Dalai Lama 3 Day Retreat – Yokohama Japan – Altair Shyam

Guan Yin Oil Painting @ Yunxie Art


Dalai Lama 3 Day Retreat

Dear Enlightened Ones

It is always such a blessing to be with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, this time I was in Yokohama Japan for a 3 day retreat.

The Dalai Lama began the day with a talk about us all being One Family of Love and Compassion.

Here is the core of His teachings for today for you.

We are all One Family of Love and Compassion no matter what religion or history or scientific background.

Happiness comes from peace of mind and we cultivate happiness through love and compassion and practicing patience and kindness.

Obstacles like anger, delusion and attachment act as a veil to the mind. When we purify these we become free and see reality as it is.

The Heart Sutra of Avalokiteshvara Guan Yin is like an Ancient Mother.

She teaches us the wisdom of emptiness which means seeing that things have no external existence (at this point in my meditation and contemplation on this a bright violet blue orb appeared) and also teaches the essence and importance of Bodhicitta which means to have an altruistic intention to cherish others and then to liberate others.

In dreams we can see an elephant and when we wake up know it is not real so in life we can see a partner or friend as frustrating and be angry at them but then the next day be fine and calm around them showing us that those impressions we have of people through the impurified mind or consciousness are unreliable. When you are aware of that in the present, in that moment, you are awake. Awareness is luminous. Past and future have no existence.

Liberation of your self comes down to cherishing others. When you have compassion you see suffering in others and develop empathy because you can see how ignorant others are of how things are. So there is a strong desire to help. To take on the suffering of others.

Maitreya taught the Buddha Nature is All One so there is no division between teachings on love and compassion.

Afflictive emotions like anger can be used to see into the nature of emptiness and luminosity. When you are angry you believe your reasons for being angry are real. If you see directly into the nature of things and see that these feelings change so realize the nature of change and see that these feelings dissipate so are empty of any real existence so realize the nature of emptiness then you can use these to liberate.

Quantum physics points to things having no objective existence.

Ask yourself who is this body this voice this mind? Who am I?

We appear to each other as if we are real but where are you? Are you the body? Are you the voice? Are you the mind?

The nature of these forms is emptiness. They all change and eventually transform and dissolve.

Things exist by Name. The Dalai Lama had a “lightning bolt” of realization about the “I” the Name we give to ourself and the identity feelings thoughts we attach to it.

By cultivating the path of perfection of wisdom we make the intention to help all beings and bring love and compassion wherever we go. We see the truth of emptiness, that there is no “I” and seek to liberate ourselves by cherishing others. By letting go of self-cherishing and “I” we open to a deeper luminous awareness of All That Is.

Stages of Meditation

Past and future lives can be discovered. They are based on dependent origination. The roots of compassion in us all are a special resolve to bring all sentient beings to enlightenment.

There are different types of suffering to be free from.
Suffering of suffering. Suffering of change. Suffering of conditions or conditioning.

Then afflictive emotions.

And karma.

Cherishing others with an altruistic attitude and emptiness is helped by meditation. Meditation on equanimity, on love and kindness, on compassion and on wisdom.

Meditation practice on emptiness involves perfecting singe pointed concentration to begin with.

Training in mindfulness and introspection develops concentration.

1. To begin choose a quiet serene place.

2. Physical posture – Vajra cross legged or lotus or chair.
Hands held together in Mudra. Left hand under right and two thumbs touching against the navel.
Straighten spine.
Tip of tongue to upper palate. Eyes on top of nose or straight ahead or slightly uplifted.
Eyes Half open.
Shoulders relaxed.
This is important for later Tantric practices where you use the breath to breathe light and energy in the spine and the flow of energy in the right and left channel needs to be balanced.

3. Use an object of focus to begin with. A flame or flower or piece of wood. This uses the 6th mind, not visual consciousness for example. Focus on the image of the flower in your mind. Stay singled pointed for a long time until you can hold the object in mind with calm abiding.
The Dalai Lama joked that he had met Hindu Sadhus in the Himalayas with better focus than Buddhist monks!

4. Special insight. You begin to see things as they are in extraordinary ways. You see into the formless realms and Higher Realms that all saints and mystics and Buddhas and Christs and Mohammeds and Krishnas and Avalokiteshvara Guan Yins have spoken of. The Dalai Lama said from his conversations with all Masters they all agree on these basic points and He is on the lookout to meet many more beings who have developed single pointed focus and insight into the nature of things!

The Notion of an Independent self is the root of all delusion.

There is no self.

There is no “I”

Nothing can be found.

The innate clear light mind is not the self.

Within consciousness there are degrees of subtlety. Past and future lives are explained on the basis of self.

As the self becomes more transparent to the light the memory of these past and future lives is realized. Some children have clear memories of their past lives. There is a child in New York who has a past life memory of dying in the tragedy of 9/11.

There are meditators the Dalai Lama has met who can keep a single focus in their mind for 3-4 hours and can stay in the subtle clear light of death at the point they transitioned through long and continuous practice.

To develop calm abiding you have to calm the mind and place it again and again in that state through practice.

The main obstacles are mental laxity and mental excitation.

Alertness must be there.

If your mind is dull or lax or cloudy like daydreaming and you have lost alertness then you need to practice uplifting the mind like visualizing the Buddha or Christ in illuminated bodies. Tantric Yoga is particularly useful where you meditate visualizing yourself as a deity and doing it within emptiness. Some yogis can project their bodies out into other bodies.

If your mind is too excited then meditate on emptiness.

Then contemplate what arises.

And develop special insight or Vipassana.

Love and blessings
Altair and Mother with the Dalai Lama

Guan Yin Oil Painting @ Yunxie Art


Avalokiteshvara Guan Yin Initiation

This was a completely different day to day 1.

To begin with I met up with such a diverse group of people, Mongolian and Tibetan monks and devotees who had traveled all the way to Japan to receive this initiation. Many did not speak English or Japanese so we spoke with my smattering of Tibetan and lots of gestures and acting out scenarios.

It was a day of energies and as the Dalai put it, channels, winds and bliss drops.

The actual ritual is secret so I cannot share the techniques although you can find many similar techniques documented in my favorite book by the Dalai Lama, Kalachakra Tantra: Rite of Initiation.


The Avalokiteshvara Initiation is a Secret Mantrayana Ritual. Fundamentally you visualize yourself as the deity Avalokiteshvara Guan Yin although the experience is far more profound than my words can say. Perhaps because of my karmic predisposition, although I have a very fresh beginners mind, I was able to devour the energies like a starving man and as such went through some quite startling, even shocking transformations, as if a lightning bolt had struck me. Those blessings in particular I dedicate to all beings.


The initiation begins with taking vows. These include layperson vows, monk and nun vows and Bodhisattva vows. To summarize these the Dalai Lama says, is to be kind to everyone. To not wish anyone harm in thought word or action.

I will share the one I use daily here with you, should you wish to use it. It is derived from the one I took when I did the Kalachakra Tantra.

“From my Heart I go for refuge to the three jewels, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, Christ Krishna, Divine Mother. I will free all beings from pain and set all in final bliss. To do that I will generate an altruistic intention to attain perfect enlightenment, and thereupon will train in the learnings of Bodhisattvas, Archangels and Elders/Masters.”

Whatever Vow you take, a formal one or one that you create yourself, the Dalai Lama recommends saying this with a deep pure intention at least 6 times a day. I say it in the following way. As you open your eyes upon rising, in your morning meditation, in your midday meditation, at some point in your afternoon, in your evening meditation, and as you close your eyes to go to sleep.


The Avalokiteshvara Initiation is comprised of Secret Mantra and Secret Kriya. It comes from Tibet and the tradition of the 17 Nalanda Masters. It involves activating energies in the channels, winds and bliss drops in the physical body and light body. The Buddha tailored these techniques for specific disciples and arose in different bodies, sometimes a celibate monk and sometimes a deity to teach these.


It comes from the Hidden Terma (treasure) or Profound Vision tradition.

The initiation we took came from the 5th Dalai Lama. The 5th had many visions of deities and shared 25 cycles of visionary teachings. These are called the Father Teachings.

Each of the Dalai Lamas was famous for particular visions. The 1st had visions of white and green Tara. The 2nd had visions from childhood and composed music and chants about them. The current Dalai Lama has dreams not visions. He joked about this by saying he was the only Dalai Lama who has not had visions of deities but he takes consolation from the fact that he is the most famous Dalai Lama.


Though I cannot share the specific techniques of the initiation (the Dalai Lama asked us not to share them) I can share the visions I received as they are very personal and do not in any way reveal the secret process.

I hope that you may relate to some of them.

As many of you know, I have had a deep connection to the Fifth Dalai Lama over a long period of time. I had five visions over the course of this initiation.

The First

A dark-haired woman with tanned skin appeared suddenly with eyes blazing with light. It was quite shocking. This was a form of Palden Lhamo. She is the Protector of Tibet.

The Second

I was transported bodily to a world I did not recognize, somewhat similar to the windswept snowy slopes of the Tibetan highlands with all my senses fully on and engaged yet I feel it was not there.

The Third

I was witness to what I would describe as twin Vajras spinning horizontally with tremendous force.

The Fourth

I was aware of an enormous pillar of light we all are connected to that ran the length of my spine above and below and connected space and spacelessness. It was immovable and yet highly volatile like being connected to a God-cable through heaven and earth. My body shook as if unable to contain the voltage. This was a somewhat shocking part of the initiation and I felt as if I might pass out.

The Fifth

There was a point at which this body dissolved, and the physical body was “replaced” by another in full light body “form”. I recognized it as our ultimate truth and the energy and consciousness was overwhelming and entirely magnificent. It left me in tears.


Today the Dalai Lama told many stories.

He shared about famous Thangka (sacred art) of Avalokiteshvara and the effect it had on devotees leading them into trance and ecstacy.

He told the story of Je Tsongkhapa’s vision of Manjushri sitting in a circle of Blue Light.

He spoke about how the 5th Dalai Lama’s visions emerged from the Heart of Avalokiteshvara.

He told us about a statue in Potala that when he prayed in front of it its expression changed. He had seen the face change from serious to smiling.

He also had a dream of Avalokiteshvara where he got to ask about the depth of realization of emptiness and have many of his own personal questions about enlightenment answered.

He sees Avalokiteshvara on his own shoulder. He said “I act as Messenger for Avalokiteshvara”. And he said he was born to do this.

He told stories about Nagarjuna and his feats of moving beneath the ground and flying.

Nagarjuna receiving the Heart Sutra Sacred Texts from Naga divine water beings – Tibet Buddhism

But he said the real miracle is in the transformation of the mind through the Master’s writing.

He spoke about how magnificent the true teachings and writings of all traditions are and that all religions are beneficial.

He spoke about the types of visions and that the profound visions were when deities appear to Masters when the Master’s eyes are open.

He said there is a Divine plan in place.

He said the divine plan was about spreading a spirituality that was sovereign and unified, and that all religions were part of that.

The Dalai Lama ended the initiation with the aphorism, “NO BEGINNING, NO END” in true tantra and alchemy tradition.

Love and blessings
Altair and Mother

Nagarjuna by John Hill ~ photo

Useful resources
You may find the following helpful.





The third day of the retreat with the Dalai Lama started with a debate between His Holiness and three well-known scientists, a psychologist, a neuroscientist and a quantum physicist.

From the outset the Dalai Lama made it very clear he was here to discuss and investigate the mind and consciousness, because, he explained, science seems to have very few answers about what consciousness is and how it operates. He said he was like an alchemist, who checks to see it the gold is pure and that anything we believe we should investigate it thoroughly until it becomes clear and only then accept it.

I really took this to heart as you will see later when I got the opportunity to speak to the Dalai Lama directly as I have on each occasion I have met him. I feel so blessed as just like with Jesus/Yeshua, Yogananda and Babaji, and Guan Yin, I feel I have had ‘personal tuition’ on the path with heart!


In case you haven’t followed my particular process with the Dalai Lama, I dreamed when I was 2 years old that I was one of his monks at Samye Monastery. I had the same dream every night for a year, a dream in which I fell into an abyss, heard the sacred OM sound and saw the clear light.

Then in my twenties when I was running a company I sponsored his first trip to New Zealand in which I was granted a personal audience with him and when I met him his simple advice to me was to follow the path of love and compassion.

Some years later when I met the Dalai Lama again he guided me to follow the path of Avalokiteshvara Guan Yin with the love and affection of a mother for her child. Then, while doing the Kalachakra Tantra (a Ritual I followed for over a year devotedly) he appeared to me in a profound vision (he appeared to me with my eyes open after I had breakfast one morning) and guided me into the techniques of subtler consciousness of the Kalachakra.

When I came to do the actual initiation, which I did with deep devotion over a 12 day period, online, as the Dalai Lama specifically stated that Tibetans who lived abroad would be able to receive the initiation if they applied themselves with deep faith and devotion (and I considered myself a Tibetan because of my past life experience over a year as a 2 year old until when I was 3) I experienced two profound moments.

One was while I was in a train meditating on the fire part of the ritual. Suddenly my hand caught on fire and my thumb burst into a flame and I was left with a burnt thumb which I had to nurse when I got back home.

The second was when doing the rebirth part of the initiation at home I spontaneously changed the ritual to include the Archangel Metatron and Guan Yin in Union and my mind burst into light and in the most shocking event of my life there was no meditator and no meditation for three days, an event my wife witnessed.

That was my experience of the clear light. I realized we were made of light and the divine light was our birthright and as the Dalai Lama said, I was able to test it and verify its authenticity. As Jesus said, if your eye is single then your entire body is filled with light.


The Dalai Lama said our world is in an emotional crisis. He said we are repeating our mistakes and that violence is out-dated. It is not the right method. The key is inner peace. If we want to de-militarize the world then we need to inner de-militarize ourselves. Constant anger and fear weakens our immune system.

The Dalai Lama does not spread Buddhism in the West anymore because the West has a Judeo-Christian tradition. He spoke to a Christian monk who was a well-known speaker who asked him how to develop emptiness. “Don’t ask,” joked the Dalai Lama. “It is none of your business.” He told the monk that if he put doubt into people’s minds he would feel uncomfortable. Whereas he feels comfortable teaching in Japan as it is a Buddhist country.


The Dalai Lama kept repeating this, that he felt very happy, there was no hesitation, the he truly appreciated the opportunity and I could really feel it. Something was different. Something had changed.

He praised Indian psychology, the Vedas and the yoga systems saying how highly developed they were and that the Buddha himself used them. He said they were like the university and modern psychology was like being in kindergarten. He repeated often that with all our modern psychology, education and technology we are failing our children and our people.

He gave a number of examples of where science is unable to explain phenomena. At death, The Dalai Lama’s senior tutor and Yogananda’s body stayed fresh for many days after passing showing how deeply a meditators kind affects the brain and body.

He spoke about Dreamtime and how sensorial consciousness is not active but other consciousness is.


He talked a lot about no beginning no end.
About how when the brain stops there is subtle consciousness (this helped me explain why I could experience the clear light because of what happened to me as a two-year old when I repeatedly died).

He gave another example of a Tibetan monk in New Zealand whose body remained very fresh after death. On the 4th night three fingers of his left hand moved to hold his right hand showing these subtle levels of consciousness and the 4 levels of emptiness. That around the 2nd level of emptiness at death the body consciousness dissolved into emptiness but the bright kind or subtle consciousness continues.

He asked the scientists to explain when is consciousness formed and at what point?

He also asked the scientists to explain the cause of the Big Bang.

On both points they were forced to admit they didn’t know.


A small group of us were allowed to be part of the final discussion and again I was blessed to be chosen. I was the first to speak to His Holiness and the scientists and I asked the following question.

“Your Holiness, from the age of two to three I had a recurring dream as a Tibetan monk, every night, in which I died and experienced the cosmic sound of OM and the clear light. From my own observations of space time it would seem that space and time emerged from nothing at the moment of the Big Bang, from an emptiness as it were. In our universe the constant is light and light is the only exception from the fact that it can propagate in a vacuum or emptiness. Einstein intuited the theory of relativity from observing light. Christ and the Buddha tell us be the Light of the world and be a Light unto ourselves. What can be learned about the origins of consciousness by observing clear light in meditation and studying its connection to physical light like an Einstein-Buddha?”

The Dalai Lama answered me by first addressing my dream experience. He said that I should follow the practices of dream yoga (as outlined in the six yogas of Naropa) and practice realizing the clear light within the dream. He explained that the subtle consciousness is awake generally only through dreaming and deep meditation and so dreaming affords a remarkable opportunity to know the self by realizing you are dreaming within the dream. Then you are able to practice witnessing consciousness at play within the dream and awaken within the dream with clarity at the same time. (In beautiful synchronicity this is actually one of the practices I outlined in the first chapter of Portals of Presence at the end of my book Diary of a Yogi: A Book of Awakening.)

He then went on to talk about the clear Light. He said the Experience of the Light the Masters speak about is a direct experience of the Source. No beginning no end. The Dalai Lama joked and said he had tried to realize clear light consciousness but failed. That it was a very difficult subtle experience of consciousness and not his experience so far.


His Final Speech was as follows.

You are your own Master.

Be a Light for the World

Take this amazing opportunity of a human life and use it well.

Become like Nagarjuna who was both a scientist and a meditator.

If you are suffering look for the “I” that is complaining. Where is it?

He told a story of a woman who was suffering. He told her “If you think the “I” is in the heart, what shape is it? Imagine the Dalai Lama there in your heart with you. He will help take the burden of your suffering.”

Be like a mother with the affection for her child.

Educate the world with love and kindness and compassion.

If you are involved in any spiritual education and technology, we need more education on human values to unite our world.

Finally he said “Meditate for 30 min to an hour every day for inner peace. That is the bare minimum”
Love and blessings
Altair and Mother with the Dalai Lama

1000 arm Avalokiteshvara Tibetan Chenrezig Statue – Maitripa College Jokhang Portland ~ photo by Marc Sakamoto


Gratitude to artists for their beautiful art – credit is given where this is known.



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