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Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa

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Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Switters 9/12/16 5:57 PM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Noah 7/22/15 9:52 AM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Switters 1/12/17 1:08 PM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Noah 7/22/15 12:41 PM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Switters 7/22/15 12:50 PM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Noah 7/22/15 12:54 PM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa neko 7/22/15 9:53 AM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Switters 7/22/15 10:13 AM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Small Steps 7/22/15 4:16 PM
Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Switters 8/17/15 12:20 PM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa . Jake . 8/21/15 12:51 PM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Switters 8/21/15 3:00 PM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa . Jake . 8/23/15 6:46 AM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Switters 8/23/15 4:46 PM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa neko 8/24/15 1:10 AM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa T DC 9/4/15 5:27 PM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Switters 9/5/15 6:43 AM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Switters 9/5/15 11:50 AM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Eric B 10/3/15 11:22 AM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Switters 10/21/15 8:35 AM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa tom moylan 10/21/15 11:04 AM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Switters 10/21/15 6:00 PM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Kim Katami 9/13/16 4:14 AM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa . Jake . 7/22/15 3:07 PM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Switters 1/12/17 1:11 PM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa kelzang dawa 10/3/15 3:21 AM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Switters 10/3/15 8:54 AM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Switters 9/12/16 6:01 PM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Kim Katami 9/13/16 12:59 PM
RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa Kim Katami 9/13/16 3:26 AM
Hello all - I'm new here but have read through the threads for a while and wondered what you thought about the practice as taught by Chogyam Trungpa (whatever you may think of his conduct).

I have been practicing some time now and I believe I have a much better view of the practice taught by CTR than when I first started. I have really tried to stufy his seminary transcripts as an attempt to find out where I was on the path and where I'm heading etc. The usual 'beginners mapquest' as Shinzen has called it. As my study and practice continued I have dropped the effort to desperately make ground out of a map, but the intellectual curiosity remains to discuss common themes in the context of different traditions. I am actaully considering doing a final year or masters thesis on the contemplative tradition of Shambhala in a kind of comparative religions style.....I'll tackle that when the time comes.

So Chogyam Trungpas formulation of shamatha-vipashyana is deceptively different to the therevadan presentation, but has many similar themes. From the outset I find it is helpful to know that he taught basic sitting practice from the view of Mahamudra. It could easily be argued that it is in fact from the view of maha-ati, seen as analagous to dzogchen - but that is somewhat beside the point. What you need to know is that his formulation is influenced by his training and practcie of formless vajrayana practices (for more info see Openess Clarity Sensitivity by Rigdzin Shikpo, one of his earliest and most realised students, from Englad, who has a gift for talking about maha-ati in a down to earth way.)

In his seminary transcripts he begins by presenting shamatha, to be done by itself - vipashyana is seen to grow out of this pratcice in a natural growth sort of way....more on that later. He does not teach in the Dudjom Lingpa style of staring at a rock or a buddha image or even the solid-sensation of breath. Instead it is only the outbreath, and with quite a light touch. The technique can be reduced down to; sit with good posture, relax, follow the breath out with 25% awareness, relax into the 'gap' during the in-breath, dissolve out again, label thoughts as 'thinking', keep going back to the out-breath.

He does teach the classical four foundations of mindfulness, but again, there is a bit of mahamudra view slipped in at every stage. It is always saying 'relax, relate to things as they are in the open space'

When he comes to vipashyana - it all gets very 'self-secret'. He taught this in an experiential way so that only those who were having that experience of 'panoramic awareness' would have any idea what he was on about. He repeatedly talks about 'the space around the breath'. 'Flashes' of awareness etc.....perhaps I'll type up some notes in more detail if people are interested.

When shamatha and vipashyana ahave been related to individually he then teaches that shamatha and vipashyana should eb combined. He makes reference to Mahasi Sayadaw and claerly respects the innovations he brought to the Burmese tradition of hard noting. He suggests that people should be well practcied before combing S-V becasue it can be tricky for a beginner to practcie with open awareness and one-pointedness at the same time.

With regards to mahamudra - very early on he insturcts people to rleate to their breathing and their posture, very simply - and if they begin to experience that open awareness, then the breathing technique can be dropped and they can just go along with the sense of space in a more 'formless' way. Rigdzin Shikpo actually has a pradoxically systematic way of teaching formless meditation - using the outbreath a a conduit to open space, which can be returned to if the spaciousness moves into 'spacing-out' or being distracted.

The only way I can personally describe what I think is the shamatha-vipashyana experience is thus; sitting, relating to the breath, the thoughts become less and less sticky - as they begin to flow without obscuration (either fast or slow), panoramic awarness - a sense of space grows and sense perceptions become very sharp, relaxing into this space with the out-breath. All this is accompanied with a feeling of equanimity. Body pain can be felt but with little resistance, sounds come and go without being particularly differentiated by content, the colours and shapes in the visual field get very precise and bright but not distracting, and thoughts seem to come and go like bubbles in space - completely empty and ultimately the homogenous patterns flowing without a trace. The next change in experience is deepening relaxation into that space where the boundary between body and space dissolves somewhat -  the skin is no longer the seperating factor and all phenomena seem to be 'this', 'this', this'.....could easily be seen as 'that' 'that 'that' of course, object-subject is somewhat hard to describe currently....I'm working on it.

I know that may not make much sense but I'm interested in getting a discussion started - I am currently unsure as to how the A/P would manifest on this path and how it related to the first bhumi. Also how this mahamudra style of shamatha-vipashyana, opening to that space relates to insights from other vipassana traditions.

If anyone has a questions about the technique I'd be happy to replay in as much detail is possible. DhO seems to be a great place to discuss this in pragmatic detail - I do not like what shambhala has become with it's arbitrary levels and increasing religiosity.

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
7/22/15 9:52 AM as a reply to Switters.
Hey Switters,

Cool read, thanks.  I think it makes sense to map the a&p onto the 1st bhumi, just from an amatuer, geek perspective.

The first time I heard the Vajrayana idea of vipassana developing naturally out of samatha was from Hokai Sobol at the Hurricane Ranch discussion: http://integrateddaniel.info/podcasts-and-videos/

Also, I think shambala is great.  I recently met with shambala teacher Lodro Rinzler, and we talked alot about establishing a consistent samatha practice.

Looking forward to hearing more,
Noah

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
7/22/15 9:53 AM as a reply to Switters.
Hello Switters!

I have been working for a few weeks now on and off on Reggie Ray's Mahamudra teachings. His bigg series of 33 cds lectures. I have only done the shamatha part so far, and I am enjoying it a lot, so I am very curious about the vipasyana part too. However, I do not want to rush it, also because I am mixing a lot of different practices at the moment (Mahasi noting, jhana practice, wet vipassana, dream yoga, mahamudra...)

So my question at this point is: How does Reggie Ray's teaching compare to Chögyam Trungpa's? Has he made changes to it? What is your opinion of it? emoticon 

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
1/12/17 1:08 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah S:
Hey Switters,

Cool read, thanks.  I think it makes sense to map the a&p onto the 1st bhumi, just from an amatuer, geek perspective.

The first time I heard the Vajrayana idea of vipassana developing naturally out of samatha was from Hokai Sobol at the Hurricane Ranch discussion: http://integrateddaniel.info/podcasts-and-videos/

Also, I think shambala is great.  I recently met with shambala teacher Lodro Rinzler, and we talked alot about establishing a consistent samatha practice.

Looking forward to hearing more,
Noah

Yeah - given CTR description, 1st bhumi seems very achieveable (whereas in Tibetan texts it is a much much higher standard), it seems to correspond to AP given Daniels description - but as I say, I don't put much thought into that, seems easy to decieve yourself. I'll defintely have a look at that hurricane ranch discussion - thanks.

Lodro seems like a good dude - I've heard him in a few interviews/podcasts. I inted to read his books at some point, it isn't a priority.

EDIT: with regards to A/P & DN - within the Tibetan teachings they may be more analgous to Nyam that Bhumis, which are permanent. I suppose the A/P itself is temporary but would have permanent impacts on your paradigm with regards to insight into no-self etc. Nyam are the 'temporary experiences' as explained in great depth by Jamgon Kongtrul. There are generally two catagories, the first five are very transient and the tecond three are more fundamental or stable.

Of the second set, the first two fundamental nyam are 'bliss or joy' and 'luminosity' - which people often mistake for enlightenment after an intense training period - becasue they are so grounded, and not at all 'hallucinatory' as some meditative bliss can be. There is also the Nyam of 'nonthought' - which is often taught as something that can bring on great fear and depression, similar to the dark night.

Just a thought really. 

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
7/22/15 10:13 AM as a reply to neko.
neko:
Hello Switters!

I have been working for a few weeks now on and off on Reggie Ray's Mahamudra teachings. His bigg series of 33 cds lectures. I have only done the shamatha part so far, and I am enjoying it a lot, so I am very curious about the vipasyana part too. However, I do not want to rush it, also because I am mixing a lot of different practices at the moment (Mahasi noting, jhana practice, wet vipassana, dream yoga, mahamudra...)

So my question at this point is: How does Reggie Ray's teaching compare to Chögyam Trungpa's? Has he made changes to it? What is your opinion of it? emoticon 


I think Reggie Ray is great - his scholastic knowlege certainly helps a lot. He is also quite thoroughly practiced. He can sometime verge on the theistic side but whatever floats your boat. I personally think his openness to teach Mahamudra is excellent - he has a really solid grasp on how the cultural differences between east and west change the way in which mahamudra can, and should be taught. Which is very inline with Chogyam Trungpa, who when he first went to Englad was teaching beginners Maha-Ati (This si where eh first met Rigdzin Shikpo, who was then Michael Hookman, and his wife Lama Shenpen Hookman).

I would say follow it how Reggie teaches it - becasue of the style in which he was taught things unfold quite naturally with solid practice. I don't know what the DhO opinion on mixing a load of practcices is but I know some poeple get confused. Suppose whatever works for you right.

With regards to your actual question - he has mde changes, but maintains a very pure kernel of what Trungpa wanted to give to the west. Reggie places great emphasis on the body and working with somatic experience, which has proven very effective for gaining insight, just look at U Ba Kinh (or however you spell it). The other thing with Reggie that I love, as I mentioned is his willingness to share formless practcide and to openly teach mahamudra. Mahamudra is not something that was considered as something that westerners should get - I may be wrong but one reason why Trungpa came to America is because the fellow Tibetans at his centre in Scotland were outraged that he wanted to share MAHA-ATI WITH THE ENGLISH!!! HOW BLOODY DARE HE. heh.

He also had a heated disagreement with another Tibetan in America who was teaching visualisation. Trungpa's stance was - 'why are you teaching visualisation to hippies, don't reinforce their pathetic spiritual materialism', and this other chap thought Trungpa was mad for teaching formelss teachniques to beginners.

I would like to listen to that Reggie Ray Mahamudra tape actually but damn is that expensive. Reggie also talks about Shikantaza - Trungpa had a great repsect for zen pratcice because of his freindship with Shunryu Suzuki. Shikantaza is, as I'm sure your aware, very similar to the formless practices of mahamudra.

Anyway.....you get the idea, I think I answered the question. Could be wrong.

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
7/22/15 12:41 PM as a reply to Switters.
People like Kenneth Folk consider the a&p a 1/2 path (as per Kennneth's 8 stage model).  This is true in my experience, as my first a&p was truly life-altering.  So if this is true, the a&p could reasonably be called a permanent shift rather than a temporary stage.  The dark night nanas, in contrast, are definitely unstable.

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
7/22/15 12:50 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah S:
People like Kenneth Folk consider the a&p a 1/2 path (as per Kennneth's 8 stage model).  This is true in my experience, as my first a&p was truly life-altering.  So if this is true, the a&p could reasonably be called a permanent shift rather than a temporary stage.  The dark night nanas, in contrast, are definitely unstable.

Interesting, makes sense to me. I need to read more about Kenneth Folk - I've only ever read a little about his three gears (?) and he gave a talk on spiritual materialism that I read. 

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
7/22/15 12:54 PM as a reply to Switters.

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
7/22/15 3:07 PM as a reply to Switters.
Thanks for the write up Switters! Very interesting. I like the way you describe your experience with Trungpa's practice instructions.

I am skeptical of equating the 1st bhumi with the A&P for two reasons. Let's say that the Therevada maps and the Mahayana maps actually map the same territory. If so, 1st Bhumi really does sound in most accounts like a permanent shift. It's the 'path of seeing' in the five paths which means seeing emptiness, nirvana. one is supposed to be partially liberated at that point. Sounds more similar to stream entry. Plus, if you read multiple descriptions of the path that leads to the first bhumi, it sounds a whole lot like the progress of insight in some very general respects.

Now let's question whether Therevada and Mahayana are even mapping the same territory. Are they? I am not at all sure that they are. There appear to be multiple different paths with multiple different outcomes, not only amongst different traditions, but within single traditions. Tibetan buddhism has the three yana system in which each yana has it's own whole path and outcome. They can build on each other but they are different. Plus, different traditions seem to have reports of different outcomes. This shouldn't be too surprising for modern westerners given what we know about neuroplasticity and the implications of this knowledge for contemplative transfromations of experience.

Then in my own personal experience i can state pretty unequivocally that the a&p while definitely resulting in changes in my philosophical outlook or conceptual stance towards reality in that (for instance) the concept of no-self made sense and it was possible to have many regular glimpses of it thereafter, still there was no lasting transformation until stream entry. That said-- many folks report going through (what they consider to be) 2 or 3 MCTB paths without any big changes or transformations in their experience and that was not my experience so I am also skeptical of drawing too many general conclusions from personal experience!

Anyhow, very interesting.

Oh, and as for Reggie Ray, I know some folks who studied with Trungpa back in the day and for what it's worth they all say very similar things to Reggie regarding how Trungpa's teaching in the seventies and eighties was very different from contemporary Shambhalla path. From what I can gather Reggie does seem a bit closer to that earlier teaching, compared to what I've heard from folks who have gotten involved in Shambhalla in the past decade or so who seem to have had a very different experience. Personally I like both Reggie's stuff and the Shambhalla stuff but I seem to have eclectic taste emoticon

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
1/12/17 1:11 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:
Thanks for the write up Switters! Very interesting. I like the way you describe your experience with Trungpa's practice instructions.

I am skeptical of equating the 1st bhumi with the A&P for two reasons. Let's say that the Therevada maps and the Mahayana maps actually map the same territory. If so, 1st Bhumi really does sound in most accounts like a permanent shift. It's the 'path of seeing' in the five paths which means seeing emptiness, nirvana. one is supposed to be partially liberated at that point. Sounds more similar to stream entry. Plus, if you read multiple descriptions of the path that leads to the first bhumi, it sounds a whole lot like the progress of insight in some very general respects.

Now let's question whether Therevada and Mahayana are even mapping the same territory. Are they? I am not at all sure that they are. There appear to be multiple different paths with multiple different outcomes, not only amongst different traditions, but within single traditions. Tibetan buddhism has the three yana system in which each yana has it's own whole path and outcome. They can build on each other but they are different. Plus, different traditions seem to have reports of different outcomes. This shouldn't be too surprising for modern westerners given what we know about neuroplasticity and the implications of this knowledge for contemplative transfromations of experience.

Then in my own personal experience i can state pretty unequivocally that the a&p while definitely resulting in changes in my philosophical outlook or conceptual stance towards reality in that (for instance) the concept of no-self made sense and it was possible to have many regular glimpses of it thereafter, still there was no lasting transformation until stream entry. That said-- many folks report going through (what they consider to be) 2 or 3 MCTB paths without any big changes or transformations in their experience and that was not my experience so I am also skeptical of drawing too many general conclusions from personal experience!

Anyhow, very interesting.

Oh, and as for Reggie Ray, I know some folks who studied with Trungpa back in the day and for what it's worth they all say very similar things to Reggie regarding how Trungpa's teaching in the seventies and eighties was very different from contemporary Shambhalla path. From what I can gather Reggie does seem a bit closer to that earlier teaching, compared to what I've heard from folks who have gotten involved in Shambhalla in the past decade or so who seem to have had a very different experience. Personally I like both Reggie's stuff and the Shambhalla stuff but I seem to have eclectic taste emoticon
I'm certainly no expert - but as you say, although there are parallels I'm not sure the ten bhumis map all of the same ground as the progress as insight. Also taking into account the cultural context of Tibet, where tulkus are reincarnated beings and are born as 'eighth level' bodhisattvas. We must question how objective the bhumi map is. It really does get all a bit spiritual-superhero.

This is probably why Trungpa often taught the ten oxherding pictures. As always he adjusted the explainations to slip in the notion of mahamudra but it presented as far more achievable. He talks again and again that enlightenment is achievable, he was very open in talking about how saying meditation has no goal is corny and if that is the case we are silly for starting the path etc. He was really quite pragmatic about enlightenment being in reach in this one lifetime. 

This is one reason why I started the thread. I have incredible gratitude for chogyam trungpa openly presenting the dharma, it has changed my life, saved it. But there are certain ambiguitues within Tibetan Buddhism that I want to avoid. I want to take his formulation of shamatha-vipashyana as far as I can, as pragmatically as I can - avoiding woo woo flimsiness as much as possible. 

Really I wanted to see what you all though of the practice and how it relates to realistic views of mediation practice. So thanks for anyone who helps shed light on the process. 

I'll continue to provide details of trungpas formulation of the teachings and my experience wherever possible. 

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
7/22/15 4:16 PM as a reply to Switters.
Thanks for the detailed write up. I'm a big fan of Reggie Ray's work. In addition to some of his print and audiobooks, I really enjoy his podcast. The topics tend to jump around a bit, but it's not hard to sort through.

Perhaps of interest also is this series of lectures that Dr. Ray gave on Trungpa Rinpoche's Sadhana of Mahamudra. It's a free download from Sounds True (registration required).

Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
8/17/15 12:20 PM as a reply to neko.
[quote=neko]Hello Switters!

I have been working for a few weeks now on and off on Reggie Ray's Mahamudra teachings. His bigg series of 33 cds lectures. I have only done the shamatha part so far, and I am enjoying it a lot, so I am very curious about the vipasyana part too. However, I do not want to rush it, also because I am mixing a lot of different practices at the moment (Mahasi noting, jhana practice, wet vipassana, dream yoga, mahamudra...)

So my question at this point is: How does Reggie Ray's teaching compare to Chögyam Trungpa's? Has he made changes to it? What is your opinion of it? emoticon 

Thought I would come and update my stance/experience on Reggie Ray, as I decided to get a hold of his Mahamudra teachings and get stuck in. I have found a lot of value in studying Chogyam's students' teachings, as they often describe the same thing from a different angle. 

The main thing I wanted to discuss with regards to Reggie is after an introduction to shamatha practice in both traditional methods, and his own more body oriented methods, he then introduces 'dissolving with the outbreath' - although he doesn't mention it on the tape, it is the meditation instruction as given by Chogyam Trungpa again and again in public setting. This was not some esoteric Mahamudra secret that he saved for his vajrayana students. It is, in light of some experiences I have had, a very skillful teaching. When you first encounter it, it seems simple, too simple! You don't even have to pay attention to your in breath?! What is this mad man on about.....but as the years roll by you gain the attentional skill of any other shamatha practice, then you begin to experience a spaciousness, and you get increasing glimpses of that vipashyana experience, then low and behold, ZAP! You feel some immeasurable space and everything feels very different. The value may well not be in that temporary experience but the shamatha-vipashyana aspect of course.

This brings me to another thing I wanted to say about Reggie Ray's presentation of Mahamudra; namely, his 'bravery' and perceived audacity at openly putting a Mahamudra ground transmission on tape. He discusses why this is contraversial in the audio. It can be summed up thus; Mahamudra is an esoteric vajrayana tradition and is seen as some sort of tantric vewel of sorts. I have read about and heard many mahamudra teachers/practitioners laugh at the possibilty of getting a mahamudra 'glimpse' via an audio recording. I think this would be particulary interesting on this forum where pragmatic discussion is paramount. 


SPOILER ALERT - I don't want to fall into the fiery pits of 'vajra hell' so if you have the intention of listening to his tapes you best stop reading here haha, I have no idea how this Mahamudra ground transmission works, and spontaneity may be a factor. I do not know how the strange-loop of self perception/deception is cut. 


This was my first experience of a ground mahamudra transmission, but it actually seemed very similar to other seemingly profound experiences I have had rather recently. I'm sure I'll miss some details but just to give you an idea of how it follows - After introductory explanations, Reggie leads the listener through a series of 'entry protocols', deep belly breathing, then breathing through a visualised hole in the lower adbomen, then feeling the cool breath on the pallet. He then instructs you to visualise a curtain at the back of the pallet - what is behind that space? what is behind that curtain, how vast is that space. He counts down, and on "GO!" you somewhat imagine, somewhat feel your awareness parting the curtain and your awareness being thrown into that 'vast space', completely letting go. He does this two more times I think. 

This may be nothing more than self-hypnosis, but it felt so similar to an experience I had whilst reading Rigdzin Shikpo's book, 'Openness Clarity Sensitivity' whilst in a tent on a solitary retreat. I was sitting roughly six hours a day with the rest of the time filled with fishing and walks. On the fifth day I was reading Rigdzin Shikpo’s book and I had the strange experience of his words initially describing and the dramatically magnifying that experience of ‘space’. There was one particular passage in which it felt as if I had been struck by lighting (figuratively), my body was filled with a very pleasurable feeling, my whole body relaxed, I could still hear and see but everything was seemingly still and silent. I put down the book and just sat. It felt as if the floor was made out of paper and below it was nothing but space. Every sense perception seemed as if it was perpetuating the sense of joy. Very bizarre really, I could not possibly recreate it, I did not obtain it by some great effort, nor would I try. It just happened.

Unlike other temporary meditative experiences in the past, that ‘thing’ that I felt has shifted something, quite possibly. I’m not sure how, but since that ‘zap’ in the tent, it seems to have completely turned my experience of life on it’s head without anything changing at all, I'm sure that makes sense here. Everything is the same world, and yet it is more beautiful and funny than ever really, and I don’t have to rev-up some sense of happiness (possibly the wrong word), it’s just there flowing on. Even the pain from my broken back has some strange taste of joy in it, like the fact I am capable of feeling is a miracle. I am sure it is not foreign to people as practiced as yourselves. When I am sitting now, the ‘gap’ on that in-breath has taken on a very different flavour, it is like the self collapses again and again with each in breath. I feel almost as if I am the breath and the room and the space outside my skin. It is very odd and somewhat beyond words and a little embarrassing to talk about really.

But I thought it was a worthwhile addition to the thread.

Reggie uses some terminology which is a little goofy, and he is mixing in what seems like 'gaia shamanism' or something into the early stages of the talks, but overall the lectures are elucidating details and experiences in my practices and so far, has certainly been of value. It has given me huge confidence that what I am doing is beneficial and has gorwn my sense of gratitude to the teachings and to the meditation teachers who have presented us the possibility of 'secular enlightenment'. I also really like how he puts emphasis on training shamatha and the importance of attentional skill - something I thought the MCTB community would appreciate.

PS: I have also heard another explanation of the 'Mahamudra View' of Chpgyam Trungpa in a presentation called soemthing along the lines of 'The Unique Meditation Presentation of Chogyam Trungpa'. This was taught by Derek Koleeny who is a guy trained by Chogyam Trungpa, as far as I am aware he is currently involved with the Westchester Dharma Centre and has worked on the Nalanda Translation Committee. He went through the basic instruction, and described how this technique encapsulates the approach of all thee 'yanas'. Hinayana embodied by the simplicity of sitting with good posture, being there, on the spot. Mahayana embodied by the open attitude to thoughts and feelings and letting go of thre breath, Vajrayana, specifically Mahamdra, embodied in the sense of space and that gap. The instruction for the inbreath is to do nothing, just rest in that open awareness, that space you diffused your awareness into on the out-breath. All of these varous experiences and explanations seem to add up to a pretty coherent view of how Chogyam Trungpa was essentially giving a path to that experience of open space found in Mahamudra, to even absolute beginners.


RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
8/21/15 12:51 PM as a reply to Switters.
Hi!
How long ago was the experience on your solitary retreat? How long has that 'shift' held up?

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
8/21/15 3:00 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:
Hi!
How long ago was the experience on your solitary retreat? How long has that 'shift' held up?

Hi Jake. The experience was on the fifth day, so that is about three weeks ago, give or take a few days.

I don't have the same bliss, that faded fairly quickly, I feel more normal in my own body. it's kind of hard to explain, as I said, its as if nothing has changed at all really. but everything in the world feels very 'ticklish' in a sense. 

I spoke to a few teachers in the lineage and one told me to just discard it and keep opening up to whatever arises moment to moment. Which makes sense - his reasoning was that I could easily make ground out of or grasp to it, but that 'activity' would seem very transparent right now. 

Perhaps you have some quiestions that might be lead me into giving a more precise answer? I'm just entertaining guests now so perhaps when I'm on my laptop I can give a better answer. 

PS: I haven't really analysed it at all, what it was at the time was amazing and beautiful and very normal too. It seemed like it was very familiar and comforting. But I think the best I can do is just leave it where it is and keep practicing - I have an interview lined up with a mahamudra teacher soon so I might mention it and see what he says - I'm new to meditation interviews so I'm not sure how I'll act in one ha. 

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
8/23/15 6:46 AM as a reply to Switters.
Cool! The teacher's advice is pretty fool-proof. As for meditation interviews I've found knowledgable/experienced teachers respond very pragmatically to the student describing their experience in very straightforward plain english ways, jargon free. If you do use jargon I recommend using the teacher's jargon, if you can connect it to your own experiences, or ask questions to establish that common vocabulary: "in meditation this morning I noticed (description of your experience). Is that like (teacher/lineage's jargon)?" Be a contemplative anthropologist and learn how the language of the teacher's tribe connects to your own experience then ask questions using that vocabulary. 

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
8/23/15 4:46 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
. Jake .:
Cool! The teacher's advice is pretty fool-proof. As for meditation interviews I've found knowledgable/experienced teachers respond very pragmatically to the student describing their experience in very straightforward plain english ways, jargon free. If you do use jargon I recommend using the teacher's jargon, if you can connect it to your own experiences, or ask questions to establish that common vocabulary: "in meditation this morning I noticed (description of your experience). Is that like (teacher/lineage's jargon)?" Be a contemplative anthropologist and learn how the language of the teacher's tribe connects to your own experience then ask questions using that vocabulary. 


Yeah seemed like pretty solid advice to me. Thanks for the tip - 'contemplative anthroplogist' is a great turn of phrase, I know exactly what you mean by that. Luckily I am familiar with this teahers vocab and would like to work with him in the future on a more frequent basis if they are opem to it - I have a huge amount of respect for him, he has been praciticing for decades and also led a successful career along side a deep practice, which is always cool. I'll just try to be as open & transparent as possible, I trust in their ability to read me and my own ability to read if they're wonky heh. 

I'll probably keep coming back to refine my inital post in terms of how Chogyam Trungpas public meditation instruction is completely embedded in the view of mahamudra - I just have to find the time and the right words. If people are interested that is, it may be of zero interest heh.

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
8/24/15 1:10 AM as a reply to Switters.
Switters:

I'll probably keep coming back to refine my inital post in terms of how Chogyam Trungpas public meditation instruction is completely embedded in the view of mahamudra - I just have to find the time and the right words. If people are interested that is, it may be of zero interest heh.

Interested! emoticon

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
9/4/15 5:27 PM as a reply to Switters.
Hey Switters! 

Great post!  As someone who initially found meditation through Trungpa, it is interesting to hear this perspective!  I am just curious, do you have any textual or other support for the idea that Trungpa's basic meditation is based on a Mahamudra view, or is this based on personal experience?  I would support that view personally, however I am interested to hear if you have found it else where. 

Cheers,
Tim

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
9/5/15 6:43 AM as a reply to T DC.
T DC:
Hey Switters! 

Great post!  As someone who initially found meditation through Trungpa, it is interesting to hear this perspective!  I am just curious, do you have any textual or other support for the idea that Trungpa's basic meditation is based on a Mahamudra view, or is this based on personal experience?  I would support that view personally, however I am interested to hear if you have found it else where. 

Cheers,
Tim
I'm just heading out with the dog but when I'm back I'll put together a few quotes from his work and I'll try to correlate it to other mahamudra texts. I can also give some of his back story which I think goes some way to explaining why he approached the american situation in the way he did. The view I have has unfolded from a combination of experience, how that experience seems to map somewhat to his descriptions and to other descriptions of mahamudra/dzogchen. I have some time today sp hopefully I'll be able to put together some sort of coherent answer.

Just out of interest - could you say a little of what your experience of using the pratcice instructions of CTR was like, and how did they impact the way you are currently practicing, if at all? 

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
9/5/15 11:50 AM as a reply to T DC.

When concentration and awareness are working together, for a fraction of a second you may have a taste of what enlightenment might be. You might find yourself with no discursive thoughts. When you discover that your unwholesome discursive thoughts have been pacified and subjugated, there might be a gap. A pure gap of the absolute, ideal state of mind might occur to you. For everyone, without exception, such a glimpse is always possible. You realize that bodhichitta, or awakened heart, is not a theory or a metaphysical concept, but a reality. It is more than rain clouds gathering in the sky—it is the actual rain.

From “A Glimpse of Wakefulness” in The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma, Volume Two: The Bodhisattva Path of Wisdom and Compassion, page 6.

Throughout the early 70s, Chogyam Trungpa began to give public meditation instruction - he often referred to it as 'shamatha-vipashyana', which he also referred to as calm-abiding/clear-seeing or mindfulness/awareness. This instruction was in many ways similar to the standard way of techning shamatha, it had many common concepts - but from very early on he wanted to show people a glimpse of what he called the 'gap'. He wanted people to glimpse 'the fourth time', and grow from that glimpse into genuine realization of nonduality, selflessness, egolessness, mahamudra, dzogchen - whatever you want to call it. He did not 'zap' people with pointing out instruction from day one but but emphasis on discipline and working from the ground up ina down to earth way. He was very concious of his audience, namely - hippies! His talks were hippy galore and he was very cautious about how to frame the teahcings lest they made a big deal about it and turned it into 'golden chains'. 

Another note I'd like to mention is that when I say 'Mahamudra View' - you can pretty much replace the word 'mahamudra' with several others, ati/annutara/unborn/EVAM/dzogchen/open/space/etc. Chogyam Trungpa was trained by great teachers such as Khenpo Ghangshar, Dilgo Khyentse, Jamgon Kongrtul so he was non-sectarian and seemed to hold gthe same view that experience is paramount, and that ultimately the experience of mahamudra/dzogchen are pointing at the same moon. Mahamudra and Dzogchen are both describing the same flower in slightly different dialects as far as we're concerned.
"Khenpo Gangshar does not give a complete presentation of the instructions on mahamudra, nor does he give a complete presentation of the instructions on dzogchen. Instead Khenpo Gangshar presents the most fundamental instructions of both mahamudra and dzogchen." - Thrangu Rinpoche, 'Vivid Awareness', 2011 p.19

Khenpo Gangshar's text on 'the resting meditation of the kusulu' also goes some way to explain where Chogyam Trungpa learnt the technique of training shamatha and vipashyana together.
"In general, meditation instructions often teach both tranquility and insight meditation. Many presentations teach that one should practice tranquility first and insight later. But here we meditate on the two together. We are taught to meditate on the nature of things by looking at them directly. If we can do this, our minds become peaceful. At the same time we will also develop the clarity of insight. In this way we do not seperate tranquility and insight; we pratcice them together." Vivid Awareness, p.116.

Khenpo Ganshar was famed to have very precise 'pointing out' instructions - but he believed that by developing insight and tranquility it makes it much more feasible to have a more stable realization of 'mahamudra/natural state/ordinary mind'. A direct paralell to Khenpo Gangshar's teaching of 'resting meditation' is in the inbreath component of the instruction. On the outbreath we are doing something, we are completely identifying with our body, our breathing, and we are 'following' it out into space, and dissolving - as the body breathes in, we are just resting. We aren't doing anything. This is very much the 'resting' style that Chogyam Trungpa was taught by Khenpo Gangshar as part of his 'mind instructions'. 
"If you rest like that, your mind-essence is clear and expansive, vivid and naked, without any concerns of recollection or joy or pain. That is awareness. That is rigpa." Khenpo Gangshar, 'naturally liberating whatever you meet' (translated in accordance with the oral teaching of tulku urgyen rinpoche)

The other aspect of Khenpo Gangshar's mind instructions that can be seen mirrored in the instruction of Chogyam Trungpa is the 'distinguishing' ie: distinguishing between mind and awareness. When doing 'resting' meditation, (often referred to as rigpa/completion stage meditation), it can be common that pople think 'right, I'll just rest amd do nothing in this open space' and meanwhile they're comletely stuck in thought. Khenpo Gangshar emphasised the importance of distinguishing between sem and rigpa, or mind and awareness. 
In Chogyam Trungpa's Instruction we see how the use of labelling/'secret mantra' lets us make this distinction, ie: when we are realise we are thinking we label it 'thinking' and go back to the breath. Now clearly, labelling is in no way unique. But the mahamudra view of thoughts is that the content is irrelevant, they are like 'fish jumping out of a great ocean'. When we have trained in this way it becomes a lot easier to let thoughts flow without getting hooked by them. It is encouraged that overtime we can just let thoughts arise and pass wihtout labelling, labelling is however, a very useful tool if we are completely scattered. 

Ultimately, from the view of mahamudra, Chogyam Trungpa wanted people to be able to see that thoughts are appearances of the mind, and that they didn't threaten the 'natural state';

"People often try to discriminate between "good" thoughts and "bad" thoughts, like trying to separate milk from water. It is easy enough to accept the negative experiences in life but much harder to see the positive experiences as part of the path. Some individuals will be able to use both thoughts and the absence of thoughts as meditation, but it should be borne in mind that that which notes what is happening is the tight grip of ego.

It is likewise a mistake, when discursive thoughts are pacified, to overlook the clarity and regard the mind as merely blank. The experience of true insight is the simultaneous awareness of both stillness and active thoughts. 

According to the maha ati teaching, meditation consists of seeing whatever arises in the mind and simply remaining in the state of nowness. Continuing in this state after meditation is known as "the post-meditation experience.

When we speak of "clarity" we are referring to that state which is free from sloth and dullness. This clarity, inseparable from pure energy, shines forth unobstructed. It is a mistake to equate clarity with awareness of thoughts and the colors and shapes of external phenomena.

When thoughts are absent the meditator is completely immersed in the space of non-thought. The "absence of thoughts" does not mean unconsciousness or sleep or withdrawal from the senses, but simply being unmoved by conflict. The three signs of meditation clarity, joy and absence of thoughts may occur naturally when a person meditates, but if an effort is made to create them the meditator still remains in the circle of samsara." - 'A teaching on the awakened state', commentary by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche



So there are a few factors there that have paralells in both mahamudra and dzogchen/maha-ati texts. In a vajrayana seminary text Chogyam Trungpa pretty much spells it out;
"So this teaches us to realise the indivisibilty of space and wisdom. The meditation practcie at this level is just mixing space and wisdom. This is very similar to the type of meditation that I have been teaching (publicly); the practice of dissolving yourself into space, or mixing the mind with space.' (CTR,'Tantric Path of Indestructible Wakefulness' p.688)
"In the kagyu (mahamudra) tradition, we employ a special practice technique, which is the experiencing of 'chung ne dro sum'....which is 'where thoughts arise, dwell and go;. Those three are accompanied by the practice of 'ying rik sewa', means 'mixing the concious mind with space'. Sometimes it is called 'lung sem sewa', mixing the mind amd breating. 
In either case, the idea is to experience space." - CTR, 'The Path of Individual Liberation', p.281

Chogyam Trungpa wanted people to be able to glimpse this space and to be able to let go into that awareness. This is very much evident in the formless medtation instruction of Rigdzin Shikpo, which is essentially the eact same set of instructions (which he received in Oxford befroe Trungpa left fro America. He was trained in dzogchen from day one. Trungpa thought formless practice suited the English temperament heh) :
"It is what Trungpa Rinpoche called 'self-secret'. There is no problem is explaining the full technique to you becaseu what you get from it depends entirely on you. The meditation described here is commonly referred to as 'formless meditation'. We can call this a beginners pratcice in the sense that we start with it. In fact this a practice we never abandon. When we reach a higher level of experience we might have a high flown name like 'The Great Perfection'....we will find ourselves doing the same meditation.

Formless meditation is associated with the openness, clarity and sensitivity aspects of mind. Within this openness-clarity, gaps occur thatr make it very difficult to remain ego-centred. In the 'speech' aspect of this meditation we can begin by using the breath as a vehicle. As you breathe out, rest in the feeling of the breath leaving the body. Just allow the breath to go out naturally, with a sense of spaciousness and giving away, a sense of the breath giving way into space. Other than this, there is no need to concentrate on the breath in any particular way. You are not so much meditating on that breath than with the breath.

Let go into this sensation of space created by the outbreath. Don't think that you are filling up space like a giant balloon. Simply surrender to the feeling ouf spaciousness. 

On the inbreath you can relax by not doing anything at all. As Trunga Rinpoche used to say "it's delightful to know that you don't have to do anything!". Just rest where you are.

Meditation is not like star trek: You are not using the spaceship of breath to voyange into infinite space. YOu are just relating to the space in an even greater way. YOu are not pushing out some 'space boundary'. With no boundaries to push back, it's enough to just rest in openness." - Rigdzin Shikpo, Never Turn Away, 2007, p.19,24,25.
"The out-breath moves into space and you just surrender to the feeling and you let yourself relax physically and mentally into that. If the mind rests naturally like this, then just let go more, you can use the outbreath again if that helps. If it does not help just continue to relate to space as in a natural way as possible. If you feel you need more help or get lost in thought, you can just return to the outbreath and repeat the instruction of letting go into space until a natural sense of space and awareness starts to develop." - Rigdzin Shikpo, 'Openness Clarity Sensitivity', 2000, p.36


So this notion of letting go into the empty, spacious 'nature of mind' is repeated again and again and really has it's foundations in the mahamudra lineage of the kagyu school from which Trungpa was trained.
"Traditionally, just being there is the outcome of the breathing teachnique. In the TIbetan Buddhist tradition of formless meditatiopn, you can drop the breath, you meditate without the focus on the breathing. The shikantaza pracitice of 'just sitting', from the Japanese Zen tradition, is similar. Some people find it easy to do formless meditation without any focus on the breath. For long-term sitting it would be advisable to start with the mindfulness of the breathing. Later, the awareness of breathing falls away and at that point you can just go along without it. That seems to be the most systematic approach." CTR, Prfound Tresury of The Ocean of Dharma, chapter on 'Mixing Mind with Space', p.283.






That's enough for now. Hope this is helpful and/or interesting.

The teacher will then give the next instruction, saying, “Now, don’t just notice whether there is stillness or thought occurrence. When there is thinking, look into the thinker. When there is stillness, look into what feels the stillness.”
The disciple will return entirely bewildered and say, “When I look into what feels the stillness, I don’t find anything whatsoever. When the thinking occurs and I look into what thinks, I don’t find any ‘thing’ either. Not only that, but both the thinking and the feeling of stillness disappear. Now what am I supposed to do? Before, I could take charge of something. I could identify the thinking and the stillness. But it’s not like that anymore. When I look into what thinks, the thinker vanishes. When I look into what is still, that’s also gone. I’m at a complete loss. I have lost both the thinker and that which feels still.”
The teacher will reply, “No, you are not at all at a complete loss. Now you have arrived at Mahamudra, at the nature of mind. You need to train in this for months and years. Before, you were only concerned with the manifestation, not with the nature. Now the manifestation has vanished. What is left is the nature itself.” That is the traditional way of pointing out Mahamudra.
Training in this fashion, there is no difference whatsoever between Mahamudra and Dzogchen practice. That is why so many great masters of the past have praised the Mahamudra system so highly. It is perfect for both a beginner of little capacity and for a person of great capacity. In Mahamudra there are no errors or sidetracks whatsoever.


RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
10/3/15 3:21 AM as a reply to Switters.
Hi, 
I have joined this forum just to contact you. Reading your post and answers, I came to conclusion that you have good knowledge and experience of a meditation technique mentioned. there are already lots of information/wisdom in your post, but due to my lack of knowledge and experience, its hard for me to understand. And as you have mentioned, I am looking for further detail information, hopefully this comment would be seen and your kindness will be a blessing to me. 

Lately, I have been desperately searching for Shamatha and Vipassana meditation methods. I am a complete beginner and I have never meditated before. However, I am motivated to persevere and practice above mentioned meditation. I am more inclined to Tibetan methods/ teachings.

One particular western Lama suggested Trungpa Rinpoche's explanation of Shamatha and Vippassana. After that, I did a google search and stumble upon your post in this forum. I have a genuine devotion for Trungpa Rinpoche, though I have never met him.

For that matter, please can you suggest me Trungpa Rinpoche's teachings, methods, or books on Meditation, particularily Shamataha and Vipassana. Further, If you can reccomend me any other materials and books with complete instruction/ manual or guide for above meditation to help me thoroughly understand and prepare me to practice, I would be highly appreciated and forever indebted. Thanks in advance. 

emial id: kelzang.kd@gmail.com
Dawa. 

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
10/3/15 8:54 AM as a reply to kelzang dawa.
kelzang dawa:
Hi, 
I have joined this forum just to contact you. Reading your post and answers, I came to conclusion that you have good knowledge and experience of a meditation technique mentioned. there are already lots of information/wisdom in your post, but due to my lack of knowledge and experience, its hard for me to understand. And as you have mentioned, I am looking for further detail information, hopefully this comment would be seen and your kindness will be a blessing to me. 

Lately, I have been desperately searching for Shamatha and Vipassana meditation methods. I am a complete beginner and I have never meditated before. However, I am motivated to persevere and practice above mentioned meditation. I am more inclined to Tibetan methods/ teachings.

One particular western Lama suggested Trungpa Rinpoche's explanation of Shamatha and Vippassana. After that, I did a google search and stumble upon your post in this forum. I have a genuine devotion for Trungpa Rinpoche, though I have never met him.

For that matter, please can you suggest me Trungpa Rinpoche's teachings, methods, or books on Meditation, particularily Shamataha and Vipassana. Further, If you can reccomend me any other materials and books with complete instruction/ manual or guide for above meditation to help me thoroughly understand and prepare me to practice, I would be highly appreciated and forever indebted. Thanks in advance. 

emial id: kelzang.kd@gmail.com
Dawa. 

Well, I'm happy that you found the post/s engaging - I must reiterate (If I haven't already) that I am by no means an expert. Trungpa's presentation of shamatha-vipashyana, as mentioned, has many common factors to other presentations of shamatha/vipashyana. There are clearly several departing points though. I think one of the clearest differences is with regards to shamatha. Trungpa saw 'one pointed' meditation ie:perhaps focusing on a 'kasina', as 'mental gymnastics', but taught the importance of cultivating 'calm abiding'. I have heard Reggie Ray refer to Trungpa's style of shamatha as 'transition shamatha' as it develops shamatha whilst opening into a more vipashyana experience. The 'transition' also covers the fact that the basic meditation instruction given throughout most of his life in America focuses on the outbreath with a 'light touch', and then dissolves the attention into the space felt in and around the body ('go back to the posture', 'dissolve out with the breath', 'enjoy the gap').

As you are a complete beginner, I think this is as good a place to start as any. Everyone is different and perhaps need different techniques at different times (more experienced people will confirm/deny this). From my experience, this particular teachnique will serve many funtions and will grow itself. It is very experiential, so initally you will just learn to focus and relax etc, but as you become more intimate with the practice it will take on different subtleties of meaning etc. This is what Trungpa called self-secret, the depth of profundity to a teaching reveals itself as you progress and gain insight etc etc.

With regards to resources, Trungpa left a shedload. There are several places to start. If you live near a Shambhala centre, drop in and get instruction, if you are somewhere remote there are online resources - Dharma Ocean (Reggie Ray) and Ocean of Dharma, are run by some of Trungpas closest students. If you want someone who is bringing the teachings into a modern context, try to contact Dharma Ocean, they are currently running excellent live streams. If you want to learn the meditation teachnique as taught by Trungpa, go to Ocean of Dharma and send a message to one of the people who run the website and they will happily give instruction. It is free and they also run classes, online group meditation, online dharma talks etc etc. Also - check out the 'chronicles of chogyam trungpa', it is the same people who run ocean and they host a load of his talks for free there.

There are quite a few of Trungpa's talks on youtube - some are pretty hard to underrstand at first, I instantly fell in love with his style of treaching but to others it is verbal diarrhea. There is one where he actually gives basiuc sitting instruction.

Books - CTR released books in his lifetime, and they have released more from transcripts in recent years. For a beginner I think one of the most accessible is 'Mindfulness in Action'. If you want really detailed, nitty gritty academic buddhism stuff check out 'The Prfound Treasury of The Ocean of Dharma'. The first volume 'The Path of Individual Liberation' has large section on this meditation technique - however, I think this may get a tad confusing. His son's book 'truning the mind into an ally' is also pretty good as an instroduction.

One thing to consider, which I would highly recommend, is to access CTR's teachings via two of his finest students Pema Chodron and Rigdzin Shikpo. Rigdzin Shikpo's book 'Never Turn Away' is just fantastic and presents meditation as Trungpa did, with effortless clarity. Shikpo places a lot of emphasis on the 'formless' aspect of the instruction, ie: dropping the focus on the breath when 'awareness has melte into the feeling of space'. This may attract you or confuse you. 
Pema Chodron has been pretty prolific and uses really intuitive language - she has also released Audio books where she gives meditation instruction. 

I hope all this helps, below is a list of links for some of the things I mentioned - sorry I have not hyperlinked them where mentioned initially, my computer is misbehaving and I'm not all that technologically savvy.

PS: One word of advice is, practice consistently, and don't worry if it seems too simple, trust the technique and your experience will become refined, like when you clarify butter, or something. If you struggle to get in touch with the people at 'Ocean' then let me know and I'll do what I can to help. If you have any questions about any of this don't hesitate to ask.





Books
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mindfulness-Action-Yourself-Meditation-Awareness/dp/161180020X

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Path-Individual-Liberation-Profound/dp/1611801044/ref=pd_sim_14_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1VGCJWCVMBG5QJ61K069&dpID=41wIa3M8S0L&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR108%2C160_

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Never-Turn-Away-Buddhist-Beyond/dp/0861714881/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1443879224&sr=1-2&keywords=never+turn+away

Websites
http://ocean.chronicleproject.com
http://www.chronicleproject.com


YouTube talks
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDWpuA08ues
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-SC1je3NZQ




Good luck

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
10/3/15 11:22 AM as a reply to Switters.
Hi Switters,
This is really great stuff you're posting.  Thanks for sharing!
Eric

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
10/21/15 8:35 AM as a reply to Eric B.
This post is just a quick note to link a podcast which I think has relevant content for people reading this.

The Imperfect Buddha Podcast did an episode on cults and cultish behaviour. Around 55minutes into the episode they start talking about Shambhala, and I'm glad they did. I like studying and practicing from Trungpa's work, but I am not personally involved with the organisation for many of the reasons that the 'Imperfect Buddha' guys talk about. Really worth listening to.

There are many people in shambhala or who used to be part of that group that are good teachers and all that stuff, but I think it's important to be aware of funky behaviour.

https://soundcloud.com/post-traditional-buddhism/31-imperfect-buddha-podcast-cults-cultish-shennanigans-buddhist-groups

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
10/21/15 11:04 AM as a reply to Switters.
just listening now..these guys are a fucking riot!   soggy   :-)

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
10/21/15 6:00 PM as a reply to tom moylan.
internal friction

Something that occurred just now, is that something Trungpas technique (or at least my understanding of it) seems to facilitate is awareness/transparency of some ‘internal friction’. I’m just going to write off the cuff and see what comes out, friction is quite a good word for it in some sort of intuitive way and I want to explore that by just keyboard babbling and letting the pieces fall where they may; please do your best giving the poor sentence structure or lack of clarity enough space so it doesn’t rub against your assumptions heh. 

Sometimes I read the Mahasi Sayadaw stuff and the level of specificity is great but for me personally and my degree of comprehension, the concepts get a tad confusing, and I don’t have the time to properly study the depths of that tradition. But this confusion over the vipassana style, and what people say about their attainments of insight etc, whilst giving rise to confusion and questions about what ‘awakening/enlightenment/insert suitable substitute’, it does’t shake the trust in experience. I think this technique - or at least how I applied it through my only honest interpretation/experience and reading other people’s teaching from other traditions - opens up awareness in a way that makes experience flow without friction between some self on this side and the world out there, could be a way of expressing it. I’m just going to run through some pointers as to how the practice may develop, or at least one possible way of expressing it in a vague way. I guess it could be read as a single sitting period or a very gradual change at each step, I’m not sure, we’ll see which is more appropriate.

So initially we have the shamatha training where the person sitting learns concentration and mindfulness and sees that their thoughts are just thoughts, learns to focus on the breath. Fine, so far pretty simple, standard. Just basic mindfulness stuff. Then as the mind becomes more still, gaps occur. There is a basic level of identification with the breathing, and once upon an in-breath, it clicks what ‘just enjoy the gap/relax/go back to the posture/dissolve mind into space’ means. In that glimpse there is no thoughts, there isn’t some person efforting to follow the breath, there is the sensations and sounds of being a human body in the world, but it’s just happening, and it’s so relaxing for that split second, and then there is the out breath again. That glimpse is like the first crack in the wall. 

So you keep following the instruction and all of a sudden there is that refined experience of gap again, and again and again, and longer, and the effort needed to ‘follow’ the breath seems all wonky, dissonant, there is friction. It might even feel like tension in the body or something like that. So naturally there is dropping of the breath and a ’resting’ in awareness. There are sounds flowing, and somatic feeling flowing, and thoughts flow past, but the meditation takes the path of least resistance and lets it all flow without resistance (perhaps this requires a degree of concentration, I suppose it will be trained naturally by the initial instruction). This relaxing into flow might bump into rocky waters, but through continuing to sit I feel like the only apparent route is to follow the instruction and surrender/open to experience.

After some arbitrary amount of time, at this point, there is some sort of a subject-object bait-and-switch, where the person sitting at the centre of experience, notices the sense of being a person sitting at the centre of experience. On an intuitive level, sounds flowing aren’t you, the thoughts flowing aren’t you, the body sensations aren’t you, and that ‘sense of self’ that seems to constellate out of those things instantly becomes transparent, bloop! bait-and-switch. It is like a ‘join the dots’ drawing that looked like a really accurate etching of a dog and then you see the dots and all of a sudden you just know, ‘oh this sense way back there is not a sense of its own’ type thing, and again the meditation just takes the path of least resistance, and avoiding friction this ‘constellation’ just contracts or flows on as well as any thoughts that the ‘bloop’ moment gave rise to. 

[As an aside, at this point in particular I have noticed the body sometimes gets very instense sensations, sometimes blissful and sometimes a strong fear response, but again, it normally ‘lets go’ in response to friction and the feelings either pleasurable or edgy just flow and often shift into something else or intensify or subside…]

So here we have this wide open awareness which if we actively look for the boundaries it just goes up down left right forward back infinitely, or if it isn’t infinite, it feels it. If you do find a boundary it seems to be an thought that expands out of the act of looking, or is part of some constellation of a ‘self’ looking for a boundary in it’s experience and the second this thought/feeling of boundary becomes apparent it does the subject-object shuffle and becomes transparent, as does the boundary and that drops away…this expansion of a sense of self, or the self-constellating around the activity of switters (Which I guess is: seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting, thinking), can create friction between the ‘activity’ and assumptions (which is just conditioning I suppose, maybe you’d call it 2nd vail?). Another way of saying it, is that self-existing friction occurs through the interacting/indentifying with the activity, suppression being another interaction - the heat coming from friction here being the analogy for suffering (perhaps). 

I feel like you can taste the friction most clearly when the content of thoughts/feelings are really emotive or dark or something like that. Thoughts about attainment perhaps or ‘past traumas’ or that girl you want to fuck with or whatever else is currently the latest big deal, the list is endless, but by genuinely trusting whatever to come and go, the absolute and natural openness dissolves the assumptions that experience rubs against and the friction goes and there’s no problem. The content becomes somewhat irrelevant without surpassing it, it jut flows; no identification with sense of self, no problem. Transparent-demoness? No problem… How about volume 11 pain or terror or lust or whatever else? Open, trust, experience - no problem. 

Trusting experience is the surrender to completele openness to direct experience in this sort of way, and out of that openness comes great change > I don’t know when or how or why particularly but this technique has definitely shifted something fundamental, it has changed my life personally and noticeably. I cannot possibly believe in a separate switters, no matter how dramatic that activity…all this activity, this experience, seems like it just goes on very naturally and any sense-of ‘small’ self is transparent and it makes everything a lot lot funnier at some very intuitive level. 
I know for a fact that there are numerous ways in which my own meditation can become more refined or more skilful or realised or experienced - its clear that there are many beautiful people and amazingly skilful/experienced meditators who demonstrate deeply profound spectra - and this is not an attempt to fit a vague, poorly written description into any map of any kind, but it is one expression of what feels like is absolutely primordial. Of course there are curiosities over different techniques and schools from an intellectual point of view, and there are questions about things like sleep experience that I don’t know much about, other facets of the proverbial jewel, and so on, but none of those thoughts in any way threaten the relationship to frictionless space.  That frictionless space in and around the body gives rise to an unshakable, indestructible sense to trust experience, and that trust is what disintegrates friction without hope or fear…sure fear can arise still, and hope can too but in a very different light, anyway, I suppose some traditional tantrikas would call that trust ‘devotion’ or something like that. The freedom of trusting frictionless space has allowed me to be happier, more functional, more stable in chaos and more open to the creative, vivd expressions of life that bubble up through reality - an open ended journey relating with people and situations, real reality. 

I’m convinced there has to be a clearer way of expressing the technical details in a skilful way that makes Trungpa’s meditation instruction more accessible - but I think that would take someone better studied and practiced than myself so it may be a long time in the future, or it may just be an unnecessary pipe dream. Maybe it’s because it’s vague that it grows...hmm.

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
9/12/16 6:01 PM as a reply to Switters.
I'd like to say that reading this back there are a lot of inaccuracies and a lot of areas where I have been very vague indeed.

I think I would need to practice much much much deeper to really do this any sort of justice - so it is best to leave this as it is and ask readers to understand it in a context of someone who was clearly desperately trying to understand their experience of meditating in a way that isn't always what it seems.

I stand by the original impulse, but now recognise what a crazy task it would be to really do anything like justice to Trungpa's teaching of meditation.

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
9/13/16 3:26 AM as a reply to Switters.
Switte:


So Chogyam Trungpas formulation of shamatha-vipashyana is deceptively different to the therevadan presentation, but has many similar themes. From the outset I find it is helpful to know that he taught basic sitting practice from the view of Mahamudra. It could easily be argued that it is in fact from the view of maha-ati, seen as analagous to dzogchen - but that is somewhat beside the point. What you need to know is that his formulation is influenced by his training and practcie of formless vajrayana practices (for more info see Openess Clarity Sensitivity by Rigdzin Shikpo, one of his earliest and most realised students, from Englad, who has a gift for talking about maha-ati in a down to earth way.)

In his seminary transcripts he begins by presenting shamatha, to be done by itself - vipashyana is seen to grow out of this pratcice in a natural growth sort of way....more on that later. He does not teach in the Dudjom Lingpa style of staring at a rock or a buddha image or even the solid-sensation of breath. Instead it is only the outbreath, and with quite a light touch. The technique can be reduced down to; sit with good posture, relax, follow the breath out with 25% awareness, relax into the 'gap' during the in-breath, dissolve out again, label thoughts as 'thinking', keep going back to the out-breath.

...
When he comes to vipashyana - it all gets very 'self-secret'. He taught this in an experiential way so that only those who were having that experience of 'panoramic awareness' would have any idea what he was on about. He repeatedly talks about 'the space around the breath'. 'Flashes' of awareness etc.....perhaps I'll type up some notes in more detail if people are interested.


When shamatha and vipashyana ahave been related to individually he then teaches that shamatha and vipashyana should eb combined. He makes reference to Mahasi Sayadaw and claerly respects the innovations he brought to the Burmese tradition of hard noting. He suggests that people should be well practcied before combing S-V becasue it can be tricky for a beginner to practcie with open awareness and one-pointedness at the same time.

With regards to mahamudra - very early on he insturcts people to rleate to their breathing and their posture, very simply - and if they begin to experience that open awareness, then the breathing technique can be dropped and they can just go along with the sense of space in a more 'formless' way. ...

... and how it related to the first bhumi. Also how this mahamudra style of shamatha-vipashyana, opening to that space relates to insights from other vipassana traditions.


Where can CTR's explanation of bhumis and the essence of mahamudra/dzogchen be found?

What is explained above is the practice of shamatha without support, where there is no support of some solid object but a subtle support of the three-dimensional space. Such space gazing is often used as a stepping stone in "getting" to rigpa/dzogchen/mahamudra. Did CTR ever explain this mechanism? Or does he just talk about "open space" type a thing?

That technique taught by Dudjom Lingpa is marvelous because it has the potential to dissolve ones aura, i.e. the mind, i.e. the energy body. That is a wonderful way to "get" to rigpa.
Switters:


... willingness to share
formless practcide and to openly teach mahamudra. Mahamudra is not
something that was considered as something that westerners should get - I
may be wrong but one reason why Trungpa came to America is because the
fellow Tibetans at his centre in Scotland were outraged that he wanted
to share MAHA-ATI WITH THE ENGLISH!!! HOW BLOODY DARE HE. heh.

He
also had a heated disagreement with another Tibetan in America who was
teaching visualisation. Trungpa's stance was - 'why are you teaching
visualisation to hippies, don't reinforce their pathetic spiritual
materialism', and this other chap thought Trungpa was mad for teaching
formelss teachniques to beginners.

I would like to listen to that
Reggie Ray Mahamudra tape actually but damn is that expensive. Reggie
also talks about Shikantaza - Trungpa had a great repsect for zen
pratcice because of his freindship with Shunryu Suzuki. Shikantaza is,
as I'm sure your aware, very similar to the formless practices of
mahamudra.


I think that the practice where one
takes support of the three-dimensional space, is certainly a good
upgrade to shamatha-practices that do not hav this perspective. I wish I
had learned that back in the day. Instead, I was taught to keep the
attention one-pointed on the breath... which is the surest way to end up
distracted all the time emoticon Breath-awareness or any location concerned awareness practice takes a very different spin when combined with open space.

But
to be exact this is not mahamudra. To get to mahamudra, or to dzogchen
rigpa, one has to chop that support off. In a nut shell: First, relax at
maximum... then tense at maximum... and repeat both, if needed. That's a
way to do that and to "enter" a zero dimensional nonmeditation.

I suppose those Tibetans were mad for CTR because he was thinking outside the box. That can make people go nuts.

What
masters like Dogen and others say about shikantaza doesn't make
(perfect) sense if space is used as a support for focus. Any zen-teacher
would be quick to negate this. Skihantaza is rigpa practice, and I
suppose that is why CTR digged it but, with all respect, not that many
zen-people "get it".

 

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
9/13/16 4:14 AM as a reply to Switters.
Switters:

When concentration and awareness are working together, for a fraction of a second you may have a taste of what enlightenment might be. You might find yourself with no discursive thoughts. When you discover that your unwholesome discursive thoughts have been pacified and subjugated, there might be a gap. A pure gap of the absolute, ideal state of mind might occur to you. For everyone, without exception, such a glimpse is always possible. You realize that bodhichitta, or awakened heart, is not a theory or a metaphysical concept, but a reality. It is more than rain clouds gathering in the sky—it is the actual rain.

From “A Glimpse of Wakefulness” in The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma, Volume Two: The Bodhisattva Path of Wisdom and Compassion, page 6.

Throughout the early 70s, Chogyam Trungpa began to give public meditation instruction - he often referred to it as 'shamatha-vipashyana', which he also referred to as calm-abiding/clear-seeing or mindfulness/awareness. This instruction was in many ways similar to the standard way of techning shamatha, it had many common concepts - but from very early on he wanted to show people a glimpse of what he called the 'gap'. He wanted people to glimpse 'the fourth time', and grow from that glimpse into genuine realization of nonduality, selflessness, egolessness, mahamudra, dzogchen - whatever you want to call it. He did not 'zap' people with pointing out instruction from day one but but emphasis on discipline and working from the ground up ina down to earth way. He was very concious of his audience, namely - hippies! His talks were hippy galore and he was very cautious about how to frame the teahcings lest they made a big deal about it and turned it into 'golden chains'. 
...

The other aspect of Khenpo Gangshar's mind instructions that can be seen mirrored in the instruction of Chogyam Trungpa is the 'distinguishing' ie: distinguishing between mind and awareness. When doing 'resting' meditation, (often referred to as rigpa/completion stage meditation), it can be common that pople think 'right, I'll just rest amd do nothing in this open space' and meanwhile they're comletely stuck in thought. Khenpo Gangshar emphasised the importance of distinguishing between sem and rigpa, or mind and awareness

...

Ultimately, from the view of mahamudra, Chogyam Trungpa wanted people to be able to see that thoughts are appearances of the mind, and that they didn't threaten the 'natural state'
;

"...

When we speak of "clarity" we are referring to that state which is free from sloth and dullness. This clarity, inseparable from pure energy, shines forth unobstructed. It is a mistake to equate clarity with awareness of thoughts and the colors and shapes of external phenomena.
..." - 'A teaching on the awakened state', commentary by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

...
Chogyam Trungpa wanted people to be able to glimpse this space and to be able to let go into that awareness. This is very much evident in the formless medtation instruction of Rigdzin Shikpo, which is essentially the eact same set of instructions (which he received in Oxford befroe Trungpa left fro America. He was trained in dzogchen from day one. Trungpa thought formless practice suited the English temperament heh
) :
"It is what Trungpa Rinpoche called 'self-secret'. There is no problem is explaining the full technique to you becaseu what you get from it depends entirely on you. The meditation described here is commonly referred to as 'formless meditation'. We can call this a beginners pratcice in the sense that we start with it. In fact this a practice we never abandon. When we reach a higher level of experience we might have a high flown name like 'The Great Perfection'....we will find ourselves doing the same meditation.

Formless meditation is associated with the openness, clarity and sensitivity aspects of mind. Within this openness-clarity, gaps occur thatr make it very difficult to remain ego-centred. In the 'speech' aspect of this meditation we can begin by using the breath as a vehicle
. As you breathe out, rest in the feeling of the breath leaving the body. Just allow the breath to go out naturally, with a sense of spaciousness and giving away, a sense of the breath giving way into space. Other than this, there is no need to concentrate on the breath in any particular way. You are not so much meditating on that breath than with the breath.
..." - Rigdzin Shikpo, Never Turn Away, 2007, p.19,24,25.

...
That's enough for now. Hope this is helpful and/or interesting.

The teacher will then give the next instruction, saying, “Now, don’t just notice whether there is stillness or thought occurrence. When there is thinking, look into the thinker. When there is stillness, look into what feels the stillness.”
The disciple will return entirely bewildered and say, “When I look into what feels the stillness, I don’t find anything whatsoever. When the thinking occurs and I look into what thinks, I don’t find any ‘thing’ either. Not only that, but both the thinking and the feeling of stillness disappear. Now what am I supposed to do? Before, I could take charge of something. I could identify the thinking and the stillness. But it’s not like that anymore. When I look into what thinks, the thinker vanishes. When I look into what is still, that’s also gone. I’m at a complete loss. I have lost both the thinker and that which feels still.”
The teacher will reply, “No, you are not at all at a complete loss. Now you have arrived at Mahamudra, at the nature of mind. You need to train in this for months and years. Before, you were only concerned with the manifestation, not with the nature. Now the manifestation has vanished. What is left is the nature itself.” That is the traditional way of pointing out Mahamudra.
Training in this fashion, there is no difference whatsoever between Mahamudra and Dzogchen practice. That is why so many great masters of the past have praised the Mahamudra system so highly. It is perfect for both a beginner of little capacity and for a person of great capacity. In Mahamudra there are no errors or sidetracks whatsoever.


Switters, that is the best quoting I've ever seen. Great emoticon

Adding to what I was saying before in my prev message. To what CTR and Shikpo refer to as "gap" is rigpa. This gap occurs, happens, opens up and disappearing of conscious perception takes place, in brief moments when meditating on open 3D space. These are two different things.

The reason why these lamas say that is is difficult to discern mind (sem) from awareness (rigpa) is because the mind goes a lot deeper than just thought or emotion. There is something called subtrate consicousness, alaya vijnana. I gave a talk on this recently, if interested.

RE: Shamatha-Vipashyana : The Mahamudra View of Chogyam Trungpa
Answer
9/13/16 12:59 PM as a reply to Switters.
Switters:
I'd like to say that reading this back there are a lot of inaccuracies and a lot of areas where I have been very vague indeed.

I think I would need to practice much much much deeper to really do this any sort of justice - so it is best to leave this as it is and ask readers to understand it in a context of someone who was clearly desperately trying to understand their experience of meditating in a way that isn't always what it seems.

I stand by the original impulse, but now recognise what a crazy task it would be to really do anything like justice to Trungpa's teaching of meditation.
Oh, I didn't notice until now that this was an old thread...