The Illusory Nature of Phenomena: Six Bardos (Transcript) • Eifel Retreat, Spring 2008

James Low

24-27 April 2008

Retreat at the Kamalashila Institute in the Eifel.

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  1. Buddhist ‘tools’: what are they for and how do we use them?
  2. Emptiness
  3. Dzogchen: things are as they are
  4. Choosing a practice that suits you
  5. Bardo teachings from the Shitro Terma of Karma Lingpa
  6. The Root Verses of the Bardo
  7. A Prayer for Tibet in times of trouble


…The power of a tantric deity lies in their being absolutely free of solidity. The blessing of the deity is to free us from any sense of solidity. Faith is important in order to do their practice but to have faith in the forms of emptiness is very different from having faith in substantial forms. The goal is always to deconstruct, to dissolve, to let go of the object of fixation…
…In our preparation for death, it’s very important to do a kind of spring cleaning: to go through what we have in our mental house and ask ourselves what use it is to us. Imagine wakening up and thinking, ‘This is the last day of my life.’ — looking at everything we do with fresh eyes, but also saying goodbye to it. Every saying ‘hello’ is also a saying ‘goodbye’. This brings an immediacy and a freshness, but it also prepares us for saying the big goodbyes later…
…Who knows whether we go to a pure land or not? Inside of the tradition, we say that this is definitely possible. By practicing, by praying to Padmasambhava, we gather ourselves together to go on our journey. We might leave our packing till the last moment but a good buddhist will have their bag packed ready to go. What’s inside my bag? My faith, my good karma, my hope, and my meditation. What else are we going to take with us? Nothing else gets through the customs—it’s all taken away…
…Remembering with gratitude and respect that the teachings have come to us because of the practice of other people, and that we are dependent on other people for our liberation—people from the past and people in the present—this is enormously important in the whole tradition of buddhism…

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