This teaching will be in text as I’m on a low bandwidth connection and let me start by wishing you all a very good year. A few weeks ago I started teaching again, slowly, slowly, getting into the groove again and I kind of started out just talking about practice, probably for want of a subject I truly master, but actually I feel that talking about practice isn’t done often enough because we’re all on the path, all practicing, and yet we can also be terribly lonely in our practice, and full of doubt and guilt. Feeling we’re doing it wrong, or not often enough. So I toyed with the idea of naming this series “everything you wanted to know about practice but were afraid to ask” and so actually, I thought I’d sit here to answer anyone’s question about their practice. There’s only a few rules: a question needs to be about your practice no general ideas, just what you run up against in practice but within that space: anything goes, really. But please remember, I ‘ll answer within the context of my lineage, which is the tibetan nyingma lineage, handed down through Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, among others
Darlok: Lodro, I have been to a place of pure love… It was indescribable bliss and ecstasy which words cannot fathom. I saw myself as a reflection of all that is.. And all that is/was Love.
Lodro: And after that, what happened?
Darlok: i came back and wept
Lodro: and now?
Darlok: I have only experienced this state for a few seconds. It was after I came to a self realization that God = Love and Love = God. it was not in a state of sleep.
Lodro: yes, so that moment is in the past
Darlok: yes, what happened was..
Lodro: what’s your question?
Darlok: what was that place?
Lodro: if you practice, even if you practice only a little, sitting down to meditate even if it’s just a few minutes a day but you do it regularly, that practice in itself is so powerful that it gives you glimpses of what we call the natural state. You might say it is experience without framing it in language: just being in that state, you’re connected to the entire universe, because we’re made of the same stuff right down to the atom. But when you’re starting out on the path, or even further on, a glimpse is all you ‘ll get. However, in such an instance, you experience the enlightened state, but only briefly because you catch yourself experiencing of course, then language kicks in and you separate between this and that and so that experience of unity ends. However, if you keep practicing you’ll find that your glimpses will happen more often and will be longer and will happen off the cushion more often in your everyday life and also that enlightenment, that feeling of connectedness actually means being compassionate towards all mother-sentient beings.
meme Plutonian: lama i felt it only once for a very short time
Lodro: yes, it may happen once or more often.
Tashi Aura: we may have it throughout the day and hardly notice it because it is so brief Lodro: key is to realize that that state is always there; has always been there, will be always there whether “we” experience it or not.
meme Plutonian: I experienced it very brief and I’ve been trying to get it back since
Lodro: yes, and the trouble is in the trying because it is only an experience it is not the objective of our practice so my advice would be to let go of trying but just to rest in your practice. Just rest and accept everything the practice brings you
meme Plutonian: just “let it be?”
Lodro: yes, just rest, accept not only moments when you think the practice was really “good” but also days, on which you think the practice went “badly”. There’s a story about Patrul Rinpoche: when someone asked him exactly how one could recognize one’s true nature, enlightenment, because this person was very dissatisfied with his practice, Patrul Rinpoche then said that the true nature is also there in the “i’m not getting it, it’s not working”. So, just rest. Actually i advise a lot of people not to over-practice, as in “trying awfully hard”.
Darlok: is that state of oneness only possible through meditation? because i do not meditate.
Lodro: no, you can have it washing dishes, chopping wood, riding a bike, while running. Great openings all come in experiences of the ordinary because that is when you see how miraculous the ordinary actually is. But in all cases, “you” step sideways and you just let things in. It’s that Leonard Cohen song: Anthem “there’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”
Darlok: can that state of being occur while a human still possesses hatred within his heart/soul?
Lodro: yes, it can because at such a point in time it’s still all relative; relative compassion and realizing the true nature is beside any morality, because it is a-moral. I guide people on wilderness retreats, and I often tell them: “the forest doesn’t care whether you live or die”; and that’s true: it doesn’t care, it is a-moral, so the mainstay of any practice is actively raising compassion.
meme Plutonian: raising compasion?
Lodro: yes, always, bodhicitta, the mind of enlightenment.
Georgina Acker: I always hear people talk about bliss, but in my practice there is a lot of struggle
Lodro: yes, and there is bound to be. that’s the reality of my practice too. And i guess that’s why we call it practice, because we don’t have to be perfect doing it. And again, I would say: rest, also in the struggle you experience because the true nature is there too and you as a pure being are there too, practicing.
meme Plutonian: lama, rest like in take it easy?
Lodro: no, rest as in accept the struggle while still struggling.
Darlok: thing is Lodro.. right before i had the Blissful experience.. I lost my eyesight and saw inside my heart.. (my heart) and a face of mist formed itself next to it.. and then it blew this cool breeze of air inside my heart
Lodro: yes Darlok: and i heard the breath!.. and when that breath entered my heart.. it opened it completely.. and in a split second i was in Paradise
Lodro: yes and then it was gone
Lodro: i would say, don’t grasp that experience, trying to get it back
elfbiter: How much the feelings that emerge during practice are based on what one expects to experience?
Lodro: elfbiter, countless feelings, no doubt. In chöd practice we learn to give up the fear of failure and the hope of success both and people have trouble especially with the latter also because we have been culturally conditioned to bank on attaining success. but here the advice too: let go of that.
Darlok: I have immense hatred for a certain entity which is dead yet alive .. and need to work on that
Lodro: Darlok, practice is a way to handle the reality of grasping and of distinguishing between: this I like, this i hate. this i want, this i don’t. Accept it all as a fact of practice, it’s all one taste.
Tashi Aura: sometimes that is difficult: to see the attachment to the pleasant states.
Lodro: easier said than done, I know, but good to check yourself once in a while: am I clinging to the hope of or the expectation of success ? and check yourself.
Georgina Acker: so, take your humanity under your arms and live.
Lodro: exactly, which is also the way to take your practice off the cushion and into the marketplace. And to tashi: i find the advice to let go of everything a bit imprecise. because it’s only the grasp we need to release, nothing more; that’s the bit about overpracticing again, only practice what is necessary. Yes, get off the cushion, but maintain the View
Tashi Aura: I said: but it is also liberating when we manage not to expect anything
Lodro: yes that is liberating, but the practice is also a call to action, to compassion.