Thursday, August 13, 2015

Ground, Path, Fruition

From time to time I hear people completely misrepresenting Dzogchen teachings by saying how no path, practices, stages etc are necessary. Here is what Mipham Rinpoche said:

Joel Agee wrote:

"Is it necessarily a misrepresentation of Dzogchen teachings to say "no path, practices, stages, etc. are necessary"? Here is a quote from the Kunjed Gyalpo, one of the oldest Dzogchen texts, that seems to say precisely that:

The Ten Absences

1. There is no view on which one has to meditate.

2. There is no commitment, or samaya, one has to keep.

3. There is no capacity for spiritual action one has to seek.

4. There is no mandala one has to create.

5. There is no initiation one has to receive.

6. There is no path one has to tread.

7. There are no levels of realization (bhumis) one has to achieve through purification

8. There is no conduct one has to adopt, or abandon

9. From the beginning, self-arising wisdom has been free of obstacles

10. Self-perfection is beyond hope or fear.

(“The Supreme Source,” Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and Adriano Clemente, pp. 67-68.)"

I replied:

The ultimate or the way things are is said in dzogchen to be the unity of primordial purity and spontaneous presence. Primordial purity means afflictions are not existent, the delusional constructs like existence and nonexistence, subject and object are fundamentally nonexistent. But the conventional is the way things appear. Deluded constructs appear very real to sentient beings. This needs to be released through practice and wisdom. On the ultimate level nothing needs to be done, that cannot be said for the conventional due to strong karmic propensities."

Kyle Dixon replied:

Though the kun byed rgyal po is an exposition given from the perspective of one's nature. As it is a sems sde teaching that focuses on "byang chub sems" [skt. bodhicitta] which is the sems sde name for the basis i.e., the nature of mind.

So from the
point of view of the nature of mind there is nothing to accept or reject, nothing to improve, no basis, no path, no result. But a Dzogchen practitioner is not the nature of mind. A Dzogchenpa only works with his/her knowledge [rig pa] of the nature of mind. And aspirants initially have no knowledge of that nature to speak of. And then adepts on the path have an incomplete knowledge that is refined through familiarization and practice. Finally at the time of the result that knowledge is complete. But the practitioner has much to do, extensive meditation, extensive practice. Our nature is perfect, but we as practitioners are not.

Not understanding these contexts properly creates big issues for people."

More posts by Kyle Dixon:

Larry writes:

"To claim a superiority of understanding by espousing a view still locked in the duality of correct/incorrect is laughable."

You're welcome to believe that, however these systems are no stranger to identifying corrrect/incorrect or higher/lower views. Even your beloved Longchenpa engages in such valuations, stating:

"Some say: 'Cause and effect, compassion and merits are the dharma for ordinary people, and it will not lead to enlightenment. O great yogis! You should meditate upon the ultimate meaning, effortless as space.'

These kinds of statements are the views of the utmost nihilism, they have entered the path of the most inferior. It is astonishing to expect the result while abandoning the cause."


Larry, writes:

"The thing is Kyle the water's fine, always has been and always will be."

I'm not even sure what this means, but if you are stating that the suffering of samsara is "fine" and acceptable (and always has been), then you have unfortunately made a wrong turn somewhere.


And to clarify, I only harp on this issue like I do because I used to carry the same view: that everything is already perfect... there's nothing to realize... there's no one here to do anything... there's no such thing as "correct" or "incorrect"... or that concepts were the enemy, and so on, and so on, and so on. All the same narratives you see being spun by most neo-nondual teachers and systems. I remember I used to argue with a friend/mentor all the time about how he doesn't get it, and he's just fooling himself with practice and so on. And I used to cite the same quotations from Longchenpa and others that were speaking from the point of view of the ultimate, and I (in my delusion) provided them as proof that I was correct etc.

Then one day that changed, and I experientially tasted what all of these masters are pointing to. And I was shown directly that I had been wrong, and that was very humbling.

That made these teachings real for me. And surprisingly, instead of continuing to reject practice, and all of these other aspects of these systems that I had previously thought to be extraneous and a waste of time... I saw their value and their place for the first time. It became clear how and why they are applied, where they fit into the scheme of things... and I saw the sheer wisdom behind the structures that I had once mistakenly rejected.

So I only speak out against those who attempt to propagate the same mistakes because I've been there. I was so certain that I was right, and that I "got it", and that others didn't understand. And I was so wrong... unbelievably wrong.

I'm no teacher or messiah, I don't have a superiority complex or have some strange need to be "right", it's nothing like that. I simply speak out because when I see others who appear to be passionate about these teachings, making the same mistakes I made, I see myself, I can't help but to want to say "hey, it really isn't that way." And if all I accomplish is at least planting some shred of a seed of a possibility that X person may think twice and consider being open to the fact that they don't have it completely figured out, then that is good enough for me. If not, that is alright too, but at least I can say I tried.
Larry writes:

"As Longchenpa says, we are free as we are, as free as we will ever be, in this moment. No deferral required."

Seems to be a massive case of confirmation bias going on here in terms of what Longchenpa texts you are reading, and what passages from said texts you are choosing to cherry pick in order to support your view. Because he does not say you are free as you are, quite the opposite in fact:

"Though primordially pure wisdom exists within us, by not recognizing it, we wander here in samsara. This karma of ignorance produces ego-grasping. By that in turn are produced passion, aggression, ignorance, pride, and envy. It is because of these five poisons or kleshas that we are whirling around here in samsara. Why so? As various habitual patterns are superimposed on alaya, we enter into unhappiness.... [after going over the beings who inhabit the six lokas, he states] Each of these (beings) has their own realm of
existence, with its happiness, sorrow, and the states between them. They have their own sorts of good and evil behavior. So it is that we wander helplessly in this plain of the beginningless and endless sufferings of samsara, so difficult to cross.... Thinking about that, and seeing the weariness of sentient beings, exhausted by the burden of their long wandering here in samsara, I wanted to compose a treatise giving the instructions of how we can ease this weariness."

This is clearly not the exposition of a man who believes you are "free as you are", which means you are taking that statement far out of context.

 Right, "everything is primordially liberated" is only true from the standpoint of having recognized that, and when resting directly in that knowledge [rig pa].

Those who haven't recognized their nature, which is a vast majority, cannot say everything
is primordially liberated, because it isn't for them.

And then for those who have recognized their nature: in the practice of a Dzogchen yogin traversing the path, they fluctuate between mind [sems] and wisdom [ye shes]. So while resting in wisdom, sure every thing appears primordially liberated, because one is directly and experientially cognizing emptiness. However once one becomes distracted and falls back into mind they again perceive phenomena dualistically and again cannot make blanketed statements like everything is primordially liberated. Because while in post-equipoise they perceive conditioned phenomena. The "path" of Dzogchen is the process of gaining stability in that view, which is no walk in the park.

Only those who have realized the result can say everything is primordially liberated at all times. And those beings are rarer than stars in the daytime, as it is said. Even my teacher Chögyal Namkhai Norbu says he is not in a direct knowledge of his nature at all times. So to hear people claim in this thread that they don't need to do anything and that all is perfect just means they're living in a fantasy. Which is fine, but should be pointed out as the misconception it is.
Which takes years, decades, lifetimes, and is why serious Dzogchenpas spend their entire lives practicing in solitary retreats.The Nyarong Tertön Rinpoche (i.e., Tertön Sogyal) said:

“At this, the time for discovering Buddha directly, you must remain alone, without companions, in an isolated mountain retreat—with a staff to the right, a container of grain to the left, a coppe
r pot in front, and a cave behind. From now until the attainment of enlightenment, you must look upwards, entrusting ourselves to the teacher and Three Jewels, and downwards, into the naked unity of awareness and emptiness. At all times and in all situations, you must guard the fortress of the view, just as you would cherish a diamond. And you must continue meditating until, your eyes turned lifeless and blue, you breathe your very last breath.”

Again, these are not examples of advice given by individuals who think there's nothing to do and everything is already perfect.

Mind Only and the Middle Way

From "Jamgon Mipham: His Life and Teachings"