Dark Retreat /mun mtshams, in Bön is one of the methods to have some visions.
The other practices are with the sun and gazing in blue sky.
Visions seems to have a “better” quality when the darkness is taken as a medium.
Well personal i see the dark retreat as an excellent method to get the abiding in the Natural State realised.
One can also in emergency cases leave the dark retreat and pick it up at the same level again.
In general there is a 49 days retreat and one of 7 years.
Below a schedule of the 49 days retreat, where I left out the practise part.
Part Two is actually a separate text concerned with the particular visualisation practices for each of the 7 weeks of the forty-nine day dark retreat according to the Zhang-zhung snyan-rgyud. This text is entitled, "(The Practices of) the Channels, the Vital Winds, and the Positions for the Clear Light, according to the Oral Tradition from Zhang-zhung" (Zhang-zhung snyan-rgyud rtsa rlung 'khrul-'khor 'od-gsal bzhugs-so).
There are 2 homages that open the text: "Homage to the divine form of the Primordial Teacher" (ye-nyid ston-pa'i sku la phyag 'tshal-lo), who is none other than the Primordial Buddha Kuntu Zangpo, the ultimate source for all of the Dzogchen teachings, and "Homage to the Gurus of the Lineage" (brgyud-pa'i bla-ma rnams la phyag 'tshal-lo), meaning the Mahasiddhas who attained realization of the Rainbow Body and liberation from Samsara through the practicing of Dzogchen in the past.
The subject matter found in this second text represents the essential points (gnad) concerning the psychic channels, the vital winds, and the yantra exercise movements linked to the visualisations done in accordance with the root text of the Oral Tradition.
These instructions are said to be very rare and precious and so they are compared to the moist blood found inside the heart itself.
Here are presented descriptions of the visualisations done at the beginning of each session of practice according to the Seven-fold Cycle of the Clear Light practice ('od-gsal bdun skor dmigs-pa), that is to say, there is one particular visualisation for each of the 7 weeks spent inside the dark retreat.
These visualisations represent a kind of preliminary performed initially in order to purify the stale air (rlung-ro) lodged in one's lungs, as well as one's psychic energies. This stale air in the channels contains pollutants or the residues and traces left behind by the various negative emotions experienced during the day.
The breathings for purification are performed nine times. Then the practice session proper (thun) begins with the exercises described below and the principal practice that follows the completion of these exercises is simply to remain relaxed in the state of contemplation (mnyam-bzhag).
As said before, in the Zhang-zhung snyan-rgyud the term thöd-rgal, referring to the practice of vision, does not actually occur in the text, but instead the word 'öd-gsal, literally "clear light," is used, and this may be translated as "the Practice of the Clear Light".
In this context, the Clear Light refers to the visions that spontaneously emerge from the Natural State when practising with sunlight or empty space or total darkness as the support while in the state of contemplation. However, in this case, the text is only concerned with the dark retreat (mun mtshams).
As explained in the commentary on the Principal Practices (dngos-gzhi) found in the Phyag-khrid, after having been directly introduced to the Natural State and gaining some stability in contemplation through practising fixation, one enters into the dark retreat in order to facilitate the developing of visions. The word bdun skor means the 7-fold cycle or the cycle (skor) of 7 weeks (bdun) into which the 49 dark retreat is divided. Thus, the dark retreat symbolically endures for the same period of time as the Bardo experience after death and so the practice may also serve as a preparation for death and what occurs afterwards in the continuum of consciousness.
These instructions were originally transmitted only from one individual to another individual by the Siddhas of the past, that is, from a realised master to just a single disciple, and the oral precepts (bka') were not subsequently taught to a second individual. Rather, they were sealed and kept secret.
However, now that historical circumstances have changed, these teachings have become more public.
Consequently, the anonymous author has arranged in writing these clear explanations drawn from oral tradition, together with an index or outline, for the benefit of future generations of practitioners.
I. The First Week
Generally the practitioner does 4 sessions (thun bzhi) each day while in the dark retreat house. First one assumes the 5-fold position of the body described previously and performs the nine breathings for purification.
Then one proceeds to balance and harmonise one's psychic energies or vital winds by way of a different visualisation process for each of the 7 weeks.
With reference to the first week, there are 7 essential points (gnad) that are concerned with the basic posture (bca' gzhi) and the yantra movement exercises ('khrul-'khor). The visualisation exercise that accompanies them is known as "the dust specks in the sunlight" (nyi rdul-ma' bca' gzhi).
II. The Second Week
As for the second week, the visualisation is known as "the rays of the sun" (nyi zer-ma'i bca' gzhi).
Everything else, the posture, the visualisation of the channels, and the breathing is as before.
III. The Third Week
As for the third week, the essential point is the basic position of the Yantra exercise of the right white channel and the left red channel.
The posture is the same as before, but the visualization is different.
IV. The Fourth Week
As for the fourth week, the essential point is the yantra exercise of the basic position of one's own central channel. The body posture, the channels, and the breathing are all as before.
However, the visualization is different, that is to say, the essential point of the bindus upon which one meditates (bsgom-pa'i thig-le'i gnad).
V. The Fifth Week
As for the fifth week, the essential point is the yantra exercise of the basic position that is like the rainbow.
Again the body posture, channels. and breathing are like "the rays of the sun" exercise of the second week above.
VI. The Sixth Week
As for the sixth week, the essential point is the yantra exercise of the basic position of the HUM abiding, the A emanating, and the OM integrating.
The essential point of the body posture that is assumed is the same as above, that is, in the rays of the sun exercise (nyi zer-ma). One performs the 9 breathings as usual for purification.
VII. The Seventh and Final Week
As for the final week, the essential point is the yantra exercise of the basic position where the HUM abides, the OM emanates, and the A integrates. The essential points of body posture, the channels, and the breathing are the same as above.
Discussion of the fifth religious tradition of Tibet.
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