Dark retreat as Bardo preparation

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kalden yungdrung
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Dark retreat as Bardo preparation

Post by kalden yungdrung » Wed Dec 30, 2015 1:26 am

Tashi delek DW memebers,

Below a nice explanation of the Bardo done by John Reynolds / Vajranatha.
For me was it until now a very short and to the point explanation of the Bardo of dying in relation to the daylight visions and night visions ( 4 and 5 lamps).



By: John Reynolds / Vajranatha.

Dark retreat as preparation for the Bardo of dying

Bardo 00.jpg
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--- Bardo of the Peaceful & Wrathful Deities ---


Why does one spend seven weeks for 49 days in a retreat in total darkness?

Just as does dream practice, vision practice in the dark retreat serves as a preparation for the Bardo experience after death.

Just as one experiences sensory deprivation in the dark retreat and during sleep, even though one remains encased within the physical body, when the senses are withdrawn from their external objects and the Manas or discursive mind (yid) ceases temporarily to function in its normal fashion, the contents of the unconscious psyche rise to consciousness as visions.

This occurs in dreams and it occurs also after death in the Bardo of Existence.

But these visions are karmic and do not represent enlightened awareness.

During the process of dying, known as the Chikhai Bardo, when the external breathing has ceased and one is pronounced dead, one's Namshe or consciousness (rnam-shes) finds itself deprived of the physical body. Nevertheless, consciousness continues and this consciousness finds itself in a subtle or mind-made body where the mind and the senses are still operative.

For some days the deceased consciousness sees and knows what is going on around it and what is being done to its corpse. But after 3 or 4 days when the internal breathing ceases, that is to say, the circulation of psychic energy, then the subtle body that is the vehicle for consciousness, as well as the personality begin to disintegrate.

Then the 2nd death approaches, the moment of true psychic death or dissolution of consciousness. One experiences the white dawn and the red dawn and finally the moment of eclipse or total black-out when dualistic consciousness is dissolved and extinguished. Then there subsists only the state of Shunyata.

This is called the Bardo of Emptiness and it represents the culmination of the process of dying.

At this moment, one experiences a total sensory deprivation because neither the senses nor the mind are functioning. One finds oneself in a condition of total and complete nakedness with neither a mind nor a body. One is simply suspended in space. One is simply Shunyata itself. All the clouds have vanished from the sky.

This allows the space and the clarity for the manifestation of one's own Buddha nature, one's Nature of Mind. What manifests in this state of Shunyata is the Clear Light. This is like seeing one's face in the mirror.

This Clear Light is one's own intrinsic awareness or Rigpa, the inherent quality of the Natural State of the Nature of Mind.

Just at this moment, the border or boundary (so-mtshams) between dying and the onset of the Bardo experience, the moment when the Clear Light manifests in emptiness, one has the maximal opportunity to attain enlightenment and liberation from Samsara.

- If one recognizes the Clear Light and understands that it is the manifestation of one's own Nature of Mind, one becomes liberated.
- If not, then a spontaneously born ignorance arises which is dualistic in its operation, giving rise to the dichotomy of subject and object.

One does not intuitively understand that this Clear Light is oneself, but one comes to feel it is something out there in space separate from oneself.

Then the mind comes once more into operation at a subtle level and the archetypal images of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities spontaneously manifest within the chaos of colors forming in this Clear Light.

Still, if one has done meditation practice as preparation during one's previous lifetime, one will have the opportunity to recognize these pure visions as manifestations of one's Nature of Mind.

And one can liberated at this point. If not, these images become more active and energetic and appear as the Wrathful Deities.

Still, even at this time, one may recognize their nature and liberate. But if the individual has not been prepared by previous meditation practice, these visions in the Clear Light flash by in less than an instant, like a flash of lightening seen on the distant horizon in the middle of the night.

The Clear Light having faded, the gross discursive mind comes back into operation and memories re-awaken. One finds oneself again inhabiting a mind-made body in which the subtle senses are fully operational.

But instead of finding oneself in the material conditions that once surrounded one's corpse, one discovers oneself wandering in a visionary symbolic landscape where one's own past karma rises up before one in visual manifestations like dreams.

Having departed from the Bardo of the Clear Light of Reality, one finds oneself in the Bardo of Existence. Lacking understanding and the presence of awareness, one becomes distracted by these visions, thinking them to be real, and one wanders lost in this expanding holographic landscape.

This landscape develops, proliferates, and transforms as one's memories and karmic traces germinate and re-awaken. Literally one becomes lost in a labyrinth of the visions of one's own karma. And then propelled by the winds of karma, like a dried leaf blown about in the empty streets by the autumn winds, one is driven relentlessly toward a new rebirth within Samsara.
The best meditation is no meditation

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kalden yungdrung
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Re: Dark retreat as Bardo preparation

Post by kalden yungdrung » Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:29 am


John explains a little about dark retreat done / praticed in the ZZNG Bön Dzogchen Tradition.


PART ONE: Beginning the Dark Retreat

The Practice of the Dark Retreat

According to Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, there exist 2 principal reasons for making a dark retreat (mun-mtshams).

- The first is to stabilize being in the Natural State
- The second is to develop visions.

That is to say, there is one kind of dark retreat that is meant for Trekchöd (khregs-chod) alone, the practice of contemplation, and the second for Thödgal practice (thod-rgal) that entails the development of vision.

A retreat for this first purpose may be of any length of time, but, in terms of the 2nd purpose, the shortest retreat is traditionally 49 days.

The dark retreat may also serve as a preparation for the Bardo or after-death experience and the Bardo is said to endure similarly for 49 days.

The Dzogchen cycle of the bsGrags-pa skor gsum also has a 49 day dark retreat, and in addition, one for 7 years.

The dark retreat described by Shardza Rinpoche in his sKu-gsum rang-shar is elaborated according to the system of the bsGrags-pa skor gsum.

However, here we are exclusively concerned with the dark retreat connected with the Zhang-zhung Nyan-gyud cycle of practice.

Again, according to the Lopon, the present text is anonymous and was added as an appendix to the basic text of the rGyal-ba phyag-khrid of Druchen Gyalwa Yungdrung (Bru-chen rGyal-ba g.yung-drung, 12th cen.) probably sometime afterwards.

Nevertheless, it represents his oral teaching on the matter, even though it was written down later. One may note that the term phyag-khrid itself means an explanation that derives from the personal experience of an accomplished master.

The dark retreat we have here is compared to a limb growing out from the trunk of the Zhang-zhung snyan-rgyud and the author furthermore informs us that it is especially connected with the gZer-bu nyi-shu rtsa gcig, or "21 Little Nails," the root text of the 4th section of this cycle, the teachings that are exceedingly secret (yang gsang).

This cycle pertains to the fruits of the practice of Thödgal. Although this term Thödgal is not found in the texts of this cycle, the practice is described in some detail where it is called 'öd-gsal or the practice of the Clear Light.

In terms of vision practice, there are 3 systems or methodologies where the practitioner gazes either into sunlight, or into empty space, or into total darkness. The sunlight, the empty space, or the total darkness are merely secondary causes serving as supports (rten) for the manifesting of the Thodgal visions. The visions themselves arise from out of the pure potentiality of the Natural State of the Nature of Mind of the individual.

Traditionally, these teachings regarding Thödgal practice in both the Bönpo and the Nyingmapa schools have been kept strictly secret.

However, the guardian deity Sidpa Gyalmo (Srid-pa'i rgyal-mo) appeared in a vision to the former abbot, Yongdzin Sangye Tenzin, of the Bönpo monastery at Dolanji in India and prophesied that if the Dzogchen teachings were not given out to those who are sincerely interested, they would be entirely lost within a generation.

It is, therefore, with the specific permission of the Goddess and under her patronage that the Dzogchen teachings from Zhang-zhung are now disseminated to a wider audience than was the case in the past.

The Title of the Text:

In the title, rDzogs-pa chen-po zhang-zhung snyan-rgyud refers to the cycle of teachings, namely, "the Dzogchen teachings from the Oral Transmission of Zhang-zhung." Single transmission (gcig rgyud) indicates that originally a master transmitted the Dzogchen precepts to a single disciple only, although this procedure is no longer the case.

'Öd-gsal bdun bskor is the actual title of the text. Clear Light ('od-gsal) refers to Thödgal or vision practice, in this case within a dark retreat, and the 7-fold cycle (bdun bskor) refers to the cycle of 7 weeks spent in total darkness, each week having its own special preliminary purification practice. The principal practice, however is that of the Clear Light or Thödgal vision practice while remaining in the state of contemplation or Trekchöd.
The best meditation is no meditation

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