Alchemy. Tantra. Transmutation. Metamorphosis

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2 months 2 days ago - 2 months 2 days ago #118486 by Kate Gowen
I am reading, slowly, pausing to say WOW!  as necessary, Sayer Ji’s remarkable book, “Regenerate.”

I am up to the early part where he lays out what he calls “quantum biology.” It seems like I’ve finally found an entry point to a systemic exploration for the extraordinary potentials of the organism that have gone by the (to me, unhelpful) names of magic, miracle, wizardry. Everything else I have ever seen on these subjects have been obscured by religious or mystical metaphorical language that didn’t engage me, but seemed intended to deflect.

This book starts with what we know, or think we know about physiological functions— then points out the blanks we haven’t noticed were there, and patiently asks intelligent questions that return startling answers.

The infinity in a grain of sand is as mind blowing as the infinity of the vast expanse. And “emptiness” has been severely misunderestimated. 
Last edit: 2 months 2 days ago by Kate Gowen. Reason: Typo

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2 months 2 days ago #118489 by Shargrol
I’m on a business trip this week, but I bought the Kindle version of this book and I’m slowly reading it during the downtimes. So far so good…

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2 months 2 days ago #118493 by Chris Marti
I think I'll buy the Kindle version of Regenerate. Some internet research on Sayer Ji this morning revealed some interesting info.

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2 months 1 day ago #118499 by Kate Gowen
Yeah, Kindle is my default reading mode these days, because I need both dark mode and type enlargement to do anything but create a headache.

This is an aspect of technology that I wholeheartedly approve, Luddite though I may be.

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2 months 1 day ago #118500 by Kate Gowen
My takeaway from the earliest part of the book is that, at the most micro level of our organism, “kinship with all life” is fact, not metaphor.

This promises paradigm-shattering implications.

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1 month 4 weeks ago #118536 by Kate Gowen
About halfway through, reflections:

another of Ngak’chang Rnpoche’s essential teachings is that “principle and function” is the best way to understand anything. That rubric has carried me through the socio-political turmoil of the last 6 years without succumbing to deranged hate of those who see things differently than I do.

Now it is extremely useful in reconstructing my understanding of physiology and biological functioning. What is the purpose of any given structure or process? How does it work? How can/does it go wrong? How can it be helped to come correct?

I love that Sayer Ji is not cowed by medical industry’s big guns out of asking the fundamental questions and building better models with the answers. Quantum biology, indeed.

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1 month 4 weeks ago #118538 by microbuddha
Kate, 

Can you elaborate a bit on your experience(s) with Ngak’chang Rinpoche.    I have listened to most of the interviews of the people involved in the lineage ( guruviking).   Also,  I am familiar with Vajrayana  Now   ( Rin'dzin Pamo ) through Michael Taft.  Rin'dzin ( Charlie ) is kind of doing a " pragmatic vajrayana " with essentially the same apprentice type structure of Aro Ter.  

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1 month 4 weeks ago #118540 by Chris Marti
Micro -

Have you listened to the Aro podcasts?  

https://aroaudio.blogspot.com/

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1 month 4 weeks ago #118541 by Kate Gowen
I found Aro through a used bookstore in San Francisco in about 2002. A friend who I met in meetings with another teacher leafed through “Spectrum of Ecstasy” and said, “Ugh! YOU might like this…” (“taking emotions as a path” didn’t appeal to him) At the time, I was finding the whole Hindu guru residue of our mutual teacher inadequate and limiting, and Rinpoche’s “essential Vajrayana” approach was much more promising.

Then it turned out that a public teaching was happening in a few months, in SF. I went to that, and the next few, met with the local weekly practice group as often as possible, became an apprentice for a number of years. Before  it would have been feasible to take vows, Rinpoche had to cut back his travel schedule and I became a fixed-income retiree with travel to the UK out of the question.

But what I have learned in my study remains the foundation of my understanding of Vajrayana, and Rinpoche’s inspired use of everyday English in conveying it is something I deeply appreciate. He is able to distinguish between the cultural Tibetan accretions and the essence— while being au fait with the symbolism and core ritual practice. Some of the sangha members really work with the mahamudra approach. It’s not my thing— what speaks to me is the spirit of menagde (which he translates as “mere indication”)— but I find that broad spectrum is a good thing in a sangha.

Other things I appreciate— his calling out “political correctness”— for decades before most people had noticed it was an obstacle. He teaches that if you “take refuge” in something other than Buddha, dharma, sangha, then you are practicing THAT, not Buddha dharma. And your results will reflect that.

Another thing I’ve never heard said quite so clearly is his insistence that teachers must not “pre-empt the experience of the student” by getting overly discursive.  Practice is meant to propel personal, transformative discovery, not merely the acquisition of encyclopedic information “about” a subject matter.

I don’t know if this was what you were asking for, or more tied to my personal idiosyncrasies than is helpful— but here it is.

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1 month 3 weeks ago #118572 by Kate Gowen
A Daoist writer, Damo Mitchell, whose books I have enjoyed just posted a talk on YouTube.

https://youtu.be/LJnv0i5Pj7Y

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1 month 3 weeks ago #118573 by Kate Gowen
The most obvious things are sometimes the ones we forget— the Aro tradition is the most welcoming, supportive, and enlightened one that I know with regard to WOMEN. Teaching couples are preferred for propagating the lineage, which was and is explicitly for householders living ordinary lives as practitioners. No monastic rejection of “the world” as an obstacle to practice.

Of the whole growing range of Rinpoche’s writings, my very favorite is his more recent “Goodbye Forever.”

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1 month 3 weeks ago #118577 by microbuddha
Do you know where he writes about how his cycle of practice was revealed to him?   He talked a bit about it when interviewed by Guru Viking.  
The idea that an entire cycle of practice can be "downloaded" ( I think he used this word) is pretty incredible to believe, yet happens in the Nyigma tradition.  I believe other western tibetan affiliated lamas like "TK" and Kim Katami have similar type stories.  

I purchased Journey into Vastness last year and haven't had the time to get into it.  I did read Roaring Silence.  

Aro doesn't seem to be too patriarchal.   Why do we only see Khandro Dechen in naked line drawings ( that was a bit weird when I saw that ) and not Rinpoche?   What is good for the goose is good for the gander. 

I really like his calligraphy, wish I could get a small piece of his work!

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1 month 3 weeks ago #118578 by Noah

Kate Gowen wrote: But what I have learned in my study remains the foundation of my understanding of Vajrayana, and Rinpoche’s inspired use of everyday English in conveying it is something I deeply appreciate. He is able to distinguish between the cultural Tibetan accretions and the essence— while being au fait with the symbolism and core ritual practice. Some of the sangha members really work with the mahamudra approach. It’s not my thing— what speaks to me is the spirit of menagde (which he translates as “mere indication”)— but I find that broad spectrum is a good thing in a sangha.


This is all really cool & inspiring!  Thanks for sharing.

By mahamudra vs menagde, do you mean a more gradual approach where aspects of the nature of mind are discovered in series vs a more immediate approach where it's all revealed together?

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1 month 3 weeks ago #118579 by Noah

microbuddha wrote: Do you know where he writes about how his cycle of practice was revealed to him?   He talked a bit about it when interviewed by Guru Viking.  
The idea that an entire cycle of practice can be "downloaded" ( I think he used this word) is pretty incredible to believe, yet happens in the Nyigma tradition.  I believe other western tibetan affiliated lamas like "TK" and Kim Katami have similar type stories.  


As far as I know, Kim Katami's claimed terma was not verified by Dudjom Rinpoche, lol (whereas the Aro ter was).  Is TK traktung?  Apparently Trinley Norbu Rinpoche liked him a lot.  I think we have to look for some type of lineage affiliation in these cases, even if not 100% relying on that.

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1 month 3 weeks ago #118580 by Kate Gowen
“Goodbye Forever” conveys some sense of how he became a lama. It is available, the first 2 volumes, anyway, as Kindle versions. I find them illuminating on his visionary experience. I can’t predict how it will strike anyone coming at it with a firmly Western skeptical. rationale. (Not sure about the line drawings— are they part of the exercise book? If so, I imagine that she, not he, was demonstrating. Possibly he did the drawings, since he was the art student in the family.)
 
Have a look and see what you think.

I am not familiar with TK or Kim Kalami— are they interviewed by Guru Viking as well?
(on second thought, if “TK” is what “Traktung Khepa” is going by— him, I’ve looked into.)

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1 month 3 weeks ago #118581 by Kate Gowen
Rinpoche (like Namkhai Norbu, another in my pantheon of teachers) divides Dzogchen teachings into 3 “series” of approaches— Sem-de, Long-de, and Menagde. Sem-de is more discursive, Long-de is physical/experiential energy exercises, and Menagde is literally, “no word.” He calls it “implicit instruction” or “mere indication.” My sense of this is that it could be literally ANYTHING, and that only the person who received the instruction would know what it was. It was there by implication, but not everyone present recognized it.

 Mahamudra is a Yana of its own, with its own base, methods, and results. A different Yana than Dzogchen/Ati. And, yes, more graduated.

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1 month 3 weeks ago #118583 by microbuddha
Noah, 

This guy, traktung      tsogyelgar.org/new-page-38  

Just a Tourist a band of his yogis/ yoginis  who put his words to music.   Check out "windowpane"  

open.spotify.com/artist/34erS1wGJLFM5OPsEE0Rv4

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1 month 3 weeks ago #118587 by Kate Gowen
Another short, direct-pointing sort of book is Rinpoche’s “Shock Amazement,” also available an e-book.

I’d forgotten I have it, but rediscovered it today, looking for a reference.

It is perhaps the most stripped-down essential book in my large library. To me, the very title suggests worlds usually only glimpsed briefly. But inspiring me to continue the journey, no matter what.

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1 month 2 weeks ago #118631 by Kate Gowen
Something I stumbled upon in Amazon Prime videos—

https://youtu.be/iBokQomPr_g

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1 month 2 weeks ago #118633 by Noah
I’ve watched that.  It was very interesting.

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1 month 1 week ago #118679 by Shargrol

Kate Gowen wrote: Another short, direct-pointing sort of book is Rinpoche’s “Shock Amazement,” also available an e-book.

I’d forgotten I have it, but rediscovered it today, looking for a reference.

It is perhaps the most stripped-down essential book in my large library. To me, the very title suggests worlds usually only glimpsed briefly. But inspiring me to continue the journey, no matter what.


im reading this now, it’s really good. I’m pretty sure I read parts of it before, I’m getting dejavu. But it’s been a while since I read Aro stuff and I didn’t even remember how much I enjoyed/enjoy it. 

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1 month 1 week ago #118680 by Kate Gowen
It’s elusive that way, isn’t it?

I sometimes experience the inverse, jamais vu— reading something in one of the books that I’ve read multiple times and being shocked by something I never saw, or understood a different way.

It’s really kind of amazing.

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1 month 1 week ago - 1 month 1 week ago #118682 by Shargrol
In a way, I consider AroTer one of the original "practical dharma" groups. I find it funny for me to say that because I specifically was NOT interested in the group itself because of the extensive use of tibetian language and dress and culture and tithing and the lama-based model -- very traditional in that sense. At that time of my life, I was also prejudiced against all the trust fund kids that seemed to be doing tibetian stuff in Boulder Colorado (a personal hangup and a repressed jealousy) so there was that, too... :)

But one thing that really shines through NR's communication (and others like David Chapman) is a sense of confiding --- hey everyone, I went really deep into this tibetian stuff and there really is something here, and it's not something "tibetian",it's something fundamentally human and we westerners have access to it. Heck, you can use english to say the same thing. (NR has a really adept at finding meaningful english translations of ideas, as opposed to just literal translations -- much like Ken McLeod ability as a translator of meaning, another early practical dharma guy). And AroTer was using this thing called "the web" early on (~1990s) with the intention of communicating this stuff more broadly. 

Good stuff.
Last edit: 1 month 1 week ago by Shargrol.

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1 month 1 week ago - 1 month 1 week ago #118687 by Chris Marti
I agree, and thanks to past conversations with Kate have read a lot of the Aro website material, the books, and listened to the podcasts. I was impressed by all of it and the practical bent the tradition favors. That was a long time ago and this discussion is making me want to revisit Aro.
Last edit: 1 month 1 week ago by Chris Marti.

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1 month 1 week ago #118690 by Kate Gowen
I have found Rinpoche’s most recent books, his Odd Boy memoirs and even more his spiritual journey, Goodbye Forever, to be the long awaited answers to questions I wasn’t aware I had.

An astonishingly apt teaching of Aro, that I have never seen elsewhere, is,of the “Five Certainties” that are required for teaching/transmission to take place— these are the certain teacher, the certain teaching, the certain time, the certain place, and the certain retinue. I am reminded of this in the moments when they all align and understanding flashes like lightning through my whole being.

Another teaching that I love is that of the “84 Mahasiddhas.” Rinpoche takes an unusual approach in emphasizing the vast diversity of paths taken by these ordinary and sometimes reviled individuals. From the businessman to the “perfect housewife” to the rockstar to the recluse on an island of dogs— the only commonality was that they made their unique circumstances their impetus of practice. The book collecting these stories has been “forthcoming” for a decade now… but I am sure it will be worth the wait.

The “certainty” for me when I discovered Aro was that the Big Question for me was , “What good is enlightenment if it isn’t in the fabric of my life? How can meditation be a thing I do at a set time and place, in a prescribed manner?”

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