Sunday, February 23, 2014

Crystal Clarity, Non-meditation, Sudden vs Gradual

Jackson Peterson
I noticed often when just sitting in mindful, aware meditation for very long periods of time, like three hours at a stretch, just observing without avoiding, following or engaging, all these thoughts, stories and emotions come and go, come and go. Eventually there seems to be no owner to any of it rather it just seems like meaningless brain chatter. It finally runs its course and a great stillness arises. The mind becomes crystal clear and the emotional tone becomes serene and content for no reason. Leaving the mind as it presents itself without judgment, it relaxes on its own. I guess all the "important" beliefs and self-image stories are really all just empty conditioning exhausting their agitation naturally.

When the sediment swirling in a jar of water slows down and settles naturally to the bottom, we find the crystal clear clarity of the water. I think this is interesting on how the nervous system and brain can relax into a calm state of equilibrium when truly left alone.
Like · · December 29, 2013 at 4:18am

    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland, Viorica Doina Neacsu, Greg Goode and 14 others like this.
    Joel Agee Yes,the same experience here.
    December 29, 2013 at 4:49am · Like · 3
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland I sometimes use the image of a wind-up toy. You know the ones with that key on the back that you turn around a couple of time, and then set the toy down on the floor to do whatever mechanical movements it's been constructed to do.

    Eventually the toy unwinds and comes to stillness.
    December 29, 2013 at 5:25am · Like · 2
    Stian Gudmundsen Høiland In the past I experienced advanced progress along the traditional stages of shamatha (though I had no clue about stages then). In the Tibetan map I was hovering around 8-9, which is the very end.

    The amount of calm, serenity, clarity, contentment, emotional stability, patience, etc. seemed out-of-this-world. At the time I was not pursuing structured contemplation of causes and effects, yet insights just fell into my lap. "Spiritual powers" started manifesting out of the blue.

    I'm telling this story in the spirit of caution.

    Since that time, I have regressed severely from such mental spaciousness and clarity. I don't have full understanding of the conditions and causes leading to both the increase and decrease of my personal shamatha. I especially long for the emotional stability and patience with which I could afford other people in my life the space and security that they seemed to appreciate so dearly.

    Though shamatha have had these and other fantastic effects, I have come to personally experience the inherent instability and impermanence of even such godly comfort. Shamatha may serve many noble intentions, but true freedom is not found even in this, the highest of places.
    December 29, 2013 at 5:45am · Edited · Like · 5
    Jon Norris Jackson Peterson, I think that’s exactly right. Repeated sessions of sitting in the 7-point posture of Vairocana, “just observing without avoiding, following or engaging”, reconfigures the neuronal network in the brain. It’s the opposite of a child ‘building up’ those networks; sitting ‘releases’ the contraction and restores the plasticity of the cortex. The non-intuitive part of dwelling in this intrinsic awareness (rigpa) is that it doesn’t make you more stupid; rather it frees up the circuits to form a quantum integration with primordial consciousness.

    Unless I am mistaken, what you are describing is the Mahamudra version of shi-né, (not a dualistic fixation between a subject and an external object), but rather turning awareness back on itself in an objectless meditation. This leads to the first naljor called ‘one-pointedness’ (rtse-gcig), maintaining presence of awareness in the absence of mental contents. The next step is to maintain that same presence while re-introducing mental contents. This is the Mahamudra version of lhag-thong, which achieves the second naljor, ‘simplicity’ (spros-bral).

    From that base, one taste and non-meditation can arise effortlessly. It is really not so different from the four chög-zhag of Dzogchen; it is just a little more structured at the beginning, and perhaps a little more stable for some. I think the reconfiguring of the brain is what achieves the stability. It would take a remarkable brain to achieve a stable lhun-drüp without it.
    Good stuff!
    December 29, 2013 at 6:31am · Like · 5
    Jackson Peterson Stian Gudmundsen Høiland, I would follow Jon Norris's advice as his above comment. In the Soto Zen tradition we stay just with this vividly aware empty presence noticing the phenomena of every kind. The mind state you describe is just more mind waves. Sit and notice for about 1hour, two is better, just like the OP. Do nothing but notice until the mind becomes brilliantly clear. Then rest in that brilliant clarity. This will rewire the brain and the brain waves will resonate to the frequency of Clear Light: then rigpa arises.
    December 29, 2013 at 7:07am · Like · 1
    Kyle Dixon For the four yogas of essence Mahāmudrā / four rnyal 'byors and four ting nge 'dzins of Dzogchen sem sde; non-duality does not arise until the third stage of each [ro gcig, nyis med or mnyam nyid], up until that point it (the nondual view) is merely an accurate inference.

    The four chög bzhags are 'continuations' and are predicated on the insight acquired in the third stage of the four fold systems mentioned above. So they are technically not the same as the aforementioned 'stages', but are more so four aspects (or qualities) of a single view
    December 29, 2013 at 7:44am · Like
    Jackson Peterson Kyle.. you talk from your reading not from experience, it seems you like to show us how much you read? However you are quite wrong in this case: Essence Mahamudra does not have the progressive system of the gradual Mahamudra of Gampopa. There is no "practice" in Essence Mahamudra, just resting in the Natural State that is present in every moment.
    December 29, 2013 at 7:48am · Like
    Jackson Peterson Ponlop Rinpoche explains Essence Mahamudra:

    "On this path, there is no need for either the elaborate methods of Mantra Mahamudra or the gradual training of Sutra Mahamudra. In Sutra Mahamudra, there are still some forms; for example, the practices of shamatha and v ipashyana meditation, as well as the practices of bodhichitta are retained. There is also a great deal of formal study. In Mantrayana Mahamudra, there is also a certain formality of method that can be seen in its reliance upon ceremony and ritual; for example, there are extensive liturgies, visualizations and mantra recitations. Thus, in this sense, Vajrayana Mahamudra is also a very formal way of introducing the nature of mind . In contrast, the Essence Mahamudra path is totally formless. The transmission happens instantaneously.

    Essence Mahamudra is nothing more than one’s naked, ordinary mind resting in the unfabricated state.

    In the Essence Mahamudra tradition, all conceptual clinging, such as clinging to ideas of “sacred and profane” or “virtuous and non-virtuous, ” is cut through and we work directly with the experience of mind and its nature . The lineage guru points out the nature of mind to us, directly and nakedly. This kind of pointing out instruction is very genuine. It is not something that we can mimic or repeat. We cannot “try it out” one time and say, “That was just a rehearsal. It did no t work out, so okay, let’s do the same thing again.” That is not how it works. In the tradition of this lineage, we get one direct and naked pointing out, which has an effect. Throughout the history of Essence Mahamudra, pointing out has always happened in a very simple and ordinary way. This type of pointing out typifies the Essence Mahamudra approach, where we are working directly with our experiences of ordinary, worldly life, as well as our experience of the nature of mind."
    December 29, 2013 at 8:05am · Like
    Kyle Dixon That's okay Jax we can have differing opinions.

    The formula for these are essentially identical; (i) cultivation of stillness, (ii) familiarization with movement in relation to stillness, (iii) recognition of the non-duality or non-arising of stillness and movement, (iv) continuation.
    December 29, 2013 at 8:06am · Like
    Jackson Peterson Kyle Dixon... Didn't you read the text from Ponlop. You are not describing Essence Mahamudra again... Its not an opinion... You are just plain wrong!
    December 29, 2013 at 8:08am · Like
    Kyle Dixon I did read it. It did not contradict what I wrote, but we can agree to disagree, that is the beauty of opinions.
    December 29, 2013 at 8:11am · Like
    Kyle Dixon As he said, the system works directly with the mind (the first two yogas), and its nature (the latter two yogas).
    December 29, 2013 at 8:15am · Like
    John Tan Does "no-practice" in essence Mahamudra or Dzogchen mean resting in natural state? "No practice" to me does not mean "resting in any natural state" but "resting" now turns into natural expression of suchness in activities and action...encounter and meet situations.
    December 29, 2013 at 8:24am · Like · 3
    Jon Norris Jackson Peterson, actually Gampopa taught both a pure form of Essence Mahamudra and a Four Yogas form also under the heading of Essence Mahamudra. He seemed to tailor the pointing out to the student's level. We shouldn't put too fine a point on it. Both versions bypass all the lower sutric and tantric methods. For me, an absolutely pure Essence Mahamudra has the same problem as a pure trekcho, and that is it could result in a spaced-out condition. The student could be totally enlightened, but has no reference point for enlightenment, and thus can soon lose it without knowing he has lost it! Without going through the four naljors, the brain never got reconfigured, so the state of enlightenment is almost impossible to stabilize. Does that make any sense?
    December 29, 2013 at 8:27am · Like · 1
    Kyle Dixon Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche says the same; the stabilization of the definitive view rides off the heels of the stabilization acquired in zhi gnas [śamatha] and lhag mthong. If that stabilization is not present then there is little hope for maintaining the definitive view.

    Dudjom Lingpa also says this.
    December 29, 2013 at 8:32am · Like · 1
    Jon Norris Yes Kyle Dixon, I recently posted a piece by Norbu in the Dzogchen Discussion Group where he talks about his own struggles with shamatha. He was quite honest about how long it took him to 'get it', but how important it was for taming the mind..
    December 29, 2013 at 8:36am · Like · 2
    Kyle Dixon John, practice is a big part of 'resting in the natural state', and generally situations are encountered and integrated with by training in the three doors; body, speech and mind.
    December 29, 2013 at 8:41am · Like · 1
    Jon Norris The ‘sudden’ versus ‘gradual’ controversy is as old as Buddhism. It has haunted Tibetan Buddhism ever since the famous debate between Heshang Moheyan of the Northern Chán School and Kamalaśīla of the Indian Madhyamaka School. No less than the Tibetan Emperor, Trisong Detsen, presided over the debate, and when Kamalaśīla was declared the winner, the emperor had Moheyan’s books burned! Centuries later we discover that the Dalai Lamas were practicing Dzogchen in secret. This sort of hypocrisy serves no purpose, not then and not now. I am convinced that 99.9% of all practitioners will benefit from a combination of gradual practice and sudden leap. They are both necessary. Neither works well in isolation. By itself, the gradual path can become a subtle trap substituting religious credentials for realization. By itself, the sudden path can become another sort of trap substituting esoteric experiences for realization. Yet, by working together, the gradual path creates a favorable karmic environment in which the sudden path can manifest, and the sudden path provides those glimpses of the changeless nature of spontaneous presence that cut through the dualistic limitations of the gradual methods. It is that combination of perspectives that helps us avoid falling into extremes.
    December 29, 2013 at 8:55am · Like · 6
    Jackson Peterson Great comments Jon! My point is that the "sudden school" is a valid teaching. A good teacher doesn't compromise with resorting to gradual methods. The student returns and returns but the master remains in the Natural State. It brings about a complete transformation in the mind/brain the student, like hitting the "reset" button. That reset button gets hit again and again with each encounter until it "self-refreshes". The view is really that of the Prajnaparamita teachings. My first Kagyu master of Mahamudra was Sachyu Tulku at Swayambhu in Nepal in 1978. He transmitted this "essence" by his simple presence of being the Natural State. My "sudden enlightenment" Chan teacher in China transmitted this same Dharma to me via questions and responses that obliterated my discursive mind. The Natural State was fully and nakedly exposed. I have never met a Lama or teacher, including Norbu and all my other Dzogchen teachers that had that capacity. I would say Norbu is more a teacher coming from the Sambhogakaya approach. Sudden Enlightenment teachers are purely Dharmakaya approach.
    December 29, 2013 at 8:29pm · Edited · Like · 1
    Jackson Peterson I am not "against" the gradual approach, I am simply saying that the "sudden approach" is its own teaching method. Often I employ both together, but not out of necessity, but because of time limitations, especially when teaching a group. Its a "one on one" transmission.
    December 29, 2013 at 7:06pm · Like · 1
    Jon Norris Jackson Peterson, I understand and appreciate your efforts. I guess I worry too much about the fact that this just a Face Book page and we really don’t know how experienced and realized the group members are. For me, there are two aspects to realization:
    1. ‘Being’ in the natural state
    2. ‘Awareness’ of being in the natural state

    By oscillating back and forth, one develops a sentience about when one is ‘in’ and when one is ‘out’ of the natural state. Then we can ‘train it up’ by dealing with ‘outflow’ (zag pa) etc.

    In a recent post, you wrote: “Primordial awareness is a sentient cognizance that is not witnessing experience, nor is it an element within experience as the cognizant ‘part’. Rather experience IS cognizant sentience.”

    I agree completely, but I always worry when I see statements like ‘This is it!’ or ‘There is no practice.’ that someone will read this and just assume they are enlightened and wander off in a fool’s paradise.
    The irony is, I once argued with Chogyam Trungpa about his being 'too gradual' and now it's me that has cold feet! Guess I'm getting old.
    December 29, 2013 at 9:27pm · Like
    Jackson Peterson Lol Jon Norris, I love your comments! It's the "sweet grandmother" aspect that makes us think other's may just go off in some "false paradise". But I have visited there and can tell you, no one is there! Its a very "short stay" hotel. They are back here working diligently on the gradual path! Lol!
    December 29, 2013 at 10:34pm · Like · 1

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