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Contemplating Illusion, Contemplating the Essence: Continuing explorations of the Namgyal Guru Yoga, Kinmount, ON

May 18, 2010 June 1, 2010 UTC-8

To register or enquire about this retreat, please email The Dharma Centre of CanadaLama Mark writes: “This retreat will be a blend of traditional teachings and modern neuroscience (with emphasis on neuroplasticity). It is essential to understand why the practice of Buddhist Tantra, which is all Guru Yoga, is so vitally important for modern humans. In order to establish the proper order of practice, the foundation teachings and blessing of Refuge, Precepts and Bodhisattva commitments will be given first. In addition, anyone is welcome to attend for a renewal of these essential commitments and practices. After the empowerment of the Namgyal Guru Yoga, there will be teachings, group meditations and sessions of energy-awareness meditation. I will be emphasizing penetrative insight meditations on the illusory nature of all things, nature of mind and compassion for all life. If we wish to experience freedom, a great bliss of non-clinging awareness, then we need to find out what experience really is, from deep inside.”

“Let me see if I can clear away any doubts on confusion regarding taking Refuge. I am offering the classic Mahayana blessing of: Taking Refuge, Precepts, Dharma Name, and Bodhisattva commitments (vows) and the explanations and teachings that precede the ceremony. Traditionally and by common sense, it is very important that before entering into Tantric practices that the above be established in the mind-stream. In fact it is not possible to unfold the Yidam practices, which are all Guru Yogas without this commitment, being established first (sometimes beings have this quality in their mind-stream quite naturally, however, even then it is very good to bring it to conscious knowledge and practice). That is why at the beginning of each Empowerment and Sadhana the Refuge and Bodhisattva vow is repeated three times, sometimes a number of times in different ways. To practice Tantra and become the Yidam, practice as a Buddha, and emanate and receive blessings, requires this foundation. However, it is often the case that the Lama allows people to attend and receive Empowerment, even practice Tantra, if they have not formally taken Refuge etc., as the refuge and bodhisattva commitment is said at the beginning of each Empowerment and Sadhana practice; and one hopes at some future time when all is auspicious that the being will formally take Refuge with a Vajrayana teacher. It is very important to one’s ripening. One can take refuge with a teacher(s) many times in a life, and it is good to re-establish one’s commitments and precepts, like a refreshing drink of elixir for strength and vigour, to re-join and remember; especially since it is normal that there have been transgressions or ‘slip ups’ in ethics and bodhicitta commitments. Sometimes beings get lost for a time or go astray in believing that people, places or things are the real Refuge and the means of unfolding wisdom-compassion.

When I am the Lama who bestows the blessing, I don’t feel that those attending have an obligation to “be my student”. However, of course, a strong connection is made; it may be the case that the person feels I am their principle teacher, but there are many who study or come to teachings and retreats that have another teacher who they have taken refuge with and who they consider to be ‘their principle Lama’, even ‘root teacher.’ I am offering this blessing more often these days because so many people are attending courses or retreats, especially with Tantric yoga, where I assumed they had taken Mahayana refuge from another teacher and it turns out they have not, even after many years of Tantric practice. And secondly, not all people who practice Tantra are always clear and well founded on the vital importance of Refuge, precepts and Bodhicitta commitments flowing and being fresh in our mind-streams. I have confidence that by taking Refuge etc., and receiving detailed teachings on these foundations of the Path, many impediments to beings unfolding get cleared up. So, from time to time I offer this blessing, especially the explanations and commentaries. How is it possible to have refuge in Guru Mind without refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha: Buddha-nature (Buddha), transmission of Dharma (Dharma) and those who have experienced the transcendental (Sangha)? How is it possible to have refuge in Guru mind without refuge in Vajra Body-Speech-Mind? Not! So we need to take very good care of our minds as mind is the ultimate Refuge, as it is for all other sentient beings. So, let’s start with a deep and well built foundation.” LMW

The empowerment of White Tara will also be bestowed.

Please feel free to distribute this poster.

Dharma Centre of Canada, Kinmount, Ontario