Illusion does not mean haziness, confusion, or mirage. Being a child of illusion means that you continue what you have experienced in your sitting practice [resting in the nature of alaya] into postmeditation experience.
You realize that after sitting practice, you do not have to solidify phenomena. Instead, you can continue your practice and develop some kind of ongoing awareness. If things become heavy and solid, you flash mindfulness and awareness into them. In that way you begin to see that everything is pliable and workable. Your attitude is that the phenomenal world is not evil, that ‘they’ are not out to get you or kill you. Everything is workable and soothing.
It’s a very strong phrase, ‘child of illusion’. Think of it. Try to be one. You have plenty of opportunities.
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
When I was in school I remember my science teacher explaining how if you put, say, a chair, at the top of a glacier, if you left it there and came back in a few years it would be down at the bottom of the glacier, or out to sea on an iceberg. What looks solid, what looks like the most frozen, stable, immobile mass of ice is actually flowing just like a river.
This reverberated in me at the time and the reverberation still echoes. Like a bell that sounds for a lifetime.
Who knows why it struck me as it did, but I’m grateful for it and grateful for the image. I bring this up this morning because that way of seeing things is going on in everything I look at right now. I feel my “self” as this one frame in a time-lapse image that includes me as an infant, as a toddler, as a child, a young man, a man man, an old man, a dead man. And I am putting on a shirt that used to be cotton growing in a field and now I’m wearing it and then it will go to Goodwill or my wife will sew it into a quilt that years from now some stranger will use to wrap their dog up in when they bury it. And I’m getting in a car that used to be all over the place, in the ground, in factories, on a car lot, and will someday be in a crusher in some junkyard and maybe it will be uncovered by erosion years after it was buried in dust and silt and some new creature will stub its toe on it. And the street signs. And the streets. And everyone behind the wheel of their cars on their way to jobs that used to not exist and someday won’t again, and now there are babies driving to work and children and old people and dead bodies rotting and skeleton and dust and nothing at all driving and on and on.
Everything describing this parabolic arc from becoming to being to unbecoming, rise and fall, rise and fall, rise and fall, rising into the air glittering and falling back into non-being with a soundless splash. You and me, him and her, all of us, everything, all the time.
Hard to imagine getting worked up over any one moment of it.
It’s fucking beautiful, is what.
Another thing I forgot to say yesterday about Khaydroup’s teaching, and this one is really good I think, really beneficial. Here it is:
You don’t have to do anything to make the changes that practice brings. You don’t have to accomplish these changes by will power or intelligence or doing it the right way.
The beauty and power and magic of the practice is that it does what it does without your interference.
You do have to set the conditions, though. You have to do the work, you have to get on the cushion and keep doing that, keep following the instructions, keep tweaking them, experimenting with them, evaluating your experience, checking in, adjusting, but that’s it, really. You don’t have to know how to change the quality and nature of your mind- practice takes care of that by itself.
You just keep bringing the practice in.
In ngondro the first practice is taking refuge and prostrations, and in prostration practice you are working with the body and mindstream together and the mindstream part is this intricate visualization of the refuge tree- you imagine this big tree in the middle of a lake in front of you, and the tree is filled with the lineage masters and Buddhas and bodhisattvas, all the whole shebang, and then you imagine yourself in front of the tree doing your prostrations and chanting as you, you know, actually do your prostrations and chant. But you are not alone in this imagery. You imagine all sentient beings in human form doing this activity with you. Your mother and father, your family, everyone you know, and right in front are all of your enemies and those who have done you wrong- they get the special place of honor.
Anyway, after you finish, you dissolve the whole refuge tree into light and that light then dissolves into you. Then you do some tonglen practice, sending and receiving, where you inhale and take on all of the suffering of every being- here on earth and everywhere else, in every realm, and you send out healing light to them in exchange.
I mention all of this just to say that it is really mind altering to expand in this way, to put everything good and wise and perfect out in front of you like a giant Christmas tree and everything bad and terrible, too, everything and it goes “outside” of you and then it comes “inside” of you, you are the tiny supplicant, then you are what is supplicated to, you are, you become, for a moment, what you really are, which is everything.
I keep feeling it like bending a piece of steel, back and forth, this way, then that way, this way, then that way.
You begin to feel things heating up at that point where the steel is bending, becoming malleable. You sense things can’t continue to stay connected in quite the way you were used to anymore.
I feel a bit like a window. Or a hollow tube that flexes itself inside out again and again. I feel a bit like everything that is.
You can begin to get a sense that things are limitless.
I miss my wife, off on her big adventure with the monk. But I’m happy that our daughter is home again with the grandbabies, happy that I can be of service, that I can help her in her time of need, that they can be provided for. And happy beyond caring to be back with Kaleb, in all of his perfect boyness.
I want to be used up but I am limitless. Wear me away and I keep regenerating.
May you be happy, may you be at peace, may your suffering come to an end.