Link to Retreat by Rob Burbea

Practice Talks

Opening, Tuning and Relating to Images (1)

  • Energy Body Practice awareness is the basis of this practice
    • Other imaginal practice traditions encourage people to concretize images in art, but that’s not what we’re doing
  • Patience with images is key
  • Images don’t need to arise in formal meditation, but can come up anytime in our lives

Ways to Elicit Images

  1. Soaking in Samadhi and after a while coming out of it, relaxing the attention, creates a fertile ground for images
  2. Similarly, Emptiness practice can get us in a state where reality becomes less substantial and images can arise
  3. When we are in a state of emotional upset, we can allow that state to “constellate” an image in our mind
    • An example could be letting the Inner Critic come in an image and interacting with him/her
    • Even if these states can seem egoic, we can have a sense of trust in the intelligence of the image
  4. Deliberately eliciting images that feel relevant (memories, dream figures, spiritual figures movie/books characters)
  5. Imaginally entering a sacred space (like a monastery, a forest, a cave) and letting images arise
    • Journeys moving through time and space are discouraged as they could contribute to solidifying the self
  6. Opportunistically catching yourself daydreaming, and shifting the quality of attention to images and energy body
  7. Opening your eyes - seeing the world as image - the image can be the world

Opening, Tuning and Relating to Images (2)

Mindfulness of Image

  • We’re talking about mindfulness of (or with) images, not daydreaming
    • Keeping attention to the image, like we would to the breath
    • Awareness of energy body
    • Knowing image as image (mindfulness of view)
    • Sensitivity of resonance, emotions, energy that come up in relation to the image
    • Awareness of sense of Self in relation to the image

Aspects of Mindfulness of Imaginal

  1. How do I sense the image (visual, auditory, taste, intuitive)?
  2. Does the image want to fill out (is it just an image or is it creating an environment surrounding it, perhaps with more images?)
  3. Can we get a sense of the image’s character (not just sticking an archetype label to it)?
    1. What is the specificity that’s important to this image (some aspects will be more specific and some more vague)?
  4. What is the emotional and energy body resonance (we try to balance attention to the image and to the energy body)?
    • Recognize that an image is soulmaking through effects on energy body
      1. Alignment of vertical axis of the energy body (can be very subtle)
      2. Opening, softening or energizing of the energy body
      3. Feeling an energy body moving (dancing, flying) outside of our physical body
  5. Thoughts, reactions views
    • Careful of:
      • The temptation to seek advice from an image (reinforces sense of ego)
        • We’re more interested in the resonance
      • The tendency to reduce images to one representation, archetype or the result of our history
      • The idea that the more outlandish the image, the better (more interested in the relationship with the image)
    • It is ok to allow some thinking about the framework around images once in a while
  6. What does the image want?
    • May want to:
      • Be Seen
      • Be Expressed in a certain way
      • See you in a certain way
  7. Stance to the image
    1. Looking at the image
    2. Enter into/Identify with the image
    3. Feeling of being seen

Opening, Tuning and Relating to Images (3)

Walking Meditation

  • Any meditation can be done walking, both Samadhi, Metta and Imaginal
    • Rob gives details on how to practice walking

Healing Possibilities and Examples with Imaginal

Relationship with Images

  • What is the relationship between this image and my life?

    • Not a question to think about rationally too much
    • Something to we will get glimpses of or feelings about
  • Sometimes images will give us advice

Dealing with Doubt

  • It’s common to wonder and worry “Am I doing this right”?

  • Trying to shift the question in the mind to “Is this helpful?"

    • "Does it feel soulful?”
  • Assuming an attitude of play and experimentation

  • ”Am I making this up?”

  • It is ok, if an idea or an image is coming from the conscious mind

    • Not a problem if I’m making something up
  • What matters is if it is nourishing the soul

    • Soulfulness is the indicator of our practice
Images in Our Lives
  • ”I don’t get images”
    • We trained ourselves to not trust, or to not let images come up
    • Images don’t need to be visual
    • The deepest objective of the practice is not to get images, it is to open up to a new way of sensing life, opening the perceptions of self, other and world
      • Example of practitioner working with the image of Quan Yin, and then seeing her in people in her life
      • Similar to Mother Theresa practicing seeing Christ in everyone

Beyond Self-Help

  • Playing with the idea that we’re serving the image, not the opposite
  • Taking the time with the images that feel deep and important
    • Deep images are like music that you want to listen to over and over

Theophany and Cosmopoesis (Instructions)

  • Cosmopoesis (artistic creation of the cosmos)
    • Letting the divinity of an image spread to the surroundings (deliberately or spontaneously)
      • Eyes can be open or closed
    • Metta and emptiness practices can facilitate this

Examples of Ways of Looking for Cosmopoesis

  • Imagining the breath as the breath of god, or breathing with the beloved

    • Surrendering to being breathed
  • Hearing sounds in the world (birds, wind) as mantra (divine speech), or divine songs of joy

  • Poetic ideas that bring cosmopoesis may arise spontaneously (“all things are gift from the divine”)

  • We may need to keep attention to the way of looking to allow cosmopoesis to arise

1 - Doorways and Directions

Cultural Attitudes Towards Images

  • Historically lots of denigration of imagination
    • Socrates, Dante, and Descartes had recurring images coming up and were made fun of
  • Images are seen as unhealthy or crazy by the scientific reductionist model
    • Even psychology is mostly coming from the medical model
      • Imagination seen as something to be transcended after childhood
    • Secular mindfulness culture today is relying on this model as well

These attitudes contribute to many of our unconscious beliefs

Ranges of Imaginal Practices

  • Creative planning and visioning
  • Develop certain skills or rehearse (sports, music, etc…)
  • Self-improvement
  • Buddhism
    • Contemplation of death (in cemetery or imagination)
    • Recollection of the Buddha (to deal with hindrances, spark inspiration)
    • Deities that spark metta or other qualities
  • Psychotherapeutic Approaches
    • Internal Family Systems
      • Images seen as part of ourselves that need to be integrated
      • Not desirable to have images be more powerful than self

What Practice Are We Talking About?

  • Not so much about the images themselves, but more about our relationship with the images, our conceptual framework about them
  • Opening the range to all kinds of images
    • From the angelic, loving ones to the more disturbing ones
  • What is imaginal practice in the service of?
    • What am I allowing images to be in the service of?
      • That’s up to each practitioner
      • For Rob, it is opening up a whole new conception and sense of existence, of the self, others etc..
  • The practice and our sensibility get subtler and subtler with time

Common Resistance to Imaginal Practice

  1. It is going to make you crazy
    • Gets you out of touch with reality
    • Fragments your self
  2. Inability to question cultural beliefs
  3. Imagination may invite us to go beyond the classical Dharma paradigm of ending suffering
  4. Images that arise or are heard do not fit in the person’s idea of Dharma
    • Erotic images, unusual archetypes etc…
  5. Multiplicity of self being given an equal validity and sense of beauty can be scary

Imaginal to Update/Upgrade our Practice

  • Imaginal may legitimize aspects of life that had been put aside or repressed
    • Eros, trickster quality, divine madness
  • As we practice we realize that fantasy and image imbue our lives anyway, and imbue our Dharma
  • Our notion of self is very different from that at the time of the Buddha
    • No reference to struggles with the Inner Critic, repression, self-expression, feeling seen or heard in the Pali Canon

Confused Relationship of Self

  • Mainstream culture celebrates and highlights the self
  • Spiritual circles often denigrate the Ego
  • We’re not honoring personhood as fully as it would be possible
  • We are accustomed to singularity of self
    • In this practice we open a plurality of self, beyond the simple recognition of multiple selves (sometimes found in Anatta (no-self) and the teachings of not-self)
      • Not just recognizing the many characters within ourselves
    • We can empower and bring to life these characters
    • We open a flexibility of self view and world view

2 - Doorways and Directions

What we’re interested with this practice is expanding our felt sense of sacredness and re-enchant the cosmos

  • Re-validating imagination as a “way of knowing”

Areas of Differentiation from Other Imaginal Frameworks

  1. Throrough sense of Emptiness of self
    • Expand the range of Self
    • Turn around our relationship with figures
    • Is there a place for divinity in the self of me and others?
      • Different from the divinity talked about in Oneness
      • It’s particular. Each personality as it expresses right now has its divinity
  2. Realization that fantasy and image already permeates our life
    • Not a bad thing
    • We see, think and love through image, fantasy and mythos
    • Is there a different way of conceiving the Dharma given that realization?
  3. Cosmopoesis
    • Using the imagination to open up the sense and perception of the world we live in
    • Malleability of perception of the cosmos
  4. Including and nourishing Soulfulness
    • Expansion of what we consider beautiful and meaningful
    • Expansion of range of Self
  5. Giving validity to Imagination as a “way of knowing”

Conceptions of the Dharma

  • Popular Dharma
    • This is it - Only the present moment exists
    • Try not to cling and let go
    • Try to be kind
  • Advaita
    • Everything is one
    • No-Self

Rob’s Proposed Conception

  • All the ones above are ways of looking to take on and put down
  • Dharma is the practice of this flexibility in lookings
    • We realize that what we perceive depends on the way we look
  • Turn towards “Hermaneutics”
    • Realizing that we are already (and always) bringing interpretations, biases into our perception of history
    • ”There is no single objective story of the Buddha”
    • Our vision of the Buddha is imbued by fantasy
  • Expanding the conception of the Four Noble Truths
    • Seeing them as keys to examine experiences, perceptions and reveal their emptiness
    • Help us widen our range of ways of looking

3 - Energy Body Instructions (Part 1)

Guided meditation starts at approximately minute 24:00- 1:06:00

3 types of mindfulness of the body

  1. Mindfulness of sensations (traditional)
  2. Mindfulness of materiality of the body
    • Contemplating death, the body’s decomposing, impermanent nature and its parts (teeth, hair, tissues, fat, liver etc…)
    • Includes imagination and conceptions of the body
  3. Mindfulness of the Energy Body Practice
    • Not a new age claim about energy or aura
    • A mode of sensing the body
      • No knowledge is required to feel it (while for the materiality of the body you need to know about organs etc…)
    • Giving attention to an area slightly bigger than the body
      • Paying attention to the texture, sensations, vibrations in this field
      • If you’re sitting on a chair, it includes the area beneath the chair
    • Keeping a playful, experimenting attitude
    • Breath may or may not be involved

Why Emphasize the Energy Body

  • Energy body practice develops Samadhi, filling us up with well-being
  • Sensitivity to energy body
    • makes us more aware of emotions and gives us a way to work with difficult emotions
    • Allows us to pick up on the resonance of different images (discern which images are helpful for soulmaking)
      • If I’m not in touch with the body I’m just daydreaming

4 - Energy, Image, Emotion (Part 1)

Intention of Samadhi

  • Using the energy body to cultivate states of well-being
    • Even if subtle
    • Allowing ourselves to enjoy
  • No need to let the Inner Critic measure how well we’re doing depending on how much pleasure we feel
    • Seeing this practice as an act of kindness, like taking a warm bath
    • We wouldn’t judge ourselves if we don’t relax “enough” during the bath
  • Keeping a playful and experimental attitude
    • Let’s see if I’d feel better by adjusting the breath this way
    • (Just like during your bath, you might fine tune the warmth of water)
  • Awareness will tend to shrink
    • Developing sensibility to it shrinking and expanding it again
  • Dealing with Pain in Meditation

Attention to Emotions

Developing Emotional awareness and learning to work skillfully with emotions

What we try to do with Emotions

  1. Increase our sensitivity to emotions, opening to the richness, and depth of our heart
    • Including the nuances
    • Senses of sacredness, boredom may all be quite subtle
  2. We want to be able to handle what happens in our heart
    • Both what is difficult and what is pleasant (intense joy)
    • Both emotions that come from our personal life and from the state of the world
  3. Cultivating fruitful, beautiful qualities of heart (love, joy, gratitude, generosity)
    • And learning to let go the unfruitful
    • Doesn’t mean to only tend to the pleasant. Sometimes paying attention to unpleasant emotions can be fruitful
  4. Sensitivity to emotions forms an important part of Imaginal practice
  5. Understanding our personal patterns and habits
    • Dependent arising of emotions

Not “Just Being” with Emotions

  • We pay attention to the mid-line of the body, from perineum to top of the head
  • Making sure energy of mindfulness is stronger than that of emotions
    • Otherwise we sink into the emotion without realizing it
  • The qualities within the attention are of huge importance, they might help or worsen what’s going on
    • Is there judgment and aversion, or gentleness, kindness etc…
    • Asking ourselves “Is this helpful?” If not, we may fine-tune our attention
  • Working with the Hindrances
    • Deliberately bringing up loving, helpful images that help
      • Love may feel bigger than the body
      • We can feel the whole body bathed in love
    • Sometimes they can arise spontaneously
    • Imaginal figures can be incredibly loving, healing and can help Samadhi to develop

5 - Energy, Image, Emotion (Part 2)

Difficult Emotions

  • Difficult Emotions have energy in them, but that energy is caught/trapped in an unhelpful vortex.
    • If an image arises with the difficult emotion, it may help to harmonize the energy

The example of Anger

  • Anger is not the same as ill-will
    • Ill-will involves the want for someone to suffer
    • Anger sometimes includes ill-will but doesn’t need to
  • Anger has a lot of energy in it
    • Sometimes if someone feels angry but low-energy or depressed, it may be because energy is not being recognized or allowed to be felt
    • If the anger is allowed, the energy body can expand and increase the energy (Feeling Through Emotions)
      • For example an image of a warrior might arise
    • Then it is not an afflictive emotion anymore, it can be used as creative energy

Low-Energy Default Groove

  • The state of low energy and slight depression may become the default in some cases
    • You don’t even realize you’re in it, it became so normal
  • Sometimes it could be caused by some sort of energy not being recognized (anger, eros, libido)

Assumptions About Emotions

  • If we’re attentive to our reactions to emotions we may find our assumptions about them
  • We might assume that emotions are just papancha
  • Or We might assume that emotions are sacrosant
    • That they always reveal the truth
    • We must respect them, be with them and not try to change them
  • We might always want to know why a certain emotion is there
    • Sometimes it’s helpful and we can know why
    • Sometimes we can’t know why
    • To always seek a reason puts too much pressure

Images and Emotions

  • Image can hold more than just an emotion
    • Many shades of emotions, sense of soulfulness, beauty, depth, duty
    • With this practice we’re interested in expanding the range
      • Of emotions and images that are meaningful and beautiful to us
  • Usually with anger we are lost in the object
    • All the energy is directed towards the object (often with ill-will)
    • We’re not aware of ourselves and our energy
  • In imaginal practice, there could be anger but not as much concerned with an object (without ill-will)
    • e.g. A raging warrior fighting, but the enemy is not a big part of the image

What is Primary?

  • Energy, image, and emotion all dependently co-arise, none of them is primary
  • The views that I have of images, emotions, energy affect how things unfold
  • Can I play with different views?
    • Meditation is the practice of ways of looking
    • This reveals the Emptiness of perceptions, which brings more and more freedom
    • non-clinging in Buddhism not as a way of living, but non-clinging to any one ways of looking

6 - Energy Body Instructions (Part 2)

  • Developing sensitivity to the energy body helps us
    • Cultivate Samadhi
    • Enable us to work with difficult emotions
    • Develop emotional and energetic sensitivity for all practices (metta, insight, imaginal etc..)

Emotional Awareness Via Energy Body

  • Developing sensitivity to subtle emotions (boredom, peace)
  • Cultivating the positive qualities of heart and letting go of the negative
  • Learning to handle both the difficult and positive emotions
    • Not just being with them, but also helping it dissolve
  • Witnessing the dependent co-arising of emotions


  • Keeping energy body in the background

  • Paying attention to emotions in the vertical mid-line of the body in the foreground

  • Giving steady, light attention to whatever is happening in the mid-line

  • We can wrap the emotions in the well-being and kindness of samadhi

    • Healing happens in the contact of the beautiful and helpful with the difficult
  • The energy of attention needs to be stronger than that of emotions

  • Paying attention also to the quality of attention and views

    • Keeping a gentle, holding quality of attention
    • Holding attention even when it seems like there are no emotions
    • What are my views? (e.g. “I shouldn’t be feeling this, If I don’t feel anything I’m not a good meditator”)
      • Play with switching the view (“whatever I’m feeling right now is perfect”)
      • Any emotion is fertile ground for imaginal practice

Practicing Allowing

  • Lessening of aversion and clinging are central to the practice
  • Making a practice of allowing
    • First getting intimate with whatever sensation is there
    • Opening the door, welcoming them as fully as possible
      • Shift in energetic relationship with emotions
      • Continuous process
  • Allowing is a way of practicing, not a way of living

7 - What Is an Image? (Part 1)

  • Images are not necessarily visual
    • Can be auditory, kinestetic
  • ”Images” may talk to us and share their wisdom
    • But the point is not so much on the dialogue even though it can be helpful
    • More emphasis on the images themselves, that can be full of meaningfulness
  • Images may not only arise in meditation but anywhere, at any time

Meaningfulness, Not Meaning

  • Images are not things to be deciphered, or to be explained
  • They are more like poetic images
    • Deep, inexhaustible, not reducible to a single meaning
    • They are open and ambiguous, there’es a mystery to it
      • That helps to keep them alive for us
    • There’s a poetic truth to it, not to be taken literal
  • We are not necessarily after striking visual images
    • But in Soulfulness
    • Images that embody certain qualities in a deep sense and how they relate to us (love, strength, intimacy etc…)

Narrative and Iconic Images

  • Narrative images unfold like a story, they are more dynamic
  • Iconic images stay as they are without evolving so much in a temporal or causal, sequential fashion
    • Timelessness to them
  • They are on a spectrum, not clearly defined
  • In this practice we lean more towards iconic ones
  • Some images are more ethereal, less substantial, some more earthy

Repeating & Pacing

  • Most images need repeating
    • Gradually we develop a different sensitivity and conception (of self, practice, the world)
    • Like listening to songs we love again and again
  • Pacing
    • We want to dwell and focus on images that come up
    • Not daydreaming and drifting from one to another

Archetypal Images

  • How Jung defines Archetypes
    • “Archetypes are typical forms of behaviour which … naturally present themselves as ideas and images. By way of these effects, we discover that they have an organizing influence on the contents of consciousness.” Carl Jung

    • An archetype is not an image, but what shapes images
      • You don’t meet one clear, single archetype
      • “The fact is that the single archetypes are not isolated from each other, but are in a state of contamination of the most complete mutual interpenetration and interfusion.”

  • James Hillman instead talks about “viewing an image as archetypal
    • Any image termed ‘archetypal’ is immediately valued as universal, trans-historical, basically profound, generative, highly intentional, and necessary.

    • The relationship with the image is part of the archetypal nature
    • The ways of looking are included in the way we intend the word “image”

8 - What Is an Image? (Part 2)

  • Images are alive
    • They are autonomous in some ways
    • They are not just a part of me that I can control
  • Images can cross-pollinate, they’re fertile
    • There’s nothing wrong with integrating myths, other people’s images and more into our images
    • The psyche is creative and opportunistic and takes experiences from our life

Divinity & What’s Real

  • Entertaining the view that images are rooted in the divine
  • If we speak of Gods, we are creating these gods
    • We are fabricating them in our psyche, yet they are in some way real
    • Neither real nor not real
  • Images always dependently co-arise with the ways of looking
    • Not yet an “image” in the way we mean it unless we have a sort of relationship to it
    • We’re playing with conceptual frameworks
  • What if we don’t dismiss the images as neurons firing in our brain, but we don’t either literalize it and interpret it too rigidly?

Differences with Papancha

  • ”Images” are imbued with meaningfulness, timelessness, beauty, depth
    • They are expansive, connected to the energy body
  • In papancha, we can also assign a lot of energy and significance to memories
    • Images just mean what we think they mean, they are small concretized, there’s no depth and beauty
    • The ego is wrapped up in them
    • There’s contraction of the psyche and energy body

9 -Love and Demands of the Imaginal

  • The traditional psychology view is that images represent something that aids the growth of the self
    • Some quality that I lack and can integrate
    • This kind of view, while useful, is very limiting if held exclusively

We Are the Door for What Wants to Come Through

  • We can entertain the idea that images love us and have demands for us (the self is in service of the soul and images, not the other way around)
    • Our task is not our Self’s individuation, but the angel’s (or God’s) individuation
    • Images can be regarded as influxes from the divine
  • We’re choosing this conceptual framework to support soulmaking
    • We’re not in the realm of the provable, we’re just entertaining different conceptual frameworks
    • Imaginal Dharma as art, not science (artists like Rilke, Picasso, T.S. Eliot felt something bigger making a demand on their being)
  • We might have to be careful to not confuse those demands from the ego’s demands
    • Although sometimes the self could get some embedded in the image, that its demands also become soulful
    • We might sometime dismiss desires as ego cravings, but if we look more carefully we might be surprised

If we possess a why in life, we can put up with almost any how Nietzche


  • Three General Demands

    1. Open up the consciousness to the imaginal realm and to value it
      • Open up beyond the narrow rigid view of everything being reduced to matter
    2. Open to the multiplicity of mythos and fantasy
      • Being stuck in only one fantasy deprives us from freedom and creates all sorts of problems
      • Carl Jung talked about that neglecting certain Gods/archetypes will make them show up in psychological disorders
    3. Saturating our lives with images, fantasy and mythos (including our view of the Dharma etc…)
  • Sometimes the demand could be subtle, just to witness, and honor the divinity or beauty of the image

    • Or asking to be bold, exercise discernment
    • They are not necessarily clear or practical

Seeing Divinity

  • In Vajrayana the ultimate is the awareness of everything being empty, and divine

    • Everything rests on the view of Emptiness (even divinity)
    • Through that, everything (self, other, world) becomes much more malleable, and can be seen as divine
  • Seeing what was once seen as shameful, as divine

Ethics, and Fantasy

  • We’re often unaware of how are ethical responses are influenced by fantasy and mythos
  • It is the mythos that shapes the ethos
  • This explains why the traditional Dharma people have been boldly taking a stance on climate change
    • The dominant Dharma fantasy revolve around equanimity, not-doing etc…
    • It doesn’t include a figure like the revolutionary

Seeing Image as Image

  • Jihadist, on the other hand have strong fantasies, and a sense of demand, but they fail to see them as images
    • They’re unaware of the soul element of images

Thephany and Cosmopoesis

  • Sacredness is dependent on the heart, ways of looking etc…

  • We’re not talking about “believing” in divinity or God

Sacred Universe: Insight, Theophany, Cosmopoesis (1)

Limiting Modernist Views in Dharma

  • Modernism, with its view of self and world is very limiting and affected our conception of the Dharma
    • Physicalism: only matter is considered as real, only what can be measured
    • They became so entrenched and widespread that we don’t even realize they are views
    • What started as a (scientific) method of inquiry, became a hidden dogma
  • Even in Dharma, we start confusing Mindfulness with reality
    • And because the way we look fabricates our reality, that kind of view reinforces the physicalism, the reification of reality
    • These views constrain the level of beauty, and depth and soul that we can experience

Using Emptiness as the Foundation of Dharma

  • If instead, we base our Dharma on emptiness, we understand that each moment is co-created with me, with my way of looking, we can start playing with skillful fabrication

  • Anatta (no-self) gives us the freedom to use all kinds of self-views, knowing that neither of them is real

  • What kind of ways of looking does soul need?

    • What about viewing ourselves as Theophanies, angels, expressing the divine?

Sacred Universe: Insight, Theophany, Cosmopoesis (2)

Questions about ontology

  • What is real?

  • Quantum physics shows us that even atoms, the essence of matter, depends on the way one looks at it

  • Is reality what is shared by the majority of people (“we all see this chair, it must be real”)?

  • Can something not be shared and be real (images)?

    • William Blake and Henry Corban say that images are more real, but they’re not implying that images constitute a shared reality
    • Neither real nor not real
  • Understanding fabrication through unfabricating in practice

    • Exposes the fabricated (empty) nature of all perceptions and opens up a malleability of perception and the world of the imaginal

Emptiness and Tantra

  • The freedom emptiness brings

    • This moment is co-created with me, my way of looking, it is not separate
    • Even this moment is empty
    • It opens the possibility of cosmopoesis, of Imagination
      • Co-creating and immersing oneself in a whole new cosmos
  • The word Tantra is pregnant with meaning and significance

  • The basis of Buddhist Tantra is the Emptiness that gives flexibility of conceptual frameworks that allows to see perceptions as divine (with the Buddha gnosis that knows the emptiness of everything)

    • Dzogchen is also based on this context

Sacred Universe: Insight, Theophany, Cosmopoesis (3)

  • Common discussions about God are very simplistic
    • Some may believe in the existence of an anthorpomorphized God with a beard
    • Some nothing at all
  • ”Divine” is a better word than God
    • In this context, any God or deity we talk about is Assumed to be Empty

Why Bother with Conceptual Frameworks?

  1. Aspects of soul love ideas and conceptual frameworks
    • They feel like a necessity for soul’s vitality to play with them
  2. Soul needs conceptual frameworks that allows it and give it space to grow
    • Psyche needs logos
    • We often inherit uninvestigated conceptual frameworks that are very limiting
    • If the conceptual framework (logos) is too narrow, it constricts the possibility for soulfulness (e.g. the idea that images coming up to you are just the result of neurons firing is very constricting)
    • We want our conceptual frameworks to be like fertile wombs
  • All conceptual frameworks are empty and incomplete

    • No conceptual framework can claim ultimate validity of truth
    • Any conceptual framework either falls down or relies on unprovable assumptions
  • Conceptual frameworks as doorways that open our investigation, practice and support our psyche

3 Possibilities of Experiencing The Divine

Universal Divinity

  1. The unfabricated, beyond any appearance, time, object
    • Described by the Buddha in 3 ways
      • So transcendent you can’t say anything about it
      • Not this not that (via negativa)
      • One kind of consciousness
    • Deathless, unfabricated shining through appearances (sense of timeless dimension to things) of this world (impersonal and universal)
    • Transforming the sense of self, world, others
  2. Experiences of less fabrications (e.g. One Love, One Mind, Only awareness)
    • Can arise over a several weeks long retreat

Particular Divinity 3. Divinity shining through a person or thing, as a particular face of divinity - Seen through the lens of mythos and fantasy - Not impersonal

Conceptual Frameworks

  • There is no one right conceptual framework that can claim to be the ultimate truth
    • Any conceptual framework will get to a place where it either falls down or contradicts itself, or relies on unprovable assumptions
  • Conceptual frameworks as doorways that open up and support the opening of our experience, our inquiry, soul

Unfabricated, Fabrication and Divinity

  • Delusion causes fabrication of perceptions, leading to clinging and craving

    • Delusion is the first of the 12 Links of Dependent arising
  • Insight and delusion are inversely proportional

  • It would seem that the unfabricated is more real than the fabricated

  • Seeing that the fabricated is also empty removes the duality out of this framework

    • Both fabricated and unfabricated can be seen as divine
    • Opens up to the possibility of Skillful fabrication
    • Tantric practices of visualizing deities are based on this framework
  • Create-Discover

    • We know we are creating the imaginal experiences with our mind, but they’re also connected to the divine and we’re in part discovering

We’re Concerned with Meaning(fulness), not an Objective Reality

  • We are not concerned with what’s provable scientifically here, we’re concerned with experience and meaning

  • Perception, experience and meaning are what matters to us as human beings

    • They’re all fabricated, participatory (through ways of looking etc..), they can never be purely objective
  • It’s not so important whether we can prove this or that

  • Postmodernism intellectual deconstruction of everything tends to a sort of nihilism (all perspectives are not true) that leads nowhere

    • There isn’t the subtlety that we gain in meditation to realize that we can enter into multiple perspective
  • We can keep meaningfulness alive (through images of particular divinity)

    • Doesn’t mean we cling to meaningfulness at all times (it is also empty), but we can have it as an option

Sacred Universe: Insight, Theophany, Cosmopoesis (4)

Vertical Expansion of Eros

  • Eros always wants more, so it expands the image, makes it more complex, multi-dimensional (keeping the particular), opening up a sense of theophpny
    • Opens up other levels of beauty, of being
    • It also stretches the logos to allow for that theophony
  • Remembering to hold very lightly these frameworks, as they’re also empty

”God save us from single vision” - William Blake

Vertical Spectrum of the Imaginal and Fabricated?

  • Vertical meant as towards the Divine

    • One vertical end in the divine, Buddha Nature
    • Spectrum of particular theophonies (we can see in friends)
    • Other end is the normal every day experience
  • Spectrum of fabrication - perception

    • One end is the unfabricated, which is one way of sensing the divine
    • Fabricating more, there is a cosmic love, universal sense of the divine
    • Other end is the normal every day experience
  • We can play with moving up and down these spectra

    • e.g. Hearing noises as aspects of the divine

Different Views & Meaningfulness

  • The one-dimensional view of physicalism erases any possibility of meaningfulness

    • We see ourselves in a meaningless universe made of inanimate matter
  • Universal Love, is a perception of divinity but erases the possibility of a personal meaningfulness

  • Emptiness, if we just stop there, also creates a sense of meaninglessness

    • The world is fabricated and meaningless, we don’t want to be reborn in this fabricated world
  • Theophonies view

  • When we grant particular theophonies a certain amount of autonomy we allow a particular senses of meaningfulness to arise

    • A sense of calling from something bigger than me

Sacred Universe: Insight, Theophany, Cosmopoesis (5)

  • It is ok for some concepts to be vague
    • It is difficult to clearly define “Divinity”
    • The vagueness of the definition doesn’t preclude from its experience


SoulMaking Dharma | Rob Burbea