[Practice these three phases of Accommodating and Emanating until expansively spacious.]
This transparently luminous and awake Bodhisattva Body-Mind, without blemish, sacred
Emanates wisdom, compassion and vitality to all beings, sentient and elemental:
All thoughts, feelings, emotions and situations
Are equally good, equally welcome, equally at home, equally at peace
In this living, radiant Palace of Sacred Presence.
“OM BODHI SATTVA AH”
[Hold the spaciously expansive presence of an enthroned Bodhisattva (“Awake Being”) from the taking and sending meditation. If you prefer, recite “PURE, SACRED AWAKE, BEING.” Experience either as spontaneous, self-echoing speech of this warm, expansive space. Recite first with eyes closed then with them open so that awareness and spaciousness naturally blend in ordinary, everyday reality.]
After using tong len to establish a sense of spaciousness, we are now going to stay there for a little while but now not using the in and out breaths in so deliberate a fashion, rather just resting in that state of spaciousness. We are still using some props and tools to do so, in this case the use of a simple mantra which becomes the object of focus instead of the breath. Here follows an earlier version of the explanation section above:
Hold the spaciously expansive presence of an enthroned Bodhisattva (“Awake Being”) from the accommodating and emanating meditation. If you like, recite the mantra “OM Bodhisattva AH,” the echoing speech of this generous space of Bodhisattvahood, which all inherently possess as innately noble birthright. First with eyes closed then with them open during which latter merge inner and outer and the ‘enthroned’ expansive stillness-presence of the previous practice with any ongoing sights, smells and sounds of the immediate, ordinary situation, rural or urban, quiet or noisy, thereby joining space and form and thus literally embodying primordial spaciousness within the immediate surroundings which is the essence of healing.
Generally, whatever happens is fine, but as for the mantra, relax and let it flow, letting it say itself as it were, to naturally coral and merge discursive thought into the continuously flowing river of spacious heart-mind from the practice which accommodates and thereby self-liberates fixation and confusion, which is innate wisdom.
In daily life, touch into this relaxed spaciousness anytime anywhere,
so that when symptoms or challenges engender anxiety, isolation or loss of spirit
they can be used as medicine triggering relaxation and compassion.
This is called ‘transforming poison into medicine.’
Although easier said than done, the purpose of the Liturgy is to help train ourselves so that we can put this into actual practice in daily life situations where it really counts.
There will be a How To section following this initial run-through of the text in which further guidance will be offered. However just doing the practice itself is all that is really needed. Each practitioner has their own matrix of experience, their own style, their own journey, and each session is different so it is not helpful to try to spell out what should happen rather it is better just to do it on one’s own and become one’s own teacher in so doing. Saying mantra may be unfamiliar to some but once you’ve done it for more than a minute or two it quickly becomes old hat. The main thing is to use the flowing mantra sound as a way to maintain the spacious awareness feeling from the previous section without having to keep plowing along with the breath so this is a more free-flowing, less deliberate stage of the Main Practice after which we will drop technique altogether and just rest simply without any props or tools whatsoever. Keep it simple; above all, keep it ordinary.
The imagined situation dissolves like mist over a lake in the morning sun
Leaving body and surroundings free of any past or future, project or progress
Effort or ease, holding or letting go, sad or happy, sick or well
Not following any internal story lines, clean-hearted, playful, a carefree child of nature
At one with the birdsong: simple, present, fresh, ordinary, awake, naked.
[Rest in silence, at peace, awake, as long as it remains.]
Here we drop any technique or agenda and just rest in whatever sense of wakeful presence remains from the preceding practices. The less said about this the better. Thoughts will come and go, which is natural and fine, but the idea here is to retain background awareness of the background awareness which is a blending of one’s own mind with space, the natural atmosphere around, be it that of a room, a garden, a city street – whatever. So as long as that background awareness, that sense of freshness and being in the present moment remains, just stay there with it. Once it starts to fade or you feel pulled to get going, move on to the final flourish.
This everyday body inherently manifests the loving radiant qualities of a Bodhisattva
Whose noble heart compassionately shares being open, aware and sentient
With all beings of higher, lower and equal status
Including the shimmering ocean of countless trillions of microbes
Every cell in the body welcoming each and every one to come and go as they please
Regarding all symptoms as challenges, all challenges as medicine, all medicine as teachings in
How to renounce dearly held habits of wallowing in banality, laziness and cowardice
How to reverse isolation, self-indulgence, hostility, remorse, rancour, regret
How to face into chronic pain and the ongoing anxieties of basic maintenance and survival
Shedding the armour of aggression, casting off the anchor of resentment
Sailing joyfully into the delightful breeze of our own and others’ health and happiness
Manifesting the three types of confidence – “be decisive, know what is, see clearly” –
Arousing fearlessness, generosity, humour and spontaneous laughter
Serving all beings in body speech and mind, holding the Bodhisattva lineage of those
Who renounce attaining enlightenment until all others have already done so
Continuously aware of spiralling constellations of infinitely mutual interdependence
Penetrating into whose local vortexes of swirling feminine energy
Opens ever-unfolding petals of auspicious co-incidence
Revealing the inherently sacred, gentle presence in all beings and situations
The Primordially Awake Buddha naturally blazing in each and every heart.
The above is self-explanatory in the sense that you just chant it and take any meaning or pleasure from it that you like. This celebrates that the Main Practice is over and we are now concluding the session. The idea is that we have moved from our initial state of being somewhat down in the dumps with all our unending chronic disease vicissitudes and are now feeling quite a bit better having spent ‘quality time’ imagining how we can absorb negativity of self and others and radiate out positivity to self and others. In so doing hopefully we have found reservoirs of sanity, peacefulness, awareness, strength and cheerfulness that otherwise we might feel were eluding us.
This is a very basic, ordinary and direct form of healing. We don’t have to fuss about any particular medical label; we can just work with any perceived obstacle by engaging with the feelings involved, especially the negative ones which we habitually turn away from. By instead turning into them we become stronger and indeed, as the text intimates, learn to ‘regard all symptoms as challenges, all challenges as medicine and all medicine as teachings.’
Dedication of Merit
By this merit may all obtain omniscience
May it defeat the enemy, wrong-doing
From the stormy waves of Birth, Old Age, Sickness and Death
From the ocean of Samsara, may I free all Beings.
This is a traditional way to close a Buddhist practice session and there will be a post about this later. The idea is that we dedicate any positive merit gained from the practice to all sentient beings so that the whole world benefits. This is a simple generosity practice. Of course if for any reason you feel uncomfortable saying it, simply exclude it from the session.
Samsara, about which there will later be a Buddhism 101 Series post, refers to the spinning wheel of existence we are all bound to, birth after birth, harnessed to unending karmic consequences caused by generally trying to accumulate positive experiences whilst avoiding negative ones, habitual tendencies regarding the same this Liturgy is designed to redress.
The final statement ‘may I free all beings‘ is the expression of someone who has taken the Bodhisattva vow to help free everyone from the bondage of samsaric confusion and pain. This expression of generosity and compassion embodies the sort of shift in emphasis from self to other this Liturgy has been encouraging and which hopefully this practice session has engendered.