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- Sunday, June 27, 2004 - Editor: Gloria
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'All thoughts vanish into emptiness like the imprint of a bird in the sky'
A sign of Dzogchen is the Garuda, a mythical bird, Khyung or Kading in Tibetan, an ancient sun-god, the celestial bird sometimes with human face.
The exposition of Dzogchen is conventionally expressed in terms of Vision, Meditation and Action. The mystical jargon is highly abstract and abstruse. One of the great masters of Dzogchen in this century, Kyapje Dunjom Rimpoche, expressed the vision of Dzogchen something like this:
'So, to be brief, because the nature of mind, the Great Perfection, rigpa, cannot be established as any specific thing, state, or action, it has the original face of emptiness which makes it pure from the beginning, all pervasive and all-penetrating. Because the unobstructed lustre of Emptiness and the entire gamut of experience whether confused or transcendant are like the sun and its rays, Emptiness is experienced positively as everything and anything whatsoever and it has the intrinsic nature of non-dual awareness of the spontaneously arisen universe of pure quality. For this reason the recognition of the presence of what is, as the primordial natural state of being, the Real Self of the Three Buddha Bodies, intrinsic awareness as the union of light and emptiness, is called the vision of the inconceivable Great Perfection.'
from Tilopa's Mahamudra
Instruction to Naropa
in Twenty Eight Verses
Although space has been designated
In reality it is inexpressible;
Although the nature of mind is called "clear light",
Its every ascription is baseless verbal fiction.
The mind's original nature is like
It pervades and embraces all things under the sun.
Be still and stay relaxed in
Be quiet and let sound reverberate as an echo,
Keep your mind silent and watch the ending of all worlds.
The body is essentially empty like
the stem of a reed,
And the mind, like pure space, utterly transcends
the world of thought:
Relax into your intrinsic nature with neither abandon nor control -
Mind with no objective is Mahamudra -
And, with practice perfected, supreme enlightenment is gained.
The clear light of Mahamudra cannot
By the canonical scriptures or metaphysical treatises
Of the Mantravada, the Paramitas or the Tripitaka;
The clear light is veiled by concepts and ideals.
By harbouring rigid precepts the
true samaya is impaired,
But with cessation of mental activity all fixed notions subside;
When the swell of the ocean is at one with its peaceful depths,
When mind never strays from indeterminate, non-conceptual truth,
The unbroken samaya is a lamp lit in spiritual darkness.
Free of intellectual conceits,
disavowing dogmatic principles,
The truth of every school and scripture is revealed.
excerpt from: http://www.keithdowman.net/mahamudra/tilopa.htm
The Cuckoo's Song of Total Presence
In Tibet's ancient shamanistic tradition the cuckoo was a magical bird, the king of birds. As the cuckoo's first call is the harbinger of spring, so the six verses of the Cuckoo's Song of Total Presence introduce the total presence of the nature of mind.
The six lines of the Cuckoo's Song are also known as the Six Vajra Verses. They are considered to be the root text of the Dzogchen Mind Series tradition out of which the entire view, meditation and action of Dzogchen may be extrapolated. If the meaning of the verses in Tibetan is simple, the expression of that meaning in English is no simple matter.
The nature of multiplicity is nondual
and things in themselves are pure and simple;
being here and now is thought-free
and it shines out in all forms, always all good;
it is already perfect, so the striving sickness is avoided
and spontaneity is constantly present.
Turned into prose, based on the Dochu commentary, it says:
All experience, the entire phantasmagoria of the six senses, the diverse multiplicity of existence, in reality is without duality. Even if we examine the parts of the bodhi-matrix in the laboratory of the mind, such specifics are seen to be illusive and indeterminate. There is nothing to grasp and there is no way to express it. The suchness of things, their actuality, left just as it is, is beyond thought and inconceivable and that is the here and now. Yet diversity is manifestly apparent and that is the undiscriminating, all-inclusive sphere of the all-good buddha, Samantabhadra. Total perfection has always been a fact and there has never been anything to do to actuate this immaculate completion. All endeavour is redundant. What remains is spontaneity and that is always present as our natural condition.Chogyel Namkhai Norbu and Adriano Clemente rendered the Six Vajra Verses like this: in The Supreme Source:The nature of the variety of phenomena is non-dual Yet each phenomena is beyond the limits of the mind The authentic condition as it is does not become a concept Yet it manifests totally in form, always good All being already perfect, overcome the sickness of effort And remain naturally in self-perfection: this is contemplation
Maitripa's Essential Mahamudra Verses
Translated into English by Nicole Riggs.
To innermost bliss, I pay homage!
Were I to explain
Mahamudra, I would say
All phenomena? Your own mind!
If you look outside for meaning, you'll get confused.
Phenomena are like a dream, empty of true nature,
And mind is merely the
flux of awareness,
No self nature: just energy flow.
No true nature: just like the sky.
All phenomena are alike, sky-like.
That's Mahamudra, as we
It doesn't have an identity to show;
For that reason, the nature of mind
Is itself the very state of Mahamudra
(Which is not made up, and does not change).
If you realize this basic reality
You recognize all that comes up, all that goes on,
The all-pervading dharma-body.
Rest in the true nature,
free of fabrication.
Meditate without searching for dharma-body
It is devoid of thought.
If your mind searches, your meditation will be confused.
Because it's like space,
or like a magical show,
There is neither meditation or non-meditation,
How could you be separate or inseparable?
That's how a yogi sees it!
Then, aware of all good
and bad stuff as the basic reality,
You become liberated.
Neurotic emotions are great awareness,
They're to a yogi as trees are to a fireFUEL!
What are notions of going
Or, for that matter, "meditating" in solitude?
If you don't get this,
You free yourself only on the surface.
But if you do get it, what
can ever fetter you?
Abide in an undistracted state.
Trying to adjust body and mind won't produce meditation.
Trying to apply techniques won't produce meditation either.
See, nothing is ultimately
Know what appears to have no intrinsic nature.
Appearances perceived: reality's realm, self-liberated.
Thought that perceives: spacious awareness, self-liberated.
Non-duality, sameness [of perceiver and perceived]: the dharma-body.
Like a wide stream flowing
Whatever the phase, it has meaning
And is forever the awakened state
Great bliss without samsaric reference.
All phenomena are empty of
And the mind that clings to emptiness dissolves in its own ground.
Freedom from conceptual activity
Is the path of all the Buddhas.
I've put together these
That they may last for aeons to come.
By this virtue, may all beings without exception
Abide in the great state of Mahamudra.
This was Maitripa's Essential Mahamudra Instruction (in Tibetan: Phyag rgya chen po tshig bsdus pa), received from Maitripa himself and translated by the Tibetan translator Marpa Chökyi Lodrö.
© Nicole Riggs 1999. Reproduction welcome
if not for profit and with full acknowledgement.
Dilgo Khyentse Rimpoche
On Dzogchen Meditation
Emptiness, the ultimate nature of Dharmakaya, the Absolute Body, is not a simple nothingness. It possesses intrinsically the faculty of knowing all phenomena. This faculty is the luminous or cognitive aspect of the Dharmakaya, whose expression is spontaneous. The Dharmakaya is not the product of causes and conditions; it is the original nature of mind.
Recognition of this primordial nature resembles the rising of the sun of wisdom in the night of ignorance: the darkness is instantly dispelled. The clarity of the Dharmakaya does not wax and wane like the moon; it is like the immutable light which shines at the centre of the sun.
Whenever clouds gather, the nature of the sky is not corrupted, and when they disperse, it is not ameliorated. The sky does not become less or more vast. It does not change. It is the same with the nature of mind: it is not spoiled by the arrival of thoughts; nor improved by their disappearance. The nature of the mind is emptiness; its expression is clarity. These two aspects are essentially one's simple images designed to indicate the diverse modalities of the mind. It would be useless to attach oneself in turn to the notion of emptiness , and then to that of clarity, as if they were independent entities. The ultimate nature of mind is beyond all concepts, all definition and all fragmentation.
"I could walk on the clouds!" says a child. But if he reached the clouds, he would find nowhere to place his foot. Likewise, if one does not examine thoughts, they present a solid appearance; but if one examines them, there is nothing there. That is what is called being at the same time empty and apparent. Emptiness of mind is not a nothingness, nor a state of torpor, for it possesses by its very nature a luminous faculty of knowledge which is called Awareness. These two aspects, emptiness and Awareness, cannot be separated. They are essentially one, like the surface of the mirror and the image which is reflected in it.
Thoughts manifest themselves within emptiness and are reabsorbed into it like a face appears and disappears in a mirror; the face has never been in the mirror, and when it ceases to be reflected in it, it has not really ceased to exist. The mirror itself has never changed. So, before departing on the spiritual path, we remain in the so-called "impure" state of samsara, which is, in appearance, governed by ignorance. When we commit ourselves to that path, we cross a state where ignorance and wisdom are mixed. At the end, at the moment of Enlightenment, only pure wisdom exists. But all the way along this spiritual journey, although there is an appearance of transformation, the nature of the mind has never changed: it was not corrupted on entry onto the path, and it was not improved at the time of realisation.
The infinite and inexpressible qualities of primordial wisdom "the true nirvana" are inherent in our mind. It is not necessary to create them, to fabricate something new. Spiritual realisation only serves to reveal them through purification, which is the path. Finally, if one considers them from an ultimate point of view, these qualities are themselves only emptiness.
Thus samsara is emptiness, nirvana is emptiness - and so consequently, one is not "bad" nor the other "good." The person who has realised the nature of mind is freed from the impulsion to reject samsara and obtain nirvana. He is like a young child, who contemplates the world with an innocent simplicity, without concepts of beauty or ugliness, good or evil. He is no longer the prey of conflicting tendencies, the source of desires or aversions.
from Nagarjuna's Mahamudra Vision
Homage to Manjusrikumarabhuta!
1. I bow down to the
Whose mind is free of attachment,
Who in his compassion and wisdom
Has taught the inexpressible.
2. In truth there is
no birth -
Then surely no cessation or liberation;
The Buddha is like the sky
And all beings have that nature.
3. Neither Samsara nor
But all is a complex continuum
With an intrinsic face of void,
The object of ultimate awareness.
4. The nature of all
Appears like a reflection,
Pure and naturally quiescent,
With a non-dual identity of suchness.
13. Knowing the
relativity of all,
The ultimate truth is always seen;
Dismissing the idea of beginning, middle and end
The flow is seen as Emptiness.
14. So all samsara and
nirvana is seen as it is -
Empty and insubstantial,
Naked and changeless,
Eternally quiescent and illumined.
The Mahasiddha Linedrawings of H.R.Downs
These line drawings illustrate Masters of Mahamudra which can be ordered in the Bookstore.
A Word from the Artist
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