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Drinking From The Mountain Stream - Milarepa

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Drinking From The Mountain Stream - Milarepa

by Lama Rinpoche - formerly Thartse Shabthung of Ngor Monastery Tibet
Songs of Tibets Beloved Saint
All the water and drink you've consumed, through beginningless time until now, Has failed to slake thirst or bring you contentment. Drink therefore this stream Of enlightenment mind, fortunate ones. - Milarepa 

MILAREPA is one of the most celebrated spiritual teachers of all time. He was not only an eminent leader of the Kagyupa lineage, but also a very important teacher for all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He was a star of early Buddhism in Tibet, and a brilliant star of yoga that shines on the path of Dharma today. Certainly he was not a paranoid man who left society and hid in the corners of deep caves. In fact, he was an adventurer who reached the summit of the high mountain with a panoramic view of samsara (samsara). He was a true warrior who succeeded in conquering the real enemy, thus becoming a savior of beings.
He was a man of three powers. His body was equivalent to the body of Vajrapani, his voice was the voice of Manjustri, and his hearing was the hearing of Avalokitesvara. Milarepa was healthy, vital man of matchless endurance in the search for liberation. His voice was beautiful and capable of rendering anything in spontaneous song, and with it he expressed the essence of the Buddha's Dharma in ways understandable to all types of listener. His hearing was a penetrating as Avalokitesvara's, the compassionate bodhisattva the Tibetans call Chenrezi, who attends to the voices of all living beings.
There is a saying among common people of Tibet, "In the forest the baboons and monkeys are more agile. In the barnyard the cows and sheep are most stupid. In the mountains Milarepa is the most skillful in meditation." As I said, Milarepa was a very illustrious yogi in Tibet, and perhaps the best known in the rest of the world. When his guru Marpa Lotsawa went to India to study with Naropa, Naropa said to him , "you should know that in the future you will have a disciple who will excel even his own teacher. The son is greater than the father, and the grandson will be greater than all of us." He then folded both hands together at his chest, bowed in the direction of Tibet, and saluted the future yogi Milarepa with this verse:
I bow to that buddha, Named "Mila Who Is Joy To Hear", Shining like the sun on snow peaks In the dark gloom of the Land of Snows

Milarepa sang many songs in his lifetime. It is said that most of them were stolen by the dakinis. It seems that Mila was a popular teacher among non humans also! The particular collection of songs we have translated for these pages has never been rendered into western language before. We were very fortunate to have come across this rare and precious book to to have been able to translate it through the auspices of Lotsawa and Ewam Choden center.
If the reader is expecting something like a magical and instantaneous reward from these pages, I would say that it is rather difficult-do something else. These pages are just not a collection of entertaining short stories. It should be read like a road map while traveling through unfamiliar inner roads on the way to the central valley of the fully aware mind where you can peacefully camp out. It is not like tantalizing a child with the sight of plastic toys just out of reach. This is the real thibg-like a child being nourished by a good mother. So read these pages carefully with the alert attention of a traveler.However, everything will not be immediately understandable.
When traveling by map and reaching an unfamiliar town one must stop and get detailed information of the locality that is not clear on the map. Similarly, the reader of these pages should find asistance to get all the meanings of these songs, a special teacher who is skilled  in this particular subject. The pages, the reader, and the teacher together might produce something of value, something useful. It's good to read this kind of pages, but studying it is better. And better yet is to extract its significance and apply it in practice.
I'm very grateful to my co-translator, Brian Cutillo, whose knowledge of Tibetan and the subjects of Buddhism and whose experience in translating Buddhist works have made this collaboration successful. I am grateful also to those who have helped in this work, particularly Vivian Sinder and James Wallace in the development and editing of Drinking the Mountain Stream as a book. Acarya Losang Jamspal for clarification of a number of points in my absence, and Nathan Swin for furnishing the Tibetan Xylograph.
I sincerely wish that all readers of these songs of Milarepa find the inspiration to practice and ultimately realize the true meaning of HUman life. These pages are dedicated to the work of Ewam Choden and to religious practitioners everywhere.
Reference: Translated by Lama Kunga Rinpoche & Brian Cutillo 

The Human Condition - 4

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The Human Condition - 4

That is why St. Paul could say, "What I want to do, I don't do, and what I don't want to do I find myself doing" (Rom 7:15ff.). If we don't face the consequences of unconscious motivation-through a practice or discipline that opens us to the unconscious-then that motivation will secretly influence our decisions all through our lives.

One needs a willingness to be exposed to the unconscious. This requires some courage and persistance. We can't call up the unconscious at will. With the help of psychotherapy, we might be able to call up some of it. The dark nights described by St. John of the Cross go much deeper. Normally, emotions need to be expressed in some way in order to be processed, they become blocks in our bodies and nervous systems to the free flow of our energy systems and of grace.

When we are not thinking, analyzing, or planning and place ourselves in the presence of God in faith, we open ourselves to the contents of the unconscious. We should do this gradually so as not to be overtaken by an overwhelming explosion of emotion. A generation ago, in the psychedelic era, people opened themselves to the unconscious before they had the humility or the devotion to God to be able to handle it. The unconscious needs to be respected and approached with prudence.

Someone who is involved ina contemplative prayer practice needs guidance. It may not be available in every spiritual guide who comes along. What matters most is fidelity to the daily practice of contemplative form of prayer such as Centering Prayer. This gradually exposes us to the unconscious at a rate that we can handle and places us under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.Divine love then prepares us to receive  the maximum that God can possibly communicate of his inner light. Besides the dark side of the unconscious, there are all kinds of other awesome energies-for example, natural talents, the fruits of the Spirit, and the divine indwelling itself-that we haven't experienced yet and that are waiting to be discovered.

It is never to late to start the spiritual journey or to start over, and it is worth starting over any number of times. If you are over eighty, you will be happy to know that there is an accelerated course. I wouldn't be surprised if, in the course of dying there are all kinds of transforming experiences. What God is after is our good intention and our efforts in this life, but just keep trying.

The contemplative journey, because it involves the purification of the unconscious, it is not a magic carpet to bliss. It is an exercise of letting go of the false self, a humbling process, because it is the only self we know. God approaches us from many different perspectives: illness, misfortune, bankruptcy, divorce proceedings, rejection, inner trials. God has not promised to take away our trials, but to help us to change our attitudes toward them. That is what holiness really is. In life, happiness is rooted in our basic attitude toward reality.

Sometimes a sense of failure is a great means to true humility, which is what God most looks for in us. I realize this is not the language of success, but we have oversubscribed to that language. We need to hear about the interior freedom that comes through participation  in the sufferings of Christ, the symbol of God's love for everyone on earth.

It is never to late to start the spiritual journey or to start over, and it is worth starting over any number of times. If you are over eighty, you will be happy to know that there is an accelerated course. I wouldn't be surprised if, in the course of dying there are all kinds of transforming experiences. What God is after is our good intention and our efforts in this life, but just keep trying.

The contemplative journey, because it involves the purification of the unconscious, it is not a magic carpet to bliss. It is an exercise of letting go of the false self, a humbling process, because it is the only self we know. God appraoches us from many different perspectives: illness, misfortune, bankruptcy, divorce proceedings, rejection, inner trials. God has not promised to take away our trials, but to help us to change our attitudes toward them. That is what holiness really is. In life, happiness is rooted in our basic attitude toward reality.

Sometimes a sense of failure is a great means to true humility, which is what God most looks for in us. I realize this is not the language of succes, but we have oversubscribed to that language. We need to hear about the interior freedom that comes through participation  in the sufferings of Christ, the symbol of God's love for everyone on earth.

In the coming millenium, religious leaders and spiritual teachers might consider as their primary responsibility not so much to convert  new constituents or new followers to a particular form of meditation, but to create communion  -harmony,understanding, and respect for everyone in the human family, especially the members of other religions.

In the world that lies ahead, religious pluralism is going to penetrate all cultures. How we live together with differeent points of view is going to become more and more important. I don't know whether we can make progress in such a project without a contemplative practice that alerts us to our own biases, prejudices, and self-centered programs for happiness, especially when they trample on other people's rights and needs.

Some people enter religious life looking for the family they never had. But religious life isn't that kind of family. Some people get married because they want the mother who did the laundry and provided a shoulder to cry on. Many people who enter marriage are too immature to handle the responsibilities. That is why they often break up and have to start over. But if they are not aware of the unconscious factors that caused the breakdown of the first marriage, they will just bring the same problems into the next marriage.

The false self is looking for fame, power, wealth, and prestige. The unconscious is very powerful until the divine light of the Holy Spirit penetrates to its depths and reveals its dynamics. Here is where the great teaching of the dark nights of St. John of the Cross corresponds to depth psychology, only the work of the Holy Spirit goes far deeper. Instead of trying to free us from what interferes with our ordinary human life, the Spirit calls us to transformation of our inmost being, and indeed of all our faculties, into the divine way of being and acting.

Reference:The Human Condition_ Contemplation and Transformation: Thomas Keating.

The Human Condition - Thomas keating-3

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The Human Condition - Thomas keating-3

Children who are deprived of security, affection and control needs develop a desperate drive to find more and more symbols of these basic human needs in their culture. This is called compensation. It can also happen that when experiences in early childhood are unbearable, they are repressed into the unconscious. The body seems to be a kind of warehouse in which all our experiences-the whole of our lives-are recorded. We don't need to have our lives recorded by the Angels anymore, because we know that there is a neurological process that takes care of that for us. Some who have had near death experiences report that they experienced reruns of their whole lives.

Here, then, is the beginning of what might be called the addictive process, the need to hide the pain that we suffered in early life and cannot face.
We repress it into the unconscious to provide an apparent freedom from the pain  or develop compensatory processes to access forms of pleasurethat offset the pain we are not yet prepared to face. We are thrust because of circumstances into the position of developing a homemade self that does not conform to reality. Everything entering into the world that makes survival and security. affection and esteem, and power and control our chiefs pursuits of happiness has to be judged on the basis of one question: Is it good for me? Hence, good and evil are judged not by their objective reality, but by the way we perceive them as fitting into our private universe or not.

At the age of four or five the situation gets more complicated. As we begin to socialize the values of family, peer group, religion, ethnic group, nationality, race, gender, and sexual orientation. The combination of these two forces-the drive for happiness in the form of security and survival, affection and esteem, and power and control and over identification with the particular group to which we belong-greatly complicates our emotional programs for happiness. In our younger days, this development is normal. As adults, activity arising from such motivation is childish.

The homemade self or the false self, as it is usually called, is programmed for human misery. Temperament of c ourse also plays a part. Our emotional programs are filtered through our temperamental biases, number on the Eneagram, or identification with a particular archetype. If we have an aggressive temperament and like to dominate as many events and people as possible, the drive increases in proportion to the felt privations of that need that we suffered in early childhood.Without facing those early childhood excesses and trying to dismantle or moderate them through the exercise of reason  (in Christian tradition this means the practice of virtue, they continue to exert enormous influence throughout life. For example, people who want power always want to dictate what is going to happen in every situation. They cannot be happy unless they do. As soon as they are frustrated, off go the afflictive emotions: grief, despair, and anger.

There is nothing wrong with these instinctual needs. But because there was no experience of God at the age that would have modified their excessive importance, such individuals mistakenly sink all of their hope of finding happiness into the pursuit of one or all of these needs. As soon as we notice we are annoyed or angry about something, we tend to protect ourselves by projecting the cause of our upsetting emotion onto a situation or another person:" They" this to me. "They" are always a problem. But, in fact the real problem is not "them" but us. All biases and prejudices are the attitudes of a child from ages four to eight. If they are present in us, we are still functioning at the level of preadolescent.  

Our innocence as children is the innocence of ignorance. Consciousness in the first stages of human life is very limited. The enfant is at one with everything, that is happening, until that unity is lost somewhere between the ages of two and three. When thinking and self reflection begin, since the experience of God is missing, some other form of happiness has to take its place, just for the sake of survival.

The distortion of human nature becomes habitual and is supported, like the Sufi master's disciples, by others who are doing the same thing-trying to find happiness where it cannot possibly be found. When Jesus said,-"Repent, to his first disciples, he was calling them to change the direction in which they were looking for happiness. "Repent" is an invitation to grow up and become a fully mature human being who integrates the biological needs with the rational level of consciousness.

They open up to the experience of God's presence, which restores the sense of happiness. We can then take possession of everything that was good in our early life while leaving the distortions behind. The false self is deeply entrenched. You can change your name and address, religion, country, and clothes. But as long as you don't ask it to change, the false self simply adjusts to the new environment. For example, instead of drinking your friends under the table as a significant sense of self worth and esteem, if you enter a monastery, as I did, fasting the other monks under the table could become your new path to glory. In that case, what would have changed? Nothing.

We can be converted to the values of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and do the best we can to moderate the excesses of our desperate search for security, affection and esteem, and power and control, while our basic attitudes remain the same. This is how conversion is distinguished from external changes of lifestyle.

Conversion addresses the heart of the problem. Jesus has some harsh sayings that are incomprehensible unless we see them in the light of the harm that our emotional programs are doing. For example, Jesus said, "If your foot scandalizes you, cut it off." He wasn't recommending self-mutilation but was saying that if your emotional programs are so close to you that you love them as much as your own hand  or foot or eye, get rid of them. They are programs for human misery that will never work. They will interfere with all your relationships-with God, yourself, other people, the earth, and the cosmos.

When we are converted to a new way of life, to service or to a particular ministry, we often experience a wonderful gift of freedom and a radical change of direction. Perhaps you have made enormous sacrifices in your business or profession, maybe even in family life, to be able to begin a journey into the service of the Gospel. But watch out! All the emotional programs of happiness, over identification with one's group, and the commentaries that reinforce our innate tendencies have sources in the unconscious as well as in the conscious.

Reference: The Human Condition-Contemplation and Transformation: Foreword:Elaine Pagels

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Cosmic Consciousness-On the Plane of Self Consciousness

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Cosmic Consciousness-On the Plane of Self Consciousness

On the Plane of Self Consciousness-11.
The important fact to notice at present is that, true to the simile of the tree here adopted, the numerous faculties of which (viewed from the side of dynamics) man is composed are all of different ages. Each one of them came into existence in its own time, i.e., when the physic organism (the tree) was ready to produce it. For instance: Simple Consciousness many millions of years ago; Self Consciousness perhaps three hundred thousand years. general vision is enormously old, but the color sense probably only about a thousand generations. Sensibility to sound many millions of years, while the musical sense is now in the act of appearing. Sexual instinct or passion arose far back in geologic ages-the human moral nature of which human sexual love is a young and vigorous branch does not appear to have been in existence many tens of thousands of years.

To make what has been and what remains to be said more readily and more fully intelligible it will be well to go into some little detail as to the time and mode of becoming and developing of a few faculties as a sample of the divine work that has been going on within us and about us since the dawn of life on this planet. The science of human psychology (in order to illustrate the subject of this volume) should give an account of the human intellect, of the human morale nature, and of the senses. Should give a description of these as they exist to-day, of their origin and evolution and should forecast their future course of either decay or further expansion. Only a very few specimen pages of such a work can be here set forth-and first a hasty glance at the intellect.

The intellect is that part of the mind which knows, as the moral nature is the part that feels. Each particular act of the intellect is instantaneous, whereas the acts ( or rather states) of the moral nature are more or less continuous. language corresponds to the intellect and is therefore capable of expressing it perfectly and directly; on the other hand, the functions of the moral nature (belonging, i.e., deriving, as they do, from the great sympathetic nervous system-while the intellect and speech rest upon and spring from the Cerebro-Spinal) are not connected with language and are only capable of indirect, and imperfect expression by its agency.

Perhaps music, which certainly has its roots in the moral nature, is, at present existing, the beginning of a language which will tally and express emotion as words tally and express ideas.[28a. 106]. Intellectual acts are complex, and decomposable into many parts; moral states are either absolutely simple (as in the case of love, fear, hate) or nearly so; that is, are composed of comparatively few elements. All intellectual acts are alike, or nearly alike, in that regard; moral states have a very wide range of degree of intensity.

The human intellect is made up principally of concepts, just as a forest is made up of trees or a city of houses; these concepts are mental images of things, acts, or relations. The registration of these we call memory, the comparison of them, one with another reasoning; for the building of thses up into more complex images (as bricks are built in a house) we have in English no good expression; we sometimes call this act imagination (the act of forming a mental copy of likeness)-the Germans have a better name for it-they call it Vorstellung (the act of placing before), Anschauungsgabe (the gift of looking upon) better still Einbildungskraft (the power of building up).
The large intellect is that in which the number of concepts is above the average;the fin e intellect is that in which these are clear cut and well defined; the ready intellect is that in which they are easily and quickly accessible when wanted, and so on. The growth of the human intellect is the growth of the concept, i.e., the multiplication of more simple and at the same time the building up of these into others more and more complex. Although this increases in number and complexity is taking place constantly in every active mind during at least the first half of life, from infancy to middle age, and though we each know that we have concepts now that we had not some time ago, yet probably the wisest of us could not tell from observation made upon his own mind just by what processes these new concepts came into existence- where they came from or how they came. 

But though we cannot perceive this by direct observation either of our mind or that of another person, still there is another way by which the occult processes can be followed and that is by means of language. As said above, language is the exactally of the intellect: for every concept there is a word or words and for every word there is a concept; neither can exist apart from the other. So Trench says: "You cannot impart to any man more than the words which he understands either now contain or can be made intelligibly to him to contain."

Or as Max Mueller expresses it: "Without speech no reason, without reason no speech." Speech and the intellect do not correspond with one another in this way by accident, the relation between them  is inevitably involved in the nature of two things. Or are they two things? Or two sides of one thing? No word can come into being except as the expression of a concept, neither can a new concept be formed without the formation (at the same time) of the new word which without the formation(at the same time) of the new word, which is its expression, though this "new word" may be spelled and pronounced as is some old word.

But an old word taking on another and a new meaning in reality becomes two words, an old and a new. Intellect and speech fit one another as the hand and the glove, only far more closely; say rather they fit as the skin fits the body, or as the pia mater fits the brain, or as any given species in the organic world is fitted by its environment. As is implied in what has been said, it is to be especially noted  that not only does language fit the intellect in the sense of covering it, in every part and following all its turnings and windings, but it fits it also in the sense of not going beyond it. Words correspond with concepts, and with concepts only, so that we cannot express directly with them either sense impressions or emotions, but are forced always to convey these (if at all) by expressing, not themselves, but the impression they make upon our intellect, i.e., the concepts formed from the contemplation of them by the intellect-other words, their intellectual image.

So that before a sense impression or an emotion can be embodied or conveyed in language a concept has to be formed (supposed more or less truly to represent it), which concept can, of course, be conveyed in words. But as a matter of fact ninety-nine out of every hundred of our sense impressions and emotions have never been represented in the intellect by concepts and therefore remain unexpressed and inexpressible except imperfectly by roundabout description and suggestion.

There exists in the lower animals a state of matters which serves well  to illustrate this proposition. These have acute sense perceptions and strong emotions, such as fear, rage, sexual passion and maternal love, and yet cannot express them because they have no language of their own, and the animal in question has no system of concepts with corresponding articulate sounds. Granted to us our sense perceptions and our human moral natures and we should be as dumb as are the animals had we not along with these an intellect in which they may be mirrored and by which, by means of language, they can be expressed.

As the correspondence of words and concepts is not casual or temporary but resides in the nature of these and continues during all time and under all circumstances absolutely constant, so changes in one of the factors must correspond with changes in the other. So evolution of intellect must (if it exists) be accompanied by evolution of language. An evolution of language (if it exists) will be evidence of evolution of intellect. What then is here proposed is to study (for a few moments) the growth of the intellect by means of an examination of language, i.e., to study the birth, life and growth of concepts which cannot be seen, by means of words which are their co-relatives and which can be seen. 

Reference: Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind: Richard Maurice Bucke


Evolution and Devolution-Chapter 2

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Evolution and Devolution-Chapter 2-On the Plane of Self Consciousness

And in the first place it would be well to get a firm hold of the meaning of the words "Self consciousness," upon the definition of which an excellent writer and most competent thinker [200-255] has these remarks: "Self consciousness is often referred to as a distinguishing characteristic of man. Many, however, fail to gain a clear conception of what this faculty is. Dr. Carpenter confounds it with the 'power of reflecting on their own mental states,' while Mr. Darwin associates it with abstraction and other of the derivative faculties. It is certainly something much simpler than introspection, and has an earlier origin than the highly   derivative speculative faculties.

If it could only be seized and clearly understood, self consciousness would doubtless prove to be the primary and fundamental human attribute. Our language seems to lack the proper word to express it in its simplest form.'Think' approaches this most nearly, and man is sometimes described as a 'thinking being.' The German language has a better word, viz., besinnen, and the substantive Besonnenheit seems to touch the kernel of the problem. Schopenhauer says: 'The animal lives without any Besonnenheit.

It has consciousness i.e., it knows itself and its weal and woe; also the objects which produce these; but its knowledge remains constantly subjective, never becomes objective; everything that it embraces appears to exist in and of itself, and can therefore never become an object of representation nor a problem for meditation. Its consciousness is thus wholly immanent. The consciousness of the savage man is similarly constitutes in that his perceptions of things and of the world remain preponderantly subjective and immanent. He perceives things in the world, but not the world;his own actions and passion, but not himself.'"

Perhaps the simplest definition (and there are a score of them) would be: self consciousness is the faculty by which we realize. or again: without self consciousness a sentient creature can know, but its possession is necessary in order that he may know that he knows. The best treatise so far written on this subject is Romanes' book, already several times referred to [134].

The roots of the tree of life being deep sunk in the organic world, its trunk is made up as follows: Beginning at the earth level we have first of all the lowest forms of life unconscious and insenate. These in their turn give birth to forms endowed with sensation and later to forms endowed with Simple Consciousness. From the last, when the right time comes, springs self consciousness and (as already said) in direct ascent from that Cosmic Consciousness. 

It is only necessary in this place, as clearing the ground for the work to be done, to point out that the doctrine of the unfolding of the human being, regarded from the side of psychology, is strictly in accord with the theory of evolution in general as received and taught to-day by the foremost thinkers. This tree which we call life and its upper part human life  and human mind, has simply grown as grows any other tree, and besides its main stem, as above indicated, it has, as in the case of other trees, thrown off many branches. It will be well to consider some of these. It will be seen that some of them are given off from the lower part of the trunk, as, for instance, contractility, from which great limb, and as a part of it, springs all muscular action from the simple movement of the worm to the marvellously co-ordinated motions made, in the exercise of their art, by a Liszt or a Paderewski.

Another of these large lower limbs is the instinct of Self-preservation and (twin with it) the instinct of the continuance of the species-the preservation of the race. Higher up the special senses shoot out from the main trunk and as they grow and divide and again divide they become large and vitally important branches of the great tree. From all these main-of  shoots spring smaller arms and from these more delicate twigs.Thus from the human intellect whose central fact is Self Consciousness, a section of the main trunk of our tree, spring, judgement, reason, comparison, imiganation, abstraction, reflection, generalization. From the moral or emotional nature, one of the largest and most important of the main limbs, spring love (itself a great branch dividing into many smaller brances), reverence,faith, fear, awe, hope, hate, humor and many more.

The great branch called the sense of sight, which in its beginning was a perception of the difference between light and darkness, sent out twigs which we call sense of form, of distance, and later the color sense. The limb named sense of hearing has for branches and twigs the apprehension of loudness, of pitch, of distance, of direction and as a delicate twig just coming into being, the musical sense.

Reference: Cosmic Consciousness: A study in the Evolution of the Human Mind: Richard Maurice Bucke.


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