Personal Advice on Dzogchen Praxis
Homage to my teacher!
The Great Master of Oddiyana once said:
Don’t investigate the root of things,
Investigate the root of Mind!
Once the mind’s root has been found,
You’ll know one thing, yet all is thereby freed.
But if the root of Mind you fail to find,
You will know everything but nothing
When you start to meditate on your mind, sit up with your body straight, allowing your breath to come and go naturally. Gaze into the space in front of you with eyes neither closed nor wide open. Think to yourself that for the sake of all beings who have been your mothers, you will watch awareness, the face of Samantabhadra. Pray strongly to your root teacher, who is inseparable from Padmasambhava, the Guru from Oddiyana, and then mingle your mind with his. Settle in a balanced, meditative state.
Once you are settled, however, you will not stay long in this empty, clear state of awareness. Your mind will start to move and become agitated. It will fidget and run here, there, and everywhere, like a monkey. What you are experiencing at this point is not the nature of the mind but only thoughts. If you stick with them and follow them, you will find yourself recalling all sorts of things, thinking about all sorts of needs, planning all sorts of activities. It is precisely this kind of mental activity that has hurled you into the dark ocean of samsara in the past, and there’s no doubt it will do so in the future. It would be so much better if you could cut through the ever spreading, black delusion of your thoughts.
What if you are able to break out of your chain of thoughts? What is awareness like? It is empty, limpid stunning, light, free, joyful! It is not something bounded or demarcated by its own set of attributes. There is nothing in the whole of samsara and nirvana that it does not embrace. From time without beginning, it is within us, inborn. We have never been without it, yet it is wholly outside the range of action, effort, and imagination.
But what, you will ask, is it like to recognize awareness, the face of rigpa? Although you experience it, you simply cannot describe it – it would be like a dumb man trying to describe his dreams! It is impossible to distinguish between yourself resting in awareness and the awareness you are experiencing. When you rest quite naturally, nakedly, in the boundless state of awareness, all those speedy, pestering thoughts that would not stay quiet even for an instant – all those memories, all those plans that cause you so much trouble – lose their power. They disappear in the spacious, cloudless sky of awareness. They shatter, collapse, vanish. All their strength is lost in awareness.
You actually have this awareness within you. It is the clear, naked wisdom of dharmakaya. But who can introduce you to it? On what should you take your stand? What should you be certain of? To begin with, it is your teacher who shows you the state of your awareness. And when you recognize it for yourself, it is then that you are introduced to your own nature. All the appearances of both samsara and nirvana are but the display of your own awareness; take your stand upon awareness alone. Just like the waves that rise up out of the sea and sink back into it, all thoughts that appear sink back into awareness. Be certain of their dissolution, and as a result you will find yourself in a state utterly devoid of both meditator and something meditated upon - completely beyond the meditating mind.
"Oh, in that case," you might think, "there’s no need for meditation." Well, I can assure you that there is a need! The mere recognition of awareness will not liberate you. Throughout your lives from beginningless time, you have been enveloped in false beliefs and deluded habits. From then till now you have spent every moment as a miserable, pathetic slave of your thoughts! And when you die, it’s not at all certain where you will go. You will follow your karma, and you will have to suffer. This is the reason why you must meditate, continuously preserving the sate of awareness you have been introduced to. The omniscient Longchenpa has said, "You may recognize your own nature, but if you do not meditate and get used to it, you will be like a baby left on a battlefield: you’ll be carried off by the enemy, the hostile army of your own thoughts!" In general terms, meditation means becoming famiIiar with the state of resting in the primordial uncontrived nature, through being spontaneously, naturally, constantly mindful. It means getting used to leaving the state of awareness alone, divested of all distraction and clinging.
How do we get used to remaining in the nature of the mind? When thoughts come while you are meditating, let them come; there’s no need to regard them as your enemies. When they arise, relax in their arising. On the other hand, if they don’s arise, don’t be nervously wondering whether or not they will. Just rest in their absence. If big, well-defined thoughts suddenly appear during your meditation, it is easy to recognize them. But when slight, subtle movements occur, it is hard to realize that they are there until much later. This is what we call namtok wogyu, the undercurrent of mental wandering. This is the thief of your meditation, so it is important for you to keep a close watch. If you can be constantly mindful, both in meditation and afterward, when you are eating, sleeping, walking, or sitting, that’s it – you’ve got it right!
The great master Guru Rinpoche has said:
A hundred things may be explained,
a thousand told,
But one thing only should you grasp.
Know one thing and everything is freed-
Remain within your inner nature,
It is also said that if you do not meditate, you will not gain certainty: if you do, you will. But what sort of certainty? If you meditate with a strong, joyful endeavor, signs will appear showing that you have become used to staying in your nature. The fierce, tight clinging that you have to dualistically experienced phenomena will gradually loosen up, and your obsession with happiness and suffering, hopes and fears, and so on, will slowly weaken. Your devotion to the teacher and your sincere trust in his instructions will grow. After a time, your tense, dualistic attitudes will evaporate and you will get to the point where gold and pebbles, food and filth, gods and demons, virtue and nonvirtue, are all the same for you-you’ll be at a loss to choose between paradise and hell! But until you reach that point (while you are still caught in the experiences of dualistic perception), virtue and nonvirtue, buddhafields and hells, happiness and pain, actions and their results – all this is reality for you. As the Great Guru has said, "My view is higher than the sky, but my attention to actions and their results is finer than flour."
So don’t go around claiming to be some great Dzogchen meditator when in fact you are nothing but a farting lout, stinking of alcohol and rank with lust!
It is essential for you to have a stable foundation of pure devotion and samaya, together with a strong, joyful endeavor that is well balanced, neither too tense nor too loose. If you are able to meditate, completely turning aside from the activities and concerns of this life, it is certain that you will gain the extraordinary qualities of the profound path of Dzogchen. Why wait for future lives? You can capture the primordial citadel right now, in the present.
This advice is the very blood of my heart. Hold it close and never let it go!
Counsels from my Heart