HISTORY OF THE CENTER
We have been most fortunate in having the experience of many diverse and great teachers. After completing graduate school we were able to pursue our deeply held interest in contemporary phenomenology at the University of Louvain Belgium. Here the works of Edmund Husserl, Merleau Ponty, Martin Heidegger, Paul Ricoeur, Jacques Lacan, Gabriel Marcel and others were opened to us in depth and detail. After leaving Belgium we again returned to the States and were introduced to a phenomenological form of psychoanalytic thinking consisting mainly of Donald Winnicott and Paul Ferdern. The psychologist Austin Deslaurier was the most influential during this period. The importance of transitional space and the intermediate area of experiencing as foundational for the experience of a basic sense of self became apparent to us.
In 1974 we then began to study with Erv and Miriam Polster at The Gestalt Training Center of San Diego. Under their teaching and modeling we began utilizing the intensity of the awareness field in psychotherapy. After completing our studies with these wonderful teachers, we began The Gestalt Psychotherapy Center of Washington D.C. and began teaching postgraduate seminars to the professional therapist. The Gestalt Psychotherapy Center continues to offer postgraduate studies and seminars for continuing education for the professional psychotherapist interested in phenomenological approaches to psychotherapy.
In 1974 we also met the remarkable Shavite Hindu teacher Swami Muktananda. He was a master of the field of awareness and the subtle energy of the awareness state. Through him we experientially learned a great deal about the nature of awareness and the energetic dimension the he call Shakti. He was a great master of shaktipat(initiation of the kundalini energy) and a brilliant teacher. He was completely compassionate and treated everyone equally, whatever their status. Those who knew him loved him and were loved by him. His life was inspirational and he gave the secrets of the kundalini to everyone with great generosity. He taught simply that "God dwells within you as you". Baba was a universal person and was beyond the boundaries of any particular religion. He taught that God did not belong to any particular religion or any one person or any one belief system. God was the divine experience open to everyone and was the source within the human heart. His path was the natural path of the Siddha tradition.
Swami Muktananda urged us to read about a 12th century yogi named Basava who formed a spiritual center named the Meeting of the Rivers wherein people from different spiritual traditions and caste would meet and study and honor divinity as consciousness itself. It is under Swami Muktananda’s inspiration over these many years that the Washington Center for Consciousness Studies has emerged. Swami Muktananda is the root teacher of The Washington Center.
After Muktananda’s death we studied with his successor Swami Chidvilasananda. Through Swami Chidvilasananda ‘s skill we came to understand the relational power of the field in groups. The nature of the field is intensified and amplified by group practice. As one enters the field , one learns directly and experiences more efficiently the qualities of the primordial field of consciousness. Rupert Sheldrake’s work clearly describes the nature of morphogenic fields and the learning of skills and gains in awareness states through group practice.
Throughout the 70’s until the present, we have studied clinical hypnosis which has deepened our understanding of difference between disassociative states of mind and creative, absorbed states of experiencing. This knowledge has been most useful in discriminating between disassociative states of meditation and those methods that create and support the embodiment of consciousness. Ernest Rossi’s work has been most influential in this regard as well as our membership in The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
In the 80’s we continued our study of subtle energy states but began to focus on the western energetic traditions. We were specifically fortunate to meet Mietek and Margaret Wirkus in 1985. Mietek is a leading expert in Bio-energy field work. More research has been focused on healing states through him than any other person in the United States. We studied intensively with the Wirkuses and we began to understand different western ways of invoking the energetic dimension of the field of awareness for healing purposes. We have been most fortunate to continue to study and be inspired by Mietek and Margaret Wirkus throughout these many years.
Because of interest in the subtle energy dimension of the field of awareness we began to pursue the study of Chinese Qigong in the 1990’s. We have had the good fortune of meeting and working with a number of great Qi Gong masters. We initially studied Qi Gong with Dr. Dean Deng, a Chinese physician and healer who currently lives in Chicago. Dr. Deng graciously taught us about the transmission of qigong states. We have also studied continuously with Mr. Shuren Ma who is a gifted master of the Empty Force Qigong tradition. Mr. Ma comes from a family of qigong masters. Every Wednesday morning Mr. Ma has a seminar in the center. Dr. Yi Ping Hu is a Chinese physician and master acupuncturist in the Washington DC area who has also introduced us to the powerful Zong Qi Gong tradition.
In 1998 we had the great fortune of a visit to our center by one of China’s foremost Qi Gong Masters and Healers Dr.Yan Xin. Over the past years we have been able to attend his Qi emitting lectures both in the United States and in China. The Washington Center has sponsored three Qi emitting Lectures for D.Yan Xin. He is a most remarkable healer who completely exemplifies the Qi Gong philosophy that Virtue is the source of the Qi. Every week we have a Yan Xin Qi Gong practice on Wednesday. Through Dr. Yan we learned that the Qi is not only energy but in essence Light.
In the 1990's we began to enter to the praxis of Dzogchen Tibetan Buddhism because of the centrality of the base of the awareness field in this most ancient system. We have been most fortunate to study with many great Dzogchen masters both from the Nyingmapa tradition and the Bon Tradition. Lama Thupten Kalsang so kindly introduced us to Dzogchen meditation and lead three meditation retreats at the Center. We were able to participate in the visit by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche when he gave the Complete Cycle of Namcho Revelations of Terton Migyur Dorje. We studied and have been able to attend the many wonderful retreats with Namkai Norbu Rinpoche who is so generous in presenting the Dzogchen teachings and many numerous empowerments. He introduced us to the trekcho practice. The great master Lama Wangdor Rinpoche has come to the Center on four occasions and presented Dzogchen teachings and pointing out instructions of Garab Dorje as well as Green Tara practice and empowerments. Lama Wangdor has taught us most wonderfully the Trekcho Practice both directly and completely.
We received pointing out instructions in the Bon tradition through Lopon Tenzin Namdak. We were able to study in retreats with Lama Tenzin Wangyal for a number of years. He introduced us to both the Akrid and Zang Zung traditions of the Bon. His Holiness the head of the Bon tradition Lama Lungtok Tenpa Nyima presented a three day Dzogchen retreat at the Center. Lama Chongtrul Rinpoche also visited the Center and presented Dzogchen Ruschen practices from the Bon tradition.
We have had a long interest in the Dzogchen Lineage as articulated by the great Tibetan mystic His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche. We have been able to study with his lineage students Kunsang Dechen Lingpa, Khenchen Serob and Khenpo Isewang Dongyal. Kenchen Palden Serob and Khenpo Isewang Dongyal taught the sadhana of Orgyen Menla and the Extracting the Quintessence of Accomplishment. From the wonderful and great terton Lama Kunsang Dechen Lingpa we have received many empowerments including the entire Nyingtig Yabshi and the Lama Yangtig. Through him we received the Dakini empowerments of Yeshe Tsogyal, Kurukulle, Troma Nagmo as well as the White Tara. He introduced us to and gave empowerments for both Togel and Chod practice. The Center has helped support the translation of the Yeshe Tsogyal, Kurukulle, Troma Nagmo practices. In September 2005 Kunsang Dechen Lingpa visited the Center and gave pointing out instructions and teaching on Dzogchen Meditation.
Through Lama Younge Khachab Rinpoche in retreats we have received the empowerment of Khandro Nyingtig as well as the Vima Nyingtik. Lama Younge Rinpoche has also given the great Dakini Empowerments and practice of Dorje Yudronma , the Lady of the Vajra Turquoise Lamp as well the Healing Dakini Parnashavari. He has also given us the empowerment and practice of the Eight Vidyadharas a practice that condenses eight main Heruka practices of the Mahayoga tradition of the Nyingma lineage. The Center is supporting a translation of the Vimalmitra Text. Lama Younge Khachab's dynamic teachings have brought us more deeply into Dzogchen understanding and practice. In August 2006 we participated in the visit of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche in which he gave the following empowerment: The Life Essence of Immortality: The Quintessence of Deathlessness as well as Guru Rinpoche and Amitabha-Buddha of Limitless Light. In September of 2006 the Dzogchen master and Lineage head of Kunsang Dechen's lineage Dungse Rigdzin Dorje gave a three day retreat at the Center. He gave the empowerments of the Kurukulle and Troma Nagmo as well as the Dzogchen teachings of Kunsang Dechen Lingpa. In September 2007 Rigdzin Dorje returned to WCCS and presented the Dzogchen Dakini teachings and the Empowerment and Practice of Yeshe Tsogyal. He also presented the Healing Chod Practice as well as taught a advanced five day Dzogchen course on the Flight of the Garuda by Lama Shabkar.
In November 2006 and May of 2007 the great Lama Norhla came and taught us the Mahamudra practice. Lama Norhla is a brilliant teacher who is completely generous to everyone. He teaches in a most direct a compelling loving manner. In November we also received the Mahakala Empowerment and Sadhana. We are so grateful to know him and the personal support he gives to us and the Center. In November of 2007 we were able to participate in the week long Dudjom Tersar Wangchen offered by the Lama’s Khenpo Sherab Rinpoche and Khenpo Dongyal Rinpoche. The Dudjom Tersar Wangchen is the entire empowerment cycle for all the terma revelations of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche. This was such a great and wonderful opportunity to strengthen our connection with the Dudjom lineage.
In May of 2008 we were able to visit Lama Norhla’s monastery in Wappingers Falls, New York and be present at the visit of the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. It was a great and amazing experience to be in the presence of the Karmapa. In June of 2008 Dungse Rigdzin Dorje Rinpoche again visited Washington and taught a one week Dzogchen retreat focusing on the Togel gazing practice. Rigdzin Dorje Rinpoche gave empowerments and utilized the text called The Golden Spoon. This text is the second part of the Flight of the Garuda by Lama Shabkar. In November of 2008 Rigdzin Dorje Rinpoche returned and gave teachings and empowerments on Dorje Drollo the fierce dimension of the primordial Guru . In January of 2009 we were able to participate in the teachings given by Lama Garchin Rinpoche who taught on the great Dzogchen text: The Aspirations of Samathabhdra . In February 2009 we had the opportunity to study with Kenchen Prachhimba Dorjee Rinpoche. Kenchen Lama gave the Yeshe Lama empowerment of the dynamic power of awareness, the Vajrakilaya empowerment as well as teachings and empowerment of the rare and wonderful Dzogchen form of the Kalachakra Tantra. This empowerment also included empowerment of the pristine awareness of Rigpa.
In May of 2009 Lama Wangdor Rinpoche and Lama Lena again returned to the center and gave a two day teaching and empowerment on the Mahamudra. Everyone was so happy to be with Lama Wangdor and Lama Lena. In June 2009 we were blessed with the return of Lama Rigdzin Dorje Rinpoche. He gave a most wonderful week long retreat on the great Dzogchen handbook like text, the Yeshe Lama. He also gave the great Dzogchen empowerment known as the dynamic power of awareness. Many people participated in this teaching and in the dynamic power of awareness empowerment.
In July 2009 we were able to be with Ammachi who gave teachings on the Shakti as the Divine Mother, as she embraced thousands of people and again reintroduced us to the Healing Tradition of Radiance Healing. In August of 2009 we were able to gain visit Lama Norhla at his monastery in Wappingers Falls, New York. Lama Norhla gave the Sitro teachings which is the Empowerment into the Mandalas of the Peaceful & Wrathful Dieties. The empowerment also included the dynamic power of awareness empowerment. In October 2009 we were able to experience teachings from Lama Tharchin Rinpoche on The Union of Emptiness and Clarity, the expression of the Three Kayas. Also in October we were able to receive empowerments from HH Karma Kuchen Rinpoche who is the lineage bearer of the Palyul lineage and spiritual heir of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. Rinpoche gave the Vajra Kilaya empowerment as well as the Dorje Phagmo or wrathful Dakini empowerment.
In January 2010 we were able to study with His Holiness Lama Garchin Rinpoche and receive empowerments and teachings on tantric generation and completion praxis as well as the Secret Essence tantric teachings. In April 17 and 18 2010 we received from His Holiness Lama Lamkhyen Gyalpo the empowerment and teachings of the Heruka Chakrasamvara Five Diety Practice. In July 2010 we were able to attend the Dzogchen Retreat at the Padmashambhava Center with Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche and received empowerments and teachings on the Troma Vajrayogini as well as the Zitro empowerments and teachings. During the month of July 2010 we were also able to be with Ammachi during her stay in Washington,DC and again experience the wonderful Radiance Healing Transmissions of the Yogi Pujitha.
In Frederick,Maryland on April 2011 we received from Lama Lamkhyen Gyalpo two days of teaching on the practice of the Chakrasamvara Tantra. On April 17,2011 H.H. Shephen Dawa Norbu Rinpoche gave the Troma Wang. This particular cyle of Troma was a secret mind treasure discovered by the great treasure revealer Dudjom Lingpa, the predecessor of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, father of H.H. Shenphen Dawa Norbu Rinpoche.This Troma Wang was bestowed at the Yeshe Nying Po Center in New York . We were so happy to receive the empowerment of Dudjom Lingpa. On April 29,2011 Garchin Rinpoche gave the Padmasamambhava Empowerment and teachings.
On July 3,2011 we were able to receive the Saraswati Empowerment. This most wonderful empowerment was given by Jigme Lodro Rinpoche. During the same month of July we were able again to participate in Ammachi’s teaching visit here in Washington,D.C. During the week of July 13,14,15, 2011 we were able to participate in the Kalachakra Empowerment and teachings for world peace bestowed and taught by the Dali Lama in Washington, DC. We were also able in August 2011 to vist Lama Norhla’s monastery in New York state and receive the empowerment of the Buddha Aksobhya by His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa. Lama Norhla’s monastery is completely beautiful and Lama Norhla is completely generous and so very kind.
During September 16-23 ,2011 we were able to participate in a 7 day teaching retreat with Khenpo Sonam Topgaya on the Guhyagarbha Tantra based upon the commentary of Mipham Rinpoche. This was held at the Blazing Wisdom Institute in New York State. This was a most wonderful retreat. On October 1 and October 2,2011 we were able to receive the entire Guhyagarbha Tantra Empowerment with H.E. Jigme Lodro Rinpoche at Dharmakirti Center in Tucson, Arizona.
In April 2012 we participated in a week long retreat with Lama Tharchin Rinpoche “On the Songs of Realization of Dudjom Lingpa.” The retreat focused on the experience of the indivisibility of appearance and emptyness. This was a most wonderful experience focusing on the Divinity of Appearance. We were a happy to be at Pema Osel Ling ,the land that Lama Thinely Norbu had so deeply blessed and loved.In May of 2012 Lama Norhla Rinpoche again visited the Washington Center for a two day retreat on the Bardo teachings and the Shitro Empowerment. This was a wonderful time period here at the Center with Lama Norhla who is so generous in his teachings.The teachings and empowerment had a great impact on the lives and understanding of the many people who participated in the Retreat.
In January of 2013 we received from Lama Garchen Rinpoche the Vajra Yogini empowerment, the Kurukulle empowerment and the Yamantaka empowerments. In March of 2013 we received from his Holiness Yangthang Rinpoche the Nyingma Kama Empowerments in Orgyen Dorje Den California. This was such a great moment as we received these ancient empowerments. We were especially happy to again receive the complete empowerment of Gudyagarbha Tantra. Being with Lama Yangthang Rinpoche was being with the grace of a Siddha Master. Later in the summer we were again able to study briefly with Yangthang Rinpoche in Maryland where he gave teachings on Dzogchen Meditation Practice. In October of 2013 we participated in one day Mahamudra Meditation retreat with Lama Norhla at his Monastary in New York State.
On May 17 and May 18,2014 Lama Norlha gave empowerment and teachings of The Mahamudra as method for the ultimate realization of non duality. He also presented the Manjustri empowerment and Manjustri is the personification and symbolization of pervasive non dual wisdom as well as the Chod empowerment and understanding. This chod practice is a meditation that dissolves clinging to contracted states of mind and body,freeing us to experience the unbound expanse of luminous awareness. The focus was on the Dakini as Vajra Yogini.
On June 26,2014 Lama Norlha conferred the empowerment and teachings of Buddha Awareness as Maitreya. During this empowerment we were introduced to the blessings of Maitreya awakening the compassion that is within all of us. In November 1st and 2nd 2015 Lama Norlha gave the Mahamudra of the Amulet Box. This sublime meditation practice is one of the five dharmas of the Shangpa Kagyu Lineage. This amazing empowerment was completely direct and profoundly experiential.
On June 27 and 28,2015 Lama Norlha Rinpoche gave the empowerments and teachings of Varjavidarana. This esoteric and powerful invocation of the Archetypal Diety is an empowerment of healing , and the purification and dissolving of negative and destructive energy of body, speech and mind. The empowerment also cuts through and clears destructive energy in our homes and cities. This is an empowerment of protection and experientially bringing forth the sense of the immutable and indestructible nature of primordial awareness. Lama Norlha also presented the Vital Drops of Pith Instructions for the Mahamudra. These pointing out instruction were composed by the master of Mahamudra Kalu Rinpochhe.
The Dzogchen teachings and classical text so completely clarify the nature of the field of consciousness in useable language. To read these great texts is to experience the field itself. Mysteriously the texts invoke the experience of the naturalistic field.
We have also been initiated in to the Sufi tradition by a Sufi master from Bangladesh. His name is a secret but he was extremely kind to us and conveyed the Sufi understanding that the field is the Beloved and is the source of devotion. This understanding has become our own.
We have also had the good fortune of meeting with Ammachi, the great Hindu yogi. Her devotion to the Divine Mother opens for us the experiential understanding of the archetypical dimension of the field of consciousness as maternal. She is a person who not only embodies the field of consciousness but carries within her the archetypal quality of the maternal dimension. We feel her embrace even as we write.
In the Spring of 2002 the great Brazilian healer Juan de Deus visited our center for a great and unique two day retreat. We had previously visited his healing Center in Abadiania and he came to Washington to introduce the Christian Healing Tradition of Brazil.
The work of Eric Pearl and the Reconnection Healing Tradition is very useful in our own work. We have found that the transmission that takes place through his work is most useful in invoking the light dimension of the awareness field. The luminous dimension of awareness is the most subtle and therefore the most powerful dimension of the awareness field. Reconnective healing directly accesses the dimension of light and greatly accelerates the healing experience of the field of awareness. In March 2004 and April of 2005 Eric Pearl made presentations at the Center and also the Center sponsored Reconnection Training for a large number of participants on each of the two years.
Throughout these many years a person who has been a guide and mentor is the great Vedic Astrologer and cosmologist Chakrapani Ullal. Chakrapani himself was a student of the great Indian saint Bhagawan Nityananda and a close friend to Swami Muktananda. Throughout these many years Chakrapani has lectured at the Center about the nature of human consciousness and its intimate relationship to energetic cosmology. Through his influence we have come to understand that the human mind and personality reflects fields within fields of both generational influence and energetic cosmology. The entire human being and consciousness are a relational product of energies converging out of which human subjectivity and freedom can be gained.
Besides having the blessing of great teachers and mentors, we have been blessed by great colleagues and students. Through the phenomenological method of the articulation of subtle experience of the field within the field, everyone’s understanding of the exquisite nature of their own awareness has grown over many years. Throughout the years in both the meditation seminars and in the psychotherapy training programs, we have met great people who have easy access to the immediate intrinsic field of their own awareness. They come from many traditions and have their own teachers and paths. Here at The Washington Center we meet together and hold the field, enter the field and have learned to work within the field of consciousness itself. These students and colleagues, practicing within their own traditions, (these traditions themselves are fields of knowledge and information) come into the center creating a morphogenic field of upliftment and light. Because there is a group of well trained people, we can offer ongoing live meditation programs via the internet in which the qualities of the field can be experienced directly and immediately in one’s own home. As Erv Polster, one of our earliest teachers, would so often say, “two awarenesses are better than one.”