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"How to Stop" by Shabkar

I studied Buddhist philosophy and meditation with a Buddhist monk named Shenyen in a little village called Dharamkot in the mountains above Dharamshala, India where His Holiness the Dalai Lama has made his refugee home. I’ve recently been able to reconnect with Shenyen and even send him a donation which made me so happy (Buddhist monks are not allowed to have a paying job so they rely on donations and the goodwill of others to make it through life). He’s one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met and taught Buddhism in a way that I feel so lucky to have experienced and learned from. Not religulous but scientific, cosmic, matter of fact and so beautiful the way only a former artist could (I think this past we had in common contributed to my connection to him).

He sent me this ancient poem and I thought I would share it with you to which Shenyen said “yes!” enthusiastically. Written by the nineteenth century Tibetan Saint, Shabkar.

Don’t worry about trying to understand every line with your brain which will only lead to you getting frustrated and stuck. Just keep reading and let the words flow through you. It’s such a blessing to have these long lost words come into your life. Of course a lot is inevitably lost in translation I can only imagine the original version. But I think it applies very well to our circumstances. Please don’t take this to mean you could get better if you thought differently or better. These ancient Tibetan monks spent their entire lives training and sharpening their minds to be able to do things and exist in ways we can’t even comprehend. None of you are sick with ME/CFS because of how you live or think.

How to Stop, by Shabkar

When all I do is think about reality
And let awareness undermine itself --
I must stop.

When I let go
Of fighting, loving, dealing,
Prostrating, circumambulating,
Sacred dance and gesture --
I am alone and independent.

When I let go
Of mundane chatter,
Chants, prayers,
Psychic-energetic recitation --
I am in silence.

When I let go
Of muddled mundane thought,
Faith, compassion,
Esoteric practices --
I’m open, vivid.


When you stop running --
The body’s at ease,
When it’s at ease,
Nerves are settled,
When they’re settled,
Mind energy’s settled,

When it’s settled,
Thoughts stop by themselves,
Luminous intelligence erupts.

(The yogi’s never sick
Because his body’s undisturbed.)

When you stop language games --
Wordless concentration starts,
Free flowing energy inside
Nerves of kati’s crystal hollow
Intensifies the light.

(The yogi’s life is long
Because his energy’s at ease.)

When you stop thinking --
The twists and turns of thought stop,
You break free.


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