What are blessings?


Everyone is blessed

Anyone can receive blessings any time. We just have to believe in, or tune into, or even actually mix with, the fount of blessings, however we may construe it, and blessings will always come streaming into us like sunshine into a darkened room.

Some of my Facebook friends posted beautiful comments in response to the question: “What exactly are blessings?” Here are some of them.

Eileen Quinn kicked it off with: “Good things that flow into your mind from the Buddhas…. I think of the sudden feelings of peace or happiness – out of the blue – as blessings.” Adam Head calls blessings “divine love/inspiration”. Debbie Howard describes them as: “Good healing energy zapping the negativity in our minds and filling them with positivity.” Victoria Kaya says: “It’s when you realise you’re not alone and you feel a peace that flows through you and emanates to others.”

MJ Weaver emailed me: “Francesca Fremantle wrote in her book Luminous Emptiness: Understanding the Tibetan Book of the Dead: “The Tibetan literally means ‘an engulfing wave or flood of splendor and power.’ I saw elsewhere that the Sanskrit word ‘adhisthana’ literally meant ‘uplift’. And they’ve been described as ‘waves of grace’, which certainly rings true for me.”

And there were more great comments that I’d like to share in future articles. Please add your own in the box below too!

Transformation through inspiration

Blessings, in Tibetan “jin gyi lob”, means “transformation through inspiration”. Our minds can mix with the minds of holy beings (however we construe them) and transform from sad to happy, dark to light, negative to positive, very smoothly. Not just my FB friends, but many people from all backgrounds around the world can attest to the power of blessings transforming their hearts and lives. If blessings don’t exist, then don’t you find it a coincidence how many millions of people over millennia have given such similar descriptions of what it is like to receive them?!

Once we’ve tasted blessings, it is obvious that they exist, even if we don’t immediately understand them or trust they are what they are. The trick is, how can we tune in more deliberately so that we can receive blessings whenever we want, on tap as it were? How can we deliberately throw open that window so the sunshine pours in?

Grandpa

Some years ago, when he was in his late nineties, I had a very interesting conversation with my mother’s father. A very bright doctor, scientist and religious skeptic his entire life, my extraordinary grandfather received an epiphany in his sixties, when everything dissolved away into “clear light” (his words) and he saw deeply how his mind was mixed with the mind of God (his words). He described this experience to me as “spontaneous great bliss”, which somewhat surprised me as that expression is used in Tantric Buddhism yet he had never come across Tantric Buddhism. He said that, much as he loved his family and had derived great joy from them, this blissful and connected experience transcended and surpassed everything he had ever known. He saw that everything, including his family, his career and his entire life, just arose like a reflection from the clear light of his mind mixed with God’s mind and had no existence separate from it. And that clear light was pervaded by love, a deep feeling for the interconnectedness of everything.

We then had a discussion about how everything is created by mind. Whether God’s mind or our own minds we left open to discussion, but in Buddhism there is a way to reconcile the two understandings. Buddhists don’t believe in a creator God as a person who is all-powerful and who creates us like a carpenter creates a table. But we do see how everything can be understood to manifest from the mind of omniscient wisdom and bliss that is not inherently different to our own very subtle clear light mind, even if our mind is at present obstructed by ignorance and mistaken appearance. (You can understand a lot more about this if you read Geshe Kelsang’s clear teachings in Mahamudra Tantra.)

My grandfather’s mystical experience was marvelous and life-changing, and he also had further experiences like it. But they were always random, he said. They would “descend” upon him when he was just in the garden tending his flowers, or playing the piano, or taking his long daily walk. Sometimes they came when he was in Guildford cathedral or his local church, more often when he was relaxed at home.

So I said to him: “You know, there is a method to tune into that experience of spacious loving bliss whenever you want.” Because there is. Blessings are blissings. If we know how to tune in, we can access this mystical experience by mixing our minds with the minds of all enlightened beings, who are always experiencing this clear light of bliss inseparable from the ultimate nature of all phenomena. Our mind, like a drop of water, can dissolve into their mind, which is like a boundless blissful ocean. The drop is then pervaded by the ocean.

Drop in an ocean. Ocean in a drop.

(I love this subject and have written loads more, so watch this space! And please leave your comments in the box below.)

Comments

  1. Wonderful article Luna! Your grandpa sounds like one truly special being. You are so fortunate that he shared his experiences with you. And thank you so much for sharing them with us. xx

  2. nalini says:

    Thank you for the inspiring story.

  3. Chandra says:

    How wonderful you had a Bodhisattva Grandpa guiding you! This is a great article to remember to be open to receiving blessings all the time. I remember Dekyong saying that you need to open your mind like a Lotus and let the blessings in before a Tara empowerment. Thanks for reminding us.

  4. Blessings are blissings, like waves of grace. Beautiful :)

  5. Hi Luna, this story really moved me. We sometimes forget that we can tap into blessings and we rely on things being so concrete, however sometimes blessings just come and we feel the presence so deeply. I was in my Christian theology class last week and we were discussing Aquinas and causality, then all of a sudden i felt such a deep connection to everyone in the room. i looked in my tutor’s eyes and could see that she felt that too. When discussing any faith i always remember how much my faith is so special. Any time i feel disconnected i close my eyes and see Geshela and i feel so lucky. I pray that even in these degenerate times every living thing connects to the blessings regardless of what each of us believe. Your Grandad is very special :)

  6. If we truly believed in our guru
    There would be no other source for blessing
    We offer and we dedicate
    But we do not truly receive
    His blessing is in knowing him
    Believing in his strength to change us all.
    But we separate our self from him
    When we see his blessing as an effect
    Of the virtuous causes we create.
    Yes the virtuous acts of his followers
    Play a key role in the transformation of the world,
    But until his blessing is projected through us
    In a non-dualistic way
    It will always be stained, and limiting.
    He will ignite the nuclear bomb within all hearts
    But we believe that we must ignite it our selves
    And the world continues in a diminished state of blessing,
    While the light of our Guru is clouded.

    • Hi Joe, thank you for this lovely poem. There is a restriction on comment length for practical reasons on this blog, so can you post the rest of your epic poem in parts on this and even the other Blessings articles. Thanks, it’s appreciated.

      You might be interested to know also that there is a new Facebook page for Kadampa poetry: https://www.facebook.com/KadampaPoetry
      It’ll be nice to see your contributions on there.

  7. Believe your grandpa was a very wise and compassionate man. In emptiness all things become equal. He used the term God, and once Venerable Geshela said that we could say God is like the dharmakaya (2004 Festival) — all things come from this basis if you think about it. It helps me anyway as a now Buddhist (inner being) coming from a Christian background. I embrace any blessings I can get and thank you for blessing my day with your light of wisdom, Luna. Namo.

    • I remember it well — that was a very interesting teaching that Geshe-la gave and I’ve been wanting to take another look at his exact words, but am having trouble finding the correct date of the teaching. If you or anyone else know it, please let me know.

  8. Ike Lichtenstein says:

    Since the first time I opened the book Joyful Path to Good Fortune my mind has been filled with blessings. Turning the pages hour after hour with my mouth opened. A new way to be in the world mixed with a confirmation of how stupid things were the stupid things I had experienced so far in the world in which I lived in. Page after page my mind became lighter and lighter, what relief! I had no idea these words from Geshe-la were blessing my mind. Felt like I had heard it all before but I knew not in this lifetime.

    Then in a TTP class my teacher taught us about Guru Yoga and mixing our minds with our guru’s mind. In effect, let the guru do the meditating. Wow! My root guru meditating on emptiness(or any other subject) within my mind and I could be part of it! How cool! This was truly a blessed experience. Wait it gets better!

    As the teachings progressed, we learned about the emptiness of our mind and then the emptiness of the guru’s mind. Now mix the emptiness of my mind with the emptiness of the guru’s mind, Holy cow that did it! A way to absorption meditation for me that was even superior to the fantastic body mandala of Vajrayogini practice.

    In the beginning, I had a hard time with the concept of blessings – not anymore. I can be anywhere focus my mind inward, deeper and deeper. Eventually, the Guru’s mind is mixed with my mind and from that point on it is a blessing feast! Others do this with Buddhas, I do it with my root guru. Why? Because it works for me! To me my root guru is kinder than all the Buddhas so here is where i am tuned in!

    Thanks for the topic and the chance of the Dharma I have learned and experienced.

  9. Loved the picture of Grandpa with the window to his soul!

  10. I heard in a class that whenever your mind is focused in virtuous objects like prayers, patience, compassion, wisdom, etc., we are tuning our minds to the Buddhas’ minds, and that is why we feel that something is changing inside us, ie blessings.
    By tuning our mind in this way, we can understand that the potential is already there, we just need to let it grow and be free. The more we abide in this minds, the more the potential will be able to grow.

    I like this explanation very much because it makes a lot of sense, is not like magic or mysterious events, you just need to focus on pure minds, instead of ordinary minds.

    ps. I really like when you share your stories about Geshe-la, thank you for that. I feel like I can identify with them, even if I never had the merit to have a close (physical) relationship with him.

  11. It feels as though blessings are when Buddha makes your inner winds pure, you can definitely feel them through your body. When your winds become more pure, the minds that are inseparable from them can’t help but be more pure too, I think this is how blessings can help us to bypass the conceptual mind to find peace.

    This is just my theory, let me know if it sounds right, or if it isn’t right, then i can improve my understanding.

    • Yes, there is truth in this, which is how the Buddha Heruka body mandala practices are designed to be a quick path to receiving blessings in our subtle body of our channels, winds (prana/chi), and drops. It also works the other way — bless the mind, and its accompanying winds become pure wisdom winds. Readers can find out more about this profound Tantric subject in Mahamudra Tantra.

  12. Kelsang Pawo says:

    Blessings arise from the pure view of omniscient mind.

    The motivation of a Bodhisattva is bodhichitta, the wish to become enlightened in order to free all living beings from suffering.

    When a buddha becomes enlightened he (she) does not become enlightened from that moment onwards (so to speak), he frees his mind of all sufferings & imprints of suffering, he frees his entire mental continuum, past present & future, everything becomes pure, all beings become pure, past present & future. Because of his pure omniscient mind he also sees your entire mental continuum as pure as well (but he knows you don’t neccesarily see it that way). In this context he has fulfilled his bodhisattva wish, for him all living beings are free from suffering. But I am not free from suffering (you cry). From the point of view of buddha you have, this is correct view, from your point of view you haven’t, this is an incorrect deluded view. This is our blessing, he sees us as we want to be, if we open our mind to his view, his view will become our view. We will become omniscient as well.

    • Kelsang Pawo says:

      Must learn to proof read before posting, sorry for the typos.

      Just to add a little to the above, when we do open our mind to that of the omniscient mind of Buddha, the blessings not only enable any karmic imprints we have to move our mind towards that mind that Buddha sees, but we may also get a glimpse of the nature of this omniscient mind, which arises from the union of great bliss & emptiness, so we may feel a little blissful as well.

    • Yes, from a Buddha’s perspective we are pure, just not inherently. Whereas from our perspective we are inherently impure and suffering. If we can move closer to Buddha’s perspective, we’re getting there.

      I remember in one of my earliest visits to Geshe Kelsang, my teacher, that i was going to explain all my problems to him and have him solve them. I couldn’t wait! But the moment i walked in the door, before i opened my mouth, he looked into my eyes and said: “L, you have no problems.”

      That has stuck with me ever since.

  13. Luna,
    You are so kind to share your story with us. I loved it.

  14. Excellent, Thank you.

  15. Thank you! Wonderful article. I love the line, “Blessings are blissings” and the story about your grandfather.

  16. Thank you for another lovely article Luna. I particularly like the picture of your Grandfather mixed with the light from the window. Quite moving. _/|\_

  17. DhiDakini says:

    This article shows up as a blessing itself – thank you so much!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Luna! I really enjoy reading your articles.

  19. Bless you Luna!!

    This is really beautiful.. love your Grandpop too

    Big Love,
    Paul

Trackbacks

  1. […] Life: What are Blessings? As Shantideva says in the beginning of Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, Buddha’s […]

  2. […] (See also Luna Kadampa’s surfing-life’s-waves for another side to Lojong, and what are blessings?) […]

I'd love to hear from you...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,536 other followers

%d bloggers like this: