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TOPIC: "Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis

"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 06 Feb 2017 10:57 #105937

It seems like a few people were interested in doing a "Book Club" type thing.

How does this sound?: Every ~5 days or so we read one of the transcripts from Ken McLeod's "Five Elements - Five Dakinis" talks. These talks are available for free (as both a transcript and audio file), so there is nothing to buy. There is a total of 10 talks, so in 50 days we would have gotten a good overview of the practice and hopefully some good discussions.

The first talk is posted here: www.unfetteredmind.org/five-elements-five-dakinis-1/
Master list of all the talks: www.unfetteredmind.org/category/awarenes...podcaststranscripts/

Hope this sounds like fun. I'm curious how it will turn out! :)

February 6, 2017 - Day 1
Last Edit: 06 Feb 2017 10:58 by shargrol.
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 06 Feb 2017 17:16 #105941

I'm in!
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 07 Feb 2017 17:35 #105948

I'm interested. I've already listened to the series, although it's been over nine months ago, so review would be useful.

I found it helpful to listen to #10 first. Ken describes the speed of one of the reaction cycles and points out some subtleties about it. He does this by having two of the participants go through a Tai Chi Push Hands exercise. Hearing it really helped point out to me what I was looking for in not only in the earth reaction cycle, but also in the other elements as well.

Listen to it here. It's about 5 minutes long.
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 08 Feb 2017 00:12 #105951

The first talk references a few things that seem to refer back to a workbook or similar, e.g. symbols/symptoms - am I missing anything by just reading the transcripts themselves?
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 08 Feb 2017 06:15 #105953

I think they are referring to the to "Wake Up To Your Life" book, it has some tables of symbols, symptoms, reactive patterns, etc.

I put a version of the same information here: awakenetwork.org/magazine/shargrol/253 (it's under Ken McLeod 5 elements)

(cut and paste:)

5 Element (McLeod) Model:
Theory: Our reactive patterns are caused by avoiding sensations…

Treatment Method: Using visualizations to cultivate sensations and being able to fully experience the sensations and not fall into pattered reaction.

Usage: Good method for diffusing reactivity at the sensation-trigger level (as opposed to narrative story level)


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Last Edit: 08 Feb 2017 06:33 by shargrol.
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 08 Feb 2017 06:26 #105954

Andy wrote:
I'm interested. I've already listened to the series, although it's been over nine months ago, so review would be useful.

I found it helpful to listen to #10 first. Ken describes the speed of one of the reaction cycles and points out some subtleties about it. He does this by having two of the participants go through a Tai Chi Push Hands exercise. Hearing it really helped point out to me what I was looking for in not only in the earth reaction cycle, but also in the other elements as well.

Listen to it here. It's about 5 minutes long.

That's a good idea. The thing that makes this practice effective is developing a kind of body sensation/emotion literacy, training the very fast awareness of what these elements _feel_ like in the body. The reactive patterns really do go faster than you can think.

I think this is one of the biggest differences in these kinds of practices and the kind of classic "psychological" or even "moral" approach (I put those in quotes because I'm talking very very loosely here.) This practice emphasizes being right in experience and riding through it with awareness, even when these reactive patterns arise. It's not an approach where you "think/diagnose" retroactively about what happened and it's not an approach were you take a lot of time to "think ahead" about what you will do. It's more based on the idea that our basic human nature is good and that these reactive patterns impair the expression of that natural, creative, problem-solving goodness. So it's about developing a certain freedom in action, an awareness of the situation and the ability to adjust in the midst of action.

(Actually, it's kinda like zen, except this practice is a bit more defined. In zen, the master goes around threatening you with the stick and you have to learn how to see, live in the midst, and ultimately see through and clean-up those reactive patterns.)

So the whole point is to induce these reactive patterns in the body in the safe environment of meditation, so that you have basic literacy... and then live your life. Life itself is inducing all of these patterns in the body everyday, whether we notice it or not. But when we notice it, then we start to fall out of their trance and have many more options that old patterns of reactivity.
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 08 Feb 2017 06:38 #105955

Hopefully some more useful notes from my stuff... these are my notes/interpretations so it might not line up exactly with KMcL's words.

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well, I can see by the red wavy underlines that I still have more work to do on the tables... :)
Last Edit: 08 Feb 2017 06:40 by shargrol.
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 08 Feb 2017 16:32 #105959

I created an e-book out of the Five Elements / Five Dakinis series. You can find both .epub and .mobi versions.

Five Elements Five Dakinis - Ken McLeod.epub
Five Elements Five Dakinis - Ken McLeod.mobi

If you want to read it on an iPhone or iPad, click on the epub version on your device and it will open in iBooks.

If you want to read it on your Kindle, the easiest way is to download the MOBI version. Then send it to your Amazon Personal Document Service email address you set up, eg. your . name @ kindle.com. It'll magically show up on your Kindle.

I'm not sure about other readers.
Last Edit: 08 Feb 2017 17:15 by Andy.
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 08 Feb 2017 21:23 #105961

There aren't any meditation instructions in the first section so I'm assuming we're not commenting on formal practice experience? Here are my thoughts on reading:

Some background: I’ve never been much interested in Tibetan Buddhism til I got into Tsultrim Allione’s demon-feeding practice a couple of months ago, but because my ontological paradigm is more-or-less Kashmir Shaivism which is Tantric Non-Dualism, Tantric Buddhism fits quite well.

I should mention that I’m also, on the side, reading Judith Simmer-Brown’s Dakini’s Warm Breath, mainly for historical/textual/factual source on dakinis (although it contains a lot of theory which I’m finding put together a bit incoherently).

One of the things I’m liking about the Tibetan model is the element of transformation of the unskilful (as per section 7), so that each negative emotion (understood as a dakini or deity) - dakinis have us in their power – has a corresponding positive transformation. This is helping me recognise more quickly what’s actually going on, and really welcome it (not just try to be neutral toward it) as the fullness of reality, and as a wisdom gate.

Some of the instructions in this reading seem a little obvious if you’ve been around the traps – i.e. looking for fulfilment in external things doesn’t bring happiness.

Some of my thoughts on specific passages:

Know the dakini to be your own mind
I found the concept that the dakini is your own mind to be a useful one, after having an old practice of engaging with everything as not-self that still lingers around the edges as a paradigm. Again, it helps to welcome what arises and accept it simply as the fullness of experience, which is all I ever am.

So when you have a level of attention in which you can rest. And there is no conceptual process taking place in the mind. There’s no thought. Then things can arise. And it doesn’t matter what arises. It doesn’t disturb. You follow? And thus nothing can interrupt the quality of your attention and the quality of your presence.
This is interesting because it seems a bit contradictory. On the one hand, it seems to be pointing to a state in which there’s no conceptual thought, which is what a lot of people want from meditation or see as the prize but which to me doesn’t really have any value. But on the other it seems to be saying that from that ground, thoughts arise, but without disturbance, which in a way makes sense but still begs the question, where is that ground. Is it an instruction to train oneself in samatha before vipassana?

What balance consists of is the complete absence of preference and prejudice
Again, this seemed to be pointing to a no-preferences model of what practice is aiming for, which I don’t share – but to say that you can experience everything as just experience, including preference and prejudice, would be more congruent with my own perspective.

Distinguishing pristine awareness (Section 9)
The explanation here isn’t very clear. Is the key in ‘knowing how to respond to situations’ i.e. we act most effectively when least imprisoned by patterns overlaid on experience? How does distinguishing things from each other relate to non-duality according to this paradigm?

The more clearly you see things, the more clearly you see in what’s required in these situations. When you’re really clear, usually you only see one thing to do in each situation. And so you just do it. It’s no big deal. And things just flow naturally because it is what is appropriate. And nobody notices.
This is definitely something that I’ve experienced, particularly in the year or two following my initial awakening – I almost never had that question, ‘what should I do?’ in any given situation. It seemed like a decision had always just been made and I was flowing with it. On the other hand, the example of the COO that’s given is a bit pop-psychology, though I think the question ‘what do I/does this person need’ is a really useful one, and one that comes up in the demon-feeding practice (you ask it of the demon – ‘what do you need’ versus ‘what do you want’).

So what is a stream winner?
Just out of interest, are McLeod’s definitions for the four stagers 100% his own interpretation, or do they come from somewhere in the previous Tibetan tradition and/or elsewhere?
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 09 Feb 2017 11:43 #105965

every3rdthought wrote:
So what is a stream winner?
Just out of interest, are McLeod’s definitions for the four stagers 100% his own interpretation, or do they come from somewhere in the previous Tibetan tradition and/or elsewhere?

Here's the reference and it's an interesting passage to me (continuing on to the end of the transcript). It's interesting to me, because I've listened to a lot of Ken McLeod, and this is the first time I've heard him mention the term 'stream winner' and the four stages of arhatship. Mahayana is mentioned all the time, but Theravada, rarely.

In general, I like how Ken takes pains to separate literal meaning from mythical or metaphorical.

Buried in this highly metaphorical language you have simple and accessible experiences expressed in code. These experiences are very accessible to all of us. The fact that they are seen as way out there, well, that’s poetry.

and

So when you have had certain experiences then you see what the poetry is actually pointing to. Now eastern teachers––many of them, almost all of them––they learned and were trained in this highly metaphorical way of expression. At the same time because they are in traditional societies, they don’t take it literally. They understand and know it as metaphor. Though they don’t talk about it as metaphor. It’s not the way one does things in a traditional society.


and this, to me, is the real point of what he's getting at:

I think that being able to understand what is being pointed to in terms of one’s own experience, yeah. Without literal descriptions. Being able to understand what the other language is pointing to. Is something that is being lost to us to a significant experience and extent. Which means we don’t, we lack a way of talking about these things. And that’s problematic.
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 10 Feb 2017 11:59 #105976

every3rdthought wrote:
So when you have a level of attention in which you can rest. And there is no conceptual process taking place in the mind. There’s no thought. Then things can arise. And it doesn’t matter what arises. It doesn’t disturb. You follow? And thus nothing can interrupt the quality of your attention and the quality of your presence.
This is interesting because it seems a bit contradictory. On the one hand, it seems to be pointing to a state in which there’s no conceptual thought, which is what a lot of people want from meditation or see as the prize but which to me doesn’t really have any value. But on the other it seems to be saying that from that ground, thoughts arise, but without disturbance, which in a way makes sense but still begs the question, where is that ground. Is it an instruction to train oneself in samatha before vipassana?

What balance consists of is the complete absence of preference and prejudice
Again, this seemed to be pointing to a no-preferences model of what practice is aiming for, which I don’t share – but to say that you can experience everything as just experience, including preference and prejudice, would be more congruent with my own perspective.

I think these instructions make sense in the context of this particular practice. Basically, establish a basic mindful state... but then go into the practice, do the visualizations and mostly connect with the non-verbal, experiential aspects of the reactive patterns. I kinda interpret this as saying "don't intellectualize the practice, experience it as directly as possible."
Distinguishing pristine awareness (Section 9)
The explanation here isn’t very clear. Is the key in ‘knowing how to respond to situations’ i.e. we act most effectively when least imprisoned by patterns overlaid on experience? How does distinguishing things from each other relate to non-duality according to this paradigm?

Yeah, I think he is blurring things a little here. I tend to link of "distinguishing pristine awareness" as the basic aspect of focusing on something. So see the ocean but then notice how wet it appears, how reflective it is, etc. That quick little snapshot of "wet" or "reflective" is the distinguishing aspect, the way I think of it. I think later in the series he gives another good way of exploring that aspect. I think in some lecture he also calls it "knowing the particulars" or something like that.
The more clearly you see things, the more clearly you see in what’s required in these situations. When you’re really clear, usually you only see one thing to do in each situation. And so you just do it. It’s no big deal. And things just flow naturally because it is what is appropriate. And nobody notices.
This is definitely something that I’ve experienced, particularly in the year or two following my initial awakening – I almost never had that question, ‘what should I do?’ in any given situation. It seemed like a decision had always just been made and I was flowing with it. On the other hand, the example of the COO that’s given is a bit pop-psychology, though I think the question ‘what do I/does this person need’ is a really useful one, and one that comes up in the demon-feeding practice (you ask it of the demon – ‘what do you need’ versus ‘what do you want’).

The "knowing what to do" is >very< interesting to me lately. I just went through a big adjustment in my own psyche after seeing how something I thought was effective action was really just being busy. It was a blend of fire (adding intensity) and air (over intellectualizing, confusing thinking about action and actual doing).
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 13 Feb 2017 09:22 #106008

Time for the second round? Earth!

www.unfetteredmind.org/five-elements-five-dakinis-2/
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 13 Feb 2017 20:55 #106014

shargrol wrote:
Earth!

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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 16 Feb 2017 17:59 #106041

General reflections

I find the question of in what situations exactly this ‘earth’ situation/reaction is happening a bit uncertain. I can think of more extreme examples, when one is tossed into an unknown situation, or perhaps in a conflict? (because I associate defensiveness and the desire for security with the sense of rigid hollow armour). Or is it instead when one has the feeling that one is grasping at something that one’s scared to lose? – but I’m a bit offput/confused by the example he gives in questions, of wanting to know that the practice is ‘special.’ This makes it hard to think how the practice might be used speedily to meet emotional reactivity in everyday life (which is something I’m already doing recently with other deities, e.g. Vajrayogini for fierce emotions).

In terms of managing uncertainty more broadly, do think of the many questions I used to feel I had to decide in my head (would it be better for me to try to think about this situation in X way or Y way?). Now I tend to be very happy with ‘I don’t know’ (they’re all constructs) and the actual shift in thinking to whatever way will happen, if it happens, of its own accord.

There are various ways of working with deities. More advanced methods, as I just described, you imagine that you are the deity. The more elementary methods, you form a relationship with the deity by imagining the deity in front of you.

When I was a hardcore Theravadan, I was very scornful of these practices because I was like, you’d never become a good, I dunno, sculptor by spending your time imagining yourself being a good sculptor (at least at the outset – I seem to remember reading research that shows that once you’ve had some experience with something, imagining yourself doing it is helpful, as per the basketball example). I also considered that you can’t really imagine something that you haven’t experienced.

However these days, I find imagining the qualities of the deity toward you very fruitful and more so over time. For example, I used to do recitation of the 108 names of Shiva, which I hadn’t done for a while until recently, and on taking it up I was very moved emotionally – I felt I was being reminded of the beautiful qualities of being, as well as reflecting on suffering (for example, everything the Lord does is merciful).

in these deity practices, one’s enacting a drama. And the drama is a condensed version of one’s whole life. One is born, grows up as the deity, takes ones place in the world as the deity, and does what deities do, which is to work for the welfare of all sentient beings in different ways.

I like this way of looking at any individual practice session, which I hadn’t come across before.

The Practice

I’ve done the practice twice now using the audio as a guide. I found it interesting, but at this stage didn’t get a strong positive reaction to the practice as I’d had eg when I first started demon-feeding, maybe for some of the reasons outlined below. I wonder also if it’s because somehow the dakini image is not ‘specific’ enough for me – it’s like I need to work with a more completely fleshed-out deity – though of course I can construct her in more detail with my own attributes! I did a quick google to see if I could find earth dakini images but nothing really. I can definitely see how it could be very useful to work with emotional reactivity though, both deconstructing it in formal practice, and in the moment.

So if you look at the earth dakini you’ll see that, first its location at the earth center. Then there’s the inflexible rigidity, the underlying feeling of hollowness or uncertainty. Then the instability, earthquake, the grasping and then the imprisonment that comes from the holding. Then you let all of that be imbued with lights so it dissolves into light. The jewel appears, the sense of stability and pristine awareness.

I’m not sure that the sequence he describes makes sense in my experience – for me grasping would seem to be more due to desire, or to fear of loss, rather than feelings of instability or uncertainty (although in an unknown or new situation I can see how one clings to what one knows or redeploys a pre-existing pattern).

you become aware of rigidity, wherever it is, in your life and in your being.

I found this practice instruction unclear. It led to a whole lot of discursive thoughts about areas in my life where ‘rigidity’ might be. I don’t have any issue with discursive thought, I use it purposefully with some regularity in practice, and particularly in deity work. But here I wasn’t quite sure that this was what was meant, or if it was more like, say in tonglen you would imagine all the generalised suffering you’re breathing in, rather than a whole lot of specific circumstances one by one.

And now the reaction starts again.

Again, a bit unclear as an instruction. Does the first reaction set off the next one in a chain? Or is it simply that we need to keep on arousing that experience and seeing its component parts so that they are all ‘brought into the light’?
Last Edit: 16 Feb 2017 18:00 by every3rdthought.
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 16 Feb 2017 19:39 #106043

Here's some ideas, don't know if they answer all your questions, but for what it's worth...

I think the main thing about earth is that it is defensive/territorial "mine!". The next dakini is water and that is more about aggressive/resisting and avoiding "no, stop!". So earth is especially about taking a superior position and holding your ground. Water is more about squirming and resisting.

In practice, it's more like our stance gets a little off balance and then we reassert our selves, but part of us notices that "positioning" so we know we're full of shit, yet we take the stance. And if someone knocks us off our stance, then we take an even better stance -- and maybe say "I meant to do that" (pee wee herman :) ). Eventually we get outmaneuvered, but whatever so you lose that battle... That's the way it seems when the dakini has us in her power.

But when we see it clearly, it's much more obvious we grab at straws, the point is the grabbing, there really isn't much thought behind it, we're just justifying what we're doing... and eventually, we wind up working ourselves into a corner or running out of options and then we feel trapped --- buried by the earthquake.

So connecting with rigidity is that defensive stance that shuts out options, that knows without a doubt and can't be swayed, that doesn't allow for other options or reconsidering.

If you can hangout with that feeling, then you can kind of develop a dual mind -- one that can be in that state but also know it is a state. Then you have options when it comes up. You've practiced getting off balanced, but you don't grab harder. You can keep your options even in the middle of an earthquake.

In this practice, the deity isn't so much a visualization as a visceralization (just make up that word!). The diety is the feeling of off balance, the feeling of reflexively grabbing, the seductive feeling of seeking a superior position, and the horrible feeling of getting trapped or failing because of our own aggressive tendencies. It's not so much the woman's body, dress, eyes, etc. although that can help build the kind of intimacy and connection (and it can keep practice from being boring by adding a sexual element -- a woman dharma friend of mine makes the dakini male, which I think is fine even though it's "supposed" to be female to symbolize "bare awareness/wisdom")

For what it's worth, this element is more about hollowness/uncertainty in the sense of "fear of loss" (and taking an territorial stance). Water is more about fear but avoiding with aggression. The fire element is about the whole dynamic of desiring. It's legal to jump ahead to fire! :)

I find that most of my reactivity is fire (desiring/intensity) and air (busyiness/activity).
Last Edit: 16 Feb 2017 20:00 by shargrol.
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 17 Feb 2017 06:45 #106049

Disclaimer: I'm realizing that the way I talk about five elements is a bit of a hybrid between the Trungpa/AroTer teachings and Ken McLeods teachings. Trungpa/AroTer tend to emphasize the psychological domain (Earth is territorial when there is a fixation, Earth is generous when it is free). McLeod is more about visceral reactive patterns (rigidity when in the pattern, balanced yet without ground when free). To complicate it, Hokai has some ways of portraying it that are slightly different.... So what I'm trying to say is: take anything that works and use it, but there is a lot of variation in what is out there and sometimes what I say is inconsistent with the different flavors of the practice.
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 17 Feb 2017 18:18 #106056

Are you guys listening to this, or reading it? I tried listening to the first recording (while telescope making) and it was barely audible. Based on all of your comments, I am curious what the fuss is about.
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 18 Feb 2017 07:48 #106057

Yeah, I listened to it as a podcast during morning commute... the sound quality is indeed bad, thank goodness there are also transcripts.

So major realization for me: I understand my earth pattern.

I never really resonated with this element because I'm much more avoidant than defensive, if anything. So the solidity of earth???

But it's kind of obvious. My earth element is manifested as my worry orientation. I often find myself figuring out all the things that can go wrong or cause suffering --- not a bad thing in itself --- but I use that as a "structure" for I orient my day. I use worry to help me figure out what I should do next, who I should help, what I should fix in the house. Seems so basic and no big deal...

But what I've noticed is this orientation really isn't that "intelligent". It's kind of a habit. And so things get prioritized based on the perceived magnitude of the worry, rather than more objectively consideration of what is acurately important. Worrying is a trance state, it isn't really an aware state.

It definitely has the sense of territorialism -- my worries. And if the worries get questioned, I find new reasons and rationales for grabbing on to them. And eventually I'm paralyzed by worries.

Heh, it just occurred to me that this sounds really severe, but actually what's great about the five elements is they work as a model for big problems and subtle momentary problems. What I'm mostly talking about now in my current experience is momentary mind-farts, but I can see how this habit was a major major way I lived my life years ago.

It's interesting, too, for me the awakening moment was seeing the basic worry of not-existing as a mind moment. "Aha, that's what I think is self." So earth really does have this kind of fundamental nature to it, when you get down to the essence of it, beyond the gross level constructions of defending more normal sense of identity (my job, my things, my opinions, my forms of pleasure).

I find the "fractal" nature of the five element practice fascinating. It works at the psychological level, the vipassina level, and even the post awakening level. The thing about five element practice is that it doesn’t need “a person” to be hindered. There are reactive habits, there is dharma. "The person" is not the point. Why would I make a person out of a reactive pattern? and relate to it as a hindered "me"? That’s going in the wrong direction. Instead there is this person-less habit that is clearly seen. When habit is seen as habit, that is seeing dharma.
Last Edit: 18 Feb 2017 08:16 by shargrol.
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 18 Feb 2017 08:03 #106058

The other earth thing about worries is how you keep grabbing on to them, one after the other, almost trying to find a "superior" worry. The whole victim identity is like that, both individually and in social groups that define themselves that way. And of course eventually worrying enough leads to being "buried" by it, buried under an earthquake of worries.

Cool!
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 19 Feb 2017 14:41 #106071

Tom Otvos wrote:
Are you guys listening to this, or reading it? I tried listening to the first recording (while telescope making) and it was barely audible. Based on all of your comments, I am curious what the fuss is about.

The audio quality of the first one was terrible, but they get better. My guess is that they had volunteer audio techs at the retreat, doing the best they could.
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 19 Feb 2017 17:35 #106073

shargrol wrote:
The other earth thing about worries is how you keep grabbing on to them, one after the other, almost trying to find a "superior" worry.

Definitely resonates for me. I'd been thinking more about the way in which , e.g., I'll get into conflict with someone where I'm unsure whether their negative perspective on me is accurate or not, and then grab onto an 'argument' to make back to them which doesn't help to resolve the situation. I also see it a bit in my pride - when I feel it's been wounded even by me being self-deprecating, I'll defensively justify why the perceived wounding factor is not as accurate as it seems.
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 19 Feb 2017 19:53 #106076

Further thought: did the Earth practice as guided by the audio this morning - I think I need to put more thought into my visualisation of the dakini (perhaps using the audio as a guide hasn't allowed this, as you need to move along at its pace). One of the things about the demon-feeding practice which resonated with me very strongly was that you first feel the 'demon' feeling in your body, then visualise the demon as an entity based on that feeling. I think I need to work with a dakini who appears in a way that feels meaningful to me (which doesn't necessarily mean non-traditional - obviously most deity visualisation practices are very prescriptive) and perhaps who I see as emerging from a deity with whom I have a pre-existing connection or history - perhaps Vajrayogini, in this case.
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 20 Feb 2017 06:51 #106079

You could take the awakened form of the deity and start with that, then go through the exercise. That way you start from strength and power, go into turmoil, and then reconnect with that strength and power.

So for earth, you could connect to balanced awareness first. Imagining what it would mean to have awareness that is balanced no matter what, undisturbed, constant even during change... and see if that connects up with a feeling or an image or a symbolic figure... and then use that version of the deity and go into the practice with that.

This could even go in a more shamanic direction, where you use an animal symbol for it --- like a soaring bird, balancing on the lightest updrafts, or a trout that can hold its position in turbulent mountain streams.

You could even connect with Vajrayogini first and then have Vajrayogini transform into a dakini.
Last Edit: 20 Feb 2017 06:52 by shargrol.
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 20 Feb 2017 16:59 #106083

shargrol wrote:
You could even connect with Vajrayogini first and then have Vajrayogini transform into a dakini.

That's what I've been thinking of going with - will see how things shape up for fire :)
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"Book Club" - five elements, five dakinis 21 Feb 2017 23:39 #106093

I've gotta say, the qualities these elements are connected with in this schema doesn't make any intuitive sense to me at all. Water is connected with anger and lashing out and opposition, but also with flow in the sense of evasion and/or persuasion (and/or conformity, go with the flow, which seems different again)? Both seem like unhealthy reactions, but different from each other (in fact pretty much opposite). is the commonality that when you feel anger you try to DIRECT/CONTROL things to go the way you want them? Seems like a bit of a stretch.

I found a couple of other sites which go through explaining the schema for each element:

Elements at Approaching Aro
Elements at IEET

There's some crossover (perhaps not surprisingly, as they're very intertwined) between Tantric Buddhism and Tantric Shaivism here in the image of the mirror (it's also used in Advaita, but there to demonstrate that appearances are false).

I find the 'impartiality' of the mirror interesting, because I think that description makes us think that the ideal state is the one where we have no preferences, whereas I'd say what we want to see in the end is that the preferences too are part of the reflection...

When I think of the mirror, I also think of the 'dreamlike' quality of reality which as I've mentioned before has been noticeably present for me on and off recently - and Ken gets into the dream issue also with the discussion of sorrow in a dream (which goes to the problem that in philosophy they call 'narrative empathy')
so they go off and meditate, and they get nice and peaceful and then they try to bring that kind of peace and clarity to the situation. How well does this work? In my experience it doesn’t work very well at all. Because as soon as we engage the situation, all of that peace and clarity’s gone. Because a whole bunch of other stuff which we haven’t worked through in our meditation is suddenly up.

I like this. Not that I ever found nice peacefulness in my early days of meditation :)
Bill: in living it there’s places that guide us, that have a sense of— rightness, morality, of compassion

I like Ken's take on postmodernism/deconstruction - the thing that bugged me about it always was that it had no praxis - but there's something about what 'Bill' says here that I've often heard in people asking dharma questions that really rubs me up the wrong way. Whenever people start talking about this - basic goodness, intuitive morality, etc (and a similar thing for 'childlike wonder') - it does so and I'm interested in the psychology of why. On the one hand, maybe it makes me think that in fact there's not much empathy there, because it's impossible to imagine yourself being someone else who also feels like they're guided by inherent goodness and morality but comes to totally different conclusions - not to mention that there's a feeling of very strong clinging there, 'don't let something I find valuable get deconstructed!' But also for myself, there's the basic narrative that, no matter how happy I personally may be, the world is not a good place (and that a good person can't believe the world is a 'good place') and that may be the emotional crux.

On a perhaps related note, I also find it interesting that his implicit assumption is that in conflict or in frustration most people's first instinct is to not cause someone else harm, but that we then lose clarity. I'm not sure that's true... some people may need the opposite lesson... one thing I'm finding the more I think about this spiritual path gig is that everything is so, so individual in terms of what people need.

Anyway, more on water when I've done the actual practice.
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The following user(s) said Thank You: shargrol
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