Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche included Boulder and Crestone as part of his U.S. tour in August. I was able to attend the long-life Pema Tse Nyingtik empowerment at the Boulder Theater and see the Yangsi again during his visit to Tsoknyi Ripoche’s month long retreat in Crestone. On both occasions I was impressed by the power of his presence, his sense of humor and his skills with english. For a 17 year old he held himself with an interesting mix of confidence and humility. At the retreat in Crestone the Yangsi gave us the lung for “The Root Text of Seven Points of Mind Training”. Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche offered a translation of Atisha’s slogans which included some well known reminders like “Regard all dharmas as dreams”, “Rest in the nature of alaya,” and “Drive all blames into one”. After this we all went down to the Stupa of Enlightenment (Stupa to Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche built in 2005) and circumambulated with the Yangsi and a group of Rinpoches including Kongtrul Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Choegon Rinpoche, and Yangsen Rinpoche. There is some good coverage of of the Khyentse Yangsi’s North American tour, “Celebrating the Return” at http://www.chronicleproject.com/stories_219.html and also video of one of the Yangsi’s teachings at Lerab Ling http://rigpanews.blogspot.com/2010/08/new-video-dilgo-khyentse-yangsi.html
Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s month long retreat consisted of two separate teachings and 7 hours of practice a day outside the morning teaching. The first retreat was on Renunciation, the second was on The Three Words that Strike the Vital Point by Paltrul Rinpoche. I don’t feel competent to share anything from the last three weeks dealing with the “Three Words…” but I would like to share a little of Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s teaching on working with prana and the subtle body and bringing the lung (wind) energy down as this has helped me a great deal. The past year before attending the retreat had been a difficult one. I had been feeling an unexplainable depression, a sense of ennui and even a feeling of grief that seemed to keep arising and getting stuck in my heart center. I had very little interest or enthusiasm for accomplishing anything in the world. I mentioned this to Tsoknyi Rinpoche before the retreat, even saying that my wife had suggested anti-depressants which as a practicing Buddhist I wasn’t to keen on. He said with confidence, “you don’t need anti-depressants, you’re just having a lung problem.” and gave me instructions to practice this technique for bringing the lung down with the breath and holding it below the navel. He told me to do this 50 times. He didn’t say how many times a day, but I did it at least once and often twice a day. This practice is basically the same as the practice of gentle vase breathing, but Tsoknyi Rinpoche has added a few twists.
During the “renunciation retreat” Rinpoche described some of the signs that indicate when your lung is out of balance and “the moving upward prana” is giving us trouble. A general sign is a busy feeling in the body, a feeling that we want move, feeling restless and agitated. Underlying that feeling is a sense of fear, but you don’t know why. You might be afraid of light or have difficulty being fully present. Rinpoche condensed in a few words the sense of a healthy balanced prana as feeling clean, open, and having guts and an unbalanced state as cloudy, tight and fearful. Other signs of imbalance might include a dry tongue and lips, pain in different parts of the body, an inability to express yourself well and not being able to just sit down and relax. In general you might be feeling depressed and lacking in energy or inspiration.
To simplify the practice it can be divided into 4 steps.
1. While sitting up straight identify the prana that has a disorder by mentally scanning your body. (Usually we are stuck up in the head or chest area.)
2. Join that with the breath.
3. Bring it down with the breath below the navel.
4. Keep it below the navel for some time (as long as comfortable.)
During a retreat in Kathmandhu Rinpoche had this to say, ”I call it “fear of existence”. And that creates some kind of speed, restlessness and then worse, it becomes anxiety. I think that is the major disease in this speedy world, and it needs to be brought down. If you don’t bring it down – even if you practice meditation, then it becomes like the car-engine, without going. Just wheeee! You are not going anywhere! So you sit there with this speed and you chant mantras, and it becomes worse. You try to meditate, but it becomes worse…I think the mind, needs to connect with the body, the subtle body. And then find this lung and breath it down. There is traditionally a technique called jamlung that might help. If not, just mentally find that restless energy in your body. Not in the mind. Of course the mind and the body are connected but sometimes the lung is not connected with the mind. It just becomes a physical buzz. And that is also sometimes connected with tightness. So find that and bring it down. We have five different winds. One is called upper-going wind and that wind is supposed to stay below the navel. So it goes up and connects with the nerves and then becomes locked up. Then it gives you muscle-problems and creates a lot of emotions at the wrong time, in the wrong place. When this wind goes up, it becomes very emotional. It’s like a bottle of mineral water – half is water, half is air. So your head is like half is the brain and half is like open air. Your head feels so big… That is wind, which went up in the head. And then the face becomes red, eyes becomes burning, then agitation. All this is the subtle body’s problem. Of course it is created by the mind. But once it becomes physical, although mentally you think, “Oh, no problem, I am fine”, this problem remains in your subtle body. So basically you need to bring it down.”
Here’s a link to those teachings “Advise on the Path” http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=advice+on+the+path+Tsokny+Rinpoche&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8
At other times I have heard Tsokny Rinpoche compare the process of bringing the lung down to a french press and I find this metaphor helpful. In any case since the retreat I feel like I’ve found my seat again. I have a friend who is mathematician in Mexico. He lives in his head a great deal of the time and has always had difficulty falling asleep. Rinpoche suggested he bring his lung down with twenty breaths before going to bed. Since doing this he has been able to fall asleep easily at night. Another friend of mine was having a kind of spiritual crisis before the retreat. She was feeling burned out on Dharma and her practice wasn’t working for her. Rinpoche suggested to her 40 breaths bringing the lung down a day and since the retreat she has been feeling back on track. I really have confidence in this practice and hope it is of some benefit to you.
Join MONLAM JOURNEYS and Photographer James Gritz this December and Aspire for World Peace with His Holiness XVII Karmapa at the KAGYU MONLAM in BODHGAYA, INDIA Share in the richness of pilgrimage with like minded others and still be home for the holidays. For those interested, Professional Photographer James Gritz will be offering a photo workshop to help you achieve a higher level of photography during the tour.
Some highlights include:
• The official opening of a year long celebration honoring 900 years of Karmapa’s & the Kagyu Lineage
• Volunteer during 3 days of Teachings on A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment with the Karmapa
• Visit Rajgir (Vulture Peak) and the site of Nalanda University
• Receive the Guru Rinpoche Empowerment • Explore Varanasi and Sarnath/ Boat trip down the Ganges
• Participate in the 28th annual Kagyu Monlam in Bodhgaya
• Optional trip extension includes teachings with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche beginning December 25th 2010 TRIP DATES ARE DECEMBER 4-23 2010 (with trip extension, end date is January 1, 2011)
Please view this and other journeys at: www.monlamjourneys.com
For more information, detailed itinerary and cost write to: email@example.com
Here’s a link to a gallery of photographs by James Gritz from the places we will visit. http://archive.jamesgritz.com/gallery/India-Pilgrimage/G0000EFCG_LZ3H3c
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche will be presenting with Nalandabodhi “a day of discovery around key questions of spiritual life, religion and culture.” There’s been a lot of buzz created around Ponlop Rinpoche’s new book “Rebel Buddha”. You can check it out and the rest of his schedule at http://www.rebelbuddha.com