Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

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Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by pemachophel » Wed Sep 02, 2015 7:55 pm

Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche :
"Dzogchen Misunderstanding

I must correct one thing about Dzogchen. Most of you in the West think that by reading dharma books, you will develop understanding of the dharma. While it is natural to read, you will only develop an intellectual understanding. Wisdom, however, must come from meditation. For example, you cannot understand the teachings of the Great Perfection, Dzogpa Chenpo or any of the secret mantrayana teachings through reading. In fact, if you read Dzogchen books, you are likely to harm your understanding when the real teachings are given to you. You will have a preset idea in your mind of what it is, but, I am sorry to say, that most likely it will not be accurate. Why? Why is reading not sufficient? It lacks several things. First, reading secret teachings which you have not been authorized to read is not appropriate regardless of your motivation. Many of you are concerned about privacy in the letters you write, feeling hurt when someone reads them. This is mundane nonsense. What about these texts that are forbidden, rare and have protectors guarding and protecting them? Do you think you can easily read these teachings? Do you think the writers of these Great Perfection commentaries will write it in such a simple way that you will be able to understand what is there? No, you will not be able to do so. These writings hide the real meaning deeply between lines, words and letters. The sentence that you read is not the sentence of the meaning. No, it is not. It is a sentence that is grammatically correct, makes sense and seems to be clear, but it is not. There are secret codes. These codes and keys must be revealed to you in order to read and understand these books and teachings. The codes are not available to everyone. The masters will not give the code to you because what is in that book is their life thread. Nobody is going to put their life in your hands and say “Here is my life thread, do what you want with it.” Also the personal and face-to-face contact of the lama with the student or disciple is missing. First of all, you have a mind-to-mind contact. With that you receive the mind empowerment. Second, when you receive a teaching from a lama or the lama authorizes you to read a book, you receive the speech empowerment. Third, by the lama’s authorization, you have the blessing of the five wisdoms and the blessing of the spontaneous activity. Secretly, the lama empowers you so that your veil of obscurations is removed directly by his presence in front of you. Otherwise, when you read such books without authorization, you damage and do harm to yourself. This harm refers to the iunverted or distorted understanding of the Great Perfection luminosities when perceived by the intellect, rather than experiencing the luminosity of primordial wisdom. You will understand these luminosities as a colorful painting that is visually present to your eyes. When books elaborate the various depths of emptiness and the subtle clarifications of the wisdom aspect, you will understand nothing of it. You won’t even understand the first basic emptiness, let alone the other depths of emptiness that are present. My advice to you, if you want this knowledge, is to connect with a teacher. “Connecting with a teacher” means surrendering your ego to the teacher which may not be very easy for you to do. Nonetheless, you won’t burn yourself. I have received the Great Perfection teachings from my father many times. I have met many students who describe to me the visions they have had about the Great Perfection. They think they have realization and a true vision. To me, it looks like they are preparing to go to lower realms because anything that looks bright and beautiful is not necessarily the experience of luminosity or realization. Within that bright and beautiful appearance darkness can also be present. I say “Be careful.” Many things are fine to understand intellectually, but anything dealing with wisdom and secret practices such as Dzogchen is not worth reading about. What about the person who translated what you are reading? Is the translator a realized bodhisattva? Does the translation carry the depth of the meaning toward enlightenment? Just because the translator has an extensive vocabulary and can write very fluently and poetically, do you then think that is realization? No. Realization and the teaching of Great Perfection is so simple that you can miss it because of your complex mind. The Great Perfection teachings are not complex. They are in simplicity. So simple that you will not believe it. You won’t take it to heart because you will say “That can’t be what it is!” But that IS what that is".
(Published on facebook as a quote of "CHIME SOG THIG - The Abbreviated Practice or the Immortal Life Essence; The Essential Bindu of Deathlessness" - Part One,
by HH Shenpen Dawa Rinpoche Yeshe Nyingpo, NYC, Feb 2013
Page 7 to 8
)
Last edited by Ayu on Thu Sep 17, 2015 6:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by dzogchungpa » Wed Sep 02, 2015 8:04 pm

I almost posted this myself, but I was afraid I would get in trouble. :smile:
If you focus on an object, you are not meditating. - Dudjom Rinpoche

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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by Malcolm » Wed Sep 02, 2015 8:17 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:I almost posted this myself, but I was afraid I would get in trouble. :smile:
Well, I guess it is up to each person to decide for themselves what they will read and what they will not read. Having said that, I concur that there are many people who get themselves into trouble by reading books for which they do not have the transmission.

There are certain forums where this is blatantly obvious.
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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:10 pm

That's interesting, and makes sense. On the other hand, how do you know what and what not to read? I've done a DI, but feel lost in Dzogchen practices, have other Vajrayana commitments, but find myself relating to the view of Dzogchen. How would I even know what I am supposed to read? Is he talking about reading in general, about seeking out practices one is not qualified for, reading Tantras one isn't supposed to?

On top of this, I've read lots of advice elsewhere that if one practices Mahamudra, one should study Dzogchen view some as well, not sure how to square that with this sort of cautionary advice.
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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by Malcolm » Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:12 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:That's interesting, and makes sense. On the other hand, how do you know what and what not to read? I've taken a DI, but feel lost in Dzogchen practices, have other Vajrayana commitments, but find myself relating to the view of Dzogchen. How would I even know what I am supposed to read? Is he talking about reading in general, about seeking out practices one is not qualified for, reading Tantras one isn't supposed to?
Read what you want, but avoid reading about tögal until you have received tögal instructions.
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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:13 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:That's interesting, and makes sense. On the other hand, how do you know what and what not to read? I've taken a DI, but feel lost in Dzogchen practices, have other Vajrayana commitments, but find myself relating to the view of Dzogchen. How would I even know what I am supposed to read? Is he talking about reading in general, about seeking out practices one is not qualified for, reading Tantras one isn't supposed to?
Read what you want, but avoid reading about tögal until you have received tögal instructions.
Ah, OK no problem then.
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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by Malcolm » Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:26 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:That's interesting, and makes sense. On the other hand, how do you know what and what not to read? I've taken a DI, but feel lost in Dzogchen practices, have other Vajrayana commitments, but find myself relating to the view of Dzogchen. How would I even know what I am supposed to read? Is he talking about reading in general, about seeking out practices one is not qualified for, reading Tantras one isn't supposed to?
Read what you want, but avoid reading about tögal until you have received tögal instructions.
Ah, OK no problem then.
The caveat is, that it really is better to have the transmission for texts you want to read...
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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:41 pm

Malcolm wrote:
The caveat is, that it really is better to have the transmission for texts you want to read...
Sure, that's sensible. I've mainly just read general books on Dzogchen view, and basic Trekcho advice, since it seems to be so relevant to Mahamudra meditation. I assume you mean things like practice texts, tantra commentaries, etc?
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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by Malcolm » Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:51 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
The caveat is, that it really is better to have the transmission for texts you want to read...
Sure, that's sensible. I've mainly just read general books on Dzogchen view, and basic Trekcho advice, since it seems to be so relevant to Mahamudra meditation. I assume you mean things like practice texts, tantra commentaries, etc?
It is better to have the transmission for what you want to read. Of course, you can always get the transmission later.

There is little point is buying books on Ngondro and sadhanas apart from the ones you are doing [glances over shoulder at huge library of unused books...]
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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Sep 02, 2015 10:06 pm

I wouldn't even think that's possible for books/texts like:

Quintessential Dzogchen

Longchenpa Finding Ease and Comfort trilogy (does that even count as a Dzogchen text?

A Lamp To Dispel Darkness

etc....

That's why statements like this one confuse me somewhat, what counts as harmful reading, is it more about over filling your cup, or is it more about reading stuff you shouldn't be? It is not clear which category (or maybe both?) Rinpoches is talking about in this statement to me.
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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by dzogchungpa » Wed Sep 02, 2015 10:23 pm

IMO, without what SDR calls "mind-to-mind contact", in this context you've basically got squat.
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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Sep 02, 2015 10:28 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:IMO, without what SDR calls "mind-to-mind contact", in this context you've basically got squat.
Oh I've done DI, and had contact with a number of teachers Vajrayana wise also, I get that part fully, you cant somehow initiate or introduce yourself by reading things...I just don't get how to take the reading part. I mean if there is an unrestricted Dzogchen text that helps you, should you just not read anything?

Should you ask for lung for things you read on Lotsawa house?
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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by Malcolm » Wed Sep 02, 2015 10:42 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Longchenpa Finding Ease and Comfort trilogy (does that even count as a Dzogchen text?
Definitely a Dzogchen text, kind of a Lamrim based on Dzogchen Sem sde.
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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by lama tsewang » Wed Sep 02, 2015 10:56 pm

then did gyatrul rinpoche do something wrong by publishing three books on dzogchen .
what all the books from rangjung yeshe publications on dzogchen, and finally what of thrangu rinpoche having books publishe don the view of mahamudra?
the comment thats at the beginning of this thread is a kind of tacit criticism of the activity of many lamas in publishing books.

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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by tingdzin » Sat Sep 05, 2015 7:31 am

Bravo, Rinpoche, and Pema Chophel

What you "can" and "cannot" , or "should" and "should not" read can be debated endlessly. The point is that by reading very profound texts prematurely, you can not only convince yourself you understand them, blathering on about matters far above your actual level of realization among your friends and on the Internet, but also you can TRULY damage your own later understanding of them on a real, nitty-gritty level. Texts are restricted for reasons that are not just about power politics or hierarchy. My own Nyingmapa teachers would all be appalled if one of their students started reading restricted Dzogchen texts without AT LEAST completing a Nyingmapa ngondro and receiving personal instruction in the Dzogchen view. The Bonpos seem to be a little looser about the whole thing, but Shenphen Rinpoche's cautionary promptings are still valid from a practical viewpoint. Anyway, there are plenty of introductory Dzogchen materials published now -- and most of the books published by well-known lamas fall into this category -- that can help you get going with some conceptual understanding of Dzogchen until you can find and relate to a real teacher, so there's no need to jump over and read the restricted stuff.

A sidelight: as a sometime translator, I can affirm that it is really difficult to put Dzogchen into English without distorting it. Janet Gyatso said in one of her books that Chatral Rinpoche even thought it was a waste of time to try. This is another reason why books alone just won't do.

Another sidelight: so-called "Dzogchen" is now unfortunately very trendy, but if it is not a part of your own main practice tradition, there is no real reason you should try to study it in depth.

In the end, though, there's nobody looking over your shoulder. As with all Buddhism, you have to be an adult -- you make your own choices and take the karmic consequences. But you might examine the purity of your motives VERY DEEPLY before you discard the traditional guidelines and ignore the traditional warnings.

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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by MiphamFan » Sat Sep 05, 2015 8:26 am

What's the fuss about? His (SDR) main message is that you cannot understand Dzogchen through reading if you haven't had Dzogchen transmission. I think that's a very common thing said by all teachers.

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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by Malcolm » Sat Sep 05, 2015 2:39 pm

tingdzin wrote:
A sidelight: as a sometime translator, I can affirm that it is really difficult to put Dzogchen into English without distorting it.
It is not that hard. What is hard is that young translators rely too much on older translations, many of which are unduly contaminated by outside influences.


Janet Gyatso said in one of her books that Chatral Rinpoche even thought it was a waste of time to try.
Good thing ChNN does not feel this way.

...books alone just won't do.
Agreed.
Another sidelight: so-called "Dzogchen" is now unfortunately very trendy, but if it is not a part of your own main practice tradition, there is no real reason you should try to study it in depth.
I don't agree. Everyone should learn Dzogchen. Dzogchen is for anyone who is interested in it, not just Nyingmapas. Nyingmapas do not own Dzogchen.

In the end, though, there's nobody looking over your shoulder. As with all Buddhism, you have to be an adult -- you make your own choices and take the karmic consequences. But you might examine the purity of your motives VERY DEEPLY before you discard the traditional guidelines and ignore the traditional warnings.
If your motive is to wake up as fast as possible, then study Dzogchen.
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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by MalaBeads » Sat Sep 05, 2015 3:44 pm

Most likely, everyone will agree that dzogchen is not found in books. And also that dzogchen is not discovered by studying. That is not to say that studying is not useful, it is useful, but it is not dzogchen.

I for one am quite glad that my first introduction to dzogchen was before I had ever read anything at all about it. Perhaps the time for a complete novice to be introduced to dzogchen is passed, I dont know. I would hope not though. It is quite helpful to know nothing at all about dzogchen before you encounter it. Quite difficult nowadays but maybe not impossible.

Anyhow, just thought i would throw my two cents into the discussion.

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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by Malcolm » Sat Sep 05, 2015 4:07 pm

MalaBeads wrote:Most likely, everyone will agree that dzogchen is not found in books. And also that dzogchen is not discovered by studying. That is not to say that studying is not useful, it is useful, but it is not dzogchen.

I for one am quite glad that my first introduction to dzogchen was before I had ever read anything at all about it. Perhaps the time for a complete novice to be introduced to dzogchen is passed, I dont know. I would hope not though. It is quite helpful to know nothing at all about dzogchen before you encounter it. Quite difficult nowadays but maybe not impossible.

Anyhow, just thought i would throw my two cents into the discussion.

Bye.
I read Crystal and the Way of Light when I was 25: it is amusing that I was really puzzled by the idea of self-liberation because I had been reading Mahāyāna, which I thought meant that one was to attain buddhahood for everyone. I thought it was a super interesting book though, but in the meantime somehow I was bullied into thinking I had to do ngondro and so on by the local Kagyus and Sakyas, so I started out in a traditional way. When I was 26, before meeting Sakya Trizin, I had a very interesting dream about ChNN. Still, I wound up in Sakya because I was interested in Hevajra. Then in 1992, I met ChNN.

Really glad I read Crystal though even though I had not a clue what it meant at the time.
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Re: Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche on Reading Dzogchen Books

Post by MalaBeads » Sat Sep 05, 2015 5:42 pm

Malcolm wrote:
MalaBeads wrote:Most likely, everyone will agree that dzogchen is not found in books. And also that dzogchen is not discovered by studying. That is not to say that studying is not useful, it is useful, but it is not dzogchen.

I for one am quite glad that my first introduction to dzogchen was before I had ever read anything at all about it. Perhaps the time for a complete novice to be introduced to dzogchen is passed, I dont know. I would hope not though. It is quite helpful to know nothing at all about dzogchen before you encounter it. Quite difficult nowadays but maybe not impossible.

Anyhow, just thought i would throw my two cents into the discussion.

Bye.
I read Crystal and the Way of Light when I was 25: it is amusing that I was really puzzled by the idea of self-liberation because I had been reading Mahāyāna, which I thought meant that one was to attain buddhahood for everyone. I thought it was a super interesting book though, but in the meantime somehow I was bullied into thinking I had to do ngondro and so on by the local Kagyus and Sakyas, so I started out in a traditional way. When I was 26, before meeting Sakya Trizin, I had a very interesting dream about ChNN. Still, I wound up in Sakya because I was interested in Hevajra. Then in 1992, I met ChNN.

Really glad I read Crystal though even though I had not a clue what it meant at the time.
Do you think SDR is talking about Crystal and the Way of Light? I have no idea what he is referring to. In any case, i am re-reading that one, im sure I didn't understand it when I first read it. But that was a long time ago. Maybe I'll understand more this time.
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