Thank you Barney for your summing the thread up so excellent. I don't agree with that the examination so far has been thorough enough to conclude that the root are different (I will gladly find more precise quotes about what he says about the root in other books, if you are curious about them). I also disagree about what you say that the later books just are saying the same, true the essence is the same (but have we really examined what Jes Bertelsen in essence is saying, and how is that done?) but the way it is presented is different and more elaborated eg. the terminology from Dzogchen is much more present - so it is meant for another type of readers, and I find that is a significant difference.
For sure these levels have nothing to do with Dzogchen. Also in my experience there is no levels of direct introduction, either you get it or not. This recognition of the natural state can be very short or longer but the most probable long experience is the three experiences of non-thought, clarity and bliss. I think, from my own experience, there is a big possibility to mix things up there. Also, after getting direct introduction it is quite possible to feel like you loose it completely. This is why we need a qualified Guru and continuous teachings from him/her.
Thank you for your reply Magnus. I find this very interesting.
I think I have misquoted Jes Bertelsen about the pointing out and the levels of direct introduction.
Jes Bertelsen distinguishes between at least two different levels of teaching within his students. He usually
doesn't give dzogchen teachings and associated pointing outs before you have had a deep intensive continuous meditation practice for many years and have done longer retreats, but it is somewhat unclear to me what the actual criteria are before you receive this deeper training. In the training level before, which I know of and have attended the last eight years, he teaches a kind of preliminary pointing out in which he points out that which he calls bidirectional consciousness (Erik Pema Kunsang actually has a comment in the notes (nr. 16) on this preliminary way in the book called 'Bevidstheden inderste - Dzogchen' by Jes Bertelsen) and this is combined with a basic preliminary training in meditation somewhat similar to shamatha, cultivation of heart feelings, existential attitudes, energy exercises, body and breathing awareness.
The preliminary bidirectional pointing outs (if you can call it that) is a way where he points the students towards how to examine nonverbally a looking/feeling towards the source of the mind, and from that attitude and arrangement the student is just resting in or listening towards wakefulness itself.
Bidirectional consciousness means that consciousness remembers itself, remembers the thinker while observing a thought, remembers the observer during the observation. Bidirectional consciousness means being open to the source of consciousness, aware of both magnetic poles in the field of subject-object experience.
Bertelsen, Jes (2013-06-04). Essence of Mind: An Approach to Dzogchen (p. 10).
In time, the mirroring observation that does not say yes or no spontaneously expands into a state of nondiscriminating awareness. Bidirectional consciousness gradually becomes clearer and clearer. One direction is the ordinary form and direction of consciousness: judging, focusing, being active and verbal. The other direction is toward the naked essence of consciousness. Bidirectional consciousness is a way to describe this openness.
Bertelsen, Jes (2013-06-04). Essence of Mind: An Approach to Dzogchen (pp. 15-16).
You might get the impression that this is a model with two poles or two directions, one pointing into the world (judgment , focusing, activity, language— samsara) and one pointing away from the world toward the divine (neutral observation , defocusing, etc.— nirvana). However, this is not the idea. That kind of polar, dualistic model would be a classic example of a prioritized and focused use of ordinary consciousness.
Transcendence— the realization of naked awareness— is equidistant from both poles. Put differently: the two descriptive columns are equally valid expressions of naked nondual consciousness. Just as the ocean is not more oceanlike in the waves than it is in a calm surface, so essential consciousness is not closer to neutral observation or bidirectional consciousness than to the focused and choosing consciousness. However, it is usually not possible for us human beings to realize nondual consciousness, just like that, directly from and with the focused, choosing, active, verbal consciousness. Only the slow process of many years of wordless prayer and meditative deepening at different levels creates the practical reality for this realization to bloom and mature. The divine presence is no closer in the quiet bidirectional consciousness than in the busy focused consciousness . But it is extremely unlikely that the busy, focused, and restless consciousness can awaken. On the other hand, it is much more likely that the quiet, well -trained, and open consciousness, with a crucial bit of help from on high, can awaken to a nondual realization. The cosmos, so to speak, cannot get through to the busy, active consciousness.
Bertelsen, Jes (2013-06-04). Essence of Mind: An Approach to Dzogchen (pp. 17-18).
The idea, as I understand it, is that bidirectional consciousness opens up a towards a more calm, balanced, wider and deeper state of mind and where recognition of the natural state is more likely to happen at first. But Jes Bertelsen distinguishes this bidirectional instruction from the instruction where there is established a true recognition of the natural state. So I think it is mainly in the bidirectional 'pointing out' instructions that Jes Bertelsen finds it relevant to distinguish between levels of insight. Jes Bertelsen agrees with that regards to Rigpa you either 'get it' or you don't. And when there has been a true recognition of the natural state, from then the training are more directed towards increasing frequency, stabilization and recognizing this natural state in all kind of different moments in life (I have quotations about this further down).
This discussion about levels or nor reminds me of the distinction between the relative and the absolute perspective. From a analytical perspective it seems natural, at least for me and my studies so far, that before you actually 'get it' some kind of 'purifying'-process often happens which often deepens a intuitive understanding that the dualistic mindset is wrong (or incomplete), and this intuition or purification makes the mind more transparent, receptive and soft for its capacity of recognizing its natural state.
If there are no similar distinction like the described levels at all in Dzogchen and its preliminaries, or in the general Buddhadharma, then it is truly in deep conflict with Jes Bertelsens teachingperspective. But I thought the perspective in the Dharma on development and completion stages was about this specific matter, and that there were the levels that are relevant in the development stage with the preliminary practice like ngondro but not in the completion stage - but this my own reflections and ways of trying to loosely translate into matters where my knowledge still is sparse.
The spiritual (the three inner levels of consciousness) is more an attitude than it is any particular content. There are no experiences that are inherently spiritual, whether they are transpersonal experiences or visions of different kinds. It is more one’s attitude to such experiences, and toward the events of everyday life, that may be understood as spiritual. But it would probably be even more precise to say that spirit, understood as the higher consciousness that is hidden by ordinary consciousness, is a kind of perspective or a way of looking.
Bertelsen, Jes (2013-06-04). Essence of Mind: An Approach to Dzogchen (p. 64).
Let’s imagine that consciousness and the mind is a vast and complex labyrinth. There are thousands of rooms... Every door leads to a new modification of consciousness : astral dimensions, trance states, hypnotic states, experiences of flowing vivacity and radiant energy; every variation of every kind of experience can be found in this vast labyrinth of the mind of life. Let us assume that only one door— and by the way, it is a completely anonymous door— opens entirely out of the labyrinth and into transdual unity consciousness. This ultimate door to freedom is always open just a crack, but it doesn’t look like much, next to all the golden and aesthetically harmonious and beautiful doors around it.
That very moment, when an individual is standing right in front of the open door of freedom, that moment is the first initiation. Light is pouring in through the door, numinosity, love. It is this sparkle of luminosity from the opening to freedom’s infinity that gives the teacher the pulsating energy aura of organized bands of color and insight. And it is the condition of eternity focused in the door opening that gives consciousness the sense that there is a teacher present. Which at this level is quite true. After a while, the door again closes almost all the way. And the individual then spends years in further integration and training, wordless prayer and meditation, to assimilate spirituality in his or her existential process of transformation.
And suddenly, one day, for a brief moment the door is open again, and the individual is right in front of it, on that elastic spot where the leap can happen. For a split second consciousness is outside, is free. The next split second, the person is inside again, in the dualistic labyrinth, but then once again the door is just barely open and the moment is gone. In this second initiation, the individual has not yet gained control over the exit. Everything went so fast that consciousness did not have time to orient itself and register what was going on, and how it happened. But the perspective inside the life-labyrinth has changed. ...
In the third initiation, our person has once again been transported outside. But this time, metaphorically speaking, it is happening in slow motion. Consciousness is now able to follow the unfolding of events; it discovers exactly how it is positioned and oriented on the elastic spot in front of the humble door. Consciousness observes what it is that makes the door open ... And the movement itself, through the door and out into freedom, happens with so much awareness that this path and this mechanism from now on become conscious and volitional. After a while, consciousness is back again in the duality of the labyrinth of life. But from now on the individual can initiate this movement by himself and on his own...
The strange door in this metaphor has the special property that inside it, the difference between being inside and outside is unimaginably vast. But outside the humble door there is simply no difference between outside and inside.
This is the point and the event that signify the beginning of the process of enlightenment. After this event, the individual first practices bringing his or her consciousness— in glimpses and moments, anywhere and everywhere— to transduality. After a while, consciousness begins to feel familiar with this process. And the individual slowly discovers that the nondual glimpses lengthen and become transdual states. Usually, this process takes years. In time, consciousness becomes able to rest stably in its own essence. This stabilization, too, takes years and years of practice and existential transformation.
The method of training here is quite simple: it consists of being still, of doing nothing and leaving all processes and all things to themselves.
In the enlightenment process itself, there are only two motives. One stems from the spontaneous compassion with those living beings that have not yet discovered their divine essence. This motive results in a spontaneous learning process, with the goal of helping others acquire insight into transdual consciousness. And insight of this nature can only be transmitted in a context of kindness and love. The second motive in the enlightenment process is the spontaneous urge, again and again, to let consciousness rest in its source.
Bertelsen, Jes (2013-06-04). Essence of Mind: An Approach to Dzogchen (p. 54-57).