02 May 2016

In this morning’s teaching Alan elaborates on the notion that rigpa is right where we are looking when observing the mind. But do we see it? We are looking right at it but not seeing it clearly due to the thick layers of obscurations. However, one crucial theme that pervades all levels of observing the mind, from the coarse to the most subtle, is the non-duality of luminosity and emptiness (seltong in Tibetan). Alan explains that we can see it already at our level of practice. As we observe our mind carefully we can see that it is clear (clarity and luminosity being synonymous) in the sense of being clear of materiality. Alan remarks that this is also corroborated by the fact that consciousness cannot be measured by any scientific means. In our practice we can also see the second facet of consciousness: cognisance. Being aware, knowing - this is something we experience more indubitably than anything in our practice. So in this context, at this level of practice, clarity means empty of materiality while cognisance corresponds to knowing, seeing clearly. Now imagine - says Alan - that you have come to the culmination of the practice of shamatha and you are resting in the substrate consciousness. What you experience is the fourth type of mindfulness - self-illuminating mindfulness. Now you can really experience luminosity! At the same time you are aware of the sheer vacuity of the substrate and of the luminosity of the substrate consciousness. Then - continues Alan - imagine that you take dharmata as your vehicle onto the path, you become an arya bodhisattva and you have an unmediated non-conceptual realisation of shunyata, of emptiness. Now that’s emptiness! But you are still aware of something else, too. You are also aware of being aware - of awareness itself. Hence, you are simultaneously experiencing emptiness and luminosity of your awareness and these are non-dual. Finally, imagine that you take rigpa onto the path and with pointing out instructions you cut through conditioned consciousness. Now you lucidly apprehend the emptiness of all phenomena. You realise dharmadhatu from the perspective of rigpa, of dharmakaya. It is the same emptiness you saw as arya bodhisattva, but instead of realising it with a subtle mind which is still conditioned, you realise it with rigpa which is unconditioned and primordial. That’s the true union of luminosity and emptiness. Having taken us through the entire sequence, Alan once again emphasises that although now our minds are obscured we can still see both luminosity and emptiness, but as if looking through three layers of clouds. Alan concludes this part of the session by citing the famous line from the Heart Sutra “form is emptiness, emptiness is form” (explaining that in this context form corresponds to luminosity).

The meditation is on shamatha without a sign (awareness of awareness, directing awareness into space). It is a guided meditation with Padmasambhava’s instructions from the book “Natural Liberation”.

Meditation starts at 18:18

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