B. Alan Wallace, 29 Aug 2014
We continue with yesterdays practice of Awareness of Awareness enriched with the probing into the agent of that which is inverting and releasing the awareness.
The theme of todays teaching was the question of whether we have free will or not, which kept Christian theologians busy with quarreling for centuries, and then also philosophers and more recently cognitive scientists. In order to answer this question, “Have I free will?”, we must define what “will” is, what “free” is, what it means to “have”, and all this finally leads us to the question of todays meditation, what this “I” really is. When we ourselves in this experimental philosophy probe into the referent of this word, we first find our own mind, the psyche, that’s limited in its freedom by mental afflictions. When we completely release our own body and mind, we then come down to the substrate consciousness, which is full of karmic propensities and therefore also not really free. So if we release even this, we finally come to realize our own buddha-mind. And that is in its own nature completely free, and at the same time without any choice as it is helplessly manifesting within this world out of boundless compassion.
So, that just leaves you with the question: What’s that all got to do with the rainbow bending? Well, go off and get your own rainbow and find out for yourself…
Meditation starts at 05:48 min
Recitation of The Seven Line Prayer (in Tibetan and English) and Guru Rinpoche Mantras, (in Sanskrit) followed by guided meditation
HUNG ORGYEN YUL GYI NUP JANG TSAM HUNG
In the northwest frontier of Oddiyana,
PEMA GE SAR DONG PO LA
In the heart of a lotus
YAM TSEN CHOG GI NGÖ DRUP NYEY
Sits the one renowned as Padmasambhava,
PEMA JUNG NEY ZHEY SU DRAK
Who achieved the wondrous supreme siddhi,
KHOR DU KHAN DRO MANG PÖ KOR
And is surrounded by a host of many dakinis.
KYED KYI JE SU DAK DRUP KYI
Following in your footsteps, I devote myself to practice.
JIN GYI LAP CHIR SHEK SU SÖL
Please come forth and bestow your blessings.
GURU PEMA SIDDHI HUNG
OM āḥ hūṃ VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI hūṃ
Oṃ āḥ hūṃ Vajra Guru Padma Tötreng Tsäl vajra
SAmayajaḥ siddhi phala hūṃ
[1:49] Alan silently recites the Guru Rinpoche Mantras.
[4:22] OM āḥ hūṃ VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI hūṃ
[4:34] Indivisibly merge the body, speech and mind of Guru Rinpoche with your own body speech and mind.
[5:09] If you’d like to change postures, please do so now.
[Meditation bell, 5:48] With the smoothest transition from the preceding preliminary practice, settle your body, speech, and mind in their natural state and for a little while, practice mindfulness of breathing, with or without counting as you see fit.
[9:52] Now let your eyes be at least partially open and gently cast your gaze downwards. Resting your awareness evenly in space, but without focusing on anything, not even space itself. Simply rest, releasing all effort, releasing all grasping. Letting your awareness rest in its own nature, naturally clear, lucid, and still.
[11:45] Now I invite you to do something, but it is your choice whether you do it or not. I have neither the ability nor the wish to make you do it. And that is, if you wish to, then make a decision, to oscillate, to introduce the oscillation of your attention. Arousing and accentuating, intensifying your awareness of consciousness itself, the experience of being aware and then releasing. Concentrating and releasing. If you wish, make a decision and exert your will to do so for the next roughly six minutes as continuously as possible.
[17:45] Now I invite you to make another decision, to continue the oscillation, but this time as you intensify and concentrate your awareness, concentrate it right in upon your lived experience of being the one who’s controlling your attention. The agent. The one who is performing this meditation and doing so deliberately by an act of will. As you arouse your awareness focus inwards, right in upon your sense of being the agent and see what you see. Examining closely and then release, sustaining the flow of cognizance, the awareness of awareness. Invert and release. And simply see what you see. What do you observe when you seek to observe yourself, the agent? Let’s continue practicing now in silence [19:06].
[Ending meditation bell at 29:55]
[30:42] That was interesting. For the last sixteen hundred years or so since the time of Saint Augustine, Christian theologians have struggled with the issue, which is enormously important, I mean really, staggeringly important, in the Christian context, and that is, do we have free will or not? I won’t elaborate on why it’s so important, but it is immensely so. And over these last sixteen hundred years, Christian theologians have come to no consensus. There are those very intelligent, extremely learned in the Bible, Christian doctrine and so forth, who come to diametrically opposite positions. So there’s been no consensus. During this time, more recently, there have been a whole series of philosophers for centuries upon centuries struggling with the same issue, and once again, at no point in the Western philosophical analysis of the issue of free will has there been any consensus. And for at least the last hundred years, but actually longer than that, Western cognitive scientists - psychologists, neuroscientists, behaviorists - have asked the same question and they’ve never had any consensus either. And there’s no indication that any of them are coming to any consensus.
So here’s experimental philosophy. And when it’s experimental philosophy of the mind, I call it contemplative science. So let’s pose this question from a first person perspective: ‘Do I have free will?’ [That’s very do, do, that doesn’t do a whole lot, but do I have, so do, have, Do I Have?] Have I free will? Have. That pretty well does it. Have I free will? Only four syllables. Each one is packed. Have I free will? Well, to be able to come to any coherent, decisive understanding to that question, we have to know what will is. Let alone free, just will. Well, will is no big mystery in a way, linguistically, will is, you’re exerting will if you’re making decisions, if you have volition, you’re making choices. Right? That’s will. Transparent. We’re good so far, right? That’s what will is, isn’t it? Making decisions, choices, acting voluntarily, right? So do we act voluntarily? Do we actually make decisions? Are we actually making choices or is that purely an illusion? I will suggest, although I know it’s debatable, robots and computers don’t make any decisions. They don’t consciously and intelligently weigh alternatives. Consciously and intelligently. Drawing from their past experience, anticipating the future and then consciously making a decision. Why don’t I believe that? Oh, very simply, there’s no evidence. There’s no evidence that they do. And I’m just no good at blind faith, I never have been. And when a proposition comes up for which there’s no evidence whatsoever, then why on earth should I believe it? I’m not going to, I can’t, I’m not able to believe that. They’re programmed! You’re a robot, you’re a computer, they’re programmed. Somebody intentionally programmed them. [34:15]
The computer scientists, the robotics experts, the person in artificial intelligence, right? They had some idea in mind, and they decided this is worthwhile to do or not. They, these conscious individuals – engineers, scientists, technicians, and so forth, computer programmers – they programmed their robots and their computers to perform a certain deed that they find to be worthwhile. Profitable, meaningful, valuable, in some sense of the term. But those robots and computers, they’re not making any choices. And really, seriously, nobody thinks they do. People say they do, they don’t mean it. Otherwise, you would punish your robot. You wouldn’t fix it, you’d punish it. You’d send it to jail. When your computer malfunctions, you’d scold it! You’d punish it. Computer, I’m giving you five years. And rehabilitation. Never do that again, but first I’m going to punish you because you did wrong. Nobody’s that stupid. It’s absurd. And so people who say robots have consciousness, they make decisions, and so forth, they don’t believe it. Don’t believe them, they don’t believe it themselves, because clearly they’re not following the implications. [35:31]
And now many people are saying, The brain is a computer. And I’ve heard responsible neuroscientists, one at Columbia, saying, every one of the nine hundred billion neurons inside your head knows where it is. If you’re good for blind faith, go for it. There’s no evidence for that whatsoever. I’ve heard people say neurons are making this decision, and they’re sending this information, and receiving, as if you’ve got an ant hive in your head. With a whole bunch of little sentient critters talking to each other, sending messages, How ya doing over there in the cortex? I’m doing fine here in the hippocampus. How ya doing down in the amygdala? We’re doing fine, how are you? [Laughter] Give me a break, this is a cartoon! This is animism. This is anthropomorphizing the brain. Dehumanizing us, anthropomorphizing the brain as we’ve already anthropomorphized robots and computers. [36:27]
So I find this very odd in the history of western science that for centuries now, since Descartes, who said animals have no consciousness. And therefore no feelings. Western scientists have shown, and this has been going on for a long time, a profound resistance to acknowledging that animals are like us at all. That makes them profoundly and absolutely unlike us. That puts them in the same category as cushions and doorknobs. And he actually said that. And people believed it for quite some time. I guess they had no pets. Talk about blind faith. The reality is shouting at you and they just close their eyes - unbelievable, that scientists would do this. So for years, scientists would not even acknowledge that they are conscious, then they would say they’re not self conscious, then they’d say they have no feelings, then they have no emotions, they have no language, they have no intelligence, but happily, science does in some manner repair itself. They can be incredibly delusional, but after awhile, the evidence seeps in, and animals are conscious, they do make decisions, and they are intelligent, they do have language, they do have feelings, they do have emotions. How far down, I don’t know, but chimpanzees, for starters? Yep! [37:55]
So we’re hell bent on resisting any anthropomorphizing of animals, but gleefully anthropomorphize our own technology. Computers, robots, and then anthropomorphize the brain, as if there’s a whole bunch of little crispy critters in there, that are talking, and thinking, and are conscious. It really reminds me of Gepetto creating Pinocchio. Remember Gepetto? And he creates Pinocchio and then Pinocchio comes alive. People in artificial intelligence, they don’t think they’re Gepetto. And their little robots, oh! I mean there are people at major research institutions that are saying that robots have emotions. Yeah, I can believe that as much as I can believe Pinocchio’s nose gets longer when he lies. If you believe in fairy tales, believe that! [38:58]
Do we, though, coming back home, are we making decisions or not? It certainly feels like it. It certainly feels like it. You know, I don’t make you do anything at all. Wouldn’t want to, can’t do it. But twice there, I’ve been giving instructions all along and you decide whether to do it. You can just sit there like a doorknob if you want to. You all know that. But a decision was made. But then how did it work out? When for those six minutes I invited you to exert your will on your mind. If anything is yours, up close, personal, intimate, under your control, it’s not your body. The body gets sick, right? We can’t just say, Body, snap out of it, get well. It doesn’t. So that’s a little bit removed. But your mind? If you can’t control your mind, you can’t control anything. If you can’t focus your awareness, you can’t focus anything. Anything. So how did that work out? Do you have free will or not? Free will means you exert it. You get in the car, you hit forward and go. And you go at twenty-five miles an hour. That’s called controlling the car. Right? So how did it work out, when you got into the driver’s seat? You turned on the ignition, you said, OK mind, for six minutes, I want you to oscillate. Do nothing else. Ready? Here we go. And then it’s like bumper cars, right? [laughter] [40:29]
So why are we asking whether we have free will? If you can’t do what you want with your own attention for six minutes, really isn’t the question already answered? Did we have freedom there? Were we in control? And if we were not in control, what was? Could it get better? Well if not, there’s no reason for us to be here. There’s no reason to practice shamatha if we’re just locked into intrinsic, inherent, absolute chaos of the mind. You know? So the prospects are good. Not that we have free will, but maybe we can get a bit more.
So will, decision, all right. I think we know what that means. To exert will is to do something intentionally. Is it free? What does that mean? A big one in modern neuroscience, but it’s been a big one since the time of Einstein and it goes all the way back to Aristotle. Aristotle, good old Aristotle, you remember, the mind is simply a property of the body. The body disappears, the mind just vanishes. Well that means then that all mental activity is simply a function of the body. And if we bring this into modern times, the body is operating according to the mindless, amoral, unconscious laws of physics and chemistry and biology. If that’s the case then you’re not making any decisions at all. The laws of physics don’t make decisions. Atoms don’t make decisions when they’re gathering together and forming bonds among themselves. Planets don’t make decisions about, Which sun shall I orbit around and how fast shall I go, elliptical or circular, what’s it going to be? Oh, I kinda feel like elliptical. [Laughter] They don’t do that right? Because they’re following the laws of physics. And likewise, chemical bonds and electromagnetism, there are just no decisions there at all. So if that’s all there is to you, as Aristotle proposed and is happily enhanced or embraced by so many modern scientists, that your mind is simply a function of the body, then you’re not making any decisions at all. Can you really live with that? Does anybody really believe that and not be catatonic? That it’s just laws of physics and you’re here helplessly, helplessly observing yourself being moved by mindless forces. A sheer, absolute victim of circumstances on all occasion with no responsibility whatsoever on any occasion for anything at all. Does anybody really believe that and still remain sane? I can’t imagine it actually. I don’t think they believe it. They say it, but they don’t live it. [43:14]
Are we compelled to believe that? The answer is no. Clearly not. Far more mysterious than that, the sheer fact that there’s a placebo effect, I gag every time I say it, it’s like lying as soon as I say placebo effect. It’s lying, because it’s not an effect of the placebo. Why don’t we just get real and call it the faith effect? Which of course the materialists can’t call it that because they think faith is a fiction. And there it is, you know intruding on our health every single day. And so let’s call it the faith effect. At least that’s honest. Placebo effect is just a lie. Because it’s obviously not an effect of the placebo by definition. So the sheer fact that there is such a thing as faith healing, there’s faith effect, euphemistically called placebo effect, that would suggest it’s not so straightforward already. Because there’s no materialistic explanation for that whatsoever. It’s not just bottom up. Mysteriously, our faith, anticipation, desire and so forth have subtle mysterious influences on the body.
And so, our so called decisions, the experience of making decisions, that we certainly have. Do we have the experience of making decisions? Shall I go here or there? We weigh it, we anticipate, we draw on our judgment and then we do it. We have that experience. The real question is, Is it an illusion or not? Well, it would be an illusion if there are only physical factors, only physical influences on the experience of making decisions. It’s not definitive, not clear, not decisive, the evidence is not complete.
But are our decisions then influenced by simply a concatenation, a coming together, of physical and mental influences? So, our emotions, our desires, our wishes, yearnings, hopes, fears, personal history, and so forth. So let’s stop being mind numbingly monistic and thinking only physical causation is real, because it’s just, I’m sorry, dumb. There’s other types of causal influences, the influences of information, the influences of space, of time, influence of consciousness, desires, emotions and so forth. I mean, just wake up and smell the roses, there it is, it’s so obvious. [45:36]
But now, does that give us any more freedom than just physical causation? And that is, do prior conditions, and now let’s be rich and let’s include our own experience in nature. Do prior conditions of the mind, the habits that we form, our desires, our aspirations, our hopes, fears, all of that. So now let’s bring in that richness of our mental life, operating within a whole nexus of causality, right? And interfacing with this physical embodiment that we have. Interfacing with things that are neither mental nor physical, such as information. Information is not a mental state, but nor is it physical. And so this is not dualism, this is pluralism. It’s opening up the world of causality to physical influences, mental influences, and influences that are neither mental nor physical. Information is not mental. It’s not a mental state. But not physical; it has no physical qualities whatsoever. It moves. Information goes from here to there. I can transfer information to Amy’s mind, but that doesn’t mean my mind, like a cootie, gets stuck in her mind. It’s just saying, Today’s Friday. In case you didn’t know. Today’s Friday. Does she have a little chunk of my mind now? Is my mind a little bit less like I gave away some of my mind? Silly. Information is not mind and it’s not matter and then dot, dot, dot, etcetera. This is a much richer universe than mere monism or mere dualism. We’re stuck in such a rut in modern mind sciences, thinking those are the two options. It’s so obvious! [47:12]
But we come back to this crucial point here. When we have a sense of the experience, which we do have, the experience of making a decision, is that predetermined by all manner of prior cause and conditions leading up to it? Which means we can still be locked into predeterminism. It’s just not just physical. And that is, we may still have only an illusion of making decisions if it’s all predetermined, preset, pre-established by the preceding full array of physical, mental, and other type of influences. In which case, we’re still robots, just marching through time. Just predetermined by past karma? Mental propensities, habitual propensities, mental processes, and so forth. Then once again, that would imply that the act of making a decision, although the experience is there, it’s an illusion because you’re not really making a decision at all. It’s already preset. And there are Buddhists that believe that. There are Buddhists that believe that. I just had a whole correspondence with this wonderful scholar, Bhikkhu Bodhi. He does not believe that, but he cites knowledgeable Buddhists who do, who say we’re robots. We’re robots. Buddhists saying this! That it’s all just predetermined by past karma, the five skandhas, psychophysiological influences, pratityasamutpada, and the past is predetermining the present. Which means then why talk about decision? But then frankly, then why talk about volition? But wait a minute. Volition is karma. [48:52]
So what happens to karma if you’re not actually making any decisions? Karma is essentially making decisions. But if your decisions are already made for you by past cause and conditions then karma is fate. Which means there is no karma and there are no decisions. So Bhikkhu Bodhi and I agree, those Buddhists, they’re wrong! Or else Buddhism is wrong. But I don’t think you can hold that and adhere to Buddhism, not intelligently, not with erudition. Because the Buddha said volition is the core of karma. And so what the Buddha said about this is that our decisions arise in dependence upon prior cause and conditions, but are not predetermined by them. It’s very subtle. Not predetermined by, but not arising independently of, just out of the blue for no reason whatsoever. Subtle. Because it’s easy to think, Predetermination, got that, it’s a great big machine, just grinding away, all of samsara, grinding away. All of sentient beings just becoming chopped liver from lifetime to lifetime - aging, sickness, death - chop, chop, chop, chop. Boy is that grotesque. Right? And then some are just predetermined to get liberation. [Spitting sound] Spit them out of the machine. That’s just weird. The Buddha never taught that. [50:23]
So something that’s neither just random – [? 50:29] they say quantum mechanics, things happen for no reason - neither Newtonian, absolutely predetermined as Laplace, the great follower of Newton imagined. That’s physical predeterminism. Neither one arises [? 50:45] into dependence upon past causes and conditions, but is not predetermined by them. In other words, volition exists. We actually are making decisions. It’s not an illusion. And therefore, we are responsible. [50:55]
But now let’s move on quickly, as our time is going by. Have I free will? OK, we looked at will. Look at free. If it’s predetermined, it’s not free. Because then it’s not really even will, it’s just, you know, programming. But then have, it looks so simple, exactly how simple is that? When we say, I have the ability to make decisions. I have volition as one of my mental factors. I have volition. I exercise it. Just like I have mindfulness, attention, intelligence, I have memory, and so forth. I have anger, I have compassion, I have, I have, I have, .... OK good. So I have volition. Have. What exactly does that mean? [51:41]
A couple of days ago when I was going out for my walk, on the way back, the sun was setting, it was sprinkling, and lo and behold, I saw a rainbow, right over here. Saw a rainbow. Big rainbow in the sky. So I saw it. I don’t know that anybody else saw it. Quite possible, but I don’t know that anybody else saw it. What I do know is that nobody saw it from my perspective. Nobody else. Nobody else saw it from my perspective because there’s only room for one of us here and that’s me. Don’t get in my space [laughter]. This is my space. These are my eyeballs. You can’t have your eyeballs where my eyeballs are. So I have a unique perspective on that rainbow. And moreover, that rainbow, that appeared there, I could see it, it was over these hills here, that rainbow that I saw does not exist in physical space. If it existed in physical space, you could get up close and look at it more carefully [laughs]. You could get right up to it and say, Wow, look, that one’s blue, and that’s.... I mean, if it’s in physical space, you can move back from it, you can move forward. A mountain is in physical space. You can get up, closely look at it and look at it from a distance. A mountain is in physical space, I believe that. Rainbows aren’t. They appear to be. It’s an illusion. You can’t look at them sideways. You can’t look at them up close. You can’t see them from the backside. So, that rainbow did not exist in physical space. The rainbow that I saw existed only in my dharmadhatu. Only in the space of my mind. That rainbow that I saw existed only in the space of my mind. Nowhere else. Nobody else saw it. Does that mean I have a rainbow? [Laughter] I saw it, nobody else saw it, and it exists in the space of my mind, not somebody else’s mind, the rainbow I saw. So I have a rainbow? And what on earth should that mean? Just if I saw it, nobody else said it, then I get dibs? I saw it first, finders keepers [laughs]? What is this supposed to mean? I mean, it all makes us smile, I have a rainbow… I have many rainbows [laughter]. Just because you saw it, just because it occurred in the space of your mind, I mean, why do you think it was yours? If it’s yours, bend it! [Laughter] Straighten it out if it’s yours, you have control over it, right? Bend it. I want to see a flat rainbow. If it’s yours, you should have some control, right? Your body. I have a hand. You want to see something really cool? Hand, go up [raises his hand]. Down [lowers his hand]. Very cool. I’ve got a hand. You don’t have my hand. Go ahead, give it your best shot [laughter]. It’s not going to work out. So I’ve got a hand, I’ve got a body, I have a mind. I was using my mind like you were too. I have a mind! Oscillate, arouse.... I was doing that. I’ve got a mind. Do I have a rainbow? I don’t think so. I saw it. If I just want to say, It’s mine, OK, but it’s kind of like saying, This is my chair. Completely convention. No content, no substance, nothing other than mere lip service. So if I’m going to say, I’ve got a rainbow, yeah, fine, OK, we’ll humor you. If it doesn’t belong to anybody else, finders keeper, OK, whatever. But it has no real meaning to it. [55:14]
So when you make decisions, are they yours? When a couple adopts a child, out of a whole hospital where children are up for adoption, or an orphanage, or what have you, when they look at all the children, and for whatever reason, they make a decision, That child. And now it’s their child. How come? Because they said, That child. They identified with it. And now, the child is their child. And this child who learns to speak and so forth, may regard, These are my parents, I have no other parents that I know about, these are my parents in every meaningful sense of the term. These are my parents. And the parents, if they really, truly bond with the child, say, Biology, no biology, doesn’t matter, we don’t care. This is my child and I will protect this child as if it were my own. No different. I give my life for this child. Why? It’s my child. That’s what parents do. Right? But how did that happen? Because you said so. [56:17]
So we have decisions, do we have volition, simply because we identify with it? If we don’t identify with it, is it like an unclaimed child in an orphanage, no owner? Do volitions happen of their own accord? Do they have a mind of their own? And if we do have volition, how come we can’t sustain it? Why didn’t it work for six minutes, unless you’re an unusual person and it did.
We come to the core, and we’re running out of time, so we may go a tiny bit over time. But we really kind of looked at Have I free will, right, so have is not that obvious. But then of course, the big one is, Have I free will? So, that’s fine, we all know the word. What’s it’s referent? If I have free will, then I must know what the word I means. Otherwise, Bluh-bluh has free will. I really believe Bluh-bluh has free will. Well, the only question becomes, That’s very cool, but who’s Bluh-bluh? Or what is Bluh-bluh? Because if you don’t have an answer for that, you’ve just said gibberish. So you have a better sense of you than you do of Bluh-bluh. What’s the referent? When you say tomato, you know what the referent is. Do tomatoes have free will? I think I can answer that. If you [the tomato] do [have free will], you’re hiding it well! [Laughter]. So no, I have no evidence, so no I don’t believe that. Do computers, robots, does the brain have free will? I don’t believe that for a second. I really want to say an astonishing statement. I was just reading my notes to Eric Kandel’s book, one of his books, and one of the neuroscientists said, Brains aren’t free, but human beings are. Oh! How did he come up with that? And human beings, what’s that referring to? [58:16]
So who are you anyway? Are you a body? In which case, your brain, and that’s kind of the, what’s it called, the CPU. The brain doesn’t have free will, it’s a biological entity, it’s tapioca pudding with very complex circuitry. I’m just talking about its gushiness, not its chemical composition. Are you a mind? Human mind, psyche? That’s not very free. Immensely conditioned by past karma, habits, propensities, and so forth, and not to mention, mental afflictions. Bummer. So if that’s who you are - body, mind, or simply something designated upon them - well that’s kind of bleak. But if you release all attachment to that, all identification with that, you send the child of your body and mind back to the orphanage. [Laughs] I’m sorry, that’s a bit cruel. Just, You can go now, you know? Release it, as he said [referring to Padmasambhava in Natural Liberation, page 105]. Release your body and mind into space, no longer identifying with them. That’s a choice you can make. Who’s making that choice to release, to cease identifying with your body and mind? You can decide to do that or not. Who made that decision? Well, a good candidate would be, if you’re looking for prime suspects, would be your substrate consciousness. Because your substrate consciousness is more primal, more fundamental, it’s deeper. Has greater longevity. Body, mind - a few decades, [phtt sound] out like a light. Right? Substrate consciousness, that’s a keeper. That’s a continuum. Can’t see a beginning, can’t see an end. That’s a keeper. Does the substrate consciousness make that decision, to release identification of body and mind? And is there then freedom? Am I substrate consciousness? Some Buddhist philosophers have come to the answer, Yes. Say, look, if there’s anything that’s there, that’s me, that’s the best candidate. Chittamatra, yogachara, that’s who you are. Not your body, not your mind, they come and they go, you can give an arm, give a kidney, you can even give your heart if you want to sacrifice your life, give your heart, be a live donor for a little while. Is that it? But it’s not a person after all. Just a stream of consciousness. Is that it? Is that the final word? Who am I? That continuum. Shall I designate me upon that? Well, bear in mind, it’s just riddled with karma, habitual propensities, that are just throwing us every which way. Do you really want to be there? Is that where you want the buck to stop as we say in America? Is that going to be it? Have you dropped your anchor and hit the bottom of the ocean, is that where you are? [61:24]
Oh, but wait a minute. What about cutting through? What if you cut through? You cease identifying even with your substrate consciousness and with its qualities - its bliss, its luminosity, its non conceptuality. What happens if you release even that? Total release, total lack of preference, lack of identification, lack of grasping, even on that subtle continuum and its qualities. As seductive as they are, you see through it and you release identification: It’s not me, it’s just a continuum of consciousness, configured by karma. What about that, releasing even that grasping? Cutting through that substrate consciousness to primordial consciousness, to rigpa, pristine awareness. What happens if you cut through all the way to the ground and you know for the first time who you are and have always been? And now with utter certainty, you know what the word I is referring to. Are you free or not? [62:34]
And I would say this - my speculation, but actually, quite confident in my speculation. As you rest in your own dharmakaya, rigpa simply is dharmakaya, rigpa is buddha-mind, beyond the three times, beyond all conceptual frameworks, beyond causation. I’m speaking from the Dzogchen view. Utterly transcendent. Naturally primordially free. That’s how they say it, natural liberation, that means naturally free. This is rigpa, pristine awareness. It doesn’t get free, it’s already free. It’s intrinsically, transcendentally, primordially forever, ever free. It cannot become unfree. Tap into that dimension. There’s no possibility of unfreedom, there’s no possibility of obscuration, there’s no possibility of mental affliction. So intrinsically, primordially, transcendentally, and absolutely free. But not inert. These effulgences, these displays, these spontaneous displays, as sambhogakaya, as nirmanakaya. All the displays of rigpa, that’s a whole universe. The displays from rigpa that are driven by ultimate compassion, ultimate bodhichitta, as buddha-mind manifests, for the sake of sentient beings to liberate each one, for as long as space remains, for as long as sentient beings remain, so long does the dharmakaya manifest and manifest and manifest. So now we can ask - and this is a lovely phrase - and that is, once you’ve achieved buddhahood, can you now, now that you’ve achieved perfect enlightenment, fully realized dharmakaya, do you have any choice? Do you have any choice at all about whether to serve sentient beings and to liberate them from suffering and the causes of suffering and to bring each one to perfect awakening? Do you have any choice? None. Zero. It’s called [?Tibetan] - helpless compassion. You have no choice. You’re absolutely free and absolutely choiceless. In your own nature, completely free, primordially. As you manifest no freedom. Helplessly manifesting out of compassion, guided by wisdom manifesting the power of primordial consciousness. Absolutely free, absolutely unfree, with no conflict. The unification of polar opposites. [65:37]
So, that’s a good talk. Is it true or not? Well, we can find out, that’s what this practice is for. To know for ourselves, beyond debate, beyond discussion, beyond concepts. To know for ourselves, but really the core is not the end. It’s not free or unfree, will or not will, free or nor free, have or not have, it’s who are you? Get that one and like dominoes, all the other ones fall into place. Don’t have that one, you’ll never get anywhere with the other ones. The debate will continue indefinitely because you don’t know what the nature is of the person who’s supposed to have or maybe doesn’t have, will or free will. If you don’t know the meaning of that, then all the rest is just going to go around in circles indefinitely. So there really is only one solution. You have to find out who you are all the way down to the ground. And don’t be content, don’t be satisfied until you get all the way down to the ground, and you know with total certainty who you are.
Cool. That’s it [laughs].
So you’ve got another, what is it, six hours, another six hours to penetrate right to the core of yourself as an agent. Make it snappy 'cause we’re moving on at 4:30 [laughter]. We’re moving on. This train doesn’t stay in the station long, it’s moving out at 4:30. Good, enjoy your day. [67:31]
Transcribed by Cynthia Laurrell
Revised by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Final edition by KrissKringle Sprinkle