November letter from Lee and Reggie

Dear Dhyanasangha,

Lee and I send our warm greetings to you by way of this November letter.

Please remember above all how important the protectors are to our life, our practice, and our journeys. Of course, when we talk about protectors, fundamentally, we are not talking about external deities with many arms and heads. We are referring to a certain way that energy appears in our lives, sometimes quite wrathful but always with compassion, to wake us up.

What we call the protectors is the “energy of awareness” that bursts into our environment and, yes, sometimes with a form that has multiple heads and limbs, but often not. After her Vajrakilaya practice the other day, Lee said to me, “the wrathful form of the deities is actually the way things are,” which she explained as how the basic energy of the awakened state communicates with us. So while theism in relation to the protectors doesn’t quite work, neither does a “pure” non-theism. We ride the razor’s edge.

How do we sense the activity of the protectors? It is the energy that disrupts our attempts to take absolute control over our space, our world; it is the big “NO” that happens as we try to manipulate and solidify our lives in order to feel secure and finally “become somebody.”

Look for that neurotic upheaval, that disruptive emotion, just as things seem to be going okay; that outburst or attack of insanity from your partner, just as you thought the relationship was stabilized. Look for the person you are trying to work with to suddenly threaten everything you are doing, the phone going dead before an important phone call, the appointment you arrived at a week early; the job situation that suddenly turns sour.

In that moment of disruption, suddenly a very big space opens up. It is right on the spot, right there in that moment. Of course, you have to be willing to look for that and not just react with habitual mind, in defense, anger, or depression. But if we are willing to look at the sudden shift of space that occurs with such a disruption—which is the activity of the protectors--we will suddenly find our minds to be very, very vast indeed, dwelling in the open, dark, terrifying but very pure space of the unknown. It is open and endless, and it is freedom. We are, momentarily, one with the Dharmakaya. Please look for it.

We are always getting caught by ourselves, without quite realizing it. Our practice lays the essential ground for waking up, but sometimes we are temporarily caught by some thought, some preconception or solid idea that we cannot even see. At that point, the protectors are our only resource—the “fierce energy of awareness,” the protecting energy of the awakened state. And because we do the chants and think of them with devotion and invitation, they do turn up. Horrification and liberation on the spot, “one without a second.”

So let us be so happy about the protectors and the crazy, wild life we have in this lineage with them. No ground, ever opening, ever terrifying and liberating. Let us all practice to our life’s capacity and our heart’s content, knowing there is no other way, and share our journey with one another.

With love in the Dharmasagara lineage of our great siddha guru, Chogyam Trungpa,

Lee and Reggie