Buddhism

Episode 2: Buddhist Methods of Awakening

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Have you been wondering what the difference is between Zen, Tantra, Dzogchen, Mahayana, Theravada, and all these Buddhism’s?

In episode 2, we go over a brief overview of the Buddhist traditions and what sort of material you can put into practice, today. I understand that everybody has a different temperament and no two humans are the same, so there’s a wide variety of techniques to help you awaken. I’ll let you listen, but here’s a few more tips:

If you have a keen intellect and been to years of university and enjoy a good book, then maybe studying Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist canons will be beneficial for you. There are 84,000 in all, so you won’t be curled up for reading! “Sutra” or “Sutta” means “string/thread” — a discourse as part of an entire tapestry. So take each as both a part and a whole. Don’t think you have to read in chronological order or get through all of them. (That’s for monk-hood, right there!) You can choose what you feel drawn to here, in this collection of Buddhist suttas.

Do you love the outdoors? A woodsman? A hiker? Skiing down the slopes of a snowy mountain, somewhere north? Dzogchen is be a good bet! Dzogchen, my favourite practice, pulls your attention outwards into the widest expanse possible. Beyond body, beyond mind, beyond environment… but interacting with all of them. When you’re in nature, and you’re thinking and strategising, just notice that… and then open into the wider expanse of your noticing. Where are the thoughts now? Are they controlling you, or are they simply happening in this larger awareness? The trees are still, the sky is wide, and you are here. Present. Pain can happen, happiness, joy, stress, stillness, worry — anything! But keep opening. Open to that. You can handle it, because it’s part of you but it’s not all that you are. You are larger than you ever know. You are awareness, itself. What colour are those tree branches? How is the ripple of the wind on your skin, underneath your fleece? What is that noise, over there?

Or, if you’re crazed by the arts — acting, throwing paint on canvas or yourself, a gallery-watcher, writer, poet, or feel the pull of a higher sense of the mystical, I recommend Tantra. Tantra is an unlimited practice which includes yoga, visualisation “meditation”, and drawing/gazing at/colouring mandalas. Yoga is a fluid practice, challenging the notions of what’s possible by the body/mind continuum. Yoga asanas can be interpreted in different ways, by both the Vedas and Patanjali up to the present day, but you will find truth in there — after all, you’re using your own body and mind which is in your own awareness! So play with yoga. Also play with visualisation. You can

Mother, father? Car mechanic? Love to bake and see the organic order in the vegetables you chop, the molasses on your spoon, the cinnamon in your nostrils? Zen. If you’re active and enjoy your dynamic life, both focused and intensive, then Zen is your friend. It’s the best combination of both worlds. When you’re focused on a task, then you commit yourself just to that task. If you chop, you chop. If you taste, you taste. If you need to stop chopping and take care of the baby or the dog, do that. Do it mindfully, fully. Move your attention from one task to the next with focus and awareness that you’re doing that or that it’s happening. Most importantly, when a friend comes to visit, be with that friend.

And for the more adventurous of spirit, advanced spiritual seekers, and those who want to delve deep into the question of existence itself, try non-dual self-enquiry or the netti-netti method.

The Buddha noted that any teaching is just a raft, bringing us across the water. When the raft arrives, there’s no need for the raft anymore.

As always, if you have any questions, don’t be shy to get in touch. We share this life together — not separately.

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