Over the past few weeks, the team and I have been immersed in hours of research on ancient Tibetan culture as part of an upcoming project that we will be releasing in mid 2014. Most of us associate this sacred region of the world with Tibetan Buddhism, but believe it or not, Tibet is rich with shamanic tradition. In fact, much of Tibetan Buddhism is said to have been influenced by Bon, an ancient shamanic tradition of Tibet, that predates Buddhism.
When delving into the healing methods of indigenous traditions worldwide, it is not uncommon to find shared systems of knowledge, even between groups that live thousands of miles from one another. This shared cross-cultural wisdom suggests an almost innate human understanding of what it takes to truly heal ourselves. For example, I recently came across a Bon teaching that was strikingly similar to one of the core fundamentals I was taught in the Amazon.
The teaching I’m referring to: Stillness. Silence. Spaciousness
Among the many concepts that the Bon tradition holds sacred is the foundational principle of Stillness, Silence, and Spaciousness. In the words of the honorable Bon teacher, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, “With the pain body or identity, we ‘take the white pill’ and turn toward stillness; with pain speech, we ‘take the red pill’ and turn toward silence; and with pain mind, we ‘take the blue pill’ and turn toward spaciousness. As we enter the experiences of stillness, silence, and spaciousness, our pain becomes the path to liberation. Each condition transforms into a path that leads to our final liberation: connection with the changeless essence.”
If we are in a rush and feel agitated, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche advises that we embrace stillness and let the illusion of time wash over us. If we are speaking negatively to ourselves or others, he advises that we practice silence. If the urgency of life’s stresses are feeling too close or heavy, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche asks that we give ourselves some mental and emotional space from these external or imagined stimuli. The idea behind these three practices is to stop the pattern of reactive behavior and truly acknowledge the pain that is causing it. The pain itself is considered an entry point for inner exploration.
After their arrival and a quick debriefing, each of our patients was escorted deep into the jungle, down a winding path that ended at their own secluded dieta hut. While they were encouraged to venture out for a few walks each day to get some sunlight, each patient spent the majority of their time meditating inside their hut – stillness.
These simple one-room dwellings were tucked away in their own neck of the forest so that each patient was out of earshot of anyone else – silence.
A few days of solitude without the distractions of smartphones, reading materials, or the company of others can reveal a lot of who we really are. This is one of the most challenging aspects of the dieta, but most of the patients noted that once their yearnings for modern comforts subsided, they began to feel truly alive and in touch with parts of themselves they had long forgotten – spaciousness.
Stillness. Silence. Spaciousness.
This Tibetan-Amazonian connection is just one example of how these three sacred notions present themselves in ancient healing rituals around the world. The beauty of the Three S’s is that you can experiment with them right now. We all have pain (it comes with being human!) and this tool allows us to be with that pain and learn from it.
If you have some time and would like to explore these concepts further, below is a powerful video from Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche entitled “Turning Pain Into The Path”:
A question for you: What are some other healing traditions that use their own version of the “Three S’s”?
Director, The Sacred Science