The Path of Loving Awareness
View — Meditation — Activity
Buddhist practice has three central aspects: (1) view, (2) meditation and (3) activity, which reinforce each other. This presentation in three points is used in Mahamudra teachings of the 11th century onwards, but is already present in the Eightfold Path as taught by the Buddha 2,500 years ago.
- The view is how we understand our mind and our being in the world. It is refined by instructions, study and contemplation. An open yet mature vision is the basis for an exploration of our mind with the interest and willingness to go beyond oneself, moving into new spaces of freedom. This includes opening up to our connectedness with all living beings.
- The exploration of our mind is essentially done in contemplative practice and meditation: here we test the view by examining ourselves and our relationship to the world in the light of a greater awareness. This leads to a deeper understanding of our conditioned being in this world and the experience of actual inner freedom. When we experience inner freedom we have the wish to share it with others. This heartfelt wish to make the discovered freedom available to others arises from welcoming our “inter being”. We see how strong our interdependence is, how much we condition each other and how much we can help each other.
- Such insight accompanies our activity in relationships, families, profession, nature and society. To be of use in the world we need continued reflection, contemplation and meditation in order to keep our balance in all challenges and to continue deepening our understanding. Through challenges we see more clearly what the situations need, and why we meditate: to tap into the inner source of inherent qualities, and then be helpful in this world. Thus, the three aspects of practice (view, meditation and activity) are both support and conditions for each other.
The Liberating Qualities based in Love and Compassion
The foundation of Ekayana are the universal liberating qualities that are an integral part of any spiritual practice — the 10 Pāramī (Pali) or 10 Pāramitā (Sanskrit). Let‘s follow first the list of ten, which is used in the Theravāda tradition, here formulated in the form of wishes:
- Generosity (dāna): May I be generous and ready to help others. May I share with others all that is good and useful, and everything I have learned and achieved.
- Beneficial conduct (sīla, śīla): May I always act in a respectful, friendly, transparent and clear way. May my thoughts, my words and my actions be full of kindness.
- Detachment (nekkhamma, niḥsaraṇa): May I let go of clinging to views and preferences and of the desire for recognition, victory, profit and power. May I not only pursue my personal interests, but act freely for the benefit of all.
- Wisdom (pañña, prajña): May I wisely see things as they really are. May I distinguish the beneficial from the harmful. May the light of awareness spread in all areas, may it make me able to lead others into this light as well.
- Joyful diligence (viriya, vīriya): May I act constructively, with force, energy and endurance to achieve common benefit. May I fearlessly meet threats and challenges and bravely overcome all obstacles. May I thus be able to serve others with an open heart.
- Patience (khanti, kṣānti): May I be tolerant and able to lovingly accept my emotions and shortcomings as well as those of others. May I recognize the good even in difficulties, may I remain calm and patiently follow the path of inner training.
- Truthfulness (sacca, satya): May I be honest, sincere and genuine, with no difference between words and deeds. May I follow the path with candour and love of truth.
- Determination (aditthāna, adhiṣthāna): May I realize the good of all in an inspired, determined, firm and resolute way, yet gentle and open like a flower and stable and clear as a rock.
- Loving kindness (mettā, maitri): May I be loving, kind and compassionate. May I consider others as brothers and sisters, feel our connection and offer them my support.
- Equanimity (upekkhā, upekśa): May I be relaxed, calm and peaceful, with a serene mind. May I be able to see all perceptions and feelings in their true nature, with equanimity, and follow the path of awakening without hope nor fear.
In the Mahāyāna tradition, to which Tibetan Buddhism belongs, the list of the ten liberating or transcendent qualities is slightly different. By adding the five, which are not in the Theravada list, we reach a total of fifteen:
- Meditative Stability (jhana, dhyāna): May I remain undistracted, stable, clear in what is beneficial, and always remember the essential points of practice.
- Skillful application of means (upāya): May I learn the particularly efficient methods of mind training and thus follow the path of awakening. May I compassionately assist all beings, each in their world, using the most appropriate means for each one, so that they are inspired and quickly access inner maturity, liberation and supreme joy.
- Realizing of all heartfelt wishes (pranidhana): May I constantly realize the aspirations and activities of all awakened ones. May I be connected to what is authentic and true, and realize the benefit of all beings until their mind has become the pure land of Buddha.
- Power (bala): With deep understanding, love, compassion, blessing, and a completely relaxed presence, may I have the power to overcome all forces that darken and disturb awareness.
- Awareness (jñāna): May this mind stream open completely to awakened awareness, experiencing things as they truly are, in a natural and non-separated way, the union of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa.
To practice these liberating qualities, all rooted in love and compassion, is the aspiration of the Ekayana community.
Personal Responsibility and Self-Reliance
In all activities of Ekayana, we maintain a spirit of personal responsibility. This is easier said than done. We are often tempted to blindly follow gurus or books rather than develop our inner guru. We might not have learned to distinguish the emotional inner voices from the dharma voice of wisdom. Nevertheless, that is precisely the point: to develop the “inner guru”, as the Tibetan tradition says, or the “inner pilot” as in psychotherapy.
We need to develop a natural inner orientation followed by practice in accordance with our deepest aspirations.
If we are truly in line with our innermost aspirations, practice becomes easy, even when we encounter emotional difficulties — which is unavoidable. The purpose of spiritual practice and of a medittation retreat is to reveal and work with emotional tendencies that have not yet been dealt with properly. Contamplations and meditations help to deal with them in a particularly useful, resolving way. Meditation is not about avoiding emotions; rather it stimulates and facilitates intensive work with our emotional patterns. Moreover, everyone is responsible for himself: firstly so that this work really gets done, and secondly to adjust the ‘proper dose’ so that this work is not overwhelming or even re-traumatizing. We learn to feel by ourselves, if we should intensify the work or rather relax, and thus we adjust our personal practice.
There are but few fix rules in Ekayana – for a good reason: Humans are ingenious in telling themselves and others how one should behave to be a good person. However, although rules create a helpful frame, they also generate useless resistance, the desire to violate them, and guilt when one does. Rules strengthen social control: observing oneself, feeling observed by others and adjusting ones behaviour to what others might think. Instead of many rules, we live in Ekayana with the famous Golden Rule:
“Treat others as you would like them to treat you.“
“Do not do to others what you do not wish to have done to you.“
All rules stem from this basic attitude, marked by respect, listening and attention. The implementation of these principles is each individual’s responsibility. To gain a better idea, we can also consider the maxim that sums up the essence of Buddhist teaching:
Abandon the harmful, cultivate the beneficial, and master your mind.
How to practice this guideline is described everywhere in the Buddhist teachings.
You might ask, if the project is under the patronage of a larger organisation, lineage or a teacher in particular? This is not the case. Ekayana is independent.
Of course, Lhündrup’s and Johann’s training is linked to the lineage of the masters Gendun Rinpoche and Karmapa, and is therefore rooted in the Tibetan Karma Kagyu tradition. However, the Ekayana project does not have any particular patron and does not belong to a particular lineage — and that is deliberate. Everyone is invited to ask their personal teachers, whether Tibetan, Zen or Theravada, if they encourage them to join Ekayana activities, like a retreat in Grüner Baum. Each teacher who supports this, offers spontaneous patronage to the place!
Whenever a teacher rejoices in such a “One Dharma” project, their blessing is automatically granted. They will send students with their blessing. Where joy arises, spontaneous blessing flows. Thus the patronage reaches across traditions. There is need for such open dharma approaches. Thus, there is no need for any particular patronage.
True blessing comes from the innermost refuge, the nature of mind, and from the joy of the people involved, from their sincere motivation, their experiences and insights in meditation. In other words, blessing comes from Dharma itself, from that which is deeply beneficial.
For this, we follow the instructions on the “Four Reliances” (Skt. catvāri pratiśarāṇi, Tib. rton.pa.bzhi), which are found in all Dharma traditions, beginning with the famous “Teaching to the Kalamas”:
1. Do not rely on persons, but on the Dharma.
2. Regarding the Dharma, do not rely on words but on their meaning.
3. Regarding the meaning, do not rely on the provisional meaning but on the ultimate meaning.
4. Regarding the ultimate meaning, do not rely on dual consciousness, but on non-conceptual timeless awareness.
See for yourself, if Ekayana fits you, and please also talk to your teachers about it.
It requires great individual responsibility and wisdom to decide on these issues alone and to practice the four guidelines above. They are, however, the best basis for practice, a fertile ground for its blossoming in an open, cross-tradition atmosphere.