Trust in the Heart

Practices for Uncovering the Openness, Brilliance & Love of the HeartDr. Reggie Ray

An evening of teaching and meditation in the classical Buddhist bodhicitta tradition, and how these practices can provide a foundation for life in the modern world. The talk flows out of newly emerged teachings that Reggie has given on bodhichitta and its centrality to the Mahayana and Vajrayana paths. Reggie Ray is known both for teaching meditation that is deeply grounded in the body, and also for his ability to unlock the often esoteric aspects of Tibetan Buddhism and make them accessible to modern people in all their depth.

Part One:

Part Two:

 

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beverly_1's picture

Thank you so much for this profound talk and practice.

I just discovered it yesterday...I downloaded "Earth Breathing" from I tunes, but with the spinal challenges I am working with the supine meditation is the most advantageous posture for me some of the time.

Is there a text transcript or a downloadable version of these teachings?

I have a daily meditation and Qigong practice for over 2 years and this feels, like the next, natural step on my spiritual path.

Thank you again,
Sincerely
Beverly

evangrant's picture

Reggie,
Thank you very much for the teachings, I had planned on attending this talk but was unable. I have been doing the body work practices almost daily since attending dathun with you in 2009. Since attending the retreat at Evam in June I have been slowly working through the bodhicitta practices as well. I have been dealing with Lyme disease for the past 5 years, which is quite prevalent as of late in the northeast where I live. As a result I experience quite a bit of muscle pain as well as cognitive and neurolgical issues. My question is are there specific practices you would recommend for working with illness, and particularly the symptoms I'm speaking of. Secondly, would you recommend focusing on the intial practices and working more with the body in general in favor of the boddhicitta practices of the heart? I believe you say in one of the talks that the heart is a hollagram for the rest of the body, so perhaps the bodhicitta practices are good medicine for physical pain as well?
Hope to practice and study with you again soon.
Evan

shin's picture

Finally got to hear all of part 2. Wonderful teachings Reggie. They resonate deeply. Found a few things coming to mind: Mother Teresa speaking 'God in his terrible disguise' (those difficult, challenging things, people and situations that arise constantly in this world) and secondly a line from Zen death poem:
"at the very point of this moment is a bursting forth of the eternal Buddha."

But we don't have to die to realize that!

peace and metta

shin

Reggie Ray's picture

Yes, so very apt. Thank you again!

aciliberti's picture

Reggie,

Thank you so much for your teachings. They have been an incredible inspiration for my wife and I for many years now.

Over the past couple of years, I have been getting involved in Triathlons and try to balance active exercise with the somatic protocols I study in your work & sitting. It is my intention to hold my training for these races as an extension of my practice. Do you have any thoughts on how to do this?

Many thanks!

Reggie Ray's picture

I think if you are training in these practices they naturally begin to enter into and suffuse everything you do whether painting, making love, or running. What do you think?

shin's picture

as if on cue, found this Hafiz verse in my inbox this morning. relevant echos of the practice I think:

All The Hemispheres

Leave the familiar for a while.
Let your senses and bodies stretch out
Like a welcomed season
Onto the meadows and shores and hills.
Open up to the Roof.
Make a new water-mark on your excitement and love.

Like a blooming night flower
Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness
And giving
Upon your intimate assembly.
Change rooms in your mind for a day.
All the hemispheres in existence
Lie beside an equator in your heart.

Greet Yourself
In your thousand other forms
As you mount the hidden tide and travel
Back home.

All the hemispheres in heaven
Are sitting around a fire
Chatting

While stitching themselves together
Into the Great Circle inside of

You.

Emma Varvaloucas's picture

Thanks for sharing, shin. I love Hafiz's poetry so much!

Reggie Ray's picture

Shin, let me add my thanks; this is so very beautiful and evocative of the world we are entering with these practices.

shin's picture

ps Emma, the second video is coming through nicely now (for me anyway). Did you guys do something or is it just the new year ether buzz slowing down??

Emma Varvaloucas's picture

Oh, good, I'm glad it is! We didn't do anything. The site we stream the videos through, Vimeo, can be a bit spotty, and even if tech-wise everything is fine, sometimes it takes a few tries for the videos to play properly if Vimeo is overloaded. So if this ever happens to you in the future, don't give up! Wait a bit, try again, and it should work eventually.

donnadeal's picture

Can you please tell us how to access the "homework assignment" of Bodhicitta meditation? I am not able to access it on Dharma Ocean, as I do not have an account. Thank you.

katarzyna.misiak's picture

I would be grateful for it too. Thank you for great teachings!

Reggie Ray's picture

Tricycle staff, can you help with this?

Reggie Ray's picture

Thanks for the references. Can you direct me to the Ajahn Sucitto talk?

shin's picture

I've struck out on finding the exact talks, although in discussion with a lay Vipassana teacher friend (someone NOT in the midst of the 3 month Rains retreat) he recalls talks or a talk out of Tisarana. If I find a more direct link I will forward through Dharma Ocean.

shin's picture

I really must start keeping track of these things! Sometimes I'll throw out a quotation from memory and people ask me for the reference and then I can't find it... : )

But I will do a search and see what I can find.

cedar567's picture

Thank you for sharing such a beautiful practice. It seemed so familiar to me. It is a wonderful way to start and/ or end the day to practice letting go.

Reggie Ray's picture

And it is also quite wonderful to explore in the night, if you wake up.

shin's picture

There was a recognition in doing the practices (which I have been incorporating since Reggie's last Tricycle retreat and working my way through 'Touching Enlightenment') that some of these I was already
'doing' as a kid! It was just such a natural and intuitive thing to lie upon the earth, feel the support and love of the earth... to open and relax into it. I recall now first hearing the term 'Mother Earth' when I was about 4 or 5 and thinking 'of course!' Brings to mind one of the roots of the word Sati (mindfulness)-- to remember. Many thanks again Reggie!

Shin

Reggie Ray's picture

Shin, thank you for this wonderful account and link to your childhood. I think often of the Tibetan injunction, "awaken to the wisdom with which you were born!"

fm's picture

Thank you for the wonderful practices- they are instantly helpful and very grounding. Your generosity is great and very much appreciated.
fm

Reggie Ray's picture

And so is yours, to be willing to go to these marvelous places.

Reggie Ray's picture

This is an astute and most interesting question. The question I find most compelling is what is the style or approach of Tibetan Buddhism to the spiritual life and does it say anything to us today? As you know from the books, Indestructible Truth and Secret of the Vajra World, I think that Tibetan Buddhism--though couched in sometimes very alien or esoteric language and cultural forms--says a great deal about what are universal possibilities in all people and also presents practices and techniques that can be very powerfully transformative for people living in the modern world. But you can't just buy the whole thing because there are many traditional beliefs in Tibetan Buddhism, such as the flat world or that Theravadins are "Hinayanists" and lack compassion, that are simply incompatible with what we know to be so as modern people and, if stated without comment, would be a complete turn off for most people. So I tried to show people what doesn't translate and what does, and to indicate my view that the essentials of the traditional view and practice are applicable to us today. In those books, i stayed very close to the tradition, but as my teaching and writing have evolved, I have been exploring new ways to present the traditional dharma, I hope in all its depth, in modern language, such as Touching Enlightenment. I am still very hard core as far as practice being the center of the spiritual life of dharma, but I sense there are a lot of different ways to talk about that and they don't all have to be Buddhist or even religious.

Beryl Mallinson's picture

Thank you so much for this New Year's gift and blessing. Beryl

zenja's picture

We could not hear his words clearly nor could we lip read due the position of the microphone,shame it sounds interesting and worth witnessing,

Emma Varvaloucas's picture

Hi zenja,
The poor audio was a disappointing combination of microphone and camera placement as well as camera quality. Our apologies... unfortunately there's not much we can do about it now. Have you tried listening with headphones? That might help with the clarity.
Best wishes,
Emma V.
tricycle.com

zenja's picture

Thank you Emma,I will try that.

Reggie Ray's picture

I noticed this too when I tried to listen. A disappointment and I apologize.

zenja's picture

Thank you for your generosity.

shin's picture

hang in there--it is well worth the wait. Hopefully the tech difficulties can be remedied. I haven't been able to download part 2 at all, but finally got through part 1.

touchdownjets's picture

Dear Reggie,
I thoroughly enjoyed the practice of opening to the Earth and becoming one with it. I found, though, on the out breath when I was breathing down and deep into the Earth, every second breath approx., I would get some sort of twitch or contraction in my upper thighs or perineal ( or pelvic) area. It felt as if there was some sort of blockage (energetic). Then it would pass, as I continued, but as I said would re-appear again shortly after. It was slightly uncomfortable but then would pass. It felt like it was on an emotional level.
At this point in my life I am dealing with some emotional stuff from my past with a therapist, so I wasn't so surprised that it was going on.
Just wanted to know if you have some thoughts on this.
Much appreciated in advance.
Be well.
Ira

Reggie Ray's picture

A helpful question. In terms of refining the technique, on the out breath, you don't quite breathe into the earth, but you let go and allow your awareness to open downward. What you are doing is releasing the artificial boundaries on our bodies and our awareness we impose as part of trying to be "me." Awareness is boundless and through this technique of letting go on the out breath, we are allowing ourselves to become more and more familiar with its actual extent--which eventually is immeasurable.
In terms of twitching or contracting, as part of the artificial boundaries we set up, we block not only the full extent of our awareness but also the natural energy of awareness--the life force. It is very, very common in doing these practices that there is a sudden release of energy as the boundary between our small self and our large self softens. In fact I would guess that everybody experiences it at some time or another. It could be very subtle and sometimes, at least for some people, it can be quite a jolt. It is not a bad thing; the energy is equalizing and balancing, but it can be unexpected. This finding out about our actual nature and extent is quite a trip, though, isn't it?

touchdownjets's picture

Dear Reggie,
First off, thanks for replying to my question. Your reply was very understandable, and I truly appreciate it.
It makes sense, as far as you saying that we impose this artificial boundary or boundaries on our bodies in trying to keep anchored to this 'me' we feel exists. The hardest part I feel of all of this (meditation, evolving as a human being, etc...), is the letting go of this "self" we feel we need to hang onto. Wanting to hang onto and commentate in our minds about exactly what is going on with us in the moment, rather than just experiencing it and then letting it go. Its the wanting to feel anchored all the time, so there are no feelings of falling into the abyss without anything to grab onto. That to me, is what seems scary.
I am going to practice your techniques again, but this time try to just let go and let the awareness open downward into the earth, as far as it may go.
Thanks again for your insight.
Ira

Reggie Ray's picture

The energy of the earth is extraordinarily warm, protecting, and caring; if you keep that in mind, it will help you relax into her nurturing space. Once we really experience being held within the earth, fear becomes less and less of a factor.

samzeiger's picture

I get no audio on either part 1 or part 2. Perhaps this can be investigated. thank you.

Emma Varvaloucas's picture

Hi samzeiger,
Everything is fine, tech-wise, on our end with the audio. Are you sure the audio settings on your computer are all correct?
Cheers,
Emma V.
tricycle.com

philippavick's picture

Dear Reggie,

I read with pleasure your two books on Vajrayana Buddhism and its Indian roots but was left intrigued how you made the decision what to say when the traditional account and the western scholarly diverged? I ask this because the text seemed to suggest you felt a responsibility to portray the traditions own account of itself while at the same time holding an awareness that this is not necessarily historically true.

With best wishes,
Nigel Wellings

PS. Philippa is my wife.

Reggie Ray's picture

This is an astute and most interesting question. The question I find most compelling is what is the style or approach of Tibetan Buddhism to the spiritual life and does it say anything to us today? As you know from the books, Indestructible Truth and Secret of the Vajra World, I think that Tibetan Buddhism--though couched in sometimes very alien or esoteric language and cultural forms--says a great deal about what are universal possibilities in all people and also presents practices and techniques that can be very powerfully transformative for people living in the modern world. But you can't just buy the whole thing because there are many traditional beliefs in Tibetan Buddhism, such as the flat world or that Theravadins are "Hinayanists" and lack compassion, that are simply incompatible with what we know to be so as modern people and, if stated without comment, would be a complete turn off for most people. So I tried to show people what doesn't translate and what does, and to indicate my view that the essentials of the traditional view and practice are applicable to us today. In those books, i stayed very close to the tradition, but as my teaching and writing have evolved, I have been exploring new ways to present the traditional dharma, I hope in all its depth, in modern language, such as Touching Enlightenment. I am still very hard core as far as practice being the center of the spiritual life of dharma, but I sense there are a lot of different ways to talk about that and they don't all have to be Buddhist or even religious.

philippavick's picture

Thank you for your answer - reading books representing the tradition and those that are scholarly makes me wonder if there is not a third genre which has yet to find full expression and is perhaps an expression of Western Buddhism as it becomes more established and integrated. This genre will continue the traditional intention to enable and enrich our practice but will distinguish between history, myth, legend, politics and polemic. Effectively the best of both the types of writing we have at the moment. Personally I turn off when told something as a literal historical truth which plainly is not. But when I learn more of a teachings context - why it was written when it was, what it attempts to do and how it is different from what preceded it etc. I am inspired by the sheer creativity of our collective imagination. Not need of fairies at the end of the garden when the gardener is so interesting.

Thanks again,
Nigel

Reggie Ray's picture

Thank you, Nigel. I am fully aligned with your sentiments. I do that kind of distinguishing in my teaching, but nobody thinks that kind of book will sell and you would also need a most informed and literate editor. Alas! But I think it is just a matter of time.

philippavick's picture

That's a very interesting comment about the kind of book I am thinking of . . . . I am entirely new to blogging and am unsure of the etiquette. I would very much like to ask you about your experience of this but am anxious I am deviating from the intention of this Tricyle blog (is it a blog?). Is it appropriate to ask for a means to email outside of this context or offer an email address I may be contacted on should you wish? My interest comes from something I have been working on and until now no one I have spoken to has any experience in crossing the two types of writing we have been speaking about - well almost no one, John Reynolds more or less does it in the back of his Golden Letters and very much in conversation. And of course Stephen Batchelor in his latest book on the Buddha's life - Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist.

Thanks,
Nigel

shin's picture

Not only is the gardener interesting Nigel--the gardening itself is infinitely intriguing! Having first practiced for many years in Zen, then doing some 'Phowa Empowerment' in Tibetan and now working along in the Theravadin mindfulness, I have heard and overheard teachers in each tradition say quite disparaging things about other traditions. Perhaps back in the day when the Dharma was first getting rooted and teachers didn't want students becoming professional window-shoppers, maybe this was a way to try and prevent 'spiritual shopping' sprees. There are some hopeful signs now of matured students and teachers recognizing important points of intersection and commonality. I certainly think that this is where Reggie comes from and I also look at the work of Ajahn's Sumedho, Amaro and Viradhammo, Roshi Joan Halifax's broadly inclusive Upaya Centre etc. I think we can celebrate both our differences and 'common grounds'.

Reggie Ray's picture

Thank you so much, Shin. This gives me much hope for the future, with voices such as yours as part of the conversation! Let's keep talking.

shin's picture

a few months back I heard, or maybe a read a transcript of, a talk by Ajahn Sucitto where he spoke of how helpful he had found some 'Chakra work', and Ajahn Amaro's book available on-line "Small Boat, Big Mountain" points to the intersection of the Deathless (in Theravadin) and Dzochen, The Great Perfection. And the book is introduced by Tsoknyi Rinpoche! How cool is that... I suspect such things would have been anathema a few decades ago... with metta, shin