16 Oct 2012

Teaching: Alan presents the conclusion from Karma Chagme’s Union of Mahamudra and Dzogchen. Emanation of Padmasambhava’s speech, Atisha addressed how to combine all the teachings of the 3 yanas into one practice. The fivefold practices are: 1) bodhicitta as motivation, 2) meditation on one’s own body as the deity, 3) meditation on one’s spiritual mentor as the deity, 4) view of non-conceptuality (insight into emptiness and rigpa), 5) dedication. Alan also introduces the 4 reliances: Rely not on the person but on the dharma. Rely not on words but on the meaning. Rely not on the provisional meaning but on the definitive meaning. Rely not on conditioned consciousness but on primordial consciousness. Both coarse mind and subtle mind (substrate consciousness) are conditioned consciousness.
Meditation. Fivefold practice with shamatha, vipasyana, and vajrayana. Attend closely to sentient beings who all wish to be free from suffering. Arouse bodhicitta to be achieve awakening for the sake of sentient beings. Practice mindfulness of breathing to clean the space of awareness. Let your awareness illuminate the space of the body and tactile sensations therein. Monitor the space of the mind. Include the flow of knowing already present: awareness of being aware. Probe into the nature/referent of awareness, and know emptiness. Imagine personification of primordial consciousness Samantabhadra before you. Take refuge in the ultimate source of refuge. Samantabhadra comes to your crown, dissolves into light, flows down your central channel, and reforms at the heart. With every in breath, light of all the buddhas flow in from all directions. With every out breath, light flows out serving the needs of sentient beings, guiding each one to freedom. Dedicate the practice with your most meaningful aspiration.
Q1. How can we keep motivation for practice fresh and unwavering?

Q2. What advice for people who want to do retreat? 

Q3. In mindfulness of breathing, sometimes I’m very aware that mind is right there. If I go into mind, it slows rumination. I’m not sure this is OK. Please explain the image of the air mattress. 

Q4. In settling the mind, sometimes everything is very vivid like I’m in right in the thick of things. Does this mean grasping?

Meditation starts at: 35:30

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(4:34) This afternoon, it’s time now to gradually be summarizing a couple of questions that have very much to do with advice, guidance, suggestions about continuing practice, and so I thought I’d once again go to the great masters, rather than you’re having to say, well Alan Wallace said I suggested do this, this and this, and then whoever you’re saying it to says – who’s he? That’s what I would say, who’s he, but if you say well I am following the advice of Atisha then nobody asks who’s he? And so we are going to get Atisha’s advice, how about that?

(6:35) The text that I am citing from here is once again is the text I cited from earlier when I spoke about the first of the four yogas within the Mahamudra tradition, which is the yoga of repose, what’s it called? Singled pointedness. This is from the text Naked Awareness, the union of Mahamudra and Atiyoga by Karma Chagmé great 17th century, master of both the Mahamudra and Dzogchen lineages and so this is a very long teaching he gave and shows extraordinary erudition, I mean it’s just that, quite extraordinary, and then it comes time to sum up, so he’s covered the preliminary practices, shamatha in detail, vipashyana, Mahamudra, Dzogchen, the threkcho, thogyal phases of Dzogchen. He runs through the whole thing up to rainbow body and then he says ok, now let’s kind of cruise through again, and he goes through again Mahamudra and Dzogchen and then maps them onto the five paths the ten bhumis and then finally the grand finale then he says ok, now to sum up, now conclusion time, and in fact it was an oral teaching, and so this went on for presumably some weeks, probably something like what we are doing here except for his erudition would be hard to match. And so, I love stories as you have noticed by now, and this goes right to a story.

(06:30) ) So this is in his conclusion chapter, obviously the concluding chapter of this whole text and the very brief preface he says Orgyen Rinpoche, this is what Padmasambhava says, so we will start with Padmasambhava.

Padmasambhava said the synthesis of a meaning is for the sake of bringing delight in the teachings, and that is why do you sum up the end? To give inspiration, encouragement, enthusiasm about the teachings as a whole, kind of in core essence, charging head. The way to synthesize the meaning is suggested by Orgyen Rinpoche’s prophecy, Padmasambhava’s prophecy - , my speech emanation by the name of Dipankara, will be a bodhisattva who will purify the land of Tibet. Dipankara is a personal name of Atisha.

So in accordance with that prophecy the venerable Lord, the Glorious Atisha, who is like the crown jewel among 500 pundits in India, came to Tibet, this was the 11th century. (7:23)

Now we go to a story. At that time, and the words are from Karma Chagmé Rinpoche, and so he says, at that time the great translator, Rinchen Zangpo, he lived from 958 to 1055, was an emanation of Manjushri, embodiment of wisdom, had studied and trained under more than 20 pundits. He was one of the Tibetan scholars who was sent by the Tibetan King to India to learn Buddhism, to really revitalize Buddhism that had been crushed by many, many decades of suppression. So he went down, studied with more than 20 pundits in India, came back and really became the foremost of all the translators in this whole second wave of translation of the Buddhist Sanskrit teachings into Tibetan. So he had studied and trained under more than 20 pundits, and he was like the snowy source of all the streams of dharma of the new translation school. This includes Kagyu, Sakya and Gelugpa, Nyingma being the old translation school. He thought, Rinchen Zangpo, he thought – nowadays there is no one with greater qualities than mine – and he heard that Atisha was coming to Tibet, and he said – I have nothing to ask the pundit, Atisha. I mean he knew he was accomplished, what would he have to ask this guy for? You’ve already studied with 20 pundits why would you need 21? 20 is enough, right? However due to an auspicious sign and a dream, I shall pay my respects – so he had some dream about Atisha, said you know, go and meet him, show your courtesy, so he said, okay I had a really good dream, I’ll go meet the guy. (8:57) So in a dream that night, a white man appeared and told him- you’re being very pompous about your service to sentient beings, there are still many questions for you to ask, even if you combined all the translators and pundits in one, this single individual, Atisha, if you were to synthesize all the translators and pundits into one single individual, whoever that might be, the synthesis of all of them, would not have all the excellent qualities of this pundit, Atisha. Tibet has not received all the oral instructions and he then disappeared.

If you have a dream like that you’d better pay attention. So Rinchen Zangpo then took the long journey to meet Atisha, and invited him to his place, his meditation place where he gave him a seat equal in height to his own. In his shrine room, on the ground floor, were the deities of the common, or Hinayana, so (10:00) Buddha Shakyamuni, probably Shariputra and so forth, so that’s on the ground floor, in a room on the second floor were those of the Mahayana, like Avalokiteshvara, Vajrapani, Manjushri and so forth, and on the third floor were imagines of the deities of the Mantrayana – the Vajrayana, so you know there’s a wide array of those. So he showed him around his house, showed him here’s the ground floor, Shravakayana, here’s second floor Mahayana, and here’s Vajrayana on top. So Atisha was shown around, shown all these statues, sacred images and so forth, and Atisha composed verses of praise for all of them. For the first time experiencing faith in Atisha’s words, that is as he saw the words of poetry and so forth, for the first time experiencing faith in Atisha’s words, poetry and so on, the translator, Rinchen Zangpo, removed the three layers of his own seat so that he had no cushion at all. He said, okay this guy is really pretty formidable, I’ll sit a little bit lower than him. The translator then, Rinchen Zangpo asked him, Atisha, many questions and hearing many things for the first time he was struck by Atisha’s knowledge, and his pride collapsed. To all the questions Atisha asked of the translator, he replied only that he knew. He didn’t actually give an answer, just said, yeah, I know that. Atisha was also pleased with the translator and he commented – with someone like you in Tibet, there was no need for anyone to ask me to come to Tibet. He then asked – translator, if you combine all those teachings – Shravakayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana- If you combine all those teachings in one meditation session and practice them, how can you do it? (11:47) The translator replied – I do not combine the Yanas, Shravakayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana, rather I keep each one distinct and without mixing them, I practice each one by itself. Lord Atisha then remarked – that indicates that you the translator, are wrong. There is a need for me to be in Tibet, after all.

That night the translator meditated during 3 sessions, visualizing the three yanas in progressive order in three places in his body. The pundit, Atisha knew what he was doing and he told him – translator that’s no good, you won’t get anywhere! Rinchen Zangpo asked him – so then how do you do it? And then Atisha responded – whatever I say –wherever I am, whoever I accompany, whatever I am doing, I make the ethical discipline of the Vinaya my foundation. This is the monastic code, they’re both monks. Since all sentient beings have been my mother, I must meditate on them as such. I train in the pure view of seeing them as my mother; as the deities are unborn, I meditate on them as such, (unborn means empty of inherent nature), if you do not know how to combine those, you’ll not obtain the essence.

Lord Atisha also said – our teacher, the Buddha has well taught that ethical discipline is the basis of all excellent qualities. Bodhichitta which is linked with great compassion is praised above all. Enlightenment is certain with the union of the stages of generation and completion, which are not fettered by the signs of good thought, (signs means the reification, the grasping on to good thoughts) these are the task of individuals of small and great capacity, and medium capacity as well.

Emphasize, meditate on impermanence, make offerings and requesting that the wheel of dharma be turned. And if you abandon selfishness, you are following the Buddha’s council. Extensive discussions of this are for the learned. Righteous are those individuals who synthesize the essence and practice it. Noble I say, are those conscientious people who are not dismissive of actions and their consequences, ( that is karma and their consequences) knowing everything but clinging to one thing is a flaw of scholars. Not engaging in practice is a mistake. Not adopting the good and rejecting the evil makes for an empty façade of nobility. Live with wisdom, Rinchen Zangpo! This is the admonishment of the great compassionate one, Avalokieteshvara.

Certainty arose in the mind of the translator Rinchen Zangpo and he made a vow to spend the rest of his life in meditative retreat. As a result of his practice he moved to Khasarpana without leaving his body behind, as a result of his practice his whole environment shifted to that of a pureland without leaving his body behind. Lord Atisha also gave practical instructions on practicing the four classes of Tantra on a single cushion. (15:21) Kriya Tantra, Charya Tantra Yoga Tantra and Annuttarayoga Tantra, and he composed Indian treatises on the fivefold practice. Accordingly the glorious Phagmo Drupa ( he lived from 1110 to 1170), he was one of the three major disciples of Gampopa, direct disciple of Milarepa and was the one who established the Karma Kagyu, one of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism and he was a disciple also of Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, (15:51) one of the founders of the Sakya school, so we see a flowing together of the Sakya and the Kagyu, and Phagmo Drupa had 5800 illustrious disciples all of whom were liberated soley by means of the fivefold practice. Big emphasis there. The protector Jigten Sumgon who lived in the 12th Century, into the 13th century , he was a disciple of Phagmo Drupa and the founder of the Drikung Kagyu school, that’s Kalu Rinpoche’s school, he says - Mahamudra is like a lion, but without the fivefold practice it’s like a blind man. (In other words it needs to be complimented. So what are those fivefold practices? )


So what is the fivefold practice? To augment, to balance out, to supplement your core practice of Mahamudra, which as I said a number of times now, is really essentially, it is the same, according to Karma Chagmé, as the threkcho phase of Dzogchen, that is that’s the breakthrough.

So what’s the fivefold practice? This is the essence of Atisha, and he is showing this is the spread here, there is nothing sectarian about this, essence of Atisha’s teachings, of Rinchen Zangpo, he put it into practice and achieved enlightenment, Phagmo Drupa, big big name in Tibetan Buddhism, and ( Alan includes the name of another great master of the Kagyu tradition )

So, The fivefold practices are, are you ready?

1) Bodhichitta as motivation

Cultivating bodhichitta, that is your motivation straight,

2) Meditating on your own body as being that of a deity.

of course that implies you’ve realized emptiness or at least have some insight into the emptiness of your body, dissolve that into emptiness, out of emptiness imagine manifesting your own body in its pure form, with pure vision, of that of the deity. That’s the second one, but bear in mind that this is an order, this is the sequence.

3) Meditation on one’s spiritual mentor as the deity,

Meditating on your spiritual mentor as a deity. ( is the third one and a very, very important point, easily missed, often missed, I think especially in the modern world, and I have said this before, in this context of Vajrayana, are you looking upon your spiritual mentor, your guru as a Buddha? The answer is yes, but there is a parity here a symmetry, and that is that you’ve also dissolved your own sense of ordinary identity, ordinary body speech and mind, into emptiness. Out of emptiness, stemming from Rigpa, you manifest your own body as the deity. And of course not only your body, your speech, your mind, your identity, and so you see there is a symmetry there, pure vision meets pure vision. If you had pure vision towards yourself, and regarded your teacher as not pure, that would be a waste of time. But if you regard your guru as a Buddha with pure vision there, but have ordinary vision for yourself, that’s not Vajrayana practice. And in fact one could say that it’s just not legitimate practice, it’s not Buddhist practice, unless your guru actually is a Buddha, 32 marks, 80 marks, you know, is actually a Buddha, not someone you’re having faith is a Buddha, but actually is a Buddha. In that case, that’s fine. Like Buddha Shakyamuni, no problem, right, he has from his or her own side, has realized perfect enlightenment, then no problem, like the many disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni. But if that’s not the case, if that’s not the case then if you basically misapprehend your guru, who may be a very fine guru, who maybe has compassion, who may have insight, maybe he has even become a bodhisattva, maybe even an arya bodhisattva, but isn’t a Buddha, and if you view that person as a Buddha, then you’ve just made a mistake. Make a mistake - not a Buddha, you think he is a Buddha, and then you think - I am an ordinary sentient being, well you may get that one right, but then if you think your guru is a Buddha and he is not, then you’re just wrong. So how can that be a basis for sound and profound practice? It’s not Vajrayana practice. That is not Vajrayana guru yoga, anybody who says that it is, I’ll debate with them, and I’ll win, right? There has got to be symmetry there, it’s pure vision here, pure vision there, not yucky vision here and pure vision over there. So that is a very important point, often missed, and when it is missed it’s a very slippery slope into sheer idolatry, of just then idolizing, oh my guru, His Eminence, His Holiness, the Venerable, super-duper supernatural, omniscient guru, and he’s just a very good lama. Which means it’s like sexual infatuation, really, it’s just a form of attachment, isn’t it? Whereas whether or not, your guru, from his or her own side, in terms of their own perspective on their own practice, whether or not they’ve achieved enlightenment, if you have the insight into emptiness, and you apply that to yourself and others, with the understanding of rigpa, then you dissolve ordinary guru, as you dissolve ordinary self, both into emptiness and then where your guru is, whether your guru is Tuthco or Yohen or Nato or whoever it may be, where your guru is, there is Samantabhadra. Now that doesn’t mean you just choose anybody. Then you must see, okay, is this person qualified? And that is what the Vajrayana teachings say, the Mahayana the Shravakayana, they all say, if you are going to view someone as your guru, then don’t be foolish.

Check to see, is this person qualified, what do you seek from this person, are you seeking a bit of good advice now and then? A lot of people can give that. Are you seeking authentic teachings to follow the Shravakayana path? Shila, Samadhi, prajna, then make sure you are going to someone who is really qualified to teach that. And if you are looking for Mahayana, then there are 10 qualities of a Mahayana guru, they are listed there in the Lamrim, you can easily find them. Then if you are looking for Vajrayana, someone who can lead you in stage of generation completion, or in Dzogchen, the threkcho and thogyal, find somebody who is qualified, and if they are qualified, their bodhicitta motivation, compassionate motivation, then full speed ahead.

Pure vision here, pure vision there. So that’s what he is talking about here, so this is again I’m not making it up, he said meditate on your own body, your own presence as being that of the deity, meditate on your spiritual mentor, your guru, as the deity, so there’s three out of five.

4) Cultivating the view of non-conceptuality

(22:31) Cultivating the view of non-conceptuality. Now these five practices are really, this is a format, this is a matrix to achieve enlightenment in one lifetime just like Rinchen Zangpo did, right? So quiz time!

(Alan raised the question above and is exchanging ideas with some of the students)

So, who’s turn, Tutcho, is this just your best guess? Is this just your best guess? So nobody gets to feeling great here, we just learn. But what do you think he is referring to when he says - cultivate the view of non-conceptuality? What would that have to include? If these five practices are going to be effective to lead you on the stage of generation completion, Mahamudra, or along the path into threkcho and thogyal, what would you imagine, what would that have to include? View of non- conceptuality, view of emptiness, dharmadhatu is emptiness, dharmakaya is better, dharmakaya is your mind, you were right, just a little mix up of words, no big deal, that’s right, yes. So it would be having some insight into emptiness, and some insight, at least some deep intuition of rigpa, because rigpa is dharmakaya. Would that be enough? Well let’s read the last one and then it might come back to you. And then the last one is easy, anybody can understand this.

5) Dedication.

(24:48) Sealing your practice with prayers of dedication.

So you start with bodhichitta, you end with dedication, and then you have three in the middle, ok? Now for those five to be sufficient, say okay, there’s my manifold, there’s my template, like if you have ever been to an Indian railway station, or Indian restaurants, you’ll get the plate with all the little pockets, here’s a place for this, here’s your rice, here’s your dahl, here’s your vegetables and so forth everything laid out in a little format, ok this is your plate and it has five little partitions in it, ok? Bodhicitta and dedication of merit, pure vision here and pure vision there and that leaves everything here - number four and that is this view of non- conceptuality.

So you are quite right, if you don’t’ have realization of emptiness it doesn’t work, if don’t have some intuition, some insight into rigpa, won’t work. Anything else might be included in cultivating the view of non-conceptuality, that would be indispensable otherwise none of this works, any guesses, think really hard?

How can you possibly have a view of non-conceptuality if your mind is going bla, bla, bla, so when he is speaking of the view of non-conceptuality it’s got to be the union of shamatha vipasyyana, we have seen that in the first yoga, the first yoga is the union of shamatha vipashyana, right? And then it goes on from there.

So I think that would be inevitably implied, not even debatably but unavoidably implied in the cultivation of the view of non-conceptuality, that is not just taking a little peck at insight into emptiness or rigpa, but it’s a view, a way of viewing not a little peek, but a way of viewing reality which means you’ve better have those two fused which means you better have shamatha, yeah.

(25:52) So there it is. So your bodhichitta motivation, seven point mind training from Atisha. There are two activities one in the beginning and one at the end and they are? Motivation and Dedication, you are exactly right. So there it is, it runs through, it just runs through everywhere in Mahayana. First motivation, it is like setting out on ship in a harbor and saying: Do you have your navigational charts? Do you know where you are you are going? And then the dedication at the end is sealing of it, the final affirmation, like that, right. And then the core, the self-generation and then having a pure relationship, a pure vision of your own guru, it could be many gurus, some rise into one, and then all of this suffused with shamatha vipashyana, then he is saying - now that’s enough, that will do it, that’s enough.

(26:59) We are about to go into meditation but there are the four lines I memorized a long time ago, I find them so useful, and especially in modern era even though these four lines also trace back to Atisha, thousand years ago. They are called the four reliances, and here they are:

  • (27:51) Do not rely upon the person but upon the dharma.

So unless we’re just reading books, we receive the dharma teachings that we receive, meditation guidance, theory and so forth, we receive it from a person, some teachers are very intelligent, some not as much, some are very articulate, some are not as much, some have great humor, some are not as much, charismatic not as much, some are tremendously learned, some are not as much, ugly, fat, short, old, etc, etc, etc, a lot of variations in the packaging, the physical, the verbal and the mental packaging, a lot of variations, now one thing they all have in common is they die, they all die, they get old they die, they go away, whenever, it’s where there is meeting there is parting, that is just the way it is, it’s truism.

So we receive the dharma by way of an individual and Atisha is saying: between those two, the individual from whom you receive the teachings and the teachings that you receive, between those two, where do you place the greater or the primary reliance, your trust, your dependence, your commitment? To the dharma. The teacher may screw up, teachers sometimes screw up or they just die or they move away, whatever. Teachers to varying degrees embody what they teach. It’s hard to be homogenous, unless you are very realized, it’s hard to be homogenous, every breath you take always embodies the teachings, of course that’s the ideal. How to be homogenous, do it as a constant, if you are very accomplished, yeah, otherwise it’s hard, right?

(29:10) But the dharma is the dharma, that’s the refuge, that’s the real refuge, so between the two of them that’s the refuge to take home with you, right? So there’s the first one.

Very important, especially in this modern world that is Eurocentric now and gone global, this enormous emphasis on individual. In America we say the self-made man, the self-made man, the individual, the billionaire, the person who boot strapped himself up, usually they’re men, lots of machismo - I did it, I did it, I built it, I built it, I did it, you know all that, alright ok, whatever. But realistic view is no matter who you are, it came about by causes and conditions coming together. So especially in this very individualistic world, we idolize so many people, from baseball players to rock n roll stars, to actors, to politicians I guess, and all kinds of people, models and so forth and so on. This is not an occasion to start idolizing, to speak with respect, even reverence sure, but idolize, no.

Why for example in my case, why do I so often refer to the Dalai Lama, because I idolize him? Not really, I don’t think so. But I see, having known him for more than forty years, I see the extraordinary extent to which the teachings he imparts, homogenously, are so sublime are so good, wise, compassionate and the extraordinary degree to which he embodies exactly what he is teaching. That’s it! That’s why. He’s charming, he’s full of joy, he is very articulate, he is extremely intelligent, he is very erudite, he’s very warm hearted, he’s very humble, all those are good, but most importantly he embodies what he teaches. That’s why I refer to him so much; no other reason and the other teachers as well. So that is not idolization, that’s reverence. So that’s the first one, very important especially in our modern, where we are so often, the emphasis on the individual independent of context, and dependent origination, that’s the first one.

  • Rely not upon the words but upon their meaning.

Do not rely upon the words but upon their meaning. In other words don’t be a fundamentalist, don’t cling to the words but go to their meaning.

  • Rely not upon the interpretive meaning but upon the definitive meaning.

Third on, do not rely upon the interpretive meaning, the provisional meaning but upon the definitive meaning. This requires some investigation, scrutiny, analysis, what does it really mean, might there be symbolic meaning, might this be only contextual, that is only true for one context, so what does the definitive mean, go to the essence, identify, take refuge there and rely upon that.

  • Rely not upon conditioned consciousness but upon primordial consciousness.

(32:25) And the final one is very interesting:

Do not rely upon conditioned consciousness but upon primordial consciousness.

(32:35) “vijãna”, there are two types of vijãna I mean mentally speaking, one of these I think would be our mental consciousness, the one I am looking right over now at Steph, and so I’m looking not only with my visual perception but I am directing my mental awareness there, I can visualize bugs bunny on the top of her head and with mental consciousness I would see the image that I concocted , projected there, ok? That’s mental consciousness. And so mental consciousness this is the one that we use to analyze, to remember, to imagine, to visualize and forth and so on, so there’s that dimension of consciousness, vijãna, but then when your coarse mind dissolves, of course it goes into the alaya vijãna another vijãna, substrate consciousness, so we have two domains, the coarse and the subtle for vijãna consciousness, conditioned consciousness.

He says, but now relatively speaking or comparatively speaking, so you place your final trust, your commitment, your reliance, as you rely upon a very deeply trusted friend, you rely fundamentally, essentially upon the consciousness of your coarse mind, or the subtle mind, he says no, yeshe ledrug - rely upon primordial consciousness.

How do you do that? Become acquainted with your primordial consciousness, the deepest dimension, the source of authentic intuition, where you know something but it’s not by simply seeing it, like I look over there and see color of Betty Rose’s blouse, ok, I see it, boom, there it is, got it, easy, right? So it’s not that easy, and it’s not by inference, it’s a way of knowing and of course that is deeper, intuitive would be the generic way of referring to that, so core. So there’s a whole sequence here. ( Alan says it in Tibetan because it is nice for our imprints) rely not upon the person but upon the dharma, rely not upon the words but upon the meaning, rely not upon the provisional meaning but the definitive meaning, rely not upon conditioned consciousness but upon primordial consciousness. That’s that, quite quintessential, right?

(34:36) That’s a keeper, through life and death, those reliances and the fivefold practice, when you are healthy, when you’re ill, when you’re living, when you’re dying and when you’re post dead, still good, still good. Alright that wasn’t too long.

So now some closing notes from Karma Chagmé Rinpoche transmitting from the 17th century, transcending from the 9th 10th century, a mere six, seven hundred years went by and the teaching’s so timeless, if they work, they work and the teaching’s so timeless, if they work, they work. Here five thousand eight hundred students achieving profound realization and so forth and so on, so this is why I’m such a traditionalist at heart, follow that which has proven itself to be authentic.

Let’s find a comfortable position. (36:10)

Meditation: Fivefold practice with shamatha, vipashyana and Vajrayana.

As you expand the field of your awareness to embrace the world around you and all the sentient beings who inhabit, attend closely to every sentient being wishing, like ourselves, to be free from suffering, forever free of suffering and its causes. And arousing great compassion, the aspiration and the resolve that we may all be free, all find true liberation and with the resolve to bring this about, cultivate the jewel like mind of bodhichitta, the aspiration to achieve perfect awakening for the sake of all sentient beings.

And with this motivation, this compassionate, loving noble motivation, settle your body, speech and mind and in their natural states and make your mind serviceable for a little while by way of mindfulness of breathing.

Quiet the conceptual mind so with non-conceptual awareness, at least non-discursive awareness, be able to quietly attend to the in and out flow of the breath. Like sweeping dust out of your room, out of your shrine room, with every out breath gently sweep out, which is to say release any distracted thoughts, rumination that may have arisen. Clean the space of your awareness. Letting the light of your awareness illuminate the space of your body and the tactile sensations arising therein, be aware of this outer shell, of the sensations of the in and out breath, attending to the whole body.

And with your faculty of introspection, monitor the space of the mind, an inner dimension, secret, hidden from others, the space of the mind, the mental events, the images, appearances that arise within this domain of experience, simply observing their nature, arising and passing from moment to moment.

And then include in the field of mindfulness, a flow of knowing that is already present and that is your awareness of being aware. Withdraw your awareness from the surrounding environment into the outer shell of your body with the sensations of the in and out breath.

Withdraw your awareness from the field of the body into the domain of the mind as you settle your mind in its natural state.

Withdraw your awareness from the space of the mind, let your awareness come to rest as you release the effort of extending it out to any other object, let your awareness come to rest in its own place, quietly, non-conceptually, illuminating and knowing itself.

And as you seek to probe into the very nucleus, the intrinsic nature, the very essence of awareness itself, the referent of the term - awareness, you may find like all the Buddhas of the past, present and future, that awareness as a reified entity, something existing in and of itself, is nowhere to be found, has never been observed, and rest in that luminous knowing of emptiness.

And from the luminous primordially pure space of awareness, activate the luminous creativity of your own awareness and in the space in front of you, imagine the iconic personification, the symbolic embodiment of the primordial consciousness of all the Buddhas, some call the primordial Buddha, Adi-Buddha some call Vajradhara, and some call Samantabhadra, seated in the vajra asana, deep blue in color, hands holding vajra and bell, embodying all the qualities of the Buddha mind. Here is the guru, the guru Samantabhadra, empty and luminous and primordially pure, the ultimate source of refuge, ultimate source of all blessings. (50:45)

Taking refuge in the Buddha Samantabhadra, we offer our body, speech and mind in the service of all the Buddhas until all sentient beings are free, and we call for an ocean of blessings, bless us on the path that we may swiftly awaken. And let your body, speech and mind be indivisible from my own. Imagine Samantabhadra blissfully responding to this supplication, coming to the crown of your head instantly, facing in the same direction as yourself, then melting with bliss, imagine the guru, the primordial Buddha dissolving into blue light, coming down the central channel, and reappearing on a lotus, the moon and sun in your own heart, your own body, speech and mind indivisible from that of Samantabhadra. Imagine your body empty, transparent, luminous, clear, an apparition of the energy of primordial consciousness. Five color light, white, yellow, red, green, blue, refracted from the light at your heart, emanating in all directions, each ray of light reaching out and serving the needs of sentient beings according to the capacity and their inclinations, their circumstances.

And arousing the heart of great compassion, with each in breath imagine the blessings of all the Buddhas of the three times in the ten directions all flowing upon in upon your own form, supersaturating your body, speech and mind. And with every out breath imagine this light emanating in all directions, imagine this light serving the needs of each sentient being, guiding each one to their own freedom, dispelling the suffering and the causes of suffering of each one.

And release all appearances, all aspirations and simply rest in the primordial purity and luminosity of your own awareness with nothing to be achieved, nothing to be abandoned.

After you settle just pause for a moment and dedicate the merit of the practice to the realization of your most meaningful aspiration.


I’ve often referred to substrate consciousness as being like a stem consciousness, like a stem cell, and that depending on its context, can transform into any kind of cell, even body, I think, skin cell, blood, bone, and so forth and so on. And likewise the substrate consciousness can manifest in any type of samsaric consciousness at all, from the lowest realms up to the formless realms. (01:02:33) All of those emerging out of, and when that particular existence comes to an end, dissolve back in, like a yo-yo coming back to the palm. So it’s that kind of stem consciousness that manifests in all, and in a similar fashion really, not a bad parallel, Samantabhadra, Vajradhara, Ari-Buddha – stem Buddha, primordial Buddha, personification of Dharmakaya, well there’s no beginning to dharmakaya, you’ll be saying so when did Shakyamuni Buddha achieve enlightenment? It will be some time in history when that occurred, when did Maitreya achieved enlightenment? Sometime in History, and so forth and so on. But when you speak of the personification, the embodiment of primordial consciousness, obviously it’s out of time, so to say okay in this fourth time beyond all time this is when the Ari-Buddha first achieved enlightenment – that just doesn’t make any sense. So one could say that all manifestations, of Buddha mind, Buddha Shakyamuni’s mind, Maitreya’s and so forth, all really nothing other than mind of Samantabhadra. Stem Buddha. Primordial Guru.

So the practice we just did, very confident, you can practice that with or without some Tantric empowerment, I think it’s okay, no downside. And whether or not you have found some guru in this life time, whether it’s Shravakayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana, whether or not you have found that very deep, trusting relationship, this is my guru, whether or not, if you have – wonderful, then of course practice guru yoga according to your ability- shravakayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana, whatever’s your ability – very good.

Core. Even if you don’t have a guru yet, no problem, no hurry, don’t say oh time is running out, don’t be in a hurry, you might choose a rotten apple! So then in the meantime, start at the end, and that is you go to Dzogchen, the ninth and the pinnacle of all the yanas according to the Nyingma traditions, what’s your ultimate refuge? Dzogchen view, what’s your ultimate refuge? There’s only one, inner guru and what do we call that? Primordial consciousness. (01:05:16)

So that’s it, really it’s explicit, I didn’t make this up. Rigpa is your ultimate refuge, everything else is a manifestation of that, whether it’s Dalai Lama, Lama Yeshe, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, whoever it may be, there’s the core, that’s the root, those are the flowers, so we’re just going to the root. So that little practice there, I think we did all five, I think it included all five, so that should be okay. And then if you’ve received empowerment, Vajrayogini, Chenrezig, whatever it may be, good then practice that of course. But even if you’ve never received any empowerment, you can still do all five practices, a good deal. So there we are, we have a little bit of time left, I hope this introduction here, with the meditation will be an answer, a response to some of the questions.

How can I keep my motivation for meditating fresh and unwavering?

Do the fivefold practice – that would be good, practice shamatha, the four immeasurables, vipashyana, that would be good, but actually also, I was given council by actually one of my university professors, very interesting, and he was cautioning me, when I considered for quite some time about actually spending my life in a university career as a professional, as a context you know, skillful means, and he said, look out, look out, because you will become like the people that you associate with. It’s not a matter of if, it’s you will. Join this department, check out what are the people like in that department, you are going to become like them. You want to join a business, fine, there is nothing wrong with joining a business, check out who’s there, you’re going to become like them. Wherever it is, you will become like the people you hang out with. That is why the Buddha said, having spiritual friends is the whole of the practice.

So, I know some of you who are leaving here on Thursday or Friday are going to some geographical place where there may not be other dharma practitioners around, then that is what the internet is for. That’s why the Buddhas created internet, (laughter) blessing the minds of computer geeks, maintain a virtual friendship, virtual relationships, establish networks, and that can be real, we can even see each other now, for free, it’s amazing, you know, so that’s cool, that’s very cool. So that’s it, spiritual friends, keep on immersing yourself in dharma, give up attachment to this life, let your mind become dharma, have a good library, let your books be your spiritual friends, devote yourself to practice, that’s it. There will be a little bit more on that tomorrow.

Alan finishes off answer questions about doing longer solitary retreats.

Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti & Cheri Langston

Revised by Cheri Langston

Final edition by Rafael Carlos Giusti

Posted by Alma Ayon


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