SIGNS ON THE PATH – Stephen Altair Shyam

tibetan-buddhist-child-monk at Gallerist by Rijoy Emmanuel @ GALLERIST-face buddhist

Tibetan Buddhist Child Monk @ Gallerist ~ Artist Rijoy Emmanuel

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Diary of Wednesday 22ndย July Morning

The last few days I have been contemplating the meditator and the meditation. So I havenโ€™t written in this diary.

Becoming aware of the four yogas of Mahamudra,

One pointedness, simplicity (beyond concept), one taste and non-meditation.

Our practices all involve our differing and complex personalities.

Some people are step-by-step, they need clear steps and processes.

Some are jumpers, jumping up and jumping down the levels.

And some are realizers, who recognize some aspect of the practice from the very beginning so go straight to any level, even the last one. That is rare, and difficult.

I am slow and ponderous, like an ox, taking lots of time, to saturate each level with awareness.

In the beginning I learned shamata. Through Yogananda or the Dalai Lama? No, actually as a child through the Carmelite practice I was trained in. Prayer, awareness of God, trust and have faith. Pretty simple. I was a good child. All I remember of childhood is golden light. The air tasted like that to me. Very simple. And then I had that recurring dream of being a Tibetan monk at the age of 2. Every night, for a year. I remembered OM and the clear light. I must have practiced a lot of dream yoga in my previous life to remember that. It is clear as a bell even today. So I started practice early.

I discovered three stages to shamata practice.

One is a waterfall, where when I meditate there is a lot of experience up and down, one is a river, relaxed, clarity, joy and peace, the mind like a clear blue sunny sky, and one is a lake without waves, where the mind is clear vivid and luminous, filled with bliss and compassion all the time. All day and all night.

This of course is not enlightenment as you are still experiencing, you are still meditating, you are still tasting.

Some months ago the mind stabilized like that. And so I developed even deeper devotion and bodhicitta, praying to the gurus, masters, angels and saints, dedicating all merit to all beings.

Until one day there was no meditation and no meditator. I wrote a poem, a song about it, because there was nothing to say.

The Song of Uncontrived Simplicity.

The mind and heart are uncontrived, in a simple natural state.

Empty, luminous, clear

Such is the nature of ground

Everything arises as emptiness merged with compassion

Awareness and spaciousness

The flow is nectar itself

Such is the path

Self-arising, self-liberated

Naturally present wisdom

Naturally arising kayas

Such is fruition

All is One Taste


All is Gone


Before meditation, in meditation, post meditation and meditator all vanished

And none remained from this meditation on innate essence

Just this song

It was rather odd to be honest. Before this there was a taste.

Then for three days nothing.

This I discovered is very useful.

The beginning of simplicity or going beyond concept.

Meditation and meditator as one.

This is not enlightenment either.

It is a stage of direct realization.

Prior to this I had a dramatic experience, a very full taste.

15th century circa, Tibet, Manjushri, copper alloy, @ Rubin Museum of Art

Here it is

โ€œI sat to do my usual Yoga method of Avalokiteshvara Chenrezig meditation prior to dream yoga practice and at the point of invoking the deity Manjushri sitting on the throne of the snow lion (the deity having the strength of great loving kindness manifesting through me in the lucid dream of the previous night serving the purpose of all hell realm beings and eradicating the misery of those suffering the extremes of heat and cold), as he embraced the female deity of space, invoked from the essence of the pure land of Potalaka, clear white light as the essence of the deity was liberated from his/her heart-mind and entered my crown as a vajra. This meditator ceased to be.

Thereupon light and breath arose spontaneously and light and breath cycled in an uninterrupted flow so that awareness and light and breath travelled together, initially from crown chakra outside the body to the secret chakra in front and then wove a perfect web of light, a perfect sphere of light spontaneously, in front and behind, to left and to right, above and below, as there was no one to weave it and then this transformed into a woven web and then a perfect sphere of rainbow light, boundless and free, infinite and indestructible as if spun from the hearts of the five deities and consorts and their Buddha families themselves.

As it says in the tantras, the outer, inner and secret is like a matrix of an illusory display. It was as if the deities, consorts and families were pointing out the gateways to connect with their proper vessels. Then it was dharmakaya like space, free of elaboration, the great storehouse, the source of everything. There was no volition to finish and no meditation to maintain. This was stable over a long time. Over all my thirty or so dedicated years of meditation this was simply indescribably wordless and my description is a failure to describe the primordial wisdomโ€™s self-occurring awakened awareness.โ€

I had been taking personal advice from Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche after a Dzogchen retreat and then a dream yoga retreat and so all benefits were not of my doing.

I keep dreaming and seeing Manjushri. For years. Why? I keep asking him, why are you here. He answers me like the Rosary of Precious Questions from the Seventh Karmapa.

You whose heart is full of devotion

Who pay homage to me

The eternally youthful

Supreme Deity

Spiritual Doctor

I will change your devotion into ambrosia

Bring gifts and virtues

To all sentient beings

It feels like that. I keep receiving bountiful gifts. And passing them all on to you. However it is just a taste.

So this โ€œno tasteโ€ of the last three says was immensely helpful.

Beyond concept and luminosity are not just words. As you know you actually experience them. You become them. That state.

My meditations used to be very long. Now they are shorter.

The quality is very very clear.

Not so much experience.

More realization.

There is still attachment. Today strong vivid emotions of anxiety arose, from where I do not know, as they are very rare these days, somewhat analogous to the sun becoming brighter and the shadows becoming brighter. They are brief like boiling water being greeted by cold water, the moment I turn the lens of awareness towards it they settle and become peaceful.

Emptiness has become very strong. I am sitting here across from my wife and I am not seeing her but more being her. I am she and she is me, we are one. She is not an object of my awareness, she is awareness. She is love and everything about me, in the space and in this world is love.

My waking practice daily is to study Dzogchen (Great Perfection) with Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, Mahamudra (Great Seal) with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and Madhyamaka (Great Middle Way) with the Dalai Lama. Eternally grateful for the personal connections with them as they point out the way.

Meditation is simply sitting and noting what arises. Tiggles of clear light and rainbow light arise in meditation, dreaming and waking moments. Not stabilized over 24 hours but naturally present. Arising spontaneously.

Dreams on a dream yoga retreat are most insightful pointing out the way.

Lion-riding Manjusri via Pinterest - buddha

Lion-riding Manjushri via Pinterest

Last night in a lucid dream Manjushriโ€™s snow lion/tiger was loose in a hotel and about to kill many people. I was called in to help. I had to make the decision whether to kill the celestial lion, which symbolizes fearlessness or to let it wreak havoc and kill all the people. At that point I became lucid and recognizing the dilemma took a celestial spear and wounded the lion and asked all the people to evacuate. The lion was writhing in pain on its side so I went up to it and spoke to it and healed its side and then asked it to leave, which it did.

It was very profound and in the meditation that followed there was a flow of clear light like a waterfall, then pure realms clear light arising then rainbow light.

I simply sat, aware of understanding leading to direct experience leading to realization. Sutra to Tantra to pith instructions. Even the meditation is pointing out the way to me. Like fear arising or waterfalls it is all simply emptiness. One taste or no taste depending on how you want to look at it. My 2 year old self saw awareness pretty simply. I endeavor to learn from him.

I have found a very naturally arising practice to be blessing the air molecules that they may be liberated. It is as if the guru consciousness, the light of awareness in the heart of all, is alive and dancing in every molecule, love itself, gazing back at me. And after all, we do breathe these molecules so why not bless their liberation prior to inhaling. Why not bless love in all things, all people, all creatures, all air molecules? Life itself becomes a blessing.

As always, I dedicate all the benefits of my practice to you all.

And thank you all for being my teachers.

Love and blessings

Your humble and undoubtedly particularly lazy and slow-as-an-ox student

Stephen Altair
Available on Sound Cloud


Gratitude to all artists. Any queries or information, please contact me, Shekinahย  ย  ย  ย  ย 

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