Statements That Strike
2. One definitively decides upon this unique state.
3. One continues directly with confidence in liberation.
To all of you Dharma companions who gather here today, you have come here in order to receive these teachings for the benefit of all the sentient beings within these three spheres of existence. So we gather here with this great vast intention, I would like to wish you Tashi Delek or greetings to all of you.
Today we have gathered to receive the teaching of Dzogchen. In the past I have given the Mahamudra instruction here and really when we talk of the three major tenet systems or three major view systems Mahamudra, Dzogchen and Madhyamika. It is like we are one single person with three different names. The point of all of them, the ultimate meaning of all of them is to look at the mind.
So with regard to that precious teachings of the Buddhas, in brief, what is the essential meaning? It is to discipline one’s own mind; this is the teaching of the Buddhas. What we mean by discipline the mind is subduing self-cherishing, self-grasping. When we do this we naturally give rise to the mind wishing to accomplish other’s benefit through the cultivation of the two types of Bodhicitta, this is the essence of all the Buddhas’ teachings.
With regard to the precious teachings of the Buddhas, there are two names that apply or two modes of transmission of these teachings. The first is the transmission based on the words and texts and this is a scholarly transmission that takes place. The second of these is the transmission of the realization lineage. When beings take the precepts and the teachings of the Buddhas and engage in the practice with their minds, then they receive the blessing of the practice lineage or blessing lineage. This is when the guru transmits directly through his or her mind to the disciples’ mind. So we should understand the two basic divisions of the transmission of the Buddhas’ teachings.
So again to reiterate, the Buddhas’ teachings are transmitted in two ways, one is based on the words, on the language, on the texts and so forth. The other mode is the transmission of to practice lineage the blessing lineage and so although people may have doubts about the apparent contradictions between the two different modes of transmission, if we understand the distinction clearly, it can help to clear away any doubts. So Rinpoche would like the two points translated into Chinese, just these two points.
So the text that Rinpoche will be teaching from is entitles “Three statements that strike the vital point” and I should mention here that I will be using the translation of this text that was done by John Reynolds. Now with regard to the first of these three statements, it is the “ A Direct introduction into the Nature of the Mind”, this is the first imperative. And so the meaning of this first statement is that the pure nature of mind that is free from thoughts and emotions. Is Buddha. That mind itself is Buddha.
So with regard to this first statement we now possess the wisdom that discriminates, that distinguishes between what obscures the mind and what makes the mind clear. When we utilize this wisdom to look at the mind with the mind. The mind becomes like the expanse of space. It is the non-dual union of emptiness and clarity. If we recognize this mind, that recognition itself is the introduction to the nature of mind. That mind is nothing other than the Buddha. When we have this recognition, we see that, that Buddha essence is abiding in the mindstreams of ourselves and all beings.
So what is this mind that is the Buddha? It is the mind that clearly recognizes thoughts and negative emotions arising in the mind. This mind distinguishes between virtue and non-virtue, thus it was taught by Milarepa that transcendent awareness is that which recognizes negative emotions and thoughts. That is the activity of mind. That is what we call Rigpa. And so this is the first point of getting a direct introduction to that Rigpa.
And so the first of these three statements is a direct introduction to the nature of mind is necessary. Basically with this, we recognize that the mind of the Buddhas of the three times and our own mind is of the same basic nature. There is no distinction between good and bad to be made in the minds of ourselves and the minds of all the Buddhas. On the basis of this, then we must engage in practice and this leads us to the second statement. Absolute conviction in the practice is the second imperative. And so once we have had the introduction, get on the basis of that we must engage it and these first two of the three statements are simple or easy.
So with regard to the second of the three precepts about absolute conviction in the practice. It is said in the 37 Bodhisattva practices in number 36 “In brief, whatever conduct one engages in, one should ask, “What is the state of my mind?” Accomplishing others’ purpose through constantly maintaining mindfulness and awareness is the bodhisattvas’ practice.” And so this mindful awareness is the awareness that recognizes whatever thoughts and negative emotions are arising. When we give rise to negative emotions, this awareness recognizes their fault and on that basis of that recognition we can abandon the arising. And so over the next day or two as you are listening to the teachings; it is not necessary to focus on all the details and write down every single word. Rather if you abide in meditation, which is the cultivation of clear mindful awareness, then you will directly receive the blessing and teachings being offered.
So please abide in vigilant mindful awareness during the course of these teachings and even if you don’t understand completely everything that is being stated in English, simply abide in this awareness and through that you will receive the blessing of the transmission. And then eventually you can review the recording and translation into Chinese and be made. This is my own experience. When I was studying with my root lama, Khenpo Munsel Rinpoche, there were many among us who didn’t completely understand his dialect and his speaking and yet from my own experience, just by abiding in awareness I recognized the natural state which completely cleared away all of my doubt and I have confidence that I received his blessing. And this was the experience of many among his students. In the past I have had some understand of Mahamudra but still there were doubts that remained but when I received this direct transmission of the Guru’s blessings it totally cleared away all my doubts and settled the point definitively about the nature of mind. This is the power of all of the Buddhas that comes through the Guru.
So to begin with today we are speaking of the subject of Dzogchen practice and the first line of the text that we are working from is “I pay homage to the root lama of matchless kindness. Of matchless, peerless compassion.” So really the essence of this line is about the practice of Guru Yoga. So at the outset we will begin with the instruction of guru yoga and just incorporate into the commentary on the three points. And then after giving Guru Yoga instruction we will continue on with the text.
When we speak of the peerless kindness of the Guru, what is it that we are referring to? We can think of the many beings that have shown kindness to us. Our parents and our teachers in this life have shown us great kindness. But the Guru and the three jewels are even greater kindness to us than our parents and teachers. They are without equal. If we think about all the worldly teachings that we have received from our parents and teachers, still they are of benefit only for this life alone. Likewise, even the protection that can be given by worldly gods is temporary and limited in scope. It is only the protection by the sublime Dharma and three jewels that can last from now through out all of our future life times. Who else could provide this kind of refuge and protection but the three Jewels. And so in this way we refer to their peerless kindness.
It is taught that the Guru is all the embodiment of all of the Three Jewels. So, if at the outset in the text, we make prostration and pay homage to the Guru we should understand that by doing that we are prostrating and paying homage to all of the Three Jewels.
With regard to the term Guru, in Tibetan it is Lama, the first syllable La, there is a statement about the meaning of the term Lama and it is, with regard to La it is like the soul or mind of all beings. But really it is the soul that we are talking about. That is to say when we fall asleep at night and we dream, there is an aspect of our consciousness that separates from the body and have all kinds of dream experiences. That is the “La” that is refer to in this statement. So I guess it is like a soul. That soul really abides in our mind. It is an aspect of the mind. That is what is meant by the first syllable in the word Lama. And then the second syllable, with regard to that it is stated; “as for Ma” it is the mother of all sentient beings. So we think about the connection between mother and child, and there is great love between them. And in the same way that the mother has great love for her child, the Buddhas think of all sentient beings with love. Mother is always thinking of her child and so it is that Buddhas are always recalling sentient beings with a mind of Love.
So for example, in this worldly realm, there are countless gurus and spiritual guides. But if we look at His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in general those people who have wisdom, regardless of their race or religion, are drawn to His Holiness. They all like him. And what is it that they like about him? I can give an example from my own side, whenever I see him; I have a more extraordinary feeling for him than I feel if I were to meet my own parents. I feel such great joy on just seeing him. What is the reason for this joy? It is that he is the embodiment of all of the Buddhas’ teachings. He has given rise to love for sentient beings, and because of his great love for being, beings naturally like him and are attracted to him. Thus he demonstrates, manifests the qualities of love.
So for example I can look at my own life, I need to travel to a few places in this world and in those few places my few disciples are gathered. But when I see them I have great love for them because I witness their love for me. The fact that you feel love for me is a sign of your good heartedness. When I witness this, my feeling of love for you increases. And so it is important that in this way we understand the attributes of Bodhicitta.
We say that the root guru is the embodiment of the Three Jewels and the Three Jewels are Buddha Dharma and Sangha. There are limitless numbers of Buddhas in the past present and future, more numerous indeed than the grains of sand on the beach. Their speech is the Dharma. Although it is said there are 84,000 aggregates of their teachings. Within each single group of the teachings are again 84,000 sub divisions. Thus the teachings are also without limit. We should understand that the mind of the Guru is the essence of all of the minds of the Buddhas. All the Buddhas are present in the root Guru’s mind. And that root Guru is our own vigilant mindful awareness. Within that awareness there is no distinction to be made between great and small, good and bad and so forth. The basic transcendent awareness of our own mind is the guru. The guru’s speech is the Dharma, and that Dharma, although it is vast, it is said to contain 84,000 aggregates, still it all comes down to two types of Bodhicitta. Apart from conventional and ultimate Bodhicitta, there is no other Dharma teachings to be found. So all of the Dharma is condensed in the speech of the root Guru, and likewise the body of the Guru is the sangha.
With regard to the sangha, when we have listened to the teachings of the Buddha and we have put them into practice by cultivating love and compassion in our minds, we purify the obscurations of our minds. Having purified our own minds, then we are able to guide others thus we become members of the sangha. How is it that we can guide others? Through introducing them to the teachings on Karma cause and effects and to the two truths and so forth. We can show beings the methods for practicing virtue and abandoning non-virtue which is the cause of suffering. So when from our own side we become liberated then we can engage in activities to liberate others. This is what it means to be a member of the sangha. And it is said then that the Guru’s body is the sangha.
So previously I referred to the limitless kindness of the root Guru and we can think in this life, on a worldly level, there is no one who has been more kind to us than our parents. They, in this and former lives, our parents have spent millions of dollars on us in order to care for us and so forth. But we having become distracted by worldly happiness and pleasures; have wasted our lives, not understanding the workings of karma cause and effect. We have died without cultivating bodhicitta in the past and if we continue to waste our opportunities in this life, it will not be possible for us attain temporary happiness or to ultimately attain liberation. So even though our parents of the past have been very kind to us still they have not been able to show to us the means, whereby we cultivate bodhicitta and turn away from the phenomena of this world.
So with regard to the methods for liberation from Samsara, which is like an ocean of suffering, these methods are taught to us by our spiritual guides. They show us the nature of karma, cause and effect and once we understand this, then we hold onto that understanding and we act in accord with that understanding. This then leads to the temporary happiness of the three higher realms of gods and humans and to the ultimate bliss of attaining the state of Buddhahood. So when we look at our kind spiritual guides, they are the ones who give us the methods to achieve happiness from one life to the next. They are the ones who offer us temporary and ultimate happiness, thus they are extremely kind.
When one cultivates bodhicitta in his mindstream, that individual’s body is the Guru, his or her speech is the yidam and his or her mind is the dakini. Thus we can say that the Guru is the embodiment of not only the three Jewels but also the three roots. Through relying on the body of the Guru we receive the empowerments we are introduced to the nature of the skandha, dhatu and ayarthanas as pure from the very beginning. Likewise, on the basis of the Guru’s speech, we are given instruction in generation and completion stage practices. We are taught in the context of generation stage how to visualize ourselves as the deity and so forth. On the basis of this to engage in secret mantra practices, thus on the basis of speech we can realize the Sambonghakaya and then on the level of mind, this is the prajna paramitra, the perfection of wisdom. It is the nature of emptiness, the nature of ultimate bodhicitta. And that nature is nothing other than the mind of the Guru. So the Guru, himself or herself is the embodiment of the three roots, of Guru, Yidam and Dakini.
When in this way one engages the practice of the three jewel and the three roots, the fruition is to attain the three kayas. And those three kayas are complete in the Guru. The Guru’s body is the nirmanakaya or the tulku and so the Guru has cultivated bodhicitta in his or her mindstream and through that mind which is bodhicitta, emanations or tulku spontaneously manifest. On the outward level, the body of the Guru seems like the body of just another human being, like an ordinary person but the Guru is extraordinary in that on the level of mind, he or she has fully cultivated the two types of bodhicitta.
So the Guru’s speech is the Sambonghakaya. That is to say on the basis of the words of the Buddha or the speech of the Guru, the Yidams and Mandalas manifest in inconceivably vast numbers. On the basis of the Guru’s mind, which is endowed with loving and kindness, the Dharmakaya is realized. Although the Guru’s mind is the nature of love, on the ultimate level it is empty, this is what is meant by the term the union of clarity and emptiness. So this Dharmakaya, which is vast like space, is the mind of the Guru and then the Sambonghakaya is like the various rainbows that arise in the expanse of the sky.
We have spoken about the three kayas of the Buddhas, but in the context of Drikung practice, we also speak about the four kayas. What is this fourth kaya? When we are introduced to the Guru’s attributes, then we need to know, and deeply contemplate each of the Guru’s qualities. Then when through practice, we ourselves cultivate the qualities of the three kayas, at some juncture we really get insight into the ultimate nature of the Guru, which is none other than our own mind’s essence. When we realize this, we recognize the sameness of our mind and the mind of the Guru, and that there is no distinction between good and bad to be made between our mind and the Guru’s mind. This is the non-dual union of clarity and emptiness, it is the realization of the natural state of the mind. When we have this experience, we know definitively the non-dual nature of our mind and the guru’s mind; this is the realization of Svabhavikakaya. The fourth of the four kayas. If for example we place pure water into two different vessels, although they appear as separate and distinct, the water itself is of the same purity and clarity in each of the vessels. Thus there is no distinction to be made between the two. At the very basis when we have purified the obscurations of the mind, at the very basis we recognize the inseparability of our mind and the Buddha’s mind or the inseparability of the mind of the Buddha and sentient beings.
So we speak about the practice of Guru yoga, it is through this practice that our mindstream transforms into the guru. The guru is endowed with perfect qualities, and right now we see a great distinction between ourselves and the Guru. But really the only distinction is in the fact the Guru has given rise to the mind wishing to benefit others. While we on the other hands have great self-grasping and negative emotions. So at the very outset when we first received the vow of refuge, we are introduced to the outer three jewels, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. But then after having received the vows and beginning to really engage in the practice we start to recognize our own mindful awareness as inseparable from those three jewels. So on the outer level, we look at the example Guru, or the Guru who manifests in human form. But on the inner level, the ultimate Guru is mindful awareness.
We talked about having devotion to the Guru, on the outer level, devotion is the faith and the respect that we have for the teacher. But on the inner level, what devotion is, is holding the words and instructions of the Guru as precious and putting them into practice. So for example, although Marpa had many disciples, the real transmission or the complete transmission went to Milarepa and it is said that the one who really held to whatever the Guru taught was Mila Dorje Gyaltsen and that’s the real meaning of devotion to the Guru.
So for the last nine or ten years I have been saying again and again read and rely on the 37 bodhisattva’s practices. You have love for me, I have love for you and if you really cherish me, then you will cherish this book on 37 practices. It is my stand-in when I am not present. If you understand this and you really heed my words, whether we are near or far, you will always recall me and through that recollection we will be connected. If you do not heed those words, then even though we are together constantly it would not be a benefit and in fact it would be harm to me and to you.
We speak about Guru Yoga and this term Yoga refers to union. The term that we use in Tibetan for Guru Yoga is Lamei Naljor, the first two syllables Lamei means of the guru, the second two syllables Naljor, is yoga. This term Nal is referring to the natural state of the mind. So yoga is the union with the mind’s nature. How is this accomplished? It is accomplished through mindful awareness and that mindful awareness is the inner guru. The outer body of the Guru is not the ultimate guru; it is just a conglomeration of particles that is subject to impermanence. When we look at the inner guru, we see that there is no dualistic distinction of good and bad. That awareness is the nature of mind and in order to maintain that connection, love is what is of principle importance. When we have this mind of love and awareness then there is no distinction between near and far. We have authentically united with the inner guru, that is the nature of the mind. And this is the true practice of Guru Yoga.
Of course we need to rely on the Guru but within that, we should understand that ideally the condition of a really true Guru, a really true and authentic disciple, and really true and authentic pith instructions are needed to fully accomplish the benefit of Guru yoga. If the guru is not a true authentic master, then there is not such great benefit. Similarly, the disciple is not an authentic true disciple, although they may have connection, it will only be of benefit for a short time, for a few lives. So ideally we have these three qualities or these three conditions of true, authentic Guru, disciples and pith instructions complete. Even if the Guru is not a totally authentic master, if the disciple is a true disciple, on the basis of that disciple’s devotion and pure view, a state of Buddhahood can be obtained. The blessings of the Buddha will be received by that disciple with the pure mind. There are many such stories, and so of principle importance is one’s own devotion and pure view.
So what is the root of attaining these qualities? Buddha Sakyamuni himself said within all sentient beings is the essence of Buddha. And this is reiterated in the first statement of Garab Dorje a direct introduction into the nature of mind is the first imperative. Sentient beings because they are temporary obscured by negative emotions do not recognize this and their mind becomes a frozen block of ice. But when they meet with the condition of having faith in the three jewels and compassion for sentient beings. It is like that ice begins to melt away into free flowing water. Particularly in the context of secret mantra practice, we are taught to cultivate a pure view of the outer container that is the universe and the inner contents, which are all sentient beings. All of the ways of accumulating virtues are combined in or encompassed by pure view. When we have pure view, what it means is that we are free of fixation, whether it is attachment based or aversion based. When we have purified fixation in this way, the ice of our ignorance melts away. And then we recognize the qualities of the inner guru. So if we have pure view, from our own side, whether the guru is a good and authentic master or not, does not matter, we will realize the Buddha qualities from within.
So we can see the examples of great past masters such as Lord Atisha who heard the word, received the speech of yidam Aryatara when just looking at images of her carved from wood or cut from stone or shaped from earth. There are many such examples of great masters who have received direct transmissions from painted images of the deity and so forth. This arises through the power of their own faith and pure view. We don’t receive those transmissions; we look at those representations of the deity and see them as stone, as wood and so forth. What is it that prevents us from receiving such transmissions; it is our lack of faith and pure perceptions. Milarepa, when he was passing away, told his disciples, “Actually, I will never die. If you have love and believe in me” Milarepa pervades in the five elements, and thus is always present.” And so it is on the basis of the disciple’s faith that we again and again connect with the Guru or the deity. On the basis of this we receive the Guru’s blessings. So the fact that Milarepa can pervade the five elements, is really one of the qualities of the Dharmakaya of the Buddha.
This story about Milarepa can actually be found in the English translation of his life and liberation story. There are the details of his passing away at the age of 84 included therein.
End of first session.
The text begins with an homage to the guru it says, “I prostrate to the root guru.” And basically there are three types of prostrations. Prostrations of body, speech and mind. Physical prostrations we are familiar with, yet prostrations of speech are when we recite the names of the guru, when we recite various mantras, when we speak of the guru’s qualities and so forth. Mental prostrations are when we engage mindful awareness inseparable from love for sentient beings. Among all three of these, prostrations of mind are of principal importance. Some people have physical difficulties and they are not able to do physical prostrations and it can be hardship for some others. Yet we should understand that among all three types of prostrations the most precious are mental prostrations.
So why is it that we offer prostrations to the objects of refuge to the three Jewels? We do so because they delight in our prostrations. Why do they delight in them? Because if someone makes offering prostrations, having given rise to Bodhicitta, that person is practicing the method for liberating sentient beings from suffering. The Buddhas themselves have no particular interest in receiving our prostrations from their own side. Rather they rejoice in it because when we generate bodhicitta in our mindstreams we are engaging the methods that will liberate ourselves and others from suffering. Thus it is said in the literature on generating Bodhicitta, “Having done so, with my having generated Bodhicitta, may all of you gods and demi gods rejoice.” And the reason for that is again because through engaging prostration with Bodhicitta, that very person is practicing the method for liberation from suffering.
The Guru is exceedingly kind to us, he or she is the one who shows us the methods for giving rise to the two types of Bodhicitta in our mindstream. Whenever we look at an image of the Guru, whenever we see his photograph, immediately we feel joy and happiness in the mind. And on the basis of this the ultimate meaning of the Guru’s teachings can immediately arise in our mindstream. In this way we should recognize the nature of mind, cultivate mindful awareness. The ultimate Guru is nothing other than just that. We speak about the unborn, when non arisen ultimate Guru and transcendent awareness of selflessness. This is nothing other than seeing the mind’s nature which arises on the basis of our joy, when recalling the Guru.
And so that which is to be taught in this text are the instructions on the view, meditation and conduct. These three principle points of teaching are closely related to the names of three Gurus to whom homage is paid in the text. (Translator’s comment: just to give a brief background on the text so you know where to place it. The actual three statements are just those three lines that Rinpoche addressed in the early morning session which was spoken by Garab Dorje. And then the basic text that’s been taught from is the commentary by Paltrul Rinpoche known as Kapa shi Galpo then in addition to that Rinpoche will be teaching from additional sub commentaries by Paltrul Rinpoche’s disciple Lundok Tyenpe Nima and by his own root lama Khenpo Munsel. So these will be the precious texts that we will be learning from.)
The mind of all of the Buddhas of the three times and our own mindful awareness are inseparable so if we are looking at various root and lineage masters of the tradition, we should understand that their essential minds’ nature and that of the Buddhas of the three times and our own mind are ultimately inseparable. And there is no distinction between greater or lesser within that mind. All of the Buddhas of the three times are combined in our own practice of mindful awareness and so in this regard, Lord Jigten Sumgon paid homage to the mandala of mind’s essence, that is the supreme palace of all the victorious ones of the three times.
How is it that we are to combine the practices of view, meditation and conduct? When we abide in the natural state of the mind, we recognize the awareness that is the sky like expanse of mind. We recognize the empty nature of the mind and that recognition is the view. Then having recognized that, we need to abide within that awareness. And that is meditation, simply remaining the continuity of the non-dual union of bliss and emptiness. Then within that mindful awareness, we recognize all phenomena to be like dreams and illusions; no matter what activity we engage in, we recognize its illusory nature and that is the conduct. If we abide in a state of Rigpa, or awareness wisdom, all of the view, meditation and conduct are combined within that.
So that which is to be taught is the view, meditation and conduct, and with regard to the first of these, the view is referred to as being like unelaborated space. This is the Buddha nature or Tathagata which pervades the minds of sentient beings. Thus the very basis of the mind’s nature is free of all fixation, it is the non-dual union of clarity and emptiness which is like the expanse of the sky. That mind is the true Buddha. And so we give an outer example of the sky, all of the outer container that is universe and the inner contents, which are sentient beings fit within space. When we see nature of mind that is like the sky, well, then we see it. In this regard, Lord Milarepa said when mind and space are recognized as inseparable, that is as Dharmakaya as it can get. And this mind’s nature is completely empty and clear. There is nothing that is obtained in that, nothing that we get when we look at the nature of mind. Often time we think when we see nature of mind will result in some kind of, something that we obtain. But when we actually see the mind with the mind, there is nothing that we get at all. And so that point should be understood.
All of Samsara and Nirvana are to be seen as the basic equality of Dharmada. Or to be seen within the context of the basic equality of Dharmada. It is difficult for us to perceive the phenomena of Samsara and Nirvana in that way. There are innumerable sentient beings who experienced limitless suffering in the six realms of existence. This is taught in detail in Paltrul Rinpoche’s text, “Words of my perfect teacher.” But all of these phenomena in the six realms are only temporary, dream like, illusory appearances. This point is echoed in the 37 bodhisattva’s text, in the beginning where it pays “homage to Chenresig who, through realizing that all phenomena neither come nor go, strive solely for the welfare of sentient beings.” So really all of the phenomena of samsara and nirvana are beyond the extremes of coming and going. On the ultimate level they abide, like the expanse of space, and all appearances manifest within that. Yet they are temporary, dream like and illusory. So in brief, what we are pointing to with this view is that there is no fixation on phenomena as being real at all. When we are free of fixation, then although phenomena still appear to exist, we recognize their empty nature.
So in brief, what is it that we need to know? All of the outer container and inner contents are immeasurable and without limit. All of samsara is vast and limitless, but this has all been created by mind. Mind is the creator of karma, both collective and individual. The basis of that accumulation of karma is self-grasping. And it is through collective and individual karma that all of the phenomena of the universe manifest. When we fail to recognize the natural state of the mind, we give rise to self-grasping and on the basis of that we accumulate the six negative emotions and on the basis of them we engage activities and we create karma. And on the basis of that all of the six realms of Samsara manifest. Thus mind is the ultimate creator of all phenomena.
Milarepa taught that we should not sever the root of phenomena but rather sever the root of mind. If we look at the mindstream of a tiny insect, and the mindstream of a human being, they are essentially the same. They all wish to have happiness; they are the same in their generation of negative emotions and the three poisons of attachment, aversion and ignorance. Thus however numerous sentient beings may be, their habit of self-grasping is one, it is the same. On the basis of this self-grasping they engage various activities and accumulate different sorts of karma which condition the various physical forms that they take but all of those forms have been created by mind. The entire six realms come into existence because of mental phenomena. This is something you should think about, consider well, investigate whether this is the case or not.
All of the phenomena of this universe are composites and are the nature of impermanence. This is something that contemporary scientists understand. Although the world, although this earth is very vast we can take a small clod of this earth and separate out its various particles and if we take a single grain of sand and we crush it. Ultimately it comes down to nothing at all. In this way, all phenomena are composites. We should ask ourselves, if this is the case then are phenomena true? Are they real? Are they truly existent? If we find that they are not, then who is the creator of all these insubstantial phenomena. The creator of all the phenomena of Samsara and Nirvana is mind. So for example, in this world, although there are many bodies of water, there is only one essence of water itself, and so it is that although the phenomena of this universe appear in manifold diversity, there is a single creator of them and that creator is mind.
The text refers to the unelaborated view. What this means is there is no fixation on phenomena as being real. The moment that fixation exists there is elaboration. When we look at the natural state of the mind, it is like space and all of the phenomena of the outer container and inner contents are arisen from that space like mind. And that mind’s essence is the view, and so the first sentence of the text reads, “vision is Longchen Rabjam, the all pervasive vast expanse.” So just by way of commentary, when we hear the word vision, this is just John Reynolds translation of view. And “Longchen Rabjam”, he again translates as the all-pervasive vast expanse, so although he is referring to this master, Longchen Rabjam, we should understand that the very meaning of his name “all pervading vast expanse” to be metaphor of the sky, which is the metaphor for the view.
The natural state of the mind is endowed with the knowing quality, the knowing aspect of the mind. That is the transcendent awareness that recognizes arising thoughts. When we are engaging in Shamatha or calm abiding meditation, the negative emotions of attachment, aversion and so forth are pacified, and within that peaceful abiding the awareness that recognizes arising thoughts is present. When those thoughts are recognized, they are spontaneously free and that is the practice of special insight or Vispasana. When we look at the mind we will see many thoughts arising. If we recognize those myriad thoughts but do not fixate on them, then we don’t need to manipulate them in any way. And they naturally just subside; they do no harm to our practice, or to awareness. This is what is meant by the term non-conceptual. So the text refers to the clarity aspect of the mind as being inseparable from non-conceptual awareness wisdom. In this way the thoughts that manifest are like waves that arise from the ocean and dissolve back into the ocean. Although there may be many thoughts, they do not disrupt the continuity of awareness, that is to say the mind does not waver at the arising of thoughts.
When we are practicing calm abiding that is endowed with special insight, if we really wish to train in this then we need to give rise to compassion and great loving kindness. If we lack this then there is no way that the mind will abide in calmness and clarity. So conventional bodhicitta is of greatest importance. When we have conventional bodhicitta we will not give rise to gross conceptual thoughts and the very subtle thoughts that arise will be instantly destroyed through to the power of awareness. So in this way we cultivate conventional bodhicitta, which is love and compassion together with awareness wisdom.
In brief if we want to realize the meaning of emptiness we must have love and compassion in our mindstream. The mind’s nature is the union of emptiness and compassion and so it is on the basis of giving rise to great love that the mind becomes free of thoughts of attachment and aversion. And through that we recognize the empty nature of our mind. So when we speak of the second point, that of meditation, this is what we are talking about.
So when we cultivate mindful awareness it should be endowed with love and compassion. This union of love and compassion is what we must habituate in the practice of meditation. So we have spoken of view and meditation and conduct, this is the second point of meditation. In this regard the text it says meditation is Khyentse Odser and then Khyentse Odser is another name for the master Jigme Lingpa. In this particular translation then the actual name Khyentse Odser is translated as the “radiance of wisdom and love”. And so if we really wish to cultivate the meditation, we need to habituate the view that is the union of love and compassion with wisdom.
When we engage the mind that is the union of emptiness and compassion, a great radiance manifests, what is that radiance? It is the spontaneously arisen light of wisdom and love that pervades all of the pure Buddha realms above and all of the six realms of sentient beings below. All of the sentient beings of the three spheres of existence have accumulated karma and are presently experiencing the ripened effect of former actions. When we give rise to the mind that is the union of wisdom and love, it is like the sunlight that pervades the dark areas of the six realms of sentient beings. So however great our transcendent awareness is, we will give rise to a correspondingly great compassion. However great our compassion is, we will give rise to the capacity to pervade all of the spheres of existence of sentient beings.
So when we look inward at the mind, and meditate if we understand just a bit of the natural state of the mind we will understand the arising of thoughts and negative emotions. And through awareness, those thoughts and negativities will dissipate. In this way our self-grasping and ignorance are cleared away. And on the basis of this we realize the meaning of selflessness. That realization is like a brilliant light that is more powerful than 100,000 suns. These are the qualities of giving rise to precious bodhicitta.
When we act on the basis of having cultivated the view and meditation, then we reach the point of the text, which reads, “Action is ‘geway neugol’ the bodhisattva” now that is to say when our actions are rooted in view and meditation, everything that we do becomes the practice of the six perfections engaged for the benefit of others. So a person who has transcendent awareness and compassion will naturally give rise to virtuous conduct. There is much that is said in the text of the 37-bodhisattva practices about this. If we have transcendent awareness endowed with compassion, although we may engage in what look like worldly activities, they will all become virtuous actions in the practice of the six perfections. In this regard Milarepa taught that whatever activities we engage with the mind wishing to accomplish others’ welfare, those things are the practice of the six transcendent perfections.
So Rinpoche again is quoting from the text “Action is ‘geway neugol’ the bodhisattva” and I should also make a comment here that when the word “Action” is use, this is referring to conduct among view, meditation and conduct.
So an individual who practices the view, meditation and conduct is an extremely fortunate person of great merit and virtue.
So how is such a person endowed with fortune? Well there are different types of students of varying capacities, when one has trained well in former live times, and is a disciple of highest capacity, that person is referred to as one who is kind of instantaneously realizes. Or immediately understands. I asked Rinpoche “Understands what?” and he said, “understands the natural state of the mind, what else is there.” And those who have not done this kind of training or who have trained in only a limited way. Then they are beings who gradually realize in progressive stages. So even if in this lifetime they do not realize mind’s nature then eventually within seven life times or whatever that realization will dawn.
So if those fortunate ones realize the natural state and if they engage in practice like Milarepa did, it is possible within a single lifetime to realize the state of Buddhahood.
There are two different ways that people think about this state of Buddhahood. Some will think that when one attains Buddhahood one will be able to fly in space and manifest all kinds of inconceivable miracles. And this state of Buddhahood must be something extraordinary and wondrous. But this is really not the point here. It’s the mind that needs to attain the state of Buddhahood. And when we are free of fixation, then the mind abides like the expanse of space then the body will attain liberation. But we don’t need to look kind of outwardly what we think the Buddha qualities might appear to be on a physical level, rather we need to look inward at the mind to understand the Buddha qualities. And on the basis of that turning inward, we will understand.
So in brief Milarepa taught that when negative emotions and transcendent awareness are recognized as indistinguishable. That is the perfection of the sign of realization. So whatever happiness and suffering we may encounter, whatever thoughts, afflictions and delusion may arise they are recognized as none other than transcendent awareness. The mind does not waver regardless of the arisings, rather the minds abides like the expanse of space. And so of course afflictions will arise, the point is for us to recognize them as awareness.
Without this mode of practicing view, meditation and conduct, although we may intellectually understand the teachings, whenever we encounter adverse conditions in this life, negative emotions, suffering and so forth we will fall under their power. If we on the other hand we don’t have great hope and fear then the phenomena of this life will be recognized as dreamlike and then later when the time of death comes we will be free of regret free of suffering, thus the text reads “Practicing such view, meditation and action without stress or strain you will attain Buddhahood in this lifetime.” And failing that what peace of mind and so even if we don’t attain fruition in this very life, still we can die with a mind totally free of regret. What this is about is bringing adverse conditions onto the path. For example if we give rise to great anger that blazes more strongly than a fire, if with awareness we recognize the fault of that anger then the awareness increases and the anger is overcome. All negative emotion no matter what they may be is to be dealt with in just the same way.
End of second session.
We have reached the point in the text where the view is elaborated in greater detail, the text reads the vision is Longchen Rabjam, the all-pervasive vast expanse, and the three precepts strike that essential reality. Now this term “strike” means when the actual meaning of that view reaches one’s mindstream. At that juncture all delusion is cleared away. Specifically the delusion refers to fixation on thoughts and negative emotions as being real. When we give rise to the view, all the phenomena of Samsara and Nirvana are realized as dreamlike and illusory. Without this view we continually perceive self and others, happiness and suffering, thoughts and afflictions as being real and true. Thus the mind, which is naturally like free flowing water, become temporary like a frozen block of ice.
With regard to this term strike, in the context of striking the points; when we have great pain and illness in the body and then we receive various medical treatments, taking bitter medicine and receiving acupuncture and so forth or we have to get shots. These things can be extremely painful as they are being experienced, but these are only methods so that later the illness will be gradually cleared away. So it is with the introduction that strikes the vital points, when ordinary sentient beings abide in Samsara, they think that the phenomena of Samsara are real and true. This is like perceiving a block of ice and thinking this block is really like stone, and its true on a relative level, a block of ice is like a stone. But when you are introduced to the mind’s natural state, together with that introduction comes a recognition of the possibility of liberation, its as though we finally recognize that the block of ice is not really a stone, because it can melt and become free flowing water. So in this way, together with the introduction, we begin to recognize that the phenomena of Samsara are not inherently existent, they are not real. Its not that we apply a fixed label to them, saying “phenomena are unreal”, its not something that is understood through investigation or through labeling, rather this is something that is directly realized.
I mentioned earlier the three statements that strike the vital points, the first of which is about the direct introduction into the nature of mind, and with this come the recognition that all the phenomena of Samsara and Nirvana are created by the mind. Thus if we only understand the mind’s nature we will understand all the phenomena of Samsara and Nirvana. That which has been made, that is all the phenomena of Samsara and Nirvana, is the nature of emptiness and likewise the maker, the creator of those phenomena which is the mind is empty like the sky.
With regard to the second of these three statements, which is about absolute conviction in the practice, it is mentioned in the 37 Bodhisattva practices the state is completely free of the three spheres. We talked about the non-conceptual state free of the three spheres, in which there is no longer, any division among self and others and the object, or activity that is engaged. And within this non-conceptual awareness there is no distinction to be made between self and other and phenomena of Samsara and Nirvana and so forth. We see experientially that the natural state of our own mind, the mind of the Buddhas of the three times and the mind of all sentient beings are of one singular essence. There is not the slightest bit of difference among them. So this really gets at the second of these three statements, about absolute conviction in the practice, through this direct experience, we develop conviction that within the mind itself all phenomena of Samsara and Nirvana are combined.
These first two points are relative simple and straight forward. When we study the meaning about the natural state of the mind, we can begin to understand and eventually to recognize it. But with regard the third point about implicit confidence, in release, this is a little more difficult. When we are introduced to the natural state and then we continuously abide in that natural state, we see the arising thoughts and negative emotions, through their recognition they are liberated, thus no matter how many thoughts may arise they do no benefit to our mind they do no harm to our mind. They naturally are dissipated like water bubbles that spontaneously appear on the surface of water and just as quickly disappear. When we practice in this way, thoughts are naturally destroyed thus no karma is accumulated. If no karma is accumulated, no karmic propensities are established and then one does not experience the fully ripening effect of karma.
We must always cultivate transcendent awareness combined with compassion if we wish to realize implicit confidence in release. This union of awareness and compassion is like hot water when it is poured over ice, it will immediately melt away that ice. If we lack this union of awareness and compassion, then this frozen block of ice remain just as it is. And this is an example of the delusion of sentient beings. If on the other hand we never part from this union of mindfulness and compassion, thoughts will be liberated on rising but in order to practice in this way, great diligent effort is required.
So with regard to the method through which the view is introduced, it can be introduced through scholarly endeavour, the study of the meaning of the view according to Madhyamika and the various textural traditions. But from the perspective of secret mantra the view is introduced through the third empowerment in which the exemplary wisdom of primordial awareness eventually yields to the ultimate primordial awareness. This is the method of introduction that is used in context to the secret mantra.
The great masters of the past gave rise to an awareness of the view through cultivating meditation for a long period of time. So in that mode of practice the view arises through meditation. Yet in other modes of introduction, first there is the direct introduction to the nature of mind, and on the basis of that the meditation is gradually cultivated.
Yet in the context of this particular practice tradition, we are advised not to rely on the earlier method of investigating the nature of mind through scholarly reference and the study of the texts and so forth. Rather in this system, which is the system of lineage and blessing and practice one is directly in this very moment introduced to the natural state of the mind.
At this time as you are listening to the words of the teaching, look inward at the mind, and allow the meaning of the words to unfold, so as you are listening, please look directly at the mind. This will be a great benefit.
When at first we look at the mind with the mind, what we will see is countless thoughts and emotions arising one after another in a ceaseless flow and so we think we don’t see the natural state the of mind because there are too many thoughts arising. But what is really happening is we are giving rise to fixation to the thoughts that arise one after the next. Thinking that they are true and real so with each thought and emotion there is a fixation that we give rise to. This is the meaning of delusion.
So we have all seen fish in the fish tanks and when we look at all the fishes that is swimming around in the tank, you can follow after them and find out where they are going, and all of these fishes are like the thoughts and emotions that arise in our mind. If on the other hand we shift the focus of attention to the water itself, this is like shifting one’s awareness away from the thoughts to the natural state of the mind. And within this shifted focus, one recognizes when thoughts are arising and when they are not, and there will be junctures in which when thoughts and emotions are not arising, in those junctures we can see the natural state.
As a support to this meditation on the natural state, we should attend to the natural state of the breath. Usually what happens when we are not attending to the breath, and the wind energies, we habitually follow after karmic wind energies. As an antidote to this we can place the tip of the tongue against the hard palate. And when we breath in, we breath in through the nostrils but then when we breath out we gently breath out though the mouth maintaining the tip of the tongue on the hard palate, allowing the out breath to flow over the left and right sides of the tongue. At this time we should be breathing very gently and naturally. This will be of great benefit and has the same effect as the vajra recitation. The important point is that we are not panting, we don’t have our mouth hanging open, we are not allowing all our breath to escape outwardly. By maintaining this point of contact with the tip of the tongue on the hard palate, this actually serves to separate out the pure essence of the wind energy from the dross (waste, useless) of the wind energies.
When we speak about calm abiding, we need to allow the mind to remain in a relaxed state and from within this, clarity can naturally spontaneously arise, we can recognize Buddha nature or Tathagata within that. And so simply remain in the natural state, in a very relaxed mode of being we can recognize the nature of the mind. This is an unfabricated state, which is free from the fixation of the idea of needing to meditate or not meditating. This is what is referred to as unfabricated, spontaneously arisen primordial awareness.
We are looking at the section of the text where we first keep the mind relaxed and neither diffused nor concentrated, remain without thought. Now if we have the notion that “I need to meditate” then that idea is fixation, the mind becomes bound by the compulsion to practice. If we have this fault then we push too hard in the practice and we are advised to leave behind that excessively concentrated state yet at the same time not to follow after the thoughts that are arising. Or follow after arising thoughts is fabrication and diffused, distracted state. So remain free of diffusion and concentration we abide free of thoughts in the natural state.
So for those who are beginners, we are taught from the outset to engage in the practice of calm abiding or Shamatha. And then gradually on the basis of stabilizing that, we are taught the Vispasana or special insight practice and so through practicing calm abiding we give rise to the experiences of bliss, clarity and freedom from thoughts. And then training in this way we are introduced to the (Vispasana) Lathong or special insight training, and on the basis of that we are introduced to the natural state of the mind or to awareness.
With regard to these three experiences of bliss, clarity and freedom from thoughts, people are different in the kinds of experiences that they give rise to, some will experience great clarity, and have many different clear experiences but whatever it is that is arising, the important thing is to be free of fixation. If we have experience of clarity for example and we think “This is good” then that is fixation. The bliss experience is the same thing, the nature of the mind is naturally blissful thus we speak of the dharmakaya as the great bliss. Yet if we have that experience and fixate on it, this is where we fall into error. Occasionally when we are practicing looking at the nature of the mind, we will experience states free from thought, in which the flow of thoughts and emotions just ceases for a period of time. And within that we think “This is the view” we have given rise to fixation. Although these various experiences will arise, if we are free of fixation on them, then there will be of no harm.
So when the mind is abiding in the natural state, this is the view of Dzogchen, it is the union of clarity and emptiness. This is the nature of mind that is like the expanse of space and when that arises for us and we see it, then often we will give rise to the thought in the next moment “Oh, this is it.” That thought itself obscures the mind. The view is completely beyond the extremes of good and bad, thus it is said “When there is fixation, the view is absent” and so although various experiences will arise, we need to remain in a state free of fixation on them.
So whatever it is that arises the mind, it needs to be recognized through awareness. This is true of all thoughts, all emotions, all the experiences of bliss, clarity and freedom from thought. And when we abide in awareness, there is no attachment to so call good experiences nor is there aversion towards negative experiences. Even if Guru Rinpoche clearly manifests in front of you still there is no need to focus on this arising as being so extraordinary, unique or precious. It is just the display of the mind’s natural radiance. It is the pure aspect of the mind manifesting and so at such moments we don’t need to look into the appearance or to investigate it in any way. All that we need to do is maintain awareness in its own seed. Then no matter how many thoughts, emotions or experiences may arise there will be no harm in our practice.
So we are looking now at the section of the text that it reads, “In this state of equilibrium and relaxation, abruptly utter a mind shattering PEH forcefully loud and short and there it is”. When we give rise to all of these diversity of meditation experiences, in that very instant, we should immediately shout the syllable PEH, to clear away the cloudiness and to clear away the over excited mind. To clear away fixation and various thoughts and emotions that arises. When we shout the syllable PEH it should be like the flash of a bolt of lightning. Shouted as the text says, forcefully loud and short.
Immediately after shouting this syllable PEH, we can see the natural state of the mind, we are completely free of any fixation at that moment, all the recollections of the past have ceased and all the ideas about the future have not yet arisen, so in between these two, in the gap between the two, we can look at the natural state of the mind which becomes like space in the moment that we utter that syllable. There are some student who will say “Oh, I have shouted PEH and there is no benefit.” This really comes from having fixation on the practice. Its like, “OK now I am going to shout PEH and you all listen”. And we have this notion that “OK, here I am now I am shouting PEH and with all the fixation on the practice then we are not able to reach the essence of the practice which is just to shout the syllable without any fixation at all. And scatter the thoughts through doing that. So if we are among many people we don’t need to shout the syllable, we can mentally engage this practice just effectively. When we are alone we can verbally shout this syllable in any case the whole point is to reach a state completely free of any fixation, any concept about doing this practice, and when this is done then the thoughts and emotions are just scattered.
When we shout the syllable PEH, we can be directly shown the natural state of the mind and at that juncture we need to hold mindful awareness. Its like when we do this practice we need to do it all within the context of mindful awareness. It is said that for those who do not know anything at all about the nature of mind or how to look at the nature of mind then there is a danger to trying to engage in this practice, they can become crazy, become mad as a result of doing this. So people who just go out and however they like, in a group of people, shout this syllable PEH without having any understanding how to sustain awareness. Then there is a danger to that. Because having scattered the thoughts, they don’t have the knowledge to how to gather in or hold mindful awareness and therein lies the danger.
After shouting the syllable PEH the mind is left in a state completely free of fixation and with this the mind becomes clear. Immediately the natural state is recognized. The view manifests very clearly and this is what is meant by the term “Zangtal” It is translated in the text as all pervading freedom of mind. Its kind of unobstructed freedom of mind. This term really refers to being completely free of any fixation on matter or on objects whatsoever. By way of example, if we are sitting in this room and we are meditation on the form of the deity and we visualize that deity as very large and we think now it can’t get any larger because the head has reached the ceiling. This is a fault of fixation, fixation on the material object of the limit of this room. If we are completely free of fixation we can visualize the form of the deity filling all of space without any obstruction at all. And this is what is meant by the term unobstructed freedom of mind, it is the all-pervading mind of awareness without any obstruction posed by fixation.
With regard to this term unobstructed freedom of mind, I have said this before, it can be recognized immediately when strong negative emotion arises. If in the very moment of arising we abide in a state of clear awareness wisdom, the negative emotion is immediately dissipated, it is rendered empty, it is lost and within that state the awareness is not lost only the arising negative emotion is lost. If we fixate on the arising thought we become deluded by it. If on the other hand we abide in a state of clarity, clear awareness at the moment of it’s arising, we see the fault of the negative emotion and immediately it is overthrown. And so if you want to recognize the unobstructed freedom of mind you can do that on the basis of the rising of a single strong negative emotion. If you do not do that I can sit here and give a 100 different examples of unobstructed freedom of mind and it wouldn’t be of any benefit.
So the portion of text we are looking at is in illuminated wonderment is all pervading freedom of mind. Now with this naked unobstructed freedom of mind we kind of separate out the ordinary gross mind from transcendent awareness. And we are always talking about the natural state of the mind and how to look directly at this and ordinarily, beings are deluded because the thoughts and emotions that arise in the mind are followed after one after the next with fixations on them as real. On the basis of this we remain deluded, yet if we are always focusing on mind with the mind, we recognize the non-dual union of clarity and emptiness. We talk about primordial awareness and there is a quote from the scriptures that reads, “that which is called primordial is existence in the beginning, this is the beginningless Buddha Samantabhadra”. When we cultivate this in an ongoing flow, then on a temporary level, it will lead to the understanding of all the phenomena of samsara and nirvana and on the ultimate level, it will lead to omniscient wisdom.
So with regard to the natural state of the mind, there are so many views and traditions to be found in the world, and all of the erroneous views can be condensed into two views of eternalism and nihilism. When we think that phenomena are actually existent they are real and true then we fall into the error of eternalism. All phenomena are composites; they are the nature of impermanence. Understanding this then we should stay clear of the error of eternalism. When we think that actually there is nothing that is truly existent at all, there is nothing that is real, even karma cause and effect is not ultimately real or true, then we fall into the other extreme of nihilism. If we give rise to negative emotions and on the basis of that we act on that then karma is accumulated and once that happens sooner or later we will eventually experience the ripen effect of that karma. Therefore understanding this we should stay clear of the faults of nihilism, both of these views are mistaken.
According to the sublime intent of Buddha Sakyamuni the natural state of the mind is completely beyond the dualistic extremes of eternalism and nihilism. The mind itself is empty in nature and that essence is the dharmakaya, completely beyond eternalism and nihilism. This is what is meant by the term, primordial awareness that is naturally clear. We talk about the non-dual union of clarity and emptiness and this is really the mother and father Samanthabadra in union. Through the example of father and mother in union we are introduced to the meaning of bliss. Earlier I refer to the dharmakaya of great bliss, that is to say simply to recognize the nature of mind is to experience great bliss free from all extremes of eternalism and nihilism. When we abide in this state of union of clarity and emptiness we remain completely free of mistaken views.
When we look at the natural state of the mind, it is beyond arising, beyond cessation, beyond existence and non-existence. With regard to arising, it is said that the mind is unborn, it does not manifest from anywhere, likewise it is beyond cessation, it does not end, it does not stop, likewise there is no abide place of the mind, we cannot pinpoint where the mind stays, who can say where the mind abides. We cannot say the mind exists here and not there, the mind itself pervades the body because we experience sensation through out the body. And so the fact that we can search for the mind and never finds it, is an indication that the mind is beyond arising, cessation and abiding.
Again we are dealing with the lines of text that read “in illuminated wonderment is all pervading freedom of mind and in that in expressible all pervading of mind recognize the dharmakaya’s total presence” and so in this way we cultivate awareness, since that awareness is the dharmakaya, it is recognized through abiding in quiescence. And so at the very basis this mind is unelaborated. We do not give rise to thoughts and then build upon them or elaborate upon them within this state of awareness and so this is what needs to be practiced or cultivated, it is this singular essence of awareness that we cultivate and through doing so we realize what the text refers to as the dharmakaya’s total presence. First we are introduced to the view and on the basis of that we cultivate unelaborated awareness of mind’s nature in way we recognize the dharmakaya’s total presence.
So the view is the mind that is free from the elaborations of thoughts and emotions. When we abide in quiescence this is the basis on which we recognize the dharmakaya, so this mind of dharmakaya quiescence is pure at the very basis, it is pristine from the very start. If we know the nature of mind, thoughts and negative emotions will be destroyed in their own place, all elaborations will be purified within the unelaborated state. What it means is that thoughts will arise, and with each and every arising, they are cut through one after the next. In general we give rise to a thought and we fixate on it, that thought leads to another to another that is what is meant by elaboration. If on the other hand we abide in clear awareness, as soon as a thought arises, it is severed. And then when the next thought arises it is severed, this is what is meant by all elaboration being purified in the unelaborated state.
Until this point is understood and put into practice even though we may make effort in meditation it will not be of really great benefit. As we are cultivating awareness in the practice, our ability to engage in this will depend on the strength or weakness of the view. Ideally, however how strong the thought or emotion may be, we give rise to a correspondingly strong awareness and in this way thoughts and emotions are liberated. But we need to engage in effort to give rise to that degree of awareness. Otherwise we will recognize the arising of the thoughts and emotions but we will not be able to liberate them and this is the fault of the awareness being not strong enough. It is the fault of not having giving rise to a sharp edge of awareness. We can look at the example of just a tiny flame, if we throw too much fuel on it, it will be extinguish, it cannot burn all of the fuel. And so it is when we give rise to negative emotions but the flame of awareness is not strong enough to burn them away.
So the special or extraordinary teaching of Dzogchen is about how to transform negative emotions into companions. Right now negative emotions are enemies that do harm so we need to first become skilled at practicing when negative conditions arise and then at bringing those conditions onto the path. If we always abide within mindful awareness, then however strong a negative emotion may be, it will be immediately destroyed through that awareness, just as we have a blazing fire, we can even feed iron to it and it will melt away. Of course we now have some degree of mindful awareness, but that mindful awareness is like the flame at the tip of a stick of incense, it is very weak and it needs to be cultivated. Yet we must develop believe in the idea that mindful awareness is dharmakaya.
We can take the example of anger, we may be Buddhists who recite the prayers with our mouths, “may all sentient being have happiness and its causes, may they be free from sufferings and its causes” we always engage the four immeasurables in the context of generating bodhicitta. Yet when someone does harm to us, and we feel this person’s anger and hatred towards us, immediately we respond to that with the feeling of avoidance. This person is undesirable and we want to avoid that and so we have an ongoing perception that individual as being undesirable. And if we hold onto this view and we begin to act and speak, on the basis of that we accumulate negative karma. And eventually this person will say something nasty to us and we will respond with another nasty comment. So in this way we begin to accumulate karma with body and speech on the basis of our own concepts and perceptions.
We can look at the example of anger alone and understand the nature of all of the five other negative emotions, anger has a connection to all of them, desire, attachment, ignorance and so forth, so when we first give rise to a negative emotion, if we recognize that with mindful awareness, the awareness becomes stronger. Eventually the negative emotion will arise simultaneously with mindful awareness. When we practice in this way then the awareness is like a flame and the negative emotions are like wood or fuel that feeds that flame. If we can maintain awareness, these negativities are transformed into the five wisdoms. It is a method for transforming negativities into awareness and poisons into medicine.
So in brief, when we engaging in practice, whatever negative emotions may arise, we should train in recognizing even the smallest of them. And by doing this we will experience great benefit, as we recognize even the small or subtle emotions our awareness will grow stronger. If on the other hand we fail to train in this way, we will fall under the power of heedlessness and although these thoughts and negative emotions may arise, its as though there is no fuel being fed to the fire there is no wood in the stove, eventually the fire will be extinguished. So we must make efforts to liberate even the subtlest of negative emotions.
Now we are dealing with the line of text which it summarizes the view. It reads the direct introduction into the nature of mind is the first imperative. Among these three statements, if we do not receive an introduction to the view, then there is no way to engage in the second stage which is the meditation and the habituation. So the introduction is of principle importance. Now with regard to this view, we should not think that it is the arising of something that wasn’t there before, nor should we think that it is something that is obtained from outside by someone else rather we receive direct introduction to the nature of mind which is inherently abiding.
So there are many examples of this awareness that are given, that are taught, in this regard, Milarepa referred to the aspect of the mind that recognizes negative emotions as being awareness. And so if we are cultivating this awareness, it becomes stronger and stronger with each negative emotion that is liberated.
Some people will have difficulty engaging this practice, and they will try to look at the mind but will be unable to liberate negative emotions and thoughts, and so they will think “Well, this must not be Dzogchen or I must not be cut out for this” and their mind becomes kind of weary of the practice. But there is no need to have this kind of weariness. The wisdom dakini, Nygona said, “Even the flame of primordial awareness may be small, it can be refreshed again and again. And so each time we cultivate awareness it grows stronger and stronger. So we must have confidence that through mindfulness primordial awareness becomes stronger and more powerful.
We have now covered the first of these three statements, which is regarding to the direct introduction to the nature of mind. If you have questions please write them down and give them to the translator. At this moment I am not sure if I have enough time to cover them, my first propriety is to deliver the teachings. If by the end of tomorrow, we have some time left we will deal with these questions.
End of third session.
So with regard to the first statement of direct introduction to the nature of mind, I have said little bit today, however, Dzogchen teachings are very profound and I am not able to teach 100% of them because I don’t know them completely. Because of the kind words of my Guru, I have some understanding of them and on the basis of that I am able to give some small clarification of the meaning of these practices. Yet, I do have the fault of not having great study on these points and on the basis of that, I must apologize.
There are those who will say, “I have the view of mahamudra or Dzogchen or I do not have the view” but really we do not need to think in these terms. It is of the greatest importance that we understand whether at this moment we recognize the essence or not, it is present, it is just the question of greater or lesser power of awareness. Just like the difference of having a blazing fire or a very small flame. Even though people may have many doubts about the natural state, it is still nothing more than awareness combined with loving-kindness and compassion as is taught in the 37-bodhisattva practices. The more we cultivate awareness, the greater it grows. The Buddha himself settled the point about awareness, in teaching that all beings are endowed with Buddha nature. So we don’t need to become discouraged by doubt whether we have realized the view.
The text says “Then whether there is quiescence or flow, rage or lust, happiness or sadness, at all times and in every situation sustain that recognition of dharmakaya’s total presence”. So having been introduced to the view, we need to engage the practice of meditation. In this regard we must cultivate meditative absorbsion in a continuous flow at all times and in all situation as the text says. We must protect and preserve a kind of ceaseless continuity of mindful awareness.
For those who are instantaneous realizers based on the previous training they have engaged in former lives, it is possible for them to be introduced to the view and to immediately realize it in a stable and unchanging way. For such beings there is nothing that really needs to be cultivated nor is there anything that need to be stopped or ended. But such beings are very few, even for those who do recognize the nature of mind when you are introduced to it, many will give rise to pride, thinking “Oh, I have got it” so the point is once we have received the introduction, we must inwardly continue to cultivate it and meditate upon it.
So it is said there is nothing to be suppressed nor nothing to be accomplished. All our thoughts and emotions are cut through and in that moment we abide in a state of quiescence. And we think “I need to sustain this” and that thought is a manifestation of attachment and fixation to quiescence. So we shouldn’t think that thoughts and emotions are something to be suppressed nor should we think that the state free from thought is something to be accomplished. The point is that we are to simply sustain recognition of essence of mind regardless of thoughts are arising or not.
It is said that when the mind is abiding in quiescence or a state free from thought that is the natural face of dharmakaya, when thoughts proliferate, that is the natural play of primordial awareness. So just like the sun and the rays that are spontaneously manifest from the sun, awareness itself manifests arising phenomena in an ongoing display. When we understand this then, there is nothing that particularly needs to be suppressed. No matter what arises it spontaneously manifests just like waves arising on the surface of water. And naturally dissipate like waves dissolving back into the water. Thus things are naturally arisen and naturally liberated. In this way there is no need to suppress arisings nor is there any need to kind of establish them.
When we are taught the first noble truth of suffering, we can give rise to attachment and aversion based on this, thinking that we want to purify to causes of suffering and establish ourselves in happiness. But from the perspective of this Dzogchen practice, whatever arises, happiness, suffering, bliss, whatever is felt is simply allowed to in an uncontrived way, manifest and be liberated into the natural state. We should know that thoughts and mind are of the same essential nature. At the very basis, whatever arises is free from any kind of inherent existence, it is unreal and illusory. And so we may be abiding in quiescence and looking at the Dharmada, still within that, thoughts will arise. In that context, Milarepa advice one of his disciples that thoughts and mind are one and the same, just as the waves that arise from the ocean is nothing other than the ocean. So if we simply leave thoughts in their natural state, they will spontaneously dissipate on arising. This is something that must be experienced.
Whenever we are completely without mindfulness, then we give rise to unchecked negative emotions. For this reason it is taught that we must sustain awareness in an ongoing flow. If we have some degree of mindful awareness and within that, negative emotions arise, we cannot be said to have unchecked negative emotions at that juncture. But in particular, we need to continue to cultivate awareness; otherwise we will accumulate karma based on arising thoughts and emotions. When we sustain vigilant mindful awareness and various thoughts arise we recognize negative emotions as harmful. And through the power of that recognition they are eventually purified.
So it is said that we should cultivate a meditation free from meditation, and what this means is that we are devoid of the thought that “I need to meditate, I must meditate”. We simply abide in a recognition of mind by mind. This is the recognition of one’s own face or the self-recognition of one’s own face. Leaving behind completely the notion that I must practice, we abide in natural awareness, this is what is taught.
With regard to this meditation that is free of meditation, when we see the natural state of the mind and we are totally free of doubt about that, we recognize the inseparability of the mind of the guru and the mind of all the Buddhas, yet for beginners this point is a bit difficult to understand. I also have some experience on this, there is a pith instruction that is given by Jigme Lingpa and that is “When one has faith and devotion to the root guru from the bottom of one’s heart, that itself is awareness”. And on the basis on one’s devotion to the guru, which is nothing other than awareness, one can begin to experience the inseparability of one’s own mind, the guru’s mind and the minds of all the Buddhas. And so I find that this pith instruction makes the point more accessible.
There are some who will have a changeless faith and devotion to the guru, there are others who will give rise to different kinds of doubts about the guru. If that is the case one should look to great lineage masters like, for people who are practicing Dzogchen, Paltrul rinpoche and Jigme Lingpa, for those who are engaged in the practice of mahamudra, they should look to Milarepa, whomever among the lineage masters they have real devotion for and they can cultivate that devotion. It will be easy to recall that guru again and again on the basis of the devotion they feel. On the basis of that we give rise to the image or the form of that teacher in our mindstream. When we cultivate mindful awareness using this devotion as a technique then heedfulness will start to arise from our mindstream. In particular when we give rise to various thoughts and negative emotions and we fall under the power of heedlessness, we should again recall the guru, the lineage masters to whom we have great devotion. And I have some experience of this, this really simply the practice.
When we recall that guru and mindful awareness are inseparable then it is easy to cultivate the practice and in this context if thoughts and negative emotions completely cease or if they proliferate, still its not as though we need an antidote to each thought and negative emotion. All we need to do is to continue cultivating mindful awareness. So we shouldn’t think that the antidote to negative emotions is something other than mindfulness. We speak about how knowing one liberates all and really all of the methods of liberation are combined within Rigpa or within awareness. The guru is not the body of the guru the actual guru is the guru’s mind. The mind is the Buddha and that is the principle importance, when we are cultivating mindful awareness that is the ultimate guru.
Therefore it is not necessary for us to antidote the various thoughts that arise in the mind, simply by abiding in the natural state of the mind, thoughts are liberated. Just like the waves that arise on the surface of the water and dissipate back into the water. The Dharmakaya is the very basis, and thoughts are not separate from Dharmakaya just as the wave not separate from water. Thus we really must understand or recognize that thoughts and mind are inseparable.
If we know this if we recognize it then we see that this is nothing other than the natural radiance, which is the very basis, or abiding is the very basis. That natural radiance is the Tathagata. So if today the lama introduces us to the nature of mind, what is that introduction? We are told to look at the mind with the mind. Although awareness is present, although the Buddha nature is present, we don’t know how to look at it and so the introduction enables us to look at the abiding nature of the mind which is like the clear and empty sky. It is like a butter lamp that is self-luminous and when we see that nature then it is clearly recognized.
So when we look at the mind itself and abide in the natural state this is like the meeting of the mother and son lights, the text says the son clear light uniting with the familiar mother light. And within this we must understand that these lights are not two; that is the knower and that which is known are of a singular nature. Thus we speak of non-dual wisdom, the seer and that which is seen are one and the same. And it is through looking at the nature of the mind that we must recognize this.
In the context of the five wisdoms we speak about anger being the mirror like wisdom and what is this example about? We say that the basic nature of mind is like a clear crystal or a mirror, although various images or forms that may be reflected in the mirror these are like thoughts that arise in the mind, they dissipate upon arising. Although forms may be reflected in the mirror, the mirror itself has no sense of good or bad with regard to these various appearances. And in a similar way when thoughts arise in the mind, that which recognizes is completely free of fixation on that which has arisen.
So at this time when we are looking at the mind and we see the various thoughts and negative emotions that arise, if we are free of fixation to these thoughts then there is no harm that is done. They do not obscure the mind. If for example we look out at the crowd and we see many people, we can start to investigate, thinking “Oh. Is that one an American? What is that one’s name and have I met this person before or not.” All of these are just thoughts, concepts in the mind. If on the other hand, we turn our awareness inward and we look at the seer or the perceiver of all of these outward phenomena then we are really looking at the mind. So although we may be gazing outwardly with the eye, and we may see many different images or forms, we are really looking inward at the mind with the mind and there is no particular thought that arises at all. And so we perceive outward phenomena yet we do so while remaining in a state of awareness. All of these outward forms are not seen distinctly, or individually, rather they are just perceived as a whole. Do you understand the difference between looking at each individual thing and just looking at the broad general picture with awareness? Tank and fish, yes!
For example if we are looking at a flower, and we see its beautiful and we think this flower is good, then in that moment our mind goes outward to that object, to that flower. We speak about the grasping mind and the object that is grasped, and this is what we are talking about when that mind flows out to that object in a dualistic way. This is characteristic of having fixation in the mind. Whereas if we observe the object from within a state of vigilant mindful awareness, we may still give rise to the thought that this object is good or is beautiful but within that we hold onto stable mindful awareness. And then there is no need to give rise to the thought “I must have the flower, I need to cut it, I need to buy it.” Rather the thought that it’s beautiful or good may still arise but it’s immediately severed through mindful awareness.
The same is true of the sounds that we hear, if someone says something that is pleasing to us like “You are such a wonderful person” then immediately we feel happy. And that is a sign of the mind of heedlessness having arisen. Conversely if someone criticizes us or makes fun of us, immediately we hear that sound and feel angry. But if we are abiding in awareness there will be no fixation at all regarding good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant sounds that are heard. And we are thus free from fixation there is no obscuration in the mind. This is what is meant by forms being the union of emptiness and appearance. And everything that is heard being the union of sound and emptiness. When we abide in awareness in this way we will not give rise to attachment to those things that are pleasant nor aversion to things that are unpleasant. This is one of the qualities of mindful awareness and within this there is nothing that really needs to be blocked or suppressed nor is anything that needs to be cultivated.
When we practice meditation in this way, various experiences of bliss, clarity and freedom from thought will arise. We can give rise to fixation to those experiences and when we do, immediately we need to destroy that fixation. So in this regard the text says, again and again disrupt quiescence, elation, clarity and flow. And so we need to be watchful of the fixation that can arise to various meditative experiences.
When we have what we consider to be good experiences, we can give rise to real happiness and even elation, and this is a sign of fixation on the experience. The moment we feel joy about our meditative experience, we should shout the syllable PEH. The text says, “Again and again disrupt quiescence, elation, clarity and flow by abruptly uttering the syllable of means and insight”. So whatever is arising, happiness, suffering and various thoughts it is acceptable for us to shout the syllable PHE in order to disrupt those arisings.
So when we are engaged in meditation, and the mind is in a state of equipoise, we can still give rise to faults in the practice. At such moments we should again shout the syllable PEH. The text says, “By abruptly uttering the syllable of means and insight, meditative absorbsion and subsequent insights are recognized as identical. So we should understand there is no difference between the meditation practice that we are cultivating on the cushion and our daily activities. When we have this recognition, then the true unobstructed freedom of mind arises and clarity is manifest, otherwise when we are meditating without clarity, we can fall under the power of the experience of bliss and gradually cultivate a kind of sleepy unclear state of the mind. And at that moment that we recognize it, we should utter the syllable PEH which will completely scatter the sleepy drowsy mind. In this way we should maintain awareness.
If we are meditating and we have the thought, “This is clarity.” Then we should compare that state of what we think is clarity to the state of the mind for example when suddenly you feel an earth quake and immediately you have a thought “What’s happening, what is this?” If at that moment you look at the mind, you know what clarity really is. This is the purpose of uttering the syllable PEH forcefully and clearly like a bolt of lightning striking. When we engage the practice of the recitation of the syllable PEH then true clarity will come. We should look for ourselves at the state of the mind when we are uttering the syllable PEH and when we do not, and see if there is any difference in the clarity that arises.
In the context of mahamudra practice it is taught that just through engaging the meditation, mind and awareness or Rigpa will be naturally distinguished or separated. Whereas it’s a distinct and special teaching of the Dzogchen practice that we should in this very moment forcefully separate mind from Rigpa or awareness. Then I asked, in this context “What is mind?” Rinpoche responses, that when we have mindful awareness but it is not really strong enough to liberate all of the thoughts and emotions that are arising, that is what we mean by mind in this particular context. Whereas Rigpa or awareness, is when whatever thoughts and emotions may arise they are immediately destroyed through the power of that awareness. This is like a fire that is so strong that it will immediately incinerate whatever is placed inside it. So the difference between what we are calling mind and Rigpa in this context is whether or not all mental arising are liberated. Thus we speak about the transcendent awareness that goes beyond mind and that’s what we are referring to in this term Rigpa. For beginners, until one has recognized the nature of the mind, it is difficult to distinguish these two. But for someone who is practicing mahamudra and really gets the view of mahamudra, this distinguishing or separating out the mind and Rigpa will occur naturally.
When we sustain mindful awareness then we reach a state of non-meditation. There is really nothing at all that is meditated upon, the mind simply abides in sky like expanse which is naturally clear and by never separating from that. There is not even a tiny hair’s worth of meditation that is engaged. It is simply the sustaining of an ongoing clear awareness that is not lost. But for beginners this point can be a little difficult to comprehend.
So for those who are of the capacity to have instantaneous realization of the nature of mind, then this point is taught, this point of non-meditation. But for everyone else it is necessary to meditate.
For those who do not recognize the natural state of the mind, or do not have believe or confidence in their recognition thereof, it is essential to cultivate love and compassion for beings and cultivate devotion to the guru because that cultivation of love or devotion is awareness. And there is a great connection between transcendent awareness and compassion. And so by cultivating love, compassion and devotion, then the natural state will eventually be recognized.
So for those individuals who will realize the view gradually and in stages, it is necessary to cultivate meditation until the meditation is stable.
In general Rinpoche is giving commentary on this section of the text. Let me just back up and read this whole thing so you have the general context “Again and again disrupt quiescence, elation, clarity and flow by abruptly uttering the syllable of means and insight, which by the way is the syllable PEH. And meditative absorbsion and subsequent insights are identical. And the sessions and intervals of meditation and are indistinguishable. Always remain in this state of non-differentiation, while stability and this is developing, however, renounce entertainment and treasure meditation, practice formal meditation set periods and at all times in every situation, and watch the free play of dharmakaya alone.” In this we need to abandon fixation on the phenomena of this life, when the mind is free of fixation of arising thoughts, the meditation will become naturally stable, and until that stabilization arises we need to meditate in secluded places.
So we need to merge our meditative experience that comes in our meditation sessions with our everyday activities. If we don’t have the leisure of remaining for a long time in isolated mountain retreats, still we can devote an entire Sunday, for example on a regular basis to doing retreat practices. We can devote half an hour to concentrated meditation. In fact it is taught that we should engage short sessions again and again many times. So in this way we cultivate an undistracted mind, eventually we will be able to merge that mindful awareness that is cultivated in meditation sessions with all of our ordinary activities. And so if we have the thought “Oh I need to pee”, we don’t just get off the cushion immediately, but rather we look at the mind that’s thinking “I need to pee.” And we look at that mind and cultivate awareness and then within that state of awareness we get up slowly go take our pee. This is the way it should be with all our activities. They should be done conjoined with vigilant mindful awareness, and by doing that we merge meditation and post meditation experience.
To Vincent “You have taught the vajra recitation of the syllables Om Ah Hung?” (Affirmative) So its my own experience that even if I am busy and I am engaged in a lot of hard work, I can still engage the practice of the vajra recitation and this is of extremely great benefit in combining meditation and post meditation experience. When we engage the mental recitation of the syllables Om Ah Hung conjoined with mindful awareness, this is a method for merging mind and wind energies. Once it has been habituated then we always recall it when we are eating, or when we are sleeping, whatever our activities may be. We continue to engage the vajra recitation this is of great benefit when falling asleep at night and when engaged in any other activities. Rinpoche was asking Vincent “Have they learnt this before” and Vincent said “yes indeed he has taught it in the past.” Rinpoche was giving a demonstration on inhale hold and exhale.
End of fourth session.
So yesterday we spoke about these three statements that strike the vital points for the benefit of all the dharma companions who are gathered here, but I would like to comment that in this text of 37 practices of bodhisattvas, which we have in Tibetan, Chinese and English, all of these three statements or precepts are complete. If we read the text again and again we will have insights into the meaning of these three precepts, which are first: an introduction to the nature of mind, second: giving rise to absolute conviction to the practice, and third: having implicit confidence in release or liberation. And so all of the teachings of all of the spiritual guides can be condensed into the text, the 37 practices, likewise the view of Mahamudra, Dzogchen and Madhyamika can also be found in this text.
It is said that first we must rely on the guru and receive what it is that he has to teach, and then in the middle we should rely on the written words of the text, understand that for example all of the teachings are complete in the 37 practices text. Finally we are to rely on the mind itself as the guru, this is really the fruition, when we sustain and hold the natural state of the mind then we can remain in that. And so really our practice needs to go in these three stages, first rely on the outer guru, then relying on the words and written texts then finally relying on the inner guru which is mind itself.
So with regard to a direct introduction into the nature of mind, this is the first of the three precepts but it can also be surmised in the 22nd verse of the 37 practices, which reads, “Appearances are one’s own mind. From the beginning, mind’s nature is free from the extremes of elaboration. Knowing this, not to engage the mind in subject-object duality is the bodhisattvas’ practice.”
So what does it mean when we say, “all appearances are the mind” it means all the phenomena of samsara and nirvana have arisen from the mind, they have been created by the mind. If we look at the phenomena that have been created, they are impermanent and unreal. Likewise if we look at the creator of those phenomena, which is mind, it is like the expanse of the empty sky. So in an instant we give rise to a thought or emotion and we fixate on it as being real and that is the nature of delusion. When we fixate on the creator that is mind, and on the creation that is phenomena, when we fixate on them as real, that is what is referred to as dualistic clinging. But in truth all phenomena are dreamlike, they are illusory. When we understand this, and then although happiness and suffering will continue to arise in our mindstream, they are just instantaneous, momentary appearances that can just as quickly dissipate. So when we understand that all phenomena of samsara and nirvana are created through mind, and that that mind is empty, we understand the first of these three statements regarding to introduction to the nature of mind.
So we have translated this text of 37 practices into Chinese, and if you always refer to this text again and again, you will find an affirmation of all the teachings and instructions you have received from all the spiritual guides. Everything is complete in this text, all of the instructions on the nature of mind can be found in this text. By referring to this text again and again, it helps to give rise to the second of the three precepts; which is absolute conviction in the practice. Really this absolute conviction is based on transcendent awareness. In the Dzogchen context we speak of Rigpa or awareness, and although the terms are different, we should understand them to refer to the same thing. We talk in the text about the wisdom that does not discriminate among the three spheres, and that wisdom is endowed with means, thus we talk about the union of method and wisdom. That method, that skillful means is this loving kindness and compassion, if we have love, then we are free of self-grasping. The mind that is endowed with love is like a self-illuminating lamp flame; it brings about spontaneous benefit for oneself and all others. All of the phenomena of samsara and nirvana have arisen from nothing other than the mind and that mind is the nature of wisdom. The mind is not merely void, it is endowed with clarity, thus we speak of the mind as non-dual union of emptiness and clarity or the union of method and wisdom. This is directly realized when we cultivate skillful means with the wisdom that does not discriminate among the three spheres. And so having been introduced to the natural state of the mind, we give rise to the absolute conviction in the practice through cultivating method and wisdom together.
If we have some understand of the wisdom that does not discriminate among the three spheres, then also we will understand the nature of thoughts. There are many people gathered here in the same room, although we appear in separate distinct forms we have the same basic essence of mind, which is singular in nature. So there are some who understand that nature of mind, there are some who don’t and on the basis of thinking they do not understand. They give rise to doubts and hesitation, wondering what is this mind. And this doubt is one of the four demons, the demon of doubt. We should understand that doubt itself is a manifestation of ignorance or unawareness. If we look inward at the natural state of the mind we will understand the meaning of Buddha Sakyamuni’s words, which are “Sentient beings are Buddhas however they are temporarily obscured.” This temporary obscuration is like water that has been frozen into a harden block. However if the obscurations are cleared away Buddha naturally manifests. When we understand this, then it is like recalling that ice is at the very basis water and it is only temporarily manifesting in a frozen fixed state. So if we search for or investigate the mind, if we look at the mind, we should enquire into what is this temporary obscuration that the Buddha referred to. It is that we are giving rise to many thoughts and emotions one after the next. Those thoughts are what obscure the mind. In the view of Madhyamika, we are taught that that obscuration is empty in nature, it is impermanent and fleeting. And likewise we are taught that there is a clarity aspect of the mind. So the mind is the union of clarity and emptiness. Although the mind is empty we cannot empty out the clarity aspect of the mind. And this is the basis for a lot of debate that takes place in the context of Madhyamika’s study. Yet for our purposes here, we should understand that the thoughts that arise, arise from the mind, thus the thoughts themselves are empty in nature. Yet although they are empty, still they are the basis on which samsara has arisen.
So the essential point that we need to recognize when we engage the actual practice is when we look at natural state of the mind, although thoughts and emotions may suddenly arise, if we have no fixation on them as real, then we abide in the natural state that is free of the extremes of eternalistic and nihilistic views. This is kind of the specialty of the Madhyamika instructions, but really the basis of all of the Madhyamika teachings, is that the mind is the union of clarity and emptiness, and that union of clarity and emptiness is free from these two extreme views of eternalism and nihilism. So although the mind is empty in nature like the expanse of space, it is not nearly empty, it is endowed with clarity. When we understand the emptiness aspect of mind, then this is beyond the view of eternalism. When we understand that the mind is not a mere void, but that it is also endowed the clarity aspect, then this transcends the fault of nihilistic view. This is the basis of Madhyamika teachings.
So what is this thing that we call Buddhahood? If we abide in the natural state of the mind, realizing the wisdom that does not discriminates among the three spheres, then we remain free of fixation. This is the meaning of cultivating empty awareness wisdom. The mind of the Buddhas abides in this state of empty awareness, and within that there is not even a fine hair’s worth of fixation on phenomena as real. It isn’t that the Buddhas make phenomena empty, rather they abide in an ongoing understanding of the empty nature of phenomena. This is a quality or an attribute of the empty essence of mind. With regard to the natural clarity of mind, everyone knows that we continue to hear sounds and see forms and so forth, but when we perceive them abiding in awareness, they are recognized as being dream like and illusory. Thus there is no fixation on phenomena as real or true. What is the benefit of this freedom from fixation? It is that when we see phenomena as dream like, there is no basis for giving rise to attachment, to positive phenomena or experience. We would not cling to the positive experiences in a dream. Likewise there is no basis for giving rise to aversion towards faults or negative experiences. So this freedom from fixation, which is devoid of the fault of attachment and aversion, is the ongoing state of the mind of the Buddhas. All of the qualities of the Buddhas are complete in awareness free of fixation. When we practice meditation, this will be experientially realized.
What is the dividing line between Buddhas and sentient beings? It is whether the essence is realized or not. It is the dividing line between numshe in Tibetan and yeshe or consciousness and awareness. Both of these words have the second syllable “she” in common. When we look at the state of sentient beings, these beings recognize outer objects, outer phenomena, likewise they recognize the inner experiences of happiness and suffering that arise. So that mind that is recognizing outer phenomena and inner phenomena is consciousness. It is a mind endowed with fixation on phenomena as real. It is possessed of attachment and aversion. That is what we refer to as consciousness. On the other side are the Buddhas who not only recognize the arising of inner and outer phenomena but also recognize the recognizer. They know the knower of those arising phenomena and in this way they abide in a state of primordial awareness, which is the union of clarity and emptiness. Which is vast and clear like the expanse of the sky. We can also refer to primordial awareness as being like a flame, thus we speak of the flame of wisdom. What this means is just that there is constant recognition from always remaining within this state of awareness. So through the power of this awareness, inner thoughts and emotions continue to arise but immediately they dissipate. This is the nature of primordial awareness, or this is sometimes translated as wisdom. So when we speak of the so-called wisdom deity, this is what we are talking about. The deity manifests out of this primordial awareness.
So the very words of the Buddha as presented in the Manjushri namasangite are “in a single instant one is distinguished from the Buddhas. In a single instant one is established in fully perfected Buddhahood.” So the difference between these two is whether there is fixation in the mind or not. When we give rise to fixation, in that very instant we are an ordinary sentient being. Yet when we are engaging in practice of awareness, then the moment a thought arises it is recognized and in that very instant that thought is rendered empty. Its empty nature is recognized, and in that very moment you arrive at the state of perfected Buddhahood. Then again you give rise to fixation and the mind becomes obscured by self-grasping and negative emotions and in that instant you are a sentient being.
We speak about the non-dual union of clarity and emptiness and this is when there is not the slightest fixation at all in the mind. Then we are truly cultivating the wisdom that does not discriminate among the three spheres, and this is really the essence of the second of these three precepts about the absolute conviction in the practice. And then this brings us to the third of the three precepts.
So really today we are to focus on the third of the three precepts, which is implicit confidence in release. And in this regard we can look at 36 of the 37 practices which is “In brief, whatever conduct one engages in, one should ask, “What is the state of my mind?” accomplishing others’ purpose through constantly maintaining mindfulness and awareness is the bodhisattvas’ practice.” So when we speak of liberation, what we are really talking about is abiding in a state, which is the union of emptiness and clarity completely free of fixation. And maintaining this awareness in a ceaseless ongoing flow. This was taught by Lord Milarepa about integrating awareness into all activities, if one is eating or drinking, going from one place to anther, lying down, or even taking a piss. We have got to engage mindful awareness. And the way that this is done is by habituating it over a long period of time and once it has been habituated then, it is easy. Until it has been habituated, it is a bit difficult to sustain clear awareness. And it is, as it says in the text, “accomplishing others’ purpose through constantly maintaining mindfulness and awareness” so we should understand that it is through clear awareness that the purpose of others’ is made manifest. It is through awareness that we engage in activities that benefit beings. And so this mind of transcendent awareness is endowed with compassion and the mind of awareness and compassion spontaneous accomplishes beings’ purpose.
So if we want to understand these three precepts, we can again and again refer to the verses in the 37 practices text. If we hold these in our recollection and we can mentally recite them, it will cause the mind to become clearer and clearer. So the first among these three is verse 22 and this relates directly to the first of the three precepts, which is a direct introduction into the nature of mind. So in relation to this the 37 practices text says “Appearances are one’s own mind. From the beginning, mind’s nature is free from the extremes of elaboration. Knowing this, not to engage the mind in subject-object duality is the bodhisattvas’ practice.” So this verse is parallel to the direct introduction. Then with regard to the second of the three precepts, absolute conviction in the practice, this is parallel to verse 30, which reads, “If one lacks wisdom, it is impossible to attain perfect enlightenment through the other five perfections. Thus, cultivating skillful means with the wisdom that does not discriminate among the three spheres is the bodhisattvas’ practice.” And then with regard to the third precept, implicit confidence in release, that is parallel to verse 36. “In brief, whatever conduct one engages in, one should ask, “What is the state of my mind?” accomplishing others’ purpose through constantly maintaining mindfulness and awareness is the bodhisattvas’ practice.” And so if you deeply contemplate these three verses again and again, it will over time give you profound insight into the three precepts that strike the vital point. The mind will become clearer and clearer, so to practice in this way is of great benefit as these words are endowed with great blessing. And you won’t hear that commentary anywhere else. Thank you very much for listening so well to that.
When we engage in practice, we need to exert ourselves strongly in the practice. At the time when we are sitting in meditative absorbsion, it really doesn’t really help in our post meditation activities. But in order to stabilize the mindful awareness, it is said that we need to go to a secluded place and hold moral discipline, which means abandoning attachment, aversion and fixation on them, and then engaging in meditative concentration. But for whatever period of time that we are sitting in meditation, even if its only five minutes, for that period of time we need to exert ourselves, making effort to meditate with clarity. Just as a seed planted in the ground must be nurtured with light and water and so forth in order to yield a flower, and just as that nurturing is ongoing, so too our cultivation of awareness must be without interruption in order to become strong. So when we are in a place of trying to stabilize awareness, it is said that we should have strict sessions and during those sessions really exert ourselves in the practice.
So if we do not know how to apply ourselves to the cultivation of awareness, then whenever difficult conditions arise we fall under their power and in that way we are no different than ordinary beings who are not practicing. So at the time when we are engaging meditation practice, we give rise to clear mindful awareness, but then when we get up from the session and we go about our daily activities, that awareness is lost. Yesterday I gave the example of attachment and aversion, in particular in the context of meditative experience, and we give rise to real attachment and clinging to positive experiences and we have joy and elation when we have such experiences. At the moment we give rise to the elation, our mindful awareness is lost. We have fallen under the power of arising conditions; similarly if we give rise to anger and accumulate karma on the basis of that then we have fallen under the sway of the arising conditions.
So how is it that we can avoid falling under the power of conditions, it is through stabilizing mindful awareness. When we go outside and we engage our daily activities, if we do so with mindfulness then we will become like Milarepa, who sang “Whenever I go from one place to another, I bring all appearances onto the path.” So for example if we are sitting down and suddenly we have the wish to get up and go do something, we should just for a moment look at the mind that wants to get up and do. When we do this, the wish to get up and go dissipates and then within a state free of needing to get up, we can get up and engage our activities. When we want to eat something, we should first just recognize that desire to eat, and then the desire itself is liberated. And within a state of desirelessness eat the food. When we suddenly give rise to anger at something someone has said to us, we can look at that mind of anger and it will dissipate and then we can respond in a state free of anger. In this way by cultivating mindful awareness we can engage all of our activities in a state free of negative emotions. We can enjoy all of the five objects of senses pleasure in a state free of fixation. This is what it means to mix awareness with conduct.
At the time when we are engaging activities, we should do so in the context of the Tregchod practice or the practice of destroying delusion. So what is this Dzogchen view of Tregchod, it is when the mind is abiding in a state free of fixation on negative emotions as being real. So for example when you are extremely hungry and then you see food, you immediately want to eat it so that you mouth starts watering, and if in that moment you look at the desire to eat, the desire itself dissipates. In this way you directly cut through the fixation. That is what we call Tregchod or the direct cutting through. We also use this term “Trushak” in Tibetan, which means destroying delusion. And so for example if you taste something and it tastes so delicious to you, in that moment you should think, its not that this food is ultimately delicious because for someone else it doesn’t taste the same way. I see it as delicious because I have been habituated in that way from an early age, if it was ultimately delicious, everyone would think it was delicious. So in this way my notion that this food is so delicious, it is delusion. So when I recognize my habituated perception as delusion, then I can let go of it and I can eat whatever is healthy, whatever supports the health of the body without creating a lot of distinction between delicious and not delicious. In this way, I destroy my delusive fixation. Then I can enjoy whatever food I eat, as I would enjoy partaking of the five nectars.
These teachings on Tregchod and destroying delusions can be understood in another way, whenever we give rise to attachment and aversion and we have fixation on them, that fixation obscures the mind. If we recognize the fixation, through the power of our meditation or our awareness, the fixation itself dissipates and then it does not obscure the mind. If we have pure water for example and we pour milk into it, the water becomes clouded, it is obscured and in a similar way, fixation on negative emotions obscures the mind. If we give rise to great anger and then we recognize the anger, it is purified through the recognition. So we should understand that the fixation is what obscures the mind and when we are free of fixation, negative emotions are spontaneously purified. The awareness that we cultivate is like a flame that burns away the fuel of all arising afflictions. In this way although anger may arise, it does no harm at all. When the anger is recognized with awareness, it is rendered impotent, there is no sensation, there is no feeling associated with the anger, this is what is meant by destroying delusion. If on the other hand we fixate on the anger and we remain in a state of fixation that is the very essence of delusion. Now it is through engaging the practice of the natural state that you will experience, you will understand experientially what I am talking about. When you are in a state free of fixation, there is nothing that can arise that obscures the mind, this is what is meant by destroying delusion.
If we remain without separating from awareness that is the union of clarity and emptiness, then it will be as stated in the text, “At all times and in every situation, watch the free play of Dharmakaya alone. Convinced that there is nothing other than that”. Abiding in this awareness is the medicine that cures 100 different illnesses. This is the inseparable union of Shamatha and Vispasana or calm abiding and special insight. With regards to calm abiding, it is whenever thoughts and delusions arise and the mind is completely free of fixation on them. They are naturally purified or pacified, within that state of pacification, we see the clear nature of the mind and that seeing is the special insight or Vispasana. So within this, what is translated as the free play of Dharmakaya in the text; within that state all of the teachings are complete, all of the paths are combined, the entire practice of Shamatha and Vispasana, all of the essential points of the Buddhist’s teachings are included within that. Thus the text says, “Watch the free play of the Dharmakaya alone. Convinced that there is nothing other than that”.
So whoever we are speaking of whether its practitioners of Chinese Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, whether we are talking about the various classes of tantric practice or the different tenet systems or view systems, if we understand the essential nature of mind, everyone accepts that. Among all the different types of Buddhist teachings and practices, there is no one who does not accept the essential basic nature or unfabricated spontaneously arisen Dharmada.
When we recognize the natural state of our own mind, we will give rise to a real believe in the mind itself. So although there are many examples of the mind and countless teachings on the mind given in the context of Madhyamika, Mahamudra and Dzogchen, still we don’t need to follow other pith instructions. When we have given rise to real believe and faith in the nature of mind that we have seen, thus it is possible to generate true faith in our own transcendent awareness.
Whether we are talking about the vows of individual liberation, the bodhisattva vows or the secret mantra samayas, although there are countless commitments and precepts, which are taught, all of them are combined within sustaining the view. All of them are preserved and protected by sustaining the view. And so although there are countless precepts for individual liberation, many different training of the bodhisattvas, and innumerable secret mantra samayas, the basis is that if we are free of negative emotions, we do not violate any of the vows or commitments. On the other hand if we give rise to dualistic fixation, then on the basis of that deluded mind, we create karma, which violates the vows. Yet if we are free of dualistic fixation and negative emotions, all of the vows are naturally preserved.
How is it that these three vows are preserved through maintaining awareness? First it is important that we understand the essence of three types of vow. So with regards to the individual liberation vows, in brief the essence of all of them is to abandon whatever that does harm to others. So what is it that harms others? It is self-cherishing. If we abide in the view, there is no self to be cherished. There is no dualist view of self and other. And so by abiding in the view we naturally preserve the vows of individual liberation. With regard to the bodhisattva’s vow, the essence is to engage in activities that bring benefit to others. So when we abide in awareness, we give rise to unobjectified great compassion, or a great compassion without any reference point. Since the mind is the union of emptiness and compassion, when we abide in empty awareness, compassion is present. Thus within that cultivation of awareness the bodhisattva’s vows are complete. Finally with regards to the samayas of secret mantra, it is said there are millions and billions of such samayas, but they can all be condensed into the samayas of Buddha’s body, speech and mind. With regard to the samaya of enlightened form (body), this is really to see appearances as empty. This is done by abiding in Rigpa or in awareness. When we are free of fixation, no matter how many magical appearances may manifest, we see them as natural manifestations of appearance inseparable from emptiness. With regard to the samaya of awaken speech, this is when no matter what sounds we may hear, through abiding in awareness, we recognize their empty nature. If someone praises us, if someone speaks ill of us, there is no fixation to those positive and negative manifestations, they are simply arisings of the union of sound and emptiness. In this way when we are free of fixation on speech and on sounds we are maintaining the secret samaya of awaken speech. Finally we speak about the adamantine awareness and emptiness that is awakened mind and this is really the principle of all the secret mantra samayas. What does it mean when we say adamantine or vajra, we are really talking about, when we abide in awareness that is the union of clarity and emptiness, no matter what arises there isn’t the slightest fixation of any phenomenon as real. In this way by sustaining awareness, all of the three principle types of secret mantra are combined, as are all of the three different kinds of vows. So you should investigate this for yourself and see, is this in fact the case or is it not?
All of the Buddha’s teachings are complete in the sustaining of awareness, thus we are again looking at the line in the text, which says, “Watch the free play of the Dharmakaya alone. Convinced that there is nothing other than that”. And so from the time that we take Buddhist refuge and engage the preliminary practices, through guru yoga and through all of the generation and completion stage yogas, the meaning and the intent of all of them is to realize the natural state of our mind, that is the purpose of all of the practices. We take refuge in the three jewels of Buddha, dharma and sangha in order to liberate ourselves from samsara. But what is it that truly liberates oneself from samsara? It is being free of the negative emotions that are arisen from self-grasping. This is accomplished through abiding in awareness, when we remain in a natural state self-grasping is naturally liberated and at that moment mind itself is nothing other than Buddha. All of the 84,000 aggregates of the teachings come down to loving kindness and compassion. So when we are cultivating awareness, there is an unobjectified compassion or compassion without reference point, that is inseparable from awareness. So through engaging this we realize that all of the three jewels of Buddha dharma and sangha are complete in our body mind continuum. So again through cultivating awareness endowed with compassion all of the preliminary practices are understood, likewise the inner meaning of the generation stage yogas is understood. The fruition of generation stage practice is that we realize the union of emptiness and appearance as the form of the deity and we realize all sounds as the union of sound and emptiness through the recitation of the mantra. So no matter what aspect or level of practice we are engaged in, the preliminary, generation and completion, they are rooted in the recognition of mind’s nature and are combined in that.
End of fifth session.