ignoring and not paying attention to all the stuff that’s coming up and that’s getting in the way of whatever they want. They just keep doing this one thing and trying to make it happen through that. You follow?
Ken: Whereas the purpose of this practice isn’t to generate a specific result, it’s to remove what gets in the way. And so the emphasis is somewhat different.
Pandit: Would it be fair to say that in, you know, positive thinking—that type of method—what’s enacted in revision are situations that continually re-entrench the split between subject and object—between experience and what we experience—and dakini practice is essentially the opposite?
Ken: Yeah, I think this is a very important point. I’m just repeating the questions here because we haven’t got our recorder working properly yet so I want to make sure the questions get on. That the power of positive thinking tends to reinforce the subject-object duality. And the dakini practice is aimed at resolving it. That’s very, very true.
As I said earlier, what you’re visualizing in front of you is your own mind in this particular form. And what you’re working with is the processes of your own mind, which we regard as something other. But by moving into this intimate relationship with them and then actually dissolving them into light…to be clear, returning them to what they actually are, which is just energy. And we ourselves are the movement of energy. And that’s why we end up just resting in our experience. That’s where the practice ends up. So there’s no sense of separation.
Whereas in terms of what Ryan was saying and what you were saying earlier Mary, the idea of positive thinking is that I can act on the world through the power of thinking. And that’s why I say it’s somewhat naive. Okay, that clarify things?
Ken: Okay good.
[Talks about time left]
Okay, we’re going to do the practice now. A little more quickly than I intended and we’ll go through it. So in these practices, well, I’m just going to walk you through this now so if you want to sit as if you were meditating. That would be helpful.
Student: Sit as if we’re meditating.
So just take a few moments, let the attention rest. And after your mind and body are somewhat settled, then rest in the sense that everything you experience, including your own body, is like a dream, like a rainbow. That is, everything appears vividly, but nothing has any actual substance to it, particularly your own body. Normally we associate solidity with body but now we’re going to feel, imagine that it is simply an appearance, like a rainbow, like a dream.
And then imagine in front of you this woman, who has a compelling presence. She is clothed in the colors of autumn, and through her appearance, her demeanor everything about her, bespeaks a richness, the nourishing, supportive, stable, present quality of earth. You look into her eyes. And she looks right into yours. You find yourself in the presence of someone of awesome, perhaps even intimidating presence. Someone who looks at you and knows you completely. And has no judgment whatsoever.
And you see that in her left hand she holds a flask of gold. And you form the intention to transform the earth reaction in you. And you make some indication, some gesture to her, that you want to enter this transformation. And she responds by stepping forward, stepping towards you. Raising the flask and she pours it over your head. The contents and the contents are liquid light. And it pours into your body coming down the center of your body filling your body with light right down to the earth center, which is four fingers below your navel, a couple of inches in front of your spine. And you feel the elixir, liquid light, collecting there. And as it does you become aware of rigidity, wherever it is, in your life and in your being.
And in that rigidity, underneath that rigidity, you can sense a hollowness of uncertainty. You’re not quite sure. But because you can’t admit that you are not quite sure, you harden, become stiff. And under that uncertainty, the ground feels a little shaky. It’s like you’ve stepped onto quicksand, or an unstable rock. You’re losing your balance and there’s a fear there. Fear of losing your balance, falling down. And you react to that fear very quickly by grasping at something, at anything, to hold on to. And you hold on to it for dear life. And then you notice, that the rigidity and tension in your holding, its locked you down, its imprisoned you.
And now the reaction starts again. You can feel that uncertainty. And you go through the whole cycle again. Feeling each component. And in all of this there’s a kind of specialness, that by holding onto this, whatever you’re holding onto, you are in someway special, so there’s that notion of pride.
Now you imagine light radiating from the earth center, illuminating every aspect of your experience and in particular every component in this chain of reaction. You don’t try to change any of the components. You just let each of them become really, really vivid in your experience. They become brighter and brighter, and you’re right in them, feeling everyone and they become so bright that they themselves become light. And now you just experience the energy there.
And now a strange thing happens. You are resting in a field of energy. And you discover the possibility of resting without ground. There’s a sense of internal stability that needs no external referent or support.
So just rest there and breathe a little. And as a reflection of that transformation, the jewel forms irescent, rich deep yellow in color, It reflects everything equally.
And resting without ground, now let your awareness encompass different aspects of your experience. Things you formerly took as good or bad, right or wrong, important, unimportant, and you find you can just be with everything you experience, without judgment, perhaps even without prejudice or pride. Things are just what they are.
So with this stability, with this freedom from judgment, there’s a different sense of energy in your system. You no longer have to control or hold things to be a certain way. Resting in that experience, let light shine from your heart in all directions. And imagine inviting the earth dakini, in all her different manifestations, in every aspect of your life. And that awakened quality of earth manifests as hundreds of thousands of earth dakinis, who all pour their elixir of awareness into you so your whole being is filled with the elixir of awareness. Your body becomes a body of light, all the dakinis dissolve into you, including the one you originally visualized in front.
And now you just rest in that field of light.
And when you’re ready, form the intention to be here in this room. And then if your eyes have been closed you open them in front and you’re here, but that sense of the lights remains with you. Okay. Is this clear? Any questions?
Robin: You said that the rigidity thing totally activated [unclear] that you can imagine actual situations as a prompt.
Ken: You can, yeah.
Robin: You can. Well it makes it really concrete.
Ken. If it helps, yeah.
Ken: That’s it.
Robin: That’s it.
Ken: Okay. Any other questions?
Scott: The instruction to shine light on the chains of the reactions.
Scott: Shining light on something for me suggests [chuckles] that there’s something concrete there, that it’s shining on. The chains seem more of a process so I’m just struggling with that image.
Ken: Can you feel the chains in you? Or the components of the chains? Can you feel the rigidity, the hollowness, the fear, the grasping, the holding?
Ken: Okay, can you feel them right now.
Ken: Now imagine that they are filled with light. Okay, do that. What happens?
Scott: A sense of dissolution, opening.
Ken: Good, thank you.
Peter: Yeah, I didn’t get interior swept away rather than picking up a whole new [unclear], and also sometimes I’d fall, get sleepy as you were giving the instructions. Are all the instructions in the book?
Ken: Yes the sequence that I just described is in the Chapter 6. And all of those are ways that the attention, the falling out of attention, this way reactive patterns are shutting the process down. So you work with it.
That’s why it’s called a practice.You keep trying. It’s very important to distinguish between a practice and a task.. A task you can succeed or fail. This is a practice, you can’t fail at it, you just keep doing it. That’s why we call it practice. It’s not about success and failure.
Ryan: I was wondering as well, you know, even though your instruction is very clear and you know it was easy not to follow it but I was at gunpoint, old entanglements, and obviously [unclear].
Ryan: Should I spend time with those items by what it is, or just let it go, return back to…?
Ken: No, just work the sequence. The things that are taking off are just stuff. So, here you’ll see this is pretty well all you need in front of you, because if you read straight across here you’ll see that everything’s there. So if you look at the earth dakini you’ll see that, first its location at the earth center. Then there’s the inflexible rigidity, the underlying feeling of hollowness or uncertainty. Then the instability, earthquake, the grasping and then the imprisonment that comes from the holding. Then you let all of that be imbued with lights so it dissolves into light. The jewel appears, the sense of stability and pristine awareness.
Ryan: As simple as that?
Ken: As simple as that. [Laughter]
Ryan: So I can leave now! [Laughter]
Ken: That’s up to you. [Laughter]
Student: Well if it is the end, then we’ll leave.
Ken: Okay. Now you’re learning something new. It takes energy to learn. So the sleepiness, dullness, spacing out, getting distracted, that’s all part of it. And we’re in a rather, in a relatively compressed time. So there’s going to be a sense probably for the first two or three days of this retreat quite a lot of struggle. So we’re going to do each of these dakinis in the next five periods of meditation so I want to get them. Rather than doing one day on each because there’s some other things that I want to do with them at the end or I want to leave some time for.
So this is very, very much learning and if you, by the end of this retreat, have a sense of how to do these meditations and some flavor of the experience of them, that’s going to be, that’s the result that we’re aiming for. You’re not going to master these experiences in this short period of time. Most people will spend anywhere from two weeks to a month on each of the dakinis. And so my aim here is to make sure that you have the experiential, both the theoretical and experiential knowledge to be able to practice this. Okay?
Ken: Good. Other questions? We’re a little bit late here. Okay. Let’s close here then and we’ll take a ten minute break and meet back here….