Email September 16, 2006
In the left ventricle of gorgeous San Francisco (having a weather-perfect
>Of course, Ramon, we all are seeking some kind of bliss. But that is the
>nature of our self-centered pleasure-seeking ego. Our Natural State seeks
>nothing at all.
If the 'Natural State' is what lives in my heart of hearts, then I
'heartily' agree, because the Natural State is Total Contentment.
And quoting your excellent Bob O'Hearn quote:
>...thus we sit in the unknown, as the unknown, and in
>the midst of the ashes of all our beliefs and ideas, a kind of sprout
>may push up, breaking through the dreamy fabric of our consciousness,
>a kind of awake-ness, and this awake-ness has no name, though people
>like to name, and so we have all the sutras and commentaries and
>what-not, but at heart, it is really a very simple thing, the most
>simple thing there is, our original innocence.
I especially and literally note O'Hearn's 'at heart.' Our Natural State of
Original Innocence is Total Contentment.
>Again, like the glowing luminescence of compassionate resonance that
"backflows" upon our own Presence. More commonly known as the "joy of giving"
Yes, wonderful! Compassion for all suffering spontaneously arises.
>I would disagree with the premise of the book you quote. No one really knows
>for sure one word that the Buddha actually stated... it's all "hearsay". BUT
>we do have many testaments of recent "Buddhas" who offer a differing view. I am
>clearly in their camp.
Only disagreement I have with Ajahn Brahm is that I really do wonder whether
ALL eight jhana absorptions occur beyond the five senses. Otherwise, I'll
stick with his quotes from the earliest sutras instead of 'more recent
Have there really been more recent 'Buddhas'? I sure hope so, but such a
distant hope! If there really was a Buddha living amongst us, wouldn't the
impact of such a presence be felt more widely? If Buddha has followed Buddha
upon the world stage since Siddartha, don't you think we as a life form
would have evolved further? (Actually, now I think upon it, I was introduced
to an official "Living Buddha" from Tibet in the elevator going up to the Scientific
American Magazine offices in 1955.)
I suppose you can argue that there always have been 'evolved' entities
hidden away here and there, but I think we're way past the time for such
privileged hierarchies and 'special cases,' yes? We're looking for an easy
(Yes, easy, as Mama promised us), universally accessible, immediately
enthralling and blissful way for the average Joe, between time-outs in the
football game, to drop into his heart and stay there as permanently as
possible. Of course, you can say that Dzogchen points out the easiest
path, and in a certain sense this is true, AS LONG AS the person has
established themselves in a daily practice of some seriousness. But I'm
after the 'basket cases' and 'impossibles,' as a friend of mine named some
of the characters at our hippie communes. And for this reason I'm interested
in very very easy initial entry exercises into bliss-soaked meditation,
inasmuch as it's bliss that leads to relaxed one-pointedness. When Ajahn
Brahm describes various ways to keep one's attention on 'the beautiful
breath' (such as thanking the trees and plants that make oxygen for you, and
realizing how you make CO2 for them), I make a note of this suggestion to
pass on to others.
>Much of what you write about is definitely biased toward trying to experience
>some "blissful" or "pleasurable" experience. Experience is not Rigpa, even a
>fantastic and marvelous blissful and joyous state.
I think there are states of 'well-being' that have no opposite. More like
Ken Wilber's 'stages' (levels) -- Archaic, Magic, Mythic, Mental,
Pluralistic, Integral -- that once achieved, become permanent and include
all the previous ones. States (experiences) never are permanent (gross,
subtle, causal, nondual) and can be experienced on any stage. Thus a Nazi
can achieve satori, and in Ken's view, 'Nazis' make up about 70 percent of
our world population today, trapped on the enthnocentric (Mythic) level or
lower. This is why it's so important that we find easy and immediately
bliss-inducing exercises to haul these folks up a notch or three.
>Rigpa is THAT which experiences that blissful state. But to Rigpa, the
>experiences are all the same (suffering or pleasure)... just another reflection
>appearing in the mirror of our infinite experiences. We are the "mirror" and
>the reflections that arise from us and within us as mirror, have no benefit
>whether pleasurable of painful. Rigpa neither seeks pleasure nor avoids pain
Sounds a little Stoic... Since planetary living is made up of 'experiences,'
and despite the fact that Rigpa is indifferent to both pleasure and pain,
out of the depth of my compassion that also includes compassion for my
'horse,' Ego (mind), I will encourage those stages in my horse that bring
joy and relief from suffering in the same way I would encourage the same for
others, or I would wrap an ace bandage around a sore fetlock. I think an
unrecognized puritanism has crept into some Buddhism that frowns upon
so-called 'bliss bunnyhood' and tends to promote 'dry' insight instead --
sort of unfortunate, in my opinion, because this makes the ride a whole lot
rougher - sort of like a vehicle in need of a lube job.
> As long as suffering exists, the heart of the Bodhisattva is fully engaged in
>relieving that pain in any and every way possible.
'The heart of the Bodhisattva.' Well said! And of course reliving the pain
in one's own mind as well by dismounting from the mind, unsaddling it, and
putting it out to graze 'in the fields of the Lord...'
Starting 'top-down' with the Dzogchen approach is of course very interesting
for the advanced student who has spent years perfecting various meditation
'tools'. But for the vast majority of us, a step-by-step approach is more
useful. For example, although one-pointedness - ekkagata - is mentioned
frequently in various texts - it's only rarely that one reads that
concentration - one-pointedness - is important to achieve because without it
certain energy flows are blocked in the meridians. Once acquired, one can
relax away from 'willing' it, and concentration remains .
There is a subtle 'bliss' energy that has no opposite because it's always
there, beyond the dualities. For example, beyond the dualities of the in and
out breath sensation' there is a more subtle energy sensation that is
constant - the so-called 'subtle breath'.
This all reminds me of a similar conversation I had in 1967 where I defended
'enlightenment' as 'sitting in your puddle of peace' to someone else's more
nihilistic 'enlightenment as sitting in nothingness'. But how can you be
sure you're not just 'nothinging out' if you did not get there on the jhana
elevator? Even the Buddha says:
There is no Jhana without wisdom
There is no wisdom without Jhana
But for one with both Jhana and wisdom
They are in the presence of Nibbana
The bottom line on bliss for me is that the bliss that arises from deeper
and deeper lettings-go is not coming from attachment. Yee haw! And the much
touted Relaxation Response is more than just 'no suffering reporting in.' I
think true relaxation - letting go - is an immersion in a bubbly bath of
happy heart energies.
(off to feed my horse Ego a carrot)
On second thought, let's end with a little more Ajahn Brahm from his essay,
"The Bliss of Letting Go," that I think bridges jax and my views:
... a meditator who has familiarity with Jhanas will recognise them as
blissful states of letting go, and it is right there, in the experience of
letting go, letting go, that the relevance of Jhana is known. The First
Jhana is the natural result of letting go of the concern for sensory
pleasure (Kama Sukha), by which is meant all concern, even for mere comfort,
in the realm of the five external senses (sight, sound, smell, taste and
touch). In the First Jhana, through sustained and complete removal of all
interest in these five senses the meditator loses all sense of the body, and
these five external senses disappear. They abide wholly in the sixth sense
that is pure mind, and are still, in blissful inner silence. The Buddha
called this "The Bliss of Renunciation", or the bliss of letting go. The
Second Jhana is the natural result of abandoning a very subtle movement of
attention towards and holding onto this blissful mind object. When this
final 'wobbling' of attention is let go of, one experiences the even more
pleasurable bliss of full inner stillness (Samadhi), where the mind is
absolutely one -pointed and motionless. The Third Jhana is the natural
result of letting go of the subtle excitement of rapture, and the Fourth
Jhana is the natural result of letting go of happiness itself, so as to
enjoy the most profound and immovable mental equanimity.
In Buddhism, experience, not speculation, and even less blind belief, is the
criterion for understanding. A meditator simply does not realise what
stillness, rapture, happiness or equanimity fully mean until they have
become familiar with the Jhanas. But the experience of the Jhanas, these
stages of letting go, give one direct understanding through experience of
these mental phenomena, in particular happiness (Sukha) and suffering
I'll have mine over-easy with a sprinkle of Amrita, thanks!
email September 10, 2006
Dear R: Thank you so much, as always, for your very helpful postings!
As I mentioned earlier, I'm delighted to find the phrase in Lopon Tenzin
Namdak, "If the eyes do not move, the mind does not move." It's the same as
the one I frequently mention, "If the eyes wander, the mind wanders."
Of course science will tell us that it's impossible to still the eyes in
terms of their micro-movements (saccades), but I think that's a topic for
Also, I noted Lopon Tenzin Namdak's phrase: "If possible, there is no
I do wonder, however, about his "Maintaining acute fixation for too long can
What is 'too long', and also what 'problems' arise?
I always pay attention to body signals in order not to 'overdo.'
Quoting again: "If we continue to practice in this way, we will come to
experience a feeling of happiness in the mind and a pleasurable sensation in
But "This is not yet Rigpa," as Lopon Tenzin Namdak also writes. However for
us slowpokes, it's good to get the preliminaries straight.
> But as we do consider things as outside of this Natural State when the
> session of meditation is completed, it is a different matter. At this later
> time, it is necessary to know with mind what the qualities of this Natural
> State are.
It seems that "a feeling of happiness in the mind and a pleasurable
sensation in the body" after eye fixation continue if I simply reverse the
tongue and create a slight vacuum, either pulsing with the heartbeat or just
holding still. Of course the reversed tongue (mini-kechari?) can be
combined with the eye fixation - perhaps best.
I find that a certain sideways tremor of the body begins during fixation,
and sometimes also the head nods, but relaxing more deeply seems to
The eye fixation really recreates the Sambhavi mudra (eyes up into the
forehead with a slight frown), doesn't it?
Here are some more notes I made a few days ago on tratakam:
Smiling 'widely' and fixating without blinking (tratakam in Patanjali) on a
small dot (size of a period) 4 feet in front of my eyes, after about ten
seconds comes a mild sensation of 'dryness' on the eyes followed by a
pleasant energy in the solar plexus that spreads to the arms and feet --
actually to the whole body. By twenty seconds, tears accumulate that the
'scrunched-up' lower lids (from the broad smile) hold against the corneas
and thus moderate the 'dryness' sensation as the energies flowing through
the body and limbs intensify. A slight sideways tremor comes and goes around
the 60-secnd mark, and occasionally a blink happens, so I raise my eyebrows
slightly, keeping the smile wide, and the tears are contained by the lower
Three minutes is about as long as I go before relaxing totally. The energies
continue flowing in a kind of bubbly relaxation response for some minutes
after. It seems as if the one-pointedness of mind created by this exercise
continues even if the eyes begin to move and blink naturally. Thus it's
a good entry-exercise for normal meditation, but thoughts really do seem to
disappear during those three minutes -- perhaps because my attention is
locked onto the eyes?
If I now close my eyes completely and focus on a dot -bindu - on the inside
of the eyelids, it seems as if I can more easily enter into a deeper state.
Does this make sense to anyone?
A variation on this exercise: on the inhale, roll one's eyes upwards
(sambhavi mudra) as far as possible (without straining or doing anything
painful), and then hold them there as you breathe normally four or five
breaths. Then lower the eyes and relax. This also triggers perceptible
energy flow in the same way as the tratakam exercise. Frowning slightly
helps fix the gaze there.
Once I found a wonderful photo of a yogi in a very fierce sambhavi mudra -
wish I knew where!
Of course your mileage may vary, and please don't do anything painful!
Beams and Blessings,
email September 7 2006
I recently learned that pacifiers have made a big hit at Raves among the 'X' crowd because if releases jaw
tension. I've been doing my 200 soft palate and uvula sucks first thing upon awakening, and finding that
it triggers a very warm feeling 4 inches below my navel -- really great! As I said earlier, I think it's connected with peristalsis (the 'waves' that push food through your digestive tract) and think also
other things happen.
Today I Googled the research journals and brought up some interesting info, which I attach below for the scientifically inclined:
Title: Pacifier use modifies infant's cardiac autonomic controls during sleep
Author(s): Franco P, Chabanski S, Scaillet S, Groswasser J, Kahn A
Source: EARLY HUMAN DEVELOPMENT 77 (1-2): 99-108 APR 2004
Abstract: Objective: The risk for sudden infant death (SIDS) was postulated to decrease with the use of a
pacifier and by conditions increasing parasympathetic tonus during sleep. We evaluated the influence of
a pacifier on cardiac autonomic controls in healthy infants.
. . . .
Sucking periods were associated with increases in cardiac sympathovagal balance. During non-sucking periods,
in both REM and NREM sleep, infants using a pacifier were characterized by lower sympathetic
activity and higher parasympathetic tonus compared with non-pacifier users. Conclusions: The use of
pacifiers modifies cardiac autonomic controls during both sucking and non-sucking sleep periods.
Non-nutritive sucking could regulate autonomic control in infants. These findings could be relevant to
mechanisms implicated in the occurrence of sudden infant deaths during sleep. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ireland
Ltd. All rights reserved.
from the somewhat uninteresting
Non-nutritive sucking during SPT was associated with a reduction in heart rate and increased oxygen saturation.
There is a large volume of literature on the effects of non-nutritive sucking on heart rate and
24. Pinelli J, Symington A. Non-nutritive sucking for promoting physiologic stability and nutrition in
preterm infants. (Update in Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews 2001;(3):CD001071; PMID: 11686975).
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2000;(2):CD001071.
25. Shiao SY, Chang YJ, Lannon H, et al. Meta-analysis of the effects of nonnutritive sucking on heart rate
and peripheral oxygenation: research from the past 30 years. Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing
26. DiPietro JA, Cusson RM, Caughy MO, et al. Behavioral and physiologic effects of nonnutritive sucking
during gavage feeding in preterm infants. Pediatr Res 1994;36:207-14.[Abstract]
27. Treloar DM. The effect of nonnutritive sucking on oxygenation in healthy, crying full-term infants. Appl
Nurs Res 1994;7:52-8.[Medline]
28. Paludetto R, Robertson SS, Hack M, et al. Transcutaneous oxygen tension during nonnutritive sucking in
preterm infants. Pediatrics 1984;74:539-42.[Abstract]
During sucking movements a sinusoidal-like heart rate pattern appears. .. N Engl J Med 1997; 336; 1329-30;
Peirano P, Algarin C, Uauy R Sleep-wake states ...
CAN'T OPEN THIS PAGE
Early Human Development
Volume 77, Issues 1-2 , April 2004, Pages 99-108
Pacifier use modifies infant's cardiac autonomic controls during sleep
Anger and jealousy are stirred in adults who see a child satisfying herself blissfully and in public. "Some
grown-ups cannot tolerate their own needy feelings," notes Dr. Marilyn Meese, a child
psychologist. "If they don't try to make your child stop, their mastery over their own needs will
Patricia Franco Corresponding Author Contact Information, a, Corresponding Author Contact Information,
E-mail The Corresponding Author, Sophie Chabanskib, Sonia Scailleta, José Groswassera and
Sleep and Development Unit, University Children's Hospital Queen Fabiola, Free University of Brussels,
Avenue JJ Crocq 15, 1020, Brussels, Belgium
b Atech, Respironics, Brussels, Belgium
Accepted 16 February 2004. Available online 14 April 2004
Objective: The risk for sudden infant death (SIDS) was postulated to decrease with the use of a pacifier and
by conditions increasing parasympathetic tonus during sleep. We evaluated the influence of a
pacifier on cardiac autonomic controls in healthy infants. Study design: Thirty-four healthy infants
were studied polygraphically during one night: 17 infants regularly used a pacifier during sleep and 17
never used a pacifier. Thumb users or occasional pacifier users were not included in the study. The
infants were recorded at a median age of 10 weeks (range 6-18 weeks). Autonomic nervous system (ANS) was
evaluated by spectral analysis of the heart rate (HR). The high frequency component of HR spectral
analysis reflected parasympathetic tonus and the low frequency on high frequency ratio corresponded to
the sympathovagal balance. Results: Most infants (63.6%) lost their previous term pacifier within 30 min
of falling asleep. Sucking periods were associated with increases in cardiac sympathovagal balance.
During non-sucking periods, in both REM and NREM sleep, infants using a pacifier were characterized by
lower sympathetic activity and higher parasympathetic tonus compared with non-pacifier users.
Conclusions: The use of pacifiers modifies cardiac autonomic controls during both sucking and
non-sucking sleep periods. Non-nutritive sucking could regulate autonomic control in infants. These
findings could be relevant to mechanisms implicated in the occurrence of sudden infant deaths during
1: Acta Paediatr Scand. 1987 Jul;76(4):573-8. Related Articles, Links
The effect of non-nutritive sucking on plasma insulin, gastrin, and somatostatin levels in infants.
Marchini G, Lagercrantz H, Feuerberg Y, Winberg J, Uvnas-Moberg K.
The aim of the present investigation was to study the effect of non-nutritive sucking on plasma levels of
insulin, gastrin, and somatostatin in infants. These hormones were measured with radioimmunoassay in
plasma collected from fullterm and preterm infants sucking a pacifier. In fullterm infants, sucking
caused a significant increase of insulin levels from 13 +/- 10 microU/ml to 40 +/- 36 microU/ml and 21
+/- 17 microU/ml after 45 sec and 5 min respectively, from when the infants started sucking. A similar
pattern was seen in preterm infants. In contrast, gastrin and somatostatin levels were not
significantly affected. We suggest that sucking causes an activation of the vagal nerve, which results
in the release of insulin. We also suggest that in infants, oral feeding is superior to bolus feeding,
since in the latter case no vagal activation and consequently no release of hormones with anabolic
I recently read that the pineal gland in the fetus forms not from brain tissue but from the soft palate
tissue of the growing mouth. This is very interesting, because it suggests a connection between the two
areas. Thus 'nursing' on the soft palate may give the pineal a long-distance massage -- or at least a
'message'. Add this to the theory that the pineal secretes various ecstatic compounds, and you get the
Another reason for sucking on the soft palate/uvula is that your dentist can't complain, as they do
regarding thumb/finger-sucking, because the soft palate/uvula exist far away from the teeth. It might be
interesting to see if kids can be encouraged to give up their thumbs for this area. Also - you can do