Resting as Consciousness with the mandala wisdom as our guide, everything falls into place at last.
I hope you enjoy my articles. The various inter-related categories of my writing are described below, and my coaching and teaching work is described below that. Hover your mouse pointer over the categories in the top menu above to reveal the drop-down sub-menus, and to see listings of the articles in date order.
******* Two New Multi-Part Articles: *******
Click on the title above to read the first article in a series of six articles. Together they take a very deep, broad and detailed look at what recognising the emptiness of the rūpa skandha, or Form, might mean in practice. The fact that the rūpa skandha is associated, in the Bardo Thodol, with both the Mirror-Like Wisdom and the Buddhist Hell Realms, establishes a very clear archetypal association between the rūpa skandha and the Thinking function of the mind. Rūpa is however, frequently rendered as ‘body’. These articles aim to recover the great power of the Buddha’s ‘Five Skandhas‘ teaching by addressing this area of confusion. Brief summaries of each article in the series can be found here.
In recent months, I have also begun work on a new series of articles on the ten deities of the Dharmadhātu mandala that were described by Padmasambhava in his Bardo Thodol teachings (which became known to Westerners as the ‘Tibetan Book of the Dead’). I have taken as my starting point, the central five verses in the ‘Inspiration-Prayer for Deliverance from the Dangerous Pathway of the Bardo’ (which you can read here). I have found these verses inspirational ever since I was introduced to them nearly 40 years ago – and I hope you will find them the same. In this series, I am aiming to show meditators how each one of the five male Buddhas and five female Buddhas of the Dharmadātu Mandala can be felt in the fields of the body as profound suprapersonal sources of somatic healing and wisdom. Those who read the whole series of articles – and it is intended that these articles should be read in sequence – will be able to incorporate these reflections into their meditation practice in a systematic way. The first article in the series can be found here, and brief summaries of all the articles can be found here.
The “Meditation Guidance’ series of articles, which were my main focus in 2017 and 2018 can be accessed via the ‘Meditation’ menu above, or as reverse date-order listing by clicking here, or on the title above. My approach to meditation and mindfulness draws on the spiritual psychology of non-duality; on the mandala-wisdom of Buddhism (and other ancient traditions), which is amplified in the psychology of Carl Jung; and on the meeting of Quantum Physics / Quantum Biology with Neuroscience in the brilliant Penrose-Hameroff hypothesis in regard to the nature of the brain-Consciousness interface – a hypothesis that is steadily accumulating experimental support. Brief summaries of the articles in this series can be found here.
Although I am strongly influenced by Buddhist thought, I have tried to as much as possible in this series of articles to address the general reader. I have also been a passionate student of the deep humanistic psychology of Marshall Rosenberg (founder of Nonviolent Communication – NVC) and Eugene Gendlin (founder of the ‘Focusing‘ self-empathy/self-enquiry dyad practice), and have woven these perspectives into this ‘Mandala of Love’ approach to meditation and self-enquiry.
This series of articles aims to bring fresh insights to several common approaches to meditation (the Mindfulness of Breathing, Mettā Bhavana, and the Zen ‘Just Sitting’ practice for example). The initial framework for the Mandala of Love approach, and for this series also, is provided by the four brahmavihāras (Loving Kindness, Appreciative Joy, Equanimity and Compassion) – a four-fold meditation-cycle and self-enquiry framework from ancient India, that was incorporated into the Buddha’s teaching. Central to this approach is the conceptualisation of meditation practice as ‘resting as Consciousness’, and the recognition of the brahmavihāras as aspects of Consciousness.
By re-framing meditation and mindfulness as ‘resting as Consciousness’, there is an opportunity to set them in a non-dual context that is much more true to the Buddha’s teaching. The Buddha bore witness to the impersonal nature of all psychological phenomena, and to the non-locatable nature of Consciousness, and urged his students to take these insights as the foundation of their practice. When we step out of the egoic perspective, we re-discover meditation as an activity whose purpose is to reveal our true nature and recover our natural state – the compassion and intelligence of our natural humanity.
Because of my intensive training in, and study of, Buddhism over many years, I tend to approach meditation and self-enquiry though a Buddhist frame of reference. If you have enjoyed the ‘Meditation Guidance’ posts and would like to read an additional series of in-depth articles that take a broader and more explicitly Buddhist view, and explain my overall approach to that series, please click here to see summaries of my uncategorised articles, or here to read the first of the ‘Overview’ articles.
Since the beginning of 2019, I have been aiming, in my articles, to provide some in-depth analysis on the Five Wisdoms; the Buddha’s ‘Emptiness of the Five Skandhas‘ teaching; the Four Foundations of Mindfulness; and on the male and female archetypal Buddhas of the Dharmadhātu mandala. I have created a new menu category for these articles, which I have called ‘Buddhism’. A reverse-date-order listing of these articles can be accessed by clicking here or on the title above.
As an experiment, I have also created a Facebook Group, which may be able to function as a venue for discussion in association with this new series of articles. To access the group click here.
I have been a passionate student of Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication (NVC) model for over twenty years, and have taught several courses during that time, based on NVC, and on the work of Eugene Gendlin, the originator of the ‘Focusing‘ self-empathy dyad practice. I have also developed an innovative approach to the NVC model, which I call the NVC Mandala, and which sees the ‘four components’ of Rosenberg’s model as a beautiful example of the universal mandala wisdom that we find in Tibetan Buddhism, and in the psychology of Carl Jung.
The ‘NVC Mandala’ that becomes clear when the ‘four components’ model is arranged with Observations and Feelings at east and west, and Needs and Requests at north and south, is all the more remarkable for the fact that Marshall Rosenberg developed his model without any knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism or the work of Carl Jung. The obvious connections between the non-dual psychology of the Tibetan Buddhist mandala and the practical psychological analysis of thought and language that is provided by Marshall Rosenberg, provide the basis for an extremely rich synthesis of ideas. The posts in the ‘NVC’ series will be of great interest to anyone with an interest in psychology; in spirituality; and in harmony and compassion in their relationships and communities – and to anyone who is interested in the Buddhist ideals of nonviolence, compassion, and creativity, or in the Nonviolent Communication approach to communication and self-awareness.
You can access the first post in this ‘Communication and Relationships’ series by clicking here, or by clicking on the ‘NVC’ menu in the top menu.
The Mandala of Love website started as a book project called A Mandala of Love: Consciousness, Ethics and Society. I have published some of the sections of that book in the form of articles in the ‘Book Sections’ series.
You can access the first post in the ‘Book Sections’ series by clicking here.
This is a longer piece of writing from 2012, that I have published as a page on this website. To access it click here, or the title above. I am hoping that this article will provide inspiration and guidance to students of both meditation and non-duality. I find the story of Hui Neng to be one of the most beautiful and illuminating in the whole of the Buddhist tradition. Among the many deep themes in this rich and multi-dimensional story, you will find, I believe, the essence of Zen.
Those who have been reading my articles on the mandala-wisdom in the ‘Meditation Guidance’ category on this website, will find that it also brings us back, in a fresh new way, to our entry point into the mandala: the blue Eastern Quadrant; the Mirror-Like Wisdom; and the brahmavihāra of Equanimity.
I can provide individual meditation guidance and coaching sessions. My Mandala Innerwork approach to coaching is a form of self-enquiry that students of meditation find very supportive. These sessions are also especially valuable to students of the ‘Nonviolent Communication‘ model, since these sessions focus on the development of the attitudes and skills of self-empathy, which is foundational to that model. I am particularly keen to work with those who are interested in the Mandala of Love approach to self-enquiry, meditation, and self-empathetic innerwork, and who would value my support to apply the principles that I have been exploring in my blog posts.
My approach to innerwork draws on various sources of inspiration, but makes extensive use of the work of Eugene Gendlin, and his student Anne Weiser-Cornell. I have also completed the 9-month online training of Jerry Donoghue, an NVC teacher who is based in Ashville, North Carolina, in the USA (www.innerpresencecoaching.com), who is also engaged with integrating NVC with non-dual wisdom.
Jerry Donghue and I also share the conviction that the practice of self-empathy, which is a foundational element of the NVC model, requires the acknowledgement of psychological parts – a theme that I have addressed frequently in my ‘Meditation Guidance’ articles (including here, here, here, and here). Indeed the self-empathy / self-enquiry approach that I have come to call Mandala Innerwork is founded on my observation, over several decades of my own innerwork practice, that the ability to self-empathetically recognise and work with psychological parts is an absolutely essential self-awareness skill, and a necessary skill if we wish to become more conscious; to recover an authentic self; and to integrate non-dual wisdom.
In the context of my individual coaching sessions, I like to integrate my meditation and self-enquiry work with my facilitation of self-empathetic innerwork. Both skills take the idea of ‘resting a Consciousness’ as their starting point. Indeed my coaching work is best characterised as a form of self-enquiry facilitation. The depth of that enquiry depends on the choice of my clients, but my own personal framework is rooted in a the rich and powerful psychology of the Buddhist non-duality teachings.
For more information on Mandala Innerwork, Inner Presence Coaching, one-to-one Meditation Teaching, and facilitated self-enqury please click here.
I welcome enquiries. Please contact me via the Contact Form here.