Click here to go to the next issue
Highlights Home Page | Receive the Nondual Highlights each day
#1630 - Friday, November 28, 2003 - Editor: Gloria
Give thanks for unknown blessings
already on their way.
-- Native American prayer
He said we couldnąt stay here by ourselves
and not think of nobody else. Oh Lordy!
I just keep a-thanking Him and a-thanking
Him and a-thanking Him. I donąt forget who
made me. - Mary Duckworth
(121 years old)
"Be grateful to everyone.
Others will always show you exactly where you are
stuck. They say or do something and you automatically
get hooked in a familiar way of reacting--shutting
down, speeding up, or getting all worked up.
When you act in a habitual way, with anger, greed, and
so forth, it gives you a chance to see your patterns
and work with them honestly and compassionately.
Without others provoking you, you remain ignorant of
your painful habits and cannot train in transforming
them into a path of awakening."
From the September, 2003, Shambala Sun Magazine.
"Snowy Road" photo by Alan Larus
~ ~ ~
"One day, I offered a number of children a
basket filled with
tangerines. The basket was passed around, and each child took one
tangerine and put it in his or her palm. We each looked at our
tangerine, and the children were invited to meditate on its origins.
They saw not only the tangerine, but also its mother, the tangerine
tree. With some guidance, they began to visualize the blossoms in the
sunshine and in the rain. Then they saw petals falling down and tiny
green fruit appear. The sunshine and the rain continued, and the tiny
tangerine grew. Now someone has picked it, and the tangerine is here.
After seeing this, each child was invited to peel the tangerine slowly,
noticing the mist and the fragrance of the tangerine, and then bring it
up to his or her mouth and have a mindful bite, in full awareness of the
texture and taste of the fruit and the juice coming out. We ate slowly
"Each time you look at a tangerine, you can see deeply into it. You can
see everything in the universe in one tangerine. When you peel it and
smell it, its wonderful. You can take your time eating a tangerine and
be very happy."
~Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh quote from the web site, "What Do You Think My Friend?"
~ ~ ~
"This life is deceiving,
don't you understand?
And material things are delusion,
don't you understand?
And samsaric existence is peace,
don't you understand?
And all happiness is a dream,
don't you understand?
Appearances are your mind,
don't you understand?
And your mind is Buddha,
don't you understand?
And Buddha is Dharmakaya,
don't you understand?
And Dharmakaya is the true nature of reality, don't you understand?
And when you realize this,
whatever appears is mind.
Throughout the day and night,
look at your mind.
When you look at your mind,
you don't see anything.
When you don't see anything,
let go and relax."
~~A song by Milarepa
From a hand-out at a teaching by Khenpo Tsultim Gyamtso Rinpoche,
translated and sung by Ari Goldfield..
"What is praised is one, so the
praise is one, too,
many jugs being poured into one huge basin.
All religions, all this singing, one song.
The differences are just illusion and vanity.
Sunlight looks slightly different on this wall
and a lot different on this other one, but it is still one light.
We have borrowed these clothes, these time-and-space personalities,
from a light, and when we praise, we pour them back in." -Rumi
"Cathedral of Light" photo by Sam Pasciencier
~ Welcome Morning ~
There is joy
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
in the spoon and the chair
that cry "hello there, Anne"
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.
So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.
The Joy that isn't shared, I've heard,
~ The Traveling Onion ~
Naomi Shihab Nye
When I think how far the onion has traveled
just to enter my stew today, I could kneel and praise
all small forgotten miracles,
crackly paper peeling on the drainboard,
pearly layers in smooth agreement,
the way knife enters onion
and onion falls apart on the chopping block,
a history revealed.
And I would never scold the onion
for causing tears.
It is right that tears fall
for something small and forgotten.
How at meal, we sit to eat,
commenting on texture of meat or herbal aroma
but never on the translucence of onion,
now limp, now divided,
or its traditionally honorable career:
For the sake of others,
~ Love life ~
of green lettuce,
golden grapes, and
purple eggplants -
all so extraordinary!
You get excited,
you talk to people
and people talk to you,
and they touch you,
All this is magical,
like some endless celebration.
~ i thank you God for most this amazing ~
e. e. cummings
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
|Love is not cultivated|
|Love is not to be cultivated. Love cannot be
divided into divine and physical; it is only lovenot
that you love many or the one. That again is an absurd
question to ask: Do you love all? You know, a
flower that has perfume is not concerned who comes to
smell it, or who turns his back upon it. So is love. Love
is not a memory. Love is not a thing of the mind or the
intellect. But it comes into being naturally as
compassion, when this whole problem of existenceas
fear, greed, envy, despair, hopehas been understood
and resolved. An ambitious man cannot love.. A man who is
attached to his family has no love. Nor has jealousy
anything to do with love. When you say, I love my
wife, you really do not mean it, because the next
moment you are jealous of her.
Love implies great freedomnot to do what you like. But love comes only when the mind is very quiet, disinterested, not self-centered. These are not ideals. If you have no love, do what you willgo after all the gods on earth, do all the social activities, try to reform the poor, the politics, write books, write poemsyou are a dead human being. And without love your problems will increase, multiply endlessly. And with love, do what you will, there is no risk; there is no conflict. Then love is the essence of virtue. And a mind that is not in a state of love, is not a religious mind at all.. And it is only the religious mind that is freed from problems, and that knows the beauty of love and truth.
Ordinary happiness depends on happenstance. Joy is that extraordinary
happiness that is independent of what happens to us. Good luck can make us
happy, but it cannot give us lasting joy. The root of joy is gratefulness.
We tend to misunderstand the link between joy and gratefulness. We notice
that joyful people are grateful and suppose that they are grateful for their
joy. But the reverse is true: their joy springs from gratefulness. If one
has all the good luck in the world, but takes it for granted, it will not
give one joy. Yet even bad luck will give joy to those who manage to be
grateful for it. We hold the key to lasting happiness in our own hands. For
it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.
-- Brother David Steindl-Rast in "Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer" http://www.spiritualityhealth.com/newsh/items/bookreview/item_6636.html
[St Francis by Frederick Franck] *
was a well-known poetess
and a profound student of Buddhism.
She once wrote to Zen master Unko:
"To seek neither
reality nor falsehood
is the root source of the
Everyone knows this,
so even if I seem
immodest for saying so,
I do not think this is
As goings-on in the
source of one mind,
the willows are green,
the flowers are red.
Just being as it is,
I pass the time reciting
verse and composing poetry.
If this is useless
then the scriptures are
also useless chatter.
I dislike anything that
stinks of religion,
and my daily practice is invocation, poetry, and song.
If I go to paradise,
if I fall into hell, that's auspicious."
~ ~ ~
*By myself I remember
not to seek mind;
the green lamp has already illumined
my lone lamp heart.
Whether in clamor or silence,
I have a clear mirror:
it thoroughly discerns
pure hearts among humans.
It is not something existing,
that anyone can see and know,
nor does it not exist:
such is the lamp of truth.*
When Sonome was about to pass on, she bade
farewell to the world with this poem:
*The sky of the autumn moon
and the warmth of spring:
Is it a dream? Is it real?
Hail to the Buddha of Infinite Light!*
Buddha-nature, the essence of awakened enlightenment itself, is present in
everyone. Its essence is forever pure, unalloyed, and flawless. It is beyond
increase or decrease. It is neither improved by remaining in nirvana nor
degenerated by straying into samsara. Its fundamental essence is forever
perfect, unobscured, quiescent, and unchanging. Its expressions are myriad.
Those who recognize their true nature are enlightened; those who ignore or
overlook it are deluded. There is no way to enlightenment other than by
recognizing buddha-nature and achieving stability in that, which implies
authentically identifying it within one's own stream of being, and training in
that incisive recognition through simply sustaining its continuity, without
alteration or fabrication. All spiritual practices and paths converge, and are
included, in this vital point. This recognition is the sole borderline between
Buddhas and ordinary beings. This is also the great crossroads at which we find
ourselves every moment of our lives. The illusory history of samsara and nirvana
begins here and now; the moment of Dzogchen, the innate Great Perfection, is
actually beyond past, present, and future, like a seemingly eternal instant of
timeless time. This is what we call "the fourth time": timeless time, beyond the
three times, the ineffable instant of pure ecstatic presence or total awareness,
[Face of Faces by Frederick Franck] *
On the path, this essence of buddhahood never
changes: it does not increase, nor
does it decrease. It does not have to undergo any modification. Regarding
fruition again, this very essence of buddhahood that is realized is perfectly
complete. There is nothing to be added to it. There is nothing more that a
Buddha could discover. In fact, from the point of view of the way things are,
there is no reason to make distinctions such as different bhumis or levels.
There are no such things as a starting point, a path, and a goal. All these are
like looking at the sky and trying to see different delineations, levels, or
limits within it. We can make these configurations intellectually, but in truth
there are no subdivisions in the sky. If we say, "This is the top of the sky and
this is the bottom of the sky," it is still just the sky.
When we are free from all conceptualizations
and mental fabrications we can see this nature.
When Karma Chagme Rinpoche realized the absolute nature,
Mahamudra, he said to his friend,
"This is something that has been with me forever.
It is something I have known forever.
Why didn't you tell me that this was Mahamudra itself?"
When we see the true nature within ourselves,
there is nothing more to be seen,
There is nothing more to be found in all the teachings.
Compiled by Surya Das with Nyoshul Khenpo
[Mahakasyapa by Frederick Franck] *
THE ULTIMATE NATURE OF
After his great awakening beneath the bodhi-tree in Bodhgaya, Lord Buddha said
that the ultimate nature of mind is perfectly pure, profound, quiescent,
luminous, uncompounded, unconditioned, unborn and undying, and free since the
beginningless beginning. When we examine this mind for ourselves, it becomes
apparent that its innate openness, clarity, and cognizant quality comprise what
is known as innate wakefulness, primordial nondual awareness: rigpa. This is our
birthright, our true nature. It is not something missing, to be sought for and
obtained, but is the very heart of our original existential being. It is
actually inseparable from our uncontrived everyday awareness, beyond willful
alteration, free from conceptuality: unfabricated ordinary awareness,
unadulterated by effort and modification, naked, fresh, vivid, and totally
natural. What could be simpler than this, to rest at home and at ease in total
The sutra vehicles, the common teachings of Buddhadharma, consider that the
above-mentioned description of the ultimate nature of mind by Lord Buddha
himself refers to nirvana, or nirvanic consciousness According to the Vajrayana
practice lineages of Tibet and especially the Mahamudra and Dzogchen traditions,
that description refers to the true nature of mind, rigpa, intrinsic awareness
itself. In that light, how far is that fabled "other shore," nirvana?
So get out of the construction business! Stop building bridges across the raging
waters of samsaric existence, attempting to reach the "far shore," nirvana.
Better to simply relax, at ease and carefree, in total naturalness, and just go
with the primordial flow, however it occurs and happens. And remember this:
whether or not you go with the flow, it always goes with you.
Yet it is not so easy or so it seems. First we must recognize this profound
view, innate Great Perfection, then train in it, then attain unshakeable
stability in it. This is the path of practice, undistractedly maintaining the
view or outlook to which one has been introduced and which one has recognized.
Only then can realization progressively unfold. Thus, training implies
nonmeditation, noneffort, and nondistraction, a vivid presence of mind. Innate
wakefulness, nonconceptual wisdom, nondual primordial awareness, buddha-mind, is
suddenly unsheathed the moment dualistic mind dissolves. This can occur
gradually, through study, analysis, and spiritual practice, or suddenly, through
the coming together of causes and conditions, such as when a ripe student
encounters a totally realized master and inexplicably experiences a sudden
Buddha-nature is pure, undefiled, unelaborated, unconditioned, transcending all
concepts. It is not an object of dualistic thought and intellectual knowledge.
It is, however, open to gnosis, intuition, the nondual apperception of intrinsic
awareness itself, prior to or upstream of consciousness. Adventitious
obscurations temporarily veil and, like clouds, obscure this pristine, sky-like,
luminous fundamental nature or mind essence, also known as tathagatagarbha,
All conventional practices along the gradual path to liberation and
enlightenment aim to uncover this innate wisdom by removing and dissolving the
obscurations, revealing what has always been present. This is the relation
between how things appear to be and how things actually are: in short, the two
levels of truth, absolute and relative or conventional truth. According to these
two truths, there are different levels of practice. The subtle and profound
Vajrayana view emphasizes correctly recognizing the ultimate view, the wisdom
inherent within oneself; this is the renowned vajra-shortcut elucidated in the
Dzogchen tantras. The approach of the various sutra vehicles depends on and
utilizes, purification of dualistic consciousness, until the mind is eventually
purified and freed of obscurations and defilements. The tantric approach
depends upon, and from the outset utilizes, wisdom, nondual awareness, rather
than mere mind. This is a crucial difference.
The sublime view of Dzogpa Chenpo, the ultimate vehicle, is that everything is
pure and perfect from the outset. This is the absolute truth, the supreme
outlook or view of Buddhas, which implies that there is nothing that need be
done or accomplished. Based on such recognition of how things actually are, the
meditation of Dzogchen is nonmeditation, resting in the evenness of being,
rather than doing any particular thing, beyond hope and fear, adopting and
rejecting. The action or behaviour of Dzogchen ensues from such transcendence,
and is totally spontaneous, aimless, and appropriate to whatever conditions
arise. The fruition of Dzogchen is the innate Great Perfection itself,
inseparable from the very starting point of this swift and efficacious path:
rigpa itself, one's own true nature.
The famous enlightened vagabond, the nineteenth century Dzogchen master Patrul
Rinpoche, sang, "Beyond both action and inaction, the supreme Dharma is
accomplished. So simply preserve the natural state and rest your weary mind."
His compassionate, humble lifestyle and profound writings are still widely
studied today, inspiring practitioners of all the sects and lineages of Tibet.
Padampa Sangye said, "Everything is found within the natural state, so do not
seek elsewhere." Buddhahood is the wisdom within us all, it is not elsewhere. It
is actually our fundamental nature, the primordial state, our inherent freedom
and unfabricated beingness.
That is why it is called the natural state, innate buddha-nature, and said to be
possessed by all beings. This is the raison d'etre of Dzogpa Chenpo, the natural
Great Perfection. There is nothing beyond or superior to this. Realize it, as it
is even right now, and everything is included. All wishes and aspirations are
fulfilled in this natural state of innate wakefulness, our own innate great
perfection, Dzogchen. It belongs to each and every one of us.
Different purposes or approaches give it different names, depending on whether
it is being seen as the view, the goal, the practice path, the fundamental
ground, or otherwise. This single ineffable essence is variously known as
tathagatagarbha, sugata-garbha, buddha-nature, rigpa, empty and cognizant
self-existing wakefulness, dharmakaya, Prajnaparamita, transcendental wisdom,
shunyata or emptiness, clear light, buddha-mind, and so on. Rigpa, whether
called intrinsic awareness, nondual presence, selfexisting inherent wisdom, or
innate wakefulness, is like one's own individual share of the transpersonal
ultimate body of truth, the dharmakaya of all the Buddhas. There is nothing
superior to this.
Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche said, "The enlightened essence (buddha-nature) is present
within the heart-mind of every sentient being. Dzogchen directly introduces and
reveals how this actually is, unbarring the natural state. The pith-instructions
show how it can be nakedly recognized within one's own experience. They note the
great need for recognizing it and the tremendous benefit of doing so, clearly
showing how, at that very moment, the Buddha, the awakened state, need not be
sought for elsewhere, but is present within oneself, and that you become
enlightened through experiencing what was always present within you. This is the
effect of nyongtri, instruction through personal experience."
[Unkillable Human by Frederick
As Asanga and Maitreya said, the nature of mind is luminous. It is perfectly
empty, open, and aware, unfettered by conditions or conditioning. The mind, or
dualistic consciousness, is a mere impermanent concatenation of causes and
conditions, totally bound up in conditioning. The difference between mind and
its nature, the difference between awareness or mind-essence, and conceptual
thinking or namtok, is like the difference between the sky or space itself, and
the ephemeral weather which occurs within it. In the Prajnaparamita Sutra Buddha
says, "True mind is not the dualistic mind. The nature of mind is actually the
inseparability of awareness and emptiness."
Longchenpa says that mind is duality, that rigpa, nondual awareness, is
transcendental wisdom. The fundamental nature of mind is sheer lucency, free and
unfettered by concepts such as subject and object; a profound luminosity free
from partiality and fixation, a free-flowing compassionate expression of
indefinable, limitless emptiness, unobscured by thinking. Thought is bondage;
the immeasurable openness of empty awareness is freedom. Compassion for those
bound within their own illusory constructs, mindforged manacles, and
self-imposed limitations, spontaneously, unobstructedly, and inexhaustibly
Therefore, with the essential pith-instructions of a qualified Dzogchen master,
crush the eggshell of the mind and unfold your wings in the open sky. Destroy
the hut of duality and inhabit the expansive mansion of rigpa. There are no
other enemies or obstacles to overcome and vanquish. Ignorance, dualistic
thinking, is the great demon obstructing your path. Slay it right now and be
Compiled by Surya Das with Nyoshul Khenpo
*illustrations above are by:
Frederick Franck: Painter, Sculptor,
Writer, Transreligious Visionary
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Frederick Franck, now 94, is a Renaissance man with a deeply personal and universal vision of what it means to be human. "The meaning of life is to see" is his motto and in response, he has created colorful paintings, exquisitely detailed drawings, and larger-than-life sculptures that enable us to recognize life in its ultimate dimensions. His classic bestselling book, The Zen of Seeing, grew out of his experiences leading workshops in which he empowered his students to release their inner artist through a mystical connection with their subjects.
Above all else, Franck is a bridge builder whose marvelous combination of art and spirituality points to a new way of being in the twenty-first century. He calls it transreligious: "outside the categories of both 'interfaith' and 'ecumenical' . . . even less a syncretistic scrambling together of symbols, concepts, and rituals of the various religious traditions." He clearly respects each tradition and has found in his art and writing ways to convey "the inner experience in which these traditions converge." We invite you to meditate on the art and wisdom of Frederick Franck. . . .
Read a review of an "introspective" exhibition, Frederick Franck: Image Maker, at the Albert Shahinian Fine Art & Poughkeepsie Art Museum Galleries, Poughkeepsie, New York, October 18, 2003 - January 4, 2004.
See images shown in this issue at link for: Gallery of Transreligious Art
"My St. Francis icon was to be that of a
saint for all seasons, a transhistorical, transreligious
messenger of love, of life, of nature, of the Earth as
(Photo by Luz Piedad Lopez)
FACE OF FACES
"Face of Faces (Nicolas Cusa); The
Original Face (Hui Neng)"
"The Face to me epitomizes the specifically unkillable Human core, the Sleeping Christ within, the Buddha Nature, the Jivanmukti of Hinduism, the Sacred Man of the Taoist sages, the Perfect Man of the Sufis, the Divine Spark."
"This sculpture is a variation on the Flower Sermon. The Buddha called his disciples together and lifted up a flower for their commentary. Mahakasyapa simply smiled. He became the Buddha's favorite disciple and the founder of Zen."
THE UNKILLABLE HUMAN
This metal work "came about on my return from Hiroshima, where burned into a concrete wall I saw the shadow of the fellow human evaporated the moment the Bomb struck. Through the empty negative mere flames of steel one sees the Human rising like a Phoenix from its ashes."
top of page