Monthly Dharma Quotation: The Ungraspable Self
As you begin to allow thoughts and feelings to be there, the mind often seems to become more, rather than less, irritating. It is not really becoming more irritating, the fact is, it was always like that, and you are just becoming more and more aware of it. For some time you experience this irritability, but you also begin to feel that there is something very simple, very wholesome and powerful about relating to the mind in this way. You have a certain confidence; at least you are on the right track of relating to your experience. You are getting closer to what is really there.
At some point, it is not so much that the mind becomes less irritable, but you discover that one of the problems you had was caring so much about the various thoughts that were there. This was a big deal for you, and maybe it was the reason you started to meditate in the first place. But now, even though you see the thoughts more clearly, you don’t mind them being there so much. It is not really so annoying as before. You don’t mind that the mind doesn’t behave itself, that it doesn’t do what you want. You begin to think, “Maybe the mind could take care of itself?” You could actually let it do its own thing.
An interesting kind of challenge begins to arise when you realise that your sense of self is really no more than another kind of thought which could dissolve away. Obviously, it is a very important kind of thought, with a lot of emotion associated with it. And that is why it is challenging. The quality of attachment to our selves which we all have is something we tend not to recognise because we take self as a given thing. “How can I be attached to my self? It is just there. it is me.” But then you begin to realise that what you think of as self can dissolve away along with all the other thoughts. You are beginning to discover the truth about the nature of self; it isn’t solid, it isn’t graspable, it can dissolve away into a sense of freedom. That can be quite interesting and inspiring, but it might also be rather scary.
It is like the start of a quest that you begin by leaving home. And what is this home you are leaving? It is the sense of self that you have had up until now. You also have to leave certain patterns of mind which have been so much a habit for you; ideas about yourself, ideas about the place where you live, your environment, and so on. As those begin to dissolve, it is a bit like leaving home and going on a journey. You are not quite sure where you are going, or even why you are going, but at some level you know there is something to discover. Maybe it is a quest for truth, and what you are experiencing is the beginning of that sense of truth. You haven’t yet arrived at any of the places you are going towards, but at least you are getting an intuitive sense of the direction in which you are heading.Rigdzin Shikpo
This month’s Dharma Quotation comes from the book Formless Meditation and the Dying Process, available in our bookstore.
Lion’s Roar Gate 3 in February
Lion’s Roar Gate 3 has been scheduled for February 12 and 13 and is open to anyone who has previously attended Lion’s Roar Gate 2. Gate 3 will be taught by Mary Mackay-James who previously taught Gates 1 and 2 last year and is a close student of Rigdzin Shikpo. We have early bird pricing available until January 29.
The Lion’s Roar programme is a three year training in meditation in the Maha Ati tradition and is open to anyone wishing to connect to the fundamental sense of awareness that is the heart of the Buddhist path. Tickets to gate 3 can be purchased on Eventbrite here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-lions-roar-gate-3-weekend-1213-february-online-tickets-200943245657. For more information on the Lion’s Roar training, see this page: https://www.longchenfoundation.org/longchen-training/the-lions-roar/.
Longchenpa Day on February 5
For members of the Longchen Foundation Mandala, don’t forget to mark your calendars for Longchenpa Day. On this day we remember the inspiration of the great 14th century teacher Longchen Rabjam, who preserved the Maha Ati teachings and whose lineage is maintained to this day in the Longchen Foundation. It also marks the beginning of the teachings for the year 2022.
Path of Freedom Teachings in the New Year
The Lewisham and Oxford Path of Freedom local groups have begun a new cycle of teachings. Path of Freedom groups meet weekly for meditation and teachings on a wide variety of Buddhist topics. The Lewisham Path of Freedom group is for people living in or local to Lewisham in South London and the Oxford group is open to anyone who wishes to receive teachings and meditate with the Longchen Foundation. Both groups are currently meeting on Zoom. All the Path of Freedom meetings can be found on our calendar here: https://www.longchenfoundation.org/events/.
Cinema Shikpo in February
We also have a forthcoming showing of Cinema Shikpo on February 18. During Cinema Shikpo, we show one of Rigdzin Shikpo’s recorded video teachings. This month we will be showing the second part of the teaching on Longchen Rabjam’s Notions of Mandala. These teachings are available for purchase on Vimeo here: https://vimeo.com/user9922028/vod_pages, but all of our Cinema Shikpo teachings are free and open to the public. For more information, see the event page here: https://www.longchenfoundation.org/event/cinema-shikpo-mandalas-feb-2022/