Relaxing Karmic Patterns, Mind as an Organ of Curiosity, and Pure Lineage

January 11, 2023

Shambhavi and the Jaya Kula community gather for satsang and get real about all the questions we humans want answered. Intimate, courageous, heartfelt spiritual talk about pretty much everything. So happy you are here! A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

I was wondering if you could talk about perceiving other people's conditions.

Well, what prevents us from perceiving other people's condition is our concepts about ourselves and other people. Our habitual patterns of perception, which are like filters between us and the immediacy of other people's reality or other people's experience or condition.

So if we have a certain pattern of perception or karmic pattern of perception and that's in between us and other people, we're not going to see them clearly.

And everyone has various patterns of perception that prevent or at least cut back on clear seeing. They might not prevent it altogether, but cut back on.

As we practice, those patterns start to lessen their impact on us. They start to dissolve somewhat. And so then slowly as we go along, more clear seeing happens. This is a very natural process.

So one thing I've noticed is that when you identify a pattern, you begin to recognize how that and how it's impacting your perceptions of other people. Then you can begin to examine your perceptions with a bit of distance and test them.

I have certainly done that. Of course, one of my, if not my biggest pattern of perception, and the one that got me into trouble initiating students who really weren't appropriate to initiate, is optimism.

I'm just so damn optimistic about things and definitely over time that has been vastly tempered. Back when I was much younger, if you had told me you're too optimistic, I would have thought 'You're an idiot. Who could be too optimistic? Why is that a problem? Optimism is wonderful.' [laughs]

It is a filter. I don't know what's more painful to let go of, a filter that is negative or a filter that is giving you more positive results than you really should be getting.

It certainly has been painful for me to have to strip away some of that optimistic, those rose colored sunglasses.

Over the last several years I've definitely groked that this is a form of unclarity. It doesn't mean that I think I should be more pessimistic. I think I should be neither. I should just look and see what's actually going on, right?

So I'm not trying to swing back the other way, I'm just trying to be more realistic. The other part of the process that might be helpful is ask yourself what is it serving you? How is it serving you? Because we do not maintain patterns if we are not being rewarded for them.

I don't care how bad the pattern is or how much we think it's painful or depressing or sad, at the end of the day we are being rewarded or we would stop it instantly.

So in general, I think the overarching reward is a feeling of connection. We're all looking for a feeling of connection. I feel that at the base of every pattern is some attempt to connect or feel more connection.

And just speaking personally with my optimism about people's sadhana and their spiritual trajectory and their level of commitment or ability or capacity, I want company on the path. I want to be on a path with fellow worshippers.

And so that was a big source of my optimistic overassessment of people which of course leads people to then feel burdened by expectations of the teacher.

"This is going to be easy and you're going to be great" and whatever, I mean, I'm being cartoonish about it. But what started me wanting to change this was noticing what a burden it was for other people. To be initiated and then to not be able to really do that in the way it should be done.

So, not only look to see what is the pattern but what is the reward, what is it you're seeking. And then of course you have to get very sober about that. Because whatever happens is what this alive, aware reality is causing to happen. And we have no way around that, right?

I can't just manufacture these perfect companions on the path that's not only not foisting my optimism on other people and causing harm, but it's also just okay, whatever happens just has to be fine and I just have to work with that whether I have zero companions or a hundred companions.

So there's a certain amount of just being okay with the this-ness of everything, with what's happening. That also like whatever filter you're putting up between you and another person, you're trying to get something. And you eventually have to make peace with the fact that you're going to get it or not.

But whatever way it is, you still have to live it. And are you going to live it as a practitioner? Or are you just going to complain and feel horrible and whatever?

So I have a question, something along those lines. Like trying to do things in a different way, I guess. Like, here's this pattern doing its thing, and like wanting to do something different, not wanting to experience that pain again that always as a result of following that pattern.

Well, that's a big mandala question because we're in a mandala of infinite circumstances and we're in the experience of time and space. We're not actually in time and space.

And feeling for the times and the way that the times are collaborating with us is very, very important as to what can be changed, whether we should try to change something, whether we have the motivation to change something, whether it'll work or be obstructed.

We are just one bit player in that process. So I would say it's also a question of 'not too tight, not too loose,' where we understand that we're just a bit player. But we also do have our bit part to play and there's a certain amount of effort involved.

So we don't want to fight ourselves and hit ourselves over the head or whatever, chop off limbs, trying to get rid of stuff [laughs]. But when an opportunity arrives we can do that inner work to try to shift things to a different pattern.

And it takes some sensitivity to understand how much effort to put into it and also when not to be lazy and just fatalistic and just give up, but also understand that you're in collaboration with nature, with wisdom.

And so in a certain sense, things won't happen until your collaborators are on board, but when they are, they will.

I'm wondering if there's something you can say about that, playing with that ebb and flow of feeling fully owned by the karma versus feeling, like, a little bit of distance from it.

Well, ultimately, no matter how much effort we put into changing patterns or trying to work with them, applying practice, the ultimate practice is relaxation.

So when we relax, we aren't giving energy to those patterns anymore. And that doesn't mean they're not running, it just means they're running it out of gas in this open space with nothing to grab onto.

So ultimately the best practice, I think, for getting un-grabbed by those patterns in the pulse of when they're arising and subsiding is to go into your heart space and relax.

And we've been practicing that in the morning a lot, so you have some experience with that. And that's what I recommend more than doing kriyas.

If you have a real experience of that heart space and you can go in there like it's a temple and just lay down on the floor and relax, that is really the best way to let those patterns just run out of steam, run out of fuel.

And of course they try to pull you back. I mean, they have energy. So it takes effort to do this. It isn't just but you have to remember that the practice itself is relaxation.

Getting there is going to take effort. There have been times when I've just done that dozens of times a day. Just go in there and relax. Whatever tension I'm feeling, rest there.

There's a Dzogchen teaching that the whole practice can be summed up in five words, which I'm sure you've heard, 'rest in your real nature.' And there's nowhere where that's more easy to get in touch with than in your heart space.

If you have a real experience of it. Otherwise it's just going to be frustrating. And I've really been trying to give people an experience of that in morning practice. So hopefully that will become a place of refuge for you to everyone. I mean, you, everyone.

I was reading the little Orange Ma book the other day. There was this question from one student about the mind in meditation practice. And I've heard you talk about mind as the organ of curiosity, and I'm curious about your experience or however you want to answer this. About when you've had moments of some bigger shift in practice or some awakening, whatever you want to call it, and then you integrate that into your daily life. What's the mind part of that?

Well, the incremental way that we get more in contact with living wisdom, which includes intelligence that tends to get integrated fairly easily without a lot of effort. It's just happening slowly, like seepage over time.

But certainly for the first twenty years I was practicing anyway, I made a lot of conscious effort to open up my subtle channels to the experiences I met every day, to notice how things were impacting me energetically or when my energy body was responding in a certain way.

I consciously tried to increase my sensitivity energetically for many, many, many years. And that involves just a decision, like using my mind to make a decision to do that, to make a decision to notice when something is happening: special, energetically, where my capacity seems to have increased momentarily.

And to make a decision to go into my channels and try to relax more into that and expand on that and maybe do a kriya or something like that.

So I'm using my mind in that way to remember and make decisions that are going to take advantage of when things are arising that are displaying more capacity than I normally had back then.

Speaker 2
So that's one way I use my mind. But the bigger things that happen, those occasional bigger encounters with wisdom are always, and I'm sure they're the same as the small encounters, but since they're bigger, there's something more than just quantitatively different about them.

But those are always just full body, energy, and mind experiences that have a certain condition that they're invoking in your experience. That comes along with understanding, clarifying one's understanding. But they couldn't be divided into an experience that involves one's mind or something else.

And so then trying to integrate those things, which sometimes takes years and years, depending on what it is, again, involves making a decision to do that. Like having the understanding, the desire that this is why I'm doing this. And now this has happened. And I want this capacity to not just be a one-off experience. I want to be able to invoke this or live in this.

And so in those circumstances, like for instance, when I've gone on retreat after something like that and tried to incorporate that more into my experience or make it more my own. The experience is not mind per se. It's like this intelligence that's meeting intelligence.

And it's not exactly curiosity, but it has the same movement of curiosity which is going into something, going to meet something. And it's like a feeling of freshness and alertness.

But I wouldn't say it's thinking per se, like the way we think of mind as like 'well, I'm going to think about something.' It's definitely not that. But it's definitely invoking your intelligence, using it to meet that intelligence that's arising. A more enlightened form of intelligence. And using it to kind of merge into that in some way or another.

But it also has to do with, I don't know. You're meeting self, you're meeting a subjectivity, you're meeting something that's alive and aware. So it's like when you're meeting a person, do you ask yourself, 'what is the role of the mind in meeting a person?'

I mean, you know, it's not quite what happens, right? Although my sense of that presence is just the overwhelming intelligence of it and then feeling like you just become open to that.

But you have to again, put that effort to relax enough of whatever's in the way, which you don't even have a name for. It's just something that's like trying to solidify a sense of self that needs to get out of the way so that self can meet self again.

When you want to do something like this, it just takes a lot of sensitivity and desire and just takes a lot of creativity. But not in a normal way. It's not like you're being creative about something.

It's just the creativity is much more like improvisation. Like you're meeting something so fresh and so alive, how could you possibly have a plan for that? You have to be there without a plan, but you have to be incredibly responsive.

So in your own experience, when you've had these moments of openings and then you are integrating it, is there a whole body, including mind, that like a mental, physical, sensual memory of it where you're coming back to that?

Yes, a memory that can be reinvoked in all the cells of your body energy and mind. But also like out there too. I mean, it's not just about your body energy and mind. It's like a total thing.

In the beginning, maybe it's just about your channels or your body or your energy or something like that. But after time, after you get to a certain point, it's never just about that.

I was curious how you feel about lineage these days and like, thinking about how through time and through people, the transmission of wisdom is somehow being slowly degraded.

The transmission of lineage isn't being degraded on any absolute level. It's just in individual human lineages, there's no natural degradation of transmission of wisdom. Everything is made of wisdom. It's being fully and completely transmitted everywhere at all times.

There will always be people that can receive that transmission. So this is why I'm never at all worried about the demise of individual lineages, because nothing can destroy the transmission of wisdom.

There's a wonderful book you might want to read called The Magic Dance. It's by one of the sons of Dudjom Rinpoche, Thinley Norbu, I think his name is something like that, Thinley Norbu.

He talks about pure lineage as opposed to something like ordinary lineage, but I don't really remember what term he used. But the whole book is about pure lineage and what is lineage, and it's the most profound exposition on lineage, I think, ever.

And he basically is describing pure lineage as the ever, always, never interruptible transmission of wisdom.

And that certain people, you can have pure lineage and no ordinary lineage or you can have ordinary lineage and pure lineage or ordinary lineage and no pure lineage. But what he said was if you don't respect pure lineage you cannot have respect for ordinary lineage.

That if you don't know pure lineage then your protestations of faith for ordinary lineage are bullshit basically because in point of fact there really only is pure lineage and it might get embodied in ordinary lineage.

Or it might not. It's kind of a wild card [laughs]. But the people who only have respect for robes and rules and who can't recognize actual realization, actual transmission of wisdom. Even if they have great protestations of faith and respect for those robes and rules, they don't really know anything about lineage.

Which may or may not be anything to complain about. I mean, a lot of this stuff is completely innocent, but in any case, that's exactly my feeling about things, exactly my experience.

And the degradation that I was talking about is really only in ordinary terms. In real terms, in round world terms, there is no degradation ever. And so there's nothing to worry about.

My Dzogchen teacher, he came from a culture that was invaded and destroyed to some degree, and he was very, very concerned with the preservation of lineage and preservation of culture. And I totally get that.

On an ordinary mind level and it's a very beautiful tradition it has beautiful art, and beautiful, beautiful practices. And of course I would feel grief if it went away, and it's also of great benefit to people.

But if it did go away, there would be no loss of lineage. There would be only a loss of a form.


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