Q: I can not distinguish between the false ‘I’ and the ‘I’ source, even though I listen and practice meditation also… Please do you have any recommendations or advice for me?!
A: Regarding your concern about how to distinguish between the false ‘I’ and the real ‘I’ or source – or you could say the FALSE as opposed to the REALITY – there are some important things to keep in mind during your meditation or self-enquiry.
Firstly, the real ‘I’ or Source/Reality is not a thing to be possessed or attained. It is actually your true nature. But it has no characteristics and transcends this dualistic, conditioned world which is marked by the characteristics of impermanence, change and not-self. The real SELF is also not really ‘a self’, in the sense that we think of it as something having substance or permanent characteristics. It transcends all conceptual, intellectual, rational understandings, ideas or beliefs.
However, you can come closer to being what you truly are when you let all concepts and thoughts go. The Reality can only be fully realised when the ego self is completely allayed, but in the process of our practice we may glimpse it and rest in it when we give up our clinging and grasping to everything – the body, mind, emotions, thoughts, ideas, sense impressions, etc… These things, when grasped at, constitute the false sense of ‘I’.
The more we can practice peace, stillness, silence, inner calm and relaxation, the more we come back to the ‘Source’ – our true home and real nature. The more we abide in it the more pronounced this will be and the false ‘I’ will drop away.
Q: How do I think from the heart and stay there? I do not want to be in the mind for the mind causes depression…
A: Indeed, the mind can be either our greatest enemy or friend. To ‘stay in the heart’ and abide there, as Ramana encourages us, means to allow the thought waves to settle and to stop identifying with them as ‘me’ or ‘mine’. They are simply energy vibrations which in Reality have no real substance to them, yet we give them power by consistently focusing on them and identifying and clinging to them. See this habitual pattern and behaviour that happens, wake up to it, and in seeing it clearly without judging, condemning, pushing away with aversion, or clinging, thoughts will naturally dissolve. It does take some commitment though to be present and aware. I wish you all inner peace and contentment.
Q: Even calmly abiding in the Dharmakaya for a few moments is a blessing. An awareness of the proliferation or its resolution seems natural and harmonious. I was blown by Padmasambhava’s assertion that the true nature doesn’t even have a tendency to proliferate. It just happens. It is its nature. But since the source has no need to proliferate thereby creating the samsara, why does it happen? What purpose does it serve? Why is the confusion caused only for it to be resolved time and time again?
A: The simple answer as given by the Buddha is – ignorance (avijja/ma-rigpa) is the cause. The slightly longer answer is ignorance, karma, craving/clinging is the cause.
Regarding the question, WHY? I quote Ayya Jitindriya – “The search for meaning is a pursuit of the ego.”
Finally, to quote a Dzogchen Master who responded to the question, “Where does ignorance come from?” He said, “If there’s ignorance it has to come from somewhere; but if there’s no ignorance it doesn’t have to come from anywhere!”
I hope some of these reflections help.
Q: Thank you so much for this meditation; [this] most profound focusing on the breath and the body was a light bulb moment for me… I have read it, and listened to so many teachers saying the same thing but up until now did not understand it. So, so grateful! How does one loose this ego?! I don’t like myself.
A: How does one lose this ego? Recognize that Ultimately there is no ego – it is simply the mental proliferations moving at a relentless speed and density and giving the ‘appearance’ of a personality self or ego. Look deeply, look gently and quietly and soon you will see the delusory ego-trickster. Don’t believe the thoughts that prey on you – they are just conditioned phenomena from lifetimes… Your ‘not liking’ yourself is part of this faulty conditioned processing. See with Awareness and they simply resolve and release. This is how the so called ego dissolves.
Q: During my morning meditation listening to Tilopa’s teaching on Mahamudra I had a magnificent experience that I want to share and would like to hear if this kind of thing is normal and what it might be...
At the end of the meditation, energy exploded in my body and I can’t really describe how it felt, but very much bliss/orgasm like through the whole body and light entered my closed eyes.
As I needed to go to work, I was trying to assemble myself, but I had so much energy and started to shiver in pure ecstasy, as I now write I feel this same energy below my belly-button and it feels like it can burst out anytime.
Is it possible to get a bit clear of what is happening to me?
A: It’s good to hear that Tilopa’s jewel of a teaching had such an impact on you. These things can happen spontaneously from time to time and it is a good sign and experience if it is understood and worked with properly.
The bliss and ecstasy you experienced is really just your own nature waking up to itself. When the mind becomes deeply calm and still in meditation and thoughts begin to dissolve, this inner bliss sometimes bursts forth and can feel very strong and sometimes overwhelming. There is nothing to be concerned about, but equally one has to be very careful not to get fixated on it and desire it with every meditation.
Like all experiences and states within this phenomenal world (and worlds beyond this world) they are all impermanent, changeful and not-self. If we can just allow these things to flow through us without any sense of ego gratification thinking we have ‘attained’ something, or cling to it as the best experience ever, we are on the right path of wisdom. Bliss and ecstasy are very nice and very intoxicating but ultimately it is not liberation if clung to and identified with as ‘me’ or ‘my experience’ or if one becomes overly excited by it – so we need to discern this and keep working with it.
Within the yogic tradition, these experiences are termed kundalini awakenings and they can appear to originate in the lower chakras and feel like full body orgasms. They speak of it as a latent serpent, coiled in the lower chakra that wakes up suddenly and causes these intense waves of bliss and ecstasy to surge through the body. It’s all good, and is a sign that your energy is definitely moving and waking up. Just enjoy and flow with it but don’t get attached to it. These experiences and energies can become addictive – like narcotics – so we should be wary of this. When we cling and become addicted to them and constantly look for and desire them, then it is just the ego playing itself out again and again.
It’s worth just investigating that when the mind puts down all concepts and is fully relaxed, letting-go in each moment, what naturally arises is bliss and peace. As the energy settles down and you keep practising, you might notice that the energy settles and you experience more of a calm, all pervading peace, and the energy might move more to your heart chakra. When it resides more in the heart chakra, the feeling is one of openness, compassion, love, tenderness, forgiveness and a connection to all beings – seeing and feeling none as separate from ourselves. This energy is more conducive (as it’s less overwhelming) to settle into and for allowing the liberating insights to emerge of themselves.
I would simply advise you to keep practising – keep listening to Tilopa’s teaching from time to time as there are so many layers contained within it. The depth of wisdom it contains is immense and the more you listen to it the more you will understand in your heart what this incredible Master is pointing to. It has all the jewels of true Dharma contained in it and can help us awaken more and more to Ultimate Reality and Liberation.
I hope some of these reflections and explanations might be of help for you in understanding this process and what is going on.