For the lecture today I want to read from a scripture and make a few small comments about the text. Normally when we give a lecture in, we pick a particular topic and explain that topic or discuss it at some length, but given the context of this retreat there is a particular text that is very powerful and I thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce it to you. It is a scripture that you will be able to study throughout your life because it is so profound. However, being an ordinary person my own insight into it will be very limited.
The text comes from Tibetan Buddhism-or at least the version that I am going to read to you-but its actual age is unknown. It is very ancient. The text is most known as one of the scriptures in what Westerners call "The Tibetan Book of the Dead" but that is not the actual name of the scripture; it is much older than that particular title (which was given to it by the first to translate it into English). I will explain the actual title shortly.
The text is most known in association to Padmasambhava, whose story we heard a brief portion of last night (we read aloud from chapter one of The Lotus Born). This particular scripture comes from India and was brought into Tibet by Padmasambhava many, many years ago and translated from Sanskrit into Tibetan; then it was hidden from the Tibetans for a long time because of the potent nature of the text. Padmasambhava knew people were not ready to comprehend it.
After many centuries passed, one man saw in a vision where this text had been buried in the mountains, so following the symbols of his vision he went out into the mountains and found this text buried under some rocks. That is how it was revealed and since that time it has become a staple scripture of all the Tibetan schools.
Generally, this text is read aloud to the gathered monks who will sit and listen in a state of mediation; when the reading is complete they will meditate in silence for a period of time. Then the text is read again and they meditate again, and this cycle repeats and goes on. The reason is that the text points directly at the nature of mind and it is only in a state of, free of the , where we can really comprehend the nature of this teaching. So it is a good idea for all of us to begin to focus our minds, to relax, and bring about that meditative concentration so we can do our best to receive this knowledge in as pure a way as we can.
I also warn you that the concepts that are discussed here are very challenging. You may find that your mind reacts, it responds, sometimes with wonder, sometimes with doubt, sometimes with indifference, and it is these reactions of your own mind that are very important for you to notice. It is those places where your mind has obstacles, has resistance where you need to learn something, and this is part of the value of the text and part of the reason why it is read to monks and nuns.
As a short preamble it is useful for us to put this text in context with. In this particular retreat we have had some discussion of Tibetan Buddhism and there is a certain presence of that teaching also in the retreat store and in the flavor of some of the lectures. This is because Tibetan Buddhism has particular forms of wisdom, and particular keys that can be very useful for all of us, but it is not to say that is Tibetan Buddhism: it is not. is much older. Tibetan Buddhism is a very beautiful form of in the same way that Zen, or the Aztec mysticism, or Christianity, are all beautiful forms of , different forms. So when we are studying texts such as this one or we study masters such as Padmasambhava, or the Buddha, we are studying them in the same way that we study Quetzalcoatl, or we study Mohammed, or we study Jesus; it is important to make that distinction.
There are many things inthat are not in Tibetan Buddhism, and there are many things in Tibetan Buddhism that are not in . What we try to do as students is to strip away everything that is superfluous, everything that is extra, to get to the heart, to get to the real meaning, the real content.
Those who have been infor some time can attest to the difference between the way is taught in the books of and the way it is taught in the schools. This is because each instructor and each school has their own level of understanding and their own means of teaching, and they are all different. The same is true of other religions and other movements. This is why we have to always seek to go to the source, to clarify our own understanding, to make sure that when we are studying the teaching and studying the knowledge that we are aware of what is original and what is added.
So by reading this text I am not suggesting that we should add it toor that somehow should be like Tibetan Buddhism. Reading this text is to find what is useful in any religion, in any teaching.
In English, this text is called the Introduction to Awareness: Natural Liberation Through Naked Perception and is excerpted from a longer series, which is called Peaceful and Wrathful Deities, a Profound Sacred Teaching Entitled Natural Liberation Through Recognition of Enlightened Intention.
(Sometimes we have copies of the book available, which you can get here):
I am not going to read you the entire text they way it would normally be read on retreat, because I think that to do that we would have to actually be inand in a state where we can receive it in context. So what I will do is read portions and then we will discuss those portions.
Open your mind; let go of your preconceptions, and listen closely:
Though the single [nature of] mind which completely pervades both cyclic existence and nirvana,
has been naturally present from the beginning, you have not recognized it.
Even though its radiance and awareness have never been interrupted,
you have not yet encountered its true face.
Even though it arises unimpededly in every facet [of existence],
you have not as yet recognized [this single nature of mind].
In order that this [single] nature might be recognized by you,
the Conquerors of the three times have taught an inconceivably [vast number of practices],
including the eighty-four thousand aspects of the [sacred] teachings.
Yet, [despite this diversity], not even one of these [teachings] has been given by the Conquerers,
outside the context of an understanding of this nature!
[And even] though there are inestimable volumes of sacred writings, equally vast as the limits of space,
actually, [these teachings] can be succinctly expressed in a few words, which are the Introduction to Awareness.
Often in, the instructors and the books repeatedly emphasize the importance of developing moment-to-moment concentration and awareness. This passage is stating the same thing. The sacred teachings have innumerable forms, which is clearly visible to all of us who study . There is a myriad diversity of the teachings of wisdom that have been received by humanity, but all of them can be expressed in one thing, which is to awaken now, in this moment, to be awake, to pay attention, to not be distracted. And in that is the door to all of those myriad of teachings, and without that understanding of awareness, all of those teachings will forever remain obscure. That is how important developing moment-to-moment attentiveness truly is.
O fortunate children, listen to these words!
The term 'mind' is commonplace and widely used,
yet there are those who do not understand [its meaning],
those who falsely understand it, those who partially understand it,
and those who have not quite understood its genuine reality.
Thus there has arisen an inconceivably vast number of assertions [as to the nature of mind],
posited by [the various] philosophical systems.
Further, since ordinary persons do not understand [the meaning of the term mind],
and do not intuitively recognize its nature,
they continue to roam through the six classes of sentient [rebirth] within the three world systems,
and consequently experience suffering.
This is the fault of not understanding this intrinsic nature of mind.
As students of a teaching like this we are presented with many different ways of understanding our own. You can see this in just the few days we have had at this retreat. We have been presented with a variety of practices, and a variety of terms, all of which have certain usefulness and abilities that we can take advantage of. Yet if we don't clearly understand what the is, then these practices can be very confusing. In fact, sometimes they can seem useless; we may not see the point of them, the usefulness of them.
So once again we have to return to that original point: what is the nature of mind? Not another person's mind but our own.
When we in this moment look into our own mind: what is the nature of that?
What is the nature of our experience from moment-to moment?
How do we interrelate with everything that we perceive?
What is functioning there?
What are the dynamics?
This is the understanding that we need. It is not sufficient to memorize complicated theories, nor is it sufficient to become an expert in various philosophies. The great importance is for us as individuals to discover our own nature, and we are the only ones who can do it, and the only way we can is now.
In each activity, in each moment, regardless of what is happening outside or inside, we need to maintain consistent mindfulness, consistent awareness, persistent endeavor to always maintain that watchful point of view, whether things are peaceful or agitated. In doing so we are confronted with many different phenomenon that can be somewhat bewildering.
is the critical practice within which we put ourselves in a state of calm in order to have an active , which can actively perceive the true nature of the mind. In this state of , there is passivity of the body, there is passivity of thought, passivity of emotion, and passivity of sensation, within the midst of which must be the activity of awareness, and that state can only arise through our own cultivation of it.
Part of what this text presents to us is that the state of ever-present watchfulness is eternal yet we do not recognize it; we forget, we become distracted. More than likely even in the context of this brief discussion we may find that the mind takes us off to some other place to think about some other thing and then we come back and realize we have lost the thread, the continuity of the talk; this demonstrates the challenge that we have, the difficulty that we have to deal with our own mind. It takes tremendous vigilance, but we must be unrelenting in order to comprehend the nature of our own experience.
In the state of- actual , not mere concentration-the goal or the purpose is to present ourselves with the true nature of our experience. So long as our mind is distracted and bouncing between all the different surging elements that arise from moment-to-moment we cannot maintain a consistent, perceptive point of view that can penetrate into the true nature of any given thing. So we do all the concentration practices and all the other activities to cultivate that state of rest so that within that place we can then turn back and look into the mind itself, look into the itself. Some of us may have tasted this or experienced it to some degree. The text that I am going to read next is related to that experience, to that experience of having enough stability to actually perceive how thoughts arise, how they are sustained, and how they are dispersed or how they dissolve. So reflect and look into yourself now and observe how every given element-whether from inside or outside-has this process of arising and passing, and look to that as I read this section.
The following is the introduction [to the means of experiencing] this [single] nature [of mind]
through the application of three considerations.
[First, recognize that] past thoughts are traceless, clear, and empty.
[Second, recognize that] future thoughts are unproduced and fresh,
And [third, recognize that] the present moment abides naturally and unconstructed.
When this ordinary, momentary is examined nakedly [and directly] by oneself,
upon examination, it is a radiant awareness,
which is free from the presence of an observer,
manifestly stark and clear,
completely empty and uncreated in all respects,
lucid without duality of radiance and emptiness,
not permanent, for it is lacking inherent existence in all respects,
not a mere nothingness, for it is radiant and clear,
not a single entity, for it is clearly perceptible as a multiplicity,
yet not existing inherently as a multiplicity, for it is indivisible and of a single savour.
This intrinsic awareness, which is not extraneously derived,
is itself the genuine introduction to the abiding nature of [all] things.
For in this intrinsic awareness the three Buddha bodies are inseparable and fully present as one.
When we become distracted-engaged in the random nature of thought, or carried along by that flowing torrent of emotion that changes in quality from moment-to-moment, from calm and cool to passion to doubt, to fear-these torrents prevent us from perceiving the luminous and clear, unobstructed nature of our own Buddha essence, our own. This is why we study .
The practice ofis where we sit calmly, we close our eyes to external sight, we close our attention to any given phenomenon outside of the object we are directing our attention towards, and in that way we focus our attention, we focus our awareness. The ultimate point of this is to be able see the nature of that awareness itself, to see the nature of that mind in itself as it exists without any artifice, without any bottle, without any filter.
The arrival of this experience can only occur when we are willing to give up, renounce, to walk away from all the things that distract us all the rest of the time-and here is the problem: we don't want to. By some strange magic, we love to be distracted. By some strange phenomenon, we enjoy it when we suffer; otherwise, if we truly do not enjoy it, why do we continue to perpetuate our suffering?
For example, if we are truly tired of suffering from our anger, why do we continue to become angry? Why can we not recognize that anger is suffering and refuse to accommodate it? Yet when anger arises, we accommodate it-in fact, we welcome it, we feed it, we stimulate it, we nourish it, we keep it alive.
Within each of our minds are elements of memory, events that have occurred to us in the past that we will not let go. It may be something someone said or something that someone did that we keep alive in our mind. When it arises in our memories and our thoughts, we sustain it. We think to ourselves, "Oh yes, what that guy said to me was wrong. He was not doing something good. He treated me badly." Thus we invest more energy into that memory, into that thought, into that feeling, and that collection of energy becomes a filter that prevents us from seeing what actually happened at that time and what is actually happening now.
Suffering is a self-perpetuated cycle. The beginning of it is in the moment that the original event occurred. The impressions of a given situation struck our senses and produced a vibration which resounded within our entire psyche: something someone said or did which offended us, which hurt our feelings, which made us feel that we were not being respected, or not being valued, or not being understood. In that instant we ourselves created a formation in our mind whose construction was designed by ourselves and whose purpose was to sustain the mistaken perception of reality. This is a very important facet. We do not perceive reality because we choose not to see it. We do not comprehend the nature of mind because we do not want to.
Anger is a desire; it is not only a desire to inflict revenge, to get back at someone, it is also a desire to sustain that mistaken sense of self, to keep it alive, to perpetuate our own sense of what happened or what is happening. And this is the single cause of the state of this world: that simple transformation that happens in a moment and then is perpetuated in the psyche of each person. Of course this happens not only with anger, it happens with pride, it happens with fear, it happens with gluttony, with greed, with envy, with jealousy. It happens with such a multiplicity of psychological elements that the mind, the so-called "sense of self" becomes a very sophisticated and complex structure and we become deeply confused.
This is why inand in other traditions the emphasis is placed so strongly on paying attention. This is not merely a superficial exercise; it is not merely something interesting. It is completely essential.
As you remember in the text, the writer states that all of the beings who are circulating throughout all the worlds suffer simply because they do not understand the nature of mind-or in Gnostic terms, the nature of. All suffering is caused by mistaken perception. Every creature who suffers, suffers for that cause. This is a very deep, deep thing to comprehend in yourself.
In each moment there are transformations happening regardless of the circumstances. Whether you are in a peaceful place such as this or in a chaotic place such as a big city, your psyche is receiving and transforming energy, but what makes the difference is how you maintain awareness of it.
If we continue living the way we have been, then we will continue creating problems for ourselves and other people.
The moment-to-moment effort to concentrate ourselves and maintain awareness of our own perception is the fundamental basis of any spiritual practice, no matter what you call it. This is partly why in the Gnostic tradition you will meet and encounter students that have come from every possible walk of like, every possible profession, every possible religion, because the essential nature of this teaching is universal. This science is studied by all levels of beings-not merely in this physical world, but in other worlds, because its knowledge and its potency is so profound.
There is a story aboutthat is related to this. While giving a lecture he began to go into some topic that no one in the audience could comprehend; then he stopped and apologized and said that he was addressing the Gods who were attending the lecture.
This emphasizes for us the nature of the teaching: even if we have been in the teaching or studying this material for a long time, we are not done. We are only done when suffering has been eradicated, when our ownis no longer there; then we are done. Until that time we are all of us equals, brothers and sisters, friends in the house of Aquarius.
We are all ordinary people. Fortunately we can help each other by meeting in a context like this. We can discuss these teachings and try to arrive at a mutual understanding, but the best thing that we can do is to apply the science from moment to moment, to meditate, to look inside of our own experience in each moment.
When the introduction is powerfully applied in accordance with the [above] method for entering into this [reality]:
one's own immediate is this very [reality]!
[Abiding] in this [reality], which is uncontrived and naturally radiant,
how can one say that one does not understand the nature of mind?
[Abiding] in this [reality], wherein there is nothing on which to meditate,
how can one say that by having entered into one was not successful?
[Abiding] in this [reality], which is one's own actual awareness itself,
how can one say that one could not find one's own mind?
[Abiding] in this [reality], the uninterrupted [union] of radiance and awareness,
how can one say that the [true] face of mind has not been seen?
[Abiding] in this [reality], which is itself the cognizer,
how can one say that, though sought, this [cognizer] could not be found?
[Abiding] in this [reality], where there is nothing at all to be done,
how can one say that, whatever one did, one did not succeed?
Given that it is sufficient to leave [this awareness] as it is,
how can one say that one could not continue to abide [in that state]?
Given that it is sufficient to leave it as it is, without doing anything whatsoever,
how can one say that one could not do just that?
Given that, within this [reality], radiance, awareness, and emptiness are inseparable and spontaneously present,
how can one say that, by having practiced, one attained nothing?
Given that [this reality] is naturally originating and spontaneously present, without causes or conditions,
how can one say that, by having made the effort [to find it], one was incapable of success?
Given that the arising and liberation of conceptual thoughts occurs simultaneously,
how can one say that, by having applied this antidote to conceptual thoughts, one was not effective?
[Abiding] in this immediate itself,
how can one say that one does not know this [reality]?
When we say that we do not know how to meditate, that we are not having success in, or that we do not understand , the fault lies not in the system. The fault does not lie in the school, or the instructor, or the book. The fault lies in our own mistaken perception. Every existing sentient creature has within itself an uncontrived, naturally present awareness, and it is the simple and pure activity of that conscious present awareness that is in itself the state of mediation.
It becomes contrived when it becomes trapped in a thought. It becomes contrived when it becomes trapped in emotion or sensation. But when the, when the awareness is in itself natural, free, unfiltered, and unmodified, it is in itself the state of .
So it is actually quite simple.itself is the simplest thing there is because it is simply the state of being, the state of existence in its natural state. This is the state of Dhyana, which is a state in which there is no I; there is only awareness.
This text stated that there is not even an observer: there is simply awareness. The understanding of that is something that you will have to experience. It cannot be explained; it has to be understood.
When we are receiving lectures and talks, and studying books about how to maintain continual observance of ourselves, or how to concentrate and comprehend any given psychological element, really it all comes down to the same simple thing: Be. Don't think; don't become distracted; be pure awareness, because that it your true nature. That is the true nature of every existing thing.
Unfortunately, we have forgotten that and we have built a very elaborate castle within which we hide and have become trapped due to habituation. That castle has our given name, it has all the attributes through Karma. But our awareness itself does not have that name. Our root awareness does not suffer from doubt, it does not suffer from shame, it does not suffer from resentment, or envy.
Our root awareness, our profound, pristine nature of mind it just that: simple, uncontrived love. Pure.
You can access that nature state of being in any moment. You do not have to come to a place like this to access your true nature of mind. Neither do you have to have a big library or live in a particular place, or have a particular body shape or hair color or be male or be female.
Every existing thing can access and utilize this root awareness, because it is the natural state of our inner self.
Most existing creatures-such as these birds, the trees, the grass, even the water-exist in and of themselves, as they are. They are not contrived; they do not presume anything: they are not pretentious. They simply are what they are. The goal and purpose of our studies is to become that, to stop lying to ourselves: to be what we truly are. But, to be what we truly are, we first have to not be what we have become.
It is vital to let go all of the false notions that we have, but to do it now. The work on thedoes not begin in the future. It does not begin when we meditate. It does not begin when we read a certain book. It begins the instant we remember we are not that. The work on the begins the moment we are not the .
In the instant when a situation of anger occurs and someone criticizes us or we become ashamed or embarrassed, in that instant we should separate the awareness-our true nature-from that discursive emotion, and recognize that emotion for what it is: a contrivance, a falsehood, a lie, an illusion. That separation begins our comprehension.
Comprehension begins the instant we are in that natural state, the instant we are ourselves, we are authentic, we are genuine, real, no contrivance, nothing false. This is where comprehension begins.
When we study the, often times our attention is focussed on things like anger, , envy, and some students become almost obsessed with identifying and discovering these sort of negative psychological manifestations. But it is necessary for us to mature beyond that.
Our true nature, our true identity, is neither good nor evil. Our true nature simply is. It simply is. Any form of duality is below the true nature of mind, and this becomes very tricky for our intellect to understand.
It is easy to become distracted by all the different concepts of mind, the philosophies, the theories-duality versus non-duality, absolute versus non-absolute, conceptual versus non-conceptual-but the experience tells all. The actual experience of the nature of mind will clarify all of those apparent contradictions.
This is why when you study someone likeor Padmasambhava you find that their teaching goes well beyond mere duality, it goes well beyond mere labeling of psychological elements. They may use labels from time to time to communicate to us, but the actual experience of the mind is far beyond any label.
In a state of, when that naked perception is active and free and perceives in its vision any given psychological error-whether it is an error that looks good or looks bad-the true nature of that error becomes apparent, it becomes clear, it is revealed as what it is: an illusion, a dew drop, a mirage, a bubble, a cloud.
This is what we can see in the great serenity of the Buddha's face, in the great vast mind that expresses this kinds of wisdom where we cannot find an I, whether good nor bad. There is just wisdom, something inexpressible, something indescribable. That is what is in the heart of our own experience, and that is something we can taste and experience if we make the effort.
The next section is called Observations Related to Examining the Nature of Mind. So once again, relax yourself. Don't think. Just become awareness; just listen. Try to digest this without comparing.
Be certain that the nature of mind is empty and without foundation.
One's own mind is insubstantial like an empty sky.
Look at your own mind to see whether it is like that or not.
What happens between thoughts? What is there? Look into yourself and look for that place.
What is there between thoughts?
What is there between emotions?
What is there between sensations?
Nothing, and yet something. That is the nature of your mind.
Simple, pure, uncontrived awareness.
Divorced from views which constructively determine [the nature of] emptiness,
be certain that pristine cognition, naturally originating, is primordially radiant -
just like the nucleus of the Sun, which is itself naturally originating.
Look at your own mind to see whether it is like that or not!
Be certain that this awareness, which is pristine cognition, is uninterrupted,
like the coursing central torrent of a river which flows unceasingly.
Look at your own mind to see whether it is like that or not!
Be certain that conceptual thoughts and fleeting memories are not strictly identifiable,
but insubstantial in their motion, like the breezes of the atmosphere.
Look at your own mind to see whether it is like that or not!
Be certain that all that appears is naturally manifest [in the mind],
like the images in the mirror which [also] appear naturally.
Look at your own mind to see whether it is like that or not!
Be certain that all characteristics are liberated right where they are,
like the clouds of the atmosphere, naturally originating and naturally dissolving.
Look at your own mind to see whether it is like that or not!
The Master The Revolution of the Dialectic that if we stop thinking on a problem, the problem goes away. This is cause for some debate, but it is a fact. Our problems persist because we do not let go of them. Our conflicts persist because we grasp them as if they were real-and believe it or not, the same is true of pain. The same is true of most forms of suffering.stated in the book
If we have the capacity to not identify, to be serene, to just be the, then we can perceive that our thoughts arise, persist for a moment, and then naturally dissolve; but to see that, you cannot be identified. You have to be aware.
If you are identified with a thought then there appears to be a continual stream of thinking because you continue to be identified from one thought to another thought, and then to another associated thought, and then to some other thought, continually. This continual identification creates the illusion of continuity. It creates the illusion of having wakeful. It is the illusion that we call "life" but which is actually a dream.
This stream of thoughts, feelings and sensations is what we incall chatter; this is what we call our psychological song.
This stream of thoughts, feelings and sensations is what we mistakenly call "ourselves," but it is not. It is simply a regurgitation of elements that are foreign to our true nature; of elements that we ourselves built and hold on to. These elements produce suffering, and we ourselves originate it.
Theis not a creation of God; our suffering is not a creation of God: it is a creation of our own hands, and we perpetuate it with our own hands, with our own action.
Learning to separate your awareness, to not become identified with any sensation, any emotion, with any thought, is your own direct introduction to the true nature of mind, which is simply a state of being. That state of being has many levels; it is not the same for everyone.
Our state of being is relative to our developed degree of, which right now is about 3%, which is very small. The rest of our true nature is trapped, but even that trapped nature is as of yet undeveloped. Even as we begin to free it, it still needs development. That root nature in us is simply the Buddha nature: it is the potentiality to become a Buddha, but it is not a Buddha. When we develop that nature of mind, when that nature of mind acquires cognizance of itself, then a Buddha is born.
When the text says the nature of mind is empty, anyone of us can verify that at our own level when we look to see what is there between thoughts. What is there in those instants-however brief-when a thought does not arise? That is precisely the experience that we need to become very familiar with. That is; that is . Simple, pure, directed attention, uncontrived, beautiful.
By understanding through direct experience that state of, we can grasp what meant when he said if we stop thinking on a problem it goes away.
When you face some difficulty and become identified, you make the problem worse, whatever the problem is, whether it is simple or complex.
Identification has many forms (equivalent to the many forms of the) but as a simple example we can say that if you see that your mind is obsessively thinking about something, you are identified.
If you can see that your emotions are consistently churned up, then you are identified.
If you are tense, you are identified. If you have some physical discomfort which has no apparent cause then it is likely that you are simply identified: uncognizant, unaware.
The natural state of the mind is a state of perfect relaxation. From that state of mind-no matter what event arises, whether internal or external-that nature of mind does not become identified, and thus that experience arises, sustains itself, and passes away. The mind itself remains serene.
In that way you can see that the mind itself is empty. You can see that it has no inherent nature, and yet it has inherent existence, so it appears contradictory. Nonetheless it is a state of equanimity, a state of natural serenity that can never be contrived, that can never be faked. It can only arise of its own nature when there is no contrivance, no falsity, no pretension.
Now we are going to go a little bit deeper briefly and here is where you may start to see a little more contradiction, so you have to be very attentive.
There are no phenomenon extraneous to those that originate from the mind.
[So], how could there be anything on which to meditate apart from the mind?
There are no phenomenon extraneous to those that originate from the mind.
[So], there are no modes of conduct to be undertaken extraneous [to those that originate from the mind].
There are no phenomenon extraneous to those that originate from the mind.
[So], there are no commitments to be kept extraneous [to those that originate from the mind].
There are no phenomenon extraneous to those that originate from the mind.
[So], there are no results to be attained extraneous [to those that originate from the mind].
There are no phenomenon extraneous to those that originate from the mind.
[So], one should observe one's mind, looking into its nature again and again.
If, upon looking outwards towards the external expanse of the sky,
there are no projections emanated by the mind,
and if, on looking inwards at one's own mind,
there is no projectionist who projects [thoughts] by thinking them,
then, one's own mind, completely free from conceptual projections, will be luminously clear.
That is. No projectionist. No illusion.
Maya, which is a term we've all heard, is a word that's often used to express the idea that phenomenon or nature is illusion, but there is something very deep that must be understood about Maya: it is self-produced. No one outside of ourselves imposed ignorance upon us.
What the text is saying is that everything that arises, without exception, arises because of our own state of mind. Every thought, every emotion, every sensation is self-produced. So how can we look for blame outside? How can we look for a solution outside? We cannot.
The source, the cause is our own mistaken perception. The solution is our own naked perception, liberated from contrivance, liberated from pride, liberated from anger, and from, and all the other elements about which we know.
Thus the text indicates: since all things emerge from the mind and dissolve into the mind, look always into the nature of mind, that is: into the nature of your own psyche.
Part of the mistake that we make is that we are always looking outside. If we are single, we have the mistaken perception that we will only be happy when we are in a couple, and those who are in couples know how much they are suffering and want to be single again. [laughter]
So there is this circle, there is a cycle of self-perpetuated mistaken views.
If you recall, one of the hallmarks of the teaching the Buddha gave is called Right View. It is actually the first of the eight steps of the path. That point of view, Right View, is the understanding of the empty nature of the mind. It is not simply what we would callif we were studying it in a very basic level. Rather, it is true , which is the active presence of the true nature of self, which is uncontrived, naked, without an I, without any preconceived filter, without any preconceived notion, looking at everything as if it were new, looking at every phenomenon as if it has never been seen before.
Some of you have seen me just for a few days. Some of you have seen me for ten years or more. Does your mind think that since you have seen me once you have already seen me? Thus you assume that know what I am, you know what I look like, you know what I am like, you know how I am. This is a lie that your own mind produces. Nothing is static. Nothing is immutable: everything is changing, and nothing is as we assume it to be, yet we assume. Nowhere is this illusion more powerful than in the assumption we make about our own selves. We believe we know ourselves already, and we are so wrong.
The effort then becomes to let go of assumptions, to forget contrivances, to forget our self interest and instead, to just be, to perceive, to be receptive. This natural state of mind-which is luminous and clear-is pure, unaltered, raw perception.
If in this moment we fully feel that state and become that, then we cannot be thinking about a problem, we cannot be worried about the future, we can only be there perceiving, receiving.
You know that the Hebrew wordcomes from Kabbel, which means "to receive." That reception is not just in the intellect, in studying books in studying lectures. It is not just in the heart believing or not believing. It is not just in the motor brain by behaving or acting like a Kabbalist. It is in being a perceiver. Real arrives through actively, consciously perceiving each individual instant in its unaltered form, and it is from that place that the doors of clairvoyance and intuition will open, and it is from that place that true Kabbel can occur.
You see, when we are contrived, when we are carrying around our mask (the false) and we are encapsulated in that shell of our "sense of self," then the true nature of reality cannot be seen because we refuse to see it. Think on that.
We are all attracted to this teaching because we sense that there is something beyond the physical senses. Unanimously we agree that there is something more than just what people say and what people believe. We have all had some experience that tells us that there is a reality beyond this simple physical matter. But then comes the moment when we realize we cannot see it. We cannot access it. We are trying to meditate and we cannot. We are trying to get our of the body and we cannot. We are trying to understand what God wants from us and we do not understand. And so we go here and there and everywhere asking for advice, reading different books, finding new websites, studying new theories, new philosophies, adopting new practices, but all the while, the problem is inside. The problem is that we do not look with unfiltered vision.
This is addressed by a beautiful aspect of the Zen teaching. Zen philosophy, Zen art and even Taoism clearly express the need to just be, to be oneself, to be what one is, to observe, to experience things as they are. To the true nature of mind, we need to not be seeking in books, schools, lectures, and philosophies, but to be seeking in our experience of the moment.
Look at the place you are in. Can you perceive the nature of this moment free of any artifice?
I tell you that you can, but only if you will it. Only if you are willing to let go of all those residual emotions which are grasping at you and which you in turn grasp at: different desires, different emotions, different longings, cravings, memories, worries about the future, hopes for the future. All of those things prevent you from seeing what is.
The longing to experienceis beneficial, it is what drives us, inspires us, but it can become a problem when we become identified it. When that craving to experience Samadhi or to get out of the body becomes too strong we stop seeing reality.
The fact is that anyone of us can enter the state of Dhyana right now.
There is nothing preventing you from experiencing Samadhi except your own perception.
There is nothing preventing you from getting out of the body except for your own perception.
Each one of us becomes identified from moment-to-moment with this or that. And thus the text repeats and repeats and repeats:
Look to the nature of your own mind.
Look to the nature of your own mind.
Free yourself from artifice.
Notice and observe how things arise and pass.
Do not become identified.
Do not become distracted.
See what you truly are.
That state of being is a state of such equanimity that there is perfect acceptance of whatever is there, without any resistance, without any desire. There is no craving for something else. There is no aversion to something that is.
If you are meditating and have aversion to the pain that you feel then you are blocked by yourself. If you are meditating and you have craving for Samadhi you are blocked by yourself. If you are trying to get out of your body and you have fear, you are blocked by yourself. Each of these elements is self-originated, self-produced, contrived by yourself.
This is the reason why we needand , which are the basis of every single practice that we study in . Awareness is the basis of the entire doctrine. It is truly the basis of every religion.
To learn to be what we are, and then to not be what we are. Do you understand that? To be but to not be. If we remain as we are our suffering will remain as it is, but if we become what we really are our suffering will stop.
When we cease to be identified with a problem it goes away. If you are having money troubles and you are worried and you are afraid and you feel you have to do something and it agitates you, stop thinking about it. Do what you can do today. And if you can't do something today, stop thinking about it. There is a beautiful secret there, which the Master Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. And we can see that here if we observe nature. There is no worry here. Which of these creatures around us is concerned, worried, anxious, afraid? None: neither the flies, nor the birds nor the trees, nor the wind. All of them have, all of them form a part of this beautiful creation. None of them are worried; none of them have any fear or concern for tomorrow. They are simply being what they are.
It is in this way that we can resolve our most vexing problems. What happens is this: if you are a serious student of these types of studies, really what you are trying to do is to be a serious disciple of your own inner master, that part of yourthat gave you life and has work for you to do. Your Being needs you; it might sound sacrilegious but it is true. Our own Inner Father and our own need us and thus will give us what they need us to have; we forget that because we forget them.
When we are in that state of natural being, that state of natural perception,arises naturally as well. When we are in a state of , we are truly a child of God. Filial love arises spontaneously because that is the nature of the if we are truly aware, if we are truly in our unaltered natural state. So because of that, why should we worry?
If the one who is inside of us, our own Inner Master needs us and he is God, what do we have to worry about? What do we need outside of ourselves? Outside of Him? Outside of Her? Outside of that which truly is?
Why are we always running here and there, grasping on to different experiences, different sensations?
It is not to say that we should just sit and not do anything. It is to say we should do what we have to do, naturally. We have to work, we have to fulfill our duties in life, but we don't have to do it with anxiety, with fear, with worries, with pride.
We can be what we are: a simple essence, a Buddha nature that wants to grow, that wants to grow and develop itself, to perfect itself. Our own inner Being will give us everything we need to accomplish that task because that is what He needs from us.
The reason we don't have what we need is that we get in the way. We don't know how to be natural, to be naked as a. Instead, we want to dress ourselves with vestures of pride, of envy, of gluttony, of vanity, and we want others to see us as that. We want others to respect us, to admire us, to envy us, because we do not have true inner confidence in our inner Being.
When we have true inner confidence in our inner Being, we do not need the approval of others.
We are not who we truly are () and because of that we suffer, and because of that we don't have the things that we truly need.
When we become very disciplined in being just, then what we need magically appears, as if by magic, because gives us that naturally. You have all heard stories like this of how such and such a Master was without food, without water, without anything and yet was able to sustain himself because the beasts of the field would bring him sustenance. Or the fairies or elementals would bring water, or bring clothes. There are many stories like that. They are there to illustrate for us something simple: if we serve the One who is inside, He provides. Then we can just be ourselves; we can live without any worry.
The natural state of theis a state of pure raw acceptance, and yet that state of acceptance is driven by an energy to become better. This seems a little contradictory, but we all know something of it because we are studying this knowledge. We all know that we can do better, we can be better, so we want to change.
So long as we are what we are now, we cannot be what we need to be, what we should be. So let us first not be what we are so we can become what we really are: the free, uncontrived, natural, happy Essence, with the potential to become a fully developed human being.
Maybe from studying this text you can see thatdoes not begin when the bell rings. does not begin in the evening or in the morning when you sit on a cushion or a chair to meditate. This is why in some traditions they state that never stops, because truly, it should not. When you sincerely and seriously begin to comprehend the nature of the , then you truly and seriously begin to meditate non-stop, amidst everything.
Question: You mentioned that...???...released from the...???...would that be the same thing as...???
Answer: In the books of, there is a chapter called The Observer and the Observed and this is one of the fundamental things that we learn when we study . The purpose of that exercise is to develop the capacity to divide the attention, to develop the capacity to activate the and to separate it, to become aware of it. This text states that there is no observer. The reason is because while there appears to us to be an observer, in reality that observer has no I, and thus does not exist as an observer but it simply is. We do need to divide attention between observer and observed and yet there really is no observer. Until you know how to make that division, you cannot comprehend that statement, yet we all have the capacity to reach that experience.
It is the natural capacity of the: to be attentive. And we think in our intellect that if you are attentive there must be someone who is paying attention; and yet, when you are in a state of pure attention can you find a self? When you look into the nature of your own mind in this moment can you truly find a self? When you see that space between thoughts is there a self there? Can you find something you can call a self, independent and existing on its own? You cannot, because each attribute is dependant on another attribute, each facet is dependant on another, which means without those facets there is nothing.
In other words, when you look into that observer you simply see the act of observation, the pure energy of, which has no self. It has no concept, it has no center, it has no beginning, it has no ending but this is something you have to taste. The intellect will fail to grasp it.
This can be experienced at any moment. We have all tasted it, we have all experienced it, but we have forgotten. We begin just being naturally aware, naturally observant. Observing not only what we observe, but how we observe it. This is the division. Observing the phenomenon that arise outside and inside, while also observing how we observe them. And little-by little, out of that experience of observing the outside and the inside and the way we observe, suddenly it becomes clear: where is the observer? One could be observing and perceive: where is the observer?
This is particularly important when you are trying to separate and identify aspects of the. This kind of questioning is very useful when you are trying to separate from discursive emotion and thought, because a discursive emotion and a discursive thought is an "I." It is an I that has specific wants, specific cravings, specific aversions, and can be seen. So long as we are continuing to see an I, then we have not penetrated to that which is without an I.
So there are some contradictions that get tricky to navigate in the philosophy. How can you perceive an I without an I? How can you observe or be something without being something? And this is the limit of philosophy-and the danger-and this is partly what this text was addressing in the very beginning: although many schools have posited many theories and philosophies of the nature of mind, none have understood it. This is because it can only be understood by experience and that is something that is up to us.
Answer: The question is about what happens, or what one can do with the experience of the state of emptiness. So once we have accessed that and experienced the empty nature of mind, then what? Where does that lead? Where does that go?
The empty nature of mind is a fundamental basis that we need to understand, and we need to understand it by experience, but that is not the whole picture. When we study this teaching, we see that this knowledge is the path of the. The path is a path that leads directly to the absolute (the , the Void, or Shunyata) which is that emptiness: very profound, beyond any sense of self.
When you begin to have some type of understanding of the nature of the emptiness of existence (called Pratityasamutpada in Sanskrit, or Dependent Origination), that in itself is not sufficient; comprehension or experience of Emptiness-absolute reality-is only one aspect of full realization or enlightenment. The other aspect is absolute compassion. The nature of reality can only be fully perceived by a combination of two things:
There are some schools that will teach one side or the other of the equation. Some schools teach to just cultivate pure love while others seek to cultivate pure awareness of emptiness; both are mistaken. They can take you to a certain point, but they cannot take you all the way to the complete development of the.
What can take us to the ultimate level of wisdom is the cultivation of, which is a Sanskrit word which means the enlightened mind or the awakened mind of wisdom. is comprised of two fundamental aspects, which cannot be separated. They are in truth one thing, but this intellect can never grasp it: the empty nature of existence is synonymous with love. It is hard to even philosophize about that because what does that mean? And yet that is the fundamental nature of the .
The Absolute emanates the ray of creation, which manifested all things; that ray is, that ray is Love, but that ray is also emptiness. It is empty of self, there is no I in the ray of creation.
So the experience of emptiness, the experience of the empty nature of mind, is very good, but we have to go past that. If you experience something like that, it is very difficult to maintain your equilibrium. As the Masterstated, when he first experienced the nature of emptiness he was terrified, and that is the natural response of the animal mind (the I) which does not belong to that.
So the challenge becomes: how can you bridge the gap? How can you enter into that profound emptiness which has no I and into which the I cannot go? You have to know what it is to be no I, to have no self and the only thing that can give you that is, Avalokiteshvara, Chenrezig. Ultimate love and absolute emptiness are expressed as that light, the ray of creation. We have that as a spark, latent in the atoms of our own essence, but we have to develop it. When our essence grows, when the grows, when that receives that ray of creation and enters into the path and starts to become that light, then the emptiness becomes more profound, it becomes enterable and sustainable.
This is done from the position of Dhyana, which is the fifth Paramita, the fifth perfection-which is: the state of perfect equanimity, perfect attentiveness, that has no I, no self. From that state one can enter Prajna (the sixth Paramita), the wisdom of the emptiness, the wisdom of the Absolute. This is the only way to reach complete development.
So there are a lot of elements at play here: love, compassion, the death of the self, the death of the I,. A lot of work! And yet, it has been done. It has been done, and it will be done again.
If we are serious, if we are serious to die in ourselves, to completely eradicate any sense of I, of pride, of envy, of, that true nature, that true , the essence, can develop and grow and become one with that emptiness, which is also love. This is the only way.
Any other questions?
Question: You mentioned theis neither good nor evil. Is it also superior emotions and also can you talk about the ability of the conscious remorse to suffer?
Answer: It is useful when you are analyzing any form of dualism, such as "vice versus virtue" or "superior versus inferior" to always remember the tree of life. Everything manifests in levels. So in our own psyche we have levels in our psyche. Theis just an energy. It is a form of energy that derives from a very superior region and that enters into a very inferior one in order to gather knowledge, to learn. To do that, it has to process itself through the vehicles that we inhabit, most immediately the physical body. Within that body we have certain transformers (that we call the ) that transform the energies back and forth between this level of reality and the . So in that way, you can see the is beyond all of this that we see here.
The same is true when you compare and look at superior versus inferior emotion. Of course, inferior emotion is any egoic state. Inferior intellect is likewise: it is a form of reasoning which belongs to an inferior level. Superior emotion and superior intellect also correspond to their levels but they are not the supreme. Remember, the Master said that the most elevated form of thought is non-thought. It becomes difficult for us to grasp that theitself does not think nor does it need to. The in itself does not feel emotion in the way we know emotion, whether inferior or superior. The in itself is, and yet in its most elevated and developed form it has qualities that we would call emotion but which are well beyond that. A Master or an Angel or any highly developed Being expresses itself as love, descends into this planet, and assists all those who suffer. And if we observe the life of a Master like that we would look at them and say, "Well, they have emotions like us," but they don't, it is different for them. This is similar to the mistake that people make when they say that Jesus was angry at the merchants in the temple when he was whipping them, but that was not anger, it was something else, far beyond our concepts of anger, far beyond our concepts of emotion.
So as far as I understand it, theis the same: there are vibrations of energy that occur in many levels and there are emotional processes and intellectual processes that occur in those levels, but when you transcend and start entering into superior levels of objective reasoning, you see that this is a form of reasoning that has nothing to do with the intellect. And that subjective reasoning that we know unfortunately filters our understanding. Objective reasoning has qualities of that are reflected or mirrored in a very inferior way in what we call "emotion" and "intellect." Does that make sense to you? It is very subtle, right? Just understand that the itself is far beyond thought and feeling, yet it has qualities that are similar, just more rarefied. It is something that is hard to put in words.
Question: Can the animal mind...???
Answer: Well, yes, of course, in us. In an animal no, not necessarily because that mind develops though the kingdoms of nature and once that minds enters a humanoid organism there is a certain work that has to be performed which is self-perfection. Unfortunately, we develop Karma and so that mind burdened by those elements begins to degenerate: that is devolution.
Question: Is it possible to identify with the superior emotions...???
Answer: Yes. It is possible to become identified with anything. Even in the state of emptiness, which is well beyond any intellectual or emotional quality, you can become identified. This is how even very high masters fall. Sometimes it is because of love, superior emotion, something very beautiful, but it entrances thein a subtle way and they fall into mistake. So that danger is there even in the highest level.
Question: Say we are listening to a symphony of Beethoven or something and emotion...???...allowing us to rise and fall...???...maintaining our equanimity...???
Answer: Yes, you can become identified with that, and the same is true of the state of Samadhi. You have to always watch for yourself to not indulge. Whether an experience is painful or pleasurable, it is vital to not indulge because that is a kind of identification and immediately thearises. Whether it is a superior emotion or thought, or an inferior one, we have to maintain conscious equanimity.
Transcribed and corrected from a lecture given at the 2007 International Gnostic Retreat. Excerpts are reproduced from The Tibetan Book of the Dead published by Viking in 2006 (ISBN 0-670-85886-2).
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