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Wisdom and Compassion

Author: Lama Lekshe

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Buddhism for here and now. The Wisdom and Compassion podcast is an offering of Dekeling, a Buddhist community in Portland, Oregon, dedicated to sharing the principles and practices of Buddhism in an accessible and inclusive way, to human beings everywhere. We support your right to awaken to your spiritual potential in whatever way inspires you.
26 Episodes
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Challenging times can be the best times to practice. Suffering is compelling, so you might find that resting awareness on your experience is easier than when things are going well. This episode has a longish riff on how to find a teacher and how you know when you've met a true teacher. 
This is a brief guided meditation on the stages of dying or 'bardos.' In Buddhism, the term 'bardo' typically refers to the intermediate state between death and rebirth; though it can refer to any transition. The most well-known and elaborated upon teachings on the bardo come from texts like the Tibetan Book of the Dead (also known as the Bardo Thodol), which is a key text in the Nyingma tradition.The Bardo teachings often outline various stages or phases that the consciousness of a deceased person passes through, providing guidance on how to navigate these states and ultimately attain a favorable rebirth or liberation from the cycle of existence (samsara). The meditations on the Bardo are designed to help practitioners prepare for death, navigate the intermediate state, and possibly attain enlightenment. This particular meditation is quite short and has just a few such details on each stage. 
Why would I experiment of holding a view if I am not sure it's true? This experiment can cause you to learn something beyond your current knowing—through direct experience. No belief is required. Just hold a new view, and see how it impacts your thoughts, speech and actions. If you like the effects, continue holding the view. If not, you can always try it again later—or not! 
You know those rumors you heard about Tibetan Buddhism? Listen and see if they are true. Any time we adopt a custom, philosophy or tradition from another culture, we're bound to misinterpret a few things. This talk unravels a few of the veils of misunderstanding surrounding Tibetan Buddhism, shedding light on misconceptions that sometimes obscure its profound teachings. 
The mindful recitation of Seven-Branch Prayer, which is often done inside another practice—like Green Tara, for example— epitomizes all the practices of gathering the accumulations as well as the purification of harmful deeds, thoughts, or speech and also of obscurations. All the major points of practice are present in the Seven Branches. Each of the branches antidotes a specific obstacle in practice. There is a reference in this episode to the Four Powers, also, which is a framework for confession, since confession is one of the Seven Branches. 
Step into a space of introspection and compassionate inquiry as you embark on a contemplative journey through the landscape of global conflict. If you are an experienced practitioner of Tonglen, you already understand its profound power to use suffering as a springboard for compassion; to allow fear to be a foundation for courage, and for contemplation of conflict to blossom into a wider and deeper understanding. Today, we'll practice beyond the boundaries of our personal experiences and into the expansive realm of global discord.Together, in quiet reflection, acknowledging the complexities and pain woven into the fabric of our world, we breathe in suffering with the compassionate wish to take it on. With each mindful breath, we will draw in the collective suffering of those embroiled in conflicts near and far, feeling the weight of their struggles, their hopes, and their fears as they mingle with our own breath.And then, as we exhale, we us offer boundless compassion and healing energy to all beings affected by strife and discord, visualizing rays of light emanating from your body, reaching out to touch the lives of those caught in the throes of conflict. With each exhale, offer whatever is needed to heal and soothe. if you have peace, send it all, without any exclusion. As you navigate through this contemplative session, stay grounded in the present moment, noticing whatever arises in your experience, allowing sensations to arise and pass without judgement or commentary. Trust in the innate wisdom of your heart to guide you through this journey of profound interconnectedness and the learning of direct experience, free from storyline. As usual, after using this guided audio a few times, move to Tonglen without any audio so you can rest all attention on your direct experience, unimpeded by words. The music for this episode is “Starlight” - by Podington Bear of Portland, Oregon - Thanks to composer Chad Crouch. Support Chad here.
As we journey through life, our paths often intertwine with those of animals, who become companions on our journey. Their presence enriches our lives, offering us love, loyalty, and a profound connection to the natural world. In their eyes, we see reflections of ourselves, reminding us that their lives and deaths are no less significant than our own. In moments of transition, such as when a beloved animal companion approaches the end of their life, we may turn to practices like Tonglen to offer comfort and support.Tonglen, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation technique, invites us to breathe in the suffering of others and breathe out compassion and relief. In this practice, the familiar sequence remains, yet with a heartfelt integration of animals. As we sit with our dying animal companion, we visualize taking in their pain and fear with each inhalation, allowing ourselves to fully acknowledge and empathize with their experience. With each exhalation, we offer them peace, comfort, and love, surrounding them with warmth and tenderness.One of the beautiful aspects of Tonglen is its flexibility. We can adapt it to suit the needs of the moment, pausing the guided audio at any time to extend the meditation if needed. This flexibility allows us to linger in moments of connection and release, honoring the unique journey of our animal companion. Another approach is to engage in this practice several times with guidance, allowing the rhythm and familiarity to deepen our understanding. Then, as we become more comfortable, we can transition to practicing on our own, moving through the meditation more spaciously and slowly, allowing for a deeper, more personal connection to unfold.In these tender moments, as we navigate the inevitable transitions of life and death with our animal companions, Tonglen offers a pathway to grace and acceptance. Through our shared breath and boundless compassion, we honor the sacredness of their journey and find solace in the interconnectedness of all beings, thereby also extending our direct experience with impermanence, interconnectedness and the truth of suffering. Remember to do Refuge and Bodhicitta and Dedication if these are a part of your practice. The music for this episode is “Starlight” - by Podington Bear of Portland, Oregon - Thanks to composer Chad Crouch. Support Chad here. 
Counting the breath meditation involves a deliberate and focused observation of the breath. The practitioner assumes a comfortable posture conducive to alertness and relaxation. With eyes either gently closed or slightly open, attention is drawn inward to the sensation of breathing.As the breath flows naturally, the practitioner directs their awareness to the rhythm of exhalation. With each outbreath, there is a mental noting or counting of the breath. This counting occurs silently within the mind. The practitioner may choose to count from one to a predetermined number, often up to ten or twenty.The focus is solely on the sensation of the breath leaving the body. The practitioner observes the entire duration of the outbreath, from the initial release of air to the moment it ceases. Each exhalation is acknowledged with a mental count.Throughout this practice, the practitioner maintains a gentle yet unwavering attention on the breath. The counting serves as an anchor, grounding the mind in the present moment and providing a focal point for concentration. It serves to minimize distractions and wandering thoughts.The music for this episode is “Starlight” - by Podington Bear of Portland, Oregon - Thanks to composer Chad Crouch. Support Chad here.
In Tibetan Buddhism, the term "bardo" refers to the intermediate states between death and rebirth. The most well-known bardo is the "Bardo Thodol" or the "Tibetan Book of the Dead," which describes the experiences one goes through during the intermediate state after death. According to Tibetan Buddhist belief, how one navigates these bardos greatly influences the next rebirth.Meditations on the stages of the bardos typically involve practices aimed at familiarizing practitioners with the experiences they will encounter during these intermediate states and training them to recognize and utilize the opportunities presented therein. Here are some key stages of the bardos and corresponding meditative practices:Chikhai Bardo (Bardo of the Moment of Death): This bardo begins at the moment of death and involves the dissolution of the elements composing the physical body. Meditation practices in preparation for this stage focus on cultivating awareness of impermanence, letting go of attachments, and maintaining mindfulness in the face of the dissolution process.Chönyid Bardo (Bardo of the Luminosity): This stage is characterized by the appearance of clear light, which is considered the fundamental nature of mind. Meditations in this bardo aim to recognize and merge with the luminosity of mind, leading to liberation from samsara.Sidpa Bardo (Bardo of Rebirth): In this stage, the consciousness seeks a new rebirth. Meditative practices here often involve cultivating virtuous thoughts and intentions to guide consciousness towards a favorable rebirth, such as in a human or celestial realm.Meditations on the bardos are often part of advanced tantric practices within Tibetan Buddhism. These practices require guidance from qualified teachers and are typically undertaken by experienced practitioners who have developed a strong foundation in foundational Buddhist teachings and meditation techniques. The aim of these meditations is to transform one's understanding of death and rebirth, leading to spiritual awakening and liberation from cyclic existence (samsara).The music for this episode is “Starlight” - by Podington Bear of Portland, Oregon - Thanks to composer Chad Crouch. Support Chad here. 
In Buddhism, the concept of the 'unbounded view' typically refers to the perception of reality that transcends narrow, limited perspectives. It involves seeing the interconnectedness and interdependence of all phenomena, understanding the impermanent and ever-changing nature of existence, and recognizing the absence of inherent self or essence in things.This view is often associated with the realization of emptiness (sunyata), which is a key teaching in Mahayana Buddhism. Emptiness does not mean nothingness but rather the absence of inherent existence or inherent self-nature in all phenomena. From this perspective, everything is seen as dependently originated, lacking intrinsic essence or solidity.The unbounded view encourages practitioners to let go of fixed ideas, attachments, and prejudices, and to develop a more expansive and inclusive understanding of reality. It is said to lead to wisdom, compassion, and freedom from suffering, which are central goals in Buddhism.In everyday talk, we use 'unbounded view' as a way of talking about life not beginning at birth, nor ending at death, as well. The music for this episode is “Starlight” - by Podington Bear of Portland, Oregon - Thanks to composer Chad Crouch. Support Chad here. 
The choice between practicing Mahayana or Vajrayana Buddhism is deeply personal and depends on individual inclinations, aspirations, and circumstances. Mahayana Buddhism emphasizes the cultivation of compassion and the aspiration to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, while Vajrayana Buddhism offers advanced teachings and practices for those seeking rapid spiritual transformation through methods such as deity yoga, tantra, and guru devotion. Ultimately, the decision should be guided by introspection, consultation with qualified teachers, and consideration of one's spiritual aims, capabilities, and readiness for the commitments and responsibilities inherent in each path. Both paths offer profound opportunities for growth and realization, and whichever path one chooses, diligence, sincerity, and ethical conduct are essential foundations for progress.The music for this episode is “Starlight” - by Podington Bear of Portland, Oregon - Thanks to composer Chad Crouch. Support Chad here. 
Tendrel

Tendrel

2024-04-0507:10

In Buddhism, "tendrel" (Tibetan: རྟེན་འབྲེལ་) refers to the concept of interdependence or interconnectedness. It is closely related to the Buddhist principle of dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda), which teaches that all phenomena arise in dependence upon causes and conditions.The term "tendrel" is commonly used in Tibetan Buddhism, where it signifies the intricate web of connections between all phenomena. It emphasizes the idea that everything in the universe is interconnected and interdependent, without inherent existence or independent self-nature.The music for this episode is “Starlight” - by Podington Bear of Portland, Oregon - Thanks to composer Chad Crouch. Support Chad here.
Compassion is the wish that the suffering of others be relieved. It's also the wish that the causes of that suffering be dispelled. When learning compassion practices, people sometimes express fear. What are we afraid of? Vulnerability, fear of boundaries dissolving, fear of overwhelm, inadequacy; there are so many places we could find resistance to experiencing direct and intimate contact with our own suffering and the suffering of the world. Is is possible that experiencing compassion will not be what we think? Is it possible it's a step towards freedom?The music for this episode is “Starlight” - by Podington Bear of Portland, Oregon - Thanks to composer Chad Crouch. Support Chad here. 
In Buddhism, one of the greatest generosities is to remove fear and the causes of fear for other beings. How can we practice generosity by offering fearlessness to others? What does fearlessness look like? To alleviate suffering brought about by fear, to promote safety and security, to empower and liberate others—or at least not to oppress them, is a start. Generosity, including the removal of fear, is an expression of compassion and wisdom in Buddhist practice. It requires understanding the causes and conditions of fear and responding with skillful means to address them. Through the practice of generosity—including helping themselves and others cultivate fearlessness—individuals cultivate qualities such as compassion, empathy, and insight, which are essential for spiritual growth and awakening.The music for this episode is “Starlight” - by Podington Bear of Portland, Oregon - Thanks to composer Chad Crouch. Support Chad here. 
In this episode I am remembering and sharing memories of my own American dharma teacher's teachings and teaching style. Even thinking about it now inspires my practice and my own teaching. He was humble and remarkably simple in his delivery—but years later I realize how much truth was in every sentence.  You can listen to some of the teachings he gave in this last years here, too. The collection has transcripts as well as audio recordings. The music for this episode is “Starlight” - by Podington Bear of Portland, Oregon - Thanks to composer Chad Crouch. Support Chad here. 
A meditation in the Five Elements.  Jogen Sensei is a Zen Priest, as well as a facilitator.  You can further explore his facilitation and teachings at solisluna.orgThe music for this episode is “Starlight” - by Podington Bear of Portland, Oregon - Thanks to composer Chad Crouch. Support Chad here. 
The body scan is an effective way to begin or nurture a meditation practice. It helps establish mindfulness. The purpose is to tune in to your body—to connect to the direct experience of the physical body—and to notice all sensations without judgement or commentary. Many people find the body scan relaxing. This makes it pleasant to do, so it's one of the ways beginners can be motivated to increase time spent in formal mediation. It can easily be done lying down, which means it's a good choice for any time you are sick or in pain. Learning to practice in such situations provides a foundation for continuous practice—something we emphasize at Dekeling. This practice is useful to train the mind to be aware of sensory experiences—and ultimately, more accepting. With time and practice, the body scan will be a meditation that will cultivate your ability to be more fully present in your life in general—especially when added to mindfulness of activity or speech and so on.The music for this episode is “Starlight” - by Podington Bear of Portland, Oregon - Thanks to composer Chad Crouch. Support Chad here.  
Doubt is Your Friend

Doubt is Your Friend

2020-08-0831:58

Doubt is one of the five hindrances. Doubt is also an essential element of practice. In this episode we look at the different kinds of doubt and how to navigate each. We also learn from the Buddha's teachings on the Kalama Sutra about how to know which teachings are true. The music for this episode is “Starlight” - by Podington Bear of Portland, Oregon - Thanks to composer Chad Crouch. Support Chad here. 
In this short podcast, Lama Lekshe talks about how to discover 'indestructible' ease and joy. This is a 'pocket practice'. You CAN take it with you--dozens of times each day. The music for this episode is “Starlight” - by Podington Bear of Portland, Oregon - Thanks to composer Chad Crouch. Support Chad here. 
In Buddhism, Avalokitesvara bodhisattva is regarded as the embodiment of compassion. The Tibetans call this embodiment Chenrezig—the ‘one who watches with a steady gaze.’  To do this practice, take refuge in the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.  Recognize the universal wish of sentient beings to be from suffering and its causes—while imprisoned in the context of delusion, oppression, hatred and greed. Allow yourself to feel the tension in between their wish to be free and the seemingly impossible web of conditions that bind them to suffering and its causes. Feel this.  Give rise to the wish to free them. Can you connect with that? To taking it on? To the understanding that they can be free because they too have ‘buddha nature’, the same potential for awakening as the Buddha? Set a determination to make their compassionate liberation your most heartfelt vow.  To begin the main practice, in the space in front of you, bring to mind Chenrezig, as vividly as you can. Imagine this being of light, radiant with joy, gazing upon you with warmth and affection, delighting in your evolution of virtue and wisdom, while also filled with loving-kindness and appreciation for every being of every identification, every intersection of qualities and existence. Chenrezig is completely free from the fetters of conditioning, judgement, and prejudice. The very embodiment of impartial love and equanimity.  As you chant the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM as many times as you like, imagine a torrent of light, Chenrezig’s heart. This light is of the nature of immutable love, joy, compassion, and healing. Imagine the light coming to the crown of your head; flowing down through your body, saturating every cell and immediately dispelling all negativity, any trace of previous unwholesome actions, and dispelling all confusion. Afflictions of the body and mind disappear, leaving only the experience of your body as light. Insubstantial.  Now, at your invitation, Chenrezig diminishes in size to the height of about an inch, and appears instantaneously on the crown of your head, facing in the same direction as yourself.  Imagine a soft, glowing, white eight-petalled lotus at your heart, in the center of your chest, and invite Chenrezig to dwell in the lotus of your heart. Accepting without hesitation, Chenrezig dissolves into light, descends through the central channel to the heart chakra in the center of the chest, and forms again seated in the meditation posture on a lotus, facing the same direction as you.  Imagine a tiny pinpoint of radiant white light in Chenrezig’s heart, the light of your own buddha-nature, the expression of all your innate wisdom and compassion and power. Rest your awareness on that light.  Now, originating from that single point, light radiates in all directions—this light of the nature of joy, of compassion, and of purification.  It fills your body, and then extends out through every pore, above and below and to all sides, reaching out to every sentient being around you. Every. One.  As this light touches each being it fills them completely. Their suffering and the sources of suffering are removed and their most cherished wishes are fulfilled.  This light fills everyone around you, expanding in all directions, out over your home and neighborhood and city, touching every living being. It extends again in all directions over the globe, and then continues beyond this world, beyond the galaxy to all the infinite worlds. Imagine the entire universe suffused with this light. Imagine the universe in the nature of light—whole landscapes of light, and finally dissolving into a soft shimmer.  This universe of light is now absorbed back into your body and your body now rests as a body of light, with Chenrezig at your heart.  Let your own body dissolve into the body of Chenrezig.   Let the body of Chenrezig dissolve into the seed of light at the heart and let this seed of light dissolve into empty space of infinite energy.  Now from that emptiness, your own body again appears as a body of light, softly glowing, serene and yet indestructible.  For the rest of the session, place the mind simply and quietly on the sensations of the breath entering and leaving the body. End by resting without any concept or effort.  Offer the benefit of your practice to all.Get the image of Chenrezig here. The music for this episode is “Starlight” - by Podington Bear of Portland, Oregon - Thanks to composer Chad Crouch. Support Chad here. 
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Comments (2)

Mary Woods

this is a BBC wonderful podcast, truly full of wisdom and compassion. Lama Lekshe share a lifetime of love with others

Sep 14th
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