Start Where You Are with Pema Chödrön
We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves – the heavy-duty feeling that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds – never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here.
This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake. Looking at ourselves this way is very different from our usual habit. From this perspective we don’t need to change: you can feel as wretched as you like, and you’re still a good candidate for enlightenment. You can feel like the world’s most hopeless basket case, but that feeling is your wealth, not something to be thrown out or improved upon. There’s a richness to all of the smelly stuff that we so dislike and so little desire. The delightful things – what we love so dearly about ourselves, the places in which we feel some sense of pride or inspiration – these also are our wealth. With the practices presented in this book, you can start just where you are.
If you’re feeling angry, poverty-stricken, or depressed, the practices described here were designed for you, because they will encourage you to use all of the unwanted things in your life as the means for awakening compassion for yourself and others. These practices show us how to accept ourselves, how to relate directly with suffering, how to stop running away from the painful aspects of our lives. They show us how to work openheartedly with life just as it is. When we hear about compassion, it naturally brings up working with others, caring for others. The reason we’re often not there for others – whether for our child or our mother or someone who is insulting us or someone who frightens us – is that we’re not there for ourselves.
There are whole parts of ourselves that are so unwanted that whenever they begin to come up we run away. Because we escape, we keep missing being right here, being right on the dot. We keep missing the moment we’re in. Yet, if we can experience the moment we’re in, we discover that it is unique, precious, and completely fresh. It never happens twice. One can appreciate and celebrate each moment – there’s nothing more sacred. There’s nothing more vast or absolute. In fact, there’s nothing more!
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The Original Be Here Now Talks with Ram Dass
We are thrilled to offer these rare lectures recorded live in NYC in 1969. Available for the first time in digital download, these talks given by Ram Dass went on to become the basis of his international best-selling book Be Here Now. Following is a transcribed excerpt from one of these seminal teaching.
"I think life is just a game, then I am taking from it the meaning of its acts. I am denigrating the precious nature of the life process.
Do you think the man that made the music stand was able to make a more exquisite music stand because he was not attached to making a music stand?
Do you think he really got closer to the essence of music standness because he did not remain in subject object relation to the music stand? That’s the issue. Let’s say you want to get close to somebody. Do you get closer to them through playing out the love story of Hamlet? Or do you get closer through getting beyond the interpersonal, beyond the subject/object to the place where both of you are one consciousness? If we can be us here, us, more us, just here and now us, forget where you came from, where you are going, that I’m talking, that you’re listening, here we are, just us and more us and more us and more us and finally right here on this world, right there here, huh -- here we all are.
How much intimacy do you want? I can feel it. I can be it. Do you think we would be any closer if we were all rolling on the floor together? Really? The thing you are seeking, the very thing you are seeking in life is so within your grasp if you but only know how not to grasp for it. It’s already here. It’s here. "
The Tibetan Book of the Dead Read by Actor Richard Gere
"The Tibetan Book of the Dead" is a classic text of liberation and the practice of preparing for death as a path to recognize the true nature of the mind. This translation by Chögyam Trungpa and Francesca Fremantle is read by actor Richard Gere. Following is a powerful excerpt from this recording.
Homage to the Gurus, the three Kayas: Amitabha, Infinite Light, the Dharmakaya, Peaceful and Wrathfull Lotus Deities, the Sambhogakaya, Padsamambhava, Protector of Beings, the Nirmanakaya.
This “Great Liberation through Hearing,” the means of liberation in the bardo for yogins of average capacities, is in three parts: the introduction, the main subject-matter, and the conclusion. Firstly the introduction -- the means of liberating human beings. First of all, one should have studied the instructions, which should certainly liberate those of the highest capacities. But if they do not, one should practice the ejection of consciousness, which liberates spontaneously as soon as it is thought of, in the bardo of the moment before death. This should certainly liberate yogins of average capacities, but if it does not one should strive in this “Great Liberation through Hearing” in the bardo of dharmata. Therefore the yogin should first examine the sequence of signs of death according to the “Spontaneous Liberation of the Signs of Death,” and when they are definitely completed he should effect the ejection of consciousness, which liberates spontaneously as soon as it is thought of. If ejection is affected there is no need to read the “Liberation Through Hearing,” but if not it should be read clearly and precisely, close to the dead body. If the body is not present, one should sit on the dead person’s bed or seat, and proclaiming the power of truth call on his consciousness and read, imagining him sitting in front listening.
At this time sounds of crying and weeping are not good, so his relatives should be shut out. If the body is present, then during the interval between the ceasing of the breath and the ceasing of pulsation in the arteries, his guru or a dharma brother or sister whom he loved and trusted should read this “Great Liberation through Hearing” close to his ear. The teaching of the “Liberation through Hearing.” An elaborate offering should be made to the Three Jewels if the materials are available, but if they are not available one should set out whatever there is and visualize the rest without limit. One should say the “Inspiration-Prayer Calling on the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for Rescue” seven or three times, then loudly recite the “Inspiration-Prayer for the Deliverance from the Dangerous Pathway of the Bardo” and the “Main Verses of the Bardo.” Then read “The Great Liberation through Hearing” seven or three times. It is in three parts: showing the luminosity in the bardo of the movement before death, the great reminder of showing in the bardo of dharmata, and the instructions for closing the entrance to the womb of becoming.
First, showing the luminosity in the bardo of the moment before death. By having this read to them all kinds of ordinary people, who have received teachings but have not recognized although they are intelligent, or who have recognized but have practiced little, will recognize the basic luminosity and bypass the bardo experience to reach the unoriginated dharmakaya. The method of instruction: It is best if his principal guru from whom he requested teaching can be present, but otherwise a dharma brother or sister with whom he has taken the samaya vow or a spiritual friend in the same lineage. If none of these are to be found, then someone who can ready aloud clearly and precisely should read it several times. This will remind him of what his guru has shown him and he will immediately recognize the basic luminosity and be liberated, there is no doubt.
Program or Be Programmed with Douglas Rushkoff (Excerpt 2)
We are delighted to offer another transcribed excerpt from Douglas Rushkoff's mind-expanding book Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age. In this book -- and this excerpt -- Rushkoff challenges us to take control of we interact with the ever evolving world of digital technology.
The way people approach me about this problem is they will say, “Well look, I know how to drive a car but I’m not an auto mechanic and I’m fine with that. When my car breaks, I’ll take it to the auto mechanic. I’ll take it to the garage.” Or the dealer at this point because people don’t trust the garage anymore. That’s another story. Take it back to the branded dealer and let them fix it. But I’m not talking about the difference between an auto mechanic and an automobile driver. I’m talking about the difference between an automobile driver and an automobile passenger.
The computer… the way to use a computer is not just to be taken around by it. The way to use a computer is to express what you want through the computer. I’m not asking you to take it apart and fix the power supply and fix the screen and make the processors function better or do heat dissipation on the processor which is too big for the case. That’s not what I’m asking you to do. I’m asking you to know how to use the keyboard to make programs so that you look at the computer as this anything machine.
It’s like… think of the computer as if it were a robot. You could be just, you know, Dr. Smith on Lost in Space, and listen to what the robot does. Or you could be Will Robinson and get in there and make the robot do the things you want. So if you have a robot and you think, “Well shoot, wouldn’t it be cool if this robot could plant my grass this year or start a fire in the fireplace?” The way you get it to do that is by telling the robot to do that. That’s what your computer is capable of. Your computer can do the things that you want. Your smart phone can do the things you want.
On the other hand, if you are content to be a passenger, think about what that would mean in a car. I mean, sure for Miss Daisy, she’s too old to drive. Her glasses don’t work. She never learned. Fine. She’ll be driven around by her driver. But for you -- do you want that to be your relationship to roads, to place, to map? That you have a driver? And what if the driver is not somebody you hire but some corporation who you don’t know? If you say “I want to go to a nice inexpensive restaurant” and it just takes you to McDonald’s all the time, how do you know another restaurant exists if your driver is depending on that company? You could look out the window, sure, but what if they are taking you on a route where you don’t even get to see the alternatives?