Well, you say, hi, am Nancy, and I was going to give you a little bit of background for where I come from and how I end up here. So this is maybe a little bit longer history than some other people because I’m a little bit older, but I started out as a kid riding my bike to all kinds of different Christian churches. And the emphasis eventually became the Methodist Church and then the Catholic Church. And then I started digging into my family’s history, which is a strongly Quaker way, way, way back. And I became involved in that in Quaker meeting, and that was combine for me with meditative practices that I’ve had since the late seventies and that started in what I call esoteric Christian Church, which was very focused on meditation practices and specific. Exercises that we would do and even check each other to see if we were getting any results, and that was a very powerful experience and pretty unique. Some of those exercises have since come back to me because they’re similar to some of the Tibetan Buddhist meditations in Haryana. I also then as part of that church, there was a secondary group that looked at the middle ground between Buddhism and Christianity. And I spent years with that group studying more in depth both areas. And I do, in fact, find there to be a considerable amount of common ground in that teaching. Christ and Buddha are spiritual brothers, and their work is coordinated for the benefit of our planet. Then I let’s see. Then I actually went into Tibetan Buddhism, and that was. About 30 years ago, and I really liked it, I’d already had some introduction to Buddhism and shocking many Buddha said, Don’t rely on a teacher, rely on the Dharma and check stuff out for yourself. So he was presenting it like a science, which I was very attracted to. That’s the way I think, and it was intriguing to me then. OK, if I do this, this and this, I get this result and I have so far found that to be true. It’s challenging some of the some of the meditations and some of the changes that we’re asked to make. This Buddhism isn’t about feeling better or relieving stress, and neither is meditation. It’s about transformation all the way through. You can’t even say at a deep level because it still implies there’s some left. It’s all the way through, and that can be scary at times. It is a lot of the meditations go through the same stages as death. And that’s that’s the kind of fears that you’re asked to face if you want to really do the path as it’s laid out. And so I’ve been practicing Tibetan Buddhist meditation, starting with the foundation practices and foundation courses for three decades now. And I did come to it with some meditation background. You know, in Raja, yoga was the meditation that we used when we were looking at the common ground between Christianity and Buddhism. So that that’s been interesting because I I don’t really make comparisons between all these different things. I sat with Zen for a year and a half, partly to get more of that foundation in that type of meditation and because it was available. But I it’s not my thing, I like the Tibetan Buddhism, incorporates color, it incorporates sound, it incorporates movement. It has a couple of different systems of yoga. It incorporates study and incorporates oral teachings and the whole gamut of meditation path from what they call common binding, or Samatar to enlightenment. So that fits fits me better than the kind of more. I would call it black and white, if you will, of then. So that’s how I ended up here, adviser. I live in Preston and that’s where the Mojave Desert Town Center is. And I manage the gift shop. I come to the meditation here almost every day. And I do some meditations and offerings at home and I. And I find a deep joy in that. Yeah. It’s it’s the right place for me to be right now.
The first thing that I would say is that I moved away from the state where the group was that was looking at Buddhism and Christianity and their compatibility. And there was a little bit of a dry spell there. There wasn’t a lot of Buddhist stuff going on where I moved at that time. That’s changed and I met through some other people, a Canadian nun in Cecily Quiet. And I started going to her teachings. I still wasn’t. Fully invested, I guess, would be that thing. But then I met the Dalai Lama and. I’ve never spoken of this publicly before, but I’ll tell you what, my experience was not right at the time, it took me a little bit to assimilate what had happened. But. In his presence. I felt like space filled with compassion, and I had no Tibetan Buddhist words for that. But I went and talked to Cecily, the nun, and I asked her about it. I said, That’s what I experienced there. And that’s what I want to do. That’s where I want to go. That’s what I’ve been aiming at my entire life. And she said, Exactly, you’re in a good place. So. So I have come to understand that sense of spaciousness or emptiness, that interdependence and impermanence combined and that being filled with compassion is the goal of the path, actually. And I think that’s another thing that’s outstanding about Tibetan Buddhism is the notion of bodhichitta and body side for practicing bodhichitta, because I think a lot of people think of the terror warden schools, and it’s more enlightenment for yourself. That’s how the world views it. I don’t know enough about Terre Wharton to know if that’s true. And so the transition was easy because I meant what I said when I said that I’ve been aiming at that my entire life when I was in Christianity is the way I would have put. That was, I want to see Christ face in everyone. Same difference, actually. So that was like coming home to me the size I am. I think it’s called the deductive thinker, where you have to have kind of the big picture for all the pieces to make sense. So I started studying. I took courses through the foundation for preservation of the Mahayana tradition, and that’s the power, and I took courses through what I call the Dharma Apprenticeship Program. You’re the Nygma tradition. And I did Lam Rim for a couple of years. I did advisory on a course to the foundation for Preservation, and I got I got an overview. I think personally, it takes about five years and pretty focused attention to get to begin to get how the pieces even fit together, much less very vast body of teachings. And and, you know, Buddha said there were 84,000 different mental obstructions and probably that many different types of people. So he taught to different levels, and he taught for that many different kinds of problems and attitudes and personalities.
During the time of taking these different classes, the dormant apprenticeship program was more meditation based, the other stuff was more study. And for me, that was probably a good and gentle introduction, but I didn’t feel like it really registered deeply with me. It wasn’t quite what I was looking for when I, well, Cecilie was in the car, McCaig you lineage and. So I went back to to the Kangoo lineage, and I started doing narrow practices in that particular subset of the kangaroo lineage. And one of those practices is called your cipher and it is a it of I can’t even talk about my either because it is so complete and it’s presented usually as a purification practice. And then what they call landro the the meditation related foundation practices of the kangaroo lineage. Your soft fur is the second thing you do. And so let me start with the first thing you do, which is frustrations and all. There are four different categories and all four you’re supposed to do a minimum of 100,000 of each. And I really liked frustrations. Basically, you’re standing up in a full posture. You’re putting your hands above your head, you’re bringing the energy down, you go down on your belly and you put your arms out. And some people put their hands up up there in front of a statue of the Buddha or whatever or a teacher. And then you get back up and you do it again. And I found that to be my experience of it was not just exercise, not just it’s done. The way it’s presented initially, is that it’s to to develop humility and receptivity to be more receptive to the teachings of your more humble. I found it to be much more than that. I found it to be a movement of energy, from higher centers to lower centers and integrating those into the body, which I thought was extremely important. I will come back to this, but the the I was in an automobile accident that interrupted my ability to do frustrations. I think I got about 50,000 done and I I had to end up asking later a very high-ranking lama what I could do instead, because I can’t I can’t get back up if I get down in frustration. So he told me to do more of your stuff, which was fine with me, which is the second foundation practice if you do. According to him, if you do virus so thoroughly, your body is transparent when you’re done. All observations have flown out down into the lower realms of hell and hunger goes and the you’re bringing down these higher energies and the most important one called amrit nectar. And you flow that out, too. And then that feeds those lower realms. So while they’re staffing up your clashes or your obscuration, they’re also staffing of vibrant nectar. And then you seal that and then you close it and. It’s a. It’s a it’s a beautiful exercise you’re asking for. Your actions to be good and your mind to be luminous, basically. And that’s the second practice, and I still do that every day. I love that practice. And I found it to be effective. It changed the way I experienced my body and it changed when it changed the way I experienced my body. It began to change the way I experience the tangible world, you know, and I come from a generation that used a lot of psychedelics and in the sixties, and they realized that you could, if you could figure out how you could go through walls and you could fly. And all of these things and those practices are written about in the more esoteric, of course, the Tibetan Buddhism. And you can begin to see when you devise your slot for how all of that kind of stuff is possible. But it is not the point that I would like to emphasize. It’s not the point. So during virus suffers is clearing your your centers and your energy fields and your energy channels so that you can move today to yoga. Because in daily yoga, at some point you imagine yourself as a deity and you can’t do that if you’re not transparent and luminous because the deities are and they dissolve into you and then everything dissolves and you meditate there. And that’s an important that’s that’s one of the most important parts about the whole equation is sadness. I’m not an expert in the more advanced forms of Nigeria on the side, but at least what I do know that’s that’s valuable. So that’s as far as your sofa. And then mandala offerings are our practice in generosity and seeing yourself giving away everything you have, including channels, winds, drops and wheels. Which is again, getting a little bit esoteric, but it’s what you experience when your body gets transparent, then you’re experiencing energies directly. And it’s kind of like quantum mechanics a lot, actually. I won’t say the same thing. I don’t know enough, but I will say I’m very similar in that that experience of the body and giving it all away time after time, after time, 100,000 times and then do it every day. After that, you get a lot of experience at releasing, you know, like and mandala offerings you’re actually offering. The whole Buddhist lineage Tree of People had a direct line back to shocking many Buddha. And it’s normally done with rice as symbolic. But when you’re doing it and grow the foundation practices, you put the valuable stuff in there. You know, you put gold coins and silver coins and jewelry and some precious stones or precious stones, whatever you can afford, you know? And if you can’t do that, you do it with your imagination. And so that one teaches a kind of releasing that’s also necessary to imagine yourself as a deity and to. To surrender, to go back to the very first Christian Church, that esoteric one, I mentioned what that teacher called the field in the first place. And I can use that language with the campus here and they know what I’m talking about. We have conversations using the same vocabulary. So there’s an overlap there. That’s sort of an extra blessing for me. And last but not least, a practice called her Empeché, which is the other fourth foundation in this particular lineage. As number of practices, they don’t all do the same things. And there are Empeché is Performance abOVa, who is a major figure in Tibetan Buddhism, and he brought advisory out of Buddhism, basically to Tibetan Buddhism and his. His presence is very strong here. Lobsang. Phillips said he was a descendant of presidents Obama and his so his family has links, he’s he’s very involved in that meditation. We do it at least once a month. I am not going to speak to the Empeché and what he represents and what that what that energy is. Because in a lot of ways, what we’re doing in these videos is tapping those qualities within our own mind. And that’s not just what they are, but that’s a very important part of it. And I think that’s very much like Jesus saying. And the Kingdom of God is within. I think it’s very much like that. That is I know not how it should be taught in regular Christian churches, but maybe there’s more more than one interpretation possible. So, so, no, DRO is an ongoing process for me because I keep doing my source practices and I do a raffle form of or empeché a raffle for means that it appears as like like this guy, pretty fierce with weapons and whatnot. And that’s to help remove more raffle flaws like anger or in some cases, desire or strong attractions or aversion to different things in daily life. Because it’s it’s not that we’re not. My understanding is it’s not that we’re not supposed to ever have an attraction or an aversion to something that’s not it. It’s to be free of the power of the attraction or aversion. So that’s the way I look at it and relate to it. And these these guys and gals help us do that. So that’s their role, and that’s why they have such a fierce aspect. So let me go back because I said when I was doing frustrations that I was in a car accident and. It took a while to show up, but I actually ended up with eight back surgeries for my neck and for my lower back and lost, if you will, about 15 ish years. I didn’t stop meditating and I didn’t stop studying, but I had to do it within a different framework now. I’ll talk more later about how the pain and being suddenly thrown into disability. I was in a power wheelchair for about a decade, so I’m going to put a neck brace on here pretty soon because I’m getting a headache because my neck fusions kind of deteriorate the vertebrae above and below how I learned to apply meditation to both of those situations. And also it became a kind of chronic insomnia problem because I think that what I learned is important and I know some other people know it and we need to speak up and help everybody else learn it too of if we can. So, so this this is a neck brace. I wear it. Get around in the day when I’ve been upright a long time or I’m driving. So then I find myself right on pain medications and medications for the nervous system and the AB area. But I never take in stuff like that before and I never wanted to. I still the one I had for a while a pump implanted in my abdomen that pumped drugs into my spinal cord. And I had that myself out of that and they had them take it out. But that’s because I learned something, and what I learned was a little bit multifaceted. The first thing was in in if you have severe enough pain, you can go into pain shock. And I had that a couple of times, which is no different from any other form of shock. It’s deadly. And. So I had to compromise a little bit with the medicines and if but if what I learned was that if you start going into really severe pain and you use, it’s like it’s like the zen practice of imagining the guy coming at you with a sword, OK, you’re laser focused on that pain and nothing else. It changes the brain response. And while I can’t speak learned about that, there’s a good description of it. In a book called Beyond Pain, published by McGill University and the Pain Doctor up there at their medical center. And it’s a good book, and then they know about that. They found out the same thing I did, which is that if you zero in on intense pain and you stay with it like somebody is coming at you with a sword. And you don’t break your focus. It changes the brain chemistry around that message from neuron to neuron, it does. It takes some practice, but that works. And another one in terms of more daily life is that because of meditation and this sort of change in my relationship to attraction and aversion that I mentioned earlier. I didn’t. Engage with pain. It’s not exactly that, I don’t care, but there’s a kind of neutrality about it, so I’m aware of it. I can take appropriate steps if it’s getting more significant. But the suffering related to pain is gone and the suffering related to loss of mobility was gone. And. The suffering related to all kinds of identities was going on like work and being seen as a productive citizen and having being able to go to a store by myself or all that kind of stuff. It takes a remarkable amount of special equipment to be that disabled, and that was is a pain. But I got kind of neutral about that too. And I that there’s a there’s a quote in one of the in the Russell Daly side, an idea that says compassion without reference is freedom from limitations. And I have thought and thought and thought about that because it’s a big thing now to take a look at being compassionate to yourself and my. Being able to be compassionate towards myself and accept losses and accept. You know, a certain amount of pain in my life and accept certain limitations came from that change in meditation to releasing attachment and aversion. So for example, I gave up at one point trying to go back to work. I could not do it. It was a ridiculous idea in the first place, but I couldn’t do it. And that was so hard. It took like three years to do that. It was really difficult. And yet releasing that freed up something in me. There was some kind of relaxation and some kind of ability to then to begin to experiment without desiring a particular outcome for my experiments to see how far could I walk, you know, in a given day? And what were the factors that influence that? How much did I need that chair? You know what? What kinds of things was I doing that made myself feel better and what were neutral and what were making it worse? So. That what I would tell a physician that they’re like, Oh, I don’t do that to them, that’s like quitting to me, it was reminding me of the first step of a that says, you know, you surrender. And that feels like you’re going to. I think if you’re an AA of an alcohol problem, it feels like you’re going to die because you can drink self to death. But it has a paradoxical effect. It doesn’t necessarily do that. And then I met with other people with significant chronic illnesses, and they said the same thing. So it’s like a little secret disability community, I guess. And that freed me up to start looking at what is out there to learn about disabilities, what is out there that might make life easier and expand my range of activities and stuff like that. How I got from there to here, where all I need is racism and race on my neck some of the time. I don’t know. I credit one of the shows that I had many, many trainings with. My guess is that he took on some of that. Which is an extraordinary thing to be able to do, and I don’t know this for sure, I just think so because followed being around him. And so I kept following him all over the place whenever he was in the US and I would. It’s time I didn’t notice it at first, but each time I get a little better and I eventually got to this where I use a walking stick or sometimes a portable wheelchair, if it’s a thing where I have to be on my feet for a long time because I still have some limitations, but. Somebody asked me, who’s it to bed, another Tibetan Buddhist practitioner in another state if I had help? And I answered yes because I think I did this exactly what the nature of that was. I don’t know, but I think I did. So that’s the disability part. And that interrupted not syndrome, as I just described it with 100,000 frustrations and all of that and that same temperature was the one who told me to do more virus your socks.
Fruit of Practice
And how I function in the world and not not just the lofty sort of somewhat abstract goal of seeing Christ facing everyone, praising Buddha Buddha nature and everyone, but but how do we do that every day? You know, how do I get more loving or more kind or more patient? Why that is hard work sometimes, but on the whole, I can see it, you know, over a longer span of time, like, say, one year to the next, I can see myself doing these practices and engaging in the discipline and the joy of them. Get more patient really shows up in driving holy smokes, I was I had a lot to say to other drivers from within my car. The windows rolled up, hopefully, you know, because they weren’t going fast enough or they didn’t signal when they turned or something. It’s all gone. It’s gone. It’s just relaxed. I’ve had a change and I think relationships to other people in a kind of patience with the process because, for example, here ideally this longer would be exercising all these parameters with each other all the time. But if you’ve been in a monastery, Christian or Buddhist or otherwise, you’ll know that that’s not necessarily true because it’s a more concentrated environment and that can magnify people’s clashes of being with Tibetan Buddhist word for obscuration like anger and jealousy and envy and stuff. But what a great place to practice those qualities. They call them parametres in their, you know, from wisdom to generosity. They covered this gamut of problems that we tangle ourselves up with. Well, her minds and I see much more awareness like, for example, I can see I can. Pretty high percentages and at least 85% of the time. Be aware of any thought that starts to drift through that critical of another person or I see where I am when I engage with that sense of I, me and mine. I see it. You know, and sometimes I laugh, sometimes I play it out a little bit because I really want to. Sometimes they just let it go, you know, and it’s like having that awareness coming out of these years and it allows me to do that to notice thoughts arising and just let them go. That’s another aspect of my whole mood right now is just letting them go. There are phases in earlier stages of meditation where you supposed to work with them to Mohammadu. It’s not necessarily true. They’re just you don’t try to do anything with them. You just watch them. And so those are some examples of how the these these Tibetan Buddhist practices have changed me. It’s even language is a little tricky because part of me is going, change me, but there. You know, I changed with them because I wanted to incorporate them and. There isn’t actually a me. That got changed, which is a tricky thing to talk about in English because the is set up to be, you know, like I’m hearing, you’re there. And things are solid and they’re permanent, and so is my ego. Sometimes it feels like that, but. They don’t exist the way we act like they do. And. As more and more people realize that. It’s going to change the world that can change the world.
Disability and Practice
So, you know, here I am in this wheelchair, and I have only had Dharma teachings for the most part at a distance, I would go to some teachers that would come to that state when I would listen to them. Also, I had a lot of recordings given to me. So what I’m saying began to develop them even with the disability, even with the medications, even with pain, blah blah blah. Was this kind of spaciousness? I now believe that comes from an opening of the heart and Tibetan Buddhism. The mind center is in the heart and. The more open that got, the less personal things got and the more compassionate they are towards myself and towards others. And that that made a difference in my life quite quite a bit. Combine that with the frenemy and combine that with the clearing of the virus sites and the shedding of old patterns. I began to also baby step beginnings because it doesn’t come naturally to me or didn’t. It does now, but of faith and devotion. Because remember, I said I had this kind of science to my mind, that’s the way I think. And to bring that in, I I had come up to that point and had. Well, let’s see. About 25 years of meditation experience, and that, as I said, was in Zen and mostly Raja yoga style. There were some Christian meditations that I had done younger based on visualizations and imagination, much like Tibetan Buddhism does. And then I never stopped doing meditation through all of that. And ironically, in some ways, I did more than I do now. I think because it kept me sane and it kept me anything that I could focus on. That took my attention away from how I felt physically and emotionally about how I felt physically was a plus, and that was part of it, but that wasn’t my only motivation. I still felt like this was the path I wanted to do as Tibetan Buddhism, and I was going to do it there. So during that time, I did more of the female deities Cooley and Green Tara Green. Tara, in particular, is a yadam and it’s very vivid and alive meditation for me. I also did a lot of Chin Razi and very yourself, and I did different practices in terms of giving and taking other people’s suffering. I thought that was really valuable, kind of learned and practiced it. So let me talk about how I take these meditation practices. I mentioned my green tar and Coca-Cola and turn razi and vice versa in particular, is what I remember from that time and had that sort of begin to transform my relationship to what was going on in my life. And there are several things I would mention one. one of them is when I talked about learning to focus and what kind of laser in on pain. I wouldn’t have had a clue how to do that if I had developed concentration and focus in meditation. That’s what those develop. Because you’re doing these visualizations, you’re incorporating your imagination and you’re actually a second piece of that which a lot of people don’t realize is you’re offering everything, you’re offering pain, you’re offering anger, as well as diamonds and gold, you know, or rice and your channels and wins, you’re you’re off. If you get in the habit of giving those away or releasing them, they’re like to use some of the meditations children use. It’s like they’re on a cloud and they float off and dissipate. They no longer have any power. And so both the concentration focus and the releasing practices of those meditations do that. And then when you look at. Chen Razi, meditation in particular, and it’s offering six different realms that need transformation and six different wisdoms to do that. And. That does in many ways, if I think about it, the same thing as visor so far, only in a slightly different way, which is using different colors and imagining you’re offering to these different realms, which again are also our own mind states that we’re healing them. That because those mind states involve cleaning and envy and jealousy and anger and just being stupid and desire. My desire, for example, to not have this disability and not have this pain was a money in the hand of monumental waste of time. It was a realization. It was a waste of time because it’s it’s there. And now we’re touching on Maha Mudra. It’s what is so one of the first things in my mother is accepting what is not caving to it. It’s kind of like when I talked about that first step of AA or releasing the attachment to going back to work that became. The first taste, if you will, of. Letting go of desire, letting go of attraction, wanting things to be different than they were when I stopped doing that, then I can start looking at all right , what is here and how do I live with that? You know, and then it gets even more interesting if you go, how do I live with that without suffering? And that’s what those meditations do. That’s that’s what. Over and over and over again, the practice of dissolving everything is releasing stuff, you know, and letting good qualities come into you. As Americans, there’s a really strong tendency to not like yourself very much. You feel like you’re not good enough these heels that too. It’s part of that, that healing. And I know for Tibetan teachers I’ve had conversations with that’s kind of foreign to the psyche of a lot of Asians, but there’s a very common thing . And I think I had it too. I think it’s mostly gone now. You know, there’s and there’s no judgment, if you will, on my self for feeling like I must have done something karmically wrong in some previously unknown life that led to this situation. Blah blah blah. You know it is. It doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter. It’s just. To quote, round us being here now, not. You know, most of us, when we’re thinking and getting ready to speak, we are drawing from the past and projecting that into the future. And to begin just to have a taste even of that for myself of letting that go is freedom. Freedom is a big issue these days, but that’s freedom. That’s inner freedom in anyway way. And that’s why they can say it doesn’t matter, even in the New Testament. Talks about this with John, the Prophet and Jesus. It doesn’t matter if you’re imprisoned, if you have that kind of freedom and that includes it doesn’t matter if you’re imprisoned in a body that doesn’t work well for you. It’s still that kind of freedom. That’s what those ideals do. That’s what they’re designed to do in and then disability or some kind of chronic illness or cancer, or being abused as a child or whatever becomes becomes part of your spiritual classes can become completely integrated in your spiritual path. And then it’s not suffering in to keep coming back to that. It’s just the way it is. It’s loaded with gifts. I cannot tell you, you know, how many years just for me up that illness process itself. I learned in terms of like when I became a hospice chaplain, I that was before the accident. I had a certain kind of relationship to the hospice patients after I got hurt and I returned a chaplain work for a little bit at some point. I knew how people felt. I knew more. I would say totally, but I knew more with their inner experience was what they needed. And I, I like to check stuff out, you know, make sure it’s true or accurate. And I would check with dying people. Is this how you feel and what? What supports what really supports you during that time? And those are those are gifts I can pay forward, you know, to other people now. So that’s kind of where the disability became a spiritual path to the spiritual path helped with disability. There’s just no question about it. And that was a whole phase of my life when I began to get better did not happen all at once.
I think I took some hospice patients to talk to the Dalai Lama because they wanted to go very difficult for them, but that was kind of a joyous thing. And I hope I made a difference in the quality of their deaths. And, you know, with the Dalai Lama, I went to all kinds of things in my life conferences and empowerment and just talks. You know, it was sort of just public talks. I did everything I could. I’ve had I’ve had some other experiences besides the one I mentioned with the Dalai Lama, and I have absolute complete 100% total confidence about who he is and all that he does, which is way beyond our imaginations. Are young women say I actually went to an empowerment of young and talk. Lord of Death in L.A.. And when I left, somebody handed me a flier to a teaching that was coming by a young reporter. And it was something I had always wanted to learn. It was power. And it wasn’t as an extensive training. I think I’ve done anything, I think I’ve done three times now and with him and I went. I so I decided I wanted to go and that got I mean, it was an event that was in Los Angeles also, so I drove back down there and I went to that and. I felt like my mind merged with his mind. It was a very powerful teaching. Even he says that not they’re not all created equal. You know. And I. I had like a telepathic thing on with him, and. I hadn’t experienced that with anybody in some years, and I. I wanted more context, so I started following him around whenever he came to the United States and. Exposing myself to that, and I. He talks about having been around Chatham in Ghouta when he was here, and then we’ll read them and he has a long. He is an embodiment of your lineage. He is. In both we can tell you and recognize Master here, he’s an amazing man and. I again had a complete 100% absolute confidence in who he is. And that what he offers is genuine dharma, as I would say that about the Dalai Lama and I would say about about firearms. Now guard general became. Some of you may know he was in it. The Chinese prison camp for 20 years, and he has a center in Arizona, and he’s very frail now. They keep him pretty protected. The center’s been closed since COVID started. I feel really fortunate to have had personal experiences with him and it was the same same thing only. More heart centered instill a sense of connection of recognizing. I would say it was like recognizing each other. I don’t know exactly what that is on his side. I just know how I experienced it, and I said he’s joyous, loving man. And I went to every year this summer and winter teachings and just would do that, I go down there and stay and do those and. I did stay there for. Probably I can’t remember as four to six weeks at one point, and I. I love him. He loves me, so I love him. It’s like this reciprocal thing, and I bet you could interview almost any one of his students and they would say the same thing and that. His his embodiment of white Tara, is why first very first went to his center. And that’s how I met him. And he came up to me a hug and the light from the windows in the temple was shining through his eyes like that. So it really lit up. And I just stared at him for a minute and I never had a room, shake him up and offer hugs, and I had never seen eyes like yours. I’ve seen some pretty wild eyes with some of the teachers, but not like that. And. You know, it’s love is magnetic, and I was iron filings just right back to him whenever I could. How has I? I will tell you that I had read about some and seen. Somewhat to me to be spectacularly bad behavior on the part of some teachers that would come through here and that were public figures, and I was taking very seriously who I would choose and what I was looking for. Most of all was a kind of joy that these older Ricochet’s trained in the campus have it too. But these older guys trained in the monasteries in Tibet, brought with them and have spread out into the world. There’s this, there’s this joy, this cheerfulness that they have, and I’m not equating those is the same. I mean, there’s two different qualities. I think it’s very deep, and his cheerfulness is just because our personalities are clear. They’ve they’ve gone through these processes we’ve talked about here in this tape and they’re there. They’re don’t they’re not burdened down by cliches, these bad behaviors and attitudes and beliefs and stuff. They just don’t do it. They don’t have it. And. That’s what I didn’t exactly know what I was looking for, but I came to have that be kind of my test. This was a quality was present. I knew I was with a genuine teacher and I would get genuine dharma and there wouldn’t be anything screwing it out, you know? And that that was actually very healing for me. I mean, how many people have we all met in our lives that have that kind of purity of essence? You know, it’s rare. And to me, that rarity makes it precious, which is why I go all over the place trying to get teachings and just be around these people. And so given that this is possible for me not to have as a personality, but to give to give away as part of body Sappho vows and that desire to be of benefit and help to others. Even this interview has been devastated by me. To that end of everything, every bite I take, I try, you know, to integrate that all day long and all night long. Dream yoga to that simple thing. May this be a benefit and help to others, and that changes in me too. And I learn that quality by being around these teachers. Genuine teachers are. I I guess I would say that I wouldn’t have said that when I was young because I thought I could do stuff yourself. There they there with being around them is a necessary part of learning how to live that and wanting enough to learn how to live that to do it. I mean, because you just have to be around people who have that kind of commitment, that kind of dedication, that kind of persistence and tenacity. So it resonates in ourselves and be able to identify it when it’s there. So that’s. That’s my relationship to teachers. There’s a lot written about it, and I’m not saying my way is perfect. I just know what I ended up looking for and how I recognize it. So and I think everybody’s kind of got it to some extent do that for themselves, because remember the 84,000 things that different people are different and you learn your own way. It just maybe is helpful to hear one person’s.
All right, so if I’m going to talk about death, I’ll start with my first near-death experience, which I was quite young, like early twenties, and I had a reaction to a medication in a minor surgery. And I, I will say that that experience was terrifying. It was terrifying because I didn’t know what was happening, but then I couldn’t see and then I couldn’t hear, and then I had no sense of anybody around me. And it was getting dark and. And then all of a sudden, somebody figured it out and gave me an antidote and almost that fast, I was out of it and I was like, What was that? And I think that’s. When there’s strong fear at death, that’s what people experience, at least to a certain point, and maybe that informed my sense of it. I read the I started reading about in the Book of the Dead when I was 19 and the college paper on it. And, you know, I just started taking a look. Maybe that’s where that now that was before I was before that experience. So it’s just always been there anyway. That interest and. Oh. What I began, you know, people would say, Oh, you said your body like a change of clothes. And it was Ralph Moody’s books and some of the pediatricians who worked with kids who had near-death experiences, and they talked about their awareness. Of what was going on, but they have their bodies down there, they’re somewhere else, maybe down the street or I can tell, you know what their dad’s doing at work or their moms doing running, you know, driving around or what has happened in the baby sitters and they’re not there. So then I began to realize that that’s a lot like the dream state. And then I learned that there was something called doing yoga and lucid dreaming and things like that, and that we have awareness in the dream state that. Isn’t sense based because we don’t have a body in the same way that we think of it. We maybe you could say we have programed sensory imaginations or something, I don’t know, but. So I got interested in all that, you know, and lucid dreaming people get all excited if they’re to come fly and stuff like that. But in Tibetan Buddhism. Lucid dreaming is so that you can go somewhere in a dream state on purpose to be of benefit and help to others. And so learning to be conscious in your dream state is an important part of the another whole sequence of meditation practices and visualization imagination exercises. And I started to learn. And that, I think, is also what people experience dying if they’re not afraid for whatever reason, if they have a really strong belief that Christ will be there for them or they have a really strong belief in reincarnation, or they have a hope that they can transcend samsara. You know, and and the world and I join their god or merge with the higher states that are talked about in Tibetan Buddhism. So I got curious about all that and. So there are very specific types of things talked about in the stages of dying. You may remember back in the beginning, I said dying is people have beliefs about death, but dying is a process and sometimes quite often it’s very difficult. It’s very difficult to say goodbye to everybody that you know and love. It’s very difficult to give up the things I talked about and just talking about disability, about your work and being kind of large and in charge of the decision maker, the one, you know, more independent. And I would guess that probably seven or eight out of ten people, one of their greatest fears in the dying process is that they can go to the bathroom by themselves, which is true. That’s going to happen, though I will say there are exceptions. I had a Mormon woman in southern Utah who got to a point in her illness, where she basically said, I’m done now, I’m going to go upstairs. And she did, and she died. That was her plan, and that’s what she wanted to do, and she pulled it off. And I’ve seen one other person be able to do that. And I think you read about in Buddhism, a lot of farmers can do that. So not everybody has to go through the more difficult stages, but most of us probably do and will so. So, for example, one of the things is talked about in the Book of the Dead is a really loud noise, like a really loud, like a jet just a few feet above the house. Or I had one woman on hospice say, I think a train’s coming. That was a validation for me right there that that mention of a really loud noise does in fact occur at a certain stage of dying from a from the Asian point of view. What’s happening is different elements are dissolving from the western point of view your systems shutting down, and they may be more similar than they think that, you know, in the Tibetan Buddhist point of view, as each element dissolves, different deities leave the body and. Or maybe I should say dissolve into the central channel, which is a whole belief system about a kind of system of energy communication in the body that underlies our nervous system. So I got validation of that and then I had different people on hospice who would kind of go in and out of more near-death phases because like like they’re a practicing kind of. And then I could have conversations with them about what they were experiencing, and they would talk about this sense, for example, of feeling like their body was dissolving and into bed with the dead and then the dissolution of elements of the Earth element dissolving. And they couldn’t tell really where they started and stopped anymore. That’s also something that can happen in meditation. So they begin to be this kind of synchronicity between my own meditation. What I’ve been reading since it was a teenager, what people were telling me on hospice and what the Tibetan Book of the Dead and teachings I got in on the Bardo, what they all were kind of validating each other. And for myself, I wanted. To understand there’s a point at which you go through these different experiences of different kinds of light and sense of smoke and getting really hot and then getting really cold, and this is all related to the solution of the elements . And then at some point you go into a darkness and. If you can stay present in your mind in that. What you can come out to on the other side is of experience of clear light and. So what I also then sort of go back to doing yoga is that in dream yoga, there’s a point where you have to learn if you’re going to learn all of dream yoga where you stay consciously present in this kind of total darkness. And so that is is an interesting thing because the mind just wants to go all around and and you miss the opportunity and miss the experience if you’re jumping around. So I wanted to learn more about that and my own meditations, and I wanted to be able to find out what is it that helps people who are dying be able to stay present with that light? So I found a bunch of things from what people told me, mostly. And that is that. More people can get can focus and stay focused on the stages of dying, like when I talked about that laser light focus on pain when you’re dying, yet you have a kind of laser like focus on these different experiences. So if you get restless and there’s this thing called terminal restlessness, it’s kind of a problem for actually to one degree or another, a lot of people dying. If you can get where you can focus through all that, for example, you get really hot. Well, people start throwing off the covers and getting agitated like like women do in the first stages of a hot flash. You’re going to get you’re going to get distracted from that focus, so laser like focus through that phase would mean staying present with being really hot and not trying to do anything about it, just let it arise and let it subside because it will. Same with being cold. Same with if you start having encountering experiences of different types of trauma in your life. You know this this dying time is not a time to analyze them or try to run away from them or anything. Just stay with them. They’ll arise and they’ll go. And so what supports that kind of focus, what supports it is not being drawn away from it all the time and a lot of the caregiving that. And this is not true for everyone. I will say that, but a lot of the caregiving that goes on in the act of dying in particular is not necessarily the most helpful for the patient. What people are really doing and this is, I think you learn by doing these meditations is you’re using your own feelings of helplessness and hopelessness by intervening in ways that aren’t necessarily beneficial. So I give an example in this paper I wrote recently about going into an ICU and this older man is dying and his entire immediate family, which was extensive in Salt Lake and is around all around the gurney, in the ICU room, which are dying. So it was pretty crowded and he had earbuds in and they were playing his favorite music in them and the iPod sitting on his chest. They’re all touching him somewhere on his body, and they’re saying to me, I don’t know why he hasn’t died yet. They told us he was about to die in the next five or ten minutes or something, and he hasn’t died. So I looked at the situation and they said, Well, you know, it’s probably really difficult for him to say goodbye to all of you and you’re all right here and you’re playing his favorite music, which pulls him to the past. And that’s hard to say goodbye to, too. So if you’re willing, let’s try something and let’s just have you step out and be right outside the door. Let him know that you’re there. Say goodbye to him, you know? But to be near. But you won’t be right around the bend and you won’t touch you. And let’s turn off the music. Let’s see what happens. He’s pretty powerful effect on the brain and all. If you want, I’ll sit with him. So he’s not alone. And you know you’re right there, but you’re still outside the room, and I’ll even put my hand on his hand if you want. So they said, OK, let’s try it. So they did, and they stepped out and he released. His life at that point within five to ten minutes, Max and I didn’t think it was five minutes, really. That’s what that kind of overdoing it, I guess, is what I’m saying. And so I think it helps dying people to be in a really muted calm environment. It helps if there are too many people moving around even in the room, because they sense it because remember, they’ve kind of dissolved to their body. Their sense of themselves is much more expansive than our walking around daily sense, which is quite right here. And. I think smells is a very powerful thing, and a lot of times people are still trying to get people who are actively dying, meaning they’re within 24 hours of death, still trying to get them to eat and drink. This is especially true of family members that come in from out of town and haven’t really been involved in the whole evolution of the illness and dying, and they’re at the very beginning of feeling helpless and helpless and trying to, you know, make it make it different. But you can’t digest food at that phase. Your body can’t and you’ll get if you eat at all, you’ll either choke on it or you’ll get constipated the bowel obstruction. Same with liquids you can’t process and you swell up. You know your kidneys are shutting down. And that’s appropriate. That’s how it should be. So there’s this a variety of things like that that people can do, and it, I think it matters, matters a lot that people have a much. first of all, you’ll have a lot more experience of what their death really is. And if their death is a good death and they’re at peace and they can focus on what’s happening to them. There is a remarkable. Change in the room. When they leave their body, and that’s. I think speaking for hospice workers everywhere. That’s part of what keeps people drawn to that job is that experience. It’s I now know very much like certain levels of experience and a deeper meditations. But then families know before the person dies, for sure, there’s a connection. If they’re calm and they just match their breathing to that person and they relax. And that room’s kind of dimly lit they. Can commune, that’s the best word I have for it, and you know that they’re okay. And then your own fears can calm down. And then when they do die per Western death, they’re not dead in Tibetan Buddhism at that point. Not for a few more days, but there’s a. There’s a kind of illumination occurs, and then I think every time you experience that, you have a little less fear of death. But the key key is doing less. The key is being with them more and doing less so that that, as I said, those the same phases of elements to solution and going through what they call her, I think it’s got red increase and Black Mirror attainment. Our state is a meditation, too. That’s why part of why meditations challenge is you have to sit through. All your cases coming up and all that kind of stuff happening and you get it through going through the dying process and people who learn to do that, I can tap clear light in this lifetime. And there are people who have done that, even a few Westerners. So that’s that’s what those two things have in common, and that’s what I tried to bring. To us, Westerners using Western language and Western experience after I read about it and after I validated it, you know, by talking to people on hospice who have these experiences and now sometimes begin to. We experience some of the phases of that and my own limitations. Well, I would say for myself in terms of death, obviously, based on that early experience when I was young, I really wanted something different. And that was, I think, part of the attraction to power, but that, as I said, that that interest in the Tibetan Book of the Dead and have preceded that. I was 19 when I wrote that first paper. Now there’s lots of stuff out about it, and that’s helpful. But I see. Oh, I see the sadness in the way I’ve talked about them. In terms of the dissolution, first, getting clear and then dissolving as creating a. Doing that over and over and over again, theoretically, thousands of times. Is practice run for death? It is, and there’s, I think, part of what they’re designed to do. Some teachers talk about it that way and some don’t. But as my experience of it and. So. I. You know, when I do, I try to devise your Sci-Fi every day just to clear current karmic. Accumulation and dust, the mirror, so to speak, and. When I am done, most of the time, my body feels clear and transparent. And then I can go into day yoga and then I can dissolve it, or if I’m doing my moves mudra. I don’t. You know, my mother is. Beyond words. So it’s not so easy to describe, but. If I’m doing my mudra, then. It’s faster. And cleaner entry into certain meditative states and. You know, I mean, there were I don’t really think we’re supposed to talk about that so much, but. When I can see my own mind, when I can see what it’s doing and see a luminous, clear quality to it. Then I know I’m giving. More aware of that, and if I’m more aware of that, I’m more likely to catch it during the dying process. And I’m not overly fond of the fact that when you’re dying and we at that one shot that time, that’s a that’s the way it is and I wanted to be ready, you know, and I see the. I see the the these practices is preparing me over and over and over again. And. And approaching it from every possible angle with, you know, it’s not that we’re supposed to do 50 different sadness in our lifetime. But you get a sense after a while of what ones are kind of it’s kind of a weird way to say it, I suppose. But. Holding us, you know, it’s like a circle helping us see the complete totality of who we are and see Buddha nature and see clashes equally clearly. You know? And. Dream yoga. That’s that’s an interesting thing, you know, because I don’t usually sleep very well and. That has turned out to be a big boon in dream yoga because I’ve gotten now where I can. There’s that part of my mind that is aware of, Oh, that’s a dream or. That’s thoughts about the Supreme Court. That’s an and to flip a little bit, but to train all day long that all day long and all night long. What I am. Perceiving or in mundane awareness about is illusion like. And I remind myself of that all the time, including my own thoughts, police attitudes, feelings, you know, emotions, it’s all illusion like it’s all. So. Holding that while gaining that awareness of watching all the stuff that gets thrown up and more and more relating to it as illusion like is. Preparation. In dream yoga and in dying. Same same difference. No different, really. Well, just imagine for a minute if we really knew that this was our experience in this and put it that way. Zululand, I really knew that. Really experienced that. What’s death then? You know. What’s to be afraid of? Now I will say that most meditators encounter a pocket of fear. That can be fairly short lived or go on for, you know, a few years. Where you keep coming up to that. You know, I just don’t this is the way I think I did back up because if fear comes up, you know, our primitive brain is all about survival of this body and personality, and we’re challenging that and that that’s going to dissolve and death. I think eyes will be ready. You know, and some of the practices to me of Muhammad are a dream yoga are preparation for that doing that for the benefit of others so that I can have a better rebirth . Or I can, you know, enter the Buddhist path, not just aspirational bodies, but actual bodies have passed and. Stuff is the 37 price of bodies for which I haven’t talked about much, but is Muhammad or I, it are both in their way. Complete overviews of the path one primarily from the view of emptiness and one primarily from the Al Qaeda and their great combo. For me.
Well, I would say to myself further back than 20 years ago was to use kind of southwest language, beware the coyote within Coyote as trickster. I have been amazed at the lengths to which my my mundane mind will go to trick myself. You know, and now that I think about it, that. That process gets more and more subtle the further you go on the path, but it also gets more destructive if it’s let loose or misunderstood, you know, because you got more power in a sense, subtle, but you got more power as a practitioner and the beginning, if people can learn to pay attention to the trickster, the lengths to which our own psyches will go to preserve things as they are to cling to that image in mind, that ignorance is it’s amazing and it’s entertaining if you can have a sense of humor about it and not get afraid. I was like, Ken, Wilber said at one point. It’s like the best show in town to just watch your on. My God, we’re back home from, you know, and not engage. Not, I mean, it’s probably almost impossible to not self protect, but that that’s what I would say to my younger self if I could. I was not unaware of the trickster, but I didn’t know the times. I kind of just threw caution to the winds and went with that, Oh my gosh, what a mess. You know, and and if you keep doing the practices and you get more and more aware with concentration and focus and just watching your mind and meditation , you start to see the trickster and you start seeing more and more often and more and more throughout the day, not just in meditation things. A meditation got to be carried over into post meditation. And that’s what I would advise people about. Watch for it in your emotions. Watch for it in your desires, watch for it, in your thoughts, your beliefs, your attitudes. You every time a cop, an attitude trickster. So that’s that’s what I’ve learned. I think, yeah, it is the best show tell. I in my mind, it’s just it’s a that’s most of the time, frankly. That’s the best way I could put it. And the sublime is sublime, you know, and that’s fine. But being aware day to day in and day out, that’s that’s the ticket I think to. Being a benefit in helping others.
Teachings on Emptiness
Well, I think emptiness has become more important to me because I began to have experiences of it. And. That that kind of thing. You know, whether it’s in the sana’s or around bodhichitta practices or whatever makes it all start coming alive and. I did not know, I guess I thought, I guess I thought, you know, I could read in some of the Zen stories like you just walking down the street and boom, you have this realization. But you can also, I even talk to you about this, you can experience the makaya over and over and over again, it’s like learning to swim. You know, Hillary is swimming in the tires in the sense and emptiness is like that too can be introduced, introduced, introduced and. It starts to it starts to become part of. A deeper realization of permanence, what that really means and interdependence and what that really means. And it can doesn’t always obviously, you wouldn’t be Buddhist stuff, but it can open the door. To a deeper understanding of bodhichitta and. I think I think for me. I assumed that bodhichitta would come more alive if I realized emptiness. And that has been true, but I don’t think it’s automatically true. I think you have to want bodhichitta, you have to seek. To be of benefit and help to others, and that’s your motivation. You know, and some people just don’t have that so that they should do some some other meditations, but. Apparently, I do, and that was important to me and. They come together, but there’s a reason why I I don’t know this for sure, but I think you’re supposed to have some realization of emptiness and be able to visualize 1000 bodies in detail before you’re even on the bodies of a bath. But look at what the body psychopath is. It’s ten boom years of teller’s eyes. So obviously, what do you see is a little tougher than realizing emptiness and temporal lobe sciences that he says. That’s easy compared to compared to being a body sad. That’s that’s, you know, when you get to the point where. You, you you lay down your life, you know, for somebody else, that might even be easy compared to really sincerely and deeply praying for someone who’s, you know, trying to jump off your head or spread false rumors about you in throughout the universe, like the 37 practices of body stuff we talk about. It’s a challenge and it you’ve got to have some realization of emptiness of that. Why else would you do it? But I think a lot of us have some realization of emptiness walking around all day long. We’re just not aware of it. But that’s it. That’s the difference. And so when you start started and aware of it, things were flying a little faster. I because of Maha Mudra, you know, spare. I did a lot of sadness and stuff, but I I wanted realization of this and that that I wanted to understand these verses in the new draft aspiration, Premiere, the third Karmapa that are like Zen Koans, they’re like, Oh, you know? And I just would say, read it Look out of balance on the internet to try to understand that. But once I started getting a little taste of that, then I started having more motivation, more dedication to each other than they had before. So I do get now, you know that there’s these people that do all this in one lifetime, but is to me, is this not the best reason to be reincarnated and keep going? Keep going? You know, why not? Why not, isn’t that not what a precious human birth is for families? To me, it is so. That’s how that’s how that’s how I kind of came to more emphasis of first on emptiness. And it seems like it has a lot of emphasis now. I think that’s actually lightened up some, and I look more for the integration of bodhichitta and emptiness in how I live. How many decisions, how to act. You know, I wish I was better, but that’s where I’m at right now. So.