Unbroken lineages of wisdom traditions are rare in these times, and Kongtrul Rinpoche descends from a pure lineage of the Dzogpa Chenpo Longchen Nyingtik tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
We have two main study and practice centers in America: Phuntsok Choling in Colorado and Pema Osel in Vermont. Rinpoche teaches the core MSB programs at these two centers. In addition, MSB has several city centers or groups around the world where people gather for group meditation and study, and to listen to the LINK teachings together.
You may browse directly to any of the calendars to find out more about the teaching schedules of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Dungse Jampal Namgyel, or Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel. In addition, you can view the upcoming events at Phuntsok Choling, Pema Osel, or find out who is giving the next LINK talk.
MSB is a part of the Longchen Nyingtik and Khyen-Kong-Chok-Sum lineages. (Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, and Terton Chokgyur Lingpa, collectively known as Khyen-Kong-Chok-Sum, were the heart of the Rimé, or nonsectarian, movement, which did so much to preserve and harmonize all schools of Tibetan Buddhism in the nineteenth century.)
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» Daytime, Sleep, and Dream-Part II: Falling Asleep, “Striking the Gong of the Alaya”
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Last week we learned that the experience of authentic joy lies, simply, in our ability to persistently observe the continuity of change. How can we facilitate this practice when we fall asleep, and maintain this view even while dreaming? If we are unable to stay present during the day, we often become tired and irritated, because energy drains, steadily, through our outer and inner senses. Although the outer world seems to disappear when we go to sleep, energy still drains through our inner senses at night.
In short, we cannot get a good night’s sleep (really rest and rejuvenate) if we are not relating well to our ever-changing thoughts and emotions. Transforming our relationship with sleep starts by learning how to switch off our mind–to “shut it down and restart”–similar to when we hit the reset button on a computer in order to reboot its system. Nature has given each of us a personal reset button, an opportunity to completely renew ourselves, just as we begin falling asleep. This is the same mechanism we rely on at the moment of death. Let us call this moment “striking the gong of the alaya.”
Alaya can be understood, in this context, as the basis of all our thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Alaya’s programming, much like a TV channel that is constantly running, can inhibit us from experiencing the world directly; alaya can veil, diminish, and even exhaust our senses. At one extreme, alaya mind fosters agitation, restlessness, and speed; at the other extreme, it encourages dullness, vacuity, and boredom. If we allow alaya to blanket too much of our daily experience, life can seem either overwhelmingly hectic or tremendously tiresome. As discussed previously, we need to cultivate more authenticity, moment by moment, in order to combat this unhealthy mindset. The alaya mindset can leave us so run down by the end of the day that we fall into bed virtually unconscious. Other times we are so overexcited that we fight the idea of going to bed at all, as if the act of sleeping was a physical imposition on our lives. We toss and turn, read a book, take a pill–anything to get to sleep. Neither of these two extremes is helpful; neither extreme will help us shut down properly, sleep soundly, or wake up refreshed. Here’s what is helpful; here’s how we can use the alaya to our advantage.
The split-second before falling asleep, be prepared to strike the gong of the alaya–to let go of everything–utterly and completely. We need to let our mind switch off–to have a gap in consciousness, to hit the very bottom of our alaya. We cannot let nervousness, anxiety, or fear of “letting go” get in the way of this basic, restorative process. When you strike the gong of the alaya, you completely blackout, and you only realize you have experienced this blackout after the fact. You are conscious right before it happens, but, while you are striking the gong, there is no self-awareness–ordinary awareness dissolves in that moment.
Only then is there a much-needed gap. Only then can you really rest–fall into a deep sleep, dream, and wake up invigorated. Why is a brief nap sometimes more energizing than a full night of sleep? If we can actually strike the gong of the alaya at the start of a nap, we can genuinely rest and rejuvenate, restoring our mental power and physical energy in just a few brief moments. If you are:
You might be:
These are all things to work on, slowly, over time, so you can allow your body and mind to get some much needed rest and wake up truly refreshed. We must note that an enlightened practitioner never “strikes the gong of the alaya,” since his/her alaya is already completely dissolved. An enlightened individual has no need to “refresh,” because she/he is refreshed all the time–awake, asleep, even while dreaming–and is able to experience their awakened mind fresh, in every single moment.
(Next week: Part III, Dream)
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