Practice

In our practices for refining and balancing the attention, we will begin with the Buddhist strategy of moving from the coarse to the subtle, from the easy to the more difficult. This approach begins with mindfulness of breathing, proceeds to settling the mind in its natural state, and concludes with the practice of simply being aware of being aware. In each of these practices, we start the session by establishing a suitable bodily posture, and cultivating three qualities as we settle the body...

Education

In 2005, the Santa Barbara Institute will begin to offer courses for the general public on the themes of motivational balance, attentional balance, cognitive balance, and emotional balance. Residential workshops on these themes will be held, ranging in duration from three to ten days. Eventually, other courses will be offered on the nature of consciousness explored from interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives. The Santa Barbara Institute will also invite guest lecturers from the...

Basic Research

Basic research entails the investigation of the nature, origins, and role of consciousness in human existence and the natural world. Following the suggestion of America's pioneering psychologist William James, this study has three branches 1. First-person observation of mental states 2. Third-person exploration of mind brain correlates 3. Third-person study of mind behavior correlates The second and third approaches are already well established in the fields of psychology neuroscience, and...

Daytime Dream Yoga

With daytime dream yoga, we enter into the training of ultimate bodhichitta the cultivation of contemplative insight into the nature of reality, with special emphasis on primordial consciousness. Gyatrul Rinpoche, a senior lama of the Nyingma order and one of my primary mentors, first instructed me in dream yoga in 1990. Some people are born with a knack for recognizing the dream state while dreaming. I'm not one of those people, but I have found that this ability can be improved through...

For Further Contemplation

This is a simple practice you can apply in the midst of your daily activities. When there is nothing you need to do with your mind, during a break at work, or when you are just walking or standing in line, bring your awareness into the body, attending lightly to the breath. Rather than falling into the habitual inner chitchat, with one vagrant thought leading to another, rest in quiet mindfulness. The key to success in meditative practice is continuity. Let the thread of mindfulness run through...

Exploring the Nature of Consciousness

11 Bodhichitta The Spirit of Awakening Appendix The Santa Barbara Institute for Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama Meditation is an instrument or technique to shape or transform the mind. According to my own meager experience of meditation as a simple Buddhist monk, as I get older, even though many of the problems I face become more serious and my responsibilities become more challenging, my mind is becoming calmer. The result of a calmer mind is that I am happier. When faced with...

Compassion

Compassion is the root of the Buddhadharma. This was the motivating force that aroused the Buddha from his solitary meditation under the Bodhi Tree and inspired him to lead others to a lasting state of genuine happiness. Immeasurable compassion is the aspiration, May all beings be free of suffering and its causes. With this cultivation of compassion, called karuna in Sanskrit, we address the second of the Four Immeasurables. The Buddhist mudra, or hand gesture, symbolizing meditative equipoise...

For Further C o n temp la t i o n

Once you have begun to develop the first two of the Four Immeasurables loving-kindness and compassion you will find that empathetic joy and equanimity come quite naturally. Empathetic joy in particular is pertinent to our society and to the modern world we inhabit. This is due to our unprecedented access by way of the news media to the state of the world, especially to aspects that can give rise to sorrow, anxiety, depression, cynicism, fury, and despair. I saw recently a bumper sticker that...

On the Bodhisattva Path Transforming Adversity and Felicity

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, two approaches are presented for exploring and manifesting the power of primordial consciousness. The first of these could be called a developmental model, in which the buddha-nature is characterized as something that we already have, a potential within each of us to achieve perfect spiritual awakening. In other words, the obscurations and afflictions of our minds are not intrinsic to our very existence. They can be irreversibly dispelled, allowing the innate...

Settling the Mind m Its Natural State

We move now from the practice of mindfulness of breathing to the more subtle meditation of settling the mind in its natural state. After spending four years in India, studying with many Tibetan and Theravada Buddhist teachers, I was encouraged by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who had ordained me as a monk, to join my teacher Geshe Rabten in establishing a Tibetan Buddhist monastery for Westerners in Switzerland. This was something of a homecoming for me, for I had lived for years in Switzerland...

Three Dimensions of Consciousness

With great compassion we aspire to liberate all beings from suffering and its source, and with the spirit of awakening we seek a way to fulfill this aspiration. In order to give this undertaking a firm footing in reality, we must fathom the nature of awareness. Here is a model of three dimensions of awareness, each of which can be tested through experience. They are The psyche is the realm of the mind studied by psychologists. It includes the whole range of conscious and unconscious mental...

Recommended Reading

Ethics for the New Millennium. New York Riverhead Books, 1999. Seligman, Martin. Authentic Happiness Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. New York Free Press, 2004. Bhikkhu, Buddhadasa. Mindfulness of Breathing I Manual for Serious Beginners. Trans. Santikaro Bhikkhu. Boston Wisdom Publications, 1996. Wallace, B. Alan. The Four Immeasurables Cultivating a Boundless Heart, rev. ed. Ithaca, N.Y. Snow Lion Publications,...

The Great Perfection

During the first twenty years of my training in Buddhism, studying and practicing under the guidance of such teachers as Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey, Geshe Rah ten, Gen Lamrimpa, Sakya Dagmola, Balangoda Anandamaitreya, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I was exposed primarily to the developmental approach to spiritual maturation and awakening. Then since the beginning of the 1990s, I have been under the guidance of the Nyingmapa lama Gyatrul Rinpoche, who has been training me in the discovery...