Vows, commitments and modern life:  How to generate bliss

To strive mainly for the external and internal methods.

The external method for developing spontaneous great bliss is to rely upon a wisdom or action mudra.  The internal method is to meditate on our channels, drops, and winds.

All of the different meditations on the stages of the path can be divided into three:  those that develop our subject mind, those that are virtuous mental objects, and those that unite the two together.  The vast path develops the subject mind.  The profound path generates virtuous objects.  And the Mahamudra meditations unite the two.  The vast path according to Sutra is the first 20 lamrim meditations, from reliance on the Spiritual Guide through to bodhichitta and including tranquil abiding concentration.  The profound path according to Sutra and the profound path according to Tantra are the same, namely the Prasangika view of emptiness as lack of inherent existence of all things.  Je Tsonkghapa said the union of Sutra and Tantra is quite simply the bliss of tantra and the emptiness of Sutra.  However, when we attain this union, our realization of emptiness transforms from a Sutra-Prasangika view to a Tantra-Prasangika view.  The Sutra-Prasangika view says that all phenomena are mere karmic appearances.  The Tantra-Prasangika view says these appearances are by nature the very subtle mind of great bliss.  More specifically, they are the emptiness of the mind of great bliss appearing in the aspect of these appearances.

Ignorance, quite simply, is believing that an object can exist independent of the mind cognizing it.  We think objects exist out there, waiting to be experienced by mind.  As a result, we think changing our mind changes nothing – the object is still the object.  In reality, mind and its object arise in mutual dependence upon one another.  At a profound level, a single karmic seed pushes up against the fabric of our mind creating a subject-object pair.  If an impure karmic seed ripens, the subject-object pair will be impure; and if a pure karmic seed ripens, the subject-object pair will be pure.

From a practical point of view, however, if we apply effort to change our subject mind it will change the way objects appear to our mind; and if we apply effort to engage pure objects, it will function to make our mind more pure.  If we have an impure mind, it will cause us to see all objects as impure.  If we have a pure mind, we will see all objects as pure.  Likewise, if we engage our mind with an impure object, it will make our mind more impure; and if we engage our mind with a pure object, it will make our mind more pure.

There are two different, mutually supportive, ways of generating great bliss: external and internal.  The external methods are to rely upon a real or an imagined action mudra.  We may wonder, “why is an imagined action mudra considered an external method when the imagined action mudra is generated inside our mind?”  There are two answers.  The first is, as the above discussion indicates, we make a distinction between objects of mind and minds themselves.  All objects of mind are considered to be “external objects” even if the object known is one only known to our mental awareness.  Normally when we refer to external objects our meaning is objects that appear to our sense awareness, but more profoundly it can also include objects that appear only to our mental awareness.  The second answer is external in this context refers to outside our subtle body of channels, drops and winds.  It occurs in the gross deity body, not inside the deity’s subtle body.

It has been explained extensively in the previous posts how we rely upon wisdom and action mudras.  Here, I would like to say a few words about our channels, drops and winds.  Just as our body has different systems to it, such as the circulatory system and the nervous system, so too our mind has different systems to it, such as our gross minds and our subtle body.  Our subtle body is like the mental skeleton of the body of our gross mind.  It is comprised of a series of channels, drops and winds, all of which are described in detail in Mahamudra Tantra, Clear Light of Bliss, Modern Buddhism and Tantric Grounds and Paths.  Briefly, though, our channels are like the system of veins and arteries of our mind.  The drops are like the blood of our mind.  And the winds are like the currents that flow through the channels carrying the drops.  If our channels are blocked, the winds and drops don’t flow through, they then stagnate and imbalances arise.  From the stagnation and imbalances of this inner energy, mental sickness of delusions and physical sicknesses, including cancer, develop.  When the blockages are removed, the winds can flow freely and the drops can circulate effortlessly.  As the drops move through our different channels, we generate a feeling of bliss.  When the drops flow through our central channel, we generate great bliss.  While not physical objects, the quasi-tactile sensation of the mental drops flowing through the mental channels produces an inner experience of bliss.

In particular, it is important to understand the relationship between our mind and winds.  Our mind is likened to somebody with eyes but no legs to move.  The winds are likened to legs with no eyes to see.  When we mount the eyes of our mind onto the legs of our winds, our mind can go anywhere.  Winds and their mounted minds are inseparable.  This has profound practical implication.  It means wherever we send our winds, our mind will automatically go; and wherever we send our mind, our winds will automatically go.  If we want our winds to gather inside our indestructible drop at our heart, we merely need move our mind there.  If we can gather all of our mind there, all our winds will naturally follow.  Likewise, Venerable Tharchin says, “the location of the mind is at the object of cognition.”  If the object of cognition is the moon, our mind and its corresponding winds actually go there.  If the object of cognition is samara, our mind will remain trapped there.  If the object of cognition is the pure land, our mind will actually go there.  Since we naturally impute our I on our mind, if our mind is in the pure land, “we” will also go to the pure land.  If we can keep our mind absorbed in the pure land forever, we will have taken rebirth there and will never fall again.

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