So much of our experience of life is limited by our own unrecognized habitual and patterns from lifetimes of experiences. This is on top of the fundamental ignorance of the nature of reality. All of this contributes to our attitudes and thoughts about how life is, how people are, and what the truth is. Mahamudra meditation helps us to cut through all of this.
As we advance in Mahamudra, we deepen our realization into both the nature of phenomena and the interface between awareness and phenomena. This sounds abstract, but it is actually very practical, because the practice helps us gain a visceral understanding of how the way we think about things and about the world so affects how we experience it.
Say you are traveling in India for the first time with a companion. Depending where you focus, you and your travel companion may have a completely different experience. The chaos, the filth, the noise, the poverty — you could think this place is a nightmare. Or you could visit a temple and connect in with the energy there, including all of the devotional energy that people have brought there over many centuries. In this experience, the chaos is still there, but it fades very much into the background, whereas the experience of the profound and sacred is forefront and may even permeate everything. I actually feel more at ease in India than in the States due to the pervasiveness of spiritual energy.
Here’s another example: two people visit someone who lives in a huge, gorgeous house. One person finds the house so beautiful and amazing that it makes them feel inferior to those who own it. Meanwhile, the other person is noticing that the people who live there are miserable, despite all this wealth and luxury. One person tunes into the suffering, whereas the other is triggered into their insecurity. But what is the actual reality on a relative level? And what is it on an ultimate level?
At Sukhasiddhi. we are training to see what’s really there, both on a level of relative truth and ultimate truth. We are training to see from our objective clarity that knows.
Mahamudra depends on good concentration, and all meditation starts with concentration. In an advanced retreat, such as the one I will be teaching at Sukhasiddhi, longtime meditators are able to establish concentration more quickly. This allows us to move through the stages of Mahamudra in order to get to some of the deeper level teachings and investigations. From this, the possibility increases that we will have penetrating insight and realization into the nature of our own minds and the nature of reality.
If we stick with Mahamudra, maintain our practice and develop enough concentration to go into depth with it, it is delightful. Insight and realization bring so much joy and liberation from old stuck ways that were limiting our freedom in terms of who we think we are and how we live our lives. One of the siddhis (accomplishments) of the Buddha was that in awakening he had the ability to see phenomena clearly — to see how it operates, and what is true and real on the apparent level. This is a neutral clarity, in the sense that there is no bias, no projection, no lenses coloring anything. Beyond that, he saw into the nature of all that is occurring — the ultimate, changeless part. Mahamudra meditation points us out of the confusion of our habituated thoughts and behavior, toward our innate wisdom and love at the core of who we truly are.
Please join Lama Palden for an Advanced Mahamudra non-residential retreat at Sukhasiddhi from April 24-28. Participants need to have a stable meditation practice. We will set up a phone interview if you have not yet done a Mahamudra retreat.