On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby monktastic » Fri Mar 22, 2013 4:19 am

Irina1111 wrote:To get to the point of being able to recognize is difficult, not the recognition itself.


Wow, member since August, and your first post is here. I am touched :). I really like what you have to say.

Also, I just read this quote in the translator's intro to "Natural Perfection" (of Longchenpa):

In fact, to reach the point of relaxation in the moment that provides intimation of rigpa, nonaction is the sole precept.


In other words, far from being a practice I should only consider after recognition, Tilopa's Six Words should form the core of my practice from the get-go.
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 alpha » Sat Mar 23, 2013 12:32 pm

After the recognition the work is not done.
Lots of people assume that once the recognition has been actualized the re-recognition and resting can take place at will whenever we want.
That is not true.
Why ? Because the very strong habit of the mind to search for experience and use focused attention is still there.
So in one word the mind still gets involved and muddles the waters but when we get everything right and very precise according to the instructions of our guru the re-recognition can take place without fail.
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby monktastic » Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:05 pm

alpha wrote:After the recognition the work is not done.
Lots of people assume that once the recognition has been actualized the re-recognition and resting can take place at will whenever we want.
That is not true.
Why ? Because the very strong habit of the mind to search for experience and use focused attention is still there.
So in one word the mind still gets involved and muddles the waters but when we get everything right and very precise according to the instructions of our guru the re-recognition can take place without fail.


Thanks Alpha. That's useful to share. One member PM'd me some time back and stated openly that after a pointing-out, one could immediately enter into recognition at will at any time. Perhaps for some it is like that.

BTW, for anyone who's been following this thread and has similar questions, I strongly recommend the podcasts from Alan Wallace's 2013 Intro to Dzogchen retreat. This episode is particularly relevant:

http://archive.org/download/Introductio ... Edited.mp3
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 TaTa » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:39 am

Really great post's and quotes here. Just wanted to thank you all.
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby Andrew108 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:45 am

alpha wrote:After the recognition the work is not done.
Lots of people assume that once the recognition has been actualized the re-recognition and resting can take place at will whenever we want.
That is not true.
Why ? Because the very strong habit of the mind to search for experience and use focused attention is still there.
So in one word the mind still gets involved and muddles the waters but when we get everything right and very precise according to the instructions of our guru the re-recognition can take place without fail.

Definitely true and well said.
From my point of view at this time one has to really appreciate and experience 'no self found in 5 skandhas'. In some ways this is the most essential practice because it is very easy to take on concepts and have preferences concerning the natural state and this contemplation of the 5 skandhas helps remove that tendency.
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 treehuggingoctopus » Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:31 am

monktastic wrote:One member PM'd me some time back and stated openly that after a pointing-out, one could immediately enter into recognition at will at any time.


And that's why we shouldn't talk about these things to people we have no jolly good reasons to trust (in the matters of practice).
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby Andrew108 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:28 pm

treehuggingoctopus wrote:
monktastic wrote:One member PM'd me some time back and stated openly that after a pointing-out, one could immediately enter into recognition at will at any time.


And that's why we shouldn't talk about these things to people we have no jolly good reasons to trust (in the matters of practice).

Well if monktastic hadn't talked about these things then we wouldn't have had such an interesting and open discussion. All views are presented and subtly elaborated upon and further understanding has come about for all sides. If we close ourselves off then what use is that? If someone is making a mistake then it should be pointed out. No one is trying to be a teacher. Some students know more than others and are unafraid to pass on their experience. It may seem arrogant to you but their is no fear in confidence.
In terms of the teaching of Mahamudra and Dzogchen it would be really amazing if students didn't have some understanding and even a little understanding of these teachings goes a long way. There is a poverty attitude amongst some students that worship teachers and the teachings and talk about how their teachers perform heroic actions that they could never emulate. The teacher and student and teachings become so far apart. Of course there is another type of attitude which is the drunken attitude of thinking you know everything and can fight everyone. I can assure you that I am neither poor nor drunk. I am not a teacher but I do have confidence in the teachings.
These days people have to spell out their qualifications in terms of time spent practicing. I don't like this because new students get discouraged and think that they are somehow less able to realize the natural state. The idea is that the natural state is developed in practice over years and years. But who knows what fresh awakening might happen to a student given the right instruction? As for me well I have been studying and practicing sutra mahamudra and madhyamaka for the last 25 years under one of the greatest Khenpos ever. I have been practicing dzogchen for the last three years under the guidance of one of the greatest Dzogchen masters of this day. So I am hardly unqualified and at each step of my journey I have honestly been as uncontrived and open as possible. But then so what? I understand that time is illusion and that the natural state is not my achievement. But to be quiet when I feel that I can give an answer that might help even a little is impossible. And by the way I haven't pm'd monktastic and believe that advice should be out on the open so that it can be tested in debate.
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 Astus » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:38 pm

Andrew108 :good:
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby cataractmoon » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:23 pm

Tulku Pema Rigtsal reminds me, “Such yogis and yoginis make no distinction between high and low views, nor do they pay heed to the speed of accomplishment on the path.”
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:52 pm

Andrew108 wrote:Well if monktastic hadn't talked about these things then we wouldn't have had such an interesting and open discussion.


The trouble is, monktastic didn't want 'an interesting and open discussion'. He wanted a piece of useful advice on what probably is the most important issue in Dzogchen/Mahamudra practice - a piece of applicable advice that would put an end to his confusion and clarify to him that which is essential.

Andrew108 wrote:All views are presented and subtly elaborated upon and further understanding has come about for all sides.


You're surely joking.
What 'understanding has come about for all sides'? What 'sides'?
In such a situation as monktastic's is, discussions only make everything more confusing and unclear; the best one can hope is that he's discovered the futility of asking such questions on open forums.
Anyway, what good could such a discussion bring at all? Pointing-out and that which is pointed out are not a matter for discussions or debates. Intellectual play like that is a breach of our samaya.

Andrew108 wrote:If someone is making a mistake then it should be pointed out. No one is trying to be a teacher.


Well if you feel you should point out other practitioners' mistakes, who do you try to be if not a teacher?

Andrew108 wrote:Some students know more than others and are unafraid to pass on their experience. It may seem arrogant to you but their is no fear in confidence.


And how do they know their experience is valuable to other practitioners? How do they know that in this respect their confidence isn't ill-placed or mistaken?

Andrew108 wrote:These days people have to spell out their qualifications in terms of time spent practicing. I don't like this because new students get discouraged and think that they are somehow less able to realize the natural state. The idea is that the natural state is developed in practice over years and years.


The idea is that the familiarity with, and the ability to rest in, the natural state are developed in practice over years and years.

Andrew108 wrote:As for me well I have been studying and practicing sutra mahamudra and madhyamaka for the last 25 years under one of the greatest Khenpos ever. I have been practicing dzogchen for the last three years under the guidance of one of the greatest Dzogchen masters of this day. So I am hardly unqualified and at each step of my journey I have honestly been as uncontrived and open as possible.


Of course you are unqualified to give advice to others on recognising the natural state! You'll be qualified to instruct people on such matters when and only when ChNN (he's your guru, right?) tells us you can do so, as simple as that. Until then you're just as unqualified as monktastic - or yours truly.
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby monktastic » Mon Mar 25, 2013 6:11 pm

A few quick notes, as I have to dash:

* To anyone else who's confused and reading this thread: I don't recommend that anyone else follow the crazy path you can see I've been meandering along.

* I took the advice to contact Nalandabodhi (thanks for the reminder, Andrew!), and with some luck, will get to meet a teacher in the near future. For the time being I've opted not to follow their practice path.

* Largely thanks to this thread, my illusions of resting in the natural state have been dispelled.

* Through more reading (which I have been advised against), and Mahamudra-style investigations (admission: the questions haven't always come from Buddhism), my confidence has grown considerably. It's more clear than before that there really is nobody "in here" to get the natural state; it's not something to get; and just when am I hoping to "get" it, anyway, since it's always now? This has led to a lot of faith in Tilopa's Six Words, and it's clear that worrying makes no sense. Who's worried about what, exactly?

* My passion and compassion have only grown since the above realization, so no worries about falling into nihilism. And I have enough shamatha experience (including a multi-month retreat) to be very cautious about whether my mind is simply wandering off in oblivion. These, I feel, are adequate safeguards until I'm sufficiently relaxed and receptive to receive a pointing out instruction -- if indeed it is my good fortune to ever receive one (in person).

Thanks to everyone here, both for the concern and the guidance.
Last edited by monktastic on Mon Mar 25, 2013 6:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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 kirtu » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:51 pm

Hello everyone! I moderated the thread a little. Please do not get into food fights with each other, cast aspersions, etc. No ad hominems/personal attacks, we need to exercise right speech and keep DW a warm and inviting place.

Monktastic's original question may be answered and the thread may have run it's course.

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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby monktastic » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:37 pm

I can safely say that I've gotten what I needed from this thread. Thanks everyone.

If anyone's curious, all that's happened is that I'm finally relaxing into what's been obvious but ironically hard to accept:

In fact, to reach the point of relaxation in the moment that provides intimation of rigpa, nonaction is the sole precept.
-- Keith Dowman

Meditation then no longer requires any effort -- there is nothing to do or attain. Whenever we lose our motivation, we should remind ourselves of this and never have any doubt about our capacity to do nothing!
-- Lama Gendun Rinpoche

Do nothing, and everything is done.
-- Tao Te Ching

Shinzen Young teaches "do nothing" "meditation".

And finally, one from a non-Buddhist -- which I hope doesn't break any rules or grate on anyone. Watch this amusing Tony Parsons clip at 15:00: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GqpXmjxE2Q

Q: So in order to come out of the dream, I have to do nothing?
A: No, no, because if you think you have to do nothing, then there's someone doing nothing. All you end up with is someone doing nothing, and that has no relevance to awakening at all. Because what you are is someone very busily doing nothing.
Q: So what can I do?
A: (Smirks, eyebrows raise, and shrugs with hands raised. Much laughter from the audience, and someone blurts out, "nothing.") I'll tell you what you could do, you could start a club. There's a guy over there... you could call it the "I'm f*ing pissed off club."


Again, disclaimer: none of the above should be construed as advice to anyone else :) But it's making loads of sense to me, and nothing prevents me from studying, meditating, etc. while doing nothing. So I'll continue to "do" that ;)
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 Astus » Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:04 pm

"What is it like to do nothing? I mean, really do nothing, nothing at all — no recalling what has happened, no imagining what might happen, no reflecting on what is happening, no analyzing or explaining or controlling what you experience. Nothing!"
(Ken McLeod: A Way of Freedom)
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby monktastic » Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:48 pm

It really is an amusing and liberating process for me. Whenever I start worrying that I'm no longer doing nothing and have begun doing something, I remember: wait, who is it that supposedly started doing something? And then it's clear again: there's nobody to do anything, so not only did I not stop doing nothing, I've never actually been doing anything. I just thought I had!

I'm hardly the first to recognize this irony, so I'm sure this all sounds old-hat to many of you. But it's a joy to share. And now I can look back on my OP and chuckle: the mere fact that I thought I was someone noticing the empty cognizance of mind was a sure indicator that I hadn't plumbed the depths of its emptiness. "Insubstantial" was a fine start to recognizing mind's emptiness, but I couldn't see that I'd extracted out an identity and kept it hidden away. And I'm sure this will continue to unfurl as the grasping diminishes.

That said, I do still find that the Mahamudra instruction wording does not suit me. I'm sure it works for many people, and perhaps would have even for me if I had sought actual instruction from a teacher. But if I had to go back a few weeks or months and answer younger-Monktastic:

monktastic wrote:I think all my confusion has stemmed from one thing. The Mahamudra instructions basically say:
- Rest in naturalness, abandoning hope and fear. This is called the natural state.
- When you are in the natural state, your experience will be like [...timeless, duality-free, ...]

Well, "my" natural state is not yet experienced as "the" natural state. And that's okay! It will take time! Just keep relaxing. I just wish they called them different things :smile:.

But no matter. The instructions are crystal clear. (And thanks Jinzang. I've read Mind at Ease several times. I really loved Traleg Rinpoche's work. RIP :()


I would say this: don't worry about who calls what "the natural state" when. It may continue to frustrate your mind for a long time to come. But your intuition to keep relaxing and releasing is correct. That's really all that needs to be done right now -- unless (or until) you find that you have to do something else! :)

(And again, disclaimer: I do not claim that I am following Mahamudra properly, or that anyone else should take any advice from my situation. It is always possible that one day I will realize I'm dead wrong, and get formal instruction. But I suspect it will be nobody getting that instruction, and doing nothing while following those instructions very carefully.)
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 » Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:59 am

monktastic wrote:I would say this: don't worry about who calls what "the natural state" when. It may continue to frustrate your mind for a long time to come. But your intuition to keep relaxing and releasing is correct. That's really all that needs to be done right now -- unless (or until) you find that you have to do something else! :)


That's right. You have the intention to practice. That's great when you know exactly which type of practice brings the best results.
Death definitely tests our understanding. Is it merely intellectual? At the time when we feel death coming, contrived faith vanishes and we feel alone. Contrived points of view vanish as well. There's no arguing with death. No stopping it by doing nothing. So we only have the results of our practice on selflessness to go by. Even though we have been Dzogchenpas for 50 years, if we haven't experienced the truth of selflessness then we have just been kidding ourselves. Drinking wine at the party. Selflessness is the key point to bring into practice. I'm glad I have met with teachers who make that the foundation.
I'm glad that this is key in your practice too. :thanks:
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 » Mon Apr 01, 2013 6:10 am

I was fortunate enough to meet with a senior teacher from Nalandabodhi for a long time today. He laid my worries to rest. I know exactly what I need to do to continue. So thank you, multiple people, for reminding me to speak with a teacher -- and Andrew, in particular, for reminding me about NB. Also, I would not have been able to describe to him the details of my situation nearly as well a month ago when I started this thread, as I was able to today. So thank you all for bumping me in the right direction.

:thanks: :namaste:
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 Simon E. » Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:39 am

I think what you are doing is admirable Monktastic.
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Re: On the difficulty of recognizing the natural state

Postby kirtu » Mon Apr 01, 2013 12:52 pm

It seems that the thread has naturally rested it's intention (as per monktastic), therefore I will lock the thread.

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