DALLAS MINDFULNESS

HOLISTIC INSTRUCTION AND SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

meditation  lucid dreaming psychotherapy zen buddhism tibetan buddhism taoism

About Us Classes Location Contact Better Buddha

Meditation

Lucid Dreaming

Psychology

Spirituality

Home

 
 
 
 
 

 

  SPIRITUALITY AND RELIGION PAGE 2

Dzogchen (Tibetan Buddhist) practices of dream yoga and clear light.  Four Hindu yoga paths: karma, bhakti, jnana and raja.  Christian and Judaic teachings of compassion and monotheism.

BACK TO CATEGORIZED LINKS


DZOGCHEN

Practically speaking, Dzogchen is essentially a rather esoteric form of Tibetan Buddhism.  In this context, it represents the meeting of Tantric (Vajrayana) Buddhism—which traces its roots to ancient India and Hinduism—and Bon, a tradition of native Tibetan shamanism.  Dzogchen is often called, in fact, Highest Yoga Tantra, its practices belonging within the highest level of the Vajrayana hierarchy. Practitioners of Dzogchen, however, emphasize that this discipline is a unique teaching unto itself.

One of Dzogchen's most singular aspects, in comparison to other Buddhist teachings, is its claims that enlightenment can be attained in a single lifetime.  Although there are many, and varyingly complex layers, to this claim, there are two primary aspects which seem to contribute to Dzogchen's efficiency or directness:

DREAM AND SLEEP PRACTICE

DREAM AND SLEEP PRACTICE

This is a complex system of practices which are sometimes referred to as sleep or dream yoga.  In such practices, the sleep or dream yogi learns to maintain a kind of waking consciousness in these states.  In doing so, he or she learns to experience the direct nature of liberation, the incredibly subtle essence of enlightenment itself.  With sufficient practice and spiritual maturity, the Dzogchen practitioner can realize the clear light state—the primordial source or base of all consciousness or awareness—in a relatively short time.

The Tibetans often speak of bardo states, or "in-between" states.  When we drift into sleep each night, for example, we enter the bardo between waking consciousness.  We essentially lose ourselves from one day to the next, our experience of the self being discontinuous due to our lack of conscious presence in sleep.  Similarly, say the Tibetans, death is a bardo state.  It represents a murky loss of awareness in between separate incarnations or lives.  In learning to maintain our awareness in the bardo of sleep and dream, then, we are ultimately preparing ourselves to remain conscious throughout the bardo of death.  Somehow maintaining our individual presence in this state, we can attain ultimate liberation or, at the very least, consciously choose a favorable rebirth for ourselves.

SPONTANEOUS SELF-PERFECTION

Dzogchen is similar to Taoism and Zen in that it emphasizes the innate perfection of every aspect of the universe—the individual being no exception.  According to Dzogchen, spiritual realization doesn't require something new, some radical transformation of our old selves into something supernaturally "holy."  Rather, the Tibetans emphasize that we are already perfect—just as we are—if we can only recognize and appreciate our unique place within the Cosmic Dance.  From this perspective, there are no specific aspects of our personalities that we have to give up, no concrete rules for living our daily lives.   This is what makes Dzogchen so elusive.  As is often said, we tend to overlook Dzogchen because it is always "closer than close." 

 

BACK TO TOP

BACK TO CATEGORIZED LINKS


HINDUISM

Hinduism is, some would say, the world's most ancient and sprawling religion.  Its scriptures and teachings are voluminous and wide-ranging, addressing everything from science and history to philosophy, art and, of course, spirituality.  Comparatively speaking, the Hindu teachings are uniquely inclusive rather than exclusive.  One of its early Vedas (a body of Hindu scriptures) openly recognizes the universality of the spiritual path: "Truth is one; sages call it by different names."

ATMAN

The deepest layers of the Hindu teachings are in fundamental agreement with those of Buddhism, which later sprang from a relatively degraded form of Hinduism.  As in Buddhism, Hinduism stresses the necessity of letting go our compulsive attachment to, and fascination with, the ego or the self, so that we can realize The Self, or selflessness—what Hindus call the Atman or Brahman. 

The deepest layers of the Hindu teachings are in fundamental agreement with those of Buddhism, which later sprang from a relatively degraded form of Hinduism.  As in Buddhism, Hinduism stresses the necessity of letting go our compulsive attachment to, and fascination with, the ego or the self, so that we can realize The Self, or selflessness—what Hindus call the Atman or Brahman.  At more surface layers, however, Hinduism sharply contrasts with traditional Buddhism in that it fancies ornate ritual and iconography.  If Buddhists are the Protestants of Eastern religion, Hindus are the Catholics.

One of the most unique aspects of Hinduism is its emphasis on four distinct paths, or yogas, toward realization.  Yoga, it should be emphasized, does not necessarily refer to the system of physical exercises with which Westerners are familiar—what the Hindus refer to as hatha yoga.  Rather, yoga loosely refers to any systematic path of spiritual practice.  The four Hindu yogas are:

  • jnana yoga: the path of direct experience of The Self through self-evident introspection.  This is the most direct, yet most elusive, of the Hindu yogic paths.

  • bhakti yoga: the path of love and devotion, similar in many ways to the Christian path.  Bhakti centers around the seeker's relationship with a sat guru, or fully realized spiritual being.

  • karma yoga: the path of work, of resolving interpersonal conflicts and unfinished business in our daily lives.  Jesus' teaching of "do unto others" is the simplest statement of karma yoga.

  • raja yoga: the path of meditation.  Raja yoga includes dieting considerations as well as strenuous mental and physical exercises.

BACK TO TOP

BACK TO CATEGORIZED LINKS


CHRISTIANITY

Approximately one out three individuals worldwide identify themselves as Christians.  This makes Christianity the largest and most widespread of the world's religions.  As the vast majority of Westerners are familiar with the basic tenets of the Christian teachings, they will not be discussed in any detail here.  Rather, the focus will be on Christianity's relationship to the other traditions examined on this page.  Unfortunately, due to cultural and historical bias, simple ignorance and a multitude of other complex factors, both East and West often overlook the fundamental similarities among the teachings of Christ and those of other profound spiritual teachers and founders of various metaphysical paths.  Although there are, without a doubt, many differences among the world's great religions, most of these differences, on closer inspection, boil down more to a mater of emphasis than they do essential disagreement. 

  • Direct perception is at the core of the majority of Eastern wisdom traditions.  Relatively speaking, direct perception is an inwardly directed path.  It encourages the seeker to explore increasingly deeper within him or herself—through meditation and other spiritual practices—until the individual self realizes The Self.  This path is less based on specific behaviors and religious beliefs than it is on simply seeing life as it is, perceiving oneself and the world directly.

  • Compassion characterizes Christian and Judaic teachings.  In contrast to the principle of direct perception, compassion is an outwardly focused path.  As such, it involves the cultivation of certain behaviors which place others before the individual self, thereby reducing one's habits of self-centeredness and narcissism.  The goal of compassion is to actualize the same automatic feelings of self-preservation and betterment for other individuals as one naturally does for oneself.

Although these two paths may initially appear to fundamentally diverge, they are, in fact, one in the same.  Ultimately, perfect compassion is direct perception and vice-versa.  The final goal of each of these paths is to actualize a boundless experience of The Self, of Christ Consciousness.  In realizing this state of perfect, selfless love, the seeker naturally leaves behind old habits of thinking, feeling and doing which once obscured his or her experience of daily life and the individuals therein.  To recognize that I am not better or worse, higher or lower, more or less spiritual, than any other individual being, is to perceive my own life directly.   

BACK TO TOP

BACK TO CATEGORIZED LINKS


JUDAISM

By 3000 B.C.E (the Jewish people prefer Before Common Era to Before Christ), Egypt and Sumer were already highly advanced and formidable world empires.  Their Jewish contemporaries, however, were a tiny, inconsequential band of nomads wandering the  Arabian desert.  At this stage in history, that is to say, the Jewish people were far from significant in terms of population and land holdings.  Nonetheless, the Hebrew culture went on to become the incredibly fertile springboard for both Christianity and Islam, two of the world's most populous, influential and fastest growing religions.  To this day, the influence of the Hebrew intellectual, moral and artistic traditions is pervasive throughout the world, the Western world in particular.  It might be said that, in terms of population, there has been—and continues to be—a significantly disproportionate number of Jewish individuals at the forefront of science, philosophy and the arts.  Interestingly, upon a close analysis of Hebrew socio-political history, there is no one single event or group of events that readily explains how this tiny, relatively overlooked cultural minority could have such an enormous influence on world, and specifically religious and intellectual, history.

RICH CULTURAL TRADITION

In many ways, the Hebrew culture is founded less upon ideas than it is actions.  Whereas similar Western religions such as Christianity articulate a rather official "creed," the Jewish faith has resisted doing so, consistently favoring ritual, ethics and rich cultural tradition rather than abstract beliefs.

One of the primary uniting elements of the Jewish faith, in fact, seems to be its emphasis on ritualized ceremonies for deeply cultural events such as birthdays, weddings and funerals.  In this way, the Hebrew tradition has much in common with Eastern traditions such as Hinduism and certain varieties of Buddhism, which likewise de-emphasize official belief systems in favor of concrete, and often elaborate and highly specialized, cultural behaviors, idiosyncrasies and activities.  The Hebrew influence on Western culture, then, is at once familiar, pervasive and somehow exotic and "old world."

Even so, the most accessible facets of the Jewish faith to non-Jewish peoples are likely its rather loose conglomeration of core religious ideas, a few of which are as follows:

  • monotheism: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One."  This passage, Deuteronomy 6:4, is known as the shema by the Jews, and is perhaps the single most fundamental statement of the Jewish faith. 

  • sacredness of creation:  Similar to Taoist beliefs, the teachings of Judaism emphasize the sanctity of the material world alongside that of the immaterial world.  As such, the body is to be honored and enjoyed as a manifestation of God's divine creativity.

  • significance of history:  Hebrew tradition emphasizes the importance of historical happenings.  When, collectively speaking, the Jewish people fail to maintain a proper moral and ethical balance among themselves and their environment—a state of disharmony with the Tao, the Chinese people might say—they supposedly suffer exile, enslavement and various other social and political difficulties.

  • messianism:  If the Jewish people believe their political and historical circumstances to be direct reflections of their collective state of morality, moral perfection would theoretically be signaled externally by a time of political freedom and earthly bliss.  Such a time, Hebrew tradition asserts, is to be heralded by the coming of a Messiah, or liberator.

BACK TO TOP

BACK TO CATEGORIZED LINKS

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

two convenient locations    call for details: 214-828-1745 (ext.2)