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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Bruce Tift: Already Free

Have you ever wondered how to hold the following two seemingly contradictory experiences? On the one hand, you feel in touch with the vast expanse of being. You sense that your true nature is infinite, boundless, unconditionally loving, and outside of time. And on the other hand, you know that in certain situations (usually involving other people!), you are avoidant, dismissive, reactive, and shut down, and—truth be told—you have a lot of healing and personal growth work to do.

Buddhist psychotherapist Bruce Tift is a master at holding these two seemingly contradictory views, and—ready for this?—he does so “without any hope of resolution.” In this podcast, Tami Simon and Bruce Tift talk about how, in his work with clients, he skillfully embraces both the developmental view of psychotherapy and the fruitional view of Vajrayana Buddhism, the blind spots that come with each approach, and how combining them can help people avoid these pitfalls. 

Tune in as they discuss unconditional openness, and how it is important to be “open to being closed”; how neurosis requires disembodiment, and further, how our neurosis is fundamentally an avoidance strategy—“a substitute for experiential intensity”; our complaints about other people (especially our relationship partners) as opportunities to take responsibility for our own feelings of disturbance (instead of blaming other people for upsetting us); how to engage in “unconditional practices,” such as the practice of unconditional openness, unconditional embodiment, and unconditional kindness; and more.

Transform your relationship with your kitchen—and yo...

Hello gorgeous community of amazing human beings,

For the last 15 years, I have been cooking up this question: 

What does it look like to nourish YOU? 

 

Let’s drop everything we might think this is 
and everything you didn’t get done today 

and bring our collective shoulders down from the sky. 

Let’s take a minute here. We are just getting started, yet I feel we need to slow down. Will you take a deep breath with me? Thank you for being here with me. Thank you for breathing. There is nothing to do here. 

You can bring your awareness to your breath with an inhale through your nose. Open your mouth slightly and exhale with a HAAAAAAAAA sound. It feels so good to drop everything and breathe. Me too. To let go, even a little, is a real lovefest for the heart and mind = heart mind. 

It feels so good, can we do one more? 
You can close your eyes this time if you want to—

I will be right here. 

We are just getting here, together.

Now let me ask you again: 
What does it look like to nourish YOU?

What if I told you that your kitchen is a place of stories, mothers, grandmothers, imprints, and emotional weather patterns that shaped how you live now? It is also a place to deeply nourish yourself and cook up the life you have been longing to live. 

Your kitchen (yes your kitchen!) is a fierce, unconditionally loving mother holding what is ripe and ready to become inside of YOU. Who would have thought that you can heal your life in your kitchen? I did! And now you can.  

I am excited to share my new book: The Kitchen Healer: The Journey to Becoming You.

It invites you to bring your entire body into the kitchen, put your shame into the fire, offer your grief to the soup—allowing all you have been hungry for to begin to feed YOU. As you turn on the fire, you will come home to yourself. You will make the room you need, to hear and see and feel the stories you have been carrying.  

 

You will begin, again and again, to become YOU. 
Welcome home. 

In loving service to your courage, your kitchen healer,
x x x x jules

Jules Blaine Davis, the Kitchen Healer, is a TED speaker and one of Goop’s leading experts on women’s healing. She has led transformational gatherings, retreats, and a private practice for over fifteen years. She has facilitated deeply nourishing experiences at OWN and on retreat with Oprah Winfrey, among many other miracles. Jules is a pioneer in her field, inviting women to awaken and rewrite the stories they have been carrying for far too long in their day-to-day lives. She is cooking up a movement to inspire and support women to discover who they are becoming.

Pain as the Path

The wounds, scars, and pain we carry as men have a place in our lives. A function that can lead us directly to the core of deep meaning and fulfillment and provide a positive path forward. This is what initiation was supposed to teach us as men—how to descend into the depths of our own darkness and return a more complete and contributive participant in society.

However, this is where a man’s real problem resides: He has not been taught the skill or alchemy of initiation. He has not learned how to deal with his pain, or the pain of the world, and so he bucks against it.

I realized over the years of grappling with how to heal that not only was I ill-equipped to deal with the hurt I’d been given, but I also seemed to be woefully ill-equipped to reconcile with, and put a halt to, the perpetual hurt I passed on to others. Like many men, I was good at inflicting pain—and men who are good at something tend to do that thing a lot.

Not only was I undereducated in the alchemical craft of turning pain into purpose, but almost every man I knew was in relatively the same situation. Most men simply haven’t been taught how to deal with their pain and use it to become something better.

And this aspect of the journey is the missing link in male initiation, which has historically played the role of guiding a man through the transitory period between adolescence and adulthood, teaching him the skills of discipline, sovereignty, and the ability to face some of the most challenging aspects of his own life.

In fact, I began to see that not only have most men not been given the tools or resources to deal with the pain and suffering in their lives, but we as men are actively taught the opposite—the idiotic tactic of constant emotional avoidance. Not only this, but our emotional avoidance is seen as a theoretical and rational strength in certain circles.

Seeing this brings about a multitude of questions that both illuminate the foundational cracks within current masculine culture and also highlight the work we must embark on if we are to do our individual and collective parts as men in building a thriving society.

There’s more: I began to see the direct correlation between a man’s ability and willingness to face his own darkness and having a clear purpose, deep fulfillment, and clarity of contribution to the things that matter most to him.

But how can we as men give our pain a purpose in a culture where we are largely devoid of emotional permissions? Where the archetype of man, in order to be classified or quantified as a man, must do the impossible task of being brave and courageous without being vulnerable?

This is one of the biggest masculine myths—the false idea that you can be courageous without being inherently vulnerable. When we are rewarded for giving our lives, our hearts, and our emotional bodies up for sacrifice to maintain the illusion of invulnerable strength, we prioritize victory over connection. We praise ourselves for performance in the boardroom, bedroom, and bars, but we lack recognition for our performance in reconciliation, repair, and reparation.

There’s another way. A way where victory is found within the work, and part of that work is facing our own darkness.

Excerpted from Men’s Work: A Practical Guide to Face Your Darkness, End Self-Sabotage, and Find Freedom by Connor Beaton.

CONNOR BEATON is the founder of ManTalks, an international organization dedicated to the personal growth of men. He is a facilitator dedicated to building better men, an entrepreneur, a writer, and a keynote speaker. Connor has spoken to large corporate brands, nonprofits, schools, and international organizations such as the United Nations, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Apple, TED, and Entrepreneurs' Organization. For more, visit mantalks.com.

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