The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition Of Mahamudra

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shazan
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The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition Of Mahamudra

Post by shazan » Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:43 pm

I have got reasonable experience in dzogchen meditation, following the books of Alan Wallace and Namkhai Norbu. Recently I was reading The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition Of Mahamudra by The Dalai Lama. My question is basically about the book, from the perceptive of my experience in meditation.

Again and again I read about “mind completely absorbed on mind”, which was king of weird for me. Because as far as I have experienced, absorption and mindfulness are mutually exclusive. One cant be mindful with clarity and absorbed at the same time. One can be absorbed at one point of mind space. But that will automatically render him unmindful of the rest of mind space. The openness of mind space cant be sustained then. How can one have both? Is it possible at some higher level of meditation to be mindful and absorbed at the same time? Or is there something that I am missing?

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Malcolm
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Re: The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition Of Mahamudra

Post by Malcolm » Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:59 pm

shazan wrote:...is there something that I am missing?
Direct introduction?
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Re: The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition Of Mahamudra

Post by WeiHan » Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:42 pm

shazan wrote:I have got reasonable experience in dzogchen meditation, following the books of Alan Wallace and Namkhai Norbu. Recently I was reading The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition Of Mahamudra by The Dalai Lama. My question is basically about the book, from the perceptive of my experience in meditation.

Again and again I read about “mind completely absorbed on mind”, which was king of weird for me. Because as far as I have experienced, absorption and mindfulness are mutually exclusive. One cant be mindful with clarity and absorbed at the same time. One can be absorbed at one point of mind space. But that will automatically render him unmindful of the rest of mind space. The openness of mind space cant be sustained then. How can one have both? Is it possible at some higher level of meditation to be mindful and absorbed at the same time? Or is there something that I am missing?
Exactly! Because we have a dualistic perspective, it is impossible to have mind completely absorbed on mind or awareness on awareness. This is the obscuration to knowledge.

Jinzang
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Re: The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition Of Mahamudra

Post by Jinzang » Mon Mar 30, 2015 1:42 am

When you have trouble maintaining mindfulness and absorption, just look at the thought, "I am having trouble maintaining mindfulness and absorption."
"It's as plain as the nose on your face!" Dottie Primrose

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Astus
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Re: The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition Of Mahamudra

Post by Astus » Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:50 pm

Not sure what part you mean.

For instance here:

"While in a state of total absorption as before, and, with a tiny (portion of) awareness, like a tiny fish flashing about in a lucid pond and not disturbing it, intelligently inspect the self nature of the individual who is the meditator."

Absorption is just the samatha/calming part.

And then,

"When you search and, like that, cannot find even a mere atom of a total absorption, someone totally absorbed, and so on, then cultivate absorbed concentration on space-like (voidness), single pointedly without any wandering."

This is single-pointed meditation on emptiness.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition Of Mahamudra

Post by Bakmoon » Mon Mar 30, 2015 4:19 pm

shazan wrote:Again and again I read about “mind completely absorbed on mind”, which was king of weird for me. Because as far as I have experienced, absorption and mindfulness are mutually exclusive. One cant be mindful with clarity and absorbed at the same time. One can be absorbed at one point of mind space. But that will automatically render him unmindful of the rest of mind space. The openness of mind space cant be sustained then. How can one have both? Is it possible at some higher level of meditation to be mindful and absorbed at the same time? Or is there something that I am missing?
Absorption and mindfulness aren't mutually exclusive. Mindfulness is what keeps the mind on the object of meditation, and in absorption the mind is fully absorbed in the object, so if anything mindfulness is at its culmination within meditative absorption. The mind is just mindful of the object, that's all.

I think part of the confusion comes from how these things get discussed in the more secular spinoffs of the Vipassana movement where mindfulness is just equated with some kind of general awareness, but that's not really what mindfulness means, either in a Theravada context (which is where this style of meditation originated) or in a Mahayana context (which tends to have a different vocabulary for these things.)

shazan
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Re: The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition Of Mahamudra

Post by shazan » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:25 pm

Thanks for yuor replies. There were many places where I encountered this word absorption in a way that reminded me of theravada jhanas. For example
Having skillfully cultivated absorbed concentration by dealing with conceptual thought in one
of these ways, our consciousness now remains, in a fluid and flowing manner, in its
here-and-now, noncontriving state. When we settle single-pointedly in this state, we find that
our mind gives rise to an even clearer appearance of the clarity of mind. Finally, we come to
recognize, starkly and distinctly, before the face of our total absorption, a crisp clarity that is
immaterial, unobstructed by anything, pristine and lucid, devoid of any form of color or shape.
No matter what circumstance it encounters, it allows for a cognized aspect of that object or
situation to dawn without exception.

When, by following these methods, we attain a state of samadhi - absorbed concentration - if
is not conjoined with a mental factor of a serenely joyous sense of physical and mental
suppleness and fitness brought on by this state, it remains simply a single-pointed mind of the
realm of desirable sensory objects. It does not qualify as shamata, a serenely stilled and settled
mind. But once it has this factor of serenely joyous suppleness, our absorbed concentration
becomes a state of shamata that is the indispensable, prerequisite preliminary state for
achieving a first-level stable mind - the first dhyana.
(pg-173-174)
Now I have got almost zero experience with Jhanas, so absolutely no idea how mind works once in it. My experiences are with dzogchen style meditation, that focus upon non-conceptual, non-contrived, non-grasping, panoramic clear awareness (AFAIK mahamudra's end result is also the same). I understand that if one is good with bliss (using tummo or theravada means), one can easily go into 1st jhana from there. ANd also that Dzogchen doesnt play with bliss, unlike mahamudra. But uptil now I didnt think going into jhana was the objective of tibetan buddhist meditation. And also I dont think jhana style absorption and dzogchen style shamata cant occur at the same time.

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Astus
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Re: The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition Of Mahamudra

Post by Astus » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:39 pm

Mahamudra can use both calming and insight. Here are some instructions from the 9th Karmapa: A Stilled and Settled State of Shamatha. However, it does not use the dhyana system as it exists in Theravada.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Berry
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Re: The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition Of Mahamudra

Post by Berry » Wed Apr 08, 2015 4:22 pm

shazan wrote: .... Or is there something that I am missing?
What you are missing is the essential face-to-face instruction from a genuine Mahamudra teacher. You can't just practice Mahamudra from books or the internet.
Leave the polluted water of conceptual thoughts in its natural clarity. Without affirming or denying appearances, leave them as they are. When there is neither acceptance nor rejection, mind is liberated into mahāmudra.

~ Tilopa

Simon E.
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Re: The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition Of Mahamudra

Post by Simon E. » Wed Apr 08, 2015 4:31 pm

True...but not likely to be popular. We live in an age where the idea of egalitarianism trumps the fact of authority.
Berry wrote:
shazan wrote: .... Or is there something that I am missing?
What you are missing is the essential face-to-face instruction from a genuine Mahamudra teacher. You can't just practice Mahamudra from books or the internet.
"Any major dude with half a heart
Will surely tell you my friend,
Any minor world that breaks apart
Can fall together again.
Any major dude will tell you."

Steely Dan.

Derek
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Re: The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition Of Mahamudra

Post by Derek » Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:24 pm

Simon E. wrote:We live in an age where the idea of egalitarianism trumps the fact of authority.
You try telling young people today that, and they won't believe you.

Jinzang
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Re: The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition Of Mahamudra

Post by Jinzang » Thu Jul 09, 2015 8:38 pm

"Or is there something that I am missing?"

There is a kind of mental clarity where you are not only completely aware of your mind, you are also completely aware of the environment. One of the prerequisites is seeing there is no separation between the two.
"It's as plain as the nose on your face!" Dottie Primrose

fckw
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Re: The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition Of Mahamudra

Post by fckw » Thu Jul 09, 2015 9:36 pm

Bakmoon wrote: I think part of the confusion comes from how these things get discussed in the more secular spinoffs of the Vipassana movement where mindfulness is just equated with some kind of general awareness, but that's not really what mindfulness means, either in a Theravada context (which is where this style of meditation originated) or in a Mahayana context (which tends to have a different vocabulary for these things.)
Could you please elaborate on this? What does mindfulness really mean both in a Therevada context and in a Mahayana context? I'm really curious. I always wondered why so many Western Vipassana-teachers tend to focus so little on concentration meditation despite the fact that it's one of the seven factors of enlightenment, and at the same time tend - in my eyes - to over-emphasize mindfulness. The result is often that people walk around and try to be mindful of everything arising, but at the same time more often than not apparently don't get very far with this approach. The teacher from which I received instructions on Mahamudra always first starts with thorough concentration meditation instructions when new students approach him.

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Re: The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition Of Mahamudra

Post by Derek » Thu Jul 09, 2015 11:18 pm

fckw wrote: I'm really curious. I always wondered why so many Western Vipassana-teachers tend to focus so little on concentration meditation despite the fact that it's one of the seven factors of enlightenment, and at the same time tend - in my eyes - to over-emphasize mindfulness.
That's likely due to the influence of a fifth-century Theravada practice manual called the Visuddhimagga, which in turn influenced one particular 19C/20C Burmese school, which in turn was formative for convert Buddhism in America.

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