Awareness of Awareness: Emerging through the Clouds of the Dense, Deluded, Compulsive Mind into Clear and Luminous Space
Summary: As we approach the end of the retreat, the lectures are getting more and more information packed and so are these summaries. I will say as I always do; if you are new to the podcast go back to the first episodes! This morning we started by covering the importance and the difficulty, even for Tibetans now and in the past, of calming the mind through Shamatha practice. Alan speaks about the sad state of the modern view that reduces human beings into biological machines, where the brain does everything and we do nothing. From here, he mentions the popular but very incorrect belief that Buddhism arrived to the west "dead on arrival," and that achieving realizations or even Shamatha in modernity is impossible. It all boils down to your belief in yourself, motivation, and diligence. As HH. Dalai Lama said, practice like Milarepa and you will achieve like Milarepa. Too often we look for the "quick fix," and Alan emphazises that there is simply no substitute for cultivating real stability. Keeping our minds concentrated by keeping them in motion will not achieve lasting transformation. Alan also explains why throughout this retreat he has always given an entire worldview with elaborate answers rather than just "keeping it to practice," and I will vouch that his technique has really worked for me and other fellow retreatants, giving us a deep understanding of the context and gently but firmly turning our minds towards the pursuit of genuine happiness. Towards the end of this introduction, Alan gives several practical tips on what to do if our mind just won't cooperate when we try to meditate, emphasising and giving instructions on breathing out correctly. He then starts this Awareness of Awareness practice, which he later mentions can be excellent medicine to heal ourselves from the sad belief that we are only matter, organic computers with no control over ourselves. No materialist investigation into "ourselves" and reality can compete against these practices unless a radical shift takes place in the modern way of viewing reality.