21 Sep 2012
Teaching: Continuing from Asanga’s Shravakabhumi, Alan introduces the 4th thorough training by way of the 16 phases: 1) breathing in, 2) breathing out, 3) the whole body, 4) tranquilising the bodily activities, 5) joy, 6) happiness, 7) formations of the mind, 8) tranquilising formations of the mind, 9) experiencing the mind, 10) gladdening the mind, 11) concentrating the mind, 12) liberating the mind, 13) impermanence, 14) eradication of obscurations, 15) freedom from attachment, 16) cessation of the aggregates.
Alan elaborates more on sukkha and joy which may arise from engaging in the practice.
Alan addresses the sudden enlightenment of the Buddha’s disciples.
Meditation: mindfulness of breathing per Asanga followed by mindfulness of phenomena (aggregates).
I) Mindfulness of breathing per Asanga. Know exactly when the out breath ends, how long the interim out breath is, when the in breath starts, when the in breath ends, how long the interim in breath is, and when the out breath starts.
II) Mindfulness of phenomena (aggregates). 1) recognize form as form (pure perception), 2) observe feelings as feelings arising in the body and mind, 3) with recognition, not that you are discerning, 4) direct attention to the mental formations in the space of the mind, 5) draw awareness to consciousness itself. Release awareness into all 6 sense fields and the events arising therein.
Q1. Does prana have the same quality in the in and out breaths?
Q2. Because body and brain decline with age, is age a factor to consider in achieving shamatha?
Q3. In Asanga’s mindfulness of breathing, I’m not sure what to do with the awareness of all 6 sense fields? It seems so busy.
Q4. In Asanga’s text, why is there so much emphasis on breathing?
Q5. In awareness of the body, there’s a sense of bliss. What insight is there to be derived from bliss pervading the body?
Q6. In Asanga’s text, these 16 phases which include shamatha and vipasyana may offer a bridge to Tibetan lamas who don’t seem to place much importance on practicing shamatha.
Q7. Asanga explains the causes of breathing as being propelling karma and space. Is this the cause for our involuntary breathing or is that caused by something biological?
Q8. Why are men more prominent in buddhism? Women multi-task better, so perhaps that’s a disadvantage to achieving shamatha?
Meditation starts at 20:53
So, we will continue now, going further in this presentation of mindfulness of breathing from Asanga. In this afternoon session is going to be mostly for sowing seeds for the long term. If you are a farmer you might have your little vegetable garden where you plant seeds for tomatoes – and I think they come up in like two months, really short. So you really expect to get something nice to eat in a very short time. But if you are planting an orchard that might take 5 or 10 years, and if you planting seeds for lumber, that takes 20 years. So this might take a little while. We are sowing seeds, but these will not be tomatoes. It will be more like your lumber. Because now we see that Asanga is following exactly in the footsteps of the Buddha with his 16 phases of mindfulness of breathing as a complete path to achieving liberation. This is what Asanga turns his attention to now. And so, we just follow through this and then we will get back to our practice, which will be something really practical pertaining to our experience now.
But I think it might be helpful for sowing the long-term seeds. Alan read and commented Asanga’s text about the 16 phases/aspects of this mindfulness of breathing.
The text below was transcribed from:
“Mindfulness of the Respiration”
Excerpted from Ārya Asaṅga’s
The Stages of the Listeners
Translated from the Sanskrit and Tibetan by
B. Alan Wallace
V. Thorough Training by Way of Sixteen Aspects
When one who is thoroughly trained in the [four] realities has eradicated the attributes that are to be dispelled by [the Path of] seeing, those that are to be dispelled by [the Path of] Meditation still remain. In order to eradicate them, one thoroughly trains by way of the sixteen aspects.
Adding some Alan comments:
Four realities: the four noble truths.
The Path of seeing: in other words you are doing pretty well you are up there you already achieve path of seeing.
What are the sixteen aspects? It is the sixteen phases of mindfulness of breathing.
One practices mindfully inhaling, mindfully noting the breath being inhaled. One
practices mindfully exhaling, mindfully noting the breath being exhaled.
Inhaling, one authentically experiences (1a) long and (2a) short breaths and (3a) the
entire body; and authentically experiencing the entire body, one practices noting the breath being inhaled.
Adding some Alan comments:
Three phases in terms of inhalation.
This is very classic that the Buddha settled forward in a very systematic way.
Exhaling, one authentically experiences (1b) long and (2b) short breaths and (3b)
the entire body; and authentically experiencing the entire body, one practices noting the breath being exhaled.
Adding some Alan comments:
(4:10) With that we go back to the shamatha practice and I do find interesting here that he makes no reference to experiencing the whole body of the breath as Budhaghosa does so it is a different interpretation there, one is the whole body of the breath, but now as you recall he is speaking of the exhalation, inhalation and interim but not just breathing into the cavity down here in the region of the belly but also all of the pores in that subtle breath, breathing through all of the pores, so I think he is taking the Buddha very literally, he is not putting in any square brackets in the whole body of the breath no just the whole body. So it is interesting. And again there is no reference to the acquired sign and no reference to counterpart sign.
Inhaling, upon (4a) really refining the bodily formation, one practices noting the
inhalation upon really refining* [wonderfully refining] the bodily formation.
Adding some Alan comments:
(4:49) This is the four phase in the Buddha’s core teachings, the initial teaching on mindfulness of breathing, breathing in long, breathing out long, breathing in short, experiencing the whole body and then calming, refining, subduing, soothing, pacifying the entire bodily formation. That’s it! And that is the end of shamatha. So that is what he is referring to here, inhaling upon wonderfully refining the bodily formation. One practices noticing the inhalation upon wonderfully refining the bodily formation.
*Where is written “really refining” Alan mentioned “wonderfully refining”. So it was changed in all the text.
Wonderfully refining this is settling into a stage of really profound equilibrium, deep equilibrium.
Exhaling, upon (4b) wonderfully refining the bodily formation, one practices noting the
exhalation upon wonderfully refining the bodily formation.
Inhaling, (5a) authentically experiencing joy, (6a) authentically experiencing wellbeing,
(7a) authentically experiencing the formations of the mind, and upon (8a) wonderfully refining the formations of the mind, one practices noting the inhalation upon refining the formations of the mind.
Adding some Alan comments:
(5:47) Authentically experiencing joy, this is pretty, it is one of the five dhyana factors.
Authentically experiencing wellbeing, happiness, sukkha, translated as wellbeing.
Authentically experiencing which means you seeing as it is without any of the delusional overlay. You are attending to exactly these dhyanas factors that are arising in the course of your experience of dhyana, or at least access to the first dhyana. So the joy, the genuine happiness or wellbeing, then the formations of the mind that arise in that constellation of formations of arising and then the refining of this equilibrium, this calming, this soothing, experiencing all of these and one practices noting the inhalation during that refinement, that equilibrium of the formations of the mind. That is 5 to 7 and that is for the inhalation and then for the exhalation is exactly the same.
Exhaling, (5b) authentically experiencing joy, (6b) authentically experiencing wellbeing, (7b) authentically experiencing the formations of the mind, and upon (8b) wonderfully refining the formations of the mind, one practices noting the exhalation upon really refining the formations of the mind.
Inhaling, (9a) authentically experiencing the mind, (10a) bringing exceptional joy to the
mind, (11a) concentrating the mind and (12a) liberating the mind, one practices noting the mind’s liberation and the inhalation.
Adding some Alan comments:
(7:40) Concentrating the mind, this is another dhyana factor, concentrating the mind it is single-pointedness of the mind and liberating the mind. So the concentrating, that is the dhyana. Liberating, now we are deep in vipashyana territory.
Authentically experiencing the mind brings exceptional joy to the mind, concentrating the mind and liberating the mind. That is 9 to 12. It is the same thing for exhalation, 9b to 12b.
Exhaling, (9b) authentically experiencing the mind, (10b) bringing exceptional joy to the mind, (11b) concentrating the mind and (12b) liberating the mind, one practices noting the mind’s liberation and the exhalation.
Inhaling, (13a) beholding impermanence, (14a) beholding the eradication [of
obscurations], (15a) beholding freedom from attachment and (16a) beholding the cessation [of the aggregates], one practices noting the occurrence of cessation and the inhalation.
Adding some Alan comments:
(8:48) (13a) beholding impermanence, it is one of the three marks of existence.
(14a) beholding the eradication [of obscurations], now before, through the practice of shamatha, you subdue the obscurations, you make them go dormant. So they do not bug you that much, if they come up at all. As Tsongkhapa said: even in between sessions, once you have achieved shamatha, if the obscurations – the mental afflictions – come up. That is, they are not eradicated, they may come up, but if they do come up, number 1 they come up infrequently, not nearly so frequently as before, and when they do come up they just do not have much power. They come up and they kind of like ehhhhh, like the heart has gone out of them. And so they just do not have that power to grip you like they did previously. That is through dhyana. That is through shamatha. Now we are in vipashyana territory. We are not talking about subduing now we are talking about eradication. No matter what you encounter, the seeds are burnt, they cannot arise ever again and in Buddhism “ever” is a very big word.
(15a) beholding freedom from attachment, this is very deep freedom. If you achieve shamatha you are really at least temporarily free of attachment to the desire realm, but he is talking about freedom to all realms of samsara, desire form and formless, in others words really free. Beholding freedom, that is, you are seeing your own freedom from attachment, all levels of attachment.
(16a) beholding the cessation [of the aggregates].
That is Arhatship and that is for inhalation, and there is Arhatship for exhalation.
Exhaling, (13b) beholding impermanence, (14b) beholding the eradication [of
obscurations], (15b) beholding freedom from attachment and (16b) beholding the cessation [of the aggregates], one practices noting the occurrence of cessation and the exhalation.
What is the classification of those [sixteen] points? If one observes the four practices, one achieves the four applications of mindfulness. In order to eradicate the remaining fetters, one begins to focus the attention on the object of the inhalation and exhalation. Thus it is said: “One practices mindfully inhaling, mindfully noting the inhalation.”
So there is the first line in the Buddha’s sixteen phase-instruction of mindfulness of breathing.
1. When focusing on the inhalation or exhalation, if a long inhalation occurs, one
practices noting that a long breath is inhaled; if a long exhalation occurs, one practices noting that a long breath is exhaled.
2. When focusing on the interim (now here is a point that I have not seen anywhere else outside of Asanga, so this Indo-Tibetan tradition) inhalation or exhalation, if a short breath (now this is interesting, now it is a short breath, so he is relating the short breath with this interim exhalation – inhalation) (If a short breath) is inhaled, one practices noting the short inhalation; if a short breath is exhaled, one practices noting the short exhalation.
3. Inhalation and exhalation are of long duration, while interim inhalation and exhalation are of short duration. (So he just clarifies that one in a way I have never seen in the Theravada tradition.) One observes and recognizes them in the manner in which they occur. When one is intently focused upon the entrance of inhalation and exhalation into the minute cavities of the pores of the body, one authentically experiences the entire body; and when a breath is inhaled, one practices authentically experiencing the entire body and noting the inhalation. If a breath is exhaled while authentically experiencing the entire body, one practices authentically experiencing the entire body and noting the exhalation.
Alan’s comments: So he has given now his gloss, his explanation of what is meant here. Not the entire body of the breath - the whole duration of the breath - but now he has made it very clear; and that is you are experiencing this, the entire body, that is the breath going through all the pores of the body. One experiences, so I just read that part again: “when one is intently focused upon the entrance of inhalation an exhalation into the minute cavities of the pores of the body”, in other words, there it is pores all over the surface, “one authentically experiences the entire body, and when the breath is inhaled one practices authentically experiencing the entire body and noting the inhalation.” So that is his take on experiencing the whole body and then what follows after that of course is this calming, this whole settling into equilibrium. I will go ahead and read that, I have not polished this next little section, but I am going to read this and then we will stop.
This is the fourth, so if you just go back to the core teachings on mindfulness of breathing as a shamatha practice here we go to the fourth and final, the next twelve being all vipashyana.
4. When the inhalation and interim exhalation have ceased, there is an absence of
inhalation and exhalation, and one is focused on this circumstance of the absence of inhalation and exhalation. When the exhalation and interim exhalation. I think it should be: when the inhalation and interim inhalation have ceased there is an absence – but I will check this. When the exhalation and interim exhalation have ceased and when the inhalation and interim inhalation have not yet occurred, there is an absence of exhalation and inhalation. When one is focused on the vacuous circumstance of their cessation due to their absence—if a breath is inhaled upon really refining* the bodily formation, one practices noting the inhalation upon really refining* the bodily formation. If a breath is exhaled upon really refining the bodily formation, one practices noting the exhalation upon really refining* the bodily formation. Moreover, as a result of devotion to [this practice], cultivation of it, and frequent repetition, there occur rough inhalations and exhalations whose contact is painful for one who is not thoroughly trained. On the other hand, for those who are thoroughly trained, there occur
gentle [breaths] whose contact is pleasant. Thus, it is said that when one exhales upon really refining* the bodily formation, one practices noting that one exhales upon really refining the bodily formation.
Explanation for one that is reading this transcript:
*It seems that Alan changed the original text since he said in all the text: wonderfully refining.
We also introduced in some texts Alan’s comments between parentheses.
Alan stopped reading the text at point 4 in this session and will continue to read the text next session from number 5 to 16 and made some few comments, as below, before begin the meditation session:
I think I was a little bit too stingy with priti this morning when I was talking about it being way up there in stage seven. Well, it is up on stage seven, quite unadorned, radiant, clear, very blissful, but we do not have to wait until then, and it is not like being cheerleaders for the practice. “Five obscurations really, really suck! Shamatha, yeah! Five obscurations suck! Shamatha, yeah!” With the discursive meditation, there is a place for that, but the engine does start getting turning over before the seventh stage. I mean, a lot of you figured that one out, not figured it out; you have already experienced that for yourself. It is a simple thing.
(16:45) I am going to make this distinction, and just for the sake of the recording and the podcast, I am going to give the short version of this tomorrow morning. But let us draw this distinction between sukha - a sense of wellbeing and - priti – joy or bliss (I am translating it here as joy). And sukha, I think wellbeing really is the best translation. It is that contentment, you are just sitting down, you are happy, and you are content to be doing so. I think the word is quite clear, there is a sense of wellbeing and it carries over in-between sessions because there is just this overall greater equilibrium, of balance. The mind is healthier, the mind is calmer, it is freer of rumination. So we bring this to the session and while in the session just an overall ambience of a sense of wellbeing. It is kind of diffuse - it does not have a sharp point to it. Then there is something a number of you, not all, but it will come in time, but a number of you have already experienced this. You have shared this with me in our one-on-one meetings. It is a simple point: “I am starting to enjoy the practice”, not just an overall sense of wellbeing, but “when I am doing the practice, I kind of like it”. That is priti, that is, joy. You are enjoying the practice – well, you find joy in the practice - and we are not talking here about inconceivable ecstasy or bliss or anything like that. It is just that “I am looking for the next session, I like doing this”. It does have more of a point to it, but it is not hedonic pleasure like, “Oh, I wish I could find a breath so it could make me happy”. But it is an enjoyment in the practice itself. And it starts out quiet, as the Buddha said: this leads to a peaceful state, a sublime state, an ambrosial dwelling. It is kind of like this crescendo of first a little bit of peace and quiet. It kind of feels good, even if it is not blissful and all of that - peace and quiet as opposed to just being assaulted by rumination and all the junk of the mind. Just some peace and quiet, I enjoy that. And that is how it starts.
And then as you gradually move along the stages, the mind becomes more refined, settling into more and more of equilibrium. Then from that sense of peacefulness serenity rises, what the Buddha called “a sublime state”. Now, the sharpness of priti – of joy – is getting a bit stronger. You really like it. And then it goes from there to an ambrosial dwelling. Then you really do not want to stop because you really enjoying this much more than anything else. And after a while too, not at the early stages, but after a while if somebody said, “would you like to continue the practice or would you like to see this new blockbuster movie that just come out and it is getting rave reviews?” Back to the meditation cushion - you know that will be pleasurable, probably a good movie – but overall you rather do this, because you actually enjoy it more. You do not need that external stimulation. You say: “no, I think I will stay home and drink from my own well”, so to speak. So that is when the priti really is kicking in. That may take a while to get to that point where you actually rather meditate than watch a really good movie. OK, that is some pretty steep competition, but that is where it goes. So I overstated this morning a bit when I said, “up there at stage seven, and until then really try to rev it up with discursive meditations”. I stand by everything I said about the discursive meditation. Everything I said, I believe, was true. But it does also start self-generating, it does actually come out of the practice itself. And we should not have to wait weeks, months, years and so forth, for that to happen. When it does happen, when you really start enjoying the practice then that does, in fact, act as a natural antibody, a natural remedy for excitation, or just desire driven. Desire for what? Desire for something else! You are not going to have rumination like, “Gee, I wish I could practice shamatha”, when you are practicing shamatha. That is not going to bother you. So it is going to overcome the excitation, it will just kind of smoothly edge out anxiety, guilt, low self-esteem - all that rubbish. “Why do I have to feel low self-esteem for? I am OK. I have done some rotten things in the past”. OK, try to purify them, but here there is nothing rotten, all good. Nothing to be guilty about, nothing to be anxious about – if I die this way, a good way to die – if I live this way, a good way to live. So, no downside, then you can be happy. OK, on that note let us go right back to our own practice, where we live.
(22:28) Settle your body in its natural state, at ease, comfortable, still and vigilant.
(23:27) Now, let us linger in this phase of settling the respiration in its natural rhythm as our mindfulness becomes clearer, introspection more subtle. You may more clearly note the invasion into the respiration process of control, of effort on subtler and subtler levels. If you are in the supine position your posture is fine, if you are sitting see that your chest is wide open, your diaphragm easily expanding, your belly easily expanding. No constraints. Sitting at attention, so when the breath flows in there is nothing to inhibit its flow and likewise when it flows out.
(25:18) And as the breath does flow out, with body, speech and mind, with body, breath and mind release in every way and release completely. Until there is nothing more to release, even the subtlest thoughts have been released so they dissolve into space of the mind. The last vestiges of the breath, released to empty. Your body is soft, is relaxed, as you can possibly allow.
(26:25) And with a very quiet mind, pin-drop silent, approach the very end of the exhalation, so when it finally comes to an end, runs out of gas, nothing more to go. You know exactly when it ends. And if there is an interim exhalation, you are aware of just how long it takes, how long it lasts.
(27:00) And when the breath does flow in like the tide, you are breathing lucidly, you are there right at its inception, right at the first beginning of that inhalation. And without pulling it in and without obstructing it in any way, you simply watch it flow in. You watch it flow in until it comes to the end, whether it is a short or long duration, but you note the very end of inhalation. And if there is an interim inhalation you note its duration. And you are right there when the exhalation begins. Releasing deeply all the way through.
(31:12) Attend to the long in- and out-breaths and to the short interim in- and out-breaths.
(32:05) And attend to the entire body, the flow of prana is related to the in- and out breath throughout the entire system. And in this way settle the entire bodily formation, or all the formations of the body, in a state of more and more serene equilibrium. Refining the bodily formation. This is a simple path to shamatha.
(34:34) And now while mindfully attending to the in- out breath, direct your attention to the skandha, the aggregate, of form. Simply recognize it for what it is, free of all of the conceptual elaborations and projections that we superimpose upon it. Flow in a stream of pure perception, uncontaminated by preconceptions.
And while sustaining the flow of mindfulness of the in- and out breaths, within this context, direct your attention to the rising of feelings, the factors of origination, the factors of disillusion. Closely observe the feelings as feelings, in the body and mind.
(38:02) Attend to the arising of the skandha of recognition. With metacognition note what you are discerning, what you are recognizing, one mental factor noting another.
(40:10) While sustaining the flow of mindfulness of the respiration, direct your attention to the space of the mind and the mental formations that arise from moment to moment. So we are embracing a type of multitasking here, which has been discussed before. Rest in the flow of mindfulness of the respiration, while attending closely to the arising and passing of mental formations. Observing them as they are.
(41:53) Continuing to sustain the flow of mindfulness of the breathing, now draw your awareness right into the core. Focusing your attention upon consciousness itself. Closely attending to its nature. Is it permanent or impermanent, is it a self or not a self, does it have an owner or no owner? Attend closely.
(44:03) And as we have drawn the awareness right into its core, now release it out into all of the six sense fields, out into space, while gently sustaining the flow of mindfulness of the breath. And attending to this whole matrix of dependently related events arising in all of the six domains of experience.
Some brief comments after meditation:
Alan addresses the sudden enlightenment of the Buddha’s disciples.
(47:15) I was reflecting a little bit on these many cases in the Pali canon of people hearing simply a simple line or a verse, like Shariputra listening to Assaji just saying the causes of causally generated things, the Tathagata has explained, and the cessation too, thus are the teachings of the Great Sage. Hearing that phrase then Shariputra immediately realized nirvana and becomes a stream enterer. And then he just says the same phrase, exactly the same words then to Maudgalyayana, and then Maudgalyayana immediately realizes nirvana. And there are many cases like that throughout the Buddha’s lifetime of him just giving them a short dharma talk and they immediately become (…?), or in Bahiya’s case, achieve Arhatship. And one can wonder, well, what about shamatha, what about practicing vipashyana, what about all the stages of the path? How was it they were so lucky, was it the intonation, or what was it? And the only reasonable explanation is from a Buddhist perspective, there might be others but I do not know what they might be, but from the traditional Buddhist perspective it is quite clear – and there is a lot of indication, this is not speculation – that for these very close disciples, like Shariputra, Shariputra Maudgalyayana in Sanskrit, there was an enormous amount, and for Ananda also, an enormous amount of merit, of practicing from lifetime to lifetime to lifetime, prior to that one. This was just the harvest time - many, many lifetimes - and for those five, if you read the Jataka accounts, read various sutras, those five disciples that practiced with him, who became his first five disciples in Sarnath. They would have had many, many lifetimes encountering Buddha in his prior lifetimes, lots and lots of contact, lots and lots of practice. It was just harvest time. These were seeds that were sown not 20 years ago, these are 20 000, two hundred thousands, who knows how many lifetimes ago and just cultivating the merit, deepening and deepening. Of course, it is not just waiting - one day to have realization - there have been all kinds of realization along the way. So when I thought about it, this occurred, only an analogy maybe it is a bad one, but there it is, it is my analogy. Just focusing on that: “the causes of causally originated phenomena that the Tathagata has explained, and their cessation as well, thus are the teachings of the Great Sage.“ You know what it struck me like, is being hypnotized, into deep somnambulant state, deep, deep hypnosis. Like you do not know who you are anymore. Some people are very prone to that. I saw a performance, some young guy, he was very susceptible, and he could very easily be drawn into very deep hypnotic state, and so he was. Then the stage performer, the magician – but he is a genuine hypnotist – he told this young man they would do it as a kangaroo. And lo and behold you could see he slipped right into the persona of kangaroo and you could see him put up his paws in a very cute way. And then hopped around the stadium, and he was happy kangaroo too, he had a big grin on his face. Hopped all the way around the auditorium, and hopped up on the stage, almost like cartoon character. For that time, as far we could tell, he really thought he was a kangaroo. His previous identity seemed to have just slipped out. Another identity came in – “I am a happy kangaroo”. What the hypnotist say: “When you hear me count 1 to 3, or whatever it is, when you hear me say jackrabbit, you will awaken and you are refreshed and then you will or will not remember anything that has gone by”, they can make that suggestion as well. They may not remember anything or everything you have experiencing. “When I say jackrabbit you will come out slowly from hypnotic trance”, and then they do, of course. That is an analogy, and when I say causes of causally generated things that the Tathagata has shown, you will come out of your trance and you will feel very refreshed and you will realize nirvana, thus is the teaching of the Great Sage. It strikes me it is kind of being like that, that there was this tremendous momentum from past lives for Shariputra and his childhood friend, Maudgalyayana, but when they were born did they say: “hey, buddy, let’s find the Buddha”. No, they became quickly disillusioned by samsara, they went off to another teacher, Sanjaja I think his name was, a skeptic. They hang out with him, not satisfied, then they made their decision, let’s split up and so forth. It was like they forgot who they were, and then they hear “jackrabbit” – or, I am sorry, the causes of causally generated things and they wake up to Nirvana. I think it is more like that. Because just hearing those verses that is not vipashyana. That is just hearing somebody say a really commonplace truth. Yes, the Buddha did teach the causes of causally generated things and their cessation too, those are the teaching of the Great Sage. Now, what did he actually say – oh, you really do not need that you have already figured it out. So, quite interesting.
(53:08) And we see in Dzogchen, where Dudjom Lingpa repeatedly comments that there are people, the simultaneous people, and they just hear the teachings on Dzogchen and they just immediately have realization of rigpa – boom – they become vidhyadaras by hearing the teachings, that was no shamatha, no vipashyana. But what does this imply; that they were just lucky, they won the Dzogchen lottery? No, it is the same thing with Shariputra and Maudgalyayana, tremendous momentum coming in and when you hear the teachings of Dzogchen you will come out of your hypnotic trance of thinking you are a sentient being and you will realize who you are, and you will wake up and realize your actual identity as rigpa. You are very close. And one more point in Dzogchen, there it is, the pinnacle, the ninth Yana, the highest, the most sublime, I really think it is but it is very easy to be intimidated by that. Thinking, but I have looked at my meditation; I do not think I am a pinnacle kind of guy. Where is the lowest of the low where is it for the really, you know, kindergarten kids. I think that is maybe where I can get in and not get a failing grade. Dudjom Lingpa’s response to that that, because that qualm comes up in the Vajra Essence, the text I have translated in its entirety. The question comes up, and he answers it and says, look; after he has already given some introduction to Dzogchen and he is teaching shamatha and he says; you know, once you have heard these teachings as you listen to them. If there just spontaneously arises faith, not blind faith, let us call it intuition, from some core place, not just “I like that theory”, but from a very deep place. Call it faith, call it intuition, call it confidence, call it a profound inner core resonance, whatever you want to call it. Either you have experienced it or you have not. But if you feel that, if you feel this profound affinity, resonance like feeling this is my ultimate home I really want to engage in this practice. Then he says, you just passed the test, that was the entrance examination do not look for anything else, do not look for anything outside from a teacher, divination, or astrology or anything else do not look elsewhere, do not worry about it, do not second guess yourself. If you really have that longing, that affinity, that resonance, that natural, spontaneous faith in the teachings and you really wish to apply yourself to them, he said, then consider yourself qualified, that’s it, that’s all there is to it. And now go for it, and then he leads you right into shamatha, onto vipashyana and then onto the path. And he said it is possible that people may stumble upon Dzogchen teachings, that they just happen to be in the right place at right time, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche or someone like that, or nowadays Chatrul Rinpoche or some other fine lama’s teaching. They may be teaching and some person hears about it “oh, Chatrul Rinpoche, I have heard he’s really great, let’s see if I can get in, maybe I slip in”, and maybe you slip in and Dudjom Lingpa says: you know even if you attend teachings on Dzogchen by profoundly realized master, if you are not ready for them, your body will be where the teachings are and your mind will be thousands of miles away. They will pass right just through you, you will not get it or if you feel a little stirring, I am kind of into that you know, you will pick it up and then the novelty will wear off pretty quickly, fade out. It will not have any staying power, you won’t stay, it is not like you are bad, you are not ready yet. And he does comment, for Dzogchen, nobody is ready unless you do have a lot of momentum, unless you already from past lives already have some foundation the basic teachings the Mahayana, the Vajrayana unless you have a lot momentum these teachings will not connect, but then how do we know what our past lives were? We don’t, that is easy, we don’t, but then just go right to your heart again, Dzogchen is so intuitive. If you find, I am really, really drawn to it. Good, then you will see for yourself whether that attraction, that affinity and so forth withers on the vine and you get interested in other things, you wander off or it just has staying power and does not leave, if it does not leave then simply consider yourself qualified and go for it.
Q and A
Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Revised by Joakim Gavazzeni
Final edition by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Posted by Alma Ayon