SBI Study Group April 30, 2011
“Genuine Happiness” (notes based on teachings given by Dr. B. Alan Wallace)
First Meditation Session: Shamatha Medley into Open Presence
PART IV: Exploring the Nature of Consciousness
Review Chapter 13, “Nighttime Dream Yoga”
1. Fall asleep in sleeping lion posture and practice either of three modes of shamatha: focusing on tactile sensations in full body awareness OR resting awareness in domain of mental perception as in settling the mind in the natural state OR resting awareness in itself without reference to any object, in the primordial knowledge of simply being aware.
2. When you first wake up, don’t move, and reflect on dream just experienced
a) who was I (myself or another, gender, species)?
b) what was I doing?
c) what was the environment, where was I?
d) who did I engage with—human/non-human/animal?
e) what was the emotional feeling of the dream—bored, happy, sad, fearful, sensual?
f) review the journal before sleeping to assist recognizing dream signs
a) ordinary dream signs—recurring person or activity
b) anomalous dream sign—weird or strange occurrence but not impossible, or having an emotional response that is too weak or strong for the content of the dream
c) outrageous dream sign—totally outrageous and not possible in waking
5. During waking, create a habit of cultivating a critically reflective attitude, do a state
check whenever an anomaly occurs, and critically analyze the reality of the waking state—
this is the key difference between “lucid dreaming” and “dream yoga”. The latter cultivates
wisdom awareness, or insight into the true empty nature of reality. Make a habit during the
day to ask yourself if you are dreaming, mindfully not forgetting what we intuit (as
our working hypothesis) to be primordially true.
6. Actively cultivate prospective memory—task of remembering something in the future, i.e.
when this happens (a dream sign) I will recognize it and I will do a particular action , like
jump up and down OR saying, “tonight when I dream, I will know that I am dreaming.”
7. Visualization from Tibetan Buddhism as we fall asleep: 1) red bindu at throat charkra, or blue
bindu at heart charkas, with or without seed syllables; 2) deity visualization
1. Recognizing the dream and sustaining lucidity. If lucidity starts to fade, fill awareness with
stimuli—spinning, giving yourself a rubdown, etc.
2. Transforming the dream—become a shape shifter, i.e. old into young, this into that, one into
many, small into large, etc. and recognize the gradient of objective and subjective reification that resists change.
3. Seeing through the dream—dredging the substrate consciousness, negative habitual propensities bound to arise, and as they do, recognize their empty nature and with no fear, relax and release identification with dream body and allow the “negativity” to be experienced lucidly.
4. lucid dreamless sleep—release dreaming completely and simply be aware of being aware while body is sound asleep, resting in awareness itself.
Chapter 14, “The Great Perfection” – establishing the view of apprehending reality
To realize the latter, must recognize empty nature of all samsara and nirvana and perceive appearances as displays of rigpa. To access substrate, you withdraw the mind into its individual ground in shamatha; to access rigpa, you open awareness to the “one taste” of all phenomena in open presence.
Second Meditation Session: Awareness of Awareness into Open Presence
Dedicate Merit with traditional Prayer of Dedication:
“Wherever the precious, supreme spirit of awakening, bodhichitta, has not arisen,
may it arise,
And where it has arisen, may it never decline, but grow stronger and stronger.”
May what we have studied and practiced here today be of genuine benefit,
May we each realize the fulfillment of our most meaningful aspirations for the sake of our own enlightenment and for the enlightenment of all sentient beings, and
May all beings be well and happy.
Next SBI Study Group is Saturday, May 28th, and suggested reading is Part IV, Chapter 14 , The Great Perfection, pp. 197-215. All are invited to join weekly meditation practice at Unity Church Sanctuary every Monday evening, 7-8:15 p.m , 227 East Arrelanga St., Santa Barbara
First Meditation: Shamatha Medley into Open Presence
1. Be physically comfortable, assume formal posture for meditation. If seated, spine is straight, sternum slightly lifted, abdominal muscles relaxed and loose. Especially relax the shoulders, the neck, face, and particularly soften the eyes, release the jaw, and allow the tongue to gently rest up against the upper palette.
2. Let entry into this practice also be an act of loving kindness to ourselves as we set a welcome mat of ease and letting go, and gently settle the body in its natural state imbued with a balance of the 3 characteristics of relaxation, stillness and vigilance of attention.
3. Begin by taking three deep cleansing mindful breaths and then settle the respiration in its natural rhythm.
4. Before venturing into formal practice, begin by consciously bringing forth most meaningful motivation for practice, our highest aspiration, and connect this to our practice here today, as we take refuge in the three jewels of enlightened Buddha mind, enlightened buddha speech—dharma, & enlightened buddha body—sangha, for the sake of our own genuine happiness of for the true happiness of others.
5. And let us pray the four immeasurables…..
6. Then release all aspirations into view of emptiness…with mantra
7. With confidence in buddha nature, now let awareness permeate the field of body, resting in the earth element, letting awareness descend into the field of the body, aware of sensations correlated to the in and out breath. Relaxing deeply with every outbreath, letting go of thoughts, while arousing attention during each inhalation cultivating a silent quiescent mind.
8. To enhance quality of stability, narrow focus of attention on the bare tactile sensations of the rise and fall of the abdomen with each in/out breath. If helpful, you may introduce the element of counting the breaths, one very brief count at the end of each inhalation.
9. While keeping eyes soft, forehead spacious, all muscles of face relaxed and loose, elevate focus of attention to cultivate vividness to the sensations of the breath at the apertures of the nostrils, arousing attention on inhalation, and relaxing on exhalation. Once again, if helpful, can conjoin this with counting.
10. Now softly open the eyes, at least partially, with gaze vacant, body still as a mountain, and awareness still like space, observe the foreground of the mind, the coming and going of thoughts, images and other mental events, observing and witnessing their nature, sustaining mindfulness without distraction and without grasping…
11. Then focus more specifically on the intervals between thoughts, the intervening vacuity, the space of the mind from which thoughts emerge, in which they are present, and into which they dissolve…
12. Now withdraw attention even from that vacuity which is itself an appearance to awareness, and an object of the mind. Release even the effort of extending attention to this subtle object.
13. With a deep sense of ease and looseness, let awareness rest in itself, simply illuminating its own nature, and sustain an ongoing flow of the awareness of simply being aware, instantaneously releasing any thoughts or mental images that arise.
14. Let awareness remain in a state of passive luminous quiescence (@18)
15. Having drawn awareness in upon itself, now utterly release all constraints on awareness, like a bale of hay in which its cord has been cut.
16. Open awareness to the expansiveness of space, awareness permeating space, utterly open and still like space, and ever fresh from moment to moment.
17. Few a few moments, now release the practice, and simply rest, and bring the session to a close.
Second Meditation: Awareness of Awareness into Open Presence
1. Be physically comfortable and once again assume a formal posture for meditation; and settle the body in its natural state and the breath in its natural rhythm. Set a welcome mat of ease, maintaining three qualities of relaxation, stillness and vigilance.
2. And stabilize the mind for a few minutes practicing mindfulness of breathing with awareness permeating whole field of tactile sensations throughout the field of the body, if you wish for a cycle of counting 21 breaths.
3. Now from the space of calmly abiding, with body and mind utterly loose, relaxed, at ease, let the eyes be at least partially open with the gaze resting vacantly.
4. Now focus attention on the background space of the mind, the vacuity out of which thoughts and images emerge, display and dissolve again. And as we attend to this space, note that there is more than just an empty vacuity; there is awareness of the vacuity.
5. Even attending to the space of the mind is still attending to an object, a subtle appearance. Now withdraw the focus of attention even from this subtle object to the mind, withdrawing from all thoughts and all sensory fields, even though appearances continue to arise, and draw awareness in upon itself.
6. To assist in the balancing of attention in this practice, we can initiate an oscillating motion, initially conjoined with the breath if you wish, by inverting awareness right in upon that which is aware, concentrating and focusing the attention, and then releasing utterly, releasing all mental activity into boundless space without any object to grasp onto, while sustaining the flow of awareness of being aware.
7. Drawing awareness in, inverting awareness right in upon that which is aware, overcoming laxity and dullness, and sustaining a flow of cognizance, release awareness again deeply into space.
8. And for a third time, focus in, on the inhalation if you wish, and release completely out on the exhalation….
9. In the midst of this oscillating motion, note is there something still that is by nature present and unmoving, that is in reality neither in here or out there? Rest fully in that presence, the sheer luminous experience of simply being aware of being aware….
10. And now, as if awareness were a bale of hay tightly bound with a cord, cut the cord and profoundly release awareness, 360 degrees, open in all directions.
11. Simply rest in this open presence, without distraction, without being carried away by sensory or mental stimuli, without grasping of any kind, without preference, without identification and labeling, without desire and aversion. Let awareness be open like space, co-extensive with space.
12. Let’s practice now in silence….
12. Now for a few moments, release the practice, and let us dedicate merit as we bring the session to a close.