Author Topic: Klesha Practices and why isn't this taught earlier  (Read 1023 times)

Offline cosmic_dog_magic

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Klesha Practices and why isn't this taught earlier
« on: February 17, 2015, 05:06:40 am »
(cross posting since it looked like the kagyu subforums was inactive)
Hi there
I just have a couple questions regarding practice.
I've been studying mahamudra, through Reggie Ray's teaching set Mahamudra for a Modern World.
I haven't been practicing mahamudra very long, but I feel like I'm making progress everyday (at least in an emotionally healing way) just from getting involved with klesha's. 
I'm wondering why these instructions aren't taught earlier in studies, like at the hinayana level. 
Also it would have helped if in red letters on page one, that to really understand the Dharma, you have to understand the somatic sense of the words, such as "openness", "grasping" and "letting go". 
It seems so obvious to me now, but I'm wondering if it's only because of the steps I've taken to get here and the experiences I needed to have in life (loss and a sense of hopelessness) that made it possible for me to make this progress. 
Klesha practices seem to be introduced in yoga pretty early, so I'm wondering if it's just tied up in Tibetan tradition or some danger I've seemed to have missed. 
Or is it actually okay and beneficial to give klesha instructions to people in our lives that might need it, but don't wanna make the full journey due to whatever personal reasons.
Also this an interesting read on the scientific understanding of how klesha practices changes our neurobiology, which also sparked these questions.
http://lindagraham-mft.net/resources/published-articles/skillful-ways-to-deal-with-stress-and-trauma/
It seems she's been exploring guided meditation through klesha's inorder to help her patients.
Thank you for your responses.

Offline thegchokgreg

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Re: Klesha Practices and why isn't this taught earlier
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2015, 07:41:34 am »
Hi,

What do you mean by klesha practice ? I thought klesha is the Sanskrit term for afflictions (negative mind) so I think Buddhism is about not practicing klesha haha

I'm joking this is probably just a terminology that I am not use with.  :)

Offline cosmic_dog_magic

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Re: Klesha Practices and why isn't this taught earlier
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2015, 07:54:48 am »
hi thegchokgreg, I write more about the klesha practice here

It's the vajrayana story of the peacock, eating the 3 poisons of passion, aggression, and ignorance, transmuting them into bright feathers.

To me it seems like such a harmless practice, that I've been trying to do all along, not avoid pain to really understand it, it seemed my approach was all wrong.  I would just fixate until I got distracted or couldn't go through the anguish.  But the klesha practice is so clear, simple and so beneficial, so I'm wondering why it's not so widely taught if you can encounter it elsewhere.

edit:

hmm I haven't engaged with other buddhists about the differences between Reggie Ray's teachings of Mahamudra and the traditional Tibetan Vajrayana approach, which from my readings is pretty clear cut instructions of formless meditation.  That Reggie's practices are some bastardized toolkit to address all the modern dilemma's, lol Maybe that's not true, love to get an opinion on this.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2015, 08:34:04 am by cosmic_dog_magic »

Offline thegchokgreg

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Re: Klesha Practices and why isn't this taught earlier
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2015, 08:31:51 am »
Thank you, this practice that you described about analysing the mind (its cause its nature its function its result) sounds like a vipassana practice and is common to hinayana and mahayana.
Like in the four placement of mindfulness for example. (You analyse your feelings, body,mind and phenomena)

Yes the story about the peacock is about using afflictions (kleshas) on the path there is a way to do it according to sutra (on the Mahayana path, I think not anger though but in the vajrayana the three ignorance attachment anger). This is a rather advance practice but by training in vipassana as you do in your practice and developping bodhicitta I believe you are on a very good road,  that I also try to follow myself as well .

I wish you all the best.

Offline cosmic_dog_magic

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Re: Klesha Practices and why isn't this taught earlier
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2015, 08:41:05 am »
Thanks for the wishes and response!  Thanks for clarifying that.  So you're saying that one needs to develop bodhicitta in order to reap the fruits of klesha investigative vipassana practice?  And that I can't just say to my broken friends, do this it'll make you feel better.
It's true I haven't had direct teachings from a hinayana and mahayana teacher, to really see them through and see if klesha practice turns up.

Offline thegchokgreg

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Re: Klesha Practices and why isn't this taught earlier
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2015, 09:36:21 am »
It is indeed very important to rely on a qualified mahayana virtuous friend (qualified to teacher) to receive instructions on practice such as Mahamudra.

Here is some online teachings that can be useful from Alex Berzin archives website

http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/e-books/published_books/gelug_kagyu_mahamudra/pt1/mm_04.html

An extract of the summary :

Quote
Summary

In summary, it is very easy to practice what seems to be mahamudra, but is in fact a method that does not go very deeply to root out our problems and their causes. The practice of mahamudra is certainly not simply to become like a cow that sits without moving, just seeing and hearing without thinking anything. But even if we just sit quietly and look and listen attentively – not inattentively like the cow – to whatever is happening around us, and even if we are able to do this without judging or mentally commenting on anything and, in fact, without any mental chattering at all, we are still not practicing mahamudra meditation.

There is no question that quieting the mind of all mental chatter and noise is extremely beneficial. Such thought prevents us from being attentive to anything around us. But we must be careful not to quiet our mind of understanding when we quiet the mind from its chatter. There can be no level of mahamudra meditation without at least some accompanying level of understanding of the nature of mind.

It is very important to be humble and not to belittle mahamudra, dzogchen or any of the very advanced, difficult practices by thinking they are so simple. For example, we learn an introductory practice that is extremely beneficial, such as quieting the mind of all judgments, comments and verbal thought, and staying with the "here-and-now." If we can accomplish this – which is certainly not easy by any means – we have the necessary foundation for not only mahamudra meditation, but any type of meditation, as well as life itself. But, if we think this is all there is to mahamudra practice, we are belittling mahamudra, making it into something small and comparatively trivial.

If we think we are a great yogi or yogini because we are engaging in this initial level of practice, and if we do not even conceive that we can go deeper, we are suffering from the fault of weak motivation. We lack sufficient strength of renunciation and bodhichitta to go beyond the initial levels of practice and accomplishment so that we can be truly free of our problems and best able to help others. As the great masters have said, a combination of renunciation and bodhichitta is essential as the driving force not only for beginning the spiritual path, but for sustaining our efforts all along its course and, in the end, for reaching its goal. Thus, with proper and sufficient motivation and sustained effort, mahamudra practice can bring us to the attainment of Buddhahood for the benefit of all.

First we practice preliminaries such as prostration and, especially, guru-yoga and making heartfelt requests for inspiration. When done with proper understanding and motivation, these help weaken our fixation on the contents of our experience, such as the pain in our legs while prostrating or the guru as some omnipotent idol "out there." Thus they help weaken the mental blocks preventing our understanding the nature of mind, and help build up the positive force to bring us success in this venture.

We begin our formal mahamudra meditation with initial exercises examining the various contents of our experience of each of the senses and of thoughts and emotional feelings. We realize that from the point of view of the conventional nature of experience, namely from the point of view of there occurring merely an arising and engaging in the contents of experience, there is no difference at all between seeing a pleasant or unpleasant sight. This allows us not to become so caught up in the contents of our experience that we become upset and cause problems to ourselves and others. We do not become so dissociated from the contents, however, that we do not react to them in an appropriate manner, such as by moving out of the way of an oncoming truck that we see in front of us.

On this level, however, we deal with the problem of being caught up in the contents of our experience only when we are already caught up in them. When we are already upset about hearing traffic noise from our room, we compare it with hearing the chirping of birds and then disengage our obsession with the noise by switching our focus to the conventional nature of the experience itself. We need to go much deeper in meditation, however, to prevent that deviation of focus onto the contents from ever arising. We must develop absorbed concentration and a serenely stilled and settled mind.

We therefore focus next on the conventional nature of mind itself. We focus on the mere arising and engaging with the contents of experience that occur in each moment, but without making that process into a solid, concrete object or ourselves into a solid, concrete subject who is the observer, agent or controller of that process or the one experiencing it. By focusing in this manner, freshly each moment, with perfectly absorbed concentration, we weaken even further our tendency to lose sight of this conventional nature and, consequently, to become caught up in and upset by the contents of our experience.

In order to avoid the dangers of apprehending or taking ourselves to be a solid "me" – either during meditation or, in general, while living our life – we next focus on the conventional and deepest natures of ourselves as "me." We need to see that although conventionally "I" am meditating and experiencing the contents of every moment of experience of my life, that conventional "me" does not exist in the manner of a false "me." Its deepest nature is that it is devoid of existing as some solid, concrete observer, agent or controller of the experiences of life, or the one experiencing them, either in meditation or at any other time as well. Such realization enables us not only to meditate more properly on the conventional nature of mind and experience, but also eventually to free ourselves from self-preoccupation and selfishness, which cause us to create all our problems for ourselves and prevent us from effectively helping others.

Once we have understood the deepest nature of how "I" exist, we need to apply that understanding to how mind and experience exist. If we no longer become caught up in the contents of our experience, yet apprehend our mind itself to exist as some solid, concrete "thing," we again cause problems for ourselves and prevent ourselves from being best able to help others. We become infatuated, for example, with the boon experiences of blissful clarity and starkness that come with perfectly absorbed concentration on the conventional nature of mind. We need to see that mind itself is devoid of existing in any fantasized, impossible manner.

At first we focus on the conventional and deepest natures of mind conceptually, through an accurate idea of them. But eventually, when we are able to focus on each of them directly and barely, we achieve a mahamudra meditation that is nonconceptual and vivid. Our meditation then becomes potent enough, in combination with the force of our joint motivation of renunciation and bodhichitta, to actually eliminate forever, step by step, the various grades of our apprehending impossible ways of existing with respect to our mind, experience, its contents and "me."

 


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