Big Mind intensive with Genpo Roshi and Diane Musho Hamilton Sensei
Kanzeon Zen Center
Last Nov. 8th ~ 22nd I attended 2 weeks of the month long Big Mind Intensive. at the Kanzeon Zen center in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was quite an amazing event that was led by Big Mind innovator Genpo Roshi and Diane Musho Hamilton sensei. In the two weeks that I attended there were about 75 participants that came from all around the world and it was great meeting old and new friends from this world wide Sangha.
Morning sessions were lead by Diane and were the facilitators training sessions. In these sessions we would cover the “how?”, “why?” and “what ?” of Big Mind facilitation. Diane would begin by going over any questions from the previous days group practice. Some of typical topics she would cover were how to deal with resistance, difficulties that can come up in group facilitation, more functional ways to apply the process, when does the facilitation process need more structure, when more creative applications are appropriate, and so on.
After covering facilitation questions Diane would then lead us in a session of the Big Mind process. Each day was a different set of voices depending on what was emerging as a need for the group. For a few days we worked on cultural voices at ego-centric, ethno-centric, and world-centric levels. On another occasion Diane lead us through the voices of “giving” and “receiving”, but not only the straight voices. Diane facilitated these voices as they manifest moving through the chakras (up and down!) giving a beautiful developmental view of how the same voice manifests diffirently at diffirent stages.
After doing the Big Mind with Diane we would end our morning sessions with facilitation practice by breaking up into small groups to practice Big Mind with each other.
As usual working with Diane as a facilitator was totally impressive as she has a great skill in helping the participants create the abilities necessary for good facilatation. Doing the training under her is such a blessing.
After the communal lunch and long conversations at the local cafes we would return to the zendo for the afternoon Big Mind session with Genpo Roshi.
Genpo Roshi’s skill in leading the Big Mind process is amazing and every time I see him he continues to develop applications of the process. He has a beautiful ability to hold the space as a true Zen master, create a container of impersonal Big Mind and Zen consciousness, skillfully lead each participant through the labyrinth of dualistic voices and open the participants up to the first person experience of a direct non-dual realization.
I was especially touched by Roshi’s latest direction in the process by bringing in the developmental stages. He did this by leading the group through a voice’s “immature stage”, then onto the “dis-owned stage”, and finally the “mature stage”. This application models beautifully the natural process of growth. How one goes from an “immature stage” which is equivalent to “initial identification”, gradually moves onto the “dis-owned stage” that is equivalent to dissociation and separation from the identification of the immature stage, and finally moving into the “mature stage” through re-owning the identification and integrating it at a higher level of functinal wholeness.
What was truly impressive for me was how these three developmental stages not only applied to the dualistic voices but also applied to the non-dual voices. For example, immature Big Mind, dis-owned Big Mind and mature Big Mind. In other words, the ever present, timeless and changeless nature of spirit, actually does change when experienced in the field of time. Once again it shows in a very integral way that even spirit evolves.
Big Mind = States, Stages, and Shadow
It never ceases to amaze me how the practice of Big Mind is a truly and totally an Integral Practice. In fact it blows my mind because I’ve never seen another single practice as integral as Big Mind.
“Integral Practice” can be defined in many ways but the basic realms of development that need to be practice to be integral are “states, stages, and shadow”. Big Mind covers all the bases. For states, Big Mind is a practice that effectively leads one into non-dual states. For stages, working with the immature, dis-owned and mature voices, as well as moving up the chakras with the voices facilitates stage growth beautifully. And as for the shadow, by systematically going through the dualistic voices the process not only clarifies confused aspects of self, but also uncovers shadow aspects of the self in the process. As Roshi says “what ever aspect you can find out there in the world, you can also find in your self.” It is all within us. Identify it, speak as it and integrate it into a greater sense of self. Big Mind contains it all*.
Big Mind Rocks!
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*Of course, if you know your ILP you will realize that the body module is missing. But the Big Mind practice can easily and effectively be applied in body based practices…like, say aikido. But that’s for another post.