Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

LoveFromColorado
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Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by LoveFromColorado » Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:07 pm

Greetings everyone! I have a question regarding the primordial state and want to give a little background first. I am relatively new to Buddhism (3-4 years) and about 3-4 months into studying Dzogchen. I initially was studying the lamrim path as per Je Tsongkhapa when I asked a question about learning more about shamatha. The answer to this question led me to read The Attention Revolution by Alan Wallace and his subsequent book Stilling the Mind. I also have now almost finished his introduction to Dzogchen via Wisdom Publications' Academy.

As a result, I began to look into the difference between Tantra and Dzogchen and was led to read The Crystal and the Path of Light and am currently now reading The Supreme Source. These two books have been revolutionary for me thus far.

Discovering Dzogchen was like a bolt of lightening and it intuitively resonated with me immediately.

Unfortunately, there are no teachers in my immediate area but I do plan on attending Chogyal Namkhai Norbu's webcast transmission this weekend.

This is all simply to explain where I'm coming from and how new I am to the topic.

My question, however, is in understanding the immutable nature of primordial existence (specifically, chapter 28 of the Kunjed Gyalpo as explained in The Supreme Source). I suspect this is also in line of Dzogchen being beyond the law of cause and effect.

In Nagarjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, it is reasoned how nothing can be immutable if it creates. In my understanding from Dzogchen, it seems like our experience is an emanation or manifestation (on the basic level of human understanding) of primordial existence that is deluded or confused. That confusion or delusion would seem, at some level, to have to have a source - it would need to be "created" somehow. Yet such a situation could not be created in a non-dual reality as the concept of creator and created is dualism.

However, this confusion/delusion is distinct from a pure view and so on some level seems to denote a division from the source which would indicate it was created from some cause somewhere. Yet it cannot be created in a non-dual view and thus becomes somewhat of a conundrum for me to understand.

I hope this is clear and I appreciate the help. I can intuitively sense there is an answer to this question but I cannot grasp it yet.

LoveFromColorado
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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by LoveFromColorado » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:41 pm

To be a bit simpler, perhaps I am wondering how cause and effect can exist if everything is non-dual by nature.

That said, I was watching my favorite cosmologist today, Sean Carroll (below). In a nutshell, he explains (in part) how cause and effect is in effect an illusion that we see due to the arrow of time at our current state of complexity (vs. particles, etc.). Perhaps this is indeed meaningful that I stumbled upon this video on the same day that I wrestled with this concept. In Dzogchen terms, this would mean that we perceive cause and effect whereas it intrinsically does not exist. Thus, the perception of cause and effect (karmic vision) is an illusion due to our perception of time being existent. Maybe I'm on the right track here?


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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by Virgo » Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:12 am

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:07 pm

I hope this is clear and I appreciate the help. I can intuitively sense there is an answer to this question but I cannot grasp it yet.
Receive transmission and then practice Guru Yoga. Later on study texts to help remove your illusions. If you try to do the last bit first, you will only become more deeply entrenched.

Kevin...

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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by Lukeinaz » Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:42 am

There are Dzogchen teachers in CO. You should check out Tsoknyi Rinpoche for instance.
You are truly astonishing--going to look for yourself when you already are yourself! --Longchen Rabjam

LoveFromColorado
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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by LoveFromColorado » Wed Jul 18, 2018 2:22 am

Excellent! I saw the movie with Tsoknyi Rinpoche and the nunnery he is responsible for in Tibet. I don't see anything I would qualify for in his schedule or that will work on my schedule but I will certainly keep an eye on the programs he offers. Thank you for the information!

I am in Colorado Springs - I wish there was a teacher closer than three hours away but better than nothing! Is there a list of Dzogchen teachers by state?

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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by Virgo » Wed Jul 18, 2018 2:56 am

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:07 pm
I initially was studying the lamrim path as per Je Tsongkhapa when I asked a question about learning more about shamatha.
There are also lots of teachings you can receive such as lamrim. There is no contradiction practicing that and shamatha.

Kevin...

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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:05 am

Maybe I'm on the right track here?
I really don't think it's wise to try and blend or even compare Sean Carroll's knowledge of astrophysics with anything about Buddhism, as such. Sean Carroll is a very knowledgable scientist, but he is generally dismissive of anything that can't be described or understood in scientific terms. So his discussion of causality is strictly about physical causes, it has nothing to do with karmic causation, which I'm sure he would not take seriously. The teachings you're studying don't really need to be compared to such external sources. There are some very learned Buddhist teachers, including B Allan Wallace who you mentioned, and Matthieu Ricard, who is qualified in science, who are good sources on the general question of science and Buddhism, but I'm afraid Sean Carroll would not be. And it would certainly not be true to say that cause and effect (in terms of karma) is illusory.

As regards your main question - I am not a dzogchen practitioner and would not speak to that, other that to say that 'understanding the uncaused' IS central the whole Buddhist path, and is beyond the scope of discursive reason. In other words, it's not something you can figure out by thinking about it. That is why we have teachings and teachers!

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Only practice with no gaining idea ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by Matt J » Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:30 am

I found investigating dreams to be helpful. Take a dream: you have a flower that may still require sunlight, water, and soil to grow. You could even have dream scientists studying dream objects and telling us everything is made of dream matter. Yet none of it actually exists--- there is not even an atom of "matter" in any of it.

Matthieu Ricard addresses many modern issues in the book The Monk and the Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life. His father is a professional philosopher and raises many materialist objections that Matthieu handles well. From a Kagyu perspective, I also found Khenpo Tsultrum Gyamtso's Progressive Stages of Meditation of Emptiness to be helpful.
LoveFromColorado wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:41 pm
To be a bit simpler, perhaps I am wondering how cause and effect can exist if everything is non-dual by nature.
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
--- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

LoveFromColorado
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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by LoveFromColorado » Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:25 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:05 am
I am not a dzogchen practitioner and would not speak to that... And it would certainly not be true to say that cause and effect (in terms of karma) is illusory.
Thanks for the reply! I don't mean to indicate Sean Carroll is Buddhist - he is a fabulous speaker and a very learned cosmologist. That said, I only brought him up as a parallel illustration.

In terms of cause and effect being illusory, my background for that statement would be from the summary of the Kunjed Gyalpo, Chapter 6, in The Supreme Source (below).
Now there follows a point that is quite important to remember concerning the ways of realization based on the principle of cause and effect. All the sutra teachings, for example, are based on the notion of the causality of karma. Karma is deemed important, whence derives the need to purify oneself, to accumulate good deeds, and so on. But all this remains at the outer level, very far from the true meaning of meditation. This is characteristic of the paths based on cause and effect, so Samantabhadra Kunjed Gyalpo's advice is not communicate his words to those who follow or preserve these paths. Why so? Because persons who are heavily conditioned must ripen slowly. If one communicates the truth to them, all of a sudden they can get frightened and, consequently, stray far form the path. Since in terms of karmic vision, the law of the cause and effect, of actions, does exist, f such people were taught that the true condition is beyond cause and effect they might be overcome by doubts and turn against the teaching...

The Mahayana talks at length about the two truths: the absolute truth is deemed something to accept, while the relative truth, all things considered, should be rejected. These analyses of the two truths may be necessary so long as one remains at the level of the mind, but when one transcends it and enters the state of consciousness, everything loses importance. That is why the text speaks of the single root, the state of consciousness: whatever ne analyses, whether it is deemed good or bad, everything that exists has a single root in the state of consciousness.
Chapter 9 of the Kunjed Gyalpo as per The Supreme Source goes so far as to say that "the vehicles based on the principle of cuase and effect" are tied more "to the external" and that "they are erroneous paths" in the sense that they display "an imperfect understanding of the condition of the individual". I get the sense from reading through these chapter summaries that the intent is not to refute karma utterly but to show how it is a "lower" teaching of sorts as it becomes irrelevant when one realizes primordial consciousness.

Before coming to Dzogchen I would have likely stated exactly what you said about karma being illusory but, if I am understanding the various teachings I am reading and listening to correctly (which of course may not be the case), then being "beyond cause and effect" makes sense.

LoveFromColorado
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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by LoveFromColorado » Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:27 am

Matt J wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:30 am
I found investigating dreams to be helpful. Take a dream: you have a flower that may still require sunlight, water, and soil to grow. You could even have dream scientists studying dream objects and telling us everything is made of dream matter. Yet none of it actually exists--- there is not even an atom of "matter" in any of it.

Matthieu Ricard addresses many modern issues in the book The Monk and the Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life. His father is a professional philosopher and raises many materialist objections that Matthieu handles well. From a Kagyu perspective, I also found Khenpo Tsultrum Gyamtso's Progressive Stages of Meditation of Emptiness to be helpful.
Thanks for the book recommendations and the response! Actually, thinking about things in terms of a dream helps. I'm thinking the idea of primordial consciousness being immutable yet having the presence of a deluded view in the individual is something definitely more experiential and less intellectual. The parallel of a dream is indeed helpful here to me.

LoveFromColorado
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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by LoveFromColorado » Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:34 am

Virgo wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:12 am
Receive transmission and then practice Guru Yoga. Later on study texts to help remove your illusions. If you try to do the last bit first, you will only become more deeply entrenched.
Thanks for the reply!

Indeed, I agree that Guru Yoga and a teacher are of utmost importance. However, I don't think that one should sit idly by until one happens to meet a teacher. What happens if you never meet a teacher (say, you get hit by a bus tomorrow)? Who knows if we will have the same capacity in our rebirth to approach Dharma?

Of course, I think the caveat here is to humbly realize the large shortcomings one has when studying words from a teacher and perhaps watching recordings, etc., that such a state is far different from having a teacher directly. In other words, keep an open mind and ask lots of questions :)
Virgo wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 2:56 am
There are also lots of teachings you can receive such as lamrim. There is no contradiction practicing that and shamatha.
I still study lamrim through FPMT and am about halfway through their introductory courses (Discovering Buddhism). When I encountered Dzogchen, however, it was almost as if everything else I have ever studied immediately fell away. Not that the other teachings are not important or helpful. My perspective on them has shifted. It is hard to describe in words but perhaps whereas I was once more dogmatic now I am more open and approach things from the whole person instead of just my intellect.

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Malcolm
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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by Malcolm » Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:57 am

There is no primordial state.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by dzogchungpa » Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:10 am

Malcolm wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:57 am
There is no primordial state.

There is, however, a book called "The Marvelous Primordial State" that the OP might find worth looking at.
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by haha » Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:34 am

That book does not have "The Marvelous Primordial State".
:lol:

In this world hatred never ceases with hatred
With non hatred it ceases, this is the ancient lore.

Upakilesasuttaṃ

LoveFromColorado
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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by LoveFromColorado » Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:15 pm

:buddha1: p
Malcolm wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:57 am
There is no primordial state.
Hi Malcolm, unless you are referring to emptiness, then I don't understand what you mean. Throughout The Supreme Source by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu the Base is continually referred to as "the primordial state" (for example, on page 85). Would you mind clarifying?

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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by smcj » Wed Jul 18, 2018 2:12 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:57 am
There is no primordial state.
You might want to make a somewhat more nuanced post than that. Perhaps try, "A classical Indian philosopher, such as Nagarjuna, would say such an idea is a Hindu heresy." Or perhaps, "That kind of idea crept into certain types of Dharma only late in the game due to a misinterpretation of the teachings on Buddha Nature." At that point there's nothing to refute. Someone might choose to post in support of the opposing viewpoint. But a simple blanket statement like that, denying that the idea exists at all, is not completely accurate.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by Pema Rigdzin » Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:35 pm

Love,

It's very important to remember that Dzogchen is entirely in line with Prajna Paramita. There are neither one nor many phenomena. Phenomena have never arisen, yet they clearly appear. The container--the world--and the contained--sentient beings--are emptiness. To think in terms of something being out there that had to be created or caused is to reify the natural state.

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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by Pema Rigdzin » Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:50 pm

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:25 am
Chapter 9 of the Kunjed Gyalpo as per The Supreme Source goes so far as to say that "the vehicles based on the principle of cuase and effect" are tied more "to the external" and that "they are erroneous paths" in the sense that they display "an imperfect understanding of the condition of the individual". I get the sense from reading through these chapter summaries that the intent is not to refute karma utterly but to show how it is a "lower" teaching of sorts as it becomes irrelevant when one realizes primordial consciousness.
The vehicles of cause and effect are erroneous insofar as they are conceptual. Dzogchen is beyond concepts, as buddhahood is beyond concepts. We could say that Dzogchen--as in the nature of all that appears--is beyond cause and effect; but until this is fully realized, these are just words, just like saying the horrors of samsara are empty of inherent existence.

LoveFromColorado
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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by LoveFromColorado » Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:58 pm

Pema Rigdzin wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:35 pm
Love,

It's very important to remember that Dzogchen is entirely in line with Prajna Paramita. There are neither one nor many phenomena. Phenomena have never arisen, yet they clearly appear. The container--the world--and the contained--sentient beings--are emptiness. To think in terms of something being out there that had to be created or caused is to reify the natural state.
Excellent answer! Thank you for the clarification - that makes perfect sense and I see my error now.

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Malcolm
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Re: Immutable Nature of the Primordial State

Post by Malcolm » Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:59 pm

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:15 pm
:buddha1: p
Malcolm wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:57 am
There is no primordial state.
Hi Malcolm, unless you are referring to emptiness, then I don't understand what you mean. Throughout The Supreme Source by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu the Base is continually referred to as "the primordial state" (for example, on page 85). Would you mind clarifying?
"Primordial state" is how ChNN translates the term "gzhi." "Gzhi" simply refer to something we have not realized. If there is some real primordial state, then how does it exist, in whom does it exist, and in what way does it exist, without falling into the four extremes. If it does not exist by way of any of the four extremes, for what reason then it is a fault to say there is no basis? Actually, the assertion that there is no basis is precisely the meaning of Dzogchen, Mahāmudra, and Prajñāpāramitā.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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