Help us to establish Drala Jong - a Buddhist Retreat Centre in Wales

Help us to establish Drala Jong - a Buddhist Retreat Centre in Wales
Help us to establish Drala Jong - a Buddhist Retreat Centre in Wales

Monday, 10 December 2018

Florid, fecund and fiery dance!

Tantra is every nuance of existence and non-existence in ecstatic union – in florid, fecund and fiery dance! 
This is our situation.  This very moment is Tantra, and contains limitless energy.  It’s ruthlessly and seductively uncompromising.  The sheer potency of what we are is overwhelmingly and provocatively inconvenient; but, it is there!
When we recoil from it, through any variety of dread, that is also Tantra.  It’s impossible to hide from our own hiding.  The energy of Tantra is both fight and flight. This is a terrifyingly obvious fact, but we have become ‘expert’ at pretending that we are unaware of it.  We have to remain unaware of it in order to remain unenlightened.  But, wherever we look, the mirror of reality reflects it for us.  

p29-30, Wearing the Body of Visions, Ngakpa Chögyam, Aro Books, 1995, ISBN 1-898185-03-4

Monday, 3 December 2018

Dissolving paranoia

Trust in the spaciousness of what we are is imperative in the process of allowing paranoia to dissolve into the emptiness from which self accomplishing activity can arise.  As soon as paranoia dissolves into intrinsic space, energy is released, and is able to flow freely.  Being able to act directly without inhibition is a quality that arises out of our recognition of intrinsic space.  This enables movement that is completely committed – and it can travel in any direction.

p172, Spectrum of Ecstasy, Ngakpa Chögyam with Khandro Déchen, Aro Books, 1997, ISBN 0-9653948-0-8

Monday, 26 November 2018

Emotional heights and depths

Emotional heights and depths exist as ornaments, in the sense that ornaments don’t alter the basic nature of the person who wears them.  You can wear joy, and you can wear sorrow.  When you have the experience of joy or sorrow, you can have the sense that you are not actually totally defined by either. That is to say: who is it who wears this sorrow or this joy?

p50, Spectrum of Ecstasy, Ngakpa Chögyam with Khandro Déchen, Aro Books, 1997, ISBN 0-9653948-0-8

Monday, 19 November 2018

Spiritual gorilla

Once a leap of daring has been made – it is possible for arrogance to arise.  One might feel a little carried away by one’s achievement and become a spiritual gorilla.  One might start to beat one’s chest – and that is entirely alien to the spirit of the pawo or pamo.  Arrogance is not a functional parameter of heroism.  Authentic heroes and heroines are gentlemen and gentlewomen – they are unassuming, pliant, and spacious.  The pawo or pamo is tender hearted.  He or she has no interest in donning the rhinoceros hide trench coat of belligerent braggadocio and bestial bellicosity.  The pawo or pamo who has renounced the reference point of personal victory becomes utterly fearless without becoming a King Kong of co-emergent confusion and callousness. 

p138, Emailing the Lamas from Afar, Ngakpa Chögyam and Khandro Déchen, Aro Books, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9653948-5-7

Monday, 12 November 2018

A Vicar of Vajrayana


Drala Jong  There is no area of life that is ever separate from practice; whether we’re in a business meeting with the board, eating paella and drinking Prosecco with friends, roaring with laughter at a bad joke, hang gliding across the Grand Canyon, walking in the wind with the hounds on the hill, singing the blues, stringing beans, or attending a dying friend. Whether we’re on the bus, on the stage, or on the run, on a roll, on the mend, or on the make, on the toilet, on the edge, or on our last legs and last breath . . . there is nothing but practice. The essential practice of recognizing the one taste of emptiness and form, of wisdom and compassion, of manifesting the non-dual play of our awareness and kindness at all times.
 
Drala-Jong.org: A Vicar of Vajrayana Ngakma Mé-tsal Wangmo
Excerpt from an article published in the magazine Buddhist Door Global 2018.


Monday, 5 November 2018

Discover the pleasure of existence

 Drala Jong  The name ‘Drala Jong’ means ‘Sparkling Meadow of Primal Iridescence’.  Of this name,  Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen write:

Drala Jong innately exists in human beings.  ‘Drala’ is the appreciative faculty which exponentially enlivens people the more they engage with the world.  Appreciation is the key to enjoyment and to delighting in the enjoyment of others.  When we learn to appreciate phenomena our sense fields ‘Jong’, begin to sparkle, and a sense of generosity is born which connects us with others.  Although Vajrayana Buddhism is by no means unknown in the West – the sense in which enjoyment and compassion are mutually interdependent remains unexpressed.  We would like Drala Jong to be a place where human beings could discover the pleasure of existence – the pleasure that animates the sense fields and revitalises the Arts – and the art of living.

Drala-Jong.org: Sparkling Meadow of Primal Iridescence Ngak'chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen

Monday, 29 October 2018

Viruses in the fabric of perception

Wisdom Eccentrics

Today—when I teach—if someone doesn’t understand me, I try a few alternative ways of explaining.  If these fail I know that the person must have some philosophical construct— that is acting almost like a computer virus—that I have to unearth.  Most people are not even aware that these viruses exist in the fabric of their perception – so they do not know what they do not understand.  It’s then up to the teacher to identify it.  That is not always as difficult as it may sound – because it’s usually connected with one of the four philosophical extremes: monism, dualism, nihilism, or eternalism.
If a person wants to hang on to any one of the four philosophical extremes as being valid – then Buddhism will either never make sense, or become distorted.
This is what I learned from Kyabjé Künzang Dorje Rinpoche – and a great deal more.  Each story that follows elucidates some aspect of Buddhism.  Rinpoche’s method was to teach me how to find my own answers – and find them to be Buddhism.

p76-77, Wisdom Eccentrics : Rumours of realisation as told by Künzang Dorje Rinpoche with additional tales of the unexpected.  
Ngakpa Chögyam,  Aro Books, 2011, ISBN 978-0-9653948-6-4

Monday, 22 October 2018

The ground of experience and perception

Thumbnail “Basically I see Vajrayana as the essential nature of being an artist. Vajrayana explores the sense-fields as the ground of experience and perception.
That sounds almost more like science than religion” commented Penelope – with evident interest.
Yes...in some ways. Maybe...like science and psychology – expressed through poetry and understood though all the Arts.”

p111, An Odd Boy Volume 4, Doc Togden,  Aro Books Worldwide, 2017, ISBN 978-1-898185-42-0

Monday, 15 October 2018

The real deal

Wisdom Eccentrics  Dudjom Rinpoche advised me to seek Künzang Dorje Rinpoche out as my main teacher, and so it was that he became my Tsawa’i Lama.  It was from him that I received almost everything I understand of Dzogchen men-ngag-dé - the series of implicit instruction.  
Rinpoche was my vajra master and that meant I was committed to seeing everything exactly as he saw it.  If we differed in view – I was wrong.  I was at his command – for whatever it might be.  I’d put myself—and my sanity—in his hands.  Some people think this is an Eastern mode of tutelage that has no place in the West or with Western people – but in that they are misguided.  The vajra master exists in Christianity and Judæism – and probably in most other religious traditions.
Anyhow, I knew that Rinpoche was the real deal.  I knew it with every goddamn fibre of my being.
 
p20-21, Wisdom Eccentrics : Rumours of realisation as told by Künzang Dorje Rinpoche with additional tales of the unexpected.  
Ngakpa Chögyam,  Aro Books, 2011, ISBN 978-0-9653948-6-4

Monday, 8 October 2018

Transmission of Dzogchen

Wisdom Eccentrics


I don’t think Rinpoche had any fixed plan when he started relating these wisdom-lays – apart from inciting in me an experiential grasp of ‘principle and function’.  He was to give me transmission of Dzogchen – and for that to be possible, I had to have a mind sufficiently clear of useless philosophical baggage.  Rinpoche obviously enjoyed unfurling these wisdom-lays – but he never recounted them just for the sake of telling a story.  As our time together proceeded, I became increasingly attuned to seeing the motivation of the inhabitants of each account – and, as my perception cleared, so they became increasingly vital and inspiring.

p12, Wisdom Eccentrics : Rumours of realisation as told by Künzang Dorje Rinpoche with additional tales of the unexpected.  
Ngakpa Chögyam,  Aro Books, 2011, ISBN 978-0-9653948-6-4
   

Monday, 1 October 2018

Sartorial vivacity

Thumbnail   You don’t have to be famous to wear the laurels of fame Meryl proclaimed. “You don’t have to be a Paris fashion designer to design clothes – or to wear what you want to wear.
Claudette—who’d just walked in—opined “The  essence of haute couture is the enthusiasm of choice.
Quite right” I agreed. Claudette could always turn a nice phrase. “Anyone can be an artist of the streets.  You just have to see your apparel as your canvas. Clothing can be the wardrobe of your personal theatre.
Rebecca nodded decisively “Jean Cocteau said ‘Art produces ugly things which become more beautiful with time. Fashion produces beautiful things which become ugly with time.
Penelope—sitting in the window framed by strong Winter sun—volunteered “We should all live the Art that we are – otherwise we’re nothing at all.
Absolutely” I exclaimed. “We all live in the existential wardrobe department of sartorial vivacity.”

p123, An Odd Boy Volume 4, Doc Togden,  Aro Books Worldwide, 2017, ISBN 978-1-898185-42-0

Monday, 24 September 2018

Not quite the species of Buddhist you might imagine

Thumbnail  “You’re quite the bon vivant for a Buddhist” Rebecca observed.
Somehow I often understood these French usages by guess work and so I was able to reply without seeming too gauche “I'm maybe not quite the species of Buddhist you might imagine. I don’t belong to a monastic tradition you see...
“Ah...that’s...a very welcome idea.
Yes...I thought so...” I grinned “...my teachers are all family people...”
Really...?” Meryl queried. “So...it’s not about austerity and abjuring pleasure?
No...especially not pleasure – it’s more geared to maximising pleasure through appreciation of the widest possible spectrum of  phenomena – and, encouraging that in everyone and everything everywhere...”

p110, An Odd Boy Volume 4, Doc Togden,  Aro Books Worldwide, 2017, ISBN 978-1-898185-42-0


Monday, 17 September 2018

Cutting through the mountain of our mental distortions and neurotic mind-states.

 
Relaxing into Meditation Practising meditation on your own with only yourself as a guide could be compared to wearing away a rock with water from a gentle stream – the water will erode the rock, but it will take a long time to have any great effect and the effect may lack focus.  Becoming part of a spiritual tradition and working with a teacher is like turning our gentle stream of spiritual practice into a powerful, focused, torrent that will quickly cut through the mountain of our mental distortions and neurotic mind-states.

p151,  Relaxing into Meditation   Ngakma Nor'dzin,  Aro Books Worldwide, 2010, ISBN 978-1-898185-17-8
 

Monday, 10 September 2018

The King of the Universe

Wisdom Eccentrics

Pema Dorje was all smiles when he came to take me to my prospective Tsawa’i Lama. 
The mistress of the house ushered us into Rinpoche’s room – and, there he sat like the King of the Universe.  Rinpoche was not the King of the Universe because he was grandly dressed.  He was simply dressed and his Lama’s appurtenances were simple.  He wore a black chuba with an emerald green shirt beneath it.  Both were noticeably faded – but otherwise spotless.  He was the King of the Universe because … it was an indisputable fact of his existence.  Other people have noticed it too and said the same thing.
Be that as it may, I stood there—feeling as if I were suspended in mid-air—and not knowing what to do.
Then all hell broke loose.

p56-57, Wisdom Eccentrics : Rumours of realisation as told by Künzang Dorje Rinpoche with additional tales of the unexpected.  
Ngakpa Chögyam,  Aro Books, 2011, ISBN 978-0-9653948-6-4

Monday, 3 September 2018

Devotion

Wisdom Eccentrics


As far as I'm concerned devotion isn't measured in terms of empowerments or anything that can be added to your spiritual credit rating.  Devotion is direct understanding – and that never has any need of being displayed.  In spiritual terms this could sound too subtle, too abstruse to understand – but the same phenomenon exists in the world of the Arts.  Almost anyone can enjoy world-class music – but only a proficient musician can know the worth of a world-class musician.  The greater your musical ability the more astonishing a master-musician becomes. 
JS Bach is a composer of marvellously intricate sonic adventures – until you learn something about contrapuntal composition.  Then you gasp.  Jack Bruce said “Bach was my greatest bass teacher”.  So . . . Bach isn’t some dim and distant figure.  Bach is alive and well – and his compositions are as fresh as the present moment.  I'd describe that statement as ‘devotion’ – the gasp born of the inseparable nature of developed musical knowledge and critically inspired appreciation. 

p19, Wisdom Eccentrics : Rumours of realisation as told by Künzang Dorje Rinpoche with additional tales of the unexpected.  
Ngakpa Chögyam,  Aro Books, 2011, ISBN 978-0-9653948-6-4

Monday, 27 August 2018

Naked nature of perception

 Shock Amazement  In terms of acclimatising to the undefined dimension of existence – it should be understood that: imagination relies on empty perception; paintings rely on empty planes; sculptures rely on empty space; music relies on silent time; and, literature relies on empty conceptuality.  If the art of freedom is to be realised—if creative potential is to be discovered—reliance on the experience of intrinsic emptiness is the only precursor.
The practice of shi-nè therefore, is the gateway to the art of freedom.
Dzogchen sem-dé moves beyond emptiness and that which arises from emptiness into the sphere in which there is simply naked nature of perception – rigpa. 

p28, Shock Amazement  : The four naljors and four ting-ngé’dzin from the Dzogchen series of the nature of Mind.
Khandro Déchen and Ngakpa Chögyam,  Aro Books Worldwide, 2018, ISBN 978-1-898185-45-1

Monday, 20 August 2018

A vibrant, creative state of awareness

Relaxing into Meditation
Day dreaming is not conducive to discovering mind without thought, and the nature of this empty state may be misunderstood through believing that day dreaming is meditation.  In Letting Go we are not aiming for a dampened down, thought suppressed state.  Mind without thought is a vibrant, creative state of awareness.  It is vivid with an electric sense of being awake in the present moment.  Even momentary glimpses of this vibrant state will begin to open our experience of ourselves.

p139,  Relaxing into Meditation   Ngakma Nor'dzin,  Aro Books Worldwide, 2010, ISBN 978-1-898185-17-8 

Monday, 13 August 2018

Access to the teachings of wisdom eccentrics

Wisdom Eccentrics

For anyone who wants access to the teachings of wisdom eccentrics – it’s found within the world we know.  Trying to find it in a Land of Snows you may never see is impractical.  Even to look to India for wisdom eccentrics is no longer as possible as it was in the 1970s.  Those days are more or less gone.  The non-dual inspiration however, remains – often in unexpected places.
The wisdom eccentrics of these lays discovered the nature of Mind as human beings. 
Rinpoche instructed me to “Tell these stories to your students.  Make a book – but tell the stories in the language of the West – so that people will enjoy them and understand them.  These are not just stories from the past – they are stories for practitioners everywhere in all times”.

p8, Wisdom Eccentrics : Rumours of realisation as told by Künzang Dorje Rinpoche with additional tales of the unexpected.  
Ngakpa Chögyam,  Aro Books, 2011, ISBN 978-0-9653948-6-4



  

Monday, 6 August 2018

Direct experience of who we are

Relaxing into Meditation   
By letting go of thought we can discover the space of mind without thought.  Through Letting Go the arising and dissolving of conceptual mind can be revealed as a wave that surges and breaks on the surface of the deep, still ocean of fundamental mind.  Through discovering the quietness of fundamental mind we can gain direct experience of who we are, what we are and where we are, rather than trying to discover this through the ebb and flow of concept.

p134,  Relaxing into Meditation   Ngakma Nor'dzin,  Aro Books Worldwide, 2010, ISBN 978-1-898185-17-8 













Monday, 30 July 2018

Emptiness is the oven where the bread of vision bakes itself

Wearing the Body of Visions  After you've received empowerment into the practice of a particular awareness-being, or yidam, the form of this awareness-being will spontaneously arise out of the state of emptiness when you engage in practice.  The form of the awareness-being will also arise in your dreams – maybe even in the steam that arises from your cup of coffee.  It depends on the intensity of your devotion.  There is no process – it simply happens because you have the key; and the key is the Tantric text or the awareness-spell which is sung to instigate this arising.  Your experience of emptiness is the oven where the bread of your vision bakes itself.  The empty state is the perfect environment for endless vision to arise.
p116, Wearing the Body of Visions, Ngakpa Chögyam, Aro Books, 1995, ISBN 1-898185-03-4