Posted in Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism

Spirit Rock Retreat 2008, Day 6

8:30 AM

I still haven’t made it to the pre-dawn Prajna Paramita practice. Oh, well. I never went to sunrise services as a Christian or a Wiccan, I don’t see why I should start now as a Buddhist! *lol* There have only been three things in my life to motivate me to get up that early: fishing with my dad, watching my husband’s motorcycle racing, and running half-marathons. I don’t count work, because I’ll change jobs if one makes me get up too early.

Here, there is the added element of the cold. I wake up every morning with my back stiff and hurting from arthritis. Going outside, where it’s even colder, and sitting motionless in what is not a comfortable position to begin with just doesn’t seem like a good idea. Every morning I set my alarm. Every morning I test the temperature. And every morning I crawl back under the covers and sleep one more precious hour. And, a new development in my life, I don’t feel guilty for it.

10:40 AM
Tsultrim spoke on feeding demons with a partner and put on a demonstration. Very powerful practice, though there’s no one in my life I trust enough to do this with.

12:12 PM
We just practiced feeding our demons with a partner. I felt a gentle hand on my back, & it was the young woman I had partnered with for inquiry practice. With a radiant, open smile, she asked, “Do you have a partner?” And so I did.

I fed my demon of resentment of Michael’s trying to help a woman as part of his volunteer work.

Notes from Tsultrim’s talk on the Demon Tracking Form

Types: inner, outer, exultation, ego.
Name: depression, resentment, etc.

You can have subsequent dialogues with the ally to help make decisions. It’s trusting your own wise heart, not farming out your power to someone else.

Allies & demons may change forms over time. The demon may live somewhere else in your body, too.

If you have a huge core issue, work with it each day for one month. Some demons may be like the heads on a hydra, with the core issue being its immortal head.

2:55 PM
Rather than fall asleep again during the 2:30 sitting meditation, I did tea drinking meditation. It was very helpful.

I’m learning to relate to a power greater than myself as either Tara (for compassion and most other things) or Prajna Paramita (for inner wisdom & decision making.)

4:00 PM
Notes from group interview with Tsultrim

Staying awake during mediation: nap, eat less, wear less. If that doesn’t do it, it’s karma.

“Fourth time”: beyond past, present & future. Also known as the “fourth moment.” Experience of awareness that isn’t conditioned by time.

Let mind look at mind; then either rest or “flop” (or “drop.”)

Prajna Paramita is before opposites.

[Spoken to a cancer patient] Use your time to find the unconditioned state. If you die, that’s where you want to go. If you live, that’s where you want to be.

9 Purification Breaths [performed at the beginning of Prajna Paramita practice]
First three: use the left hand, visualize dark blue smoke for anger and aversion.
Second three: use the right hand, visualize dark red smoke for clinging, desire, attachment, grasping.
Third three: hands down, visualize ash colored smoke for ignorance & delusion.

Tsultrim said she never had a female teacher. “I’ve been working on becoming the teacher I wanted to find.” We talked about my Zen practice & Prajna Paramita practice, and she said, “Turn that wall into the sky!” [Zen is an indoor activity; Tibetan Buddhism is largely outdoor.] We laughed.

If your mind wanders during Prajna Paramita practice, try glancing down at Machig’s last instructions and read a few lines.

None of us would have met these teachings & teachers without a karmic connection and lifetimes of practice and merit.

Another yogi asked if she should ask permission to integrate these practices into her normal practice. Tsultrim: “I stopped asking permission a while ago.” Right on! “I would never have written my book if I asked permission.”

Try holding energy in the lower abdomen so it doesn’t ping-pong thru the body. Hold the muscles above & below with slight tension, but relax the belly in between.

“Buddhist Goddesses of India” by Miranda Shaw.

Prajna Paramita is the great mother beyond gender. The state of Prajna Paramita has no gender.

In conclusion, being in Tsultrim’s presence is a lot like being with Zen Master Bob: both are enlightened teachers. I feel blessed to have studied with each of them.

6:01 PM
One of my fellow yogis has “I C U MARA” tattooed twice around her wrist. I love it!

I identified my desire for a shawl as a want, not a need. I looked thru the stack one last time & saw one that hadn’t been out before. I was instantly drawn to it. After wasting entirely to much time deciding what to do, I bought the fool thing. It was the right decision. Just looking at it makes me smile. I wore it home from the bookstore, I was so excited about having it.

As much as I could live like this forever, I look forward to going home. I miss Michael very much. I miss my pets, especially Sparky. That dog & I have a connection: he’s my familiar. I love the rest of my animal friends just as much, but I’m closest to him.

I hope I can bring these Tibetan practices into my life. I aspire to do so.

9:34 PM
Sunset Prajna Paramita practice was wonderful. The visualizations are getting easier, but I still find the body posture challenging to maintain.

Afterward, we went into the mediation hall and Tsultrim and 4 of her (female!) students did a Chod ceremony for us, complete with drums and bells. I could feel my body & mind receiving the healing energy! Wonderful!

I’d like to study with Tsultrim again some day. I feel a very strong connection to her and her teachings. Zen is still my home, however.

I’m concerned about my diet here. I’m hungry all the time unless I consume extra proteins, and then my calorie and fat intake go up. Ugh. I’m afraid to get on the scale when I get home. At least my clothes fit fine still.

I see so much wildlife that I’ve stopped noting it here. Deer, wild turkeys, and lots of lizards are my daily companions.

For the last few days, I’ve been able to hear my heartbeat all the time I’m meditating in the hall. I know what it sounds like, thanks to the sonogram technician who turned the sound up for me.


Ven. Dr. Myodo Jabo (Sandy Gougis) is a Zen Master and Priest in the Five Mountain Zen Order. She began studying Theravâdin Buddhism in 1998, adding Zen in 2003, and Vajrayana Buddhism in 2008. She currently practices in both the Zen and Tibetan traditions. Her Zen teacher is Most Ven. Wonji Dharma of the Five Mountain Zen Order, and her Tibetan guru is Lama Tsultrim Allione of Tara Mandala. In her free time, Myodo enjoys painting, jewelry making, and other creative endeavors.

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