09 Sep 2014

Alan first comments on the text once again and explains some of the symbolism involved. He then continues to explain how the formless realm, the form realm and the desire realm are connected: That out of the formless realm emerges the form realm, and out of the form realm emerges the desire realm. He adds that once one is dwelling in the form realm one can see the desire realm that acts almost like a holographic display. You can then manipulate the five elements in the form realm and thereby their displays in the desire realm. However, once you practice the Thodgal phase of Dzogchen, visualizations of the Buddhas come up - whether you are Buddhist or not, that does not matter. After the meditation Alan explains three terms that are central to Dzogchen practice: What they all come down to is giving up everything and thereby “winning” everything. In such an approach you thus take the fruition as the path. After the meditation, Alan answers two questions: 1. Concerning the pointing-out instructions: What does it mean when “mental appearances” merge? And are they sense objects or not? 2. If Daniel Dennett were to go to the valley of rainbows, what would he see?

Meditation starts at 38:05

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Transcript

Oh, la so. Um, Morgan? Who is Morgan’s buddy? There’s Morgan. Hi. [Laughs] I saw this big gaping hole that was kind of an emptiness of Morgan. [laughter] But this was, this is a really good example. I look for and didn’t find. Right? But that’s not the same as finding the absence of, so egg all over my face. [Laughs] Oh, la so, well um, let’s go back to to a very brief passage. We’re going to do the same thing we did this morning, make this a habit for a few days then we’ll see. Uh, just one more passage, this is now again a citation by Padmasambhava, one of the great dzogchen Tantras. [I’ll] give a brief commentary [then] we’ll go to the practice. [0:53]

So here is his, yeah his first, his first citation he will, as you will see, give a number of them. This is from the Tantra of the Three Phases of Liberation by Observation so:

Oh Lord of Mysteries, listen! The immaculate nature of your conscious awareness, this immaculate emptiness that is ungrounded in the nature of any substance or color, is the Buddha Samantabhadra. [1:24] [Natural Liberation, 1998 (NL), page 129]

So it is interesting how these are one layer on top of the other because first of all is the immaculate nature of your conscious awareness. Conscious awareness is clearly something that is present, right? It is not an absence of something; it’s a presence of something. But then he, but then there’s this a positive, that is just a comment and then he says the immaculate emptiness that is ungrounded in the nature of any substance or color... So he’s kind of laying one on top of the other. On the one hand, an immaculate conscious awareness and laying right on top of that, an immaculate emptiness but the two are non-dual. They are not separate. They are not two things that are slapped together so primordially indivisible, non-dual. And immaculate, which means primordially pure which is both luminous emptiness, conscious awareness and also emptiness. And this is the Buddha Samantabhadra. So that’s it. Do not look for the Buddha outside yourself. There’s our mantra for the whole retreat. [2:24]

Ah, the Buddha Samantabhadra goes by different names. This is very often called the Buddha Samantabhadri in dzogchen school, the old translation schools, and the new translation schools like Kagyupa, well all of them really, often referred to as Buddha Vajradhara right? And the Kalachakra Tantra, the ati-buddha, primordial buddha, they’re all synonyms right? They’re all synonyms. But now this could very easily seem like okay well here’s here’s kind of, here’s Buddhist god, here’s Buddhistic god you know? Um, and if one wants to call them Buddhist gods I’m not going to debate with it but what is, what’s the real meaning? I mean if one wants to call it that, then one could make that meaningful but then you have to make sure that you don’t just, how do you say, mix it all together with, uh, ideas, theories, views and so forth of other traditions. [3:12]

But what Buddha Samantabhadra is, is simply a personification, an archetypal embodiment, a personification, um, a transcendent archetype of your own pristine awareness. And it’s very important to recognize they keep on saying RANG GAI [Tibetan 3:30] Rigpa, rang rig, rang rig, your own pristine awareness. In other words, it is not somebody else’s awareness, that when you achieve some high and mystical state, you’ll merge with that being. I have no criticism; other traditions teach that, no problem. I am a comparative scholar of contemplative studies but that’s not why I came to Phuket, you know? We are here just to practice and have the theory here to support us in our practice. This Buddha Samantabhadra, Primordial Buddha is the transcendent archetype, the personification, the divine embodiment of your own pristine awareness. Right? [4:06]

And then everything about Samantabhadra is symbolic. Now one of the lovely aspects of it, I think, to my mind, it’s just a beautiful image. Uh, it is sexual of course but in just a pristine way. There is nothing vulgar about it. From my perspective, just nothing, there’s nothing crude, base, or anything like that. This deep blue color, the deep blue color of Samantabhadra symbolizing pristine awareness, primordial consciousness. Right? But then Samantabhadra very commonly is depicted in union with Samantabhadri, so it’s primordial Buddha-ess, you know, just female form like deva and devi. And something you may not know but I find it very helpful to know in terms of dealing with this type of imagery is the Samantabhadri, the consort often depicted as white in color, is the personification of dharmadhatu, the absolute space of phenomena. And they are in primordial union, blissful union. So there we have it. [5:14]

We have awareness. We have emptiness and we have the bliss that saturates the two and all three of these have never been separate. Now that’s just a beautiful symbolism and it evokes symbols like why do we have poetry? Who needs poetry? Why don’t we just speak in good fashioned prose and narrate the information, you know, pass on the data. Well, because poetry, because of art, because music speaks to another dimension of our existence in ways that sometimes just, words or narrative or an email doesn’t and so likewise. And this is known also in terms of you know, to bring out the cliché, left brain - much more analytical, linguistic, and so forth and the right brain - much more imagery, symbolic poetry and so forth. It has some truth to it and neuroscientists have been rather critical of that, because [it is] so often very much oversimplified. Nevertheless is there some truth to it in terms of neural activity? Yeah, some degree. [6:06] We won’t push it overboard but that left/right, that left/right, the left, the left hand of wisdom, the right hand of skillful means, the union of the two, it’s really running through all of Buddhism. [6:18]

So, as I was reflecting on that or just kind of thoughts were coming up this afternoon, it occurred to me that within Buddhism we have the shamatha, which is the opening of the door to the form realm, the form realm. And this is most explicit from my very limited reading. It is most explicit in the Pali Canon and Theravada writings that this form realm is in some respects very archetypal, archetypal pretty, very close to a union sense. It’s archetypal and they are called nimitas, nimitas, and according to one very very fine Theravada scholar, he’s a Sri Lankan monk-scholar-contemplative [who] wrote an outstanding book called Buddhist Theory, [Transcriptionist’s note: I think we need to strike incorrect title, “Buddhist Theory”] Buddhist Meditation in Theory and Practice, published in Malaysia. I have it as one of my cherished books, outstanding scholarship. [7:07]

But when he’s looking at the nimitas, these counterpart signs, the nimita, the archetype of the earth element, water, fire, air, space and so forth, he says, and here’s his phrasing, [7:19] These are like the conceptual quintessence of these elements that manifest here in our very familiar world, so when I strike something solid like this table, it’s very firm, it’s very solid. Well, that’s a lot of earth element. I strike the cushion; it’s less earth element. So this is a phenomenological physics, first person physics, experiential physics where if you look at earth, water, fire, air and space, that pretty much covers it. Five elements will do. You don’t need barium and sodium and potassium and magnesium to understand your immediate experience of the world just this way. And that’s certainly not putting down chemistry. It’s another approach. It’s complementary but they are not in competition with each other. [7:58]

So in terms of the form realm, we have this whole realm of these archetypal forms. It sounds again rather platonic, ideas, pure ideas. And where it gets very interesting very quickly is that, this is most explicit in the Theravada but it does come up in the Mahayana as well, is that by the power of samadhi, just samadhi, not realization of emptiness and certainly you don’t need realization of rigpa, right? Just by the power of samadhi, if you, if you achieve shamatha, cross the threshold over into the form realm and you master, you really master these archetypes of earth, water, fire, air and so on, by then, you may direct, you may manipulate, you may utilize these archetypes in the form realm and by so doing, manipulate their effulgences, their displays in the desire realm because just basic Buddhism, generic Buddhism, this world that we are living in here is called the desire realm and it is an effulgence, a display - an emergence from form realm. Form realm, OK? [9:05]

So, you find parallels of that by brilliant mathematicians. I mentioned before Roger Penrose, that suggests that there may be a deeper dimension of reality that’s just pure, pure math, just pure math, and what we are experiencing here like the pop-up, a pop-up or a um, what’s it called, um, oh, it is a simple word, holographic, like a holographic display. You know, out of the two dimensional springs the three dimensional but the two dimensional is where all the real information is and what we are getting is the pop-up display, which is all illusory. That’s actually not Buddhism. This kind of like is really like some brilliant modern mathematicians and so forth and physicists. [9:41]

So the idea is consonant, I’m not saying it’s equivalent, but it’s consonant, compatible with, lends to dialogue with strictly Buddhist view that in the cosmogony, the formation of the universe as we know it, out of the formless realm emerges the form realm; out of the form realm emerges the desire realm and then when a world system collapses it goes from the desire realm and folding back into the form realm and it’s a big big collapse and it folds back into the formless realm. And this is happening but not one universe, multiverses all over the place, multiverses you know? [10:16]

So, that was all a bit of a tangent but what I, but now over the last 24 years that I have been seeking to immerse my mind as much as I can in the teachings and the practice of dzogchen, uh I’ll just make a brief allusion to Tögal and I alluded to this earlier and the Tögal without visualizing anything at all, there’s no visualization at all in straight Tögal practice. You are simply resting and I’ll just say that much that more to it than that. Then visions of the five Buddhas come up: Vairochana, Amitabha, Ratnasambhava and so forth. They come up spontaneously with their consorts [pause] and the clear implication is you don’t have to be a Buddhist to see this. After all you don’t get Buddhist brainwashed and then finally see what you’ve been told you should see. Say this, they are spontaneous actualizations and you are really not a fit practitioner of the Tögal, you are not a suitable vessel unless you have realized Rigpa. So you must be resting from that space. So if your mind is resting in the form realm, then you may have these archetypes of earth, water, fire, air and so forth arising That’s fine right? And see how they manifest in the desire realm. But here you are not resting in the form realm, not in dzogchen; you are resting in Rigpa and out of Rigpa emerge. [11:45]

So, it looks to me, I just find this fascinating and it’s just like, man, I want to stop talking and I want to stop teaching, I just want to go out and find out if this is all true or not, you know, from my own experience. That’s the cool thing; it’s not just a mystical theology that you can believe in and say, “Oh isn’t this cool.” [11:59] These are all teachings to be put into practice to see for yourself. Otherwise all the enthusiasm displaying, I wouldn’t have any. I’d have none. Really, if there’s no way to put this to practice. I’d rather grow potatoes. At least, you know, you are doing something that’s worthwhile. I like potatoes. [12:20]

It seems that there on this deeper dimension, this deeper dimension of primordial consciousness, dharmadhatu, there really is transcendent, transcendent symbolism, transcendent archetypes, and Samantabhadra is right in the center, the most primal I think, really the most primal. Certainly for all of Buddhism, [you] can say that. So, there it is, the primordial union in bliss, immutable bliss, the union of absolute space of phenomena and primordial consciousness. And then this tantra continues,

If the nature of your conscious awareness were just emptiness and bliss, [if that was all there were to it,] it would not be flat emptiness; [NL page 130]

This is just a sheer vacuum, a sheer vacuity. Uh, the term is used rather frequently, always in contrast to dharmadhatu, dharmadhatu being indivisible from primordial consciousness, a flat emptiness, a sheer, a mere vacuity. Would just be that, just a vacuum, like nothing in it. [13:24]

Well, it’s not that. If it were just emptiness and bliss, it would not be a flat emptiness. Well, the bliss would take care of that.

rather your own conscious awareness which is unceasingly distinct and clear, is the Buddha Samantabhadra.

So there again he says, your own conscious awareness, just so we have no, no doubts about this, no qualms. That you are not trying to gain union with some other being that is higher, infinite, divine, and so forth, so there it is. [13:54]

The empty nature of your awareness, which is ungrounded in any substance, and this clear, distinct presence of your own conscious awareness are indivisibly present, so this is the Buddha Dharmakaya. [14:11] [NL page 130]

...mind of the Buddha. Samantabhadra is simply again an embodiment of Dharmakaya. Your awareness, he keeps on saying this, your, your, your, that’s not just English. That’s from the Tibetan.

Your awareness which is present as a great aggregate of light of indivisible clarity and emptiness is unborn and deathless, so it is the Buddha of immutable light. It may be recognized. [14:36] [NL page 130]

I like that ending. “It may be recognized.” It’s kind of like throwing it down. It’s like there’s a working hypothesis; you can test this you know. You don’t have to just believe it like this is coming from a tantra ... oh it must be true. No, there it is. You can recognize this. After all, it is your awareness. So why shouldn’t you be able to do that? [14:56]

Let’s slip just briefly back to the arhat because I think just by the force of just sheer logic, unless your... just sheer logic. I don’t need to repeat what I said the other day, uh, that if nirvana dies when you do then it is not deathless and if the aspiration to achieve nirvana is the aspiration to become a non entity then that’s craving for nonexistence so I think we can really dispense with that. It’s a wrong interpretation. And once again, it doesn’t matter. It’s one of these things again where you have one thousand Theravada scholars all with PhD, multiple from Buddhist colleges and they say no, you are wrong and I say no, you are wrong. I don’t care how many there are, it’s 10,000, 100,000 or a million. If they say no, this is what the Buddha was really teaching. You should aspire for absolute non-existence because there’s no consciousness after the death of an arhat, therefore there’s no nothing. I don’t care how many people say it. I don’t care and I’m not going to debate them. You’re wrong. And they don’t have to believe me; they don’t have to agree but they’re wrong and I have no interest in talking about it anymore. [15:59]

So let us assume what logic compels us, if one is working with taking seriously the Buddhist framework. That the post-mortem arhat in some meaningful way is still immersed in this immutable bliss ... all those adjectives. They were positive adjectives many of them, weren’t they? The refuge and so forth, a wondrous and amazing and so forth. That It doesn’t just terminate at death. What a cosmic letdown, an anticlimax. Well it’s not. It can’t be. But the arhat, what is the nature here if we follow the logic here? What is the nature of the arhat’s awareness? Well, it has to be unborn because it is so clear in the Pali Canon that the conditioned consciousness, that’s terminated. So the arhat, the post-mortem arhat’s awareness must be unborn and it’s of the nature of immutable bliss. Take all those adjectives and now you can say the post-mortem arhat’s mind is, and we can go back to that, wondrous, amazing, blissful, serene, peaceful. These are not qualities of a vacuity, right? or non-existence. It makes no sense. It’s unborn and all of those qualities. It is luminous; it’s bright, right? [17:20]

Well, how many of those are there? And that is, is there the Theravada model and then the Mahayana model. That is, do the shravakas get, kind of the, you know, the lower grade, the Hinayana, unborn, blissful, immutable consciousness and so forth whereas the Mahayana people following the Tathagatagarbha, they get a better one. And the dzogchenpas, we get the dzogchen model. [laughs] You know it’s kind of like, you know, different levels of the of an iPhone, the low and medium and the really high one with lots of gigs and really superfast and so forth. Um, I think it’s kind of obvious that’s silly. If this is pristinely pure, right, and it’s unborn, that’s the big one . It’s unborn, luminous, blissful, immutable bliss and moreover it’s realizing [the ] nature of ultimate reality. It’s realizing nirvana which is not other than emptiness; which is not other than Dharmadhatu. So would it not follow that the arhat is realizing emptiness with Rigpa? If not Rigpa, what else? Another unborn, immutably blissful etc, etc, etc? Another one that Hinayana people get? That really doesn’t make any sense to me. [18:44]

So I mentioned before that in terms of primordial consciousness, primordial consciousness that knows reality as it is, that’s knowing Dharmadhatu. Right? But the other aspect of a Buddha’s mind is knowing the full range of phenomena. The primordial consciousness knows the full range of, full range of phenomena. The arhat who’s completely absolutely disengaged from samsara, the post-mortem arhat, I think there is a total consensus on this point, has no awareness whatsoever of anything outside of nirvana. Galaxies collapsing, universes crunching, expanding, form realm coming out of formless realm and so forth and collapsing? Nada [nothing]. Transcendent, timeless, totally totally beyond [Transcriptionist’s note: Sanskrit mantra - heart sutra at high speed] paragate parasamgate. Totally gone. And therefore totally, sorry, useless for all of us here. I mean they are not even aware that we are here you know. So frankly, totally useless. [19:52]

But the Buddha’s mind has that other aspect to it, primordial consciousness of being aware of the full range of phenomena and that’s pervading all of space and time. But again, not the god’s eye view as one unitary perspective looking out on one unitary universe because there is no indication of that anywhere in Buddhism, but rather then, how is the Buddha aware of all the phenomena? By way of the awarenesses of all sentient beings that populate the universe. You are the Buddha’s spy. You know? The Buddha wanted to know what’s the world look like from Emerson’s [20:31] perspective. Yuup! Except that there was no invasion; there was no possession. You did not get possessed by somebody. And why? Already there. And that’s what you need to discover. The Buddha was already there and is already viewing from Buddha’s perspective so it looks like we have a multiple personality disorder. The personality that we are aware of, “Oh, I’m a sentient being. My shamatha practice is not going so well. I had a really bad day. I’m not sleeping so well. Oh, I had some tummy problems. Oh, I’m feeling really low energy. Oh.” That one. [laughter]. And then the other one, “Emaho.” [laughs] Just like “Emaho.” [laughter] “Just immutable bliss. And what’s that chatter up there? I don’t know but emaho down here.” [laughter] So we’ve got some multiple deals going on here right? So, where ever is down there, I think we’d all like to be living down there, you know, the emaho land. Emaho is Sanskrit for amazing, so there it is. So that’s what it looked like to me. [21:45]

I’ve never heard any lama say this. But I, and I would be willing to be persuaded otherwise. I don’t have that, I have an absolute conviction that nirvana is not annihilation. That’s just total, I’m not going to debate that one. But just by logic and probing into this I don’t see any alternative to this one. That, what other consciousness could it be? That the post-mortem arhat is realizing nirvana with, if it is not Rigpa? Something less? Something other? When, the real catch is that it is unborn, it’s unborn, it’s blissful, and it realizes reality as it is. It is a primordial consciousness that’s realizing reality as it is, right? [22:30]

But, what’s the difference between an arhat, a post-mortem arhat and a post-mortem Buddha? Ohhh, Buddha has the breadth, and that breadth which is the luminosity, remember? The essential nature is emptiness; the manifest nature is luminous and these are pervaded by or manifesting as all-pervasive compassion. [Tibetan] [22:52] That’s not there for the arhats. One out of three, the knowing reality as it is? Yeah. When you are an arhat, your mind is completely free of mental afflictions but not free of cognitive afflictions, excuse me, cognitive obscurations, [Tibetan] . [23:10]

And this is clearly Mahayana talk, but not free of [repeats Tibetan]. [23:14] And that’s why it is said, after the arhat, the post-mortem arhat has dwelled for some timeless period in this timeless dimension of reality that symbolically, how about some poetry here, a ray of light is emitted from the heart of the Buddha, striking, catalyzing the mind of the arhat with a word, with a little message, you know, a mind to mind transmission, “You’re not finished yet.” And then the arhat has to take birth again and then do the unfinished work. Because in the Mahayana view, the Dzogchen view, there’s only one final destination. Nobody comes to be just an arhat and then stops for eternity. One way or another, the Buddha’s hook, hook, says more to be done and then you come back, not propelled by karma and klesha. You don’t get karma and klesha back. The Buddha doesn’t send cooties to you. [laughter] Saying, “Take that, pfstt!” you know. That doesn’t happen. You come back but then you come back very anomalously. You are coming back because there is more to be done. So something like that, maybe. [24:23]

So, a number of you are disciples of really great lamas and you might ask them if there is some alternative explanation. Because I have never heard any Mahayana or dzogchenpa say that a dead arhat realizes Rigpa. Never heard anybody say that. So, it’s me alone, kind of makes me naked in the wind, right? But if it is not then, with what? With what? [24:50]

So now we just go to the practice. I wanted to... it will be a silent practice. The method is simple but I wanted to leave you just with some seeds, choice terms that come up all over the place. Because I have received quite a few of the guided meditations, the pointing out and Gyatrul Rinpoche has only taught me the practice texts. He never took me into any of the scholarly texts and there are many of them and they are brilliant but that’s not what he’s hooked me to. So, then I just haven’t been motivated to go off and become a, um, a dzogchen scholar. So that’s my limitation. But what comes up in the meditation manuals, there are a few words that just crop up everywhere. So I think it would be good to bear them in mind. [25:36]

When you are resting in your practice, this is Trekchö now not Tögal. Yeah, we are not doing Tögal in this retreat, but the Trekchö, the cutting through to original purity. Kha ta Trekchö [Tibetan 25:44] Kha means original, ta means pure. Kha is the first letter of the alphabet, yeah? First letter of the alphabet, therefore original. Kha ta, kha ta Trekchö. First one is [CHA TEL or CHA ME [Tibetan], either one. [26:05] Free of activity. Free of activity. When you are doing this practice which is very core to our eight weeks here, this practice of seeking to simply cut through to Rigpa, rest in Rigpa, when you are doing the practice correctly, and even the phrasing is funny, but when you are doing the practice, it’s still funny because you are not doing anything but what can I say. [laughter] It’s [Tibetan CHA DEL ], you’re not doing anything. [Tibetan CHA DEL ], you are not doing anything, you’re free of activity, free of doing, not doing, right? [26:38]

Now, there’s something really profound about that and also very simple. And that is from where we’re coming when we are approaching our meditation cushion, I imagine most if not all of us are approaching it as a sentient being sitting down saying, “Wow, I would really like to realize Rigpa. Where’s my meditation cushion. OK, and I think I am going to start now. OK, let’s do it.” We’re coming to the meditation cushion as a sentient being, wishing to realize something we haven’t realized and to become something we aren’t yet. Well, as long as you are holding that attitude, you’re not even starting. You have to release it and so what is being deactivated here, is any activation of yourself as a sentient being even nominally, even conventionally or relatively. You completely deactivate any sense of yourself as being a sentient being in any way at all. And you don’t do anything with the attitude that, “I’m a sentient being.” You turn it off. You turn it off. [27:50]

It’s not to say that in some meaningful sense you’re still a sentient being. It’s not that. It’s not magic hocus-pocus or sleight of hand. It’s just that, and I’ll give you an analogy, so it’s such a perfect analogy. No wonder dream yoga comes right after this. And that is, within a dream, as long as you have the attitude that “I’m the person in the dream” and you have any longings from the perspective of the person in the dream, “Oh, I hope that one day I will awaken,” then you are not lucid. And as long as you hold that notion and you are not even thinking “I’m the person in the dream,” you are thinking, “I’m this person.” Because you don’t know it’s a dream. Right? You’re just thinking, “This is me. Now what can I do to awaken? I’ve heard about awakening. What can I do; I think I need to do something. Maybe practice shamatha and then vipashyana and stage of generation and completion. What can I do? Oh, and I think I need to pretend that I am a Buddha. Yeah, that’s what I need to, I need to imagine that I am a Buddha, you know.” [28:55]

As long as you are operating out of that attitude that this is who you are even nominally and thinking, “Now, what’ll I do about that, what do I do about that,” you’re not practicing dzogchen. You are practicing what’s called a causal vehicle. You’re asking, “What can I do to bring about the effect, the fruition of what I really want.” Right? [29:18]

But dzogchen within the context of vajrayana, that dzogchen, naked, pure, unadorned, unelaborated is taken to fruition as the path and is saying, “Right now, by an act of will, I’m going to release every sense, every - just that, every sense of being a sentient being and I will release every activity that’s aroused by the sense of being a sentient being.” You’re totally deactivating yourself as a sentient being and what’s left when you deactivate yourself as a sentient being? Rigpa! That’s all there is left. [29:59]

The substrate consciousness is still the substrate consciousness of a sentient being. And when you are resting in it, having achieved shamatha, you really like it. You want to keep it. “I like the luminosity; I like bliss; I don’t want to get out. I really like it here; this is really peaceful.” Fine, you are really a primal sentient being. Knock yourself out, you know. But it is not the dzogchen perspective because you are still there in the context of being a sentient being. So that’s the first thing, CHA DO. [Tibetan 30:25] Being free of activity. You are totally deactivating this sense of being a sentient being and any activity as a sentient being. [30:35]

Because when you are lucid, just think of the analogy, when you are lucid, when you are lucid you can do all kinds of things, you can fly through the sky, walk through walls, multiply loaves, walk on water, turn into a turtle, anything you like. You can do all kinds of things; there is no limit to it. But you are not doing any of those things from the perspective of being the person in the dream. If you are, then you are non-lucid. You know you are not the person in the dream. That is why you can turn into a turtle or into Samantabhadra or anything you like. Because you know you are not any one of them, therefore you can manifest into any of them. If you are an actor, a very well highly trained actor who can play any role from slapstick comedy to drama to you know, action, adventure, and so forth. Since you know that you are not Luke Skywalker and you also know that you are not [pause] you know, anything else in the movie then you can play any role you like. But if you suddenly think you are Luke Skywalker then you can’t play any other role because you are stuck. But now you are delusional. Because I’m sorry, but you are not Luke Skywalker. So that’s a CHA DO, CHA ME, [Tibetan 31.52] free of activity. [31:53]

And then coming out of that SUR ME, SUR ME. [Tibetan 31:58] SUR is effort. No effort. Again, if you’re releasing into the identity of being a Buddha, all of the Buddha’s activities are effortless and spontaneous, general Mahayana statement. All the Buddha’s activities: unpremeditated, spontaneous, and effortless. So if you are exerting any effort, you’ve just affirmed yourself as a not Buddha which means you have locked yourself right back into the cage of being a sentient being. Or strive diligently, strive diligently, you know, that’s fine if you are a sentient being. But as long as you are striving diligently to achieve something you haven’t, to become something you haven’t, something you’re not, then you’re not lucid. You’re practicing non-lucidity. The second one is no striving at all, SUR ME. [Tibetan 32:47]

A third one is CHU ME MAI PA [Tibetan 32:51] and CHU ME means to fix, to modify, to alter, to configure, to improve, like that. CHU ME MET THA [Tibetan ] Don’t do any of that. [33:05] Don’t try to fix anything. If you are resting in Buddha mind, there’s a no aspect of your being that needs being fixed. Nothing, body, speech, mind, nothing needs to be fixed. You’re a Buddha. So if you are operating out of the sense, “Oh, I need to fix that,” then you have slipped right back into sentient being mode. And from that mode, there’s everything to fix. From Buddha mode, there’s nothing to fix. And the whole idea here is you’re taking really literally, the fruition as the path and you are practicing, you’re practicing from the respect of being a Buddha in which there’s nothing to fix. Myriad of things to do for the sake of other sentient beings, nothing to do for yourself. [33:42]

And then a final one, so these are all core, really core, and [this is] not just theory. This is exactly what you, it would be helpful to bear in mind. And the final one is [Tibetan]. [33:56] And the [Tibetan], is to reject, to abandon, to dismiss, to avoid, to get rid of. In terms of your own being, if you’re a Buddha, there’s nothing to reject at all. Right? Nothing to reject. But there’s also... so, nothing to reject. So if you are practicing dzogchen, then whatever comes up in the mind, there’s nothing to reject. If you are are really practicing from the perspective of Rigpa there’s nothing to reject from your side. But also LANG NEL. [Tibetan 34:32] LANG is to latch onto. So for example bliss comes up, “Oh, I wanted that; I wanted that. Oh, that’s peaceful, oh, I wanted that too.” [laughter] “Oh, non conceptuality, I’ve been wanting that for a long time. I’ll take some of that too.” That will keep you in the substrate forever until you run out of gas and then, pfstt! You’ve lost your shamatha. And then you are right back in the vast ocean of samsara. That’s exactly what differentiates the substrate consciousness from Rigpa is that clinging and that preference, that craving, that latching on to, that grasping. “I want this, I want this.” So it is .... PAN LA MEPA. [Tibetan 35:13] You’re not trying to reject anything, you’re not embracing, taking on, latching onto anything. There’s nothing for you to latch onto, nothing you want, nothing to get rid of, nothing that you want not, you dis-want, un-want, don’t want. So there it is. That’s the core instructions. [35:35]

So, when you are resting there, you know the instructions are very simple. They don’t get complicated. They are simple. And you may find another teacher who gives pointing out, and then suddenly tremendous breakthrough. It could happen but the words probably won’t be very different, or it may be a slap in the face with a sandal. I haven’t tried that; I think I’d get sued. But the approach is essentially the same. But when you are practicing on your own then, there does need to be some kind of meta-cognitive awareness, an introspective awareness, that when you find, “when I’m doing something.” Why? Go back to shamatha. There’s something to do there but it’s not dzogchen. “Oh, I say, I’m striving, I want to achieve, when’s Rigpa coming? I mean, I’ve only got 15 minutes. Is it coming? [laughter] I only have five weeks and two days left. Oh, crap, we’re running out of time here.” [laughter] Striving, hoping, fearing, that when eight weeks has gone by, still no Rigpa. And you’ll go home and people will say, “You went on a dzogchen retreat. Did you realize Rigpa?” [laughter] [laughs] You’re going to be so embarrassed. [Laughter] Eight Weeks? They say, “What were you doing?” [more Laughter] [37:08] “Nothing.” “What the hell did you go there for?” “I don’t quite know.” [Laughs] [37:21]

So, I think today is the day to be a loser. Don’t wait, you know, don’t put it off. Today’s the good day to be the loser. Lose all your hopes; lose all your fears; lose all your activity, all the latching onto and abandonment, all the striving and effort. Be a loser totally today. OK. Be 100 percent loser with then nothing to lose because you’ve lost everything. Which means you have given away everything. Oh, then you’re a dzogchen practitioner. OK? Good. Now I get to be quiet for 24 minutes. [38:05]

[1:03:43] [Breaths] Oh, La so. [coughs] So, a few questions have accumulated here so I’ll respond.

QUESTION: So, when we started with the pointing out instructions, you cited Padmasambhava saying in some appearances in the mind will merge. Later on you said if your attention is fixed on any object in the present, either sensory or mental, that’s not the practice. Good. So this means that appearances are not sense objects or does this merging process start with sense projects and once the mind has merged with them you can’t speak of them anymore as being perceived objects? [1:04:41]

ANSWER: The latter is pretty good phrasing, pretty good phrasing. Um, I’ve mentioned many times as we find in the text this whole theme of, um, reifying, grasping onto the inherent existence of anything at all like thoughts, body, sensory objects and so forth. There’s another phrase that comes up just incredibly frequently in the dzogchen literature. It’s called YIN ZIN [Tibetan 1:05:09] or dualistic grasping, dualistic grasping. And it’s simply a manifestation or an aspect of this reification or grasping onto true existence. But what it implies is kind of the full package and that is for example: I’m gazing over at Dagmar. There’s an appearance of her as being over there, about maybe three, five meters away and she appears to be over there. And then if she speaks then I’ll hear the voice coming from over there. I’m saying the obvious. And then I have a sense that I’m viewing her from over here and that’s how the appearances are. The appearances are that way in a waking state, in a non-lucid dream, and in a lucid dream. It’s still there. [1:05:52]

And so the difference between ... if you had dream of Dagmar sitting over there five meters away. The difference between, ah, a non-lucid dream and a lucid dream, having that little experience of Dagmar sitting five meters away, would be that in a [non] lucid dream*, [1:06:09] you think she’s really over there. She’s really over there; there’s somebody over there. Her name is Dagmar. She’s somebody else. And then she could make me afraid or make me desire something, maybe hold up a dollar bill and I go, [pants like a dog] “A dollar bill. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boyoboy.” You know? [laughs] But whenever, the point being that, in the non-lucid dream you think that she is over there and whatever she’s doing, she’s really doing. Maybe she’s a threat, maybe she’s giving me something I want, what have you, but that’s it. And that’s the end of the story. And then we react, you know, according to that. [1:06:44]

*Subscriber’ note: Alan said “lucid dream” but by the context of this paragraph I understand that should be said “non lucid dream” as Alan goes on to discuss lucid dreaming in the next paragraph.

Whereas the same event seeing Dagmar over there in a lucid dream, she still seems to be over there. The appearance is the same. And moreover in a lucid dream, if I walked over and tapped her on the shoulder, it would feel just like it would in a non-lucid dream. And it would feel hard, bony; that’s what shoulders feel like generally. Right? But in a lucid dream of course, you know although she appears to be over there, although I appear to be walking over there, I’m actually not moving through space at all. And when I reach out with my illusory hand to touch her illusory shoulder there will arise the sensation of solidity. But that’s not because there is anything there, it’s just how dreams work, you know. And so, the dualistic grasping in the daytime is the same. [1:07:31]

An arya bodhisattva or for that matter vidyadhara having realized emptiness and in the case of the vidyadhara having realized Rigpa and emptiness and the arya bodhisattva has realized emptiness but not Rigpa, and therefore when realizing emptiness is realizing it with subtle mind but not realizing emptiness with Rigpa. That’s the difference, fundamental difference between an arya bodhisattva who is of course imbued with bodhicitta. Realizing emptiness, the emptiness that the arya bodhisattva realizes and that the vidyadhara realizes is the same emptiness but one is realizing with Rigpa and the other one is realizing with the subtle mind. Right? So for either one though, they’ve realized emptiness. That’s big deal. They’ve realized emptiness and so the arya bodhisattva coming out of meditative equipoise in which the person was realizing emptiness then sees all phenomena still appearing as if from their own side. It’s like, “Gosh, I thought you would have gone away by now,” but they don’t. This is by the way, this is called cognitive obscuration. That’s N.... [Tibetan 1"08:32] It’s a manifestation of cognitive obscuration that even after you’ve realized emptiness, phenomena still appear to be from their own side. But the deal is, you know they’re not. You know they don’t exist from their own side even though they appear that way. Right? [1:08:48]

Now the vidyadhara, what does the vidyadhara have over the arya bodhisattva? The vidyadhara comes out of realization of Rigpa. It’s just a realization of emptiness but realizing with Rigpa. But the vidyadhara coming out and viewing phenomena sees them again. They appear to be from their own side but knows they are not. But in addition, in addition, this is a big one, in addition sees all these appearances as being effulgences or the creative expression of Rigpa. The arya bodhisattva doesn’t see that. The arya bodhisattva is not viewing them from the perspective of Rigpa therefore simply sees them as manifestations of karma coming up, coming up. [1:09:37]

There are some phrases I remember even 40 years later, because they’re so short. DEN PA TON MA PEM BA ME [Tibetan 1:09:42] [repeats Tibetan] So easy eh? DEN PA TON MA, if you see the truth, and the truth is ultimate truth, if you see emptiness directly, non conceptually, PEM BA ME. Now you are an arya bodhisattva. From this point on there’s no more propulsive karma for you. You are not accumulating any more propulsive karma. You’ll engage in all kinds of activities but you won’t engage with them now that you’ve seen how things are. You won’t engage with them in any activity with the sense of the reification of self, the reification of other and then interacting as such. [1:10:16]

That’s where propulsive karma, PEM BAY LAY, [Tibetan 1:10:20] that’s where propulsive karma comes from. And reifying and even virtuous, you know, Oh, I see somebody would like a, you know, a clock, or someone is in desperate need of a clock, “ you’d like to have a clock. Sure have this one. You know, I’ll pay for it, I’m sure they won’t mind. I’ll pay for it. Now you can have it.” That’s nice if you really needed it but as long as I am reifying myself and reifying the person I’m giving to, it’s called tainted karma, tainted karma. There’s no strings attached, I didn’t want something in return. It was just like I wanted to do something nice. That’s very nice. It’s not tainted with attachment, like now we’re, like what are you going to do for me but it is tainted by reification. Reification ... delusion. [1:10:57]

Whereas an arya bodhisattva doesn’t do that. The arya bodhisattva actually knows definitively that the person who appears over there is not existing over there from his or her own side. But as long as we are still enmeshed in this thoroughly non-lucid dream that we call waking reality then we are reifying ourselves. I’m really over here and you’re really over there and this is dualistic grasping. OK? Because you are really over there. So now it is grasping onto the absolute polarity or duality; you’re over there and you are separate from me. You’re independent from me and I am over here and I am independent from you. But nevertheless let’s be nice. You know? And then, it’s tainted virtue or let’s not be nice and then we have negative karma. [1:11:42]

So when the mind merges it is not saying that your mind goes yuewp [as in disappears], you know, and sledges over into the... it’s the duality is gone ... The sense of duality is gone. So that is what the merging is. The duality is gone. It’s stated in two different levels. This happens so frequently. It’s stated in the teachings on shamatha and the substrate consciousness that the substrate consciousness illuminates all appearances, which it does in the dream state and the waking state. The appearances you have? What are they illuminated by? You know temporary, you know the samsaric light bulb, the samsaric light bulb, the ground of your samsara substrate consciousness. [1:12:28]

So it is said that the substrate consciousness which is the very nature of luminosity, it makes manifest all appearances even intangible appearances like a sense of justice; Oh, justice was done. Good, justice was done. Oh, what illuminated that sense that that was justice? It’s totally intangible, right? But, it’s substrate consciousness. So, substrate consciousness illuminates mathematical formulas, laws of nature, colors and emotions, memories and so forth. And so, it’s said now though that the substrate consciousness illuminates all appearances but does not enter into them. Illuminates all appearances but does not enter into them. [1:13:11]

How does awareness enter into appearances? Every time you have a wandering mind, the little doggy of your awareness is being dragged by the car of your wandering thoughts. And your awareness has merged with that thought and your attention is now focused on the referent of that thought and that’s a merging, that’s a merging. It’s involuntary, semiconscious, and delusional. Every time you have a non lucid dream, you’re merging, your awareness is merging with your sense of identity of the person in the dream. You think this is who you really are. This is your body; this is your mind. You’ve merged and that merging is where the delusion is. And then having merged with this person in the dream then I’m seeing that person over there and then we’re totally separate. [1:14:09]

And the odd thing, I mean I continually find this so incredibly odd, is that whether the dream is non-lucid or lucid, unless, in a lucid dream you go into manual override and you really said, "OK, I’m lucid and I’m going to turn Dagmar into a ballerina and she’s gonna, she’s gonna pirouette. Could do that but of course it’s not Dagmar; it’s just an appearance. But if you don’t do that, if you don’t really say I’m going to do a trip here, turn it into a turnip or a ballerina or... if you are not doing that, if you just let things go and you run an experiment, like you’re lucid right? Like in my second lucid dream, my famous second lucid dream in the diner. If I walked over if I were having a lucid dream right now and I walked over to Dagmar and I said, Dagmar, you know, this is a dream. I don’t know what she is going to say. It’s my dream. There’s only one stream of consciousness here; it’s not two coming together. This is not a psychic dream [sings theme music from the Twilight Zone TV program]. It’s just a dream, it’s my dream all coming from my substrate and I am lucid and I still don’t know what she is going to say. I just find that very weird, interesting and weird. You don’t know how things are gonna turn out. [1:15:29]

You can take over if you wish and then you can really, you can direct it as you wish. But if you don’t, it really seems like Dagmar is another person, independent and that would go for 40 people in the room. If I interviewed you would you know this is a dream? You know? I have no idea of what the poll is going to turn up. It’s going to be a poll. I get the answer at the end of the poll. Ok, 37 people said this, 40 no, whatever. I find that really quite extraordinary. So that is on the relative level. [1:15:57]

I’m giving the long elaborated, blah, blah, blah, answer but that’s on the relative level but then the same thing is said that all appearances are displays, created expressions, RIG PE TSEL, [Tibetan 1:16:11] the creative expressions, the displays of Rigpa. Or the RU PA, [Tibetan ? 1:16:18] the play, the play of LILA [1:16:21] I think it is in Sanskrit, LILA. The play of Rigpa, the creative displays of Rigpa, the effulgence of Rigpa, the creative expressions of Rigpa on the one hand. On the other hand, [pauses] and there’s a nonduality, it’s not Rigpa over here and then the creative display there. But, on the other hand, Rinpoche said if you..., Gyatrul Rinpoche, a number of years ago, he said if you realize Rigpa, you realize the displays of Rigpa. But if you realize just appearances, you realize simply the nature of appearances that doesn’t mean you have necessarily realized Rigpa. [1:16:58]

It’s an asymmetry there. Realize rigpa then you realize the displays as Rigpa. But if you simply realize appearance, "Oh, that’s a red appearance; that’s a brown appearance; that’s this appearance; that’s doesn’t give you realization of Rigpa. So in some meaningful sense of the term there, Rigpa doesn’t enter into, doesn’t get, there’s the word, DON ME PA. [Tibetan 1:17:24] Rigpa doesn’t come or go. Right? Rigpa doesn’t come or go. Remember the eight, eight conceptual elaborations. It doesn’t come or go. Therefore Rigpa doesn’t go out over to the appearance of Dagmar. It doesn’t go and it doesn’t come. So in that way, Rigpa doesn’t go out and merge with objects. So there is a point again where somebody has stopped talking because words will fail. That’s exactly the way your practice starts. And then you just go into the practice and you see for yourself and then you can talk about it from your own experience. So, thank you for a very good question. [1:17:57]

QUESTION: So here’s a hypothetical. If Daniel Dennett were to go to the Valley of Rainbows and take some pictures would his brain be in the states corresponding to the perception of rainbows and moreover what would Michio Kaku, what would his perception of the photos be like? What about a pure minded person who’s never heard of this phenomenon? [1:18:19]

ANSWER: Boy, that’s an easy question to answer. It’s actually very, very easy and it’s definitive and beyond debate. You probably know what’s coming, don’t you? [1:18:32] I don’t know, I don’t know, the brain state? I’d have to ask Amy or other people or really I think Martin might know better than I. But we don’t know. Ah, when I read the question... because I read it before I read of a book I read 44 years ago called, The Way of the White Clouds, by Lama Anagarika Govinda. He was the first Westerner I ever read about that called himself “Lama.” Gave me the creeps. If you’re a German, what do you call yourself a Lama for? You’re a German, how can you be a German Lama? [laughs] Took me a few decades to get over that one. But in any case, he was a very, very interesting man and I just... I think I mentioned a few days ago, I met a person who was a disciple of his, years ago and he actually saved his life because he was up in Dedra Dun, Lama Anagarika Govinda, and he had a heart attack and this man that I met, he’s my age, just two-three months younger than I. Uh, he carried him on his back down and then put him in his car and then drove to Delhi and saved his life. Yeah, it’s quite interesting. [1:19:25]

But in any case, Lama Anagarika Govinda, a very interesting person and very fine scholar and one of the great pioneers. There was Evans Wentz. There was Alexandra David Neel, um, there’s Lama Anagarika Govinda. And not many others really of that generation, that would be really my parents generation or even a bit earlier than that. Um, in any case, he wrote about his guru who when I read, this was the first lama I really had faith in because I didn’t know anything. There were hardly any books about Tibetan Buddhism in 1970, right? Hardly any that were worth anything at all. Lobsang Rampa is rubbish. That is his books. I don’t know of him as a person but his books are rubbish. But these books were not bad, especially considering, boy, they were the first ones. And so Lama Anagarika Govinda wrote about his guru who was a Gelugpa geshe so he finished his whole training as a Gelugpa. And then he went off for 12 years in solitary retreat, way, way, way up high. And he didn’t even come down for supplies so people wondered how is he living up there. [1:20:34]

Rumor had it, that’s all I take it to be, rumor because who knows, that he was living on the - probably poetry - he lived on the milk of snow lions. [laughs] I like the idea. But in any case he wasn’t coming down for food. Nobody knew he was there. Way down in the valley there were villagers. There usually are in valleys in Tibet. Nobody knew he was in there. He was in total solitude. He might have been living on chu-len That’s a real possibility. And that’s, it’s flower essence, chu-len, whereby the power of your meditation you empower just dried petals of flowers, mix them a little bit and then you just eat those and you can live on those for months or years and one of my own teachers did. That is not a rumor or a myth or superstition. One of my teachers lived on it for a long time. Gen Jampa Wangdu. [Tibetan ] [1:21:22] He accomplished it. [1:21:23]

So, in any case, but one way or another, he was up there Tomba Geshe Rinpoche [1:21:31]. I guess it’s storytelling time isn’t it, and uh, and then after 12 years or so there was some herder from the valley way below. I’m remembering this 44 years ago so forgive me if my memory is a bit faulty. But the herder lost one of his yaks or his livestock and he went way up looking for him and then he, uh, he heard a damaru, the hand drum and probably a hand drum and bell. And he freaked out because there really wasn’t supposed to be anybody up there, not with them knowing about it, you know. And so he heard it and he thought it might be a demon or a spirit so he was kind of freaked out so he hid and then he kind of crept up. He was really curious at the same time. Like what’s making that noise? It’s kinda like that’s really so weird and then he got closer and then he saw this yogi. And then he thought, Oh, if he’s a yogi, he’s gotta be a holy yogi. He’s gotta be a sublime yogi otherwise we would have known about him in the nearest village. Right? [1:22:29]

So he ran back to the village and said, “There’s a yogi up there, yogi up there.” [laughs] The villagers said, “Let’s go get him.” And that was the end of his retreat. [laughs] So everything worked out but ... it’s a nice story. That’s why I’m telling it. It’s all true; I mean I have no reason to doubt it. And Lama Govinda, very fine man, excellent scholar. He was a Theravada monk and then he migrated over from Theravada Buddhism to Tibetan Buddhism. He visited Tibet. He was quite an interesting artist and a good writer and a good scholar. Um, so, Tomba Geshe Rinpoche [Tibetan name 1:23:04] came out of his retreat after 12 years and he was a siddha. He was an accomplished being with extraordinary abilities and one of the stories that Lama Govinda told really moved me when I read it. [1:23:15]

Was that they were out on some... by this time he was also really speaking a lot about Maitreya and looking to the future, looking to the future, big deal. And so he quickly, and he was a great adept, a great teacher, accomplished master. So naturally Tibetans were pretty much all devout, I mean really, the great majority. I don’t want to be idealistic but there were many. Well he had a large assembly of people as he was on traveling, pilgrimage, or something and they got up to one of those vast plains that you find in the South of Tibet, just vast sky, snowcapped peaks, there are a lot of places like that. And they were out there, they encamped then the um Lama Govinda, no, excuse me, Tomba Geshe Rinpoche [Tibetan name 1:23:59] went into meditation and he displayed, people reported, he displayed then his samadhi on the sky. And the people in his entourage, the people that were traveling with him, his disciples and so forth and so on, I think it was many scores or perhaps hundreds, they looked up in the sky and they are just seeing this whole mandala deities, dakinis and bodhisattvas and yidams and Buddhas all displayed like your best possible visualization and they are just seeing it with their eyes, you know. [1:24:33]

Um, but what was interesting there is they didn’t all see the same thing so there’s a lot of commonality but some saw more and some saw less. You know. I don’t know if there was anybody who didn’t see anything at all. But a lot of people saw a just a miraculous display and some saw more detail and some saw less detail. So now it’s time for people especially on podcasts to fact check. How’s my 44 year old memory, [laughs] I don’t really know but that’s my memory ah, but it has certainly stayed with me and his death was quite spectacular too but I won’t go into that right now. [1:25:10]

So here’s this lama, an extraordinary lama, and he’s passing away and the villagers they didn’t say a whole bunch of yogis with pure vision were coming. It was villagers from all over the place you know: just Nepalese and Tibetans and so forth. So they are seeing, clearly it is an intersubjective experience but if a, you know, a real skeptic, a very hard core materialist - Daniel Dennett is a self avowed hard core materialist - it’s not pejorative. If a person like that were to come and be deeply skeptical would they see it too? And if they saw the rainbows would it be the same brain states as if they saw an ordinary rainbow? I have no idea; I don’t know. Would some see more and some see less? I don’t know. Uh, I do find it remarkable that these are not unusual stories, I mean unusual but not very really, not very unusual. [1:26:02]

Penor Rinpoche passed away a few years ago, something similar happened there. And then right there in Madison, Geshe Sopa spent seven years.... in TUKTAM ? [Tibetan place name ? 1:26:14]. Did anyone hear whether any scientists showed up? Richard Davidson is like, what, five miles away. Did anybody hear? [inaudible from audience 1:26:26] My impression, we probably would have heard about it. [inaudible audience 1:26:28?] ... you don’t think he was here, yeah. Richie is interested, that’s for sure and I don’t mean to [be] pejorative to anybody, but um, we’ll talk about this a bit later, but when anomalous appearances, anomalous events arise, um, it’s interesting how often... let’s put it this way.. When anomalous, that’s anomalous right? A room filled with rainbows? That really shouldn’t happen, you know. Ah, um, or rainbows filling a whole valley and persisting and persisting. That’s something that is not a natural phenomenon. Um,, it is interesting how ever so often that goes unnoticed in the broader spectrum - mainstream scientists, the media and so forth and so on and so on. Just goes on unnoticed so that’s an interesting point. [1:27:19]

Um, I’ve experienced a little bit like that, um, when I visited Sêrtar. And Sêrtar was the place where Dudjom Lingpa settled and created his settle [ment] and taught dharma. He never created a monastery. He wasn’t a monk. But he settled there, he settled there. And I learned this just recently, um, Sêrtar is where Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok put up his little sign metaphorically, “Lama Ready to Teach,” then it grew to 10,000, went down to 3,000, and now it’s up to 40,000. That place? That’s Sêrtar. It’s in Golog in Eastern Tibet. [1:27:52]

So I was very eager to visit there and I went to the town of Sêrtar about ten years ago, yeah, ten years ago. Uh, with my step-daughter Sarah [1:28:08] and another friend and we made our way there to the village and I have this extremely vivid memory and I have photo. I don’t know what my friend was doing. I don’t think she was with [me?] She was an elderly woman, an old friend of mine. I think she wasn’t there but Sarah and I saw this. We got to the village. We’re not allowed to go to the monastery because the government had recently bulldozed it, you know, just bulldozed 7,000 dwellings, dwellings for 7,000 monks [makes noise like a machine]. Um, and they told all these 7,000 monks, get lost; you know, go away. Freaking them out you know. Ah, and but the Chinese didn’t want any westerners to see it because that’s kind of like embarrassing. And so we were not allowed to go. So we’re in the village and the monastery is right over there but we’re not allowed to go. [1:28:57]

So Sarah and I were hanging out in the village and it was one of those crystal clear Tibetan days where the sky is just radiantly blue and it was, I remember it was about noon and the sun was very high in the sky and ah, I saw something I think I’ve seen maybe once or maybe twice earlier in my life and I’m 64 ah and it’s not common and not terribly uncommon event and some of you have probably seen it. I looked up at the sun and there’s a rainbow all the way around the sun, OK. It’s a known phenomena. I’m sure the scientists have some intelligible explanation for it. I don’t doubt. Uh, it’s not supernatural. I mean it does happen. Well, we saw that which... it’s cool, I mean it’s really, and it was a cloudless sky. There were no clouds at all and it’s 12-13,000 feet. It’s very, very dry. No clouds in the sky and then this perfect big rainbow all the way around the sun. That was interesting. But’s that’s not what, if that was it, I wouldn’t mention it. That happens. But the other part was odd and that is, we looked up into the sky and there was a circle there. It was a big circle but then there was another circle and it was white and it was about the same size and the, it was two circles and ... the edge of one circle went right through the center of the other circle so they’re like that. [must be gesturing with his hands? 1:30:27] And so it was a white circle intersecting the rainbow circle with the right circle going right through the center of the rainbow circle. I’ve never heard about that one. It kind of really looked like male/female yab-yum [Tibetan ? spelling 1:30:42]. You know the red and the white, the rainbow and the white, ah, and it lasted a long time and then Sarah photographed it and we have a photograph of it. [1:30:51]

And it’s quite moving and I often wondered, for years and years I wondered whether some great lama had passed away about that time and I heard that there was one but apparently not there. Um, so it’s just an anomaly, simply an anomaly. Ah, then I was speaking with Lama Chönam [1:31:15] just a couple weeks ago, a few weeks ago when I visited Gyatrul Rinpoche and Lama Chönam, [1:31:22] who is Sangye Khandro’s husband, very fine, very fine youngish lama, younger than I am, from Tibet. I told him and I said, I asked him, “Do you think was there was some great lama passed away?” That was ten years ago and so forth and he said, “No, I think it is probably because you have a strong connection with that place.” And by the way, that’s the place of Dudjom Lingpa. That made me very happy, you know. Some connection, I think there must be. I just translated all of his work on dzogchen so [there is] some indication there may be some faith or maybe I had some connection in a past life. It would be kind of odd if I didn’t. I think I might even [have] been his dog maybe? Maybe his Apso, you know I bark a lot, some of you noticed that. I do bark a lot. So, maybe I was his dog. [laughs] I don’t know but a connection with the place, with the lama, that I am really happy for. So that’s all. So see you tomorrow morning. Enjoy your practice. [1:32:16]

Transcribed by Jennifer de Jung

Revised by Rafael Carlos Giusti

Final Edition by Cheri Langston

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