27 Resting in Awareness and Appearances on the Path to Convergence on Rigpa

13 Apr 2016

Alan begins by commenting that all teachings and sequences of practice have the goal of converging on realising the ultimate nature of mind, rigpa. This includes cultivating loving-kindness up to relative bodhicitta and ultimate bodhicitta, which in Dzogchen practice is no different from rigpa. The practices of shamatha and the four applications of mindfulness and so on, are directed towards realising the empty nature of our own mind and then converging on realising rigpa. Alan comments that the method of application of mindfulness to the body by firstly closely attending to one’s own body internally, then externally, then both internally and externally so that it encompasses a whole system, is the method taught by Tsongkhapa for applying mindfulness to the whole of reality by way initially of the five physical senses. This requires resting in stillness with clarity and discernment and attending to appearances in the space of awareness. All appearances have momentary existence, are all fresh, unprecedented, in constant flux, and directly perceived. By contrast, the conceptual projections (words, ideas) that we superimpose on appearances are static, like a snapshot. Our internal self-concept is also static in this sense. The practice is to rest in stillness, observe what appearances arise from that stillness and note the change in them and the nature of the projections we superimpose on them.

The meditation is initially guided on settling the mind by counting the breath twenty-one times and then from stillness partially opening our eyes to investigate the nature of appearances and our mental superimpositions on them.

After the meditation practice, Alan resumes the transmission of the Panchen Lama’s text, and comments on provisional and definitive views, and on examples of the different approaches of seeking meditation as the basis of the view (e.g. Padmasambhava’s Natural Liberation practice of first achieving shamatha) versus seeking the view as a basis for meditation (as in the Geshe training). Alan says for the next few days we will make an excursion away from the Panchen Lama’s text and he will, for the first time, offer the oral transmission of a chapter on shamatha from one of Karma Chagme’s treatises. He received the oral transmission of this chapter from Gyatrul Rinpoche in 1990. He then translated it, but it has never been published. The printed copy (20 pages) will be distributed to those on retreat in Tuscany and those people listening by podcast who would like to obtain a copy should individually send a message to Sangay at SBI, requesting it on the basis that it is for personal use, and must not be put on any website as Alan is still considering its formal publication.

The meditation starts at 13:25

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