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#3223 - Thursday, July 10, 2008 - Editor: Jerry Katz

Nonduality Highlights -



For me, an issue such as this one is what the Highlights is all about. A new and interesting person. New words for "awareness" and the three kinds of emptiness. Being thrown into another culture.

I could not find a link for purchasing the book, under review, however it is written in dzongkha as well as phelkay for the people of Bhutan.

The review is published in two parts in Kuensel Online: Bhutan's Daily News Site. Included here is a portion from Part 1 and a longer selection from Part 2.

I'm not sure the poetry reveals a source-based knowing or a personal knowing boosted by doctrinal knowledge, however something may have been lost in translation.



The only indigenous poetic justice

Review of Dasho Sherab Gyeltshen’s Collected Poems, Hand Notes on Recollected Visuals and Sounds (‘mThongthos Dren sNang Lagpai Rimo’) – by Karma Ura

Part 1:

Part 2:

Dasho Sherab Gyeltshen, currently a justice of the High Court, was a dzongda of Kurtoe and then a dzongda of Samtse. I am deliberately using the old form of referring to the district as Kurtoe and the dzong as Lhuentse to prevent the rampant conflation of a district with its capital. His 30-year career, spanning both the administration of development programmes and adjudication of litigations, is in itself rare.   What his 188-page book of poems in dzongkha as well as phelkay demonstrates is that he has interests and reflections far beyond the remit of those posts he held. He has insights (lhag mthong) gained from Buddhist orientations. He is absolutely one of a kind in the public service who could reflect on his diverse experiences and commit them into poems. ‘mThongthos Dren sNang Lagpai Rimo’ or ‘Hand Notes on Recollected Visuals and Sounds’ is a collection of his 98 poems penned since 1995, though over half of them are undated.  

Book cover:  


When commentaries on indigenous literature are written in future, this book will be valued and counted. It is a rare one also because it is in phelkay and dzongkha, a focus of our fierce patriotic clamour but measly practice and paltry allocation. Some of the esoteric poems are very demanding for those without any grounding in such concepts like snang tong (appearance-emptiness), sgyuma (delusion), yeshey (primordial wisdom), rang rig (self-awareness). And to understand appearance-emptiness, other associated concepts like chad stong (nihilistic emptiness), rang stong (intrinsic emptiness) and gzhan stong (extrinsic emptiness) might have to be explored. But they will also motivate the readers to move a little further to develop our capacity to understand the profound thoughts of dzogchen masters, like Dasho Sherab does. ‘mThongthos Dren sNang Lagpai Rimo’ or ‘Hand Notes on Recollected Visuals and Sounds’ is a grand collection for all Bhutanese. The young in schools and monasteries will learn about true Bhutanese values, delineating them from actual, mixed trends, as well as about national events at the turn of the century. Others will find themselves broadened by dzogchen perspectives on liberation. In particular, his esoteric poems emphasize the dzogchen (Great Perfection) view, which I may add is not different in the end from that of Chagchen (Great Seal) or Bon literature on dzogchen, on the nature of mind and the possibility for us to know it to be liberated. The thread connecting all the diverse poems is Buddhist values. Fragments from two of his esoteric poems (p. 51-53) touch on question about the ultimate reality:

All appearance is inherently empty
Non-duality is known as emptiness.
Since there is no duality, nothing is grasped
That is the original basis.
The naked dimension is unaltered and undiversified
To that dharmakaya, I prostrate. 
Spontaneously realized primordial wisdom in the dimension of awareness 
To that sambhogakaya, I prostrate. 
Appearing as dharmakaya in the dimension of manifestation 
To that nirmankaya, I prostrate …

All phenomena appear as my own body 
In a dream-like mandala of my own perception 
I see myself in various spectacles. 
As in a mirror that does not distinguish between itself and the other (reflection), 
Knowledge of the inherent nature is the omniscient. 
As there is no duality between the mirror and the mirrored,
To the condition of unity of emptiness and compassion, I prostrate.
From the beginning, it did not arise; it cannot be liberated. 
The excellent condition, which is beyond arising and liberation 
Primordially pure, it has always been pure. 
It is not this or that, it is unobstructed 
Appearances are projections on the dimension of self-awareness.

Read Part 1:

Read the full version of Part 2:

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