Co-Emergent Skillful Means
From “Advanced Psychotherapy Seminar” – March 28, 2007 Talk given by: Rudolph Bauer, Ph.D. Transcribed by: Michelle Mae Edited by: Erin Johannesen, M.A., M.D.
More from the “Song of the Vajra”:
This outer environment is the ground, the gathering place, co-emergent with Being itself. Now, this [vajra] song goes beyond the idealism that some of the Buddhist traditions hold, for here, the world itself, our [surrounding] environment, is co-emergent with Being itself. As we experience the world, the beingness of Being is coming forth… Within beingness are the assembled deities of the naturally occurring vajra form. These deities are within all human beings. We are filled with them; all these energies and vortexes [vortices] and space, light, and energy in our bodies and beyond our bodies.
“In the youthful exuberance of the inexhaustible supreme bliss…” [line from Song of the Vajra]
Anytime we are in the field we feel it, that inner youthfulness, that aliveness, which is supreme bliss and ecstasy, and the Lama [Chatrul Rinpoche, writer of the vajra song] then says:
“Dance the dance to the immutable song to the primordial, unborn sound. As we brothers and sisters are gathered here, joined together by both karma and aspiration.” All these different groups focus, really focus, on this sort of thing, on the joining of karma and aspiration.
“Partaking of the celebration and enjoying the great, unbound wealth of the supreme bliss, I offer my single aspiration that we meet again as one, gathering for the celebration in the palace of the lotus light and the pinnacle of the pure realm.”
Which means that there all these different dimensions of awareness, and this [our being here together today] is one of them.
So here we are… We’ll suspend our minds. We’re all getting good at the cranial vault, which means you can suspend your mind quickly. As we all know, nothing happens without practice, absolutely nothing. You can have a lot of good fortune, but unless we are practicing, this meeting, this aspiration, becomes an event. Then you are stuck with an event. You need to feel the process in your own body, which is a function of practice. So we’ll do the cranial vault for a moment, extending the space from the back of your head forward, out of memory or practice, to the forehead… then to the eyes… and to the palate. By extending that space, everything opens. Then once we’ve planted our flag there, once we gain that dimension [of awareness] with some capacity, we then extend farther down into the throat chakra, the heart… and by heart we mean the middle of the chest, that little doorway below the breast bone. After we’ve got that down, we can extend to the navel… and to the bottom of the body between the anus and sexual center… all that unborn sound, stillness, and space. With that, we really do know that our awareness is not our mind, and we can actually begin to integrate the mind. Having done that reversal, we can integrate thinking and feeling and sensation into this space.
As you and I become aware of awareness, as we suspend our mind, there is intensity, what they call rigpa or excitatoriness. There is actually an excitement, but we’re trying to have this intensity in a very soft body. So we are experimenting, and everybody is getting much better at this [at holding this intensity]. We’re not in a collapsed state, or floundering around like a fish on a pier. We feel this intensity that permeates our bodies, and we are relaxed. We work on that [on holding intensity in relaxation] because the tendency is to tense the body. As we allow ourselves to feel the intensity in soft relaxation without effort, then the body itself begins to absorb [energy], and out of the softness arises the water-like quality of the rigpa, the awareness state.
We’re also discovering that our awareness is a field. Though theoretically the field is infinite in its horizons, until we experience all of those [infinite] dimensions, it’s [just] a belief. Don’t believe it, and you won’t be disappointed. But as we learn to extend the awareness through our bodies, through each other, through the dimensions of our ancestors and traditions, through our teachers, and deities, we start feeling lots of support. Like the self-object function, it [awareness] becomes pervasive. In this way the body is really brought into the field, and the field infuses the body. The body then becomes the field, which some of you guys are feeling. Your bodies are becoming more porous and filled with luminosity. You can be sick, not feel well -- and that is not necessarily part of the deal, – yet you can still feel your body becoming more luminous. It’s the same thing with the mind. As we bring the mind into the field, it also becomes infused and organized by the field, becoming the field more and more. We are all learning that [process] step by step. We can then feel the power of extension. It’s through extension that we not only hold the field, but also enter it and become it – become this natural resonance.
As you and I bring the self forth, bring the field forth, which is the non-representational, non-conceptual dimension of us, at first we hold the field – enter it, – and then we become it. AHAM AH – I am becoming what I am. Then different things can come up, different affects and feelings, but we really have to be skillful and know how to integrate everything into the awareness state: Depression arises, loss arises, emptiness arises, and we take it as the field. We pull it into the field. We use the vortexes [vortices] when it’s really dense and locked up tight.
This becoming of the field, -- and I’m picking up from the word ‘co-emergent’ from the chant, -- is a co-emergent process. It’s not like suddenly you are in the field, and everybody you see here is a projection of your own mind, all delusion or illusion. That would not be a happy group. Without understanding, however, you may perhaps have to think that way at first – that everything is a delusion – so you can start seeing the light and experience awareness as a co-emergent and unfolding process. In that way, in a pragmatic and arbitrary way, you know [you don’t think…you just know]. You [as a separate individual] no longer exist for you are only light [you are all light]. You leave it [individuality] for awhile, and you start seeing [in the field]…
But this is a realistic time. We value realism here. American pragmatism. So, to open the door [to awareness], you want to see this [opening] as a co-emergent process. It’s a concomitant experience. As you enter the field and become the field, the field arises within you and through you; the field will also arise in the environment around you. The perception [perceiving things through the field] will arise. Theoretically the field is every place, but as it arises in you perceptually – you see it, feel it, taste it – out of the co-emergence, the field begins to arise also in the person who is with you. As the field arises in me, it arises in Skip. As it arises in Skip, it arises in me. As the field experience arises in both of us and in-between us as oneness, it’s now manifesting itself in the room. That is why you can feel the field all around you. As you enter deeply into and become the field, the field comes forth between you and the other, whether it’s a person, dog, cat, room, or artifacts… This has been our experience. The field arises between you and the world, between you and a place. Thus the true oneness is between you and the field –between the field within you and the field within the other. As you begin to feel the field in yourself, out of resonance, you begin to feel it in the other. As you begin to experience the co-emergence of the field in yourself and in the other, the field gets stronger and stronger in that circle. If Skip feels the field emerging in him, it’s more likely, out of attunement, that I am going to feel the field arising not only in me, but also in him. As one stays with this, as the intensity of the field grows, as the pervasiveness grows, it’s one field and two configurations. First of all, the field feels like it’s in me, then I feel it in Skip, then out of resonance we start experiencing it together.
Then there is a shift, and you both feel you are in the field and feel that the person is just a configuration of the field. It doesn’t mean he’s not there, or I’m not there; it’s just a pattern of awareness. Having this understanding, allows one to have this experience. If, however, it’s foreclosed, you might have the experiences but it’s just an event. Understanding is really useful in this stuff, not a lot of understanding [thinking], but co-emergence is very important to understand. So, experientially, there is one field and two configurations. It can be the same with a lot of people. There can be configurations upon configurations of this person, in this room, on this street and in this city. All of these great configurations are having this unfolding [of co-emergent awareness].
Why would you want to think this? Why is it useful to sense the co-emergence as a practice? It is because you will get oneness in a more efficient and fast way. If I attune to you, and you attune to me, we feel the field arising; it gets more powerful in you and me. Then it starts to expand beyond us, and that same resonance starts to be felt elsewhere. It is not simply a projection of resonance. It is the natural power of resonance for both animate and inanimate things to come forth out of resonance. As we practice with other things, like the environment – flowers, gardens, thangkas, – we will start to feel that energy coming forth. As you get better at that [feeling that co-emergent resonance], you will feel the light coming forth. This is really useful. You can believe it as much as you want, and nothing is going to happen. If you practice it, it will happen. We’ve all felt this [field arising] in each other, in a group, and in a place.
The skillful means that we have been practicing with each other are direct methods of bringing forth the field in a co-emergent way, in a concomitant way. If the field is arising in you, it will arise in me in a co-emergent way. As it emerges in me, it emerges in you. As it emerges in us, it emerges in the room, and then [together] in myself and you. This co-emergence does not necessarily happen automatically. To experience the givenness to this [to this arising of a co-emergent, resonant field], there is a certain type of attunement that is necessary at the level of perception. Some people are very open at the level of perception, but they don’t do the work, so they have a [weak] base [an undeveloped vase body]. So it’s like living in a hurricane all the time. This throws them, and that throws them. They have the capacity to perceive the subtle energy that makes up the world, but without stability of awareness, it’s a rough trip.
Having the capacity is not the whole story. Sometimes people feel its better not to have that capacity because people feel it’s hard to be in the world if you are constantly being thrown… That is why stability of awareness is important so we can go further. First, you suspend your mind to get that stability. Without it you can’t go any place. You can have a few visions here and there, but that’s not really it – so ultimately I am encouraging everybody to practice, more than five minutes a day, holding awareness and gaining stability. As you gain stability you will be less thrown. You can be a brilliant person and have intuition that is fantastic, but unless it’s stabilized, you are a loose bullet.
The level of the field, the intensity of the field that we can hold, reflects levels of attunement and resonance. That is really what we do here. I give a talk, and then we hold the levels of resonance and attunement, getting better and better at it. The field is a sphere that can be spheres within spheres, but there are different aspects of it [of the field as sphere]. Often in the Tibetan and Sanskrit stuff they will speak about the sphere. So this is not my own invention. As this wonderful root tantra I am asking you guys to get, “The Sovereign, All-Creating Mind” says… as the supreme source, [which is] pure and total consciousness, says: “Oh great Bodhisattvas, focus on the sound. Focus on the vibration, on the energy. I will explain the true meaning to you. I, the supreme source, the ultimate nature of awareness am the fundamental substance of all phenomena, the ineffable essence that from the very beginning is a sphere. Sphere precisely indicates that which has already transcended concepts.” –Meaning it is not a concept. You can think about it but it’s not just an idea, it is a reality. “The teachers, the teachings, the students, the epochs, the places all arise from me and remain the primordial sphere. For my nature is this sphere. “
So, glad everyone is here. We’ve been focusing a lot on that ritual that we’ve been doing together in couples [dyads]. What ritual? The ritual of transmitting the thought-free state and have people come into the inner heart essence, thereby helping provide more resonance at the level of perceiving luminosity through the eyes and further opening the field. We’ve been experiencing the one heart and the sense of the cranial vault through the heart, ears and eyes, and being able to open the eyes in that intensity of the oneness. All of these techniques are a function of oneness and stability of awareness. We’ve also focused on the postures which we will again do today. As a person comes in to see you a couple of times, and they get that form [practice holding a posture], then by that raising [of energy] through the strength of their arms, that triangle opens up, and the energy goes straight through into the earth, and you start feeling that [strength and energy arising from and ] through the earth itself, which really gives you stability. The opening is stability. Then that brings us to this other experience that we might go into today, where out of that powerful opening, the rolling thunder starts to rise up, and you feel that sense of “Oh my God!” . The tendency is to pull in, out of fear, but actually you need to release energy, to let it rise up into the belly, and to let the belly stick out a bit, let the belly relax. You really have to go with it [the kundalini rising] and let those chakras become one. The body then starts to feel as if it is one chakra.
I am just going to run through some postures before we start working together. So we started Togal [the Dzogchen practice of gazing], and then stopped it so we could go back and learn to be with the intensity in a relaxed fashion and also to be able to see luminosity. Now we are going to learn these postures. There are three or four of them. One posture is a classical posture of Togal, which is called the vajra posture with your hands like this; sitting in the dark or gazing at the sky, you sit like this… This [position] is called the dharmakaya posture [the lion pose]. And here I think that two awarenesses are better than one. If two people are in these postures, it gets more intense. You sit, mouth open and gaze. As your mouth opens and you feel the energy, you will feel it down your whole body. If you felt that when we did the leg thing, then you will now feel the opening deep into the earth. We’ll be doing this [practice] for the next couple of months… So that is one posture. Then there is another one. I’m not sure if it’s sambhogakaya [posture] or what, but it’s like this [the reclining elephant pose] … Here is another one [pose is not clarified, but likely nirmanakaya posture of the sage].
[A brief description of all three postures is provided at the end of this text.]
At this point, Rudy goes too far away from the microphone to hear… A woman in the seminar then comments, “You’ve spoken about allowing the stomach to be really soft and come forward and the natural tendency is to pull it back in. I found that with everything, all of the techniques or just sitting in meditation, if my stomach is a little bit forward, everything opens up tremendously.”
[Rudy responds, but not audible on the microphone…] Okay, let’s practice this. We’ll pair up now…
[Editor’s note: What follows is a brief description of the three postures discussed in the above talk. Similar descriptions may be found in the Yeshe Lama and Wisdom Guru texts. Each posture is done in a relaxed way so that the body is not held excessively tightly:
Dharmakaya posture of the lion: Sit with the knees bent so that the two soles of the feet meet in front of the body. Keep the head up, but allow the weight of the head to rest squarely upon the neck. Clench the fingers into vajra fists (thumbs on inside of fist so fingers curl over thumb) and place the fists just in front the feet. Lean on your fists as you simultaneously stretch the upper torso upwards with the back arched in toward the belly. Now direct the gaze to the mid-position in front of the body and gaze into emptiness. Some texts direct the gaze be upward in this posture.
Samboghakaya posture of the sleeping elephant: In the kneeling posture, cross the ankles behind you. Tilt the trunk of the body forward and rest the bent elbows on the ground in front of you with the inner surfaces of the wrists touching one another so that your palms face upward. Rest the chin comfortably in the palms of your hands. Lift the ankles, still crossed, off of the ground so that only the knees and elbows are touching the ground. Now, gaze gently ahead. Some texts direct the gaze be from side-to-side in this posture.
Nirmanakaya posture of the sage: Sitting with back straight, bring both knees into a tucked position toward the chest. Rest the soles of the feet firmly on the ground. Clasp the arms around the knees so that one hand touches the opposite elbow. Some texts direct the gaze be downward in this posture.