Weekly Features

Sems dpa, the Buddhist Spiritual Warrior, the Hero, the fearless Buddhist: overcoming self-ignorance and our maras

The term Spiritual Warrior (Tibetan "sems dpa") may hint at more than a whiff of bravado and violence — until it is understood that the enemy of the Spiritual Warrior is "avidya" or self-ignorance. Overcoming avidya is at the root of Buddha's teachings, and so is the conduct of the warrior spirit inherent in the term. Buddhism — while pacificist in nature — is full of military terms — not because Dharma is violent, but because, "warrior" is a metaphor best understood by human beings. In Mahayana Buddhism, where compassion is the equal of wisdom, the concept is taken to the next level, where the warrior is also the hero rescuing others — the Bodhisattva. Then, there's is the greatest "super hero" of all time: Green Tara; or the great Yogi hero Milarepa, who faced countless demons. "Warrior" connotes fearlessness. Overcoming fear is a core practice in Buddhism. Green Tara, in Tibetan Buddhism, is a practice focused largely on removing fear. Equally, self-discipline is the key to successful Buddhist practice. Buddha, himself descended from warrior caste, understood the military well. ...

Tsa Lung Trul Khor, Yantra Yoga and Qigong — supercharging Buddhist meditation (8 videos)

Tsa Lung Trul Khor is an ancient practice with a 4,000-year lineage that works with the “breath” and the energy subtle body. With similar benefits to health as Chi Gong (Qigong) — the Tibetan Buddhist practice of Trul Khor is profound — in a spiritual sense — since subtle mind rides on the “winds” or breath. The practices are typically thought of as the most advanced teachings — yet simplified versions of Qigong, Trul Khor and Yantra Yoga can be practiced by “everyone, independent of their views, ideals, aspirations, and capacities.” [2] By working with breath, and energy — both vital aspects of most styles of meditation — these practices have the potential to “supercharge” your daily sessions. Watching the breath takes on new significance. Tantric visualizations become more intense and blissful. And, of course, the energy helps us avoid sleepy or unfocused meditations. There are easy and difficult routines,…

Read More

The many faces of Avalokiteshvara’s compassion: sometimes we need a father or mother, sometimes a friend, sometimes a warrior

Sometimes we need the gentle mother or father to guide us. We often need a best friend to console us, pat our back, pick us back up and inspire us to work harder. Or, we might need the strength of a warrior to help us. Other times we are best helped by the stern king — to get us back on track with rules and enforcement. When we are fearful, maybe we need to take shelter in the arms of our own wrathful monster — a beast other monsters fear. The faces and manifestations of compassion, of Avalokiteshvara comes in many forms: father (Chenrezig), mother (Guanyin or Tara), warrior (Mahakala), king (Hayagriva), or — all of these, embodied in 1000-armed, 11-faced Avaolokiteshvara. These are the many faces of the Enlightened Bodhisattva Deity.     Buddha of Compassion An Enlightened Bodhisattva Deity, by definition, IS compassion. Technically, an Enlightened Bodhisattva Deity equally…

Read More

Review: Gelug Mahamudra Eloquent Speech of Manjushri by Zasep Tulku Rinpoche; making the profound and complex meditation method concise and clear

In a new book, Gelug Mahamudra, Eloquent Speech of Manjushri, Zasep Rinpoche unpacks the profound subject of Mahamudra meditation — the “very heart of Buddha’s teachings” — for the modern western Buddhist student. (Available on Amazon>>) Drawing on many decades of teaching experience in the west, he distils volumes of knowledge on Mahamudra — the most advanced and significant teachings in Vajrayana — into a concise yet comprehensive 300 pages. He writes in the same style as he teaches, with a focus on making this vast and deep method easy to digest and comprehend. With the aid of original illustrations from Ben Christian — which include channels and chakras diagrams, beautiful thangkas of Manjushri and other Buddhas, and yoga postures for sitting — Rinpoche compresses centuries of practice commentary into fourteen short chapters. Covering everything from the preliminaries — Refuge, Bodhicitta, Mandala offerings, Vajrasattva, Guru Yoga — through to Samatha…

Read More

The Dalai Lama and eight other teachers explain how to avoid taking Refuge in the wrong things and why Refuge can help us overcome obstacles

“We are extraordinarily adept at taking refuge, the problem is we take refuge in the wrong things.” writes noted Buddhist teacher and psychologist Rob Preece, in his breakthrough book, Preparing for Tantra. [1] Rob Preece explains what he means by “wrong things”: “We take refuge from our stress, our emotional problems, and our relationships in anything we find that will temporarily relieve us of discomfort… We take refuge in food, money, our home, the TV, entertainment, alcohol, drugs, sex, even work and relationships… [we] think, albeit mistakenly, these things will bring us happiness… they have become a refuge.”   Dalai Lama: “it is senseless to ask another who is in the same predicament” Why take refuge in the Three Jewels instead of something worldly? The Dalai Lama explains: “… it would be like falling into a ditch and asking another who is in it to help you out. You need to…

Read More

Tantra Helps “Stop Ordinary Perception”, and is the Fast Path to Enlightenment. But How Do Modern Buddhists Relate to Deities?

The great teacher Lama Yeshe once asked: “Why are there so many different deities in tantra?” [1] On one hand, Mahayana Buddhism speaks to universality, emptiness, oneness and the illusion of “I” or interdependent nature. On the other, Vajrayana Buddhism — often referred to as the “lightning path” and holding out the hope of realizations in one lifetime — includes the practice of deity yoga. These numerous deities appear contrary to the doctrine of emptiness/oneness — particularly from a Western cultural perspective. Lama Yeshe answers this paradox: “Each deity arouses different feelings and activates different qualities … The whole point of doing meditation is to discover this fundamental principle of totality.” [1] Although Vajrayana Buddhist practice begins on the universal Buddhist foundations of renunciation, refuge and contemplation, advanced practitioners are taught to visualize deities ­— and not just to imagine the deities, but to become them, merge with them or…

Read More

The Science of Mantras: Mantras Work With or Without Faith; Research Supports the Effectiveness of Sanskrit Mantra for Healing — and Even Environmental Transformation

“At the heart of each of us, whatever our imperfections, there exists a silent pulse of perfect rhythm, made up of wave forms and resonances, which is absolutely individual and unique, and yet which connects us to everything in the universe.” — George Leonard, Silent Pulse [13] Mantra is thought of as a beneficial meditative practice ­— empowered by faith, intention and concentration. Yet, there is a significant body of evidence that mantras, regardless of concentration or faith, are beneficial to health and surroundings. In other words, they may have influence over mind — and even environment (for example growth of plants) — even if the recipient of the sound has no faith in its efficacy. Expectant mothers play mantras for unborn babies. Caregivers chant mantras for pets. Neither babies nor pets have faith, but many swear by the effectiveness of mantra. Faith certainly empowers mantra further, as does intention,…

Read More

REMINDER: DAKINI TSOG >

Translate »