Reginald A. Ray

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Reginald A. Ray, PhD, is the co-founder and spiritual director of Dharma Ocean Foundation, dedicated to the evolution and flowering of the somatic teachings of Tibetan Tantra. He is a lineage holder in the tradition of Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche. Reggie is the author of several books including Touching Enlightenment. He makes his residence in Crestone and Boulder, Colorado. For more, visit dharmaocean.org.

Author photo © Dona Laurita | Foto di Vita

Listen to Tami Simon's in-depth audio podcast interviews with Reggie Ray:
The Awakened State »
Hard Questions for a Vajra Master »
Dark Retreat »

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Reginald A. Ray: Hard Questions for a Vajra Master

Reggie Ray is a lineage holder of the great Tibetan Buddhist meditation teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a faculty member of Naropa University, and spiritual director of the Dharma Ocean Foundation based in Crestone, Colorado. He is the author of several books, including Touching Enlightenment and Secret of the Vajra World. With Sounds True, Reggie has released audio learning programs such as Meditating with the Body and Meditation in Seven Steps. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon—who is a student of Reggie—poses a series of challenging and difficult questions to her instructor. (52 minutes)

The Tantric Consort: Awakening Through Relationship

Friends, I wanted to let you know about a four-part online video course that we created with Reggie Ray which explores intimacy as one of the most radical vehicles of spiritual transformation. The Vajrayana, or tantric tradition of Buddhism, teaches ways of being in relationship that serve as unique gateways to spiritual awakening. These teachings on the consort represent some of the most advanced teachings in Buddhism, and have been guarded and kept secret for the most part over the last 1000 years. What Reggie has discovered is that contemporary practitioners are uniquely situated to undertake some of their deepest spiritual work in the context of intimate relationship, however lack the perspective and practices needed to do so.

Watch Reggie’s video introduction here:

Learn more and access The Tantric Consort online course here.

Who Is the Tantric Consort?

The tantric tradition asserts that spirituality in its fullest sense cannot be an isolated, solitary, purely self-involved enterprise. Rather, we make the deepest journey of transformation and ultimate fulfillment only in relationship—with our deepest nature, with our unique karmic situations, with the people in our lives, and with the living universe around us. Through being in connection with these others, we are inspired, we love, and we open. We learn at the deepest levels that we are never one alone but always two-by-two, always in connection, always in the love relationship with all that is; and therein lies our life and our realization.

The tantric consort is the ultimate other. In fact, in the tantric tradition, it is said that moment by moment, he or she represents to us the entire phenomenal world. In other words, in the consort, we most deeply and completely meet the sacred universe in its entirety—a perhaps outrageous claim, but one that experience proves. Through the practice of taking the consort as representing the sacred totality, we learn to love more deeply than we ever imagined possible: first the consort, then everything that is. We see where we habitually hold back and hide out; we practice ways to release our masks, blockages, and obstacles; and ultimately we find union, where releasing our narcissistic fixation on ourselves and discovering our profound and eternal oneness with the consort—and through him or her the world—are the same thing. Ultimately, our ability to journey on the path of the tantric consort comes down to our own willingness, bravery, and devotion in cultivating an open heart and in learning to love the beloved openly and without limit.

By sharing ancient Vajrayana teachings on the view of the consort relationship as well as guiding us through specific, powerful meditations, Reggie leads us to both an understanding and an experience of the tantric consort as the gateway to our own awakening. He emphasizes learning practices that can be carried forward into our lives, including several heart-based meditations to be practices on our own or with a partner.

Many believe that the goal of spiritual practice is enlightenment or liberation, but the human being actually longs for much, much more. Instinctually, we yearn for what we know is possible: fulfillment, joy and union with all creation. Opening to our longing to connect with the tantric consort is the gateway and learning to relate with him or her openheartedly is the path.

Here is a summary of the course’s four parts:

Session 1: Relating with the Other as Sacred

The Vajrayana View of Consort Practice

Why is relationality the essence of Vajrayana spirituality? What special role does the consort play within the Vajrayana? Where do these teachings come from and how can the ancient practices of working with a consort be applied to our modern lives? What differentiates the consort relationship from conventional relationships? How does the consort appear in our life?

The guided meditation we will learn in Session One is The Thousand-Petaled Lotus Practice: Beginning to Open the Heart. Just as we establish the view on a conceptual level in order to engage in consort practice, we must also establish the ground of an open heart on a visceral level. The Thousand-Petaled Lotus Practice will become a gateway to all further consort practice for us.

Session 2: Genuine Presence

The Practice of Being a Consort

In Session Two we will discuss the qualities of a consort relationship—as well as each partner’s individual practice—that create a powerful container for spiritual transformation. Themes will include: staying close to your inspiration, becoming vulnerable, the nature of commitment in the consort relationship, courageous honesty, and relaxing the judgmental mind.

The commitment of tantric consorts to work with one another’s fullness—the brilliant array of light and dark, wisdom and neurosis, empowerment and injury that we each possess—becomes an invitation for consorts to explore their own vastness and become who they truly are.

We will also learn a meditation called Dissolving Blockages and Uncovering the Heart’s Unconditional Openness. Through our persistent, gentle practice we begin to wear away the armor that surrounds our hearts, revealing a luminous love that naturally opens to and receives our partner.

Session 3: Obstacles and Antidotes

Practices and Techniques for When the Going Gets Rough

In the consort relationship we are bound to encounter even more emotional and psychological “triggers” than in a conventional relationship, because we have explicitly committed to spiritual awakening, which requires that we go to and through the uncomfortable places; that we surf the endless waves of our own growth edges.

When those unavoidable experiences arise, how can we learn to welcome them with open arms, rather than to cower and escape into habitual behavior patterns? Session Three’s discussion will be on cultivating our bravery as spiritual warriors so we can engage these encounters differently than we have in the past.

In this session Dr. Ray will lead us through a meditation that applies especially well to moments of upheaval in relationship: Learning to Behold Our Intimate Partner with Our Heart.

Session 4: Meditation in Action

Healing Core Traumas with the Consort

It is said in the tradition that the consort “unbinds the fetters of the heart,” meaning that he or she frees us at the deepest levels of our being to love and to open that love to the world. Through consort practices, over time, the most hidden, unconscious blockages are called into consciousness so that we can see them, work with them, and resolve them. Often the emotional twists and distortions that underlie our current conscious ego prison go back to preverbal levels. Yet, as modern psychology shows us, these unconscious patterns control and limit what we can feel and see and experience, and ultimately block our ability to love fully.

This session will discuss the path of consort practice in its ability to heal and resolve our deepest wounds. Facing these traumas with the support of our tantric consort is a slow but liberating process that opens up our own capacity to experience life’s joy and fulfillment.

This session’s final guided meditation is a powerful one that can be practiced on one’s own or with a partner: A Consort Meditation for Dissolving Core Traumas and Obscurations. Dr. Ray will lead us through this meditation technique that can be applied again and again, either when core traumas arise naturally, or when we sit down with the intention of specifically engaging certain aspects of ourselves or our partner that we know need healing.

 

The Purpose of Life is to Love

Within all of the great wisdom traditions we find an emphasis on love, kindness, and opening our heart to others. It is quite natural to open in this way to our family and friends, but what the great traditions teach is that this reservoir of love inside us is unlimited, extends to all living beings, and even to the universe itself. This reality of love is not an abstract experience, notes respected meditation teacher Reggie Ray, but something that is alive the core of who and what we are. One way to envision the spiritual journey is as a pathway which unlocks the love in our hearts, thereby enabling us to become fully human.

Please enjoy this short video from Reggie on the unfolding of love.

 

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5 Tools to Create More Space in Your Mind

Busyness, distraction, and stress have all led to the shrinking of the modern mind.

I realize that’s a strange thing to say. Most of us don’t think of our mind as something with space in it, as a thing that can either be big or small, expensive or claustrophobic.

But just think about the last time you felt overwhelmed, stressed, or out of control. Chances are, you might not even have to think that hard. You might be experiencing that state right now as you read these words.

What happens in these moments? 

First, our mind wanders. It spins through all sorts of random thoughts about the past and the future. As a result, we lose touch with the direct experience of present time.

Second, we lose perspective. We can’t see the big picture anymore. Instead, it’s like we’re viewing life through a long and narrow tunnel. We become blind to possibility, fixated on problems.

Put these two together and you’ve got the perfect recipe for eradicating space in the mind. The landscape of the mind begins to feel like a calendar jammed with so many meetings, events, and obligations that these neon colored boxes cover-up even the smallest slivers of white space. 

So it could be nice for our partner, for our kids, and, mostly, for our ourselves to consider: how can we create more space in the mind?

Here are five tools for creating mental space. If you want to go deeper, check out my new book with Sounds True on the topic called OPEN: Living With an Expansive Mind in a Distracted World.

1. Meditation.

You’ve no doubt heard about all of the scientifically validated benefits of this practice. It reduces stress. It boosts productivity. It enhances focus.

That is all true. But here is the real benefit of meditation: it creates more space in the mind. To get started, try it out for just a few minutes a day. Use an app or guided practice to help you.

2. Movement.

So, maybe you’re not the meditating type. That’s fine. You can still create space in the mind by setting aside time for undistracted movement.

The key word here is “undistracted.” For many of us, exercise and movement have become yet another time where our headspace gets covered over by texts, podcasts, or our favorite Netflix series. 

There’s nothing wrong with this. But it can be powerful to leave the earbuds behind every once in a while and allow the mind to rest while you walk, stretch, run, bike, swim, or practice yoga.

3. Relax.

When it comes to creating headspace, we moderns, with our smartphone-flooded, overly-stimulated, minds seem to inevitably encounter a problem: we’re often too stressed, amped, and agitated to open.

Relaxation – calming the nervous system – is perhaps the best way to counter this effect and create more fertile ground for opening. When we relax – the real kind, not the Netflix or TikTok kind –  the grip of difficult emotions loosens, the speed of our whirling thoughts slows, and, most important, the sense of space in our mind begins to expand.

How can you relax? Try yoga. Try extended exhale breathing, where you inhale four counts, exhale eight counts. Try yoga nidra. Or, just treat yourself to a nap.

4. See bigger.

When life gets crazy, the mind isn’t the only thing that shrinks. The size of our visual field also gets smaller. Our eyes strain. Our peripheral vision falls out of awareness.

What’s the antidote to this tunnel vision view? See bigger.

Try it right now. With a soft gaze, allow the edges of your visual field to slowly expand. Imagine you’re seeing whatever happens to be in front of you from the top of a vast mountain peak. Now bring this more expansive, panoramic, way of seeing with you for the rest of the day.

5. Do nothing.

Now for the most advanced practice. It’s advanced because it cuts against everything our culture believes in. In a world where everyone is trying desperately to get more done, one of the most radical acts is to not do — to do nothing.

Even just a few minutes of this paradoxical practice can help you experience an expansion of space in the mind.

Lie on the floor or outside on the grass. Close your eyes. Put on your favorite music if you want. Set an alarm for a few minutes so you don’t freak out too much. 

Then, stop. Drop the technique. Drop the effort. Just allow yourself to savor this rare experience of doing absolutely nothing.

Nate Klemp, PhD, is a philosopher, writer, and mindfulness entrepreneur. He is the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Start Here and the New York Times critics’ pick The 80/80 Marriage. His work has been featured in the LA Times, Psychology Today, the Times of London, and more, and his appearances include Good Morning America and Talks at Google. He’s a cofounder of LifeXT and founding partner at Mindful. For more, visit nateklemp.com or @Nate_Klemp on Instagram.

Perry Garfinkel: Experimenting with Becoming Gandhi

In a confessional reflection on writing his new book, Becoming Gandhi, acclaimed journalist and bestselling author Perry Garfinkel says, “It was so difficult I almost gave up twice. I thought, ‘I can’t write this book. It’s too big a subject. Who am I to try to become Gandhi?’” Garfinkel persevered, and in this podcast Tami Simon speaks with him about what he discovered along the journey—and how practicing (not perfecting) six universal principles of the Mahatma can transform each one of us. 

Tune in to this highly aspirational yet very down-to-earth conversation on the poignance of the human condition and the elixir of laughter; the Tao of Gandhi; satyagraha, an insistence on and holding firm to the truth; considering “how to Gandhi” a situation you’re faced with; the notion of “good enough”; nonviolence in thought, word, and deed; the connection between words and feelings, and the step-by-step process of personal transformation; simplicity; faith as the driver of our moral compass; celibacy and making love; Gandhi’s life as his message—and making peace with his imperfections; and more.

Chip Conley: Midlife: From Crisis to Chrysalis

Midlife has a bad reputation, often paired with the word “crisis” or seen as the “over the hill” phase of our journey. As the founder of the Modern Elder Academy (the worlds’ first midlife wisdom school), Chip Conley is changing this negative narrative to one that reclaims our middle years as a time of incredible regenerative possibilities. In this podcast, Tami Simon sits down with Chip to talk about his new book, Learning to Love Midlife, and how those of us amidst this phase can activate our capacities for renewal and “let our souls lead the dance.” 

Tune in for a very honest and hope-giving podcast on: The phoenix phenomenon; the anatomy of transition; the metaphor of the chrysalis; cultivating a growth mindset; the components of high “TQ” (or transitional IQ); creating space for something new; the great midlife edit; the dark night of the ego; radically shifting how you want to live your life; vulnerability and accepting help; “dancing backwards in high heels”; developing a friendship with your body; letting go—but also welcoming in; the alchemy of curiosity and wisdom; goosebumps as a sign you’re on the right path; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

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