What Are We? The Body is the Channel — Energy and consciousness are enmeshed principles in Tibetan Buddhism

What are we and what are our limits? An answer arrives when we make contact with the nature of energy and consciousness embodiment. Energy and consciousness are enmeshed principles in Tibetan Buddhism and other contemplative spiritual traditions.

Energy and consciousness are indistinguishable through the lens of unequivocal causal interdependence and the middle-path point of view. Let this idea detonate — energy and consciousness are as interdependent as all other phenomena, and matter comprises of energy. Energy is indestructible and simply subject to change. So we can extrapolate that our lives enmesh with this interdependence and totality and are not separate from it in any way. It may all sound like a familiar new-age trope, but when we settle into this truth, most other metaphysical concepts are invited and revealed.

Special feature by Joshua Reichmann

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Body and mind enmeshed

 

Editor: Matter is never destroyed, it is converted to energy. All beings are born out of the same elemental soup. In Vajrayana Buddhism, we meditate on Emptiness, or Oneness, to help us comprehend the ultimate nature of reality. (In Romantic literature, it is said, we are all made of “stardust.)

The human body, like all forms, is an arising conglomerate tethered to all other formations, the human body and mind are enmeshed integral aspects of one another and opportunities for vast amounts of energy and dimensions of awareness to manifest. As beings, we are conduits for and elements of all phenomena, including energy and consciousness, as a singular expression of activity.

To dig into this more closely, we look first at our physics. Our manifest reality is built by expressions of energy. One way that energy displays is as light. Light manifests as both particles and waves creating potentials following an electromagnetic gravity vacuum we call this universe—a universe of energy. Minds in any stage of an embodiment are properties of this energetic universe, just as consciousness, in its general sense, is a pervasive force running through all phenomena as it interacts with minds and bodies.

The Sense Gates

Editor: Brain activity during REM sleep, and even more significantly during Lucid dreaming, is much higher than for the typical “awake” mind. What separates the dream from “perceived reality?” When there is no distraction, no perception through the “sense gates” of the eyes, ear, nose our mind is free to connect wth a wider network of information. Some might call it dreaming or imagination, others called it journeying (as in Shamanism). Similar freedom to experience the more universal collective consciousness occurs during deep contemplations and meditations.

Let’s look specifically at the human being and the expression of mind and body as one. Thoughts and the embodied imprints that generate them through our sense gates (sight, touch, hearing, etc), including our conceptual faculty, make up our minds’ core stimulus fodder. The human being in its mundane form is simply a dense dance of atoms. Atoms are made up of subatomic particles behaving as waves which are potential states of energy brought out of a quantum vacuum -We can then simplify and say – Human beings are expressions of energy, minds, and the thoughts they think included.

Again, consciousness is not independent of the material realms—the manifest realm and consciousness entwine through minds, and the form produced senses. As we examine quantum principles more closely, we see that consciousness is not dependant or founded in the material realm, instead, it weaves into its core.

Editor: A visualization of the nature of the “three bodies” in Buddhism Nirmanakaya (manifested or interdependently arisen Buddha body), Sambhogakaya (subtle Buddha body), and Dharmakaya. Here, we are visualizing Shakyamuni Buddha as Nirmanakaya (golden yellow Buddha), Vajrasattva as Sambogakaya, and Vajradhara as Dharmakaya (Vajradhama as Dharmakaya is “without perceived form” but visualized here as the blue form merging with Emptiness and Everythingness. These are just symbols of concepts. It is our ego, perceptions, and attachments which limit the aspects of the body we perceive. Loosely summarized, as all beings have Buddha Nature, we can all perceive our manifested forms through the filters of our ego and sense organs, but we do not perceive our Sambogaka or Dharmakaya bodies. In Vajrayana practice, during meditative sadhanas, we attempt to visualize, and ultimately, connect with, and perceive, ourselves in these forms.

We have found in both ancient Vedic wisdom, various wisdom traditions, and the frontier of modern neurobiology-quantum-philosophy, neuroscience, and physics- a unified field theory where all phenomenal display potentiates through awareness. That awareness has no inherent substantial quality. Therefore we start to see the foundation of emptiness, or the spontaneous arising quality of the ever-present primordial purity – what we call the Darmadatu. Form and time manifest – such as in our world and yet all activity we perceive is merely a potential.

So, what can a human do with this knowledge? We can self evolve to perceive more levels of phenomena and awareness by utilizing awareness and energy themselves. We do this to liberate ourselves from “lower” manifestations of experience and help other beings do the same. How developed or braided with levels of energy we are, depends on the quality or “amount” of consciousness we tap into and integrate into our physicalized field of influence or- our bodies. Enhancing consciousness offers access to a dimensionality that feeds back and continues to enhance our singular awareness – eventually resulting in total self-illuminated mind beyond duality arising beyond subject and object. We can call this enlightenment.

The Three Kayas

To see how we manifest as embodied energy, we first look to the three Kayas or bodies of manifestation in Tibetan Buddhism.

They are

  • Nirmanakaya – The embodied wisdom of the buddhas, enlightened activity in this realm.
  • Sambhogakaya– a dispersive energetic dance where enlightened activity activates perpetually.
  • Dharmakaya – the pure realm without form or substance and yet initiating and imbedded in all.

Could we then say that the energy of an embodied state, including the fluctuation of thoughts and a mind-stream gathering intention and pure self-awareness, is the spirit?

Editor: The concepts discussed in this feature are near-universal in numerous “contemplative spiritualities.” In this diagram of the Tree of Life from the Kabalah, the Buddhist three Kayas and other emanations are mapped to the Sephiroth. (Diagram from the lecture “Chicago Gnosis. The Buddhist concept of Emptiness (Shunyata) is equated to AElohim: the Ain, Ain Soph and Ain Soph Aur; Kether to the “Reality Body” in Buddhism known as Dharmakaya; the second logos Chokmah is represented by the Sambhogakaya (Perfect Resource Body) and Binah, the third sephiroth, equates to the Emanation Body or Nirmanakaya. In either system Malkuth represents the physical body or manifestation (in Buddhist expressed as Dependent Arising.” 

The spirit or La in Tibetan Buddism is the confluence and spin of energetic life quality in relationship with other energies and beings across various realms of perception. Energy is the determined flow of mind, and so energy is entwined with what we can call information – or -the imprints gathered by mind(s). Energy and mind are produced through the focus and pattern habituation. The spiral and refracted movement of intention is both mind and energy – spirit. Spirit actuates in a dance of other foundational metaphysics comprised of elements and geometric light and wave lattice that we can discuss in another post.

The spirit can also be understood as self penetrating observance, activated within the physics of a multi-dimensional occurrence. To awaken or activate, we must find the equilibrium between understanding and our fundamental force of energy.

To settle into a spirituality that participates with the linear-sequentially logical human ego-mind – like the one that is reading and judging these words, we can begin by admitting the indestructibility of energy.

Transmission, transmuting, and interlocking qualities of energy dissipate, morph, build, and move, showing us something fundamental about the cosmos. It shows us that nothing is wasted or disconnected from the rest. We can start to open the door to spiritual awareness when we connect our conscious mental/embodied activity and pattern to that of the energies produced through other physical displays. We are beings fully ensconced within the process we observe around us. We must engage in the shamanic alchemy of decerning what forces empower us and which are degrading us.

Mind: patterns of conceptual generation

The mind is a pattern system of response and fantasy/conceptual generation. There are many layers or types of minds in Tibetan Buddhism. They each reflect a dimension of the structure we call self, and they each require investigation to set them free from limitation or confusion.

Using a VR headset “cheats” the sense gates of our eyes. For a time, if we are relaxed and tuned into the virtual visualization, our mind can be “tricked” into perceiving it as reality. The sense gates are the portals of ego. For this reason, the great Enlightened masters, such as Buddha or Milarepa, retired to remote locations to be alone with their mind, stilling their mind, cravings, and illusions, and allowing a glimpse of collective reality.

The mind that we describe as “self” is a confluence of these minds and is generally the one identified with protecting the body-state and producing pleasure over pain. This mostly ignorant mind state ignores the body as a part of the mind field and higher expression of consciousness and energy.

The egoic discursive mind is incapable of accessing these higher realms of perception ad energy because it is a self-reflecting close circuit loop, not a channel.

The interaction with perceived external objects informs the body’s state as well as the conceptual mind state. The self-identifying mind describes the state it experiences through memory recall and judgment of whether this state is tilted towards pleasure over pain.

Even if attempted in a mistaken manner, the alleviation of suffering is the goal of all sentience.

The body is one with the traditional idea of mind or ego. As a result, it is a part of the perception generators that create a possibility for liberation or a gate to further confusion. Our body is this way a portal to energy as well!

The limited dimension of observed reality

We are a being that observes a dimension of reality and, through that same lens observes ourselves. It is a limited dimension we generally perceive, and we must endeavor to expand our perception and thus tap into more energy as we open up our dimensionality. Our bodies offer us this, and our various perception synthesizing apparatus located along the chakras of the subtle body are the gates that open us to this potential

Abstract mental formations are another factor producing the perceived limitations of “self”. Language and symbol production gives rise to the pattern or “meaning” formed by the minds to navigate this dimension or state. Language and symbols are simply visual and sonic structures built through habit to represent other objects.

 

They are directly energetic but also inferential devices to enable navigation for a conscious creature like us. They are produced within the sentient creature through memory and stimulated by a trigger. We can notice that any stimulus we encounter activates a memory of conceptual abstract mental formations. These motivate us and can deepen our sinking into Samseric delusion, or they can be tools to help liberate our subtle mind and bring us to enlightenment. We can look at all languages the same way. It is a conceptual formation that activates in visual or sonic signatures that enliven the enlightenment mind or dampen it! That enlightened mind resides within us and all phenomena. The nature of the buddha mind is for the confused being realize and engage. This realization opens energy like nothing else. All one can hope for is that the karmic winds offer enough insight to promote more.

As beings with (perceived) boundaries, we generate a self by exploring the limits of these boundaries. We feel the tension with other objects and beings. The weather, vibrations of sounds, spectrum and heat quality of light, the chemical reaction forming smells, the texture of the world against the cells of our skin, the conceptual mind of language and memory. These all rattle around in a bio-electric skin-suit affecting and being affected by the energy around us, nothing is unconscious.

The individual’s energy is simply the recycling of quality moving between states full of information for a being to receive. The ego creates story-state or narration to achieve stability, but this self-narration is very fragmented and thin, impermanent, and entirely subject to the atmosphere and the conditioned and changing state of the being. So what is stable? What can we hold onto in any of this? If energy is an exchange, ever-changing in quality and full of information, what can we call our own?

First, let’s look at how we relate to the cosmos.

A conduit for larger energies

In Vedic astrotheology, the planets, stars, and celestial bodies are dynamically at play with the human being. We are conscious energetic beings just as these other forms are beings. These large cosmic objects move in sweeping time scales, and the quality of their rhythms cascade into our terrestrial realm and through our bodies in a dance that gives character to our perception and quality of our lives. We are simply conduit like intermediaries for larger energies.

The particular coordinates shape our psyche’s and embodied habits of perception we manifest in and occupy. If every observable object interacts with the next- then what of our thoughts, minds, and emotions? Do these ephemeral states track into this dance of activity.

How “far out” do our thoughts travel, and upon what medium? Can we expect our mind streams to continue after bodily death, is there mind stream death? Can we determine the quality of that mind and heart-stream? Our spirit is simply the looping dance of our congealed energy and sense-made imprint patterns, including conceptual thought. If this is so, then what of the ego-self?

Why does it not survive bodily death too? To this, we must look at the memory and atmosphere, informing that state of mind(s). Our consciousness is simply activated when we are in proximity to a reminder; that reminder is our lives, our body in perceived time.

Foundational energy

Well documented near-death studies, together with research conducted on patients who undergo cardiac arrest, lead to a growing acceptance that the mind continues after the brain function ends. For a full feature on this topic, see>>

Those two things largely extinguish at death. Our more subtle imprinted mind and the congealed energy of the light body or subtle body are not interested in the story-mind and are dislocated from the linear time when we die. The story mind is simply that which guides the self that seeks protection from suffering in this realm.

When the realm has shifted and loosened from linear time and space, the mind cannot retain the framework it was using and resorts to more fundamental or foundational core imprints and quality. That quality is simply energy (full of the information of core imprints).

This should prompt us to work with that foundational energy in this life! That foundational energy is the continuum of mind-heart that morphs and is as indestructible as any other energy.

Water transforms into vapor, mist, condensation, and back – feeding algae, plants, and the animals that consume them, and then converting into bio-electricity, methane, and other complex by-products. Entire eco-systems ripple along with all components playing a crucial role in cycling and morphing in a never-ending dance of causal looping.

The entire flow of this inter-dependence does not stop at the perimeter of the earth’s atmosphere nor with just dense expressions of energy such as matter. Why would we imagine that some energetic activity dislocates and arrises independently from the rest? We mesh with the elements and elemental nature of the planet’s template we have incarnated on now.

This templating means we are made of the song of the earth, the song of our galaxy, the celestial machinations that blueprint our mind-body in specific but always changing ways.

We must steer that change to grow. We choose to grow to liberate ourselves from confusion and degraded and limited embodiment, and we can offer what we become to all beings, simply by being what we become.

 

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Josh Reichmann

Author | Buddha Weekly

Josh Reichmann is a multi-disciplinary artist and dharma student-teacher. He relays epochal shifting visions through modernist views of spiritual practice, devotion, and creative artifacts.

His work engages clairsentience and poetry to spread Dharma and discuss the arising psychic template prevalent today.

Josh Reichmann teaches traditional meditation and uses visualization and energy work, leading recovery and mindfulness retreats for over six years. He is a student of Mahayana Tibetan Buddhism through the Gelugpa sect and uses other modalities to augment his offerings.

Josh Reichmann has released multiple musical recordings internationally and directed music videos and the feature film "Tenzin" which is spoken entirely in Tibetan featuring an all Tibetan cast. The film was presented to Cannes festival programmers on behalf of Telefilm Canada in 2018. His film work includes scriptwriting and creative direction.

Latest record link: https://joshreichmann1.bandcamp.com/releases

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