Stopping the Inner Winds Part I & IIAug 20, 2021
Stopping the Inner Winds - The Key to Higher Fruit
Aug 4, 2020
by Dharma Bodhi
Let’s imagine you are walking a long way in the wilderness and you become thirsty. You happen upon small puddles of still water. What is the correct way to drink to avoid becoming sick from the putrid water?
The surface water contains all the newly fallen debris, large and small particles, both visible and invisible. The water resting on the bottom also contains debris, this debris is much older. The debris on the surface is also agitated by wind, changes in temperature, etc. The debris at the base remains fairly constant and unmoving, slowly, steadily accumulating mass.
To drink the pure water you have to get your drinking reed or straw right in the middle, between these two layers of debris, and not agitate the debris on bottom or top while drinking. This is the way you can safely drink without as much risk of poisoning.
The process of spiritual realization of one’s True Nature is closely analogous to drinking pure water in the wild.
The entire path boils down to this guiding principle:
Do not agitate your debris.
All of the methods that we learn and practice in the 5 Ways of Practice, and all of the 5 Ways themselves are aimed at one overall result – teaching ourselves to let our inner winds come to a rest. It matters not what stage of the path we are traversing. The advice is always to not agitate our inner winds.
The newly fallen surface debris in the wild drinking water which is full of animal waste, mineral dust, algae, micro-organisms, etc. is analogous to our current situation and the way we are agitated by people, objects and situations. Our agitation is a result of desire. We desire something, we are attached. Or we have the desire to not have something, aversion, we resist.
Like the newly fallen debris in the water…our situational karma is coming to us each moment. Our attention is seized by the stimuli of each moment and we lose awareness. Our distracted minds meet the karma with attraction or aversion. This immediately conditions us, further entrenching the karma of our reactionary mind.
Our loss of awareness is due to agitation of our inner winds. The distracted mind making contact with the objects of the senses creates more agitation of the inner winds, and so does the resultant attachment, aversion, emotion, and self-identity formed from these movements. The surface of our puddle is disturbed.
The deeper debris in the puddle relates to the deeper karmas that have been stored and reified over countless moments of distraction over countless lives. This is what we misidentify with, and why we continually suffer and take re-birth. These deeper karmic patterns appear to be quiescent, but they are not. They are merely hidden from our distracted mind. They are pre-formed and therefore escape our detection during our everyday activities. Nonetheless, they form the unconscious mechanism for decision making and action, even those decisions that appear to be “spontaneous”.
If we do not remain in a state of awareness of our mind’s True Nature, the surface debris (our being conditioned by each moment) remains unrecognized, sinks to the bottom and becomes part of our unconscious karmas. This process is always happening until we stop it.
And, this deeper debris at the bottom of our cyclic re-birth puddle, that we all unconsciously host can become agitated by the surface debris, the wind, any number of stimulating factors. It can become more active. It is disturbed or agitated inner winds. When it is agitated it floats up the surface to feed a current situation, and in doing so makes murky and poisons the pure layer of water in between the surface agitation and the storage in the depths.
We can have a situation, a reaction, a memory, a self-thought,…anything could possibly disturb the deeper stored unconscious layers of karmic self-story and cause the karmic pattern to rise to the surface of the puddle of our mind to become a fascinating topic for discussion, a re-hashing of a wound story, etc.
The key to real consistent spiritual path work is to not agitate your inner winds. Ambition, desires, unnecessary thinking, unnecessary physical activity, self-thoughts, any “strenuous activity” IS AGITATION OF THE INNER WINDS. What is “strenuous activity” that is to be avoided? It is any activity of body, speech, and mind that isn’t naturally arising from the authentic need of the moment. Even spiritual work can fall into this category of “strenuousness” if we’re not careful. This agitation will cause more agitation of your inner winds.
The mind is carried on the inner winds. When they come to rest, so does the mind. When the mind is at rest in its own nature and we recognize this is so without initiating discursive thinking, we have found the Base of the spiritual path and of life itself.
Therefore, the most important principle leading us to authentic spiritual realization is to learn to no longer agitate our inner winds. Each of the 5 Ways of Practice of Trika Mahāsiddha Yoga have this aim as their overarching goal.
Many moments of the day… Stop. Don’t agitate. Let all settle.
Stopping the Inner Winds - The Importance of Having a Progressive Spiritual Path
Jan 10, 2021
By Dharma Bodhi
In Part 1 of “Stopping the Inner Winds” I gave a detailed explanation of how the moment to moment situational karma and deeper stored karmic conditioning continually produce what can be referred to as “karmic pressure” that agitates the inner winds of our channels and therefore our mind, thus obscuring our mind’s True Nature.
Here in Part 2 I want to describe another major obstacle to the relaxation of our inner winds and therefore a major obstacle to our stable realization.
Each week I will receive on average between 1 and 5 requests for spiritual guidance from students of spirituality all across the globe. From dialoguing with them and occasionally attempting to guide them, I found a common characteristic of the modern seeker that prevents them from attaining that which they seek.
All classical nondual meditation and yoga traditions that arose in Central Asia such as those comprising the Way of the Mahāsiddhas (Śaivism, Vajrāyana, Bön, Dzogchen, Zhengyi Dao), emphasize certain aspects of the tradition as “objects of refuge” or essential aspects of the tradition one must immerse in, and commit to, if one is to truly become realized.
The aspect of spiritual practice that I see missing the most in modern seekers is – The Path.
After speaking with many modern seekers it became clear that instead of taking refuge in the sublime Path as set down by the ancients, modern seekers attempt to follow a path of their own construction. They go to workshops, lectures, retreats, read books, attend online trainings, take psychoactive substances all in an attempt to create “their path”.
The desire to go it alone comes from many causes. Let’s explore a few of them in an attempt to help you discover if any of these incorrect views regarding the path are still holding back your progress.
- Ignorance of the Path.
It is often the case that many of us start out on our spiritual journey without having made contact with an established nondual Dharma tradition. We simply do not know the critical external components that are necessary for attaining highest realization. And I should interject for a moment that this whole discussion of the Path is predicated on the aspirant having correct knowledge of the Fruit of the Path. For without correct knowledge of the Fruit how can a practitioner know that they need a Path.
So one problem is not knowing the View and therefore the Fruit and the necessity of the Path to reach the fruit. In the beginning, most of us bumble along until we figure this out, and then we set about to find the Path with which we have a karmic connection. And that’s ok, in fact it can be quite a normal and part of the process and will not cause us much of a problem, as long as we make it to a real Path sooner rather than later.
- Eclectic Collecting of Spiritual Techniques in guise of the Path.
Here is where many get stuck. Today it’s so easy to pick up techniques, ideas, teachings, etc. without ever having to commit to a Path or to the teacher of that Path. This is the situation that many who ask me for advice find themselves in. People fool themselves into thinking that a Path is merely a collection of spiritual methods or techniques.
They will often say things like…”Can you give me a good mantra or practice for x,y,z purpose.” My response is always the same… “What Path do you follow and who is your teacher?”
The usual answer is that they don’t have a teacher or follow a set Path. I then explain as compassionately as possible that I cannot simply parachute into the middle of their lifelong process and magically deliver something that will bring them to the next level of….what?...they have no Path, no way to measure their progress or what they actually need.
After we talk for a while they begin to realize that they don’t know what they actually need because they have no Path or real comprehension of the View. This conversation typically ends with me not giving any spiritual techniques, but instead encouraging them to pick a Path and find a teacher of that Path (see the Trika Mahāsiddha Yoga YouTube Channel series on How to Pick a Teacher if this sounds like you).
Quite often the eclectic pursuit of techniques in the guise of an actual Path is an innocent error, but this mode can also arise from strong pridefully egoic causes. Some spiritual aspirants feel they are too special or too smart (smarter than the teacher) to follow a Path. They feel it will restrict them and slow them down. Also their pride will not let them recognize that they are karmically linked another human being and that the person is essential to their process coming to full fruition.
A fair percentage of people who contact me for advice or one to one teachings are already teachers, giving workshops, writing books, and guiding people in their spiritual process…never having followed the Path from A to Z under the kind guidance of a guru, lama or daoshi. What do they teach?…typically they teach their own ad hoc collection of spiritual techniques they learned along the way and/or made up themselves, resting on a grand spiritual experience they had. You can imagine that this conversation doesn’t go very far as there is nothing I can do to assist this person.
- Fear and Suspicion of the Path.
Then there is a whole collection of people that feel that following a traditional Path actually damaged them, and are fearful and suspicious of the Path and teachers going forward. It is unfortunate to throw out an essential component of the spiritual journey because of a bad experience with a path or a teacher. If I took this position, I never would have continued on my spiritual journey to receive amazing blessings and instructions from my masters, because in my earlier years I trained with teachers who ranged from careless to downright harmful. One of my teachers, whom I learned a tremendous amount from, actually tried to pray me to death when he saw that I was progressing in the practices that he gave me! Initially I was very confused. How could this man whom I loved and cherished, and who had taught me secrets of self-realization want to harm me? It was only many years later that I understood how someone can appear to be highly realized but actually only possess siddhis or magic powers and insights.
I could have felt damaged by his non-consensual psychic invasions into my sleep every night (actually he never let me go to sleep for many days, as soon as I closed my eyes his face would be there talking to me), but instead I simply cut ties, gave gratitude for what I had learned and prayed for him to change his ways in order to become the good teacher he potentially was.
I’m not at all insensitive to the pain of people who were hurt in non-consensual activities with “teachers”. But at some point in the healing process if the aspirant is to reach the Fruit of the View, then they will have to again find a Path and a teacher of that Path. They’ll have to start again using their previous experiences as essential learning. They must persevere in the search for their True Nature and not be blown off course by a never-ending search for personal security.
- The Cup is Full.
Every martial arts teacher and every guru, lama and daoshi that I ever trained with had me start from step one in their Path REGARDLESS of what I had accomplished before…and I would have it no other way.
It is impossible to successfully jump into a Path without going through the foundation training of that Path. All too often I am approached by people who have done some training in other paths. They say they feel connected to the TMY View and want to be trained. I say,… “Ok, let’s get started with the Preliminaries and Foundations of TMY.” But they say they want to start with some intermediate or advanced practices. When I tell them that’s not possible they decide to not train with me.
What would they do if they had encountered Master Woo, Chai Meng, one of my greatest masters who lived to be over 100 years old. Master Woo knew my spiritual resumé, but still made me come to see him every year for 10 years to request teachings before he finally admitted me to his school.
We must empty our cup before we come to any new Path or teacher. When I asked my lama for refuge and instructions in the Path of Dzogchen I requested to start at step zero even though I was already an Ācārya of Śaivism. My lama tested my ego for 3 years by telling me I should start teaching right away, that my level of realization was quite high, etc.
I knew he was testing me. I saw others receive the same adulation and they went out and began teaching and writing books. But I didn’t take the bait. And after 3 years of me performing practice and continually requesting to be taken down the traditional and complete Path from A to Z, he kindly submitted to my supplications and began to teach the real Path to me.
- Community as Path
One of the main obstacles I see is people being confused into thinking that a type of quasi-path...and lifestyle that has no name is a real Path to liberation. Let me try to explain. Basically, I see people gathering into communities to experience the strength and beauty of a spiritually intent community, without a well-defined Path and teacher or lineage. Where I live in Costa Rica people regularly gather for drumming circles, kirtan, to take frog medicine or worship the Chocoalte plant, to trance dance, etc.
Many of these communities are strongly influenced by shamanism which is a path of healing and not spiritual liberation. And there's nothing wrong with these activities and forming a community around them, but they are not a Path to liberation. And this has to be made clear.
There is also the notion that the community of practitioners of a nondual Dharma tradition are the actual guru and that a physical human teacher is no longer required...that the community is the guru and the path. I think this started with a famous Vietnamese Zen master who himself was realized by all accounts.
As much as I respect this master for all of his great teaching and service in the world I think he made an error in this pronouncement, which many people are now following as a way to avoid the difficulties one has to work through in a real commitment to a Path and a teacher.
In conclusion, to take refuge in the Path is a tremendous aid in quelling the Inner Winds and allowing the mind to relax into its own Nature. Having commitment to the Path removes fear and doubt, organizes and focuses our energy, and hastens liberation.
May All Beings be Blessed with Meeting the True Path!