Transcribing the oral tradition...

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Milarepa and the Novices - Song of a Yogi-s Joy - Unchecked

DISCLAIMER - This transcript has not been checked by Sangharakshita, and may contain mistakes and mishearings. Checked and reprinted copies of all seminars will be available as part of the Complete Works Project.

by Sangharakshita

... So what do you think
that represents? That Padmasambhava subdued the local deities, the local demons. Demons
in the sense of daemons not in the christian sense of demons or devils - powerful natural
forces - subdued them. What does that mean? It doesn't seem a very friendly thing to do but
that's just a more vigorous way of putting it. Actually it's quite friendly.
YJ4 _________; Put their energy at -the service of the Dharma.
S: Put their energy at the service of the Dharma.
So this sentence says, 'From the very finst the local deity of Yolmo was tranquil and
displayed a beauteous form.' What do you think that suggests? That she was tranquil and
displayed a beauteous form. What do you think tranquil means? It's as though the atmosphere
of that particular place was propitious to meditation. One felt calm, one felt peaceful. The
local deity of Yolmo was tranquil and dis played a beauteous form. Even more than tranquil.
It was as though Milarepa saw something, saw a beautiful form. So if you see something
really beautiful what sort of effect does that have on the mind? Calming tranquilising,
energising. It makes the mind more joyful, more serene. So that's how he felt.
______, In harmony.
S: Yes in harmony. It's as though the atmosphere of that whole place was in harmony with
Milarepa's meditative mood -with his aspiration, his spiritual aspirations and he experienced
this in a very vivid tangible sort of way. The text goes on to say even further, 'She
surrenderd herself to his service and paid him the highest honours so that his meditation
prospered greatly.' So she surrendered herself to his service It's as though one could say
putting it in one way that the atmosphere of the place co-operated fully with Milarepa's
aspirations. On the other hand one could say that his own attitude was such as to fully utilise
the beneficial atmosphere of the place.
I can go as far as accepting the atmosphere but it's the communication that I
find ( unclear)
S: I think it goes back to what I mentioned, that is to say that primitive people and people in
general to the extent that they are primitive, again using this expression in a non-derogatory
sort of way, tend to experience things personally. I used to wonder this quite a bit in
connection with my friend Mr. Chen because he used to tell me endless stories of his own
encounters with gods and goddesses and so on, including these local deities. One couldn't
possibly doubt his sincerity. That was actually what he experienced. So it's as though some
people are as it were psychically organised in such a way that that is how these things come to
them. That is how they experience them. They literally see, not with their physical eyes but
with their psychical eyes, their meditative eye, forms figures and even hear voices. This is
how they experienced what we would describe as atmospheres and vibes which we
experience more impersonally. Perhaps it is this sort of person that does tend to get on rather
well with meditation, certainly with meditation in a certain sense. They are sort of
psychically sensitive and in addition to that they have this tendency to personalise everything
and experienceatmospheres and vibrations as we would say in terms of living personalities.
In a way-like the child does. I think one should look at it like that. It's a particular type of
perception, a particular way of perceiving. We don't usually
YJ5 have this. Certainly people w~ho have been brought up in a very rational sort of way and
maybe in an urban environment but primitive man seems to have it much -more strongly just
as children have it and some sort of psychically gifted people with this sort of psychical
organisation. I used to~given food for thought sometimes when I went to see Mr. Chen and
he said, 'Ah just before you arrived such and such deity came and told me what I was to say to
you.' He was completely sincere. I knew him well enough and I couldn't possibly doubt the
truth of what he was saying- as his own personal experience howsoever one might evaluate it.
It wasn't that he got that idea and put it in that particular way. No not at all. That was the
experience he had quite clearly. He was perhaps the most extreme case of this kind that I've
been closely associated with though I have known others too. These things were completely
real to him, as real as the people that came to see him if not more real.
So she surrendered herself to his service, This is perhaps putting it a bit poetically
and suggests Milarepa's own attitude. 'And paid him the highest honours'. There's~- a
complete subordination of the atmosphere of that place to his particular meditat- ive mood so
that his meditation prospered greatly. Do you think this is really so. Leaving aside the
question of local deities do you think that one's meditation does prosper particularly or
specially or greatly on account of what we might call the psychic atmosphere of a place. Has
anyone noticed this especially on solitary retreat? Different places have different
atmospheres. Some are as it were good for meditation, others apparently not, at least not for
oneself as one is at that particular time. Anyone have any particular exper- ience.
Kulananda; Even just different shrine rooms in the movement.
S: Yes. In what way.
Kulananda; From my experience the shrine at Sukhavati gives me stronger meditations than
the shrine at Vajrakula.
S: Well maybe there's a greater concentration of psychic energy because there are more
people. This is not so much due to the local deities of Bethnal Green as the inmates of
Sukhavati sitting and practicing there. I was thinking more of when you go off on your own
to some spot maybe in the country and you experience different psychic atmospheres.
Anyone noticed the atmosphere at Broomhouse especially when you get in among the trees.
__________; Yes, it's very nice.
S: Ah you see. What do you think about the local deities there? What do you think they are
________, They remind me of those trees in 'Lord of the Rings' that move very mechanically
-in -large groups.
S: The Ents? [6]
: Yes the less evolved Ents.
Is it a good place for meditation sitting right in the middle of the trees on your own?
Aryamitra?; I never went into the forest. (laughter)
Well it would depend wouldn't it. If you were stvung minded and wanting to
overcome fear it would be a very good place to do that. Does anyone else have any
I tried doing some yoga there once. I was quite frightened of the forest.
I must say the first time I went there and also subsequently I had a distinct impression
that the trees were all angry. They were resentful trees. I concluded that it was because they
were planted so close together. It was just like people being congested in a city almost in a
tube train as it were. So it's as though the trees didn't have enough room and that therefore
they were in a somewhat negative frame of mind as it were. I hope I'm not being fanciful but
this is what I actually felt, that they were angry and also that they didn't like human beings.
They weren't pleased to see me. I got that impression quite definitely.
Sagaramati; With those aircraft it's like a dragon in the forest.
That's true. There's that also. Maybe they're constantly upset by the aircraft. It can't
be good for their nerves.
Dharmananda; I went there last year and went in the forest alone and I was sitting chanting
the 'Om Mani Padme Hum' and I felt very good and I was joined by a squirrel who played
happily beside me. Maybe he was glad I'd come there
A positive vibration.
Kulananda; You can feel the woods down the road. As soon as you reach them.
They are very happy , certainly compared with those at Broomhouse. I sometimes
think it must have made quite a difference to the lives of the Buddha's early disciples, that is
to say the wandering. monks, that they were living in the midst of nature all the time. Just
walking through the forest or sleeping in the forest and having a hut in the forest and just
coming out each day to beg at the nearest village. This must have made quite a difference to
them psychologically so to speak. It's only in recent centuries that the earth as a whole has
been relatively de-forested. A thousand years ago Britain was virtually one great forest with
just clearings here and there. Just small towns and villages with tracks through the forest.
Northers India in the Buddha's time was one great forest. The Maha (vanna) it was called -
the great forest and is referred to as such in the Pali texts.
YJ 7 So it must have made a difference to the sort of psyche of humanity generally, the fact that so
much of the earth's surface is no longer forested in that way and~that we no longer have the
company of so many trees. Our ancestors lived surrounded by trees especially our primitive
ancestors Lived in them even very long ago but we've been quite recently taken out from the
trees,from the forests. We don't have that sort of psychic companionship any more. I
wonder what sort of difference that makes. I'm sure one feels differently living in the midst
of thick or dense vegetation or near it.
______, Something ...

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