Drawing both on textual sources and contemporary scientific research, this seminar will explore the relationship between tantric ‘completion stage’ practices, such as Tummo, and the resultant ‘great perfection’ stage of Dzogchen / Mahamudrā, in the realisation of altruistic, self-transcendent states of awareness and action, as well as enhanced health and vitality (as measured, for example, by increased blood flow to the brain).
Attention will be given to analogous methodologies in ancient Greece, as well as contemporary adaptations, towards a deeper, cross-cultural, interdisciplinary understanding of human potential and the methods by which it can be realised.
Following on Ian’s introduction in March 2021, to the place of hidden-lands (beyul) in Tibetan Buddhism, this seminar will go into greater depth in regard to the kind of practices that Tibetan adepts have undertaken on their journeys into inter-worlds of spirit and matter, based on the non-dual perspective of Dzogchen (Ati Yoga) and imaginal and embodied practices (Maha Yoga; Anu Yoga) of Vajrayāna.
With reference to Pemako-related guidebooks (neyig) and spiritual biographies (namthar), the seminar will specifically explore the interconnected nature of the Four Mudras (catumudrā) as practices that expand awareness and transform human experience, both individually and collectively.
Specific techniques, such as the transpersonal integration of ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ elements, will be discussed in the context of ‘taking nature as the path’.
In this seminar Ian Baker will speak about his explorations of Beyul Pemako, ‘the Hidden-Land Arrayed Like Lotuses’, in the eastern Himalayas, from the perspective of Dzogchen and Tantra, and the ways in which primal nature can support spiritual awakening and the unfolding of our innermost potential.
Beyul refer to secret or hidden dimensions of nature and paradisiacal realms in remote parts of Tibet and the Himalayas described by Padmasambhava in revealed scrolls. Beyul have outer, inner, secret and ultimately secret dimensions, corresponding to levels of initiation in the Buddhist Tantras.
Guided on his own journeys to hidden-lands by some of of the greatest Dzogchen masters of the 20th century, Ian will share their insights into how obstacles and adversities engage deeper levels of our being, and transform experience.
Discussion periods will further explore Dzogchen as an existential disposition that can enrich our own and others’ lives beyond the limits of formal practice.
The Tibetan tradition of hidden-lands will also be explored in terms of the ways in which we relate to our inner and outer environment, as well as contemporary approaches to spiritual practice, education, and inquiry in an increasingly insecure world.
Ian Baker is an anthropologist, author, and scholar of Tibetan Buddhism and Tantric yoga.
He was also recognised by National by National Geographic Society as one of seven ‘Explorers for the Millennium’ for his research on the Tibetan tradition of hidden-lands (beyul) in the world’s deepest gorge, the subject of his newly reissued book, The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet’s Lost Paradise, which explores the geographical and literary sources of the legend of Shangri-la in the remotest regions of the Himalayas.
In the final words of his book, The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet’s Lost Paradise, introduced by H.H. the Dalai Lama, Ian Baker writes:
“We feed on mystery, whether the enticements of unknown lands
or a masked dancer revealed more perfectly by what she hides.
The scrolls describing the beyul lead us similarly into wonder,
for they are accounts of processes of the mind
as much as in the external world.
There is no real separation or boundary
between our selves and the world around us,
and an ever-present wildness and radiance
lies at the heart of our tamest vistas.”
“Our minds have no real or absolute boundaries; on the contrary, we are part of an infinite field of intelligence that extends beyond space and time into realities we have yet to comprehend. The beyul and their dakini emissaries are traces of the original world, inviting us to open to the abiding mystery at the heart of all experience, the inseparability that infuses every action, thought and intention.”[Epilogue: The Veils of Paradise, footnote 6].