As we become less self-conscious, we become more open and more warmly present, and what we discover as this melting down takes place is that what we really are is the pure, clear, lighted mind itself—nothing else. So that the goal is to conduct our lives from this clear, lighted mind, to what the Buddhist refer to as beginning mind. And discovering that sense of non-duality discussed previously through living in moment-to-moment meditation, i.e., being present as we remain eternal through our thoughts and actions.
Resting 9,642 feet atop Medicine Mountain in Wyoming is this Ancient Medicine Wheel (Also known as the Bighorn Medicine Wheel). At an estimated 1,500 years old, it speaks to the knowledge and wisdom of people of long ago. There are 28 spokes of limestone boulders in the wheel, which alludes to the 28 days between lunar cycles. There are also a total of 7 stone formations in and around the wheel, which must surely be tied to the Indigenous teachings of the 7 sacred directions: East, South, West, North, Mother Earth, Father Sky, and the Sacred Center. Places like these illustrate the intimate connection our ancestors had with the universe.
And from that deep grounding has come great wisdom… as we remember who we are and where we came from. That we have a job to do. To pick up our knapsack and know it is time to live up to our responsibility.
The most intense moments will seem to have occurred only yesterday and nothing will have erased the pain and pleasure, the impossible intensity of love and its dog-leaping happiness, the bleak blackness of passions unrequited, or unexpressed, or unresolved. For myself, as you get older, you realize there are no answers, just stories… Stories even remembrances, we then tell ourselves and others.
As stated earlier we begin with our conduct as an expression of our motivation. This idea has been the thread of the King of Meditation Sutra we have been following. What is the circle of life, as expressed so well above with the Medicine Wheel, but what moves us beyond where we now sit that further defines our presence? Mahayana Buddhism as illustrated by The King of Meditation Sutra, Lao Tzu, and others continues below in Chapter Eleven, representative of the continuing eternal journey we all take together.
In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – Buddhist teachings on the essence of Meditation / Chapter 11 Wisdom and the inconceivable Buddha – learning to live beyond mind.
Key thoughts: Bringing transcendent wisdom to all your energies and efforts.
- All phenomena are as pure and infinite as grains of sand. Just as on a single strand of hair could reside all lakes and oceans without touching.
- If one has pure perception, every single part of the body resembles the Buddha. Everything we see is the Buddha.
- Realization that everything shares the same nature. As we recognize that all will eventually become pure within our experience allowing us to make fearless aspirations. This assists us in acknowledging our role, place in the scheme of things, and that we are to return to become teachers.
- To act as Phakchok Rinpoche tells us what the great Buddhist master Shantideva conveys that “we are to be as bodhisattvas that are to descend like swans landing on a placid lake”. That suffering is the consequence of one’s own actions, not a retribution inflicted by an external power. That we are authors of our own destiny, and as such, are free with appearances in the world as pure.
- We are reminded that all phenomena are illusion, practicing this, we become attached to nothing. With this detached wisdom you bring benefit to the world and engage in awakening others.
- Reminded again that a bodhisattva sees all as if descending to earthly realms like the swan landing on a placid lake.
- We are to be attached to nothing with detached wisdom and engage in enlightened activity.
- Some say following the Buddha acknowledges emptiness, selflessness, and pure perception. However, while describing the nature of buddha, to be more accurate would be to say the buddha is the dramata – the essence of reality that is beyond intellectual comprehension and beyond description.
- We learn to appreciate that all things arise with a dependence upon all other things. No object exists as a separate entity from anything else.
- Because everything is emptiness everything is possible. By this token also awareness that all phenomena are deity. Just as with the saying, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it is the eye that perceives, the object that is perceived, and one’s consciousness. What created a continuity, or fluidity between Buddhism and Taoism in ancient China was best expressed by Ho-shang Kung from third or fourth century AD. A knowing with great influence as follows: “Others seek the ornamental. The sage seeks the simple. Others seek form. The sage seeks virtue. Others seek facts and skills. The sage studies what is natural. Other study how to govern the world. The sage seeks how to govern himself and how to uphold the truth of the Way.”
- By our accumulating merit and wisdom, we gain flexibility in our thoughts and actions that all things are empty and from their very beginning enlightened. We then visualize a conceivable buddha that moves us to the unconceivable buddha who resides as the nature of all form.
My thoughts return to Santideva mentioned above that “when neither an entity nor a nonentity remain before the mind, we can focus on the six perfections which include generosity, ethical discipline, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom. We can then move to implementing the spirit of awakening that activates and motivates the bodhisattva’s way of life.”
Dharma means to understand our essential innate nature that always leads to sincerity, to benefitting our own mind, as well as others.
- Our point of inquiry should be to gain the confidence to move beyond conceptual elaboration. We need to understand how form and our enlightened nature are inseparable. Our goal should be to see how inseparability that is beyond concepts can be freed from fixation on concepts. What it is that moves us to opposites. To left verses right, or what may appear to be black verses white. To be and emulate what compliments and not simply to see thing opposed to each other. This pull to opposites can be seen or defined as yin verses yang and not everything collectively as one… the complimentary opposites that contribute to the one. As all becomes universal in nature.
- Important to the bodhisattva is knowledge that of all phenomena is nameless, is soundless, wordless, without inscription, birthless, and ceaseless. They have no characteristics, they are inconceivable, unthinkable, and beyond mind. (Reference to chapter eleven in The King of Meditation Sutra)
- We are to practice suspending judgment, decrease grasping, while our intent for the dualistic mind loses its rigidity. No matter how much we think of nonduality, we will not experience it unless we suspend conceptuality altogether.
- It is this transcendent wisdom that helps us to comprehend and to practice the six paramitas essential to our actions and meditative practice. With this we know how to give generously but without attachment in the process.
- Meditating on how we capture this idea for ourselves, as expressed by the mandala symbolizing the Buddhist belief in the transitory nature of material life shown to the right. While never deviating from patience without clinging to what may be called a self-centered outcome.
- Bringing this transcendent wisdom into the practice of the six paramitas: 1) Giving of ourselves and helping others, teaching the dharma through our actions and deeds, and fearlessness, 2) Taking the precepts we know and transferring them to others through our virtue, 3) Endurance and patience without resentment, 4) To develop vigor and mental strength, persistence, effort, and self-reliance. 5) Meditation/samadhi – To awaken into the state of illumined consciousness, and 6) Wisdom/Prajna – To study the sutras and contemplation of their true meaning and to gain perfect understanding of the true nature of reality.
- Through this samadhi, and our meditation and mindfulness that connects us to the cosmos, we bring about the four discerning awarenesses. First, the awareness of correctly discerning the dharma, second – objects, third – language, and fourth – eloquence. With this the cosmos then speaks through and as us.
We often infer deity to thoughts of omniscience, or infinite knowledge. Mindfulness is the act of actualizing and realizing the nature of everything that could possibly arise paying full, nonjudgmental attention to our moment-to-moment experience. We can use mindfulness to free ourselves from unhealthy habits and improve our overall quality of life. With this, our presence becomes self-sustaining. Our minds become content and at ease.
This concept of spiritual growth and mindfulness is universal. Our ancient ancestors lived through and by traditions of what came before them while looking to the stars above and eternity. To what is it that makes us eternal as well. As we in-turn connect to spirit with remembrances and stories defining our own presence going forward. As referenced above, most medicine wheels in North America are found in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan Canada. The oldest is the 5,500-year-old Majorville Cairn in Alberta.
An Eastern Shoshone village near South Pass, 1870. The tipi at front bears an image of what may be the Medicine Wheel. W.H. Jackson photo.
The Medicine Wheel is a circular alignment of limestone boulders about 80 feet in diameter with 28 rock “spokes” radiating from a prominent central cairn. Five smaller stone enclosures are connected to the outer circumference of the wheel. A sixth and westernmost enclosure is located outside the circle of the wheel but is clearly linked to the central cairn by one of the spokes. The enclosures are round, oval, or horseshoe-shaped, and closely resemble northern and northwestern Plain’s vision-quest or fasting structures.
In the early 1970s, astronomer and solar scientist John Eddy noted several important star alignments involving the central and circumferential cairns. He suggested that the Bighorn Medicine Wheel was probably used by prehistoric Native Americans as an ancient astronomical observatory. Indigenous native Americans over the centuries through vision-quests and meditation have expanded the idea of infinite knowledge and wisdom beyond what could be understood or known. That efforts to connect to our eternal spirit are on-going. It is similar in concept to the Buddhist mandala found at the Sara Monastery in Lhasa Tibet shown earlier.
In studying Buddhism and infinite knowledge we are referring to the Buddha having realized the nature of everything that could possibly arise or happen, the nature of every being that has ever come in the past and will ever come. We become buddha-like when we gain correct understanding with the five aggregates of 1) form, 2) feeling or sensations, 3) perception, 4) mental formation (our biases, prejudices, interests, attitudes, and actions), and 5) consciousness – awareness of both physical and mental processes. We all already possess these; however, we fail to reach our potential by not acknowledging or acting on them.
- When we can understand our own motivations based of these aggregates, then we can begin to develop the ability to speak with what is called the definitive word having comprehended their meaning correctly. We then develop confidence with the discernment of phenomena, the understanding of meaning, and this definitive word. You are then able to express the dharma.
- It is when we are ready to move beyond endless and needless suffering found in samsara, we look to a foundation… or to what is known as formations (see number four above) that can serve as reminders of the way forward. Our impermanence tied to not grasping those things that directly leads to this endless suffering.
- When we acknowledge that these mental formations seem above our understanding, we can then see how thoughts and ideas of nirvana are inconceivable and why the concept of awakening seems beyond us.
- The ultimate Buddha is called dharmakaya that lies beyond or is free of characteristics. It is immeasurable and unmoving. Whether there is bliss or suffering it does not change. Dharmakaya is still and empty and its wisdom lie beyond language.
- In our meditation and as we manifest as presence, we acknowledge that all difficulties have been resolved and appearances are not separate from the Buddha.
- Through continual practice the result is confidence, an absence of doubt, and knowing that your nature is complete and assured. With this we know what to do in every situation as trust moves through us. Finally, we are to continue acknowledging the inseparability found in everything without exception.