The Buddhist ‘toolbox’. How to use these tools in our meditation. Eifel, 2008

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Extracted from the first evening and first day teachings at the  Eifel Spring Retreat on the Six Bardos, 24-27 April 2008

James Low

Transcribed by Jo Féat and edited by Barbara Terris
 
toolbox2Excerpts:
…Just observe and try to see the point where you get caught. The quicker you can see that you are caught, the quicker you can let go. Yes, we are always going to fall into things. We couldn’t be in the world with others if we weren’t falling into our shared dreams. That’s what our communicative world is. But how do we get out of it? Its self-liberation  is what allows us to see each pattern as illusory. We’re in it — it’s empty — it’s gone, but we still go into it. At what stage of being in it as empty, can we let it go? I’m in it — it’s real — then it goes by itself, but first it kicked you in the head like an angry horse. That is what these things do; you get disturbed. The point of self-liberation is that when things go they leave no trace, like writing on water. They just go, and we have more calmness and clarity. What we want to observe, as quickly as possible, is this moving into something. 
…The basic instruction is not to blame yourself, because that is just another push. Just be very neutral: ‘Oh, it’s my nature to get lost. I will get lost. But how do I get lost?’ If you know how you get lost and you are present as you get lost, you are lost without being lost, which may be as good as it gets! …
…What emptiness means is that if everything is empty, then there is nothing outside empty. Everything is inside empty, which is why it is sometimes described as a great circle. This big circle may be called the dharmadhatu and in this context dhatu means space or dimension, and dharma means all phenomena. It means that the space in which everything arises — which is emptiness — is like a big circle and there is nothing outside this. Nothing is being imported from anywhere else. There isn’t a reality factory outside. True entities are not being smuggled in across the border and sold for lots of money. It’s not like that. There are no real entities. There never have been any real entities. There never will be any real entities — because it’s empty, which means that the factory that makes entities is empty. That is the basis for understanding that samsara and nirvana are inseparable, ‘The factory that makes entities is empty.’…
…Tibetans have a saying that if you keep butter in a leather bag, the leather bag will dry out and become brittle. If, however, you take butter and massage it into the material, the leather will become soft. It’s the same with the dharma. We have to take the dharma and massage it into ourselves through the meditation practice, and then we become very soft. If we hold onto it as if we are holding the truth, we become brittle and defended…
…Tantra is about the integration of wisdom and compassion grounded in the central understanding of emptiness. It’s very important we see that the power of a tantric deity lies in their being absolutely free of solidity, and that we see that the blessing of the deity is to free us from any sense of solidity. The tantras give historical and mythological accounts of how each deity mandala came into existence and faith is very 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 whatever one is fixated in…
…How can we speak without being intoxicated by language? Without falling into the dream that the language is describing real, true entities and that our speaking is being done by a personal subject who is real and truly existing? This is really at the heart of it. How can we experience the playful movement of language as an energy interaction, as part of the arising of the world, rather than as something which is following after, trying to catch up with and describe phenomena?…