Author Topic: Shambhavi Mahamudra  (Read 149 times)

DogManStar

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Shambhavi Mahamudra
« on: May 20, 2020, 12:02:27 PM »

Hello, 

I have been reading about this Shambhavi Mahamudra technique.   It sounds a bit like it is primarily sitting for long periods with eyes crossed.   Is this correct?  Is sounds like it may not be safe.   It would certainly become painful quite quickly.   Could it lead to the eyes being permanently misaligned?   What are the benefits if this practice?

Thanks in advance for responses.

Matthew

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Re: Shambhavi Mahamudra
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2020, 03:38:55 PM »

Hello, 

I have been reading about this Shambhavi Mahamudra technique.   It sounds a bit like it is primarily sitting for long periods with eyes crossed.   Is this correct?

I'm not very familiar with this, and had to take a look at a few websites to gain some insight. It seems more aligned with hindu or brahmanic tantra practices than any form of Buddhist practice. Within Buddhism Mahamudra is a "high" tantric practice, encompassing the direct transmission, from guru to student, of the inherent and inseparable nature of wisdom and emptiness. It is taught both in Tibetan and Indian Buddhist tantra.

My journey into meditation and Buddhist study and practice began living and working in a Tibetan Karma Kagyu meditation centre. Though my root teacher told me that everything I did was already inherently Vajrayana practice, I have steered clear however of following any of those paths towards more "direct insight".

In part this is due to the reliance upon the guru student relationship - something experience showed me was inherently risky: giving over of oneself totally and completely to the guru is a necessary prerequisite. The potential power dynamics of this seemed misplaced in a world where I saw how often such a devotional path could (and often has) turned abusive, or dysfunctional. It was also due to seeing how often Western students became more egoistic, not less, through such practices. Oftentimes there was an air of supposed superiority with such people, sometimes, frankly, they would be utterly delusional and bordering on psychotic or diagnosably mentally unwell.

So, with that background, and looking at this practice, it would seem to be one which would need transmission from a guru - and, in general, I would not recommend going down such a path. It also does not sit well with me as to attempt to undertake such a practice alone would seem ill-advised. Finally, the whole thing seems very fabricated, and based on some religious concepts that do not fit well with the understanding of Buddha Dhamma, which is fundamentally about "seeing things as they truly are" as a route to personal transformation - and which is inherently outside of any "religious" doctrine. Buddhism, in this light, is not a religion: it relies upon no blind faith.

In general, forced practices, often seen as one or other "short cut" on the path are, in my experience, ones that pose risks of missing out on the basics, or not "doing the homework" required to bring to fruition the qualities of mind and lived morality that are the bread and butter of the transformational nature of following the teachings. I therfore urge caution and careful consideration to anyone considering them.

Buddhism is about seeing things as they are and taking charge of how you manifest in this world, including seeing the nature of your own mind, how it functions, and being responsible for yourself, and for changing yourself: seeing the habitual, and seeing through this, undoing the habituated patterns that arise from clinging, aversion, and ignorance/indifference. This is at times inherently boring, and it is easy for ego to be pulled away from the repetitive, boring hard work of overcoming obstacles and deeply embedding/embodying the lessons and changes the path offers.

Twenty years of practice and study has lead me to the firm conviction that the only short cut worth the effort is ruthless self-honesty, and uninterrupted development of the wholesome qualities of wisdom and compassion. The best teacher is your own experiential development of these, and the foundational qualities they arise from, both on the cushion, and in every moment of your daily life.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2020, 03:49:22 PM by Matthew »
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Dhamma

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Re: Shambhavi Mahamudra
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2020, 06:03:58 PM »
Shambhavi Mahamudra is a series of Isha Yogi techniques to bring about greater enlightenment.  I could be wrong, but it involves a lot of breathing techniques to help calm the mind.

I do Shambhavi Mudra (not Mahamudra), which is a *one* meditation technique in Shambhavi Mahamudra where you tilt your head upwards a bit and focus your eyes on the third chakra area. And you simply watch your mind, letting thoughts come and go (not different than any other Buddhist meditation technique).  Is it dangerous? Not at all. It takes getting used to, however, as the eyes don't naturally like that position. But it becomes first nature over time.  You can get a bit dizzy and nauseous at first. Once you get used to it, it relaxes the mind, and allows you to keep your mind better focused (concentration meditation).  I have never gotten "blissed out" by it. LOL.

By the way, I agree with what Matthew is saying, more or less. He makes a lot of very good points.  But we do have to understand that Buddha himself was an Indian yogi first.  So, Buddhism and Yogi spirituality are very similar in many regards, despite the differences. Buddhism derives out of the Yogic traditions of India. It reminds of many conservative Protestant groups in the United States who refuse to admit their origins in the Catholic Church. It is what it is. Protestantism derives from Catholicism - end of story.

Furthermore, I am a Buddhist, not a Yogi. And on this forum, I promote principally the holy teachings of the Dharma, as understood by the Buddha. That said, I pull from these ancient yogi traditions where it can help me have better concentration and physical and mental relaxation, as long as it doesn't run counter to the Dharma.

Interestingly, Vajrayana Buddhism (Tibetan) shares much more in common with the Yogi traditions of India than we see in the Theravadin or Zen/Chan traditions.  For example, in Tibetan Buddhism, they do deity visualization meditations. And, in Bön Buddhism - a specific Tibetan school - they believe strongly in the chakra system and have their own physical yogic exercises (Kum Nye, Tsa Lung, etc). That said, it is still Buddhism, not a Yogic school.

All that said above, some Buddhist monks in other traditions may do Qigong exercises, but exercises are not the backbone towards enlightenment - it is strictly the mind, while understanding how the mind impact bodily sensations.

Let me elaborate a bit with these ideas: Where I find yogic schools to be of use is their abilities to understand that the body can need manipulation through energies systems (the chakras) for achieving a clearer, or more stable mind. This reduces physical and emotional suffering as well. While I believe strongly in the "hard work route" as set forth by Matthew (no doubt, friend), sometimes our bodies will not cooperate with our minds, even if our minds are ultimately more powerful.  The Yogis have always understood the that mind and body are inextricably connected. So, do Buddhists disagree with that said idea? Not at all; in fact, Buddhists traditions always say we need to stay "grounded" in the body and to feel completely those sensations in the body without getting lost in fantasy, delusion and folklore. I do believe, though, that yogi spirituality is way too much about getting "blissed out" for my liking,  which will ultimately create greater delusions, attachment and suffering; whereas Buddhism -- which I practice -- has a bit of a tendency to downplay the body's energy systems impact on the mind. With common sense, however, we can do these yogi exercises without getting attached to the idea of gleaning some "spiritual high" from them.

Incidentally, I am all for Qigong exercices as well, as long as we don't use them for spiritual "to-get-blissed-out" sessions. But, in all honesty, qigong doesn't use "let's-get-a-spiritual-high" language, as they do in true Yogi schools. And, it is important to state that in Bön Buddhism, the yogic exercises are not used for "bliss", but rather for concentration and achieving *inner silence*.

Let me finish with this: Have any yogis of India achieved enlightenment over the millenia? Absolutely, as a few seemed to have surpassed the "get blissed out" silliness. Should Buddhists owe them high respect, particularly those with strong lineages? Absolutely. Do I recommend Yogi spirituality? Yes, especially way more than any Western religion. But, do I think that Buddhism is superior? Well, let's just say: Buddhism tackles understanding ultimate reality from the get-go. Isn't that really more important than trying to get blissed out, despite their being much overlap with Buddhism and Yogi spirituality? It's all about understanding *reality* in the end, which the legitimate yogis seem to have partially understood in a very general sense.


Peace and enlightenment
« Last Edit: May 20, 2020, 06:19:19 PM by Dhamma »

Guillaume

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Re: Shambhavi Mahamudra
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2020, 01:54:52 PM »
Thanks for that, this is really effective.

I have recently discovered pranayama techniques that turned out to be also very effective, especially in the morning for waking up the body before meditation.

dharma bum

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Re: Shambhavi Mahamudra
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2020, 05:36:59 PM »
Quote
In part this is due to the reliance upon the guru student relationship - something experience showed me was inherently risky: giving over of oneself totally and completely to the guru is a necessary prerequisite. The potential power dynamics of this seemed misplaced in a world where I saw how often such a devotional path could (and often has) turned abusive, or dysfunctional.

Quite true. Especially true because Zen has legends in which so-called Zen masters subjected their students to abuse - the student is expected to use their as learning experiences to cultivate detachment. Many instances of abuse have happened in recent times because the students mistakenly believe that it is part of their training.
Mostly ignorant

Dhamma

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Re: Shambhavi Mahamudra
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2020, 05:01:34 PM »
Thanks for that, this is really effective.

I have recently discovered pranayama techniques that turned out to be also very effective, especially in the morning for waking up the body before meditation.

I am glad to share Shambhavi Mudra with you.

What is the pranayama technique you do in the mornings, friend? Would you mind sharing it with me?

Take care.

Guillaume

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Re: Shambhavi Mahamudra
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2020, 06:58:43 PM »
What is the pranayama technique you do in the mornings, friend? Would you mind sharing it with me?
Sure. I do bhastrika and kapalabhati. I think they are the very basics of pranayama, but really effective.
I find bhastrika great for waking up the body, and even better for finding a right meditation position (one that let us breathe fully).
Take care.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2020, 07:07:58 PM by Guillaume »