Hail to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas!
Thus I have seen and heard. A most dire wind, increasingly growing loud and intense, so consistently elevating in volume that it does not sound organic. The whole valley is swept with this almost artificial sounding wind, a volume of growling roaring waves getting louder over hours. Trees go down, the valley goes into absolute darkness. Alone on the mountain sitting in mind training we see a senior disciple in silent meditation. The winds lash the laboratory and temple, branches fall until one large tree begins to bend and shake. The creaking reaches a critical point when the disciple strikes a mudra and says a wind subduing mantra. On the fate of our own very heart, the winds pulled back and subsided in an instant as if they were drawn back and corked into a bottle. Though much destruction was wrought, the core was protected. A moment earlier or later, the mantra would not have worked. It was the true word spoken at the precise moment of sincere need and practice that overcame such a wayward, supernatural gale and force that lashed the serene mountains.
These events coordinated with our launch of the Sangha. We are seasoned enough to know that any sincere, strenuous effort in these times is met with the equivalent blowback, resistance and arising of demonic obstacles. This also happened to coincide with lunar new year, and certain saint days to time for energetic windows to begin new initiatives. Even the most auspicious timings will be met with supernatural obstructions as the demons sense pure activity and conjure to distract, disrupt and destroy. In a development typical of this world age, the outpouring of support in donations actually triggered an algorithm of unusual activity and thus caused our payment services account to become suspended and possibly terminated, pending appeal to non-human AI from a faceless corporation. We have anticipated such events, as we have watched so many exiled from communicating, publishing, speaking out from topics such as medicine, agendas and the consolidation of tyranny that we see becoming unmasked. We have seen these dark forces force the people’s right to conduct business, visit their loved ones, attend weddings, funerals, worship services as they implode all that is left of culture, security and aggregate wealth in power. We have heard of them ‘canceling’ any dissent, and the slow erasure of the past, however banal and trivial. There must not be any context, memory of anything else in crafting their new normal. Thus we are in the position of spiritual war, wherein we are both each other’s obstacles. There are those that want to do the organic spiritual pursuits, the Great Work that is life’s purpose, and there are others that blatantly want to modify and destroy life in their hubris and hatred of the True Human spirit.
These events coincide with the wars in heaven of holy books, as above, so below. The Daoists understood this as the celestial realm as mimicking their political reality. It was a bureaucratic celestial hierarchy, and talismans were the equivalent of heavenly paperwork to conduct the rituals. We must understand this as the overlay of spiritual forces that amass in the transitions of world ages. There are the dark, sentinel, demonic forces that mirror this insidious darkness upon the earth. Likewise, a darkness and despair can wash over the inner microcosm, as the world seems to be drifting into the nightmare of enslavement of organic consciousness. Even technology mimics this reality, with viruses, firewalls, codes, encryption. We particularly do not like to use such modern examples, but these aspects have interpenetrated and created an overlay of virtual reality, an abstract realm of interaction that filters and manipulates reality in truly inorganic, artificial ways that merely mock intelligence or sentience.
We intended to make this post immediately, after the last, but there were some obstacles to overcome. Such a response from those who support and the forces that oppose are revealing to the power in such a project. Few can fathom that outpouring of support as an organic investment in their own health, well-being, in creating a group, school, temple, a Sangha to mutually support one another in absolute dire times. To this we are truly thankful. We offer some thoughts for those pondering the present situation.
At the root of so much of the esoteric practices is to overcome, pierce, circumvent obstacles. These are karmic obstacles, self-inflicted and those of circumstances to more subtle, pernicious, metaphysical and supernatural forces that waylay and subvert progress. Some are of aeonic karmas and destiny, such as the brutal arising of communist forces eradicating and subverting Buddhism and Daoism in China, killing masters, burning temples, dragging yogis from their mountain retreats and throwing them into prisons for 30 plus years. And yet these acts also forced aspects of these faiths and traditions to escape, adapt, evolve, and reform in new ways. The great teachers were made to disperse from central locations through obstacles, which led to the propagation of Dharma when the demonic intent was to destroy it at its core.
The Master’s have said: “the will to enlightenment is itself enlightenment.” All reading this will have experienced moments of supreme clarity, of the deepest, overwhelming urge towards Buddhahood, of interpenetrating compassion and insight into the fundamental interdependent arising of all phenomena. But this will often fade, or ebb and flow, or dissipate into the dullness, apathy or trauma induced exile from authentic life. It can be obscured by the red dust of the worldly concerns, stress, distraction. Trauma and sickness might awaken one to deeper realizations of the temporal nature of life or stun one into dissociative states. Beholding others suffering might awaken compassion or numb one in a cold heart. Then tensions of aspiring to better circumstances and abiding, being content.
The most common side effect of any obstacles is the morose, demoralized, delusion mind that returns. Such a state is the antithesis of bodhichitta. The best convenient designation for such a state is “Tamas (Sanskrit: तमस् tamas “darkness”) is one of the three Gunas (tendencies, qualities, attributes), the other two qualities are rajas (passion and activity) and sattva (purity, goodness). Tamas is the quality of inertia, inactivity, dullness, or lethargy. Inertia “a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.” This is by far the greatest condition to overcome in achieving the integrated health of body, mind and spirit.
There are innate and acquired obstacles, and these are aspects of karma and destiny that have aggregated over aeons to one’s present circumstances. Part of obstacles is a compartmentalization of life, this is practice or meditation, this is work, this is healing, this is ritual. These must be integrated, consolidated, brought to a singularity, reconciled within the totality of being. This is why the Buddha included right livelihood, as understanding there is a necessary practical and exoteric method of taking care of basic needs in this realm. The exoteric path gives much insight. We have seen such disciplined evolution from those selling their self-made products on blankets at flea markets that evolve to tables, to coordinating their own events, stores, to online business, etc. From those in poverty that collect scrap metal walking around, then invest in a bicycle, then motorcycle, to trucks, storage lockers, etc. These are true examples of creating something from nothing, or a type of alchemy that turns waste into resources, and it holds a deeper truth of starting with what you have and building upon it with relentless effort and discipline.
Others make their extra funds for projects from the bountiful discarded metal as well, and these are used for fine knives, tools, weapons, etc. Or another that collects scrap wood and with less than five salvaged and repurposed tools begin projects that lift them out of poverty or subservience, so their time is their own, creating income streams and investing their time in the supreme mindfulness needed in the Way of Craft. This is why it is essential in our Sangha, guild, and research society to actively cultivate artisan skills, exoteric projects of preserving Traditional arts, crafts, species, techniques as mutually beneficial modes of practice. Macro and micro goals, great works, exoteric and esoteric projects and training, these integrate the mind-body-thought into the full expression of Dharma. Work and plan as if we will never die, love and practice as if we die this evening. Behold the countless masters, Mahasiddhas and true teachers that also were skilled artisans, craftsmen and craftswomen, and used it as supreme means of cultivation.
There are no excuses to not find ways to progress, presence and practice as a method of self-refinement and working towards the autonomy of time needed for the higher practices. Yet so many able bodied complain about unjust systems, make excuses for failure, exhaust themselves in addictions to outrage and anger instead of self-refinement and perfection of their craft. This is when obstacles become deep habits, then flaws of character, and finally a tragic sin of wasted incarnation. There is nothing worse than being one’s own biggest obstacle. Woe to those that waste time not sowing seeds for their own and others futures. They will lament in the hells they have created their inability to work exoteric or esoteric paths. The luxury their ancestors created for them has only led them to rot and ruin. They are so decadent they cannot sustain even a few days of consistency if their life depended on it. We invite all those reading this to take this year as if it was their last in terms of sincere practice to the Dharma. We disgrace all those that sacrificed, died and bled for our life to wallow in inactivity, inertia and lethargy. We disgrace our past and future if we do not rectify all within our power, to develop the most full-spectrum exoteric and esoteric powers to ease suffering and withstand the calamities that will be poured out upon the land.
Some obstacles are subtle, and not even a negative in the true sense. They can be an overabundance in information, resources, data that overwhelms and causes confusion. An example is the different diets propagated to fix health issues, that people experiment with and try, getting sicker and sicker until they really don’t know what to eat anymore. The same can be said for ‘spiritual paths’ as the systems are dumped into the collective consciousness with no true initiatory basis, and it becomes a hodgepodge of the sick person trying to decide what is best for them from their diseased perspective, limited knowledge, and lack of discernment. Thus, cancer is not a disease to be cured, but a condition to address, and so is the spiritual sickness that debases one back to the lethargic, dull inertia that wastes life like a terminal disease draining life force. The sick must become the healer.
Success, happiness, wealth, perfect health can all be hidden, subtle obstacles. Just as the historical Buddha’s family conspired to keep him from glimpsing suffering, those that experience such an ease, comfort, a perfect family, friends, as if touched by magic, they might not awaken to life’s true purpose until it is too late. If all of the endeavors one tried were rapidly, dynamically successful, there would be no growth, no development of wisdom, no resilience. It is not to be sado-masochistic, in seeking out extreme tortures, life will likely deliver plenty. But it is the deeper understanding that what appear to be obstacles are means of awakening and striving, it is the conflict that is the alchemical process of separating second-hand notions and conditioning to what is true, essential, fundamental. It is winnowing.
The ‘experts’ in any field are often also part of this equation of obfuscation. Each different sect and group suggested that some doctrinal issue was important enough to make a distinction or schism. Or consider how prosecutions and defense attorneys can summon up the most unimpeachable, credentialed masters to give expert testimony in any subject from forensics, medicine, psychiatry, and any pertinent subject and both have completely different opinions, depending on who is paying. Or many doctors can all give a different ‘second opinion.’ The superficial expert is the same as the self-medicating people who have no teachings and who simply attempt to throw anything and everything at their array of crises and problems. They never move beyond a childlike mindset to develop a true understanding of the deepest principles of achieving health and balance.
“The Four Sights” depicted
The same is in the weaponized science, funded studies, biased peer review with agenda, political motivations to the conclusions. These are barriers, obstacles to truth, often calculated to fracture reality, wherein none can discern truth. Like the Buddha assaulted with illusions, seductions, fears they are all but mere lies. There are lies by commission or omission, or of creating such confusion the mere notion of truth becomes meaningless, relative, nihilistic. But as always, the worst lies are those told to the self.
The Bible says that fear is the beginning of wisdom, but it is more dogmatic assertions. Respect is the seed of wisdom, respect of life, of time, of cause and effect, of self and personal honor and responsibility. Of earning and maintaining respect is trust and integrity. There is a difference between fear and respect. One should not fear the venomous snakes or a sharp tool, but one should respect them. Fear can be the seed of demons. Fear can cause cowardice, makes one grasp and begin to see the essential struggle of life as separate from oneself.
It is why the Abrahamic religions are dripped in blood, of even their own people, and they are the grandmothers of the other secular tyrannies that want to control the individual down to their thoughts, and if possible, genetics. Such a one in fear becomes a cancer to the Dharma-kaya, the totality of existence. Their fear drives them to be a parasite and to horde, to prey upon and justify all in their driving terror of losing their grasp of control and power. The fear dominates every aspect of their life as their attempts to control others erects a prison around all. In the body, this state is the equivalent of cancer, of a genetic coding gone mad against its own self. There must be a true balance between pursuing self-interest, as one must sustain life and protect it, to being parasitic and depraved with materialism. Just as cells in the body turn against itself, so does this cold, predatory mode of being take hold. Yet it can, and most successfully uses the guise of virtue, of progress, of equity etc. to pierce the vulnerabilities of society.
To face reality, some obstacles are so intense, it takes a type of grace to overcome them from the Gods and Buddhas. This is well attested in the Sutras, but they are gained by ascetic practice, devotion, discipline. These are in the Vedic context of generating tapas for boons from the Gods, to the alchemist who must fast for 108 days to overcome some serious problem in his experiments. Obstacles as opportunities, learning from suffering, the frustrations, the doors closed, the losses, excruciating seemingly synchronized obstructions of certain paths. Maybe relationships fall out, projects fall through, setbacks incurred, all teaching lessons. Obstacles force one to contemplate the unity of all life just trying to live, survive, protect themselves from pain, suffering, and we are all united from the lowest to highest life form in this basic will to live, in striving.
We must avail ourselves of these skillful means to complete our objectives, this is the sun that causes the lotus of the teachings to open. There are no excuses not to find means to practice. For some unable to do the advanced training, there are such gentle methods that are as dynamic for this year’s supreme striving. The beautiful arts of tracing sutras and divine images, the incense or tea, to the simple contemplations and visualizations that are the essence of the Way. The most powerful skillful means are simple but not not easy, gentle and yet able to transmute baseness to pure gold. It is the mind’s complexity that demands such complexity to pacify the senses, as our own senses and intelligence can be the ultimate aid or obstacle.
The core practices must be mastered, rapidly and conducted with unbroken chains of discipline and devotion. Just as in alchemy, it is the distillations of matter over and over again that purifies it, cleanses of the dross that limits the base potential yearning potential to be gold, we must purify. Just as the intense energy, repetitions, the concentrated crucible of the internal energy is brought to complete focus, so in external alchemy the bondage of matter is fatigued and its potential transmutes in spontaneous purity. We work in complete devotion to articulate these methods rapidly to avail those in this year’s practice. As a Sangha these are coordinated to create the esoteric syntony, with the practice of each day, each week, month and this year as if it is our last. It is with such sincerity, and such immediacy that the true word of the mantra is understood and spoken.
Our rigorous training will culminate on Dec. 8 of this year for these practices and on Dec 21st for others that we engage in full cultivation. We will engage in the processes of ‘bigu’ fasting, which we do in cycles and that all should do to purify themselves of various bodily and psycho-spiritual parasites. The aspirations include the mastery of certain mantra practices, the training in prostrations that culminate into the 1 million mantra, 3000 prostrations timed to conclude in the calculated arising of the morning star. All training simply primes the body for the spontaneous innate energies to arise unobstructed, just as one cultivates the field for the bountiful harvest. It is 271 days to Dec 8th. What we do with this time is crucial. We must pour ourselves into practices, we divide this time into a period of purifications that culminate into two, 100 (108) day elixir fasting and mountain/forest training exercises that are fully integrated into our exoteric practices that we must do out of karmic necessity and pursuit of right livelihood.
Let us hold the supreme honor and compassion, the true humanity so deeply within us that to transgress our efforts is an affront to the Dharma itself. Thus we invoke the wrathful deities to guard and protect our fragile, precarious initial efforts of all practitioners and request them be the sentinels of those that take Refuge. We pursue these practices as if it is our last days in this realm. For no matter what occurs as the larger confrontations with karma, it is the death of our old self, our own great reset to pursue the great and noble Way. All interested can make formal, discrete, polite inquiry for further details.