On War – “Only love dispels hate. This is the law, ancient and inexhaustible.”

I felt I should share some thoughts on the war in Gaza and Ukraine. And though I may not be a Buddhist anymore, I sure do still think like one. That’s because the fact that hate never dispels hate is dharma, deep truth, cosmic, natural law, law beyond dogma of any religion. It’s just the way the world works.

Look how he abused me and beat me,
How he threw me down and robbed me.”
Live with such thoughts and you live in hate…
Abandon such thoughts and live in love.

In this world Hate never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law,
Ancient and inexhaustible.

(Dhammapada 3-5)

A prayer of Angels

If you need to fill your heart with the light if a host of angels, appearing to uplifting music, watch my Angelic Visions video. Here’s one prayer I wrote to send forth with my angels: Come angels, we need your help. Gather on earth in all your glory and rush to Palestine, to Ukraine, to Sudan, and everywhere beings suffer. Wrap your wings around all who suffer and envelop them in the purity of your love and compassion. Fill them with light, with hope and solace, and bring whatever aid they need. Protect them from further harm with your sword of wisdom, and enter the hearts and minds of all on both sides of conflicts.

Angel with her sword of wsidom

The audio-visual webbook ‘Psychemagination: Journey into the Psyche’ is Finished & it’s for You

It’s check in and story time!

I’ve been very open about my processing of the revelations of abuse by Sogyal Rinpoche and the cult behaviour of those running Rigpa that many of us got caught in, but Beyond the Temple is all about where we go from there. So this post is a run down on where many of us are now, and where I am in particular – still sharing openly in the hope that it will resonate with others!

Where we’re going

Some of you have found a new Buddhist teacher, someone you feel you can trust, and/or you stay on the fringes, watching carefully for signs that something isn’t quite right. Others still practice Buddhism in one form or another but aren’t involved in a group. Others have given up all kinds of meditation and focus on simply living a good life of kindness to others, and some have turned to social justice. Some have turned to other traditions. Some have worked with psychologists to heal the trauma they suffered, or like me, to investigate aspects of themselves that Buddhist practice had us ignore. Some of us, like me, have turned to our art for our spiritual practice, and some of us, also like me, have discovered that we have ADHD or autism and that has sent us into another level of self-exploration.

I expect that a lot more of us are neurodivergent than we know because neurodivergent people are drawn to spirituality.

Self-examination through the lense of neurodivergence

When you discover – or suspect – that you likely have ADHD or autism or both – they often do go together – you look back over your life and see how it has impacted your life, and invariably people find that it explains a great deal about their life. Many also come across hidden childhood trauma, because neurodivergent people are often bullied and always misunderstood and commonly rejected by their peers. I went to a psychologist because of strange, violent outbursts I had when triggered by my family and discovered such trauma in myself as well as confirming my autism and revealing that I also had ADHD.

Healing the Inner Child

Buddhism and psychology

I discovered that psychology is an importrant adjunct to Buddhist practice if we’re to not bypass issues we should be looking at. I feel that they complement each other, but neither alone is adequate for a Westerner. Transpersonal psychology acknowledges the spiritual side of our nature, and I love the acceptance of the role of imagination in our psyche, but but so far as I can see, it lacks practices that lead into deep states of awareness in the way that Mahamudra and Dzogchen practice does.

Active imagination, art and the process of individuation

Active imagination refers to a process or technique of engaging with the ideas or imaginings of one’s mind. It is used as a mental strategy to communicate with the subconscious mind. In Jungian psychology, it is a method for bridging the conscious and unconscious minds. Instead of being linked to the Jungian process, the word “active imagination” in modern psychology is most frequently used to describe a propensity to have a very creative and present imagination. It is thought to be a crucial aid in the process of individuation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_imagination

In transpersonal psychology, ‘the process of individuation’ refers to the process that people go through as they achieve a ‘distinct, separate identity’. It’s not even close in concept to the idea of primordial awareness, but individuation is undoubtably a healthy place to be before undertaking dzogchen practice with its pitfalls for those without the clear boundaries that come with a healthy sense of self.

As I’m a very imaginative person (which is why Vajryana appealed to me), the active imagination process began to occur naturally with the AI generated art I was playing around with at the time I was investigating my childhood trauma and neurodivergence. I saw how my art was illustrating the journey I was taking into my psyche (where archetpyes abound) and how it was also stimulating that investigation.

Since I was creating audio-visual art, it seemed natural to take the next step and turn it into an audio-visual book. The result is Psychemagination: Journey into the Psyche, and it is now complete! Yay!

The Goddess Archetype

Psychemagination: Journey into the Psyche

Psychemagination: Journey into the Psyche is an illustrated hero’s journey kind of video-art story and a psychological and spiritual memoir written by me and set to original music by my talented husband, Kris Newland. A combination of art, video, music, and transpersonal psychology in mythic story style, it tells the story of a late-diagnosed autistic woman’s dive into her psyche to reflect on her life through the lens of neurodivergence. The cast of characters include many archetypal characters, including Persephone, Queen of the Underworld from Greek mythology.

Why it’s for you

Those of you who know me, have used imagination as a spiritual tool in Vajrayana and have followed my post-Rigpa journey should relate well to Psychemagination: Journey into the Psyche as it tells my inner psychological and spiritual story over the last 10 months. And if you’re into mythic tales and symbolism, fantasy imagery or maybe just dropped acid back in the day, then it’s perfect for you. Why should you bother to take a look? Because it’s psychospiritual, and isn’t that what we’re all interested in here?

How to watch Psychemagination: Journey into the Psyche

The full story is 3.5 hours of video set to really stunning music, and it’s in 5-30 min chapters, so you can watch it chapter by chapter. It’s in veritcal format designed to be watched on a phone or tablet – plug in your earbuds to get the best sound.

The first two chapters are on the Psychemagination.net homepage for free, but the rest, being very personal and about healing trauma, requires a small donation to get access. The full story is on The Journey into the Psyche Page. There you can watch the chapter videos one after each other from beginning to end.

The point of the payment is to help pay for the considerable cost of the software I use for the art and for the running the Psychemagination website (and this one), but also, it’s because something that speaks of personal psychological and spiritual experiences shouldn’t, I believe, be shared with those who are merely curious but only with those who will treat the story with respect. A payment creates a relationship with the author and shows you care enough about the contents to value it.

That said, if you really can’t afford AUD$8 and you really would like to watch the full set of videos, contact me through the contact form, and if I know who you are, I’ll give you the key for free.

So do take a look, and when you’re done, even if you only watch the first two videos, please do leave a review on the Review page. https://psychemagination.net/reviews/

Where has your psychospiritual journey taken you since 2017?

Angelic Imagery for Meditation

One of the things that drew me to Vajrayana Buddhism was the imaginative aspect, the fact that I filled my mind with beautiful and powerful imagery as part of my meditation practice. I found the imagery along with the light rays and chants very inspiring. Since leaving the religion, I have allowed myself to be creative with this idea of using the imagination as a focus of meditation. I don’t ‘do it’ in any formal way (mostly), I just create art videos that I find inspiring which I then watch as a focus/anchor for meditation.

Angels in imaginative meditation

I started creating images of angels because though I have never believed they actually exist, I have always found the idea of them and their artistic depictions inspiring. I realised that they can be used as a deity that can assist me in my prayers for peace in the same way that I used Tara or any of the other Vajrayana deities.

So I can sit down, turn my mind inwards and visualise the 10 cohorts – groups – that make up a legion of angels in the 10 directions around me – the eight compass points plus up and down. I make sure the visualisations of them are full of light life and stable in my mind, then I send them off to Gaza, Israel, the Ukraine and other places where there is war to heal the wounded, comfort the bereaved and fight the neurotic mind states that drive the aggressors. I visualise them in hundreds of thousands doing just that, driven by the power of my intention and infused with all the compassion of my innermost being.

Sending them out is similar to sending out the healing white light in the compassion practice of tonglen, but I have given that healing energy a form and the power of the angelic presence, the spiritual warrior. So they ‘work’ in the same way as a Tibetan Buddhist deity; they just have a different form.

Are angels real?

I discussed this in terms of mental health in a blog post on my Psychemagination website. Read on for the metaphysical view of how deities such as angels ‘exist.’

Deities, angels and the sambhogakaya

Though angels are, like all deities, essentially imaginative constructs, they do have power. Just as those deities we used in our Vajrayana practice felt very powerful in their actions as we imagined them zapping out light and so forth, so too do angels used in the same way. Just as the light pouring into us from the Vajrayana preliminaries refuge tree felt soothing and loving, so too, we can sit an angel in the sky before us and have him or her send us the same soothing, loving, healing light. Form matters only in that be something that for us symbolises the universal power on which we call.

Remember the 3 kayas, the three ‘bodies’ of a buddha according to the Mahayana tradition? They relate not only to the three aspects of the essential nature of mind in us, but also to the three layers of all reality. They are the:

  1. dharmakaya – non-physical reality, potential unmanifested. The quantum field.
  2. sambhogakaya  – the realm of light and energy, imagination and emotion. The quantum wave. The process of the unmanifest becoming manifest.
  3. nirmanakaya – physical reality, what we perceive around us. The quantum particle.

You may have heard Vajrayana deities being referred to as sambhogakaya deities. That’s because they ‘exist’ as light, energy and imagination in the sambhogakaya ‘layer’ of reality. They do not exist as separate entities; they are manifestations of the compassion and wisdom aspects of our own essential nature, and they appear because we call them up with our imagination. In Vajrayana terms, they manifest at our call for the benefit of beings.

In order to keep all this grounded, it’s important to remember that the sambhogakaya realm isn’t separate to either the nirmanakaya realm or the dharmakaya realm; they all manifest at the same time and in the same place. All are embodied in us and our environment.

Form is emptiness; emptiness is form; form is no other than emptiness, and emptiness is no other than form.

The Heart Sutra

The sambhogakaya layer of reality has power because it’s the process of the unmanifest becoming manifest. It’s the point at which the quantum wave of potential becomes the particle that’s the basis of form. This is where, and why, our prayers can actually make a difference. They push waves of energy to form into particles of matter in a particular manifestation, and when we ‘pray’ using light, sound and energy – native to the sambhogakaya realm – it can be particularly powerful.

At least that’s my understanding of it!

So instead of surrounding myself with Vajrakilaya’s pantheon of deities with their animal heads and fearsome weapons sending sparks out everywhere to banish obstacles and negativity, my angels do it with their flaming swords of wisdom and compassion.

As I said in the article on Psychemagination about the reality of not of angels, the question of their reality really doesn’t matter. What matters is that they do have power. They have the power of the imagination and with it the ability to be a mental health support and spiritual inspiration.

A prayer of Angels

I send these angels to wake up those who commit atrocities: torture, murder, terrorist attacks, crimes against humanity. The blinding light of the power of their compassion and purity of soul, unfettered by delusion, is too bright for the perpetrators of such crimes. It brings them to their knees, and they cower before the angels in fear.

But these angels will not take life with their swords of wisdom. They battle ignorance, greed, jealousy, hatred, and prejudice until those who cause suffering understand the gravity of their crimes, are consumed by regret, change their ways, and make restitution for their crimes. May it be so.

Angelic Imagery

So with all that said, you’re ready to immerse yourself in the celestial realm of the animated AI art generated angels I created with music by Kris Newland. (The video is just a little over 6 minutes). I hope it will lift your spirits and inspire your heart.

If you like this imagery and music, you’ll love my audio-visual illustrated webbook Psychemagination: Journey into the Psyche, so do visit http://psychemagination.net and while you’re there check out the blog post ‘Are Angels Real‘ to read about the role of imagination in mental health.

Have you ever used non-Vajrayana imagery in a similar way to how I use my angels? Does the idea appeal to you?

Can Day dreaming be Meditation?

Food for thought. The new research on intentional daydreaming, mental health and mindfulness that I summarised in my recent article on my Psychemagination website raises some interesting questions in relation to meditation, so I I’m posting the link here to make sure you had a chance to read it.

Questions for us ex-Tibetan Buddhists are: Was that creative wandering that happened when you meditated really a distraction? Or was it still meditation, done mindfullly as intentional daydreaming? (Which is how I treated stopping sitting on my cushion and writing the scene of my novel that had just appeared in my head.) Was our vajrayana meditation all intentional daydreaming?

Comment there on my Psychemagination website or read it there and come back here to share your thoughts on these questions.

And if you’d like to get posts from Psychemagination (art, creativity, spirituality, psychology, meditation and neurodiversity) direct to your inbox sign up here.

Listening in Nature Meditation: A Simple and Effective Way to Be in the Moment

Nature meditation. I think most people probably find some kind of peace or spiritual inspiration in nature. Being in nature certainly makes meditation easier for me, and it has no religious overtones. Yay! That’s the kind of meditation I want! And there are many different ways to use nature as a spring board to a peaceful mind. Listening is just one of these forms, and it’s a lovely informal way of meditating.

Though when I first left Tibetan Buddhism, I couldn’t sit formally to meditate, I still found myself naturally doing this expansive listening as I walked in the forest. I’m lucky that I do have a peaceful forest close by to be able to do this in, but it can be done anywhere, anytime, even if you’re not in a peaceful situation. All sounds are, after all, just sounds. It’s only our mind that ascribes the concepts of peaceful or not peaceful to the sounds.

Of course, this listening-in-nature meditation is based on what I learned during my two decades of Buddhist study and practice. It’s also a kind of what some call ‘forest bathing’. For me, however, it’s really just what I do when I’m walking in the forest – at least when I’m not talking to myself!

Download my guided audio meditation practices here: https://tahlianewland.bandcamp.com/album/simply-being-guided-meditation

And for detailed instructions and written guided practices, see my book ‘How to Meditate Easily Effectively & Deeply.’ http://geni.us/9lbWIIf

And if you’re new here, don’t forget to check out the Imaginative Meditation page for another Buddhist derivative meditation.


Is there any form of meditation that you find yourself doing naturally, informally, without really trying? If so, please share it in the comments below.

The Religion May be Abandoned, but the Dharma Remains

When I look at my life, how I live it and the reasons why I live it that way, I realise that I follow the dharma with every moment (mostly). And by dharma, I don’t mean Buddhadharma, and I certainly don’t mean Tibetan Buddhism.

What does ‘dharma’ mean?

There are many meanings of the word ‘dharma’, but essentially, as I understand it, in it’s deepest meaning, it means the truth of the way things are. If your actions are in alignment with the dharma – with the truth of the way things are – then your life will go more smoothly, and you’ll be happier than if you don’t follow the dharma. And I’m not talking here about a bunch of rules.

Dharma is beyond religion

Dharma isn’t something that belongs only to Buddhism. Buddhadharma is only one kind of dharma – the dharma as the Buddha taught it. Rumi, for instance, is an Islamic scholar and poet, but we can all recognise his pithy sayings as wisdom, and that wisdom is dharma.

Dharma does not belong to any religion. In fact, religion – even ones that claim to teach it – may obscure the dharma with its hierarchies and politics and deeply flawed gurus and ministers.

Dharma is beyond religion. It is simply the true nature of how things work beyond how they may appear.

How and why the dharma remains

Though I have discarded the religion of Buddhism, the dharma remains as part of who I am. And that’s not because I’m holding onto it, rather it’s what remains when I let it all go.

I learned the dharma through my study and practice of Buddhism, but I was only interested to learn about it because it rang true. True dharma teachings tell us what our inner wisdom recognises as truth. That’s why Rumi’s short pithy sayings are shared so widely on the internet – they ring true for people.

Also, I never accepted anything without reflection and analysis. I contemplated my life through the framework of what I learned, applied it to my life and noted the consequences. Once I saw the truth of it. It became part of me, informing how I lived my life without conscious thought. That is what remains after the religion has gone. It’s not following a code of rules, but an inner knowing that guides my choices.

So what kind of things am I talking about specifically?

And example of a dharma

Here’s one: There’s many different ways of saying it, and understanding this point is important for emotional intelligence. In Buddhism it’s called the first noble truth. Put simply you could say that the secret to happiness is acceptance, not resistance, and that’s the topic of this video I filmed for my Tik Tok channel. Yes. Tik Tok!

Why Tik Tok? Because there’s a lot of people out there – particularly young people – who have never heard had the opportunity to study dharma and who could benefit from hearing some of these basic truths. (And if you don’t think it’s true, then I suspect you haven’t really examined it or tried applying it to your life.)

Most of you reading this will be well aware of this point, but you may like to hear how I express it, or maybe you know someone who isn’t aware of it and who could benefit from considering this, in which case, do share it either from the YouTube channel or the Beyond the Temple Facebook page.

If you’ve left a religion, has any wisdom that you recognise as beyond the religion stayed with you?

Why I Revised my Book on Meditation

I published ‘How to Meditate Easily, Effectively & Deeply’ in 2016 before I realised that Sogyal Rinpoche was abusing his close students, and I immediately withdrew the book from sale.

Why?

Have the meditation instructions changed?

No, but the context in which I wrote the book has changed dramatically – as this website documents – and that subtly affects aspects of the way things are expressed. You won’t find reference to Sogyal now except in the introduction where I tell the history (briefly) of the reason for my disillusionment with Tibetan Buddhism.

Any major changes?

Yes. Apart from the background on the need for the revision, I’ve added two new sections: one on imaginative meditation – a practice I developed after leaving Tibetan Buddhism – and the other a section on awareness meditation that a senior teacher in Rigpa said I had to take out because it was going too deep! Her opinion doesn’t matter to me now, so I put it back in. And this is just one of the reasons why this book isn’t just for beginners.

Why publish a book on meditation anyway?

Because I still belive that meditation is a vital skill that people need to develop for their mental health and spiritual awareness. And if I can assist anyone to find a method of meditation that works for them, I consider that a worthwhile use of my time.

I’m also a natural teacher and have the ability to inpsire others and distill complex teachings into essential points, so writing a book like this comes easily to me. I’m also passionate about taking the religion out of the Tibetan Buddhist teachings I received because there’s a lot of value in those teachings; you just have to know what you can throw out and what is necessary to retain. This book covers what’s valuable to retain.

Not just for beginners

I cover essential points that even experienced meditators might have missed in their meditation instruction. One reviewer pointed this out, saying, “Its easy-to-read style makes it a must-have for beginners and a good jolt to the brain cells of veterans as well. I have already found several extremely useful nuggets of wisdom to incorporate in my own daily meditation routine.” Charles Ray, author.

Guided practices

Though most of you reading this won’t feel you have a need for such instruction, you may know someone who would benefit from the book as it really is easy to read and comprehend, and it includes evocative guided practices. There’s also audio guided meditations that go with the book (free or donation) on Bandcamp.

Free ebook copies in exchange for a review on Amazon

And if any of you would like to help counteract the 2 star review on Amazon left by a vindictive cult member after I published Fallout by leaving a review (hopefully more than 3 stars) just contact me for a free Epub or PDF. In order to leave a review, however, you will need an active Amazon account (a $50 spend in the last 12 months).

Does Meditation Help People with ADHD?

I’ve discovered that I have ADHD, and I’m not the only one of our community who has discovered this about themselves. I stopped meditating formally after the events of 2017 – which are well documented here and in my book Fallout: Recovering from Abuse in Tibetan Buddhism – but I’ve recently returned to a form of meditation practice after realising that I need it. And when you look at the research on ADHD and meditation, it’s easy to see why it’s particularly good for my neurodivergent brain.

When I look back at how my mind was before I started meditating – easily distracted, often overwhelmed with thoughts, low self-esteem – it’s easy to see how much it’s helped me. I can even see why the Vajrayana practice worked for me when other forms of practice didn’t. It simply held my attention better. When you take my autism into account (structure, repetition, stimming-style use of mala etc) I can see why it’s the perfect form of meditation for me – once you’ve taken away the feudal and blind devotion bullshit side of it of course.

Why meditation is good for people with ADHD

Research backs up my experience, and I’ve written an article about how meditation works for ADHD on my Psychemagination website. If you’re interested in the details pop over and take a look.

What isn’t helpful for people with ADHD in Tibetan Buddhism

I mentioned that Vajrayana practice was good for me, but I always make the distinction between Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism because they are not the same thing. Tibetan Buddhism is just one version of Vajrayana, and Tibetan Buddhism isn’t all good for people with ADHD. Parts of it are, and parts of it aren’t.

Since I practiced alone at home and avoided group practices, I escaped the aspects of Tibetan Buddhism as displayed in Rigpa that are not ideal for anyone but are particularly a problem for people with ADHD. Aside from abuse, these are the cult control and manipulation tactics of pressure and shame: pressure to conform, to complete a certain number of mantras in a certain time, to be able to parrot the guru’s words back at him and so on; and the shame people are made to feel when they don’t meet the guru’s expectations.

What does work particularly well for people with ADHD are the structured practices with the use of imagery and imagination, mantra, chanting and the physical repetitive nature of flicking mala beads. These things just help to keep ADHD minds focused.

Has anyone else discovered they have ADHD or any other form of neurodivergence, or think they might have? Has it changed how you see your meditation experience?

My story of looking at myself through the neurodivergent framework is documented (illustrated with animated AI art) on Psychemagination: Journey into the Psyche. Do pop over, the site is changing and growing all the time.