Session One: Introduction and Overview

In this session you will learn how to transform obstacle into opportunity, without dismissing the seriousness of the obstacle. Bardo experiences “shake the snow globe,” and allow us to hit the “reset” button on our lives. The underlying narratives or structures of the course are presented, including the pedagogical approach that makes this program different from any university level course – ways to “ingest, digest, and metabolize” the teachings. The importance of contemplation and meditation is stressed, and the first “emergency meditation” is presented. 

The binding narrative of view, meditation, and action is presented, along with the three forms of generosity. The term “bardo” is then defined at length, and the universality of the bardo principle is demonstrated. A contemplation on “small mind / big mind” is offered, and an exploration of why we suffer when the mind contracts. 

Session One also introduces the core practice of mindfulness, or shamatha, and the “Domino Meditation” that is central to bardo principles. 

Transcript of the Video Session:

Session One Transcript.pdf

Supplementary Material:

Yuval Noah Harari: “The choices made during this time will shape the world for decades. This is equally a political crises, and a massive social experiment conducted on billions of people. Perhaps our sense of invincibility will go down, and we will realize we are animals – like every other animal – and therefore deeply woven into the fabric of nature.” 

Jeffrey Kripal: “Hermeneutical mysticism is a disciplined practice of reading, writing, and interpreting through which intellectuals actually come to experience the religious dimensions of the texts they study, dimensions that somehow crystallize or linguistically embody the forms of consciousness of their original authors. In effect, a kind of initiatory transmission sometimes occurs between the subject and object of study.”

Christopher Wallis: “Just as the asanas of modern yoga challenge our bodies, stretching them in new ways, repatterning and creating over time a whole new body, we can hold expanded understandings, “postures of mind,” that function to reshape our consciousness, creating a whole new mind. [and brain literally: neuroplasticity] This mind is fresher, more open and more luminous, with a greater capacity for childlike wonder coupled with mature wisdom. It is also much more flexible and adaptable, responding appropriately to all kinds of situations. It is clear and strong, free of unneeded detritus. To attain this mind, saturate it with the words of the masters. But do not be content with understanding those words; work them into the very tissues of your being until your whole being vibrates with them.”

Thich Nhat Hanh: “We cannot hold the seeds of the Dharma in our intellect. We have to bring the teachings into our whole person and plant them in the soil of our store consciousness – [our BODY]. During the night our mind consciousnesses may rest and stop functioning, but our store cons [body] continues to work. After the gardener stops working, the soil continues to work in order to help the seeds sprout and grow. Sooner or later, quite naturally, we will have a breakthrough. The flowers and fruits of awakening will arise from our store consciousness. Mind consciousness has to trust store consciousness, just as a gardener has to trust the land. Both roles are important. Remember, though, that enlightenment, insight, will be brought to you NOT by mind consciousness, not through your intellectual understanding, but through the deeper wisdom of your store consciousness [YOUR BODY]

Ancient Chinese scholar Xunzi: “The learning of the petty man enters his ear and comes out of his mouth, [the words have affected only] the four inches between ear and mouth. [Instead the aim for a wise man should be that learning] enters his ear, [hearing] clings to his mind [contemplating], spreads through his four limbs and manifests itself in his actions [through embodied stage of meditating].” 

Pema Khandro: “Bardo refers to that state in which we have lost our old reality . . . we lose our grip on the old reality and yet have no sense of what a new one might be like. There is no ground, no certainty, and no reference point . . . The more we learn to recognize this sense of disruption, the more willing and able we will be to let go of this notion of an inherent reality . . . Until now, we have been holding on to the idea of an inherent continuity in our lives, creating a false sense of comfort for ourselves on artificial ground. . . in the context of death and birth, shunyata [emptiness] refers to a direct experience of disruption felt at the core of our being, when there is no longer any use manufacturing artificial reality. . . if we have some reliable idea of what is happening in that intermediate, groundless space, rupture can become rapture.”

Mingyur Rinpoche: “I was able to get some distance between myself and my unease. My expanded sense of self grew bigger than the problem. It was able to accommodate it within a larger sphere, so that I was no longer the exact size and shape of my own discomfort. The unease was still there. It doesn’t necessarily disappear, but I was no longer trapped inside of it.”    

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