On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby Yudron » Wed Mar 13, 2013 7:42 am

Monktastic, this thread is a perfect example of why I think people shouldn't "read ahead" of where they are on the path. Everyone wants to receive the highest teachings, but then it is just gobble-de-gook unless they have developed merit and wisdom through ngondro practice or the equivalent, and a trusting relationship with a real master.

I don't want this thread to become another debate about ngondro, but -- I have to ask -- have you done any ngondro?
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby LastLegend » Wed Mar 13, 2013 8:00 am

This is what I have heard: if one has seen through the nature of the mind, he would know. He would know what he experiences, and he will know when he supposes to leave just like those previous enlightened masters always know when they will leave.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby Andrew108 » Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:48 am

Yudron wrote:Monktastic, this thread is a perfect example of why I think people shouldn't "read ahead" of where they are on the path. Everyone wants to receive the highest teachings, but then it is just gobble-de-gook unless they have developed merit and wisdom through ngondro practice or the equivalent, and a trusting relationship with a real master.

I don't want this thread to become another debate about ngondro, but -- I have to ask -- have you done any ngondro?

Actually ngondro in this case would be very worthwhile. Dzogchen with prostrations is a special kind of magic.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby heart » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:14 am

monktastic wrote:So it should hardly be surprising that doubts continue, despite all the quotes we've been accumulating in this thread. So, Magnus, I think I see why I need a teacher. I still don't see why these books are phrased so confusingly, but who am I to question TUR?


It isn't at all confusing actually. TUR is teaching from the natural state if you were there it would have been quite clear for you. Erik and Marcia's compilation of his teachings are not to satisfy the intellect. Save those books for the future they will have great value for you eventually, I know this from my own experience.

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
- Longchenpa
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby Astus » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:26 am

monktastic wrote:I still don't see why these books are phrased so confusingly, but who am I to question TUR?


Confusion comes from fixating on specific words. That's why abhidharma, madhyamaka and yogacara have their own terminology. Sutras and individual teachers don't necessarily follow a strict philosophically clarified tradition and so they use words more loosely. Another reason why one of the four reliances emphasises meaning over words. If you understand the meaning the words are not confusing any more.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby Yudron » Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:47 pm

Astus wrote:
monktastic wrote:I still don't see why these books are phrased so confusingly, but who am I to question TUR?


Confusion comes from fixating on specific words. That's why abhidharma, madhyamaka and yogacara have their own terminology. Sutras and individual teachers don't necessarily follow a strict philosophically clarified tradition and so they use words more loosely. Another reason why one of the four reliances emphasises meaning over words. If you understand the meaning the words are not confusing any more.


Yes, and--as you are implying--Dzogchen and and Mahamudra each have their own specific technical terminology, and are bast studied Tibetan. I'm not fluent enough to read the texts easily in Tibetan, but I can compare the Tibetan text to the English where I have questions and often that clarifies things.

However, in terms of time management, finding an excellent lama needs to be a priority over learning Tibetan.
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby CrawfordHollow » Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:35 pm

I think ngondro is a good idea in this situation. You need to put your energy into a practice that you are confident will get you results. You can't rely on your intellect at this point. People may not agree with me about ngondro, but for me things really started to fall into place after a couple of years of steady ngondro practice. It sounds like you are dipping into many different teachings and traditions. Thats ok, but at some point you need to stick to one and put all of your energy into that. Either way, you need a strong foundation to work on. You may not want to hear it, but Yudron is absolutely right about reading ahead.
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby Anders » Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:45 pm

Andrew108 wrote:Dzogchen with prostrations is a special kind of magic.


Prostrations in general is a very underrated practise that can accomplish powerful results in transforming the emotional body and unlock knots.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:31 pm

Yudron wrote:Monktastic, this thread is a perfect example of why I think people shouldn't "read ahead" of where they are on the path.

Ab. Solutely.

Monktastic - you need to stop thinking and start practicing otherwise you're going to turn into one of those view-addicts.
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby monktastic » Wed Mar 13, 2013 7:21 pm

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:Monktastic - you need to stop thinking and start practicing otherwise you're going to turn into one of those view-addicts.


This makes sense. This thread was primarily meant to help me understand whether I had properly understood the instructions (to recognize, then rest). I had always known that having a teacher is the only way to be sure, but hoped that some clarification on this forum might be of benefit before I get there. Now I see that this is not possible. Not only is it not sensible to check my recognition in this way, but it is not even useful to try to get clarification on whether the Mahamudra instructions to "just rest" depend on first having had such a recognition. It seems that is something only a teacher will be able to answer for me. So, in due course, I will find one. And until then, regardless of whether the instructions actually call for it, I will simply rest in whatever I have recognized. That has served me well thus far.

Thanks everyone.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby heart » Wed Mar 13, 2013 8:51 pm

Anders wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:Dzogchen with prostrations is a special kind of magic.


Prostrations in general is a very underrated practise that can accomplish powerful results in transforming the emotional body and unlock knots.


Yes, exhausting the body is also a well known Dzogchen method of practice.

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
- Longchenpa
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:13 am

I've read well-known and universally regarded Dzogchen masters saying that it could conceivably happen that someone could discover their true nature on their own, especially if they'd received transmission in a past life, but that it is very unlikely. And I have to believe that it is indeed technically possible because buddha nature itself is not the sole province of any tradition or doctrine--it's our true nature. Nonetheless, the more you receive Dzogchen teachings and begin to understand what they say about how ignorance has manifested, what it consists of, and how to reverse it and discover one's true nature, the more it becomes apparent that this true nature is so "right under our own noses" that the chances of realizing it without the guidance and transmission from one who has realized it is so close to nil that it's not much different than saying "it's impossible without transmission." This is at least my view.
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby Terma » Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:00 am

heart wrote:
Anders wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:Dzogchen with prostrations is a special kind of magic.


Prostrations in general is a very underrated practise that can accomplish powerful results in transforming the emotional body and unlock knots.


Yes, exhausting the body is also a well known Dzogchen method of practice.

/magnus


Then there is hope for those doing the prostrations portion of ngondro! :tongue: ha ha...

I've gotta agree with the general consensus here though...Seems Monktastic has the drive to understand mind and not just a passing interest. When I first was introduced to dharma and began practicing, I read a whole lot. In fact my bookshelf got full pretty quick! A lot of good stuff there, some that will surely be worth revisiting in the future. But there came a time when I knew that my practice would only stay within the intellect of those pages so I found a teacher whom I felt a strong connection to, and had some devotion towards.

One can only really progress when there is someone that has been where we want to go to guide us. This is what a qualified Guru brings, plus so much more...

Also, ngondro is a great suggestion if willing to be in it for the long haul, so-to-speak. Not sure how to phrase this properly, but I feel ngondro in so many ways is the foundation or the seed of realization.

Being in Seattle creates a great opportunity to find some good teacher nearby...
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby monktastic » Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:12 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:I've read well-known and universally regarded Dzogchen masters saying that it could conceivably happen that someone could discover their true nature on their own, especially if they'd received transmission in a past life, but that it is very unlikely. And I have to believe that it is indeed technically possible because buddha nature itself is not the sole province of any tradition or doctrine--it's our true nature. Nonetheless, the more you receive Dzogchen teachings and begin to understand what they say about how ignorance has manifested, what it consists of, and how to reverse it and discover one's true nature, the more it becomes apparent that this true nature is so "right under our own noses" that the chances of realizing it without the guidance and transmission from one who has realized it is so close to nil that it's not much different than saying "it's impossible without transmission." This is at least my view.


Enough reasonable people share this view that I'd be crazy not to believe it -- particularly with such limited experience myself. It does leave open the curious question of how someone can get as far as the 10th bhumi via Mahayana without ever recognizing their natural state, but I'll save that can of worms for another thread :)

Edit: just so that nobody is concerned, I realize that this has nothing to do with my own practice.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby Andrew108 » Fri Mar 15, 2013 7:59 am

I think the way you are going about things is great. Certainly study is very very important. I don't share the view of some others that you shouldn't study some of the so-called higher views. Definitely not. If you are going to study then study it all. Find out all you can. There should be no limits for learning. But then here needs to be some ground to walk on. Some definite experience. My view of ngondro is that it shouldn't precede. It should run parallel with. If you don't want to do prostrations then start going to the gym and lift weights then bring this into your understanding of the view. Or go dancing or go to karaoke and bring this into your understanding of the view. All of these physical or mundane acts can be made quite special when you bring them into your understanding of the view. Then the view and experience become the same thing and you get to understand the notion 'total'. Also you bring the notion 'teacher' to the view. So we are not looking for an idol to worship but essentially we know that realization is more like a shared natural fact that we share rather than achieve personally. We are always moving towards a bigger more natural understanding and that includes cutting ourselves off from the idea that realization is our thing only.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby monktastic » Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:15 pm

Andrew108 wrote:I think the way you are going about things is great. Certainly study is very very important. I don't share the view of some others that you shouldn't study some of the so-called higher views. Definitely not. If you are going to study then study it all. Find out all you can. There should be no limits for learning. But then here needs to be some ground to walk on. Some definite experience. My view of ngondro is that it shouldn't precede. It should run parallel with. If you don't want to do prostrations then start going to the gym and lift weights then bring this into your understanding of the view. Or go dancing or go to karaoke and bring this into your understanding of the view. All of these physical or mundane acts can be made quite special when you bring them into your understanding of the view. Then the view and experience become the same thing and you get to understand the notion 'total'. Also you bring the notion 'teacher' to the view. So we are not looking for an idol to worship but essentially we know that realization is more like a shared natural fact that we share rather than achieve personally. We are always moving towards a bigger more natural understanding and that includes cutting ourselves off from the idea that realization is our thing only.


Thanks Andrew. This is more or less how I see the world. There's this empty cognizance which is untainted and untaintable by phenomena (the sense appearances and the mental ones). Learning to trust in that, and allowing it to be present throughout one's apparent life, feels very natural and liberating.

But I know that this is not the View of Dzogchen, and I should not mistake one for the other, no matter how tempting it may be. So I'll continue to get advice like yours and Astus', which suggests that my approach is fine. But as long as I'm asking it specifically in the context of Mahamudra and Dzogchen, I'll also get clear suggestions to learn it properly, so that I don't continue to confuse myself and others. I very much respect this perspective (and have started implementing it, bit by bit).
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby Jinzang » Sun Mar 17, 2013 1:19 am

I've been reading Traleg Rinpoche's Commentary on the Ocean of Certainty. It's a very good instruction on the practice of mahamudra, including the ordinary and extraordinary preliminaries, and I recommend it enthusiastically. It's available in print from Namse Bangdzo and in ebook format from all the major vendors.
Lamrim, lojong, and mahamudra are the unmistaken path.
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby monktastic » Sun Mar 17, 2013 1:48 am

Jinzang wrote:I've been reading Traleg Rinpoche's Commentary on the Ocean of Certainty. It's a very good instruction on the practice of mahamudra, including the ordinary and extraordinary preliminaries, and I recommend it enthusiastically. It's available in print from Namse Bangdzo and in ebook format from all the major vendors.


Thank you. Just purchased. I've actually received lung for the root text.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby Irina1111 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 1:16 am

"On the difficulty to recognize the natural state"
"But if this is so, why all the brouhaha about the difficulty of recognizing it?
This is what I cannot reconcile."

To get to the point of being able to recognize is difficult, not the recognition itself.

"What are some specific signs that one is in "the natural state"? What does it mean, experientially? "

Different people have different experiences according to their karmic background.
One specific sign though would be the opposite of suffering.
How you describe it is up to you, what about `sheer joy and happiness` ?

And then:
A sudden `drop` in the realized state might be quite a dramatic affair.
Imagine somebody carrying heavy loads all his life and in one instant they are lifted and gone.

Nothing to worry, part of these loads comes back the next instant unless one has become Buddha
:smile:

It is said that Mahamudra has a more gradual approach while Dzogchen is more sudden.

The sudden approach is faster but it might leave you with quite a vulnarable time after the event and with unpleasant fears the next instant like `will I ever function in the relative world again and how do I do it` and so on.

"The main part is the many years of deciding on one point and gaining confidence in self-liberation"

Yes. Cutting through recurrent doubt and so on which is nothing else than part of the karmic package.

Monktastic, I find this thread intriguing, have spent years in the place you are describing.

Only after having taken Vajrayana vows, empowerments and taking on a regular Sadhana practice plus seeing my teacher once or twice a year I have moved forward in a way which I can recommend to everybody.

Good luck, lot of fascinating work lies ahead of you,

Irina
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby Andrew108 » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:58 am

One thing to keep in mind is that the 'natural state' doesn't hold preferences.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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