08 Sep 2015

Having crossed from Shamatha to Vipashyana, Alan takes us out of the gravitational field to the non-meditation of Dzogchen - which entails not doing anything at all! As long as we activate the mind of a sentient being we are not a Buddha. There are four requirements: don’t do anything, don’t strive, don’t desire and don’t fix anything.
Alan describes two approaches to identifying the mind. We can receive pointing out instructions from a qualified master, or we can just do the practice. He proposes an approach he likens to floating on your back in a buoyant sea.

Meditation is on ‘non-meditation’.

After the meditation, Alan returns to the text, beginning Chapter Five, and warns us to fasten our meditation belts as we take off into Dzogchen! To illustrate Nagarjuna’s statement that ‘mind is a mere label…’ Alan first talks about how we differentiate phenomena through a process of elimination. A particular person’s face is identified as being ‘that which is not anything else’. Verbal designation is information and it is information or labels that is primary, not mind.

Alan then segues to physics, quoting Caslav Brukner and Anton Zeilinger who also view information as the primary concept. He compares their views to the prevailing ‘scientific’ view that matter yields information which give rise to observers. On the contrary, physicist John Wheeler inverts the sequence and proposes that the presence of the observer makes it possible for information to arise. Thus matter is a category constructed out of information. Alan then circles back to Nagarjuna, drawing the parallel between his views and theirs.

He finishes with a flourish, referring to the past and the story now widely accepted of the origins of life and the universe, galaxies and our own planet, starting with the Big Bang. But we know now there can be no reality independent of information about that reality, or independent of the mind that is aware of that information. Wheeler says it is wrong to think of the past as already existing. It exists in relation to our questions and measurements. Steven Hawking agrees, describing the past as being in a superimposition state before you make a measurement. So we can choose our past. There is no real past, independent of our question, measurements, designation and concepts.

Meditation begins at 14:32.

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