On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby monktastic » Mon Mar 11, 2013 6:43 pm

Astus wrote:
monktastic wrote:- When you are in the natural state, your experience will be like [...timeless, duality-free, ...]


That is to refute wrong ideas about the nature of mind, but the same terms are used for emptiness. In fact, there is nothing more than the unity of emptiness and appearances (non-abiding awareness). So the problem seems to be your looking for something special.


Even in my "most natural" moments, when I'm not looking for anything special, I wouldn't describe the experience as duality-free. And yet, supposedly in even the most baby glimpses of rigpa, it must be. I know that wanting my experience to match this is itself the main obstacle, but if I am honest, I have to admit that I'm not "there."
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 » Mon Mar 11, 2013 7:38 pm

Are you in Seattle?
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby monktastic » Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:04 pm

Andrew108 wrote:Are you in Seattle?


Yes.
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 » Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:54 pm

Then the Nalandabodhi folks are up there. Might be an idea to make contact. I have a lot of respect for Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche.
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby mahabuddha » Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:40 am

There are many teachers available to students who diligently want to practice. One doesn't have to find a "guru on the mountain top" in some exotic land nor a teacher who is perfect. If one is looking for the perfect teacher; they might never find one. For those in the USA there are many opportunities to have proper transmissions from qualified teachers.

I can't speak for others but I'm sure those that are diligent students have a few teachers and are always willing to go and receive teachings.

Yours in Dharma,
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby jeeprs » Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:11 am

Nalanda Bodhi also has excellent online courses and training, and some of their teaching staff are of the highest caliber - look at the list of published titles by Karl Brunnholzl.
He that knows it, knows it not.
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby monktastic » Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:41 pm

Thanks for the suggestion. I have contacted Nalanda West.

What are some specific signs that one is in "the natural state"? What does it mean, experientially? Other than being free of acceptance and rejection, hope and fear -- which we've covered thoroughly, and which I deeply appreciate.

When I follow the instructions in the online Mahamudra Manual, specifically steps 4-6, I feel confident that my experience matches what is described:

[*] Do not modulate or change your awareness or condition in any respect. Do not seek luminosity, just recognize it as it is there. Ordinary mind is the unmodulated simplicity of being, free from acceptance and rejection. The natural, unmodulated ordinary mind which knows itself is the dawning of Mahamudra.

[*] Ordinary mind is simply your ordinary awareness which thinks of this and that. When recognized as it is, unelaborated, this is called the comergent self-knowing. When unrecognized, this is called coemergent ignorance. Maintain this by not being distracted from the natural state by fabricating and indulging in new false realities.

Knowing the intrinisic nature of the ordinary mind is described as ‘discovering the essence of mind.’ The way one knows does not depend on the emergence of a non-discriminating state through meditation. Dakpo Tashi Namgyal says, ‘It happens the moment a meditator discovers it through the discriminating mind itself – which is exactly like an unreligious person – without losing sight of its segment or aspect.’


And so it feels like this is my practice:

Under all different circumstance, in meditation and post-meditation, maintain mindfulness. Mindfulness of what? Mindfulness of ordinary mind. How does one do this when extremely busy? By maintaining mindfulness on what you are doing, without adding anything extra. Is this not just like a non-practitioner at the time? Yes, if that non-practitioner is mindful. However, something continues into this practice, like a spice flavors an entire bowl of cereal, something very subtle continues to operate. This little something makes all the difference.


How would one know if one is mistaken? It seems hard to get this wrong. (And yes, I still realize that having a teacher is the only way to be totally sure, and to do this all properly.)

Edit: believe me, I also appreciate the irony of claiming to understand acceptance, while continuing to ask questions. I still think these questions are worthwhile.
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 » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:58 pm

If you feel disappointed then you have understood. That's the sign.
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby Astus » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:18 pm

monktastic wrote:What are some specific signs that one is in "the natural state"? What does it mean, experientially? Other than being free of acceptance and rejection, hope and fear -- which we've covered thoroughly, and which I deeply appreciate.


There are no signs. From early on signlessness (animitta) has been one of the characteristics of ultimate reality.

"What is the samadhi of signlessness apart from the samadhi of emptiness? If there is a remaining samadhi taking part in nirvana as its objective representation, this is called animitta samadhi. Again, animitta samadhi: The conditioned world has signs. Nirvana is signless. The conditioned world has three signs: arising, staying and passing away. Nirvana has three signs. Not arising, not staying, and not passing away. Thus the conditioned world has signs and nirvana is signless."
(Sariputrabhidharmasastra in "Nagarjuna in Context", p. 162)

From a practical advice:

"If you identify by thinking "It's emptiness,"
or thinking "It is signless and aspirationless:·
thinking "It is unidentifiable," thinking "It is completely pure,"
thinking "It is birthless," thinking "It is unperceivable,"
thinking "It has no nature:' thinking "It is without elaboration,"
thinking "It is not an object for analysis by speech or mind;'
thinking "It is uncreated and naturally present;' and so on,
however profound these thoughts, our recognition of emptiness
will not transcend the conceptualization of an arrogant mind.
Attachment to concepts leads to a fall into inferior states
and a continuous ripening of karma from inferior actions."

(Lama Shang: The Ultimate Supreme Path of Mahamudra in "Mahamudra and Related Instructions", p. 86)

And just to show again what the essential nature of mind is:

"To realize that mind is empty of all empirical characteristics and devoid of any enduring essence is to realize the nature of mind. This insight will help you to understand the nature of the self as well. If you can realize this, you will also realize the nature of physical things to be empty of enduring essence. The result of understanding that emptiness is the nature of both the mental and physical realms is that you will no longer generate conflicting emotions in response to situations."
(Traleg Kyabgon: Ocean of Certainty, p. 110)

Just that short quote tells that emptiness has to be realised, which is the simple fact of the lack of anything graspable (i.e. any sign), from what comes freedom from (but not elimination of) emotions and ideas. Whatever concept you want to hold on to, that is mistaking illusion for reality, that is the root cause of ignorance. The nature of mind is that it is incomprehensible, that there is nothing at all to hold on to, to identify with, to discover, to realise; because suffering comes from attachment to something, and attachment is also the view that there is something to attach to. Thus the essential instruction is: relax. Relaxing means letting go of attachment. And that's it. Nothing more, nothing less. You can find proof of this any time. Just see what happens when you follow a thought and when you don't.

"Basic wakefulness is the very essence of the mind that fixates or thinks of something. Yet our dualistic fixation and thinking is like a veil that covers and obscures this luminosity.
In short, what is recognized is not a thing. What, then, do we recognize? We must experience naked wakefulness directly, and this occurs the instant that our mind is stripped bare of conceptual thinking. That experience, therefore, is not a product of our fabrication. It simply is. The problem is that it is too near to us, just like something held so close to your eyes that it is difficult to see. Moreover, it is too easy. We would prefer something more difficult. Simply remaining free from concepts is extremely easy. The only difficulty is that it goes against our tendencies—we enjoy conceptual activity, we like to have something to take hold of. So, although it is easy to remain freely, our habitual tendencies pull us away from that state."

(Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche: Three Words in "Quintessential Dzogchen", p. 185-186)
"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 monktastic » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:26 pm

Andrew108 wrote:If you feel disappointed then you have understood. That's the sign.


Haha, I like that. When they say it really is this simple, I guess they mean it. There's no reason to second-guess it. It really. Is. This. Simple. There's nothing to see here, and yet there is cognizance. There's no substance to appearances beyond their sense of appearing.

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche says:

But some people refuse to understand this. They think, "First I must get rid of my nasty old dualistic mind. I must discard it so that the amazing buddha mind can come down from above, like a beautiful god dissolving into me. Then, I'm sure, something spectacular will happen. That's what recognizing buddha nature is, not just seeing nothing." In this way, some people simply refuse to recognize their nature. They think, "how can this ordinary state of mind be anything special? There must be something wonderful that will happen at some time -- maybe not now, but in the future."


But if this is so, why all the brouhaha about the difficulty of recognizing it? This is what I cannot reconcile.
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 » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:39 pm

Ego wants to wrap you up in something special. Put you somewhere special. So it's difficult for the recognition not to be conditioned by ego. And then you shift away from a genuine recognition. Just keep on being disappointed ;-)
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby jeeprs » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:47 pm

Monktastic wrote:But if this is so, why all the brouhaha about the difficulty of recognizing it? This is what I cannot reconcile


Because we keep expecting something - we expect to be something other than what we are, or to feel something different, and so on.

You're up against a very hard problem here. I remember something that triggered recognition of this same problem in me. A teacher said 'you can't experience it. It is there'. Up until then I was sure that there was some experience that would arise from meditation and then I would know. After all, the whole point about our type of spiritual search was that it yielded experience. But, he said - you can't experience it. So was it back to 'just believing' again? I was despondent over this for a good while and it is a hard problem, for sure. But I think you're very serious about resolving it, so stay with it.
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby Astus » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:58 pm

monktastic wrote:But if this is so, why all the brouhaha about the difficulty of recognizing it? This is what I cannot reconcile.


It's difficult because we always want something to be something, something to exist or not exist. But the main part is not about getting it right, this is the first step. You must not forget it either. As Wuxiang (aka Kim Heshang, 684–762) once taught in his three phrases: no recollection (of past/externals), no thought (of future/internals), do not forget (to maintain that) (無憶無念莫忘). Similarly to Garab Dorje's three statements.
"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 monktastic » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:06 pm

"To realize that mind is empty of all empirical characteristics and devoid of any enduring essence is to realize the nature of mind. This insight will help you to understand the nature of the self as well. If you can realize this, you will also realize the nature of physical things to be empty of enduring essence. The result of understanding that emptiness is the nature of both the mental and physical realms is that you will no longer generate conflicting emotions in response to situations."

(Traleg Kyabgon: Ocean of Certainty, p. 110)

What a great quote.

Mind is empty; this one can see clearly. Appearances are not apart from mind; one can investigate and see this as well. And what is "self" but the designation of a certain set of appearances that we associate together? When we remain natural, all of this recognition slowly unfolds in awareness. I can dig it.

It would still be nice to understand how the above relates to what Dzogchenpas call "rigpa." As I understand it, the term refers to the recognition of all of the above.
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 monktastic » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:15 pm

jeeprs wrote:So was it back to 'just believing' again? I was despondent over this for a good while and it is a hard problem, for sure. But I think you're very serious about resolving it, so stay with it.


Serious, indeed :) I can see why it's difficult to accept that there's nothing more to see than this. This very thread is evidence of that.

When people talk of difficulty of recognizing mind essence, though, it sounds like they're referring to the difficulty of seeing that mind is empty and yet cognizant. Because that has long been evident to me (I think), I've been worried that there's something more I'm supposed to see.

Certainly the fact that appearances are mind, and "self" is appearances, are things that need to be seen as well, and I admit that I had no sense of that last one until recently.
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 Yudron » Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:49 pm

monktastic wrote:
jeeprs wrote:So was it back to 'just believing' again? I was despondent over this for a good while and it is a hard problem, for sure. But I think you're very serious about resolving it, so stay with it.


Serious, indeed :) I can see why it's difficult to accept that there's nothing more to see than this. This very thread is evidence of that.

When people talk of difficulty of recognizing mind essence, though, it sounds like they're referring to the difficulty of seeing that mind is empty and yet cognizant. Because that has long been evident to me (I think), I've been worried that there's something more I'm supposed to see.

Certainly the fact that appearances are mind, and "self" is appearances, are things that need to be seen as well, and I admit that I had no sense of that last one until recently.


If you want to meet a consummate Dzogchen master, Lama Tharchin Rinpoche will be speaking on Olympia this spring:
March 14 - 6:30-9:00 PM
Teachings on the concise Daily Vajrasattva Practice
At Bodhi House: 4846 Johnson Point Rd NE, Olympia, WA 98516
Tel:(360) 459 1967
Suggested Donation: $25

Although the topic is not obviously the nature of your mind, with Rinpoche the topic is actually always the nature of your mind.

The thing I wonder as a read your sincere posts--which show that you think a lot-- is whether a non-scholarly lama might work for you better than a scholar would.
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:39 am

monktastic wrote:What are some specific signs ...

It's completion stage without signs.
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby heart » Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:38 am

Yudron wrote:The thing I wonder as a read your sincere posts--which show that you think a lot-- is whether a non-scholarly lama might work for you better than a scholar would.


:smile: yes, I agree, but I am not even that sure monktastic got why we need a teacher. The main point isn't the pointing-out it is the many years of deciding on one point and gaining confidence in self-liberation. No friend, forum or book in the world will actually help you with this. To paraphrase Bob Marley "No Guru no cry".

/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 monktastic » Wed Mar 13, 2013 7:22 am

heart wrote: :smile: yes, I agree, but I am not even that sure monktastic got why we need a teacher. The main point isn't the pointing-out it is the many years of deciding on one point and gaining confidence in self-liberation. No friend, forum or book in the world will actually help you with this. To paraphrase Bob Marley "No Guru no cry".

/magnus


Indeed, if that's the only thing I learn from this thread, that will be worth it.
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 monktastic » Wed Mar 13, 2013 7:28 am

Yes, I definitely need a teacher. I simply cannot reconcile all the differences that appear in print, even with the help of this forum, it seems.

Thrangu Rinpoche:
Of course, it is possible to give dramatic pointing-out instruction, and when you do so, some people do recognize their mind’s nature. ... It certainly is a dramatic experience for those people who achieve it...


Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche:
Do not expect the actual moment of rigpa to be something dramatic
(Rainbow Painting, p.89)

Okay, maybe we can chalk this up to different meanings of "dramatic." But within the very chapter quoted, TUR seems to be saying two very different things. On the one hand:

In the same way, if we have correct understanding, the moment we apply what our master teaches, we recognize our nature. That there is no entity whatsoever to be seen is called ‘emptiness’. The ability to know that mind essence is empty is called ‘cognizance’. ... These two aspects, empty and cognizant, are indivisible. This becomes obvious to us the very moment that we look; it is no longer hidden. Then it is not just an intellectual idea of how emptiness is; it becomes a part of our experience. At that moment, meditation training can truly begin.


Recognizing mind essence as empty cognizance is what needs to be seen. This matches with the Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche quote (and others) earlier. On the other hand, he follows it up with this:

But a person who has some degree of understanding will say, “Things don’t know themselves. There is nothing other than the mind that knows things. Things exist because of being perceived by a perceiving mind. This mind is empty and cognizant, therefore, all things are the unity of empty cognizance.” Such comprehension is correct, yet it is still only intellectual understanding. The second step, experience, is something more personal and not solely an idea.


In other words, "recognition" refers to seeing that all phenomena are empty cognizance. Well, it is a little easier to experience directly that mind is empty cognizance than that all things are -- for me, at least. And so it goes, throughout this book and others. Recognize that mind essence is empty and cognizant -- it's obvious. Great. Just rest in that. Great. Now that you recognize all phenomena as empty cognizance, simply repeat this recognition periodically...

Further suggestion that the latter is what he means:
When the recognition lasts continuously throughout the day we have reached the level of a bodhisattva.


A bodhisattva directly perceives the emptiness of phenomena, right?

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

--Gampopa
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