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Instructions for the Ninefold Purification Breathing - Part 2

Inner refuge

Tsa (Channel)


First refuge: Body
The center of the victorious mandala, one's own body,
The source of all positive qualities without exception,
Is the expanse within the three channels and the five chakras.
I take refuge in this body of emptiness. (30 sec)



Lung (Wind)


Second refuge: Speech
All the gathered clouds of suffering and misery
Are completely cleared by the wisdom wind,
Revealing the unelaborated, primordially pure expanse of the sky.
I take refuge in this body of light. (30 sec)



Tigle (Sphere of light)


Third refuge: Mind
From the pavilion of the five wisdom lights,
Rays of non-dual spheres of light emanate,
Clearing the webs of the darkness of ignorance.
I take refuge in this body of great bliss. (30 sec)



This morning, we talked about exhaling from the right nostril, cleansing our past life Karma. Zack - okay, that's done. Exhaling through the left nostril will take care of your future life. Remains the present; so I breathe in through the two side channels and out through the Central Channel and so this is also well supplied. I'm fine now. What does that mean? Before we get into these things, we need some understanding of this reality.


Marcy and I talked this morning about our idea of how to get angry with someone, for example. You can look at three different stages of anger. In stage one, you might realize that you got up that morning and were a little bit irritable. We know how it feels. You are a bit irritated and it's nobody's fault, but suddenly, when someone parks in your parking lot - that's it. That's stage two. He parks in the wrong place, in your place, so you get angry with him and you think you have a very good reason to get angry. This slight irritation mysteriously comes out at the parking lot. You do not realize how it came out. You are the one who one can really expect that the realization is in you, but you have no clue at the moment it comes out. You can really make a good story out of it; about parking or something else. Then argue with the person or go through everything in your own mind. It may suddenly show that the other is not a simple person, and it gets worse and does not just go around the parking lot anymore. At stage three you begin to argue and then the person becomes a problem.


Irritability was the first problem, the second was the parking and the third problem was the person. Over time, you have passed over to the person and have forgotten your irritability; you are no longer aware that your anger has something to do with you, it is this person. In stage three, it has nothing to do with parking anymore. You have completely forgotten that you even started the dispute over parking. You may not even remember how the fight started; it does not matter because in reality this person is the problem. It's amazing how we tend to forget how it started, and tend to solidify the feeling of anger, and now it's really that person. At Dzogchen, we talk about trust in Sunyata. Here we have confidence in the problem. «I have complete confidence that you are my problem. I have no doubt about it». That's a big problem if you have confidence in the problem. Trust in the space is a good thing. Why I say that is because we tend to think something is reliable in a place where there is no reliability. Blood moves through the channels, but there are places where only light or awareness moves through the channels.


In the Zhang Zhung Nengyü teachings, we speak of the space in the heart, in the channels, in the eyes, and in the space outside. The teachings speak of the relationship of space to what moves through the channels. When the space is there, there is the light; when the light is there, there is the movement of energy; when the movement of energy is there, the qualities manifest; when the qualities are there, you are ready to laugh anytime. You are ready to rejoice over any occasion. You see a cloud in the sky and it makes you laugh. On the other hand, you might see four Dakinis dancing and it would not make you laugh. We need so much just to wake up and move!


The point I'm talking about here is that there are many levels of channels. The teachings talk about the energies that move through these channels. There are many things that move in the channels - the five lights, the five wisdoms, the five Pranas - and there are many qualities and experiences that manifest through these movements. We try to approach this in the right way. With the practice of Ninefold Breathing we limit ourselves to three - the Three Poisons. When we bring it to consciousness, we can see a person, a situation, or your irritability. In our example, we had the person, the parking lot, your irritability. Whatever it is, the moment you bring it to consciousness there is already some relation to the energy there.


When you talk to someone about this person you are so angry about, and the person you are talking to has more problems with the same person, this conversation is not helpful from a practical point of view. As you cut through this rigid view and look inward, you see and bring the consciousness into the present moment, into awareness. This makes a certain connection to the seed or the source and when you exhale, something is released. One can say, «Every time you inhale, you exhale. Nobody just breathes in». But the difference here is that when you breathe out, you have some connection to your breath, a kind of awareness that is tied into the breath, a kind of focus on the channels and the body, and all of that together has a big one Influence. It is good, to have openness and confidence thereby.


Take, for example, someone who has a big problem with greed or attachment. Every time you do something special, such as a practice session, and you do not want to put those qualities into practice, do the Nine Respirations and, as you do, try to cut off that attachment as much as possible, and go to the sacred space. Or, if you have a meeting with someone, and you do not want to bring those qualities into the meeting, do the Nine Respirations and then start the meeting. Or, if you want to start a new project, do the Nine Respirations and then plan the project. You're pulling a few lines to separate these things, that give you some confidence in the «Yes, that solves some of the special trouble, special attachment or ignorance». There is trust in this awareness. In the beginning it is important to have confidence. I think this is a very powerful tool.



The Nine-fold Purification Breathing is a practice many of you have heard and many of you have done at different times. In this retreat, we approach this practice in a very different way, in a way that allows us to understand and experience in a very profound way. Kanäle, Tsa, the Lung, Prana, and Thigle, der Geist, are involved in the practice of Nine-fold Breathing. All three are present in the practice of Nine-fold Purification Breathing. Concerning the channels we speak of the three main channels. Do these channels exist in the form in which we visualize them? No. Do they exist? Yes, they exist. Through their visualization in a rough shape, we connect with the more subtle form.


It is similar to when you see the house of someone you know, and you remember him. The house reminds you, the memory is the mind, and the connection to the person is another level. So you can connect to the person by remembering them because you see their house. Seeing the house leads you to a memory that leads you to another relationship. So there are different levels.


When we visualize the Central Canal, we imagine it as thick as a thumb. Does he exist in us? No. The visualized channels and the subsisting or existing channels are two different things and have different names in Tibetan. If you see a photo of someone and you remember the person, is the photo then the person? No. But does the photo help remind you of the person? Yes. If you remember the person, are you able to connect with the person? Yes. The photo benefits this intention. So, to imagine something serves the purpose of making that connection.


What are these three channels for you? Ask yourself. Are you real or not? Can you understand and work with them? Can working with the channels be of use to you? What use does this work bring you? To answer these questions, you can simply practice with the channels and the Nine-fold Purification Breathing, as well as with the five root Pranas, the five tsa wé lung, through the Tsa-Lung exercises.


In the Nine-fold Breathing Practice, you can see how the breath moves. There are three characteristics of the Prana. First, exhale on the right, then exhale left and finally on both sides. There are big differences between right, left and both sides. Therefore, the exhalation functions from right, left and both sides are very different. You can see the uniqueness of each of these three breaths. Of course, the air that goes in and out is very crude. We know that it is very crude, but the relationship to a higher energetic existence is very important. Therefore, there is a relationship to this breathing and not only to this breathing, but also to that air.


If you live in a polluted environment and breathe in that air, it will have a negative, emotional impact. Emotionally, people will experience different things. If you breathe fresh air, you will be more centered. If you inhale bad air, you will have bad thoughts and feelings. The air outside, the breath inside and its relationship to the subtle existence of the Prana are very deep within us, they are all interconnected.


As you perform the three different types of breathing, you might ask, «What does that mean to me? How much do I understand? What is applicable to me and what benefit do I have in my daily life, growth and spiritual development?» All these questions can be asked, contemplated, summarized, and the quintessence extracted. You will come to something concrete in the end. «Okay, that's what I'll keep working on in my life». So that's Prana.


Now to the Thigle, every time you exhale, you have certain experiences. In the example of letting go of anger, there is first the experience of letting go. We have talked about concrete examples and that is always good because we are familiar with them. We know if something changes or not. There is something called wisdom or voidness that exists deep within you, and breathing in that way will have an impact. What do you mean with that? How can I trust that? Is there a way to test that? That's hard, but it's easier if you have a concrete example, such as discomfort. One way that some people become more annoyed than others is because there is some discomfort in themselves. You can see in these levels how much discomfort exists, how easily it is affected by a situation, how easily you manifest it, or if there is no control or boundaries, no perspective or awareness, and it is therefore immediately acted out. When it's acted out, you realize that you have not done the right thing, but you have no control or power to change that. It continues to drive you around and these are the so-called karmic winds. You do not like what you do and say, but you keep doing the same thing. So these forces are there and, if you are aware of that, you have the opportunity to change that.


Regarding the experiences of the mind, there is, when you breathe out, the experience releases something. I think that is a very nice experience.


When I say that, I think there is something important and interesting to reflect on, and I think it's an interesting concept and not necessarily mentioned in the text. For example, when you look at anger, there is clearly a destructive and explosive state of mind. We recognize when we get angry, and we clearly feel that state of mind when we get angry. On the other hand, there is Prana, which is the basis for how you feel in your body at a certain moment.


For example, I once went to a high security prison to teach. Many of the inmates had killed someone. You see these people and they look very nice. It was hard to imagine that they had really done what they did. When they were in a calm state, it looked like they were not doing what they were doing. Of course, they had no idea about Buddhist practice or instruction, and I did not know what to say to them. What I thought at the time what I could talk about was reaction, the moment reacting to something. Can you reach yourself and be aware of the reaction at the moment and get some control? Can you remember the law? Can you remember promises? Can you remember discipline? Can you remember compassion? Can you remember awareness? Can you remember the consequences? Can you remember anything at this moment? The problem was that they could not remember anything of all these things at the moment. There was no space for any other event between the charged negativity and the action. That's one of the main reasons why they did what they did.


The practice gives us some space, a moment of silence. Maybe you have this kind of understanding: «Okay, I do not want to talk now». This is a possible approach. It is the sutric approach: «I do not want to talk to you now». It's good to be able to do that, to be aloof. If that's not possible, [Rinpoche inhales and exhales in a deep breath], »Okay, let's talk». That's another way. This is the approach of transformation. «Okay, I do not care what you say. Continue, I'll listen to you until the end». That's the way from Dzogchen! Finally it comes to an end and then, «Okay, you're done with it? Let's have a cup of tea». What happens in the end? Nothing changes in life. You let them express their negativity, then you feel better and have a better chance of a cup of coffee and good conversation.


So there are possibilities, but those imprisoned people did not have one of these approaches. They just went into action right away.


As for the Thigle, the experience of the mind is inaccessible to these people. Because they are unable to work with channels and Prana, they have no access to the qualities of the mind. How can one get access to the qualities of the mind? You have you to prepare a little. Through preparation, we gain access to qualities such as the four immeasurables. To a degree, these are there and accessible.


It is hard to deal with the mind; with the Prana it is easier. That's how I see it. Can you recognize that? Let us look at the trouble. Is my body completely relaxed when I feel anger? No. Is my breath completely normal? No. I can clearly see that my body is not in form as it should be, I do not breathe in the way I should breathe, and my mind experiences something we call anger. Which of these levels do you want to work with? Let us assume that someone has clear access to these three things. I can say, «I am angry. There is a possibility that much happens at this moment». A person can spend the rest of his or her life in a prison, for the inability to control himself at the moment, while another can switch and change something and develop a positive relationship with something or someone and enrich their lifestyle. There are many opportunities.


Knowing this, instead of getting involved with the mind immediately, you can say to yourself, «I need a break». Come back, bring your focus back and watch your breathe. It depends on how much you can feel the differences. The mind and the breath are two different things. This distinction allows you, when you are able to see more clearly, to speak to your mind:


«Ok, trouble, give me a little break. I'll see you later.»
The anger says, «Why?»
«I want to talk to someone.»
«With whom?»
«I want to talk to the Prana.»


So how do you communicate with the Prana? What do you do? You do not need to be surprised where the Prana of anger is. You do not have to make any sound to bring it out or invite it; you do not have to do anything. You just feel strong. You get into a good body position, find a more relaxed posture, because you know that this is very helpful, and you look inward with the focus on the breath. Do the Nine Purification Breathings; focus on clearing the right channel. Do this for a while. Do this for five or ten minutes. You will see that something changes completely, but the possibility of change depends on how clearly you are able to pay attention to the Prana and to break away from the unhealthy mind of the moment. Do this clearly and, if you look back after five minutes, the fierce spirit of five minutes ago is gone. That is amazing. It looks like a very simple method, but it works. One has to give these [above mentioned] people that kind of training. The instructions must be given very concretely: step one, step two, and step three. So you will do it. Remember the three things in this moment: Do the first, the second, the third. And then you just see. You have to give these [above mentioned] people that kind of training. The instructions must be given very concretely: step one, step two, step three. So do it. Remember the three things in this moment: Do the first, the second, and the third. And then you just see.


I've heard - and corrected myself, if I'm wrong - that it was common in Texas to buy a gun right away. Now you have to wait seven days. Basically, the seven days mean, go one step back, there is time to breathe. It is believed that you are a little different after seven days. You may have changed your attitude. That's a similar principle. The moment the trouble comes up, he is ready to act. So you learn to take time for the Nine Breathings, and then see how you feel. Do you still want to say what you wanted to say in this moment? Apparently you do not want to do the same. If you still want to do the same, repeat the exercise. That's the principle.


The three principles of Tsa, Lung and Thigle fit into the Nine Purifying Breathings and the Five Tsa-Lung Exercises. Many explanations come together in one practice. Imagine that all these pages of explanations can be finalized in the Nine Breaths, the Tsa Lung Exercises, and the Tummo Practice. Everything, everything fits in there. If that's true then do not worry about anything. Do not worry about anything that way.




(ngo mön)


All pure virtue done through the Three Doors,
I dedicate to the welfare of all sentient beings of the Three Realms.
Having purified all afflictions and obscurations of the Three Poisons,
May we swiftly achieve the complete Buddhahood of the Three Bodies.



Dedication prayer

(ngo wa)


May I gain great confidence in the Three Refuges.
May my experiences and my realization of wisdom of the Three Doors increase.
By purifying the Three Poisons, may I receive the Three Bodies.
By liberating myself in my own being, may I benefit others.



Explanation of the terms in the dedication:
Three Doors — Body, Speech, Mind
Three Realms — desirable, shape, shapeless
Three Poisons — Aversion, Desire, Ignorance
Three Bodies (or dimensions) —


bön ku or Dharmakaya;
dzok ku, long ku, or Sambhogakaya; and
trül ku or Nirmanakaya