19 May 2016

Note: this is the only lecture for today, 19th May, because Alan will give a public talk at the University of Pisa.

Alan starts with reading “The analogy of seeing a rope as a snake” from “Naked Awareness”, on page 91. Here a man mistook a rope for a poisonous snake and got frightened until a friend showed him that it was just a rope. Alan comments that there was no eye dysfunction. While the visual perception is always non-conceptual, in a very short time, the conceptual mind takes over, reconfigures, colorizes, dominates and reifies the experience. In the case of the snake this was clearly a false conceptual designation stemming from ignorance and delusion. “Out of Avidyā comes Moha”. Out of lack of awareness in the visual field comes the delusion of misapprehending the rope as a snake.

In Dzogchen it is strongly emphasized that the rope has never been a snake and therefore the fear is not based in reality. Likewise, when we ask ourselves why our own mind is tormenting us with mental afflictions, a spiritual friend will point out that we are not a sentient being. We have to shift our perspective. Alan recalls what he learnt when he was in Dharamsala long ago: It is never too soon to cultivate Bodhicitta. Likewise, it is never too soon to be introduced to the Dzogchen view.

Alan continues elaborating on the four reliances from the Kadampa tradition. 1. Don’t rely on the person, rely on the Dharma. Some people are having faith in the Dharma because the Dalai Lama is such a great being. For having faith in Dharma there are two entrances. People with dull faculties have faith into the Dharma by way of an individual. People with sharp faculties have faith in the individual by way of the Dharma. There is a great danger of reifying individuals which results in taking refuge outside our own mind streams and outside rigpa. 2. With respect to Dharma, don’t rely upon the words, rely upon their meaning. This means taking refuge in what the words are referring to, without clinging to the words themselves. 3. Do not rely upon the provisional meaning, rely upon the definitive meaning. The provisional meaning refers to a specific context and perspective. The Kalachakra Tantra states that there is no definitive description of the world. This is in line with the statements of Stephen Hawking and John Wheeler. All the teachings of the Dharma, like the four noble truths and the twelve links of dependent origination are provisional, except the teachings on emptiness. 4. Don’t rely upon conditioned consciousness, rely on primordial consciousness. Conditioned consciousness refers to the fifth aggregate, consciousness, which arises upon cause and conditions. It also refers to the substrate consciousness. Primordial consciousness refers to rigpa, which is always present and active. We also can use the term intuition, which is a way of knowing that is not simply an observation of a phenomena or deferred by logical reason. It’s a type of knowing which is primal, deeper and mysterious.

Alan continues reading a passage from the “Vajra Essence” which explains the difference between conditioned consciousness and primordial consciousness. It will be in the notes of today. Alan put special emphasis on the last sentence: “What arises is closely held by conceptual consciousness; it is bound by reification, and you thereby become deluded. Knowledge of the reasons for this brings you to primordial consciousness”. The question on the origin of samsara can now be answered. It’s every moment. From the perspective of rigpa we don’t have a history of a sentient being.

The meditation is on cultivating Great Equanimity.

After the meditation, Alan recommends to shift our perspective from the hedonic aspects of life to the cultivation of eudaemonia, which isn’t binary, but rather a smooth spectrum, and culminates in the development of Bodhicitta. Alan reminds us of the verse from Atisha’s seven-point mind training: “Be always of good cheer” and recommends to welcome whatever arises to us. It can be a challenge for doing very constructive things that will bring about a meaningful change in the world.

Alan concludes with the statement that reality rises up to meet us. Instead of simply experiencing the results of previous karma, which is merciless and without compassion, we could rise up to meet reality with equanimity. From the center of our own mandala and with respect to our own well being, we shouldn’t reify our own suffering and watching it from the perspective a sentient being, but instead shift our perspective.

Meditation starts at 48:00

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