Lama Tsomo Transcript

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Lama Tsomo Interview

Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually Awakening people. I’ve done hundreds of them now. And if this is new to you and you would like to watch other ones, go to Bat gap and look under the past interviews menu. This whole program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers, if you appreciate it and would like to support it in any amount. There’s a PayPal button on every page of the site and there’s also a donation page that explains other things for people who don’t like PayPal. So my guest today is  Lama Tsomo.  Lama Tsomo is an American Lama, author and co founder of the NAM choc Foundation, she fell in the path of spiritual inquiry and study that ultimately led her to ordination as one of the few American Lamas in Tibetan Buddhism, law matomo Learn Tibetan to study with their teacher, Tulku Sangha Vak Rinpoche, and now shares the teachings of the NAM Chuck lineage in the US and abroad. She holds an MA in counseling psychology and is the author of the award winning. Why is the Dalai Lama always smiling, which I think are holed up here. This is graphically speaking, it’s a good book to read. But graphically speaking, it’s one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever been sent. I mean, it’s just full of all kinds of cool, beautiful color illustrations. And it’s under heavy stock paper and just a beautifully done book. I think it got some kind of award, it looks like here. You see that shiny silver thing? It’s an award. So it’s great book, it’s the first of a trilogy, I have to ask her about what the other books are going to be about, as well as this one. But this one is an introduction and guide to Tibetan Buddhist practice, law. matomo is passionate about reaching young people and supporting those working for positive social change. And I think she and I have a lot of interests in common. And we’re going to be talking about those during this interview. So welcome. And thank you.

Lama Tsomo: So glad to be here.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Good to meet your family. Yeah. So I managed to read your whole book, and listen to quite a few hours of various interviews and talks and whatnot with with other people. I was just listening, finishing up the Dan Harris one this morning. And he mentioned in that interview that you were from the family that built the Hyatt hotel chain or something. Yeah, yeah. Okay. This is interesting. So I think this makes this interview, as most are will be kind of a mixture of biographical and then you know, teaching and knowledge points. It always kind of goes that way. But it’s usually good to start with the biographical like, well, one question I had right off the bat. And that will lead us into it is, you know, well, are there you’re one of the only western Lamas or how many female Western Lamas are there?

Lama Tsomo: You know, I really don’t

Rick Archer: know, because there’s different lineages. That’s right.

Lama Tsomo: And I don’t know who’s been ordained and what lineages and that kind of thing. I think in this country, it’s more even between men and women. But it was good among among Tibetans, it’s much more rare for female Lama Yeah. And I sort of got a free pass being an American, that I think it allowed me to, first of all make a lot of mistakes, because I didn’t know the culture and that kind of thing and learning to that, and you can actually really stick your foot in it and get in more trouble. Yeah. But I, I think also it allowed me to be sort of outside the normal system. And that may be true for other female Western Lamas as well.

Rick Archer: What a llama signify. I mean, you have priests and ministers and whatnot in different religions, different titles. And it doesn’t always signify any degree of spiritual attainment, it’s more like they’ve done a certain amount of study and training and, and, you know, gotten this this title, but in your tradition, what does it signify?

Lama Tsomo: Well, being from a Jewish background, I was fairly comfortable with a lot of the responsibilities and recognitions and so on that come with the term llama. So Rabbi means teacher, right? In Hebrew. And my teacher did expect me to teach. And so you know, I’m out there doing that and writing books and things like that. And there’s also that Community Leadership, spiritual leadership within the community, that is a responsibility that’s expected. And there’s the lineage piece, which we Americans aren’t going to be automatically familiar with, because, you know, we’re so new. But certainly within Judaism, there are long lineages. And within Tibetan Buddhism, there’s lineage that can be traced mouth to ear, mind to mind all the way back to the Buddha. And so the distilling of knowledge and the passing on of the gems from generation to generation is seen as extremely important. And so I got, I was very lucky I was to Busan, Rinpoche is first western guinea pig to go through all the levels of teachings. And he’s kind of like, well, let’s see what happens when we do the channels and wins practice, you know, the energy practices. And let’s see what happens when she gets this, you know, and I, I did the traditional 100 Day channels and wins practices part of the Lama training,

Rick Archer: you want to explain what that is? Or is it just a case in point kind of example of something you did? Well, I mean, I can’t do it. Nobody’s gonna know what that means. But right, yes. So

Lama Tsomo: it’s working with breath and your internal energies on subtle levels, subtle energy levels, and also with physical postures, and of course, meditation of particular kinds. And you sort of put all that together, and you can do true transformation, I guess, is the simple way to say it from the inside out. And getting rid of a lot of the slough that causes our windshields to be, you know, pretty smashed as smattered and warped and everything like that, so that we can see reality as it really is. And, you know, to step on the way to, you know, truly seeing what the Buddha saw.

Rick Archer: Okay, good. Yeah, well, I’m sure we’ll come back to that metaphor of cleaning the windshield, there was that famous poet that talked about cleaning the windows of perception, I forget. Anyway, um, and of course, there’s references to that sort of thing and all the different traditions, you know, there’s the thing in the Bible about seeing through a glass darkly, you know, and then having it be clear, exactly. And Hinduism talks about it. Everybody does. And, and even, you know, modern science in a way in terms of neuroplasticity, and you know, clearing the sludge from our mental functioning kind of things.

Lama Tsomo: Well, it’s kind of building new roads and turning them into highways and letting other ones become unused and eventually break up and have grass growing. That kind of thing.

Rick Archer: So how nice Jewish girl from Ohio or wherever you were from? Get going in this direction?

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, well, that’s a bit of a story. You know, as Westerners, we don’t automatically we aren’t automatically born into a particular lineage or something like that. Even the Judaism of my family was, first of all, we didn’t practice much. My father didn’t practice at all. He just felt you know, he needed to be as good a person as he could be. And that was kind of where I left it. My mother had more spiritual leanings, but didn’t really express to them that much. I went to Sunday school hated it. So before I went to Sunday school, we were living in this little town in Ohio, and there were only five Jewish families. And so we all got together on Sundays, and one parent after another would trade off going off with the kids and telling a Bible story, like just telling it and talking about it with us. And I remember even as a little kid, I loved that. Then we moved to the big city, Chicago, and I could go to a temple Sunday school, and I hated it. It was totally disengaged. There was no spirituality, no life to it, no meaning. And I just the we were friends with the rabbi and he was wonderful. His name is Rabbi shaman Herman Schulman and he actually taught me a fair amount just in passing and also when I listen to his sermons, so and net with Ben Lomond. And, and he was very curious about Buddhism and hadn’t had a chance to talk with anybody about that view. And when we compared views, it was astonishingly similar. really quite amazing. And then I did a series of interfaith dialogues with Matthew Fox. And again, we kept finding so much. That was the same, you know, in the essence of the meaning that the fellow who was sort of overseeing it all was like, come on, can’t you guys disagree about something?

Rick Archer: I’ve often felt that if you could get Jesus and Buddha and Krishna and Muhammad and all of them in a room together, you know, they just totally see eye to eye, you know, it’s just different cultures, different languages, different times and history, but they’re all talking about same thing.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, well, supposedly, there was a gathering of mystics from various traditions. I don’t know if this is true, but you know, urban legend, whatever. Anyway, they all got together. And when they talked about the religious points, there were debates and differences and so on. But when they talked about their transcendent experiences, they were all saying the same thing.

Rick Archer: Yeah. I think one thing you and I want to get into today is discussion about the sort of, you know, science and spirituality interface and, and how they each have something to offer one another. Yeah. Now, there was something about some profound experience you had when you were fairly young, and it lasted for half an hour. And you were able to sort of reference it, even to this day. And what was that?

Lama Tsomo: Well, I was in college, and I was visiting my boyfriend, and I was bored. And he was at the high. And he was busy doing his homework. So that’s why I was bored. And luckily, he had to do his homework for more than a half an hour. So I picked up this behind prayer book. So it wasn’t about the philosophy or anything, it was the prayers that are designed to put you in that place. Right? The place of truth. Yeah, so a Dharma, by the way, means truth. So I was reading the prayers. And all of a sudden, my normal mind, amazingly enough, shut up for a minute. And I saw what the words were referencing words or, you know, a vehicle for that. And somehow, I was pointed there and landed there. And I was sort of astonished. And I, I saw these, it was like, there was this sea of sparkles, like glitter. And there were these weavings together like threads. And I understood that that was actually reality. And then it can be woven together in infinite ways. And we can choose to make sense out of it, however we do, using the lens of habit. You know, I have words for this now. But I didn’t then. At that point, I was just kind of slack jawed just watching this. And I could see that everything I thought was solid wasn’t solid. And so I, you know, I realized that if I could really get all my habits out of the way, I could pass my hand through the book, you know, or the desk, whatever.

Rick Archer: I remember it. Well, maybe it was in your book, I read something recently about this theoretical physicist who got so deeply into the understanding of the insubstantiality of matter that he got a little unbalanced. He was afraid to walk across the floor because he felt he would fall through it.

Lama Tsomo: Yes, he wore big boots. That would help. And of course, nobody told him that the boots probably weren’t any more solid

Rick Archer: than anything else. Yeah,

Lama Tsomo: that’s right. Yeah. Yeah. That was in my book. Yeah.

Rick Archer: That’s funny. Did you ever do go through a drug phase? LSD or anything like that?

Lama Tsomo: I experimented very little with it just just a tiny bit. Yeah. My sense was that it was like, you’re walking through this dense forest. And the LSD helps you to climb a tree so you can see further ahead, but you still have to get down and lock.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I like that metaphor. Yeah, yeah. I mean, it does for some people gives this sort of unforgettable experience that there’s more to life than meets the eye. But you got that from reading the Bible. And having that opening

Lama Tsomo: the prayer book. Yeah, it was the high per book. Yeah. And so that set me on the journey, because I was like, Well, I want to live from that reality, because I know that’s the true one. And I figured that, you know, there were spiritual traditions that could help me do that. But it took me a very long time to finally come around to you know, from spiritual smorgasbord. that we have in this country till I found my way to Buddhism and it sort of felt right that then I tried Tera Vaada. And that wasn’t quite it. I tried Maha Jana, in the form of Zen. That wasn’t quite it. And finally, I stumbled onto vata Jana, because a friend of mine who lived down the hill for me, invited a Western Lama to her house, and he gave a little talk and like a q&a. So I attended that and I thought, Oh, now this sounds like this one’s for me. I liked that it had lots of tools. So as a psychotherapist, I liked that, you know, there, there were different ways in, I liked that there was a very highly developed use of archetype. And my emphasis in my studies was Youngin. So I, you know, felt at home with that. And I liked that there were both male and female deities to be revered and to actually inhabits. And so I thought, well, this is this could be a really transformational path for me. And I like the balance of masculine and feminine. Then I found my way, slowly to Rinpoche, I started studying the Monroe, which is a collection of five practices. And when I was about to do the next practice, you know, in the in the series, I was in retreat with this American Lama, outside of Santa Fe, Rinpoche dropped in and he was going to teach the very thing that I was doing next. Just so happens, well, I didn’t get I still didn’t get that he was my llama thick headed. So anyway, I got some teachings from him. And then the next time he came to my house, to teach the American Lama, but what ended up happening was he and I connected. And the American Lama ended up not studying with him anymore. He already had been studying under another Lama anyway. But that was the beginning of that very deep, intimate, transformational connection with my Lama. Yeah.

Rick Archer: And you and you actually learn Tibetan, which must be very difficult to do. How good are you at Tibetan? Yeah, were there I think just choked up for a second. Okay. Little pause there. I mean, I just said you actually learn Tibetan, which is very impressive. That’s, that’s no mean feat.

Lama Tsomo: No. And I was in my mid 40s, when I met Rinpoche so I thought,

Rick Archer: they say, learn languages when you’re older. So that’s impressive. How well you speak it, actually,

Lama Tsomo: fluently. I mean, yeah, I’ve translated simpler Dharma talks and teachings. And sometimes there wasn’t a translator for meetings or something. And so I translated for those, but I’m not actually a translator, right.

Rick Archer: I know that I’m, in your interview with Dan Harris, you’re talking about, like, you know, reincarnation and having had a relationship with your Lama in previous lives and will have in future lives. And Dan Harris had a hard time swallowing that, but I have no problem with it. But yeah,

Lama Tsomo: well, if we believe in the, you know, the idea of recycling, it’s hard to believe that if consciousness is, you know, stands apart from the body and habits, the body, then when the body dies, what you only have one body that you ever incarnate in, and the soul is eternal. I mean, that doesn’t make any sense to me.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, one, one reason some people have a problem with it is that, you know, they feel that there is no ultimately no personal self. That and that sense of one is kind of a delusion. And if there isn’t, then how could there be reincarnation? Because what is there to go from one life to another, but I think there’s something missing in that logic, because even if the personal self is ultimately not real, there could be some less ultimately real personal self that continues to reincarnate until it doesn’t.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, so it’s a habit. And it’s sort of like, whatever undercurrent it is, that causes you to see a wave come up and down and up and down, and up and down. So that’s not the same water though, in each wave, and they’re not the same shape. But there’s something that we feel is a continuum. And so in Tibetan, the term jute it means mindstream. And I think that begins to get at and maybe those were the streams that I was seeing in my vision. But you know, that begins to get at it. Make this paradox that no, you know, it isn’t any more real than anything else that you also can’t say it’s totally unreal. Right? So you the famous saying for Tibetans is not is. So it’s not like something you can grab a hold of not isn’t not both? Not neither. Yeah. So you can’t you know, it’s not easy to land on what this is we can only use metaphor, I think it’s our best way of pointing at it.

Rick Archer: A good metaphor for the use in Vedanta is that they have the term mithya, which means dependent reality and they say, Okay, you have a pot, it’s made of clay. And ultimately, there’s only clay, you know, there’s no pot, you could have different types of pots and different clay things. And there’s really only clay. But actually, there are pots because you can use them and put things and then they use the same thing with jewelry, like it’s only gold, but you have earrings and rings and all kinds of different stuff that is, you know, takes particular shapes or forms.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, so that gets back to the waves idea, because the waves are actually part of the whole ocean, they aren’t separate. But we can point to this temporary shape and say, oh, there’s a way. Yeah. But it doesn’t stop it from being the ocean.

Rick Archer: Okay. So we’re kind of talking about here about something that you wanted to talk about, which is the three kayas, which are like different levels of manifestation or different levels of reality. So let’s talk about that more explicitly for a while.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, so the Dharmakaya corresponds to the depths of the ocean part. And it’s happy allergy season

Rick Archer: wave on the ocean.

Lama Tsomo: Sound wave for sure. Anyway, I’ve got my dogs around. So they may be making noises.

Rick Archer: We have a couple of them here. One, sleeping, the other one might see a squirrel and start barking in anytime. Exactly.

Lama Tsomo: So the Dharmakaya is sort of like before. Matter or before form? Yeah, I think before gestation. Yeah. And so it’s, you know, total potential. So it’s ultimately powerful. It’s connected to everything, right, because the depths of the ocean. It’s also, it’s not like this, even though it’s not substantial. It’s not this, like dead vacuum, it’s actually totally aware. So that’s a quality of it is awareness. And because it’s connected to everything. Another quality is ultimate compassion, right. So those are some fun. And joy is another quality that I personally have experienced in changing channels and tuning into that Dharmakaya channel. And this is another thing I love about Tibetan Buddhist practices, you get some very effective methods at changing channels, which normally we can’t do, we’re stuck on one particular channel, very small particular channel. Anyway, so the Dharmakaya then has this tendency of wanting to express and so it brings forth form, and then the form comes back into the Dharmakaya and so on. So there are two then levels in the form aspect. The first one that we come to is some Boca Kaya. And that’s really like an archetypal level. So exactly, I was just gonna say that word. Exactly. And so that through that, then you can then have the really vast multiplicity of differentiation with the Nirvana, kya. And Nirvana kya, I think could best be translated as body of manifestation. So there you have the three bodies Tyus. And they’re not separate, you know, there would be like separating the two sides of one coin or something like that. They’re working all together. And the idea is that there’s this pouring forth and going back into the emptiness and you know, luminosity and emptiness and so on back and forth and back and forth, many times every nanosecond. And David Bohm, the scientist would absolutely agree.

Rick Archer: Some, there some some people are working on a documentary about David Bohm. Now, I don’t know when it’s gonna but yeah, this guy contacted me and asked if I could introduce him to Robert Thurman. If I knew any physicist that might be appreciative of David Bohm, so I gave him some David Bohm. So I gave him some recommendations. But no, I can do a whole documentary about him. I have one a name of somebody. Oh, good. I’ll put you in touch with this guy, too. Yeah, I don’t know when it’ll be finished. But it sounds like it’s a pretty significant project with a bunch of people working on it.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, no, this guy knew and was friends with David.

Rick Archer: Oh, great.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah

Rick Archer: I’m glad I mentioned that then because I can put you in touch with that guy.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And so this whole thing you’re talking about? Again, I’d like to sort of compare with other traditions, because it, it’s like the perennial philosophy, it’s like the, it’s sort of lens. It’s like, you know, you like science. And so do I, not that either of us are scientists really, but the, you know, in the scientific method, you take a hypothesis, and then you test it. And if your test, you know, confirms it or you know, its validity, then maybe another scientist wants to test it. And the more people who test it, the more legitimate it becomes more trusted, it becomes.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, graduates to theory,

Rick Archer: yeah, it sort of gains credibility. And with something like this. I mean, there are parallels in other traditions, the whole idea of gross and subtle I mean, in the Vedic thing, it’s Adi, booze the world world, Adi divers more of the subtle level and Adhyatma is the unmanifest level. And there probably other ones to why I went off on this tangent, but maybe you have a response to what I just said.

Lama Tsomo: Well, I think you were bringing in the parallel from the Hindu tradition of Vedic tradition. And of course, that’s what the Buddha emerged from. Right. He studied that thoroughly. So we have some parallels there. And that’s not surprising. And Matthew Fox talks about Meister Eckhart and the Christian tradition. Yeah. Right. And so the Godhead has a lot of parallel to the Dharmakaya, I believe.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And then you mentioned David Bohm and physics, there’s very clear understanding that there’s sort of an unmanifest level, primordial level and then from that, sequential degrees of, of symmetry breaking and manifestation and emerging concreteness, or apparent concreteness. Just

Lama Tsomo: apparent is the operative word there

Rick Archer: That’s the operative word is the operative word. Yeah.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, because how it appears to one being can be quite different from another. And anybody who’s been married knows, even human beings, we can do things differently. But it can be a lot more difference than that, because we’re all on kind of a similar channel. And that’s why we can see each other because we’re tuned into this channel. And so we’re interpreting the hologram, the hologram, you know, in these ways, but if you look at a holographic sheet, it just looks like a bunch of holes, like somebody, it looks like somebody through grant a grant a little piece of gravel into a still pond. And so they’re all these circular ripples going out and overlapping each other. It doesn’t look, you can’t see any form in particular. And then if you shine a light through it, you can see a form but it’s still Yeah, yeah, exactly. And I think you have to have two of them. Then you see a 3d form. And it’s almost like you’re seeing it through a window. And if you move to the side, you can see parts that you didn’t see before and the other side, you see into those parts, which is extraordinary, and it’s insubstantial. Yeah, it’s a nice parallel in a nice metaphor.

Rick Archer: Another cool thing is if you cut the hologram in half, like if it’s a piece of film, and then shine a laser, do you still see the same image? So that brings out the principle of the hole is contained in the part, you can cut it in quarters, you still see the same image, you start losing resolution after a while, but the whole thing is contained in every part, which is kind of a spiritual connotation or Absolutely, yeah.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah. And the Tibetans were aware of this holographic quality to the universe.

Rick Archer: Yeah. So this whole thing about, you know, reality being something and then all of us having different views of it or, you know, people’s into it, and or perspectives on it, like the blind men and the elephant. Would you agree that whatever Enlightenment is and let’s get into discussing what it is, it’s, you know, a kind of a, an appreciation of reality as it is in and of itself as opposed to some kind of distorted or adulterated perspective on it through a cloudy lens.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah. Yeah, so shall we get into a definition of it? Okay. So let’s see my best definition of it. And of course, I should back up and say this when, early on when his students asked the Buddha to describe Enlightenment, and you know, the state, what he saw, he

Rick Archer: fell silent, right? Because what did he say?

Lama Tsomo: Well, because any words would be concepts, or this is beyond concepts. And so I’m stupid enough to do with the Buddha was wise enough not to do. And I’m just gonna sort of point in the direction, because that’s all we can do with words.

Rick Archer: But then he spent a lifetime trying to explain it, or was trying to help people understand it. And there’s books and books and books going around and round about all kinds of stuff. So, you know,

Lama Tsomo: when he mainly did was give us the methods by which we could experience it, actually directly experience it ourselves, and not only clean the windshield, but finally take away the whole windshield and just be in it and see it directly. And there’s this line, you cross of no return, as I understand Enlightenment, where you’ve now really landed back in that full ocean, and you’re aware of all three levels, all three kaios, and how they are, you know, different parts of one thing. And you also have the channel changer, you can tune into the consciousness of any being and all the different channels and levels that are out there. And they’re probably infinite numbers of them. But you can tune into any of it because you aren’t fixated on a particular one. You’ve now joined with the whole. So there’s also if you’re really joined with the whole ocean, then you’ve got all the knowledge of the ocean. So that’s and you have the compassion of the whole ocean, because you’re connected to everyone and you are living from that. And all wise, you know, all knowing, all loving, and so on and a state of complete permanent bliss. Because you’ve gone home.

Rick Archer: Yeah, let’s let’s beat around this bush for a while.

Lama Tsomo: I thought I went past the bush, but okay. Yeah, it was great. Well, you’re saying to the bush,

Rick Archer: yeah, there’s when you talk to different people. One thing people, more and more people I find saying is that their feeling is that there’s no end to it that even once you attain quote unquote, Enlightenment, whatever, however we define that whatever it may be, there’s still room for growth in some dimension, in different ways, maybe many dimensions. And, you know, there’s questions that people bat around, like, you know, could you be an enlightened asshole, you know, could you be a jerk, and yet be enlightened and, but, but behaving reprehensibly in some way? And there’s people who say things like, well, you know, there’s absolutely no free will. And it may be that, you know, you’re enlightened and your role is just to, you know, behave strangely or inappropriately or something, I don’t know. And I, when I hear that kind of stuff, I feel like not even using the word Enlightenment, because to my mind, if I were to use it would have a sort of a superlative connotation. And, and, and which implies that there’s no further development after that, and somebody who says that you can be an alcoholic, let’s say, and enlightened. And in fact, I was going to ask your opinion of that, that Rinpoche guy that was notorious for that. To me, such a person is half baked, and we shouldn’t, we should reserve the term Enlightenment for something more profound than that. So I’ve talked a little too long there. But you know what, I’m getting that.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, well, I actually enjoy the conversation. So a lot of food for thought. But I think, you know, you’re trying to point to something. That’s an interesting sort of discernment to try to make. I don’t think it’s possible to be enlightened and therefore feeling everyone in the whole ocean. So ultimate compassion, and do any sort of violence to anyone, you just wouldn’t want to, you know, that’s not where you’re coming from. So it wouldn’t make any sense that somebody would do that. So if somebody is, you know, using violence and speech or action or being an asshole Then how could they be coming from that view of the whole oceans at all times? And once you cross that line of No Return to true full Buddhahood, Enlightenment, you don’t like, flip back and forth? You’re, you know, you’re just there. Yeah. So I don’t think you could be an alcoholic and an enlightened being, you know, fully enlightened, you could be highly realized, and addicted to alcohol. But you’re not you haven’t crossed that line that I’m speaking of?

Rick Archer: Yeah. All right, well, here’s one for you, let’s say, if I know Buddhism doesn’t talk too much about God, but if we, if we think of the totality as God and it’s all, you know, unbounded awareness, infinite intelligence, that kind of thing, containing everything, orchestrating everything, then there’s tons of violence in the universe. You know, right here on our planet, there’s animals killing each other, and so on. And so if you attain oneness with that, what’s to say that, you know, your particular expression, as an individual might not reflect some violent tendencies, because apparently God does. If you contain, consider the totality to be God. And in the Gita, Lord Krishna said, you know, Arjuna, realize the Self and then get out and fight this battle, you have to fight. So what do you say to that?

Lama Tsomo: Well, there are a couple of things. First of all, there’s a difference between being pissed and acting violently out of being pissed off. And what they were asking Arjuna to do, they were asking him to act in what you call a rational manner, where you’re bringing compassion right along with it. So for example, in a previous life of the Buddha, he was on a boat, and there were 500, bodhisattvas, on the boat, and a couple of pirates. And they, the pirates, he hurt overheard them plotting and scheming to kill all of the bodhisattva so that they could take over the boat and all its contents. And so he thought, well, you know, first of all, the, the killing of all those bodhisattvas would be a terrible thing, and he should really prevent it. And second of all, he was thinking of the souls of those two, pirates, and what would happen to them if they killed 500 Bodhisattvas. And so out of compassion for everyone, he killed the two pirates. And he fully expected he would go to hell realm or something, some terrible, you know, have some terrible fate, but because of his motivation, and his actually preventing the suffering of you know, everybody involved. That’s not what happened. He didn’t go to hell. Yeah. So I think I’ve grabbed on to just one piece of what you’re talking about. So why violence in the world. And I’ve thought a lot about this, because I was born right after the Holocaust. And I’m Jewish, you know, for example. And it wasn’t until I came upon some Buddhist understandings that I felt like, okay, that makes sense. So, you know, the Buddhist is, you know, don’t personify reality, and point to it and give it a name like God, you know, they talk about Dharmakaya, some overnight and so on. And it’s aware. But if they don’t personify it, so you know, nobody’s going to think that it’s a guy with a beard and Puppet Strings.

Rick Archer: Yeah, no, I’m not thinking that either. I’m thinking

Lama Tsomo: right and being extreme, right? It just, I can really

Rick Archer: say to Sam Harris, if I ever get to interview him, I don’t believe in the God you don’t believe in.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, right. Exactly. Yeah. And what’s the big deal? I mean, that’s a no, because I’m not talking about that. And actually, when I talked with my rabbi, he said, I don’t want to really call it that either. I want to call it the mystery I’ve always wanted to call mystery, because we don’t understand it as much bigger than what we mean when we talk about God. So that was another point of overlap for Rabbi Feldman and myself. And we were, you know, fascinated by that. And the ocean waves thing. He said, Oh, that’s wonderful. Did you think of that? No, it’s an old Buddhist metaphor. Very old. Anyway. So if you’ve got a whole bunch of these flecks of consciousness that are covered over with this misunderstanding that they’re separate from all of reality, then they’re going to Well, I like to, you know, pick again the example of the ocean waves. So one wave thinks I’m separate from everything and everyone else, then all of a sudden, I have all these needs. And I’m also protecting myself as a wave, because now I’m very fragile, right, I could get broken apart. And as a matter of fact, I’m gonna go back down into the ocean, and that’s inevitable. So all of that, you know, makes a lot of insecurity and fear and grasping and pushing away. And so there’s talk of the five types of afflictive emotions, that, if you look at their essence, are actually five aspects of pure. How can I say the intention of the Dharmakaya, as it comes through the symbol kya into form? That’s the first template you see is those five different facets of wisdom. So it gets more and more occluded as ego grasping layers get put on top of it, and habits and habits and more habits from that point of view. And so then we’re all blindly sorted. Now I’m going to pick another metaphor. I don’t know if it’s mixing metaphors, has it? Wait, have I waited long enough?

Rick Archer: Okay, we can roll with it.

Lama Tsomo: All right. Well, speaking of rolling, everybody’s kind of roiling in a mud pit blindly. And so people are knocking each other with elbow in the face, and, you know, knee in the back, and you know, all this, as we’re, you know, thrashing around in our ignorance. And we’re all trying to be happy. And we’re all trying to push away suffering. And so we’re grasping after the happiness pushing up to the suffering. We try to do that all day, every day and in our dreams at night. How exhausting time, right. And of course, we’re in that misguided state, we’re going to do a lot of terrible things to each other thinking we’re pursuing happiness.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah, thinking forgive them Father, for they know, not what they do.

Lama Tsomo: Right and seeing each other through this very occluded lens, this warped to the splattered wind windshields, so they can’t even see who the other person is. Right? Yeah. So there’s that, as well, as we’re, you know, stuck on the different channels, and so on.

Rick Archer: So we were talking about what Enlightenment is, and you know, whether you could be an enlightened jerk or Saudi, but I think it would be safe to say that, in an enlightened world, if such a thing ever happens, we’re a significant percentage of the people are in a very high state of consciousness, if not enlightened, it would be quite heavenly, quite harmonious. There were a bunch of enlightened people sort of going at each other’s throats, you know?

Lama Tsomo: Yeah. No, I agree. And so you know, if people want to try and make a type of government and government, that is a utopia. They can’t unless all of the citizens happen to be enlightened.

Rick Archer: And made a forest and list all the trees are green.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah. So and then you don’t need any roles at all.

Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s true. You know, and Lao Tzu says, in the Delta Ching, you know, about how the more people are in tune with the Dow, the less government there needs to be. It’s just society kind of governs itself if people are really in tune.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, exactly.

Rick Archer: Now, you said a few things when we were defining when you were defining Enlightenment that seem a little phantasmagorical. I mean, you know, there’s talk of people having rainbow bodies and leaving nothing but the hair and nails. And you said something about, you know, knowing what all knowing all beings or what all beings are thinking or feeling or experiencing or something like that. I wonder if that’s actually anyone’s real experience? I mean, you probably would say that your llama for instances and like, let’s presume that he is, I don’t know? If so, is he actually listening to our conversation and reading the thoughts of all 7 billion people in the world? Or does one necessarily have a rather limited attention beam? Even if the awareness is unbounded on the Dharmakaya kya level?

Lama Tsomo: Well, the Dalai Lama has said many times that he’s not a Buddha, that he’s not actually enlightened.

Rick Archer: Okay. Let’s say he were a Buddha is some Case in point, let’s say, let’s say, Joe Schmoe is totally enlightened. The, the is, is his experience, such that he’s actually reading the thoughts of or knowing the experiences of everybody in the universe, or is that really not what Enlightenment is? And it would be sort of like unrealistic to define it that way.

Lama Tsomo: I think if you’re speaking of total Enlightenment, total Buddhahood, then yes, they’ve joined with the whole ocean and so they can tune into any part of it. They’ve realized That holographic truth. And and so the universe is contained in them and they are the universe. So that’s quite possible for them to know. And I’m wondering if some of the, if a lot of the shamanic experiences are people being able to tune into places and people far away, because there is a non local reality, and it’s actually the distance is an illusion. And so David BOMs idea of hollow movement where the whole universe is constantly unfolding, unfolding and unfolding, you know, at a fantastically rapid rate. And, and so it’s like the Blake poem about eternity in an hour even time is the, you know, in the universe in a grain of sand, and something in a wildflower

Rick Archer: eternity in an eternity now. Yeah, yeah. What you mean?

Lama Tsomo: Yeah. Oh, my gosh. And so that really says it. And William Blake the last day of his life, saying the whole day long, because he knew he was going back to the ocean.

Rick Archer: Interesting. Yeah. Steve Jobs in the last moments of his life said, Oh, wow, oh, wow. Oh, wow. Kind of cool. Well, one thing a teacher of mine once said, is that in the enlightened state, you can know anything. But in a human nervous system, you can’t know everything simultaneously, you can sort of turn the the beam of attention on to anything in the universe that you really wanted to know. But it takes a different sort of nervous system than the human to have any sort of omniscience.

Lama Tsomo: Well, if you’re if you believe that knowing or awareness depends on the nervous system, that would be the case.

Rick Archer: I mean, let’s discuss that for a moment. I mean, how, how does one know things? If without a nervous system, or irrespective of a nervous system isn’t isn’t the nervous system on some level required as an instrument of perception for knowing or experiencing anything?

Lama Tsomo: Well, that sort of that notion gets kind of blown out of the water by, you know, when people have had out of body experiences near death experience. lies that actually, it was his doctor who died.

Rick Archer: Not that again, because of the internet froze up for a second, you said when people have out of body experiences near death experiences, and then it froze. Okay.

Lama Tsomo: Then those don’t jive with the idea that it’s dependent on a nervous system. So you can be aware of things apart from the body? Normally, we don’t know that because we’re stuck in our bodies. Yeah. But in those glimpses that people have gotten in out of body experiences, and there are 1000s and 1000s of people who have, then they’re able to perceive things that their nervous system couldn’t possibly have perceived, including, while they’re brain dead.

Rick Archer: Sure, hovering above the surgeons watching what’s going on.

Lama Tsomo: And then they can report accurately what happened. Yeah. But not just the surgeons that you know, other things further away, and things that they begin to know, because they got another glimpse. I think the mind uses the brain for a while, and then the body dies, and then the mind that consciousness continues.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I agree. But when I say nervous system, I’m actually including the subtle body or the subtle nervous system. And if a yogi or Rinpoche, or something can know what’s happening in France right now, obviously, his physical eyes and whatnot. Can’t see that. But there’s some sort of as we go deeper, we become more universal. There’s some kind of subtle mechanism, perceptual mechanism that is not constrained to the flesh and blood body.

Lama Tsomo: Well, the physicists are making it clear that you know, photons can be tied to each other in a non local way. So I think that we can change channels to the level of consciousness where there is no distance anymore. Yeah. And so that’s beyond the nervous system. And I I questioned about the subtle body because I don’t know which one you’re talking about is what we mean by Yeah, yeah. Because you know, the subtle body that you can, for example, a photograph with Kirlian photography, that dies when the physic Nobody dies.

Rick Archer: Yeah.

Lama Tsomo: But there is a kernel of awareness that goes forward. And that I think is what eventually experiences Enlightenment and you know, melts into the ocean of oneness. That’s what can perceive things anywhere, and so on, apart from the nervous system.

Rick Archer: In a way you and I were just sort of playing with hypotheses here. Yeah, I don’t think either of us is least I haven’t experientially verified all this stuff. But it’s fun to play with.

Lama Tsomo: Right? No, I’m going off other people’s experiences. And then yeah, we’re spinning out theories. Yeah,

Rick Archer: yeah. Well, we could talk a little bit about physics, but neither of us are physicists. But that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about a little bit and consider the implications of it, and so on. So it’s okay to do this, as long as you don’t, you know, get too obsessive about it, or hang all your hopes on it or consider it to be adequate for your spiritual development to understand these concepts or something.

Lama Tsomo: Right now I have 100% understanding kind of thing, you know, yeah. Way beyond that. Yeah. Yeah.

Rick Archer: Okay, good. Well, I’m gonna jump around a little bit and reference my notes here. Because there’s a bunch of things I, I took notes on as I was reading your book, and, and as we go, you know, anything that comes to your mind that you’d like to talk about that I’m not bringing up, please just jump in with it. Okay. Okay. One is for those who are not very familiar with Buddhism, could you just review the different schools of Buddhism a little bit and explain what’s different about Tibetan Buddhism? Vak Audrianna, from the other schools, just so we have our terminology straight?

Lama Tsomo: Sure. It kind of like a map and you are here.

Rick Archer: You know, you got attracted to this particular thing is you said there’s certain things about it you liked and mindfulness is very popular and people hear about, you know, that’s big, all the all the rage. And so, is this mindfulness? No, I think it’s different and how is it different and so on?

Lama Tsomo: Well, mindfulness certainly is a part of it. So let me just jump back and do a little map quick, and then I’ll zero in on vata Jana. So the Jana is our that means vehicle Jana

Rick Archer: different branches of Buddhism is it with those?

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, vehicle, Jana needs vehicle. So vehicles to get to Enlightenment, you know, just understand, you know, kind of the concept there. And then there’s Hannah Jana, which is usually termed Tera Vaada. And that’s the first turning of the wheel that the Buddha did, he first taught that widely. And so Tera Vaada is, I think, what people generally are referring to when they say mindfulness, and that’s Insight Meditation Society. shamatha and Vipassana are the main practices as well as metta, which means loving kindness. So feeling that connection to all beings. So that’s one branch of Buddhism that really landed in Burma and Thailand, and in that area of the world. Then there was Maha Jana. And that means great vehicle. And the reason it’s called great vehicles because now you’re using not just insight meditation, and metta loving kindness, practice, your, that’s kind of like the foundation and that’s common to all branches of Buddhism. But then in maha Jana, you also have the opportunity with those afflictive emotions that I was talking about the trying to push away and then trying to grab for yourself and the ignorance that’s, you know, at the root of all of that. So, instead of just avoiding, they’re called poisons by the Tibetans, the three poisons, so instead of just sort of walking around and avoiding the poisons, which is what’s done in Theravada, and Mahayana, you apply an antidote. So for example, the antidote to anger is forbearance, sometimes translated as patients but I think forbearance is a better term to get at it. So Maha Jana is quite a big school and it includes chon Buddhism in China and Vietnamese then and Japanese then. So those are Malchut. And that also includes the practice of compassion as being key to full Enlightenment and then a subcategory of the great vehicle mahagun enough as far as Rihanna, and that’s the one that went to that. And that one, there are a few important differences. So it includes the others in the practices, and you begin with those kinds of practices, but it’s kind of like building a house, we begin with calming the mind and becoming more mindful as a foundation, and loving kindness, then you’re adding the walls and fascia, Jana is like the roof. The medicine gets stronger and more efficient. This is according to Tibetans. As you go, when you’re getting you know, somebody who’s been studying Tibetan Buddhism, I did study the other ones actually in that same progression. So it was kind of handy. But I found my way to Vasa, Jana, and really settled there, because there are, instead of walking around the poison, or applying an antidote, now you actually take that poisonous emotion, like anger, for example, and peel away the layers of drama and ego and get to the very essence of its quality. And it has this sharp, clear quality to it. And so it is actually one of the five, timeless awarenesses that are qualities of the Dharmakaya and really, very much present in that template level of the Sun Boca Kaya. And so it’s called mirror like timeless awareness, because of its particular quality. And each of the five, timeless awarenesses have different qualities, which then will play out in manifestation in, you know, infinite ways, as they weave together, unfortunately, because we’re cluded, and you know, we’ve got a lot of ego and you know, layers of misunderstanding, then we just feel pissed off, right, and we aren’t experiencing pure mirror like the timeless awareness. But we can use that feeling as a flag, oh, I could travel back home by just peeling the layers of the onion of that very emotion and their practices to help you do that. So that’s why I say it’s very efficient. For example, at one point, I was doing one of these powerful practices that involve an archetypal image, and so on and so forth, and a Mantra, which is archetypal sound, to help you tune into that channel. And I was able to get down to the essence of it to find my way to mirror like wisdom. And then I was, you know, basically, in the point of view of the ocean, and I felt complete compassion for this person who had been making war on me for years. And I’d been ignoring it. And in meditation, I just realized, oh, my gosh, they’ve been making war on me for years. And I was furious. And so I did this practice, like, with more intensity than I’ve ever done it before. You know, they say there’s no such thing as an atheist and foxhole. And I was in a foxhole, it was terrible. You know, my whole nervous system was like, on fire with this. And it felt awful. So I wanted to get rid of that. So I called on this principle of reality in the form of this deity in the form of this image, used these methods to really tune into that channel. And it worked. It was amazing.

Rick Archer: It’s great.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah.

Rick Archer: You know, when you think of Christianity, for instance, you have everything from the snake handlers and the Westboro Baptist Church, you know, all the way up to Meister Eckhart and Mother Teresa and, you know, Teresa of Avila and a huge spectrum of different things. And you’re wondering, how much of this would Jesus actually align with probably the stuff on the latter end of the spectrum that I just mentioned. And then in terms of Buddhism, you know, you have the thing that all the different things you just mentioned. And you know, I wonder, you know, how how closely all these different things align with what the Buddha was actually teaching and what he would think of them if he were alive today and reviewing what everybody’s doing in his name. Do they all do all these different branches and things claim to be representing the Buddha accurately and the others not so much or are they they are they’re just taking particular facets of what he offered and emphasizing those are what

Lama Tsomo: well, you could say that for example with the three Ana’s that he was teaching those three levels not to everybody because especially Basha Jana. Excuse me, it was a select few and it was kept secret for a very, very long time because With strong medicine, you know, it’s kind of like you need a prescription. So under a doctor’s care, or a doctor’s care, this kind of thing, it’s true. And you know, like what I was mentioning with the working with the subtle energies in breath, and so on and so forth. That’s a Don’t try this at home, unless you’re under the Yeah, you know, the care of a llama and I go

Rick Archer: crazy abusing or misusing various powerful techniques, pranayama techniques and things like that it can you can get

Lama Tsomo: cleaning and so on absolute trouble. That’s right. So I was very lucky that Rinpoche happened to be my teacher. He happens to be an expert at those practices, and was waiting for his green card at some stage of his green card to come through. So I was alone in retreat, and he spent a ton of time just teaching me.

Rick Archer: It’s great. Yeah,

Lama Tsomo: so pretty amazing. The opportunity. But let’s see, what was there was an earlier part of your

Rick Archer: it was just about like, how representative of the what the Buddha was actually teaching. Do we even know what the band was actually teaching? You know? And maybe that’s up for wild speculation also. So it was really impossible to answer the question.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, well, let’s start with the fact that nothing was written down for 300 years.

Rick Archer: Yeah, same with Jesus. It’s like, who knows what was actually going on?

Lama Tsomo: Or however many years it was, yeah. And people memorized and taught other people. But again, those are words. And part of the, I can’t remember where it is in the sutras. But they talk about the Buddha, teaching to a crowd of people. And when people compare notes afterwards, they all heard something different. Yeah. So they all got different teachings.

Rick Archer: Even though he was saying the same thing that is so true.

Lama Tsomo: Well, who knows exactly what was going on there. Because if he was coming from this non local whole ocean, channel changing kind of thing, then they may actually have gotten differently. I don’t know how that was true to

Rick Archer: the first time I ever met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. And of course, he was giving a talk. And he said, You know, I’m saying one thing, and you’re hearing 1000 different things, because there are about that many people in the audience, he said, hopefully, the day will come when you’ll just be hearing one thing. But, you know, a good teacher can teach on many levels simultaneously, and there are always going to be in any group people at different levels. And, and so could be there’s that too. Yeah, you might have been teaching kind of multi dimensionally.

Lama Tsomo: That’s right. And, you know, you can take it different ways. And it could also be that he was just saying one thing, and different students were on their own sub channels, you know, and hearing it slightly differently. And we all know how that goes. When we sit at a meeting, trying to decide on something, people have different points of view, and they’re hearing different things. And because of their own lenses,

Rick Archer: I suppose it’s sort of not that important a point, you know, what I mean, what the proof of the pudding is in the eating and, and the, whatever the Buddha may have been teaching, you know, what really counts is what what works, you know, and this is obviously working for you, and a lot of other things that people do work for them. So if you find something that works for you, and you do it, and you stick with it great.

Lama Tsomo: Exactly, yeah. So that’s, that’s what I decided to I wrote, tested the methods. And I found that I was happier, I was able to deal with challenges in life, both outer and inner, much better. And, you know, I would never want to go back kind of thing. So, you know, I just continued on, and the more I did, and the more retreat I did, which is, you know, total immersion. And that’s the way to change the pathways in your brain, like if you’re gonna learn Spanish or whatever. So yeah, and just don’t speak any English and only speak Spanish. And that’s how you actually become fluent. So if you want to become fluent in these more enlightened states that you get a glimpse of in daily practice, you go into retreat, and then it’s more transformative, so that you leave some of that dross behind, you know, it’s really going into an alchemical process. And the word for retreat in Tibetan, this psalm, which means boundary, so you go into the crucible, you turn up the heat with the practices, and you put the elements in with the practices and so on. And then you cook, you know, and it’s, you know, other than meal breaks, and sleeping is pretty much all you’re doing all day and into the evening. And you come out quite different.

Rick Archer: You do. Yeah.

Lama Tsomo: And you still have to do a daily practice, or you’re gonna lose it, you know?

Rick Archer: Yeah. I’m glad you’re emphasizing that. Here’s a quote from your Lama. He said, I’m not giving you a religion. I’m giving you a set of tools with which you can reach Enlightenment. And there’s sort of a

Lama Tsomo: I was really relieved when he said that, by the way,

Rick Archer: yeah. Yeah. Because I mean, what’s the religion gonna do for you? I mean, it does something for some people, because that gives them faith and hope and solace and, and whatnot. But if you’re actually talking about Enlightenment, then, you know, a set of beliefs isn’t gonna do for you.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, I mean, I see a religion as being sort of something to help the culture,

Rick Archer: you know, be given some moral guidance, and some,

Lama Tsomo: yeah, that, you know, is very much of a cultural element to it that, you know, people gather at the church, and there’s community and this is a, you know, hopefully a better way to do community than going to a bar, you know, and the Buddha talked about the Three Jewels, Buddha Dharma Sangha. So if you’re trying to get somewhere, first of all, you want a guide, who’s already been there and knows the way so that’s Buddha, right? Because they’ve already gotten their dharma is the map. And that’s a good thing to have a body

Rick Archer: of teaching. Yeah, your knowledge and stuff.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah. And then the Sangha is your fellow travelers, and you help each other stay on track. So we are herd animals, let’s face it, we’re, our brains are built for it, you know, and we’re very tribal. And so the Buddha took these natural tendencies that we have, and gave us a way to point ourselves use them to, you know, actually galvanize us and propel us on the path to Enlightenment. So I feel very strongly about that Sangha piece that is missing a bit I feel in American Buddhist circles, because maybe I’m thinking, My hypothesis is that we’re into rugged individualism. So we just think, well, I’ll practice mindfulness for myself. And it’s daily practice myself and this kind of thing. And they don’t often get together in groups. But the experience of meditating in a group is quite powerful, and very cool. Yeah. Because we all infect each other with whatever we’re thinking and feeling. So you know, if you’ve been to a rock concert, you know this. Yeah. So why not use that natural human tendency? You know, to help us go where we’re trying to go by hanging out with people, and really chewing on these things with people who are trying to go in the same direction have the same intent?

Rick Archer: Yeah, I think it’s a very important point. And I’m glad you were emphasizing it. Biggest group I ever meditated in was about 8000 people. And it was palpable boy, it was things brick.

Lama Tsomo: I bet. Well, you know, it reminds me of the difference between ambient light and laser light. Yeah, so ambient light, the waves are going up and down whenever they do. And laser light, they’re coherent light, it’s cool. Yeah. And so they’re going up and down at the same time, and they can burn through wood, you know, they can, you know, blast a tree apart if it’s a big enough laser. So that’s exactly the point. This is a nice big laser. So why not take advantage of that. And in my experience, because I’ve been with groups and starting groups, and so on for years, we develop deep connection with each other. And that’s the basis, once you feel that to them, step it out and out and out to include everyone, all and everyone all beings. And that’s exactly what the practices, such as metta, or Dong Lin, and in my tradition, do they start with yourself. And because we, Westerners are crummy at compassion and love for ourselves. So I emphasize that a lot, as do a lot of other Western teachers. And then, you know, my tribe, you know, the people I easily feel love or compassion for, and then out, stepping out until you really feel that everyone is my tribe, you know, and the mind becomes kind of meaningless. Yeah. Just holding everyone

Rick Archer: in your heart, then sure, just to dwell on the Sangha thing for another moment. You know, I mean, we don’t want to be like, prissy, where I can’t go to Walmart because I’ll be polluted by the consciousness of the people there or something like that. Obviously, one has to live one’s practical life, but there’s also a thing like, you know, if you if you go into a coal mine with a white suit on your there’s, you’re not going to clean up the coal but you’re definitely gonna get your suit dirty. So it really does matter. The company you keep as much as you have any kind of choice in the matter. It’s extreme Wait, go ahead.

Lama Tsomo: Well, here’s the other thing. It is fun sitting together with people that people who are kind of trying to do the same thing, pursue mindfulness, whatever you have, and comparing notes. Well, how is this working in my life? And how is the interaction going between my life and what I’m experiencing on the cushion? And am I really able to connect the wires? What do you think, and somebody helps with that, and then we, you know, I help them and, you know, we learn about each other, like, in a deep way, and are talking about stuff that matters, it’s very satisfying. And then there’s usually a study portion we have learning circles is what we call them. And so in the evening, there’s a study portion, a meditation portion, breaking bread together portion, and, you know, chewing on things together a portion, and it’s just a very satisfying evening.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Are you talking about what happens up there at your retreat place in Montana? Or what are you talking? No.

Lama Tsomo: So Nam choc is at this point, still in the planning stages and hasn’t built the retreat facilities, okay, we’re going to have to one for like student workers, that will be done sooner. And then for people who just want to go whole hog with his total immersion, and do the traditional three year retreat, we’re going to also build a facility for that. But right now, what we’re doing is starting learning circles all over the place, and they can do our ecourse and read the book, you know, for those inputs to then chew on together. And we support the study of wearing circles with old toolkits. So they can go to non chalk that org and download that stuff they eat, of course, or the the toolkit, that kind of thing. And we also travel, so I’m about to go teach the pasta, Tibetan style. And that’s the name of the little weekend retreat with Rinpoche, his brother, who is a high level scholar and fantastic Lama in his own right. I’ve taken many teachings from him. And so we’re going to teach together first in Berkeley, and then in New York, and that’s coming up next month,

Rick Archer: great. There’s a thing on, where you under Resources, where if you put in a location, you will see any kind of activities being offered by people I’ve interviewed in the past, and it kind of radiates out geographically. So if you put in the zip code for Midtown Manhattan, then you’d see you know, things in Manhattan things in New Jersey, things that Pennsylvania sort of radiates out. So I’ll let you know about that after the interview or Greenville, and you can put your

Lama Tsomo: work. Exactly. And we’re trying to work on that so that people can find each other in different locations and have learning circles together, you know, just I’m talking like, you know, four to eight people, something like that very small, intimate. Where you can fit in somebody’s living room kinda.

Rick Archer: Yeah, absolutely. That’s one thing I liked about your, your book is, it’s, you know, you read it, and there’s all these practices in there. And there’s little cards in the back, let me get out the little cards, that you could hear some cards, put it on here, that you could use to sort of like, you know, remind yourself how to do the practices and keep keep them by your, your meditation, theater, whatever, until you’ve got it down. And, and then you also have all kinds of things on your website that people can download for free and listen to and so on. So you can learn quite a bit. I’m sure there’s a need for having a one to one experience with a teacher such as yourself. But you can

Lama Tsomo: we actually do have monthly meditation coaching calls where I do, it’ll be a small group of people, but I don’t do webinars. But I do one on ones with each person and everybody listens to each other. And they’re like, Oh, I’m glad I heard that one. You know, because, of course, it’s all you know, we appreciate all of

Rick Archer: them. Yeah. Great. So people can sign up for that. On your website, I’m sure not checked. Okay. And

Lama Tsomo: then there are also these retreats that where we come to those two locations.

Rick Archer: Nice. That almost sounds like we’re wrapping up the interview, but we’re not.

Lama Tsomo: We just got into how we’re trying to, you know, cuz I want people to have some follow through. I didn’t want to put the book out in the world. And then people that, you know, read the book it that was nice, and then they go back to their lives. You know, there’s got to be some follow through.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, I’m thinking of it. I did mention in the beginning that this is first part of a three part series of books, what, maybe a sentence or two, what’s in each book, this one, the next two?

Lama Tsomo: Well, I mentioned the Monroe in the beginning, when we were talking right in the beginning, that I was doing those this series of practices. And by the end of the trilogy, I hope to have taught the or at least introduced excuse me, those that whole series of practices. So I wanted to

Rick Archer: be able to learn them from the books

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, yeah, it’s a good introduction, that you really are best off going to, you know, teachings, because that is stronger medicine and you really want to, I mean, any kind of medicine, meditation is better learn from somebody who really knows what they’re doing. And so, you know, we can teach,

Rick Archer: we both experienced before we got on to what we ended up doing.

Lama Tsomo: Exactly. And there’s plenty of blimey going on, you know, your voice, plenty of blind leading the blind. And also, you know, thinking that we can get it from a book. Yeah, you know, turns out to be a bad idea. I did try that and, you know, had some kind of scary results. So, it is good to have the real live instruction, from, you know, somebody who’s been through it before and everything, and then you know, I’m taking this tool, and I’m using it on my mind, I want to use it correctly and get the most benefit out of it, too. So, I’ll cover all of those in the three books. And the one that I’ve already written the rough draft for the second one covers more of the first stages of the Monroe, because I didn’t, I wanted to start with just imagine if somebody’s curious about meditation, has no idea, you know, could they pick up this book and start there? So that’s what I wanted to do in? Why is the Dalai Lama always smiling at first of all?

Rick Archer: I just want to mention to those in the livestream audience, a couple of 100 people watching, if you have a question, you can go to the upcoming interviews page on And then the bottom of that page, there’s a form, you can submit a question through that form, and it’ll be reviewed by somebody and then sent to me. So feel free to do that, if you have a question. One thing that about me is that I’ve never felt that I was a very good visualizer, you know, I have a certain type of meditation I do, which really works for me, and I’ve really enjoyed it. But when I start reading about all these techniques that involve various kinds of visualization, and all, it seems kind of complicated to me, and I have a feeling I wouldn’t be very good at them. So maybe you could address that for those who might feel as I do.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, the effort to visualize something already opens up different parts of the brain and begins to have them in coordination in concert with each other. So that you’re not just, you know, thinking in words, which are only using, you know, parts of frontal lobes. Now, you’re opening up and activating and involving more parts of the brain just in the very effort of visualizing. And at

Rick Archer: video froze up there for a second, just after he said, using different parts of the brain, visualizing that boop, it froze. So repeat that.

Lama Tsomo: Oh. So that then involves more of you in the practice, and you’re going to, it’s more deeply transformative. And Jung, of course, talked about the power of imagery. So the very effort of trying to visualize myself being this dakini song well, yes, che for example. You know, already and by the way, guys are also visualizing themselves to be green Tara, or Guru Rinpoche, you know, it doesn’t matter what sex you are, you can visualize yourself and should, both from time to time. And anyways. Well, it brings out all your feminine side of your masculine side, but all these different facets of it, because they’re all these different beings that you can be.

Rick Archer: And then Are these real beings that you think exist on some level, or just sort of our typical, you know, traditional, mythological kinds of images?

Lama Tsomo: Well, the principle of the Mother, the great mother is a principal so that’s real. And then we use images to try and tune into that channel. That’s how I see it. And so the image may not be very clear. That’s okay. Right now, if you stop and think of your bedroom, for example, Can you visualize that a little bit? Sure. So you know, where, for example the lighting sources are and where the bed is in relation to the window. Okay, so,

Rick Archer: visualize something

Lama Tsomo: you did, because you’re familiar with it. Yeah. And you know, you can visualize making coffee in the morning. and how you do that, and that Tibetan would be completely flummoxed by that. Right? Fresh from Tibet, totally flummoxed? And you’d have to

Rick Archer: explain about rancid yak butter tea or something. Well,

Lama Tsomo: they wouldn’t know what the either the Mr. Coffee, you know, they don’t know what that is. And you have to then describe what that is. And then, you know, there’s electricity involved, and maybe they’ve never had electricity. And so when you say, well, then you turn it on, they’re like, What? What’s that, so you have to go into this elaborate description and everything. And they think, Oh, my gosh, this is way too complicated. I can’t do this. But it’s for us, it’s easy, because we’re familiar with it. So you spend a lot of time with these. So you get familiar, and that’s another reason why just even a weekend retreat really settles you in the practice because you’re immersed in it.

Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s another important point. And we’ve talked about the value of practice and the value of the Sangha. Also, doing a retreat from time to time, can be extremely powerful compared to just sort of trying to meditate or do some practice on your own every day.

Lama Tsomo: It’s a, you know, both and, yeah. So just as with Sangha, you want both your individual meditation because there’s, you know, a particular benefit to that, you can kind of do what you want with it, and so on and so forth. And then there’s a particular benefit of meditating the group, likewise, there’s the benefit of total immersion of retreat. And there’s the benefit of carrying through with those new habits, so that they become really well established. And as you go, then some of the old ones, again, sort of fall away, and the new pathways get stronger and stronger, and those are the ones who go on. So that masters like my teachers, they, you know, particularly to Kousaka che, he really can practice, I’ve seen him in action, practicing it on the spot in, you know, everyday life, where he can, you know, if we’re supposed to let a thought arise, and then let it go. And just, we’re still there, as the thoughts come and go, Well, I’ve seen him do that with stuff, right? In action in the day, you know, because it’s so he’s so habituated, and he’s done hours of meditation every day for, you know, most of his life.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, I think we’re trying to find Enlightenment earlier, I think that that’s a good criteria of it is, is that it’s not something that comes and goes, it’s something that is stable, regardless of what you’re doing. And you know, and that necessitates some, usually, for most people necessitate some kind of long term culturing of the mind and nervous system. You know, people are familiar with the term neuroplasticity, that doesn’t happen instantly happens over days, weeks, months, years, you can you can sculpt the brain so to speak.

Lama Tsomo: Right, so doing this combination of, you know, total immersion transformation, and follow through total transformation, is another step in transformation and follow through, you know, and then you kind of create this upward spiral. If you, you know, do the occasional retreat and then follow through with daily practice.

Rick Archer: Yeah. There’s some people who, I won’t dwell on this too much. But there’s some people who sort of poopoo the idea of practice altogether, and they say, Well, you know, you’re already enlightened and practice, doing a practice implies that you aren’t already enlightened, you’re reaching for your give up the search, you’re searching for something that you already have, if you can just see it, and, and so on, and so forth. Well, that’s

Lama Tsomo: the big thing operative word is if it well, that’s the problem, and we’re talking about cleaning the windshield, and then we won’t be in the mud pit that I was mentioning, you know, we clean all that off, and then it’s a pure land, turn that, you know, heavenly realm, or whatever we want to call it.

Rick Archer: As Ramana said, it takes a thorn to remove a thorn. And speaking about this, if you’re standing in the middle of a mud pit, and someone says, Come out of the mud pit, you say how and he said, we’ll take a step. Wait a minute, you asked me to take a step in mud again. moving in the direction of being out of the mud puddle?

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, yeah. Right. And one thing that often happens along the way is, as people are doing these meditation practices, they’ll have these meditative experiences and get really excited about them. And Rinpoche really has strongly cautioned me, don’t get excited about them as they’re called yum in Tibetan. So they’re well known good experiences. Well, I mean, there can be bad ones too, but he was referring to the, the nice ones. And there are three categories of those. They have all these categories for everything. So the three categories here are bliss, clarity, non thought, freedom from thought, and we can expel During all three in a meditative experience, or mainly one or one or another can be emphasized that kind of thing. And we get really excited about it and all proud of ourselves and everything. And that just, you know, took a nice little signpost and kind of solid, it kind of ruined it. So it is just a signpost and we’re supposed to keep going.

Rick Archer: It also spoils the sort of innocence and spontaneity of the practice, because you’re sitting there trying for an experience, and you’re actually not actually doing the practice you’re supposed to be doing that brought about practical experience.

Lama Tsomo: You’re practicing clinging and pride. Yeah, which has the opposite direction. That’s ego stuff. So it’s a to me, it’s kind of like driving down the road, you’re on your way to let’s say, La from Santa Barbara, I don’t know. And as you’re driving south, you see a sign and it says so many miles to LA, and you pull off the road and sit down in front of the sign and stare at the sign. Isn’t that a wonderful sign? Beautiful, you know? Get in the car and keep going. I mean, great. You saw the sign now just keep going.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Also, I think one thing is worth noting is that some people are wired such that they they naturally have flashy experiences, it’s kind of the way they operate, and other other people don’t. And you can’t you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, you know, you just get get all hung up and envy and then trying to be somebody or not.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, well, that’s just more ego stuff. You know, keeping a scorecard on whatever outward experiences people are having. That really isn’t the point, you know, you’re still, you know, slogging stepping through the mud to get out.

Rick Archer: Gotcha came in from Dan in London. He’s asking, is there anything in Buddhism like bhakti yoga, that is a practice of loving devotion, where devotion to God, I know that you don’t use the term guy, but devotion of God might be in more personal terms to people and things in the relative world?

Lama Tsomo: Absolutely.

Rick Archer: I think you said you practice Guru Yoga, right?

Lama Tsomo: We do practice Guru Yoga. And it’s actually fundamental to vata Jana, because of their several reasons, because of the intensity of the practices and the level at which they work. It’s important to join your mind as much as possible with the lama. And that is Guru Yoga. You’re also, you know, we are actually, of course, made of Buddha, if you will, made of enlightened mind, and we just don’t know it. And so we have this tendency to project anyway. And so we’re projecting onto these deities, and we see them as enlightened mind taking that form, we understand that we literally projected from our heart mind out there, and then take it back in at the end of the practice. And we practice Guru Yoga the same way. We’re asked to visualize the Lama as an enlightened being so not, you know, my teacher said, don’t have a picture of me, I’ve got this stain on my tube. You know, my hair is going gray, this kind of thing, you know, have a picture of Guru Rinpoche or something like that and imagine him, but you imagine the presence of the person you met, you know, who you actually have had a chance to meet on this level that I’m stuck on. Right? That helps me. So it’s used in that way. And you project out and then take it back in many times, even in one practice, you can do it multiple times. But certainly every practice session, you’re doing that. So in a sense, there’s, you know, some aspect of Guru Yoga in all the practices we do. And so,

Rick Archer: when you do that, do you feel a lot of love and devotion?

Lama Tsomo: Absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely. Because you’re joining your mind

Rick Archer: So it cultures, the heart as well as the mind.

Lama Tsomo: Absolutely. And you also piggyback on the lamas level of realization. I bumped into that by accident, actually.

Rick Archer: Oh, yeah. Tell that story. That’s good.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah. So I was practicing Guru Yoga at the end of my little Manjaro practice, you know, he got that series. And I was, you know, sinking into that and doing the Mantra and visualizing not to Kusanagi Rinpoche, with a stain on his tooth, etc. But Guru Rinpoche, who is the master who brought Buddhism to Tibet, and was seen by Tibet and says, the second is the second Buddha, the reincarnation of the Buddha. So I’m busy doing that. And then right afterwards, I’m sitting doing just, you know, pure Shama to the positive meditation and I’m like, so Rinpoche lately, when I’m sitting doing Shama to the asana, it’s like on a whole different level. And it’s, I mean, it’s like, it’s not even me, totally. I mean, I’m there but it’s like Something more it’s like way beyond what I can normally experience. And he said, Well, you do that right after the Shama to the pasta right after Guru Yoga, right? And I said, Well, sure, yeah. And he said, So you, you know, joined your mind with mine. And that’s why it felt that way. Yeah. Oh, so going up the mountain of Enlightenment, if you will, I’m sort of riding on his shoulders. It’s really felt like that, oh, that it clicked. I was like, Oh, that is what it was. Yeah, it was interesting.

Rick Archer: In various traditions, there’s definitely a thing of a tuning your mind to the mind of the master and or the teacher or the guru. And actually sort of mind melding, you know, or creating the sort of residence such that you actually attain that enlightened state by by proximity. And by attunement, it can be a very powerful and fast way of evolving if you have that opportunity.

Lama Tsomo: Exactly. And so, early English speakers referred to Tibetan Buddhism as Lama ism, because it’s such a strong part of the path. And even the deities that we’re envisioning. It’s like the llama is the doorway to that because he’s somebody we’ve met who is, you know, so connected to that other level. So we can piggyback in that way by imagining that the deities are the llama, his enlightened mind in in drag.

Rick Archer: Okay, here’s a question that came in from K in Shoreview, Shoreview, Minnesota, he or she asks, I always wondered what the point of all this birth and evolution is. Why are people born in ignorance and then have to take the time to gain Enlightenment? Is this for entertainment? Yeah, who is entertainment?

Lama Tsomo: Yeah. Yeah, so I, I gather from my studies. And it kind of makes sense that we’re taking a very scenic route to Enlightenment, the Dalai Lama says, sooner or later, we will all reach Enlightenment. Better it be sooner, haha, than he does his little laughter. So, you know, I think he summed it up right there. We are, you know, seemingly going around in circles, you know, endlessly, you know, since beginningless time and taking yet another body and being in another situation, so on and so on, around we go. And there isn’t a whole lot of meaning to all that circuitous. SNESs. So if we can find a more direct path, we best pursue it. And, you know, we may be a worm next time or whatever. So that that would be much more difficult. So in the in the unit

Rick Archer: while the sun shines? Well, and

Lama Tsomo: I think, you know, if you think of the demographics of beings that we can’t see, because we’re not tuned into those levels of reality, there must be infinite numbers of beings. So to be in the right, incarnation, you know, if the right circumstances to get the teachings, and so on, and so forth. That’s a very small demographic. Yeah. So we might want to take advantage of that. Yep. I talked about that, in my second book, actually.

Rick Archer: Important thing to do, was when teach teacher put it, you know, if you don’t take advantage of this opportunity, you’ve sold a diamond for the price of spinach,

Lama Tsomo: which you eat And then poop out

Rick Archer: one thing, the case question I would say is, well, you know, he’s asking what the point of all this birth and evolution is, what’s the point of the universe? And, you know, I think, why does hydrogen gas become stars and planets and giraffes and all these life forms that seem to be getting more and more complex and growing bigger and bigger brains? And, and, you know, I could give an answer that you could probably give an answer to that. But that’s an interesting question to ask.

Lama Tsomo: Absolutely. It’s a big question. And I’m still trying to understand really what it is, I don’t know the full answer to that. And I wonder whether our little minds can encompass the true full intention of that awareness. That’s, you know, the whole ocean awareness, right, because that’s really what we’re talking about, what is the intent, the Enlightened intent of that ocean? You know, the bottom of the ocean kind of thing. It’s hard to say, one thing that I understand from Buddhist thought is that, that, you know, unfolding of the universe into many More and more complex manifestations. And then going back into emptiness. There’s a certain bio rhythm with that that happens again and again. There’s also bio rhythms of consciousness where we’re more murky and less murky. And right now we’re in a very murky time.

Rick Archer: Leading right into what I wanted to talk to you about. Another one of the points here. Yeah, there’s cycles, throughout history and cycles, and in societies, and so on and so forth. And one thing you right, I believe it was in your book, one of humanity’s great shifts is going to happen. When the shit hits the fan. Your major task is to make the transition as graceful as possible. This will require inner as well as outer ways of working with life. So a lot of people say this, they feel like, you know, something is happening, and you don’t know what it is doing. Mr. Jones, there’s no Dylan’s on there. There’s definitely something going on in the world. We’re on the brink of some Trump, some dramatic, perhaps cataclysmic change. And, and, you know, all the sort of upsurge of technological advances juxtaposed with the upsurge of interest in spiritual development, which isn’t carried so much by the six o’clock news, but it’s nonetheless real, signifies something major is happening. So what would you like to comment about that kind of thing?

Lama Tsomo: Well, it seems it’s been predicted by many different spiritual traditions. And that’s true in the Tibetan Buddhist one. So Guru Rinpoche, I mentioned earlier brought Buddhist, you know, really landed Buddhism in Tibet. And he made a lot of predictions and very specific ones about these times. He referred to them as doom in, which means negative times. So that’s, you know, not very helpful right there. And he gave specific signs like the the he named particular mountains, and they would look like tiger stripes. And you know, how mountains had these ridges and valleys on their sides, right. And normally, those mountains are high Himalayas. So the snow never melts near the top. But now it’s melting on one side, on the south side. And so they’re striped. And he predicted SARS, you know, the shape of the germ, which, you know, correlated with what they saw on the microscopes. So a lot of really specific predictions that I, you know, could enumerate a ton of other predictions. But the point is, he was seeing that this was becoming a murkier time and more ego infused time and muddier, the mud pit is thicker, or whatever. And he said, Varsha, Jana would be actually on the upswing, because it has such strong practices that sort of take you by the nape of the neck and plop you in a clear state. And we need something like that in these times.

Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s some something about the Chinese symbol for crisis contains this some symbol for opportunity or something like that. And a number of traditions have said that, well, you know, when things get really rough, that’s when people really get fervent about their spiritual development. And so even though it might be seen as a dark time, it’s also a time of great opportunity.

Lama Tsomo: Yes, and we can see that there’s a new paradigm trying to be born, we’ve had new paradigms come and supplant old ones, for example, the Renaissance just after, you know, the earlier time, and then, you know, other paradigm shifts that work their way through society. William Irwin Thompson is a historian who wrote the book, the time it takes falling bodies to light, you know, so that moment when it’s, you know, tips over into the new paradigm. And, you know, he looked at, well, how did that happen? When it went into the Renaissance? Exactly. fascinating to look at. It starts with the mystics, because they’re used to seeing the unseen. And so it’s still very unseen and amorphous. And then the artists are used to working with the news. And so they can work with something a little bit unseen, and they can communicate it through the arts. The next people then are the businessmen who now you know, that it’s being communicated. They can kind of get infected with this new paradigm. And if they can figure you know, find out about a new way of doing business. Sure, they’re gonna do it. You know, why not? And the last people to catch on are the political leaders. Those who then run to the front of the pack, right? First, they’re fighting it because they were in power in the old, old paradigm. And then they run to the front of the pack and say, No, I’m leading you here. So I just had to digress into that. That’s a good digression. Yeah. Yeah. I’m a fan of William Irwin Thompson. But anyway, another prediction that Guru Rinpoche said, was that all of the elements would rise up against us. And we’re seeing that now we like climate. That kind of element. Yeah, all of the elements. So we’re having bigger, stronger, more devastating wildfires. You know, there’s a mudslides and earthquakes and floods and hurricanes, you know, so all of the elements are rising up against us. And he said it would be because of our own actions.

Rick Archer: Yeah. I’m sorry, go ahead.

Lama Tsomo: Well, I don’t want to, you know, lead people into thinking, Oh, the new paradigm is coming. And it’ll be a little uncomfortable. And we’ll be okay. And it’ll be nice. And this kind of thing. That’s not the set what I’m getting from his predictions. It is going to be there is going to be some Cataclysm and, you know, terrible tragedy, lots of loss of life.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I’m afraid you’re right. Yeah. Even the war in Syria can be attributed to climate change. And that’s just like the tip of the iceberg in terms of what could happen if it you know, sea level rise is 20 feet or something.

Lama Tsomo: Or disease, you know, disease, like, yeah, we’ve we’ve had near misses. I don’t know if we’ll always miss what we’re gonna say,

Rick Archer: Oh, I was just gonna say I was on a boat ride one time in Switzerland, with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and he used to refer to this as the phase transition, the change that was coming in society, and somebody said, you know, Maharshi, how can we survive the phase transition? And he said, Hold on to yourself. And he meant he meant capital S self, you know?

Lama Tsomo: Yes, exactly. Exactly. That’s it. And so I’m, you know, practicing as much as I can, and trying to share these very efficient, effective practices with as many people as possible and as deeply as possible for whoever’s interested in going deeper. Because I feel that’s, that’s the best thing I can do at this time. Everybody’s got their part to play. And that’s, that’s fine, you know, that feels like mine to do in this life.

Rick Archer: It’s good. One. question came in from Christoph Schmidt in Luxembourg. He asks, Are there physical ailments, medical conditions that can block subtle energy channels? And by doing so prevent, for example, successful visualization practice or deeper states of consciousness?

Lama Tsomo: Mm hmm. I want to actually go a little bit backwards, you know, with that question, and start with the presumption about visualization, because there was one thing I want to say when when you were talking before about not needing to visualize so clearly, you know, the effort of visualization is the important thing. And they talk about daily pride. And what they mean by that is, to feel oneself, indistinguishable from urine is determined to them indistinguishable from the deity. So it’s not as though I’m subsumed into the deity and the deity isn’t subsumed in me. Right. So there’s this both and kind of indistinguishable experience. That’s the important thing. If you can just visualize the seed syllable, which is usually just a letter. If you can do that, and imagine light rays going out and in and just feeling I am this presence. That’s it. That’s the essence, you can

Rick Archer: do that even if you have some physical infirmity or something like that, obviously,

Lama Tsomo: yeah, and that’s your way home, you know that what you the quote, you were giving, keep coming back to yourself in that way, because your self capital S is like that, you know, it’s, I just find a great channel changer for tuning into that. And we want to keep doing that as much as possible. You’re supposed to imagine yourself to be the deity as you walk through your day, you know, in other words, coming from the s. capitalists. So

Rick Archer: one thing you mentioned in your book, and somehow that fellows question reminded me of it is, you know, you, you’re not a big advocate of using drugs of any kind these days. There’s a lot of popularity of ayahuasca and other drugs. And I think you had a cautionary tone with regard to those things.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah. First of all, with something like ayahuasca, some people fool around without without doing it within the context in which it’s meant to meant to be used, and there’s lineage and practices in the equivalent of llamas who To help you in that journey, and you wouldn’t want to be without a good qualified guide on that. So that’s one thing. And then I also mentioned earlier, that it’s kind of like climbing a tree and seeing a glimpse of what’s ahead, but then you have to go back down, and you still have to walk. And that was what rom das found, you know, he did a whole bunch of LSD. And he kept going to this whole ocean experience kind of thing. And then he would come back down, and he couldn’t carry it through because he hadn’t done any practices. And he got tired of having to constantly drop acid. So that’s why he went to India and just fully devoted himself to doing the practices so that he could just do the transformation follow through transformation, follow through that I was talking about. So he could actually come from that kind of place all the time.

Rick Archer: Yeah. One thing, you know, I mean, I did a fair amount of that myself back in the 60s. And but these days, you know, if I, you know, people say, oh, you should try Alaska. I have this feeling like, I don’t want to play Russian roulette with my brain. You know, I don’t know exactly what effect that would have. And, you know, so there’s kind of a safety first element, you know,

Lama Tsomo: yeah. And, you know, the thing that I feel as dependable with the, these practices that, you know, I’ve been studying is, is, first of all, you don’t depend on any extra chemicals. Yeah. And so then you have the channel changer. You don’t have to, like, go to an Ayahuasca ceremony with the right person to, you know, usher you through the experience, and so on and so forth. Yeah, you can just, you’ve got more of a channel changer yourself.

Rick Archer: Like, your brain actually produces DMT. And all these chemicals, you know, on its own, it says ways of, you know, having that happen naturally.

Lama Tsomo: I don’t know about that. I haven’t studied? Yeah. Okay. I mean, I don’t know, I’ve certainly had enlightened experiences, lots of them. But I don’t know if I’m producing those chemicals while and having those experiences.

Rick Archer: Undoubtedly, there’s some kind of chemical thing going on in your in your brain. If you’re having any experience, there’s a physiological correlate.

Lama Tsomo: Well, there’s Yeah, but which one, the brain doesn’t want to be

Rick Archer: studied? You know, that could be a lot of research done on that kind of thing?

Lama Tsomo: Well, so one thing, they’ve done a study gamma waves. And so the orchestration of many different parts of the brain that have to happen, just right, to produce a moment of gamma waves, very unusual. And those are aha moments. So they measured the gamma waves of masters, you know, really experienced, Rinpoche is, you know, masters and so on, and a French fellow. So it wasn’t just Tibetans. He had studied the practices, the Tibetan practices, but he Matthieu Ricard is French. So anyway, they measure it and they had all the you know, funny hats on with all the wires coming out. And they looked at the the needles and everything like gamma waves,

Rick Archer: you froze up there for a few seconds, you’re saying they looked at the needles and

Lama Tsomo: yeah, on the, you know, the machines. And they found that the Masters before they were even supposed to be meditating, just in their normal state, were already off the charts with the gamma waves they were producing normally. Then when they meditated, and they were doing a form of Dzogchen. It was way off the charts that never before seen really remarkable. And they kept checking the equipment to see Is there something wrong with your equipment, they couldn’t believe it. But it was true. And then this other fellow wanted to debunk it, and he brought the same masters over there. And, you know, he put the funny hats on and so on. And then he came running in again and again and said, I think there’s something wrong with the machinery. Yeah, same results.

Rick Archer: Well, the interesting point it brings out is that, you know, when we’re talking about Enlightenment or higher states of consciousness, and all they are, I mean, just as we know that as we go from waking, dreaming to sleeping, for instance, not only does our subjective experience change, but our physiology changes. Well, if Enlightenment is is radically different from ordinary waking consciousness as it’s reputed to be, there should be a radically different brainwave signature and other physiological measures correlating with it. And that story you just told and lots of research that’s been done indicates that there is

Lama Tsomo: yes there absolutely. Yeah, it wasn’t just that study

Rick Archer: So it’s not just some little mood or some attitude or some belief or anything else. It’s a it’s a radical rewiring of the way our brain functions.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, so we have the potential to just react on instinct, you know, from incoming senses to you knee jerk reaction. And we also have the how shall I say, the apparatus in our brains to react in a much more compassionate and resourced, enlightened way? So yeah, it is a lot about, you know, just changing habits walking through the forest to actually get some progress.

Rick Archer: Here’s question that came in from Prakash Busto. La in San Diego, what is attention, I feel there’s a field of awareness, which is me. But my focus or attention moves from one object in the field of awareness to another, is Enlightenment, being able to attend to everything in the field of awareness all at once. Can you talk about attention in relation to awareness?

Lama Tsomo: Hmm. Well, I’m gonna borrow imagery from Carl Jung and say that conscious attention is like a lighthouse being, you know, on one little part of the ocean. And so he says, The conscious mind is like that, and can only focus its attention on one thing at a time. And modern brain studies on multitasking, have shown that actually, we are shuttling back and forth between the two things, we can only in one nanosecond focus on this or that, and so we’re just shuttling. So that’s a tension. And that’s associated with the conscious mind. Then there’s the unconscious or superconscious, or whatever, you know, there’s the ocean. So there’s that ocean metaphor, again, because it’s the biggest thing we know, I guess. So you’ve got the lighthouse in the ocean. And awareness is a quality of that motion. And so, awareness is much bigger and wider, and different qualitatively than the experience of attention on one thing. And I imagine that an enlightened Buddha has full awareness, and is coming from that all the time, and then can choose to focus on one thing or another. I want to just mention that very few people who have reached Enlightenment remain in their body. So that was the

Rick Archer: moment they get enlightened, they dropped the body or what

Lama Tsomo: they dropped the body, they retrain above it, they reach quite often they reach Enlightenment, at the moment of death, because that is, you know, something that can foster that last bit so that they go over that line that I was talking about, of no return. So that you can’t be, you know, a jerk sometimes and enlightened Other times, you can’t fall back, you know?

Rick Archer: Well, I don’t know. But I mean, maybe that’s so in the Tibetan tradition, but I mean, you have people like Ramana, or Papaji, or Nisargadatta, or Neem, Karoli, Baba, and all these guys. And I mean, what was the name? I forget. But, you know, many different saints and sages who apparently attained Enlightenment, and they stuck around for quite a while afterwards. I mean, sometimes they had to sort of keep an eye on him, or they’d wander off into the forest. But they many of them lived for decades in an enlightened state.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, I can’t speak about them. I have no idea. You know, I can only say something about the Dalai Lama, who is, you know, very highly realized, fellow. And as I said, he says he hasn’t crossed that line.

Rick Archer: In other words, he would not call himself enlightened. Is that what you’re saying?

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, yeah, that’s what he said. So but I have no idea about other people, you know, what state they’re in?

Rick Archer: Who knows? How can we? Yeah,

Lama Tsomo: I’m only going, you know, when the Dalai Lama self reports. I feel like okay, well, that he’s the expert.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And it all comes back to how we define Enlightenment, too. You know, but that’s it. Yeah, you know, I like to think of it as my definition as a potentially functional state, in which the the totality can become a living reality, through the instrumentality of a human body, a human nervous system. And it can be integrated. You were talking earlier about channel changing and being able to sort of tune into all the channels simultaneously. That would be my understanding of it. And so you could be driving a car or even raising a family and doing all kinds of complicated things in the world, and yet tuned into all those other channels simultaneously, perpetually aware of the Dharmakaya level and the other levels, just sort of the whole package.

Lama Tsomo: It seems to me that that would be possible. I mean, the Buddha was able to function and talk to people.

Rick Archer: Yeah, yeah, sure. Yeah. Yeah, there’s also probably a Dharma thing, you know, whether it’s your Dharma to stick around or or drop it.

Lama Tsomo: Yes, exactly. And he had a strong intention. But from before that incarnation right out of compassion, exactly out of compassion, he really wanted to be able to stay. And, you know, not just his form wouldn’t just melt away. But he would, you know, remain and share that knowledge. And so, you know, that momentum carried through even past his full Enlightenment. Yeah.

Rick Archer: We’re running out of time. But I want to ask you one more question that some kind of eyes keep falling on the paper. I don’t even know if you can answer this. But it’s interesting question, perhaps one to leave everyone pondering, we talked about karma and reincarnation, and, you know, the, that your tradition believes in both of those things that I use, by by belief, I don’t mean sort of the the deeper mechanics of those things have been understood in cognize, by the custodians of your tradition and other traditions as well. So an interesting question about karma, which in the Gita, Lord Krishna says, is unfathomable, because it says to human intellect, because it’s so complicated, and there’s no question about it is who or what keeps track of it?

Lama Tsomo: Well, again, you know, the, if the depths of the ocean, you know, pre form is connected to all form, then and it’s all aware and all knowing because it’s connected to everything, then it’s aware of all of that.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah, you could say that.

Lama Tsomo: And it doesn’t have to contain it into into a brain and nervous system.

Rick Archer: No, I mean, yeah. There’s too much data for the human nervous system.

Lama Tsomo: That’s right. But they you know, that’s not a problem in the sort of the unfolded universe, you know, aspect of the universe.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah. If you think about, I’ve used this example before, but if you take a gram of hydrogen or nitrogen, some gas, and if you enlarge the atoms in it to the size of uncooked popcorn kernels, they would bury the continental United States, nine miles deep. So there are that many atoms and a gram of a gas. And if that is, and each one of those atoms is like, functioning perfectly, according to whatever laws of nature, it abides by, and, and the interactions in between them are perfectly coordinated. Okay, so that’s all happening in a single gram. And then if we extrapolate out to the whole vast universe, obviously, there’s some kind of amazing intelligence permeating and orchestrating this whole thing. So, you know, keeping track of karma should be a piece of cake.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, of course. The only thing I would I’m not ready to go with you on is the orchestrating part. Okay.

Rick Archer: Well, yeah, just why?

Lama Tsomo: Because part of enlightened intent is allowing free will.

Rick Archer: Well, there’s a there’s another topic.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah. Which Yeah, and that’s unfathomable. But, you know, there’s some kind of interaction between, you know, karma and freewill, enlightened intent and freewill. And so we’re able to act out of confusion despite the fact that you know, the center of it all the source of it all is not confused.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, by orchestrating I don’t think that necessarily contradicts the notion of freewill. It doesn’t mean that it’s predetermined or rigidly orchestrated. There are certain laws of nature by which everything functions and freewill could perhaps be operant within those laws of nature. And

Lama Tsomo: yeah, I there must be some sort of interaction between orchestration and freewill and I don’t,

Rick Archer: yeah, it’s interesting to ponder. It could be a whole nother discussion. And then there there are spiritual teachers and spiritual people interested in spirituality like Sam Harris, for instance, who say there is no such thing as free will. And they cite scientific evidence for this. And I don’t know, to me, it seems like there is but what do I know?

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, I think there’s got to be some element of freewill even though a lot of it really isn’t. And it’s more habits or, you know, in neurology, or, you know, a lot of other things that we aren’t aware of. But I still believe there is an element of, you know, just as the ocean makes these waves, and you can point to these waves, each of them unique in their shape. Yet they’re not separate from the ocean. I still think that that metaphor works in the case of free will as being some flack of this consciousness in this way, yeah, that’s offering it as well.

Rick Archer: The way I like to think of it is no matter how conditioned we may be, and bound by that conditioning, we still have some wiggle room. And we can sort of exercise that wiggle room and move in the direction of greater freedom or greater bondage.

Lama Tsomo: Well, and I just have to qualify what I said before, because that fleck of consciousness is not separate from the big awareness ultimately, no, yeah. Ultimately, it’s just not that there’s a talk in Buddhism of the two truths, relative truth, and absolute truth. And if you fall to one side or the other, you’re in trouble.

Rick Archer: Yeah. She said that I actually. Okay, here you go, I found it. The Buddha spoke of two truths, absolute and relative, and said that allegiance to only one will leave you in confusion, can’t focus on absolute truth and ignore the consequences of our actions. Yeah, I think it’s good.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah. And so that’s where sometimes people have reached some level of realization. And they realize, oh, you know, I am, you know, the Buddha just kind of in the, you know, as happens with Christians who say, I’m Jesus, right? And they get a little bit confused, because their ego is still, you know, mixed up with that, so that they think I am the Buddha or I am

Rick Archer: Jesus ego aggrandizement happens.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, so rather than, let’s say, Christ consciousness at, you know, is all through me, just like everything, and everyone, you know, and you don’t take ownership of that, or, you know, buddha mind is suffusing everything and everyone, so yeah, me too, you know. So you don’t put a boundary around that and try and own it, or you’re in trouble. That’s when you get a mix up with the absolute relative? Yeah, I’m kind of confused way.

Rick Archer: And there are examples of people getting in trouble. Yeah. Okay, well, we could you probably keep going all afternoon, talking about other things. But this has been a pretty good sampling of, of, you know, who you are, and what you’re offering and all. So maybe you could summarize what it is you’re offering. That’s somebody who’s listening to this interview, and wants to find out more, you know, what more is there for them to find out? What what what things could they get involved in? If they come to your website? And, you know, is there a cost involved? I’m just some practical points like that.

Lama Tsomo: So if somebody would want to pursue any of this further, there’s, of course, my book, which you can get anywhere. Why is the Dalai Lama always smiling? And maybe I’ll hold it up this time, so people can recognize it. There it is. And there is His Holiness right there. And then on our website, we have a list of upcoming events. And they’re on both coasts, and we have several different offerings during the year, so one of them has more to do with saga. And another one has to do more with, we have these three threads going through everything, not surprisingly. So the Buddhist strand on defining as practice, and so we have some that are more focused on practice. And then we will have some that are doing kind of a combination of dharma and practice. So Dharma is the map or the context in which these practices happen. So you can understand kind of how to use them, and what they’re really about what they’re doing. And then on the website, we’ve got the E courses, and we’ve got two at the moment. Each of them are four installments, so we might do it in four weeks. And then we can help you get started with a learning circle, if you write to info at Nam And we can see there’s somebody else in your community. And we can also send you a toolkit if you want to start one. Let’s see, we’re working on a workbook, we want to have all this follow through in lots of different ways. But at the moment that’s not finished. And there are these learning circles where you can get together with other people who are also interested in pursuing this. And you can pursue it together, which, as I said, is just a reward in itself. Actually,

Rick Archer: you mentioned have these online webinars where you give individual attention to people and all.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, meditation coaching calls, is what we call them. We have also had webinars where we, for example, take on the topic of forgiveness or mindfulness in relation to food or we just we have a few of them and right now they’re sort of in a library so I think they’re accessible. Oh, and that reminds me

Rick Archer: of you one channel actually the thing with mindfulness Food is on there.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah. And if you want to be led through a particular meditation, like a compassion meditation Donlin that I talked about, or shamatha, or something like that, let’s say you’ve taken the E course. And now you just want to sit down and meditate and have somebody, you know, kind of lead you through it. I will tirelessly lead you through these meditations, as many times as you click on that, because they’re ni leading the meditations.

Rick Archer: So on the website, there’s a thing of you leading the meditation and person could just listen in on that and go through it.

Lama Tsomo: Yeah, there are visual ones. And you can also have an audio. I personally prefer audio when I’m led

Rick Archer: through meditations, you’re not looking at your computer screen anyway. So yeah,

Lama Tsomo: yeah. And anyway, all you’re gonna see is me sitting there occasionally talking. Yeah, I won’t be very interesting. Yeah. And I’m not a good dancer anyway. So I won’t be doing that. I’m trying to think there’s one more thing that we have to offer. And now I’m not remembering what it was. But it’s, well, yeah, and if people want to go further there, you know, deeper studies, and so on with this.

Rick Archer: And it sounds very much like a work in progress to that you’re gonna keep developing things and offering more and writing books. And, you know,

Lama Tsomo: that’s right. Yeah, this is very new. We only started non chalk foundation a few years ago, even though I’ve been studying with Rinpoche for gosh, I don’t know, 20. Some years. I can’t remember when we met,

Rick Archer: like thing where people can sign up and get notified by email when new things come out and all that?

Lama Tsomo: Absolutely. Just go to the website, you can sign up. Oh, there’s some we have a very active lively Facebook page, where we have a lot of little mini videos, also Instagram, and Twitter. So you can it’s not community is what you look on it look at. Look for Yeah, on Facebook. So non chalk communities another way to tune in and get a little inspirational. This isn’t that we’ve got something new all the time.

Rick Archer: Great. All right. Well, good. I’m glad that we were able to have this conversation. And me too, for you to enjoy that, you know, more people.

Lama Tsomo: Thank you. I really appreciate being on your show. And, you know, I love the depth to which you like to go because I do too. And you know, asking those questions that are really beyond even our ability to fall upon a, you know, decisive answer, but it’s great to chew on them together.

Rick Archer: Yeah, thanks. So, you know, I’ve been talking with Lama Toma, and this is an ongoing series of interviews or conversations or whatever you want to call. If you’d like to be notified of new ones as they are offered. Subscribe to the YouTube channel. If you haven’t done that already. It helps us in terms of our relationship with YouTube, if we have a lot of subscribers, they actually give you more support. And or so you could sign up to be notified by email. There’s a place for that on And oh, also the upcoming interviews page on You’ll see who we have scheduled. And if you’d like to listen to these lives, you can submit questions. You’ll see a live link that usually make live about a day before the interview. And then there’s a question form at the bottom of that page and a bunch of other things. Just check out the menus and see what there is. So thanks for listening and watching. And next week. I have Andrew Newberg, we’re going to be he’s an neurophysiologist of some sort. We’re going to be talking about Enlightenment and the brain and the neurophysiology of Enlightenment and so on. So, thanks for listening. Thank you la matomo. Good luck with pleasure doing.

Lama Tsomo: Thanks for having me on.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Thank you.

Lama Tsomo: Bye, bye

Rick Archer: Namaste.