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#2320 - Sunday, November 20, 2005 - Editor: Gloria Lee 

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main  thing.
- California bumper sticker

from Morning Zen

Swooping Down from Above

I'd like to read something by the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, whose name means the self-existent diamond. This Karmapa was a Dzogchen master. He was the Dharma brother of Longchenpa, the enlightened fourteenth century Dzogchen patriarch. This is a very important pith-instruction from the secret, oral pith-instruction lineage of the Mahamudra and Dzogchen tradition. It's called The Single Word of Heart-Advice.

The Single Word of Heart-Advice

Homage to all the sacred masters.

The heart-mind of all the Buddhas of the past, the present, and the future, widely renowned as Dharmakaya, as Mahamudra, as enlightened mind, is precisely your own mind, which thinks of this and that.

What kind of Buddhist teaching is this? Even with all the poisons and everything, today's mind is inseparable from Buddha Mind? This is what the Karmapa says; and, as you all know, the Karmapa is the big boss, so it must be true. (Just joking!) But let's find out for ourselves if it is true. It's possible.

The Karmapa says that the essential nature of your own mind, which thinks of this and that, is the Buddha Mind, is Dharmakaya, absolute truth, Mahamudra, Dzogchen. All the phenomena of Samsara and Nirvana appear within this unique awareness, your awareness. Samsara is not downtown somewhere, while Nirvana is uptown, or on the other shore. Karmapa says all the phenomena of Samsara and Nirvana fit within this unique awareness. This unique innate awareness is the heart-essence of all the sutra teachings, the tantra teachings, and all the commentaries and pith-instructions.

Yet, when you apply it in practice, there is nothing whatsoever to be meditated upon. It is an empty, luminous, spacious, unobstructed void.

Simply allow this unique awareness to rest vividly awake and present in its natural way.

This is Karmapa's teaching. That's what you have to do. There's nothing to meditate on. Just allow awareness to rest totally present and awake. That's why it's called mirror-like awareness, sky-like awareness. Not doing anything. Everything happens as if in that sky-like mirror of mind. The sky and the mirror don't do anything of their own volition, but simply accommodate transitory reflection, without essentially changing.

You don't need to worry or think, "Is this really it? Could this be Mahamudra?" Don't bother yourself with these doubts and questions. Don't hope for improvement or be afraid of degeneration.

How can we progress and develop spiritually if we don't hope for improvement? What kind of Dharma path is this? Karmapa says don't hope for improvement and don't fear going down. Don't chase such transient concepts, like improvement and degeneration. Just rest nakedly at home in this vividly awake present awareness. Relax loosely and rest. Beside this, you don't need anything to meditate on. So let that be the object of your meditation, of non-meditation. The non-meditation called sustaining present wakefulness.

By practicing in this extraordinarily simple way, again and again, you will definitely recognize the groundless, rootless open essence of all thoughts, appearances, and phenomena. When that happens, realization blooms naturally. All attachments, all habitual patterns, all conditioning is spontaneously liberated and released in this blossoming of realization.

This is called Buddhahood. This is what is meant when it says, "One moment makes all the difference. One moment of total awareness is one moment of perfect freedom and enlightenment."

That's why this practice is so profound. One moment is enough. One eternal instant. You don't have to build it up like an investment program, until it ripens. One moment includes it all. One moment makes all the difference. Why not this moment? What are we waiting for?

I swear there is not a more profound and ultimate instruction from all the holy and realized masters of the enlightened lineage that is more profound and more vital than this single word of my heart-advice. Please don't waste this. Don't squander it. Remember this teaching always. There is no mistake in it. Rely on the blessings of such a teaching, rather than on the blessings of others.

This was written by Karmapa Rangjung Dorje in the Yangon Hermitage. May all beings be happy. Sarva mangalam.

  talk continues at:  

commentary is by Lama Surya Das  

posted to Dzogchen Practice  

Another excerpt from above talk, commentary is by Lama Surya Das  

Does it matter what we believe, or does it matter more what we do, how we live? That's why Gandhi said, when asked by a reporter what was the heart of his teaching, "My life is my teaching. How I live is my teaching." He tried to walk his talk, to practice what he preached. So look at how you live, and you'll know what your teaching is. (Your children are getting that teaching daily, by the way, so pay attention.) And it's not just your teaching, but it's also indicative of your realization. So look there; don't look at the gilded Buddha statue on the altar here. Look in the mirror. Have a good look every day. Reflect on what you perceive there. But please don't get too depressed!

There's nothing to get too depressed about actually, but there's also nothing to get too excited or elated about. Getting enlightened is just one more experience. The world will just keep turning.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately in meetings with other teachers. We've explored this with the Dalai Lama also: What is it that is most truly transformative? Eating oranges is supposed to be good for a cold, but what is in it really that is good for the cold? The vitamin C, maybe. So what is it in the various spiritual activities and practices and studies that we do that is most truly transformative? Some people say mindfulness. Some people say devotion, love, compassion. Some people say investigation, inquiry. Some people say meditation. There are many ideas. So what is it? Let's look at our own life. What is it? If we can refine that question, it's like a life koan. Let's try to delve more and more deeply into that question-what is truly transformative-and let go more and more of what is extra, so we can gradually learn to go more directly towards it. (By the way, the Dalai Lama answered, "analysis and meditation.") I personally have been thinking that what was most transformative for me was the longing, the aspiration, the passion for enlightenment. Keeping at it over a long time, in all parts of life. Not just in religious settings, but all the time, wherever life led me. This is probably part of bodhicitta, which means aspiration for awakening. I think each of us have our own piece of that active within our hearts and minds, whether we know it or not.

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Editors' Pick

November 16, 2005


An Interview with Lama Surya Das

Audio Dharma

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- Dhammapada

This site is an archive of Dharma talks given by Gil Fronsdal and various guest speakers at the Insight Meditation Center since 2000. Each talk illuminates aspects of the Buddha's teachings. The purpose is the same that the Buddha had for his teachings, to guide us toward the end of suffering and the attainment of freedom.

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