Monday, January 21, 2013

Sadanga Yoga, Dark Retreat, Ratriyoga & Seven Cycles of Clear Light


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"Bon has three principal streams of transmission of Dzogchen, and of these three the Aural Transmission of Zhang Zhung is considered to be the most profound. Drugyalwa Yungdrung wrote a practice manual for this system, and for over seven hundred years this has been the primary source of instruction on the practice of this system. Drugyalwa’s practice manual is quite extensive and contains instruction on preliminaries, actual practices of sky-gazing, sun-gazing and dark retreat, as well as four auxiliary sections which provide deeper instruction on view, meditation, action, and the result. This system culminates in the practice of the 49 day dark retreat, and a detailed instruction manual exists for those practices as well. It has been a rare opportunity to receive any of these teachings in either the east or the west and usually the instruction has been very abbreviated. Fortunately, Chaphur Rinpoche has agreed to carefully guide students through each of the sections of practice. Having taught the preliminaries, Chaphur Rinpoche now continues with instruction on the actual practices of the Aural Transmission of Zhang Zhung.".....

There are three requirements before a student may begin a practice:
1. the empowerment (Tibetan: wang)
2. a reading of the text by an authorized holder of the practice (Tibetan: lung)
3. instruction on how to perform the practice or rituals (Tibetan: tri).
An individual is not allowed to engage in a deity practice without the empowerment for that practice. The details of an empowerment ritual are often kept secret as are the specific rituals involved in the deity practice.

The Buddhist nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute in India need help to complete their 8 retreat huts, serving over 200 Tibetan nuns from all lineages...

MITHRAEUM.....It is difficult for scholars to reconstruct the daily workings and beliefs of Mithraism, as the rituals were highly secret and limited to initiated men. Mithras was little more than a name until the massive documentation of Franz Cumont's Texts and Illustrated Monuments Relating to the Mysteries of Mithra was published in 1894-1900, with the first English translation in 1903........Religious practice was centered around the mithraeum, either an adapted natural cave or cavern or an artificial building imitating a cavern. Mithraea were dark and windowless, even if they were not actually in a subterranean space or in a natural cave...mithraea are sunk below ground and there were no windows as each mithraeum was intended to be as dark as the original cave of Mithras. .....A Mithraeum (or the plural Mithraea) is a place of worship for the followers of the mystery religion of Mithraism......The Mithraeum was either an adapted natural cave or cavern, or a building imitating a cave. When possible, the Mithraeum was constructed within or below an existing building, such as the Mithraeum found beneath Basilica of San Clemente in Rome. While a majority of Mithraea are underground, some feature open holes in the ceiling to allow some light in, perhaps to relate to the connection of the universe and the passing of time. The site of a Mithraeum may also be identified by its singular entrance or vestibule, which stands opposite from an apse-shaped wall in which a pedestal altar at the back stood, often in a recess. Also its "cave", called the Spelaeum or Spelunca, with raised benches along the side walls for the ritual meal. Many mithraea that follow this basic plan are scattered over much of the Roman Empire's former territory, particularly where the legions were stationed along the frontiers (such as Britain). Others may be recognized by their characteristic layout, even though converted as crypts beneath Christian churches."....

"The name Mithras is the Greek masculine form of Mithra, the Persian god who was the mediator between Ahura Mazda and the earth, the guarantor of human contracts....earliest images show Mithra holding in his upraised hands the Sword of Truth and Torch of Light. ......Mithras was known throughout Europe and Asia by the names Mithra, Mitra, Meitros, Mihr, Mehr, and Meher. The veneration of this God began about 4000 years ago in Persia

"Ratri, often also called Ratridevi, is the goddess of night in the Vedas and the mythology of India and Hinduism. She is sister to Ushas, the Vedic goddess of Dawn. Her name is the common/ordinary word for nighttime in Indian languages like Kannada, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam."

NIGHT YOGA....(Ratriyoga)..."In the Kalachakra tradition, the apparition of ten signs are likened to an image reflected in the mirror of one's mind, comparable to the visions that appear in a magic mirror during a pratisena divination rite. In order to let the first signs appear, the yogin has to meditate in a closed place, where no light can filter in. This is called night yoga. The other signs will appear in daylight yoga (divayoga), practiced with ones back to the sun in a walled space with no roof, wherebye the only things seen is the empty sky." (Orofino G.,"On the Śadangayoga and the Realisation of Ultimate Gnosis in the Kālacakratantra", East and West, 46,1996 Is.IAO Rome.)...

CHRISTIAN DARK RETREAT........"The time before Easter is traditionally a dark time on the liturgical calendar. Many Christians express discomfort with its contemplation and remembrance of Christ's betrayal, abandonment and suffering, preferring the "light" - and lightheartedness - of Easter. But more Christians are beginning to embrace the spiritual value of darkness, participating in Buddhist-inspired "dark retreats" and candlelit Tenebrae - Latin for "shadows" -- services."......Martin Lowenthal is the founder and director of the Dedicated Life Institute in Newton, Mass. He is also the author of Dawning of Clear Light: A Western Approach to Tibetan Dark Retreat (Hampton Roads, 2003). Contact 617- 527-8606.

Muraqaba (Arabic: مراقبة) is the Sufi word for meditation. Literally it is an Arabic term which means "to watch over", "to take care of", or "to keep an eye".....Room Dark...Sufi Meditation Muraqaba, thinking about the spiritual mentor, an attempt to concentrative focus our thoughts on someone, so that his image could recurrently reflect upon the screen of our mind, we are liberated from the limiting senses....

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Commentary to the Bonpo Book of the Dead by Vajranatha:

"The Four Wheels are as follows:
1. the Wheel of the Base that abides (gnas-pa gzhi'i 'khor-lo),
2. the Wheel of the Interdependent Origination due to either Understanding or to Delusion (rtogs 'khrul rten-'brel gyi 'khor-lo),
3. the Wheel of the Channels that represents the Essential Points of the Body (lus gnad rtsa'i 'khor-lo), and
4. the Wheel of the Time of the Bardo (bar-do dus kyi 'khor-lo).

"The Wheel of the Time of the Bardo
The fourth cycle of teaching found in this text concerns the time of the onset of the Bardo experience after death (bar-do dus kyi 'khor-lo). The description in the preceding cycle of teaching concerning the mystical anatomy and physiology of the human body, which is the foundation for the practice of vision both in sunlight and in the dark retreat, pertains to the preparations made in advance during one's lifetime for death and the Bardo experience. Just as may be the case in practice, both with sunlight and with total darkness, following upon the onset of the Bardo after physical and psychical death, the archetypal sacred visions of the celestial hierarchies of Nirvana may be experienced in the Bardo of the Clear Light of Reality (bon-nyid 'od-gsal gyi bar-do) and then the profane visions of the various destinies of rebirth in Samsara will be experienced. However, it is likely that the experience of the Clear Light after death will occur so rapidly, almost instantaneously like a flash of lightning, that the individual will fail to recognize it unless one has done practice during one's life time, including both Dzogchen and Tantric practice. So, not every deceased consciousness will experience this Bardo of the Clear Light. That is the reason why prior preparation and practice during the course of one's lifetime is so important. And failing to recognize the Clear Light of Reality, or even to catch a brief glimpse of it, the stream of consciousness flows relentlessly onward, driven on by its individual karma, into the experiences of the Bardo of Existence (srid-pa'i bar-do). "

"The experiences that the individual undergoes in this Bardo are determined by that individual's particular karma. Even so, there exist practices, especially those of dream yoga or lucid dreaming and the practices of Tantric transformation into a Yidam or meditation deity, that serve as preparation for the experiences of the Bardo of Existence. The latter practice would culminate in the creation and realization of a subtle body of mind (sems) and psychic energy or prana (srog) in the form of one's Yidam. This is technically known as the Illusion Body (sgyu-lus). However, realization of such a subtle body is not synonymous with enlightenment and liberation from Samsara, for, even though its form represents a pure vision of one's own being, there yet remain many layers of subtle spiritual obscurations that need to be purified. However, to accomplish this, one does not need to take on again a human existence. Furthermore, even though the visions seen in this Bardo represent impure karmic visions, nevertheless they can be transformed as the result of the previous practice of the Yidam."

"The Preface to the text states that if one does not know this teaching cycle concerning the advent of the Bardo, one will not, while in the Bardo, be able to separate and distinguish liberation, that is, recognizing the Clear Light, from the delusions or illusory karmic visions that arise after death. These karmic visions represent both the residuesof past existences and the precognitions of future existences. Moreover, time in the Bardo does not operate in the same mode as does the perception of time in the normal waking state, that is to say, time as rigidly sequential and chronometric. Rather, time in the Bardo resembles time in the dream state where past and future come to be mixed up together. In many ways, the Bardo of Existence is like an extended dream state. For this reason, dream yoga and the practice of lucid dreaming can serve as preparation for death and the Bardo experience in general. In everyday life, the process of falling asleep may be equated with the Chikhai Bardo, the experience of dying, and the moment after falling asleep, but before the onset of the dream process, may be equated with the Bardo of the Clear Light because, at that moment, one may catch a glimpse of the Clear Light of the Nature of Mind. Finally, the dream state itself may be said to correspond to the Bardo of Existence, where one comes again under the sway of karmic visions and re-enters the holographic labyrinth."

"As the Conclusion to the text asserts, it is by means of this cycle of teaching concerning the time of the Bardo, that one is able to separate and distinguish liberation, by way of recognizing the Clear Light, from delusion, which is the falling once more under the sway and dominion of the dull lights of Samsara which lead back to the various destinies of rebirth within cyclical existence. Whereas liberation represents ascent into the Clear Light of Reality brought about by gnosis or understanding, delusion represents a descent into the lower worlds of generation ruled over by the kleshas or passions, in this case brought about by a lack of gnosis or understanding."

"Practitioners of the spiritual path are divided into those of a superior capacity (dbang-po rab), those of an intermediate capacity (dbang-po 'bring-po), and those of an inferior capacity (dbang-po tha-ma). In addition to these three, the individual possessing an exceedingly superior spiritual capacity (yang rab) may obtain liberation without the need to undergo death and the Bardo experience because such an individual has attained liberation from Samsara in one's present lifetime. This process is known as Phowa Chenpo or the Great Transfer ('pho-ba chen-po), where one transforms directly into a Body of Light without the prior necessity of going through the death process."

"Commentary to the Bonpo Book of the John Myrdhin Reynolds......The title of the text examined here is given in Tibetan as the rDzogs-pa chen-po zhang-zhung snyan rgyud las 'khor-lo bzhi sbrag bzhugs-so, which may be translated as "Here is contained 'The Setting Side by Side of the Four Wheels' from the Oral Tradition of Zhang-zhung for the Great Perfection Teachings. The text opens with a Homage to the Masters of the Lineage. The Preface, which follows the Homage, commences with a quotation from the sNyan rgyud sems kyi me-long, "The Mirror of the Mind belonging to the Oral Transmission," to the effect that "If one does not know the instructions for setting side by side the Four Wheels, then the teacher who elucidates the mind-stream is only like a guest without any kin or attendants."

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Tenzin Wangyal Center in Virginia:

"Part Five: The Practice of Seven Cycles of Clear Light. This final part of the re-structured presentation of the Chag Tri contains "Chapter Ten: Magical Wheel of the Channels and Prana," and "Chapter Eleven: The Practice of the Seven Cycles of Clear Light" for the dark retreat. These two chapters provide the instructions for the traditional dark retreat of forty-nine days duration. Rinpoche looks forward to guiding students who possess the commitment and dedication to complete this journey of five parts and make a retreat of seven weeks in darkness."...

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"Begtse is a Mongol war god that legend says, converted to Buddhism in the 16th-century at the sight of the Dalai Lama's transformation into Chenrezi, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.  As a consequence, he became a symbol of pacification and the last in the series of 8 or 9 Tibetan Buddhist dharma protectors or Dharmapalas.

"Begtse is represented with all the ornaments of the Dharmapala, brandishing a sword in his right hand, the handle of which is in the shape of a scorpion. His left hand holds the orange heart of an enemy near his mouth, clutching at the same time a bow and an arrow. He tramples upon the corpse of a man with his left foot and the carcass of a horse with his right foot. His three eyes are full of fury directed at the enemies of the dharma."

"Salvation is a foreign idea in Shinto...When you look into the mirror you know who you are more deeply. Knowing is important. Deeper knowledge is important." (Yamamoto Negi of the Tsubaki Grand Shrine at RMSC in 1992)...."In Shinto, the ceremonies connecting with summoning anew the spirit of a deity are called 'chinza-sai'. They are usually ceremonies of mysterious grandeur carried on with the utmost solemnity during the darkness."...(Jinja:

Einstein, Time, Light, Reference Point......"Everybody before Einstein, from Newton back to the ancient Greeks, believed that you can’t mess with time. It’s constant. It’s absolute. There was a clock tower that Einstein passed every day on his way to the patent office in Bern. He wondered what that clock would look like if he were travelling at the speed of light. He realized that from that perspective the clock tower would appear to stop while his own watch would keep on running. Time is not constant. It’s flexible, whether you’re moving or not. He said the same thing about space. You can bend it and twist it, and not only that, he could prove it mathematically, and it was that kind of thinking that shook the foundations of science itself."

"Dark Retreats.....Chamma Ling of Crestone, Colorado......Lhari-la Kalsang Nyima, Chamma Ling’s resident lama, will be leading a small group practice retreat on the dzogchen meditation methods taught in the Experential Transmission......At the conclusion of the practice retreat on May 30, Lama Lhari-la will be available for final instructions, and to put people into dark retreat in Chamma Ling’s cabins, all of which are specially designed to support dark retreat practices. We will work with each individual to help plan his or her dark retreat, including the necessary support services." ...

"The six stages of Sadanga yoga are called (1) Individual retreat (pratyahara); (2) Contemplation (dhyana); (3) Breath control (pranayama); (4) Fixation or retention (dharana); (5) Remembering (anusmrti); and (6) Unfolding or enlightenment (samadhi). We shall briefly present and interpret the six levels......1. Pratyahara (individual retreat): The yogi withdraws from all sensory abilities and sense objects back into himself; he thus completely isolates himself from the external world. It is also said that he locks the doors of the senses and draws the outside winds into himself so as to concentrate them into a drop (Cozort, 1986, p. 124). The meditation begins at night and must be conducted in complete darkness. The American tantra interpreter, Daniel Cozort, recommends the construction of a “light-proof cabin” as an aid. The yogi rolls back his eyes, concentrates on the highest point of his middle energy channel and envisions a small blue drop there. During this exercise the ten photisms (light and fire signs) arise in the following order before his inner eye as forebodings of the highest enlightenment, the infinite clear light. (1) Smoke; (2) a ray of light; (3) glow worms; (4) the light of a lamp — these are the first four phenomena which are also assigned to the four elements and which Sadanga yoga describes as “night signs, since one still lives in darkness so to speak, as in a house without windows” (Grönbold, Asiatische Studien, p. 36). The remaining six phenomena are called the “day signs”, because one now, “as it were, looks into a cloudless sky” (Grönbold, Asiatische Studien, p. 35). They begin with (5) the steadfast light, followed by (6) fire, which is considered to be the shine of emptiness, (7) moonlight and sunshine, (8) the shine of the planet Rahu, which is compared to a black jewel. Then, in (9) an atom radiates like a bright bolt of lightning, and lastly (10) the great drop appears, which is perceived as “a shining of the black orb of the moon” (Grönbold, Asiatische Studien, p. 35). Grönbold interprets the fact that a “dark light” is seen at the end as an effect of bedazzlement, since the light phenomena are now no longer comprehensible for the yogi (Grönbold, Asiatische Studien, p. 35). ....


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….January 2013


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