The Mystery

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(This piece is just a snippet from the introduction to one of the two books I’m writing at the moment. It’s called: “Tranquility’s Secret — The Autogenous Resonance of Selfless Naturing” The practice alluded to is the one I spontaneously started using as a 5 year-old child.)

avalokitesvaraAnd yet, the mystery is why? Even though it was praised as the most effective meditation technique of all by Manjushri, and was the one that Gautama Buddha himself used to reach full enlightenment, as well as Avalokiteśvara—the embodiment of compassion in Buddhism—it isn’t practiced anymore.

Perhaps it is because, as Manjushri himself explained, this one is the only practice that succeeds even in the absence of all Dharma, because this technique works directly with the original source of all such teachings—in fact, is the source of everything—the Dharmadhatu—so no teacher is needed. The support used is not a contingent or compounded evanescent phenomenon. This is why all Buddhas reach enlightenment through this technique alone—in the absence of any (true, uncorrupted) Dharma, how could anyone reach enlightenment using a technique that is dependent upon its presence? Given this technique’s self-supporting nature then, what tradition should be built upon it? What teacher would be in demand to teach it, beyond a brief introduction?

Or perhaps it is because we have been so turned away from believing in our own experience, in having faith in our own heartfelt wisdom, that we can’t fathom the idea that we can actually transform ourselves—literally—by turning toward something so close to us that we don’t even notice it anymore, or if we do, we think there is something wrong with us and seek out medical assistance.

I feel that the only thing that will save humanity from the inevitable end it has orchestrated for itself, is for this practice to be available to anyone willing to make the effort to free themselves from the tyranny of believing that we are nothing more than an accident of material processes, or the plaything of a ruler in some heaven above us—images inculcated into us by masters of manipulation masquerading as the conduits for heavenly knowledge.

The world needs a cohort of compassionate people to show us a different way forward, to inoculate us against the diseases of greed and egotistical uncaring—we need to rise above the sociopathic behaviors that are expected of us by our society—and we need to learn how to manifest self-less loving compassion.

We don’t need to become fully enlightened buddhas to do that. This practice transforms you. It changes even your DNA (all meditation does). And you have no control over that. Use this practice and your focus will no longer be centered within your self-concerns, and indeed no longer confined within your self. It may take you a thousand lifetimes, as the Buddhists say, to reach buddhahood; but in the meantime, in this very life, you can become a being of light and loving compassion to everyone around you.

Blaming man for the creation of “God” is terribly misleading. Humanity is the victim, not the perpetrator—because along with the concept of “God” came the authorities who elected themselves to speak for “God”.

I’ve heard it said that once we were free to grow and transform ourselves while living in accordance with the rest of nature. Today, we are enchained to the idea of leaders, authorities, and experts who we must listen to and whose wisdom we must defer to, while internalizing our own impotence to do the right thing, because anyone who follows their heart is a fool, we are told. Look at history; look at the world around you; look at the news tomorrow—we all know where following authorities gets us!

So where did this idea of “God” come from? Every human heart contains a seed of the truth in the form of wonder and awe. Humans can look out upon their world and the greater universe and understand completely that there is something greater than themselves, without listening to the intermediaries telling them they are wrong. We can feel the awe in “awesome.” We can stand in wonder at it and seek our own answers, stirring that seed in our heart into life.

But people like that are hard to rule; hard to manipulate; so the very idea of self-transformation was first demonized by organized religion, and today ridiculed by scientism, forever stuck in its mechanical view of the universe. What was once deemed “demonic” is today seen as “misinformed nonsense” by the authorities—even as they are forced to recognize some aspects of ancient transformational practices because their positive results are just too visible. Yoga is ok, as long as it is only practiced for physical well-being and not its original purpose of reaching enlightenment. Meditation is great for reducing stress, managing pain, and obtaining “mindfulness”; but whatever you do, don’t talk about the transformational power of meditational experiences and insights. In fact, today, it is those very real meditational experiences that are the focus of scientific studies on the “dangers of meditation”.

You may think humanity has made progress because we are no longer ruled by fear; but today we are still ruled by it—all the old fears still lie in wait for us, wielded by some authority or other against us, as well as the new fear of ridicule, wielded by the ‘experts’.

Rather than facilitating a focus on self-transformation, our time—our lives—are directed to fighting for everything. For food, for comfort, for “truth”, and for “happiness”—we are sacrificed in the internecine wars and conflicts of the authorities who speak for God, or Science, or Truth, or Justice…

But God doesn’t need a spokesperson, and it doesn’t matter if your understanding is that “God” and “Nature” are the same thing, or that there is a “greater force” at work in the universe. Look around you, feel what’s in your heart. What need is there for cheap human words in the face of such awe and wonder, once we free ourselves of doubt?

Nor is Science an authority—“science” is a method to find practical truths, the little brothers of the Absolute Truth which lies always just beyond our grasp. And that is the wonder of it.

And that Absolute Truth? It’s signature is everywhere. We are that Truth too. So why would we need any intermediary to spin us some illusion as they send us on the way to our deaths? Isn’t it enough that we nurture the seed that is already planted in our hearts? Why is that a scary thought for most people today?
So, paraphrasing a Buddhist aphorism, if you meet an authority on the road one day, kill them—it’s a metaphor for the process of transforming ourselves, leaving behind the fears and illusions that we have been taught to live by, forgetting all the ideas that limit us, and the idols we have been told to honor, and turning our attention to what is in our heart, feeling the awe and wonder that is our gift.

6 Responses to “The Mystery”

  1. don salmon says:

    James, did I miss something? Was the “practice” intended to be alluded to and not explicitly mentioned? What is this practice which is the one the Buddha used to attain enlightenment? I thought it was something along the lines of the inquiry that Maharshi practiced (though of course not expressed in Upanishadic terms)?


    • James says:

      Hi Don, this piece is just a snippet from the introduction to one of the two books I’m writing at the moment. It’s called: “Mahākaruṇā Bhāvanā Dhyāna – Reawakening the Profound Compassion of Nirmanakaya.” The practice alluded to is the one I spontaneously started using as a 5 year-old child. The book describes the practice, among other things. I named the practice myself, so you won’t find it anywhere, although you can translate it into English online. I’ll send you a copy before it’s published. I’d like it if you would comment on it.

      Here is some excerpted commentary by Manjushri about the practice of “He Who Hears The Cries Of The World” aka Guan Yin (Chinese), Chenrezig (Tibetan), and Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit).

      “No practice is entirely continuous,
      So even mindfulness perforce arises and must halt.
      An intermittent practice’s results are intermittent.
      How could awareness guide all beings to enlightenment?”

      “I now respectfully say this to the World-Honored One —
      The One who came to be a Buddha in this Sahā world
      In order to transmit to us the true, essential teaching
      Meant for this place — I say that purity is found through hearing.
      All those who wish to gain samādhi’s mastery
      Will surely find that hearing is the way to enter.”

      “I now can recommend respectfully the practice
      Taught by the One Who Hears the Cries of the World.
      A being whose mind is tranquil hears the sound
      Of drumbeats coming from all ten directions,
      And yet he’ll hear each of the drums distinctly.
      And so our hearing faculty must be the perfect one,
      The one that’s genuine and true.”

      “Confused about the nature of our hearing,
      Beings, by permitting their attention
      To go out pursuing sounds, have bound themselves
      To birth and death’s unending cycle.”

      “Ānanda, listen closely! Aided by the awe-inspiring
      Power of the Buddha, I have now explained to you
      This regal, genuine, and marvelous samādhi.
      Indestructible, beyond the reach of mundane thought,
      It is the mother of all Buddhas.”

      “People say that hearing comes about because of sounds,
      Not on its own. If that’s what you call ‘hearing,’ though,
      Then when you turn your hearing round and set it free from sounds,
      What name are you to give to that which is set free?”

      “Great Assembly! Ānanda! Halt the puppet show
      Of your distorted hearing! Merely turn your hearing round
      To listen to your genuine true nature,
      Which is the destination of the Path that is supreme.
      This is the genuine way to break through to enlightenment.”

      “It is the way that the innumerable Buddhas followed
      Straight to nirvana’s gate. All Thus-Come Ones of eons past
      Succeeded by this method. Through this method, Bodhisattvas,
      Too, right now are gaining perfect understanding.”

      “Among the people of the future, those who undertake
      A spiritual practice should rely upon this teaching.
      I myself became enlightened by this very method.
      He Who Hears the Cries is not the only one.”

      “The Buddha, the World-Honored One, made a request
      That I consider methods that will rescue beings
      Who in the Dharma’s ending-time resolve their minds
      Upon attainment of transcendence and nirvana.
      The best of all the methods is the practice
      Taught by the One Who Hears the Cries of the World.”

      “The sages who attained enlightenment by other means
      Were aided by the Buddha’s awe-inspiring spiritual power,
      And each was specially taught how to abandon all affliction.
      Some of these paths are shallow, some go deep; these teachings vary.”

      “I bow now in respect to all the Buddhas, and I bow
      To all their Dharma-treasuries and to the marvelous ones
      Who’ve put an end to outflows. And may beings of the future
      Be empowered so that they will have no doubts
      That this one method is the most accessible.”

      “It is the easiest way to reach enlightenment.
      It is the teaching most appropriate
      For Ānanda and for the beings drowning
      In the Dharma’s ending-time. They only need
      This practice of the faculty of hearing
      For them to break through to enlightenment,
      For it surpasses all the other methods.
      It is the genuine path to the true mind.”
      Excerpt From: Hsuan Hua. “The Surangama Sutra.” iBooks.

      • Don Salmon says:

        Ah, I see.

        Yasutani Roshi (Philip Kapleau’s teacher) speaks of Shikan Taza as if you were in a forest and heard a faint sound far off in the distance. your whole being is like “one ear” – listening, but listening for “an object”, simply immersed in pure listening.

        It is something like this for me as a composer when a formless “melody” or music of some kind sends out flashes of intimations – there is just listening – objectless listening, if you will, and when fully immersed, objectless and subjectless listening.

        • Don Salmon says:

          sorry that should have been “but NOT listening for “an object”

        • James says:

          That is as it should be done… I used a very similar forest metaphor at one point in this new book. And the objectless-subjectless listening is the very important absorption that must happen. There is a point at which both the sound and the listening end.

          I’ll look up Yasutani Roshi. Thank you for the reference!

          • Don Salmon says:

            I thought it was in a lecture Yasutani gave on Shikan-Taza but I don’t see it there (pg 36, Three Pillars of Zen). We used that metaphor in Chapter 12 of our yoga psychology book (Yoga Psychology and the Transformation of Consciousness: Seeing Through the Eyes of Infinity) and liked it so much we included it on track 8 of the CD that comes with the book:>)

            In the book Yasutani evokes Japanese swordsman, alert that if their attention wavers for an instant they will be killed. interesting Japanese/samurai attitude – not sure I’d want to emphasize that one…..

            In his commentary on the Gita, Sri Krishna Prem describes a kind of ‘listening” for the “inner voice”. in the comments on the first chapter, he notes that that Voice “can be heard only in silence and as long as the heart is filled with the clamor of desire the silver tones of the voice cannot be heard… [shifting to the metaphor of the “Light” ] “as first the Light is but a dim Star twinkling faintly within and the Voice is but the sound of a nightingale ‘chanting a song of parting to its mate.’… it is only when the outer world becomes utterly dark that the Ray of the Divine Star can be seen by us, for although it shines eternally, yet it is only when the glaring sunlight of so-called life is eclipsed that we can at first perceive It.

            “Later, that Start will shine with such a Light that ‘if the splendor of a thousand suns were to blaze out all at once in the sky, the might resemble the glory of the Supreme Spirit and not all earth’s tumult will be able to deafen us to the majestic rhythm that Voice, that voice that reverberates throughout the Eternities as the tides of Being thunder upon the beaches o the worlds.

            “Thus it is that, before the bright Path of the Sun can be trodden, the aspirant must enter the valley of gloom, must close his eyes and ears to the light and laughter of life, and must realize in sorrow that all that he is and all that he has done is nothing, before he can see and know in joy that within his heart is the All.”

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