Edited from notes taken at
Tibetan Buddhist Monastery Ngesdön Ösel Ling (2000),
by ©Sherab Dorje Andreassen
All phenomena are within the natural state, so the way we see things is our perception. The Dharmakaya pervades everything. Everything is included in one. It is very important to understand this, the “levels” of ground, path and fruition, is only our conceptions and there is really no levels, it’s all one!
If you have a sweet wrapped into a paper, the paper is the ground, the path is the wrapping and to open it is the fruition.
The sweetness has always been inside this wrapping. You have to understand how the students of the Buddha and the masters following them again reached enlightenment.
Even the ground is beyond concepts it is said, its essence is empty, its nature is clarity, and the clarity is unceasing. (So all these are together).
We should analyze if the nature of all phenomena is empty. (Sherab) Wisdom dissolves into the ground. Recognizing the ground is good enough, but the clarity distracts you.
The essence of the nature is beyond permanence and impermanence. Because we don’t recognize the natural state, the Tathagarba, we get caught up in the clarity. All phenomena are already awakened. We believe in the true of phenomena, but at the actual state nothing has true existence. It is easy to miss it if you are only thought on the absolute; you also have to know what delusion is.
Because we cannot always be and rest in the nature, we think that our delusions and illusions are true! There are actually beings that are able to rest in the nature at all times, but as long as we are as we are, we can’t see this.
By doing the practice we will break this “shell” of illusions and if we let the grasping fall apart, the natural state will reveal itself. The three “Samadies” is for example a skillful mean to realize the ground, path and fruition when we practice a yiddam. When we see a Buddha, we don’t see that he is enlightened, this doesn’t mean that he is not enlightened. Grasping puts the seeming reality together. When it comes to phenomena you have to let go of the notion that it is real and look at it just as a mirage.
To be able to let the grasping fall apart, we have to apply the view, meditation and conduct. We have to apply the view and there is a conceptual view and a non - conceptual view.
If we believe that the conceptual things are real, then this is a conceptual view. All the Buddha’s teachings is on how to be deluded, even all qualities of the Buddha as we talk about it is dilutions. The view that has concepts is called “Shamata” or tranquility. If you truly practice Dzogchen, you don’t need to practice Shamata. There are beings, that when they are born, they are partly introduced to the Tathagata. If you only practice Shamata it is not possible to realize the ground. Forget about the minds essence; forget about the mind all- together. As Buddhist we have to work with the karma, the root of karma. And if we come back because of karma, we will suffer and we cannot help sentient beings. We should have the right to come and go as we please. This is because of delusions and obscurations.
Shamata with object is known by people in the west because everything you do is concentrating on objects, like at your job, driving etc. Abiding and staying, mindfulness and awareness is the main three things that have to be present in both Shamata with and without support. 25% abiding, 25% mindfulness and 50% awareness (the main Manager). The most important is the awareness, off course it is important to be relaxed, but we have to get rid of the dullness.
Tibetans fall asleep when they meditate, but westerners are to active, looking too much outwardly. You must learn to relax. It’s not really important to sleep, some Tibetan masters doesn’t sleep at all. When you sleep it’s like you get unconscious and your mind completely collapses. Remember the 4 mindful nesses - mindfulness of body, sensation, mind and samadi.
In Tibetan there is a word called “nyam” = experience, but changing. If you have experiences like this, this is not enlightenment, so you have to let go of it. We should never “try” to get this experience again. If you practice you will get experiences and they come and go. We have to actualize this realization to be able to conquer the habitual patterns it is not enough to study.
Sometimes mindfulness can be a little too much, and then it must be adjusted by awareness. Most traditions stops with abiding in mindfulness - Shamata, but Dzogchen has a way to pass this state.
The secret mind is right there, the view of no concept, you might try to understand it with concepts. The real difficulty lies here, to understand that this is the wisdom of our awareness. It is said that the wisdom of the view cannot be conceived or understood, because it is beyond concept. But if you have great merit, uncompelled devotion, compassion or intelligence it is possible to recognize, or if the master gives you a shock of the five sufferings. Also at the very end of an orgasm, you completely let go.
So, how to be able to let go completely of how we see things? We are talking about mind and minds essence, it’s like ice and water. In minds essence there is three qualities. We must try to gain some accomplishment in this life, so that we can traverse to a pure realm or at least have a good rebirth in the human realm and be born to benefit beings.
Mind is not something or nothingness, it’s not substantial and not non-substantial. Seeing the empty essence and the empty essence of that.
To be able to rid us from all obscurations we have to apply the view.
The Shamata practice is not free for “hope and fear”, so therefore we should practice the non-conceptual meditation of “Trekchö”. Mind is when we get attached to objects and then get more and more attached and thereby forgetting to look for the true nature.
If we want to attain enlightenment we have to recognize the natural state, if we go after all our projections and thoughts, there is no way that we can reach enlightenment.
It’s nature is empty, it’s essence is clarity, unceasing.
Even though you have these three qualities, you don’t know how to look for them, so how to find them?
There is four ways: Looking, seeing, letting be and freeing.
If you accumulate a lot of merit it will push you towards enlightenment or if it’s trough developing devotion for the teacher / teachings and practice Guru Yoga.
So the best is for us to do a lot of mantra, practice and accumulations of merit.
Your looking is part of your method, the end of the looking and the beginning of the seeing is together.
How to rest? Seeing is the view - non-conceptual view from the first second and continued abiding in this Rigpa is the Meditation.
If we meditate that becomes a contrast, so without meditating and without not meditating just abide in the natural flow of the view, leave it as it is and just rest in this flow. Completely relaxed with clarity, if you become drowsy, you lose the view and if you become agitated you relax back into the view. This is the meditation of the three immoveable :
- The body should be like a mountain.
- The sense organs should be immoveable like the reflections of stars in a lake.
- The nature of mind is immoveable like the sky.
Meditation is open and spacious just like a vast ocean; Rigpa has a reflection, liveliness. You can’t turn Rigpa on and of, it’s always on. It’s just you that is not always able to experience it. This is the ground. You have a shallow and narrow Rigpa and not a vast and open Rigpa; it’s just like this before you get acquainted with the practice.
If the state of Shamata is stabilized, your mind is abiding there and there is no movement, but if there is movement it is Rigpa. Many Dzogchen practiceners sit in Rigpa a short time and then they grasp and try to hold on to clarity and space, but it’s only if you practice and practice that this will change and then you can prolong your abiding in Rigpa.
Even in Rigpa there is thought, but these arise as wisdom. In Rigpa you can think, but it’s thinking without grasping. It’s like the karmic Police; they can’t find your footprints. Outer and inner experiences are connected vast and un-originated.
Rigpa is like a foal, it has the power of the horse, but it will grow slowly in to a full racing horse.
You should start practice with developing Refuge and Bodhicitta, then you do your Yiddam - practice and do some mantras. Then you do Shamata with and without support and then you start your Dzogchen - practice.
There will be clarity, bliss and non - thought. Rigpa is very normal, no “out” or “in” or holding on to anything. Rigpa is not “frozen” there is movement. Don’t try to prove that this is Rigpa, just hang in there…….!
Rigpa is close to “stupid” meditation, but there is clarity and awareness. You completely let go and relax.
Looking, seeing, letting be and freeing :
There are 3 letting be, the 3 unmovables, distractions will come and if you try to do anything about it, this is a distraction in itself. You should know that it is the holding on to the thoughts and feelings that make it a distraction. These distractions is simultaneously born and is what is called habitual patterns that as been created previously. It is something that comes without warning and you maybe don’t recognize before several minutes has passed. We get distracted, but we don’t know!
So, what skillful means should be applied? It’s mainly because we don’t have a firm realization on emptiness, it’s not strong yet. So you get caught by the distractions. Don’t do anything about the emotions, because if you do, you will at once loose the space. It’s just like the toilets in the airplanes, it’s always busy and it’s impossible to get in.
Shamata is like that you are in the toilet of a plane, the occupied light is always on and no one can enter. When emotions come, you must create space instead of grasping and holding on to it.
So, there is three ways of freeing : Upon arising, self-liberating and freeing without benefit or harm. The first is freeing upon arising and embalmed by emptiness, (5 conflicting emotions should turn into 5 wisdoms), second is liberating upon itself, just like a coiled snake, it uncoils itself.
Always remember Rigpa, whatever comes let it dissolve into the Rigpa. The third is like a thief entering an empty house, there is no fear of emotions or distractions. It’s when you are not free to choose, that you feel fear, because some emotions you need and others you don’t. So the root of happiness is liberating these 5 conflicting emotions.
The real Buddha-hood is the natural state, not politics!
There are signs you can observe or to look [for] to see if you have progress in your practice. They are clarity, bliss and non-thought. For beginners there is only problems, not much bliss or non-thought. Sometimes when one recognizes nature of mind, one will feel more confident and get inspired to do more practice. Sometimes your completely lost and then you recognize again. Then joy arises and you get inspired to do more practice. When you sit and you are in the state of Rigpa, you will maybe say oh! This I have experienced before in life. So your whole body can feel bliss and everything you see is blissful. At this stage it is not realization, but experiences and after some time you will feel suffering, because you hold on to this experience. Sometimes you will feel extremely blissful, because your channels and winds are in balance. You should sit straight and best is the 7-point posture of Variochana. Of the “Tsa-Lung-Tikle”, there is “Gross” and “Pure” (experiences).
The subtle energy-channels are connected with the mind. So when one becomes enlightened, the body and channels becomes “Vajra-body” and the speech becomes “Vajra-speech” and the mind “Vajra-mind”. You can perceive strong clarity (light); everything seems very clear and pure. So whatever happens, just keep on. Don’t give up, and look at everything as experiences and things will stabilize. Also the non-thought can last for long time, just don’t make a big thing out of it.
Garab Dorje’s 3 points:
- Recognize nature of your mind.
- Decide on one point, especially it is important to decide that this is Rigpa, but to leave a lot of space.
- Be confident in the liberation, when you have the experiences, then don’t doubt, just feel confident.
If the clarity is strong, it is possible to get stuck and if you are stuck in the clarity it becomes a bit still and hard. If there is expanse then this is usually good, but when there is bliss it also comes together with attachment and it is difficult not to get attached.
There are two things to be observed and two to abandoned. What you must gain and give up. What is to be practiced is Treckchö and what is to be accomplished is Tögal.
Here we are generally talking about Treckchö - cutting trough in general what we have to give up. We have up to now explained the empty essence of the “Three qualities which is to be observed”. In order to accomplish these spontaneous qualities from within, we have to let go of the strong sense of self. We have generally talked about how to cut the ego clinging. By recognizing the empty essence of our mind, we cut this clinging to a self and the ego. to stop ones emotions is not enough to reach liberation. All qualities unfold from that natural clarity. Natural clarity is also part of Samsara and it can see the “ego” behind. When this natural clarity looks and sees the inherent openness, it becomes one with the emptiness. When one finally manages to free oneself from ones emotions and obscurations faith arises. When you see the empty qualities of your emotions, you learn to appreciate yourself and start to be able to completely let go of them and thereby seeing that they are not real.
Then you feel happiness and no more fear of yourself or anything else. , this is the first birth of the little baby of devotion. You really appreciate this practice and the Dharma. That devotion will break the concepts again.
We should not ever let our “spiritual” emotions “take us” like “Hare Krishna”. We should always have openness and awareness and not space out and never get attached to our religious feelings.
When devotion is there you will see that your Rigpa becomes more “juicy” and you can really feel the blessing from your masters and the Buddha’s and Bodhisattvas. When ego is no longer restricting the blessings from getting in to you. But then again, for most of us devotion is also a mental construction, so when we practice this, it will become a natural part of us, and not something that we have to “develop” or aspire. The second thing that will unfold from within is wisdom. It is not “learned” wisdom; it’s more inherent wisdom unfolding from the natural clarity from within. When you can completely relax and open up to the natural radiance from within.
The main thing to understand is that we are intrinsically enlightened and our path is just to things as they are to see this. All the traditions are teaching us that our main problem is “EGO”. Ego is not real; it is the root of illusion. Everybody is talking about that our main problem is aversion, attachment and so on, but the main thing is that we have to take a wow with ourselves, that we will be able to take both anger, blame, accusations from ourselves and others in a very good way. If one person has done a three-year retreat and another has not, the one that has done the long retreat should have no notion about that he has done this afterwards. If he then feels that he has better understanding and that he is better, then the other person, this is all EGO.
The most important thing is mindfulness, if one does not have this, one cannot accomplish anything. There is no leveling, mind should just be in it’s nature and thereby we gain clarity. If there is serious doubt, there is no confidence. Mind should be easily with us, open and clear. Whatever one does, the main thing is to keep this clarity. Whatever one has, as long as one does not cling on to them, they are no problem for you. Clinging is basically just ignorance. I’m an artist and I just do what feels good in the moment and try not to cling on to anything. I don’t need to feel that “I am anything big” or especially good. I just pray to the Buddha’s that I will be able to benefit beings. We think that we are so many groups of beings, like the Buddha’s and our group and this and that group, but the Buddha’s don’t see it like this. How can we develop devotion?
Just by always having the Guru in your mind.
Rinpoche, do you try to put everything that you do when you are painting in connection with the Dharma?
Rinpoche: I really don’t try to do anything. The worst clinging is for example clinging to your job! You have to have a job that you like to do, if someone takes your job then let it go. Don’t get angry or depressed. Anything that is egocentric is not good, whatever it is. When ego is involved, everything is difficult, but when ego is not there, everything that you do goes well and happens very easy.
Never do what the EGO tells you to do, always do things without this notion of EGO-self and try to really see that ego does not exist. Even when one says that I have Rigpa realization, this is ego and is not Rigpa. When one learns to rest in the nature, then mind does not differentiate like, this is Rigpa and this is not.
Does emotions change with less ego?
Yes off course, when ego is not so strong then the desire is not part of you anymore. It is more like just hanging there in front of you and kind of ridiculous and you feel free. Before everything was just desire, desire and then when it gets less you get free from it. When Rigpa is not clear there is ego, when it is clear there is no ego, so it’s all-dependent on your practice.
Whatever we do, eat, sleep, work or play, it should always have the motivation of helping others. When it comes to Guru devotion, you should feel that he is right for you and that he is communicating to you. You must see his kindness and that he is a real Guru. Guru is one that gives us the teaching, who helps us to change our mind. Everything that enlightens us is from the Guru, not the books. The main thing is to have peace of mind.
The attitude of developing Bodhicitta, we have to try to train on until Samsara is completely exhausted. Regarding to compassion we shall talk about the relative and absolute. We have to train on meditating on compassion until our mind our mind becomes compassion. You should train in a way such that you at last meditate on relative compassion for 24 hours a day. There is many ways to arouse this wonderful Bodhicitta, like Bodhicharyavatara or the text of Kundu Rinpoche. You should practice and find out how you can accomplish this Bodhicitta. You use this method to train, but finally you have to let go of the method. Then traverse beyond the karmic system. So if you have to compounds like a hammer (Bodhicitta) and a vase (anger), the hammer can break the vase completely. Through this transformation you will start to like yourself and say Oh! That’s how it is, and you will also like your friends in a new way, you will know that they are not there to harm you. You will get confidence and you will feel how wonderful things are as long as you have a free choice, and you will also rejoice when you see others do well and understand things in a deeper way.
When you meditate the Dzogchen way, you will feel open, spacious, free and happy. But then again you can also feel some sadness, because you want to share your experience and help others to at chive the same.
Some people are a little bit afraid of themselves and their compassion, and then it will not grow. If one friend is in hospital because of depression and you visit him and you come there with a happy mind. He or she will maybe blame you since you are not sad and maybe not crying. He maybe wants you to feel the same as him, but then you will also end up in hospital. What is the use, you have to get him to understand that he has a choice and that he has to do it himself. Off course you can help, but not through indulging into the emotional states and grasping.
So, a modern way to try to develop compassion could be to get a bottle of good wine and then take your car and drive up in the mountains to an inspiring place with good view.
Then you sit down and let your mind rest and maybe do some Shamata meditation, first with object and then without. Then you open your bottle and pour a good glass of wine and sit down and meditate on the four thoughts and especially the sufferings of Samsara, Think about how crazy and bad it is in parts of the world with war and famine and also the suffering of animals how they are used and misused and slaughtered without any mercy and so on, while drinking your wine.
Keep on like this and try to visualize how badly beings are suffering in this world until you feel the tears coming in your eyes and you even finally start crying. Then, when you think like this and feel compassion for them all, you wow to your self that you want to develop into a being that can benefit them all. You pray to your Master, the Buddha’s and Bodhisattva’ that they all must help you to purify and train your mind and to develop Bodhicitta. This might actually be the birth of the little baby of compassion.
Then when have had some wine, you sit again quite relaxed and PHAT!! When you get distracted. Then you sit without trying to change anything, be completely natural, but without thinking, don’t even think that I’m meditating, and just sit, when you get distracted, you do the same thing again. When you finish this session, you should carefully drive home.
When you are watching a movie, you can “relative” and “absolute. The movie that you are watching is relative, you know it’s a movie, but still you enjoy it and it is a kind of real. But the absolute is open, spacious and clear, so you realize that in a way everything is like a movie.
So you have to develop compassion and not take things so serious. In action you have the motivation that you want to help all sentient beings. You look at your capacity and then you help out from that. You have to be skillful and not go further then your capacity and understanding. Karma is concepts also, so by staying in the non-conceptual state, you also destroy some karma.
While we are in this state, we don’t create any karma either, so we have to work lf in this way to purify to purify our self and others. If your mind is not purified and a Buddha appears in front of you, you will maybe not even recognize this person as a Buddha. It is just like the story of Geshe Checkawa and Buddha Maitrea.
Geshe Checkawa decided to meditate and pray to Buddha Maitrea to get his blessing and teaching and to cut the story short, he gave up meditating four times, each time after meditating three years without any sign of Buddha Maitrea.
When he finally left his retreat the fourth time he found a dog lying by the side of the road with the whole back part torn of. When he looked closer he saw that there where maggots eating of his flesh and he felt such a strong compassion for the dog that he started crying. When he wanted to remove the maggots, he realized that he might kill them if he pulled them of, so he closed his eyes and stretched out his tongue so that they could get unto his tongue instead. In the same moment the dog disappeared and Buddha Maitrea appeared in front of him. Oh you, Checkawa cried out, why didn’t you show yourself to me before? Then Buddha Maitrea said to him, it was not before now trough this compassionate deed that you did for the dog that your mind was purified. So first you saw me as the dog and then, me and if you ask someone else they most probably won’t even see the dog.
So, to traverse on the path of Dzogpachenpo, one needs a lot of diligence and many wonder how you can do that and still be in this natural flow. There is diligence and perfection of diligence! So, you need the diligence when “When you’re ‘kicked out’ of Rigpa to ‘kick’ yourself back to the clarity and Rigpa. Then when you are back, no more kicking or pushing. If you do that, you will get uptight and lose the view again. The worst thing you can do is to look at it as if your practice is ‘not good’, then it will just get worse. You just have to sit through it, until it changes and one day you can sit for 2 hours and you feel very happy and have progress in your practice.
When you are doing the preliminaries (Ngöndro) you have to cut, crush or kill your laziness and just do it.
So what we are trying to do here is to recognize the natural state - the Dharmata, through the skillful means. We try to see that the way our mind is now there is no way to get freedom.
Even though you stay in one place, your mind travels all over the world. Mind is like that; always going out, away form the natural state. Instead of following all these thoughts, sounds and tastes, instead of doing this, we should look into its essence. While looking into its essence, when you look at it without recognizing this is consciousness, but when you do see the natural state, the minds essence, then you relax there. Again we than go from looking to ‘seeing’.
There are so many emotions and thoughts and we keep on following them. Be like a ‘Snow-lion’, don’t attack the stones that are thrown at you, but the one who throws them and then kill the thrower. Staying in a relaxed state of mind, look at the mind that is grasping. When you sit in Rigpa and you loose it, then you in a way pretend that you are in it, because you have a feeling what it is like. It ‘s like a woman with heavy perfume, even when she has left, the perfume is still in the room. So when you have been in Rigpa, you just ‘rest in the natural flow’.
It’s also similar to a butter lamp when it is in a room with open windows; it’s hard to blow out. When the light pervaded the room, where did the darkness go.
Like Nyushul Khenpo, even though he was totally realized, he did tsok and purification with Vajrasattva every day and confession. It is very important to meditate on compassion and patience. With the method of Dzogpachenpo, it’s easy to go wrong, because you no longer have to cut the emotions and thoughts, so it’s easy to become selfish and addicted to happyness. When you really can rest in the view, everything turns into a pure realm; thoughts become wisdom and everyone become like deities. When you look at all phenomena as pure, you have to respect them and the way they manifest.
The all-pervading suffering can only be seen by the Buddha’s and Bodhisattvas, but we can only see the suffering of the suffering and the suffering of change. Once you have attained enlightenment, the compassion is very strong and all notions of suffering are gone because everything is enlightened. Accumulation of merit is very important and fuels you towards enlightenment. It’s like going to holy places, doing your yiddam practice and accumulating prayers. Here we have mostly only had the time to discuss the wisdom, but it is also very important to learn about all these skillful means and learn how to apply them.
Outer: To visualize all around your Guru.
Inner: To know that you’re ‘inner Guru’ is the same as the outer.
Secret: Is to connect with the inner secret linage” which is Rigpa.
If you know how it is to recognize the inner linage, then you connect with this recognition of the nature and practice out from there and you immediately connect with all the Buddha’s. It’s like you have them all on the phone and practice compassion out from that.
In Dharmakaya, there is nothing like a substance, nothing ceasing, staying or the like, so it is only expressed by a ‘cirle’. It is not possible to express, you can only realize through yourself and with yourself.
In the Dzogpachenpo, everything is together as one. ‘That’ what we all have in our self is the ‘Ground’, the Buddha’s mind. By essence empty, by nature cognizant. It’s a union of these two, that is the ‘Great Perfection’ or
Enlightenment. There is some things called the common ground which is a union of Samsara and Nirvana, At some stage this was disturbed and some saw the empty cognoscente nature of this and became enlightened - the Buddha’s. The others like us saw the luminosity. They became curious and looked ‘outside’ and more and more the five senses manifested and all the phenomena to.
So the impartial state was moved and became ignorance. So we thought that - OH, there is something out there! And then there has to be something over there! And then there has to be something here thereby this duality was created.
An illusion is like you mistake a rope on the ground for a snake. Based on this created surrounding that he is there and I am here, starts the whole dilution. When this illusion collapses, this is enlightenment and when this happens it will never come back. We need to destroy this fixation on the body and to be able to do so; we have to look into our mind.
When Buddha thought, he thought on different levels for different beings. He first thought the four noble thoughts, then about emptiness, then luminosity and then the union of these two; the ‘Maha Ati’ or Dzogchen.
Garab Dorje taught on the “Tsik, Sum, Nedek”, about view, meditation and conduct. Our illusion is a product of all sentient beings common karma, but we have our own illusion, and because we believe that it is true, we perceive it in our dualistic way.
So in our process we look straight trough this and look into the nature. Why is it good to do Shamata with object? Because we always have this notion with subject and object. Shamata without support, is in a way to rest in the now ness, you observe your abiding mind, this is the gatekeeper. You have to have awareness in the background, otherwise you can loose you can loose this manger and you maybe don’t realize before 5 minutes has gone.
The thing about Shamata, is that you are ‘stuck’ in the moment and you have not realized emptiness, so you have to apply a method, which here is Shamata.
So this feeling of yes, now I can do it, I can keep it under control. Which actually is like throwing fuel onto the fire, because you believe it is true! You think that your suffering and phenomena is true. Without any in or any out - utter openness. How is it that ‘openness’? It’s empty, awake, luminous and simple. Here we have mainly been talking about the wisdom technique and not about the two accumulations, the five practices of a Bodhisattva, generosity, meditation etc.
The way to do this is just to turn your attention slightly inward, not to look deeply inside, just to turn your focus from outward to inward in a very light way. The moment of recognizing this state is the blessings of the linage.
Sogyal Rinpoche says: “Don’t stay to close and don’t stay to fare”. don’t try to look into it or to meditate ‘upon’ it, just leave it as it is.
Remain natural without doing anything that is the practice of non-meditation. Remain immovable like a mountain, let all your senses be open completely, but without any focusing or grasping. When you allow things to happen naturally with compassion and devotion, then all the good states of clarity, bliss and emptiness will come by them selves. So the practice is many small glimt’s of recognition until it all kind of opens up or falls apart.
Let your practice be ‘juicy,' and be happy without a reason.
© Lama Sherab