As with the articles in the ‘Meditation Guidance’ series, I have tried to write for any general reader with an interest in spirituality, personal development, self-awareness and communication. In the course of my own process with the writing for the website, I have however been drawn to engage more specifically with the terminology of Buddhist archetypal psychology and meditative enquiry as if relates to these themes. I hope you enjoy the articles in this ‘Buddhism’ series. Click on the article’s title, or it’s icon image, to access the full article.
This article is a link between the previous ‘Meditation Guidance’ series, and the ‘Buddhism’ series. It introduces the Dharmadhātu Wisdom and its associated male Buddha, Vairocana. While both sets of articles, are approaching meditation from the point of view of a non-dual wisdom and a non-dual psychology, the ‘Meditation Guidance’ series takes the four-fold brahmavihāras as its primary frame of reference, whereas this series uses the Five Wisdoms and the Emptiness of the Five Skandhas as its starting point, and addresses the complex and subtle notion of Mindfulness practice in Buddhism. In this article there is reflection on the Buddha’s Enlightenment; on the Four Noble Truths; on my ‘Short Breath / Long Breath’ approach to the Mindfulness of Breathing; and on the healing power of the brahmavihāras. I also introduce the key notion of Emptiness – the non-personal nature of Consciousness.
In this important article, we begin to go deeper into the Dharmadhātu Wisdom, and I introduce the figure of Ākāshadhātvishvari (which later Buddhist tradition came to call White Tara), who personifies this Wisdom in the Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book of the Dead). The Deva Realms are introduced. In the Bardo Thodol these are presented as an egoic opposite of the Dharmadhātu Wisdom – the deva archetype representing high-level states of integration, in which the impersonal reality of Consciousness is personalised. The metaphors of Light and Space used in Buddhist tradition to point the nature of Consciousness, are explored with brief reference to other spiritual traditions. The Buddha’s teaching on the ‘Emptiness of the Five Skandhas‘ is introduced.
This is a key article. It takes us deeper into an understanding of the integration and embodiment of feminine and masculine aspects of Consciousness – with a particular focus on the great importance of the divine feminine, which is another way of thinking about the idea of letting go, allowing, and ‘resting’ as Consciousness . The Buddha’s ‘Four Foundations of Mindfulness’ are introduced, and explored with reference to five skandhas. The idea of Mindfulness as non-duality practice is introduced – the importance of recognising that Consciousness is ’empty’. I also attempt to show how the imagery of the Bardo Thodol is directly relevant to meditation practice. At the end of the article I return to some reflections on my NVC Mandala’ model, which illustrates the direct parallels between Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication (NVC) model and the skandhas, Realms, brahmavihāras, Wisdoms and ‘Foundations of Mindfulness’ in Buddhist tradition.
Please find time to read this article. In it, I have set out to show some of the implications of the way we find the skandhas arranged in the Bardo Thodol – as a mandala with the ’empty’ vijñāna skandha, or Consciousness, in the centre, and with each of the skandhas clearly related to five kleshas (the ‘afflictive states’ which obscure the true nature of mind) and the five corresponding ‘Realms’, on one side, and positive mental states and Wisdoms, on the other. Further to this, I have shown here how the skandhas of the four cardinal directions or Quadrants of the mandala, are best understood if we recognise them as two pairs of opposites – the North-South axis and the East-West axis. Our recognition of these polarities is essential, because the Wisdoms arise from a separation and reconciliation of these opposites. Our habitual, egoically identified way of being is always an inherently one-sided view, in which a personalised identification with, and apparent development of, the skandha at one end of each axis, leads inevitably to a relative unconsciousness in the opposite skandha.
This article is the first of six articles that form a mini-series. Together they take a very deep, broad and detailed look at what recognising the emptiness of the rūpa skandha, or Form, means 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’. This article aims to recover the great power of the Buddha’s ‘Five Skandhas‘ teaching by addressing this area of confusion.
This article introduces the male Buddha Vajrasattva-Akshobya, and the female Buddha Buddhalocanā, who emerged as personifications of the Mirror-Like Wisdom in the Indian Mahayana, and subsequently in Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Drawing on the teachings in the Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book of the Dead), we begin to explore the polarity between the Mirror-Like Wisdom, or one side, and the klesha energies of dvesha, or hatred, which obscure this aspect of Consciousness, and lead us into the individual and collective psychological territory that is symbolised by the archetypal ‘Hell Realms’ of Buddhist cosmology.
This article explores the important notion of ’embodied Consciousness’ as a way of conceptually approaching meditation and Mindfulness practice. It highlights the fact that ‘the body’ in both in the Buddha’s ‘Four Foundations of Mindfulness’ model, and the underlying skandhas model, is best not seen as a separate and distinct entity, but as an ’empty’ and indistinguishable component in an open and dynamic ‘mind-body’ system that is inseparable from the transcendental reality of Consciousness. The use of the Five Elements, in Indian-Himalayan tradition, as symbols of the ’empty’ skandhas and Wisdoms, is briefly introduced. The way in which the Tibetan Vajrayana combines the dynamic mandala-model of the five skandhas with the hierarchical model of the subtle bodies and chakras is briefly outlined.