Magic and the Unpin-down-ability of Mudra
Mudra exists in a sign lineage tradition that cannot be contained in mere words. It is like a finger pointing at reality that can be understood as a totality—but not in conventional ways. The Buddha’s teachings and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s Mudra teachings in particular are powerful precisely because of their unpin-down-ability, so we have to be careful not to interpret too much for others. At the same time, we must remain faithful to its essential principles.
One of the Mudra slogans says: You are your own mudra. Without manipulation or presentation, this being what we seem and seeming what we are is true in all the ineffable ways that keep us open to the possibility of realizing the truth of reality. That unpin-down-able quality is essential—it keeps us open to an immensity so huge that it can’t be contained and that contains everything.
In the Profound Treasury, the Vidyadhara talks about being in a practice lineage, and seems to point to the effect of whole-hearted practice:
“There is a certain true-believer quality in the teachings. Practice-lineage people are not scholarly or analytical; they just do what they are told. You are given certain things to do that sound very simpleminded. Such practices are designed to manufacture something, to twist your mind in a certain way, to steer you in a certain direction. You can’t believe it will work, but since you begin to do it and to actually get into it, it does work.” -volume 2, page 287, (1973 seminary, talk 16)
Magnetizing & Alignment
What is meant by magnetizing? Who should Mudra magnetize? Who should Mudra advocates try to magnetize? A line from the Dharma says “Raise high the victory banner so that all will know where to gather”. Proper magnetizing for Mudra will depend on an authenticity residing there, at the base of the pole. As well, there should be found virtue and benefit—true refuge that relies on the Three Jewels.
The activities of Mudra Space Awareness shouldn’t be trying to convince anybody of anything. It shouldn’t try to appeal to those who prefer the formulaic or the provable. Mudra can’t be sold as a means to samsaric success or personal gain. But Mudra should be shared in ways that acknowledge individual capacities and are of benefit. It is for those who are interested, for those who can hear and contemplate, for those who want to bring their genuine hearts and to be able to accomplish with unshakeable conviction what is helpful for our world. Investment in Mudra contributes to one’s steps on a path toward expanded awareness and builds courage to bring such vision forth.
Totality and Digital Technology: Digital Medium vs. Embodiment and 100% Principle
The practice of Mudra aims to convey confidence in our own sense of BEING.
Although web technology connects us in some profound ways, digital media lends itself to dis-embodied defaults that include:
- the current cultural uses and coloration by setting sun culture altogether
- a partial embodiment (from the neck up)
- a disconnected environment (apart from others)
- a habitual environment (one’s own familiar space)
- a self-conscious environment that emphasizes self-display and thus perhaps manipulability
- incomplete engagement
How can these defaults be countered, if digital technology is used to expand Mudra?
These effects contribute to not being able to sense our full embodiment and, in very experiential ways, hold us back from fully exerting ourselves. Those who have experience with a physical Mudra practice together (collectively, in real time and space) know the profound value of Mudra Intensification and of putting forth great (often uncomfortable) effort. Being able to go “beyond hesitation” to break through habitual pattern is essential for Mudra’s fruition. Can the fearless physical exertion required to go beyond doubt be applied and fully appreciated by newcomers in an online practice?
How can electronic media be used to counteract performative aspects—tendencies to reify and fortify our sense of self—when we aren’t putting ourselves into a cauldron where we are literally exposed to each other? Mudra’s true expression aims to counteract a materialistic culture that defaults to a retreat into ‘me-ness’ whenever threatened. Can technology be effectively utilized to honestly help us reveal our particular deviousness and the devices we use to stay hidden and remain inauthentic? How can digital technology actually enhance the ability to see through this kind of obscuration?
Mudra practice—even online—must allow time and space for the articulation of each participants’ unique experiences. The difficulty and the discipline to articulate the raw experiences of Mudra contribute to what it means to truly collaborate as an engaged, kind, and awake society. This points to a way forward that helps us to be able to hear the wisdom of each person’s our unique intelligence. Making time for participants to share their own attempts at “What just happened?” is built into what is means to practice Mudra together—for we need to support each other in our unique discoveries.
Mudra Space Awareness as Legacy
As a legacy to be preserved for future generations, it could be that we are only conduits for keeping this particular spark of the Shambhala Terma alive. Mudra lies in a profound Vajrayana tradition—as an expression and method of skillful means. A proper external manifestation of Mudra depends on alignment with inner and secret principles—as well as in having the qualities of daring and right timing. That is when the “zap” of Mudra imprint hits us like a word of poetry in our heart, and can truly help to change the world. Such expression is irrefutable, unforgettable and effective. It is good to remember that this truthful energy is the legacy that should be preserved—even if it cannot be fully realized and manifested at this time and in this place by us.
Mudra as Expansion of Awareness
Mudra’s work is the work of ‘Now’. Mudra’s experiential fruition can point to a way for us to remain stable in the full experience of this living, continuously moving dot of change. It can point to subtle moments of sensed life that give us hints into how we can be powerful and true to our conviction. Now’s work is to stay open to what is—continually responding to reality—morphing into what wasn’t, and unfolding into what has never been. Now’s work—which is Mudra’s fruition—is to become more and more aware of everything that feeds this moment, to everything that affects it, and to everything that is affected by it.
May this Mudra Musings resonate or encourage your own contemplations. May they be of benefit.
Blog Written by: Vicky Moyle
Vicky Moyle began practicing and studying Mudra Space Awareness in 2012 with Greg Heffron and Craig Smith in Bellingham, and was given authorization to teach Mudra in 2015. Vicky also teaches Mathematics, is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a graduate of Karuna Training. She has taught meditation instruction in the Shambhala Lineage since 2016, and formerly practiced in a Rinzai Zen lineage for 13 years.