Abhidhamma Twelfth Lecture

White dZambala Wong in the Garden Temple at Sakya Namgyal, Markham.Photo by Olivier Boels

The Abhidhamma

by Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche
Edited by Cecilie Kwiat

Introduction to the Abhidhamma
August – September 1977
12th of 16 Lectures


I would like to talk about ‘kaya-muduta’ – which could be translated as the body of mind-formations; light formations or consciousness as body. Just as when you speak a voice print could be made that would show the unique characteristics of your voice, mind also has an extension of shape and power; has its own unique characteristics. These patterns are transmitted. Even some human ideas are actually inherited; passed on genetically. There is a formational state during which the arising of a human body is connected with what I would call the developing consciousness. Jung called this the collective unconscious.

Certain ideas arise because you have a particular shape of body which is programmed to have such and such a flow of mental activity. This originates from the cells of the body. Your identity is far more cellular and less variable than you might assume it to be. Genetically coded cellular exchanges of messages eventually suggest streams of ideas to the being. There is some sense of how this operates when one examines language. Language grows from physical experience; it is actually the symbolic representation of bodily interaction with environment. Developing an extensive vocabulary depends on how fully you achieve contact with your body. Through great experience, you become open to new ideas. Another way of looking at this would be to say that the ideas in your being will be liberated through fuller experience.

How does this affect the individual? Because our bodies are in range of each other, you can be subject to the auric energy of all the beings around you – in a very slow, creative way. If you had other eyes, you would see this aura. There are many ways of seeing. If you were even able to view a roomful of people from high above, you would see differently. From that position they might not seem too removed from a society of termites. In fact, there are strong similarities between both species in terms of how they manipulate the environment to achieve particular ends. Exactly the same manoeuvres appear in termite and man. You actually do have the suggestion of termite consciousness in the material level of your being.

Although you think that you are having ideas, that you will ‘get’ awakening, that is nonsense! The real truth may be that you are an extension of the One Light, and you will come back into that One Light. In fact, it has never left you. All happenings are of the One Mind. You are one of the cells of a planetary mind. When you believe you are doing your own thing, you may only be performing the work of the planet. Maybe this earth needed messengers and so you were promoted to fulfill that role. You might not be very different than a flea on the body of a dog. So when teachers speak of the transcendence of ego, there might be a far vaster meaning behind that than you would at first suspect. Your thinking could just be a ploy, an attempt to maintain the state of ignorance to stop you from questioning the role of other people, or ideas, or even of the one presence. These are ideas for you to work with.

Above all, point your mind toward the question of ego, of individuality. When you see a fish swimming, are you watching an individual or one aspect of the consciousness of the whole school of fish? Perhaps humans are just like a school of fish, being propelled along an evolutionary path. Is it possible to analyze Homo sapiens in terms of how they work on this planet; see racial differentiation as a similar principle to the caste system that exists in hives? In bee colonies, specialized labour units are formed. Some bees carry out the intelligence work and some are responsible for emotional duties.

I wonder how totally your freedom from the environment has been won. How far are you from becoming an individual? Could it be that you are a two-in-one truth? Are you both an individual and a servant? Are you the servant of man, of the planet, of nature, of all creatures? Or are you just a creation of all the cats and dogs, the horses and so forth, present here by the grace of their consciousness? I don’t mind that you may be the servant of animal consciousness; there is cooperation between humans and other species. There is a co-relationship between all life forms on earth; we eat each other so therefore we support each other. You are a supporting influence, so be satisfied that you have certain work to do.

There is a great danger in our present situation, and that is pollution. The highest work that humans can do is reformation of nature, but from the rate of increased pollution it is possible that man may be destroying any basis for the continuity of life on this planet. Pollution of our environment is killing plants and animals at an incredible rate. And by poisoning the environment, we destroy mind; we kill the mind-base of this earth which is interwoven with every cell of our bodies.

Your cells store all the images of life. Your body is full of unemployed creatures! Every creature that has ever flourished on this planet is within you in idealized form. And in fact you should take great pride in this. You are the crown of enormous work. Nature has put hundreds of thousands of creatures on this planet, channelled the power of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution into this earth. And all creation needs you. All the forms that have ever walked or crawled on the face of this earth need you. You are jellyfish and starfish. You were prepared long ago to meet the day when life forms leave this planet and travel through space. The earth is, after all, a space ship; you are living on a space ship, building rockets and space craft. These ideas come to you because of the shape of your body. If you had some other form, you probably wouldn’t arrive at the concept of space travel. You are your body – not what you create. You are created for the purpose of transcending. You are the first possible transcendence of earth, and it took thousands of years to form you. Meanwhile, you think it’s important – it’s a matter of principle – to engage in futile protests to protect your neurotic desires just so you can walk barefoot into a dining room when you want!

You are coded for the galaxy. When you go into space you will need to have a harmonious body; you will need to feel the galaxies within you so you can move with familiarity. You are angled as space is angled. There are spirals in space just as your body is filled with spirals. Get the idea that you are already working in space; that the experience of space is written within you and space travel is within your own being. As to the dharma of genetic shaping, how do you know that you can’t change your shape now? Maybe the only reason you don’t is because you aren’t coded that way.

Imagine a ball within you. Then open it out. You can do that kind of visual manipulation with television cameras – can you do it within your body?

The work of humans is to reshape and recreate nature, and that isn’t only referring to out there. You can also reshape and recreate your body. All of the beings who experienced transcendence on this planet went out. They attained their own original space-curve, capable of travelling within any system. What do you know of the dignity of man? If you have no sense of the potential of humanity you will not open to these revelations. I have been speaking of the projection and the recreation of the body, and you are sitting there thinking: “Well, maybe in another life.” Never mind when; whether it happens in this life or another, all these seeming miracles will be attained even if it takes billions of years. But when do you start to consider the possibilities?

At the moment it appears that you are rather like a piece of vegetation, and unfortunately some of you are quite content to vegetate. One time the Buddha gave a discourse on this topic. He said that a gardener came one day to his garden where he saw a number of young trees that had grown crooked. He plucked them out, without mercy, because they weren’t fulfilling the promise of their environment. In terms of the promise of your environment – space – you are nowhere. As a human being you should question whether you are personally matching the accomplishments of your time; whether you are in step with your history. Are you worthy of support? Are you furthering the work that laid the foundation for human beings to appear? Do you measure up to the centuries of effort that made you? Or are you a facetious freedom fighter, playing the game of enlightenment?

Do you feel the enlightenment process at work in your being? You should. But some of you are too flip. And the tragedy is that you think you are serious; you think that you want to know the way. So you talk about bioenergetics, read books, have discussions. Don’t talk about it: do it! Will biorhythms liberate you? The closest way is the historical way. Do you go with the free? Or do you shop around for the latest trend? Fashions have gone around, over, under – trying to get it together to make the flight into pure space. You are very fortunate because you are hearing one of the divine systems. You are present at a time when the work of millions of years has prepared this planet to transcend itself. The planet is passing into God.

If phenomena have never been important to you, it is because you lack a sense of history. If you have never read the seals of your body, you really are spaced out! That can be the only result of such an attitude – to end up out of space. When you are aware you are spacing. Don’t keep your environment lined up in order to maintain control. It is often because you feel your senses are always being clobbered that you don’t want to be aware. I suggest that you trim away all that lining; the lenses of your sensing are so thickened by day-glo colours and big sound that you seem to have lost touch with possibility.

Perhaps you have some concept of enlightenment being like a romantic marriage on a mountain top. Or riding on an elephant. Maybe you even go so far as to imagine it as a monkey riding an elephant. But the environment is riding you. Monkeys, by the way, most often travel by swinging from branch to branch. Travelling in that way, eventually a monkey will be transformed into a tulku. But as for you: at the rate you are going, not in this lifetime!

If you spend your time wondering what caused your neurosis, trying to pinpoint what happened to make your life so difficult, I have a suggestion for you. Change the question. Really you should be asking “I wonder if I am a human being? How did this miraculous event occur?”

So, how will you get a powerful sense of history? Should you study biology, zoology, botany? Yes. But also, watch nature by opening your eyes. The Buddha said: “Within this fathom long body, subject as it is to decay and corruption, nevertheless I show you the arising and passing away of the universe.” I show you the rising and the passing away of the universe. I show you, but you don’t believe it because you won’t come to see. You are so full of colour that you’re out of sight. You can’t be touched, heard, or cognized by anything other than the One Mind.

Well, let us suppose the Buddha meant what he said: within this body which is subject to corruption and senility – even at your young age! You think I’m joking, but I’m not. Relative to where you could be, it seems to me that you are lagging behind the evolutionary push. Maybe you are suffering from mental retardation. In comparison to a star, some beings seem to have been frozen by solidity of view at the developmental stage of a fifteen year old who is dedicated to replicating parental voices. Why are so many lives being wasted?

Humanity reminds me of a great city burning energy to create mediocrity without regard for the potential available in the human mind. There is the potential to lift a hundred thousand beings into space, and mankind puts up one. The sad part is that you are suffering and you don’t even know it. No wonder you carry on with your facetiousness: what else do you know?

When did you last enter your body to see the beings within? What do you know of the immensity of mind? When was the last time angels appeared to you? What experience of transcendence has time poured into you? If it was poured, you were busy being a sieve; your cup is certainly not running over with attainment. How many mantra have you sung; really sung? How many of the mind-tools, the man-trails, have you followed? How many doors have you unlocked? How many shining lights; how many stars have you returned to infinity?

STUDENT: Not many.

TEACHER: Nothing. Something has to drive the flippancy out of you, you crafty, defensive being. “Not many.” The answer should have been “Not enough”, or something to indicate the on-going movement of the depth. Presuming there is an answer. Carry on.