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Phowe bakchak: the nature of habitual patterns

Chogyam Trungpa | Vajrayana Seminar 1981:)


When our mind is protected from conditionality, that also tends to overcome
further habitual patterns, which are called phowe bakchak ('pho.ba'i.bag.chags) in
Tibetan. Got it? [Laughter.l Phowa means "transmigration" or "changing,"
"departing
from one to another"; phowe makes it "of that." Bakchak is
"habitual pattern." Habitual patterns of transmigration usually happen to us when
one thought begins to die: when, for instance, we begin to lose interest in our
orange juice, then we would like to order our coffee - which is the next thing. That is
precisely the habitual pattern of transmigration: we get one thing; therefore we
would like to change it to something else. We keep jumping like grasshoppers that
way, throughout our lives. We would like to have something in exchange, constantly.
That is phowe bakchak.
There is also the tendency to be bored: this particular type of consciousness, or
state of habitual patterns, is what allows us to miss the reference point of
understanding what is known as the fourth moment. We will talk about the fourth
moment much later on, but we could say a little bit about it now, just as a reference
point. The first three moments are the past, present, and future; and then there is a
fourth moment that transcends all past, present, and future. There is another
moment, a pure moment that is not connected with what you have missed, what
you are having, or what you are about to expect - the past, present, and future. The
fourth moment is a pure state of consciousness, free from habitual tendencies: it is
pure, clear.
So phowe bakchak is that which does not contain the fourth moment state of mind.
In other words, phowe bakchak allows no abruptness: it doesn't like shocks of any
kind. You would just like to relax a little bit and take your time; have your juice and
then your coffee, and maybe a cigarette afterwards; just lounge around and have a
pleasurable life. You would just like to lead your life in the habitual patterns that you
used to enjoy; you recreate them all over again.
Phowe bakchak is one of the problems that makes it difficult to practice patience,
particularly in the vajrayana sense. The habitual tendency of phowe bakchak is one
of the outstanding problems that keeps you from being able to receive proper
transmission. Usually, when a student receives proper transmission from a vajra
master, that transmission is an abrupt one; it usually cuts thought, cuts mind
abruptly, on the spot. The habitual tendency of phowe bakchak completely goes
against that: you would just like to socialize a little bit more with your samsaric
mind. So mantra, or yeshe, cuts through that.