It is empty yet appearing. That is why it is said that emptiness is inseparable from appearance, from luminosity itself. The term oreat symbol is also used, but "symbol" is not meant in the conventional sense of something that stands for or suggests something else; instead, it is the thing itself-the real thing, the actual stuff. For example, we could say that spaghetti is the symbol of Italian food. However, when we eat spaghetti we are not eating a symbol.
We are eating actual Italian food. In a similar way, the "great symbol" is not like a picture that represents a real place somewhere else. The great symbol is the great nature of true reality. It is the actual taste of the true nature of inseparable emptiness-luminosity. Maitripa, a great Indian mahasiddha and one of the forefathers of the Kagyu lineage, explains the definition of Mahamudra in this way: Mahamudra is nondual awareness that transcends intellect; it is nonconceptual and lucid, like all-pervading space.
Though Mahamudra: The Great Seal 23 manifesting boundless compassion, it is devoid of self-nature. It is like the reflection of the moon on the lake's surface. It is lucid and undefinable, without center or circumference, unstained, undefiled, and free from fear and desire. Like the dream of a mute, it is inexpressible.
This school refers to those traditions that developed in Tibet during the second spreading of the Buddhist doctrine, beginning in the eleventh century. The Old Translation school refers to the Nyingma lineage. The fundamental elements of Mahamudra are presented in the Mahayana journey in the teachings on transcendental wisdom or knowledge called prajnaparamita.
The tantras refer to the scriptures or teachings of the Buddha that form the basis of the Mantrayana. Shastras are commentaries or philosophical treatises that elucidate the Buddha's teachings. From the Mahamudra point of view, the guru plays a very important role because no matter how well, how directly, and how perfectly Shakyamuni Buddha transmitted the Mahamudra teachings, we are not able to be in his presence now.
However, we are able to be in the presence of our gurus, and it is only through their blessings that we are able to directly receive, connect with, and realize this heart of Mahamudra. In the Mahamudra tradition it is said that the compassion of the guru and buddhas is equal-there is no difference in their compassion. Thus, the key to Maharnudra experience or realization is our devotion to the guru and the lineage.
Without devotion, there is no adhishthana, or blessing transmission. Without adhishthana, there is no way for us to realize the true nature of mind. In one of the songs of realization, it is said that devotion is like the sun shining on a snow mountain. This mountain is like the guru. If the sun of devotion does not shine on the glacier mountain of the four kayas of the guru, then the river flow of blessings will not descend.
This metaphor shows us whether or not we will be able to receive the transmission of Mahamudra. The more intensely the sun of devotion shines, the more strongly the stream of blessings will flow. If it is too cold, or too cloudy, or if no sun is shining, then the glacier mountain remains frozen. It is always beautiful, it is always pure, but the stream does not come down from that mountain. Therefore, generating devotion is very important if we are to receive these blessings.
It is important to pay close attention to our mind of devotion. Because devotion to the guru, to the lineage, and to the teachings of Mahamudra is so strongly emphasized, the path of Mahamudra is frequently known as the path of devotion. Devotion is experience and devotion is fruition. Whenever we experience genuine devotion, we experience Mahamudra mind; and whenever we realize the depth of devotion, we realize the true state of Maharnudra mind. Devotion is not simply blind faith; rather, the experience or taste of devotion is an experience of the naked reality of our mind, especially of our emotions.
Devotion comes from trust and from surrendering ourselves. Such surrender and trust come from confidence, which comes from knowledge. Therefore, this devotion is deeply rooted in wisdom and knowledge. Passionate Devotion: WorkinB with Emotions The experience of devotion is extremely personal in terms of its degree and its way and power of manifestation. Devotion is something that we need to connect with naturally, without preconceptions.
For Mahamudra: The Great Seal 2 s example, we do not need to sit down for an hour in order to try to figure out how or what it should be, or toward which object it should arise. Devotion has to arise naturally with the help of the lineage and with the help of our emotions. The power of a genuine experience of devotion is utterly beyond concept. When we fully experience devotion, it transcends all conceptuality. When we fully experience devotion, it helps us to transcend emotions, even though it arises from or is based on emotions.
As with every aspect of the path, devotion does not arise naturally or easily for everybody, nor is it something that is necessarily constant. It is similar to our experience of meditation practice. Every time we sit and meditate, it is different. Sometimes our practice is deep and calm. At other times we might feel as though we have never sat on a cushion before. We might feel that we have lost everything, including all qualities of calmness.
The same is true for devotion, except that it fluctuates even more. Ultimately speaking, devotion is not directed outside our mind. We direct devotion toward "ordinary mind," which is the Mahamudra mind, and to the genuine heart of enlightenment that is within us and within our emotions. We direct devotion to the mind of enlightenment that is right within our fear and hope. There is no Mahamudra mind outside these experiences.
Devotion involves working with our emotions very directly. In fact, the two are closely tied together. Within devotion, we can find elements of all our emotions. There are elements of passion. There are surely elements of jealousy, and there are elements of aggression and pride as well. While there are elements of every emotion within devotion, the strongest is passion, followed closely by jealousy. It is important for us to process these emotions rather than deny them. We need to see them clearly while also trying to remember the kindness, wisdom, prajna, and skillful means that we have received from our guru and the lineage.
We should continue to try to develop our devotion further, no matter how much or what kind of emotion arises. For example, in a class, there are many students but only one teacher. When the teacher acknowledges another student, you might feel, "Oh, my colleague is doing better than I am. He smiled at the other guy over there. Did I do something wrong? We might not be totally crazy with jealousy, but there is sometimes a sense of feeling incompetent or unworthy.
This also arises from making comparisons. For example, you might compare yourself with other students and think, "Oh, I'm not worthy. They can do things better than I can. Having some sense of openness, willingness, and courage to work with such emotions when they arise becomes a powerful way to realize and experience true devotion. Sometimes it is necessary to recognize the helpful nature of our emotions and to acknowledge their power and potential to be of benefit to us.
It is not fair to accuse and blame our emotions all the time. Oriainal Devotion Trust in our own enlightened heart can be reinforced through trusting the heart of the guru. We call this "merging our mind with the mind of the guru" or "mixing our heart with the heart of the guru. Gradually, however, it does become effortless.
Sometimes when we focus totally and one-pointedly on the guru's mind, we have the experience of merging-the experience of being one person. What happens in the next moment? We might feel claustrophobic and run out of the room. Try to generate devotion-in any amount, in any style, in any Mahamudra: The Great Seal 27 way you can. You can cultivate devotion in your own way. Do not worry about how someone else does it. If you simply mimic others because you think that devotion should be uniform, then that will not be genuine.
Do not be afraid to express devotion in your own way, whether it is a Tibetan way, an American way, a European way, an Asian way, a Russian way, or any other way. It does not matter. Pure devotion does not have any standardized form or mold to fill. If there were a standard form for devotion, then teachers would have handed it out a long time ago, but there is no checklist or fill-in-the-blanks for devotion. Every individual way of expressing dev. Then there will be a real sense of connecting with your heart-not in exactly the same way that someone else's heart is connecting, but in a way that you can feel your OWQ.
That is the most important part of our whole journey. The Mahamudra path is very different from the HinayanaMahayana journey in this respect. In the Hinayana-Mahayana journey, there are standard forms. There are checklists. If you are taking monastic ordination or bodhisattva vows, there is a checklist for what you can and cannot do. There is a standard way to conduct yourself on that path. However, on the Mahamudra path, it is very individualized, and that is why your own personal connection with the lineage becomes so powerful and important.
It has been taught that if someone brings to the practice of Mahamudra the tendency to take great pride in not relying on the spiritual guidance of the guru or in not following the guru's meditation instructions, then such a person might fall into the animal realm. In other words, their practice might lead them into a realm of stupidity, a state of completely spaced-out consciousness. Devotion is not optional. Mahamudra can be realized only through the path of devotion. This emphasis is reflected in the literal meaning of the name "Kagyu.
Ka carries the sense of the enlightened meaning conveyed by the words of the teacher, as well as the force with which such words of insight are conveyed. According to Buddhist cosmology, he was the fourth historic Buddha of this fortunate aeon. Prince Siddhartha's achievement of enlightenment-the realization itself-is called the dharmakaya, or the body of truth. When that realization is expressed through subtle symbols, it is called the sambhoaakaya, or the body of enjoyment.
The physical form of Shakyamuni Buddha, which is the historical manifestation of such realization in a form more accessible to sentient beings, is called the nirmanakaya, or the body of manifestation. The Mahamudra lineage traces its origin back to Shakyamuni Buddha through Marpa Chokyi Lodro, the great translator and realized yogi who brought the unbroken lineage of Buddha's Mahamudra from India to Tibet.
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At the age of fifteen, Marpa first trained as a translator under Drogmi Shakya Yeshe and later traveled three times to India and four times to Nepal in search of Buddhist teachings. Marpa is said to have studied with 1 o8 masters and yogis, but his principal teachers were Naropa and Maitripa.
Marpa then transmitted the lineage to his heart son, the famous yogi Milarepa. The great master Gampopa, who is also known as Dakpo Lhaje, and Rechungpa were the principal students of Milarepa. Gampopa was prophesied in the sutras by the Buddha and established the framework of the lineage by unifying Milarepa's Mahamudra lineage with the Mahamudra:The Great Seal 29 stages-of-the-path tradition of the Kadampa lineage. The resulting unique tradition, known as the Dakpo Kagyu, was critical to the unfolding of the Kagyu lineage. Gampopa transmitted this lineage to his three heart sons, one of whom was the First Karmapa, Diisum Khyenpa.
In the Kagyu lineage supplication, the line "knower of the three times, omniscient Karmapa" is a reference to the First Karmapa. It has passed continuously in this way to the present incarnation, who is the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the youngest living Mahamudra lineage holder. The continuity of this lineage transmission is known as the golden rosary. In general, there are two main lineages of Mahamudra, which are known as the direct and the indirect lineages.
The original source of the transmission of the direct lineage is the BuddhaVajradhara, while the original source of the transmission of the indirect lineage is Shakyamuni Buddha. The Direct Lineaae The original source of the teachings for the special transmission of the direct lineage is Vajradhara, who is the primordial, or dharmakaya, buddha. Vajradhara expresses the quintessence ofbuddhahood itself, the essence of the historical Buddha's realization of enlightenment.
The skylike dharmakaya nature ofVajradhara is depicted in paintings by his dark blue color. Vajradhara is central to the Kagyu lineage because Tilopa received the Vajrayana teachings directly from Vajradhara, who is synonymous with the dharmakaya, the source of all manifestations of enlightenment.
Thus, the Kagyu lineage originated from the very nature of buddhahood. Tilopa acknowledged the origin of this Mahamudra lineage in his songs. He sang, "I, the yogi Tilopa, do not have any human teacher; I do not have any human master to follow. My teacher, my guru, is the great Vajradhara, the dharmakaya nature ofVajradhara. Tilopa originally inherited four main streams of wisdom that were transmitted by Indian mahasiddhas such as Saraha, Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Chandrakirti, and Matangi.
Tilopa then condensed these four special transmission lineages into one and transmitted it to Naropa. This stream then passed from teacher to disciple: from Naropa to Marpa, Marpa to Milarepa, and then Milarepa to Gampopa. However, Gampopa received the transmissions of two different Indian lineages.
One was the tantric lineage, which came from Tilopa to Naropa to Marpa and then to Milarepa. That tradition conveys a very strong Vajrayana element. Gampopa also received the full transmission of the Indian master Atisha, which is known as the Kadampa lineage. Atisha was trained at Nalanda University and became a great Buddhist master. He also served as the discipline master at Nalanda University. During the time of Marpa, he came to Tibet and transmitted many Sutrayana teachings. He was responsible for the transmission of both the philosophical and the practice traditions of the Prajnaparamita teachings.
Thus, Atisha's lineage was based primarily on the sutras, although he also transmitted some tantric and Mahamudra practices. Therefore, when the Mahamudra lineage came to Gampopa, it was a rich mixture of the tantra and sutra traditions. Gampopa presented the Mahamudra lineage by teaching three different methods of practicing Mahamudra. Sutra Mahamudra is Mahamudra: The Great Seal 31 primarily based on the sutra teachings, and Mantra Mahamudra is primarily based on the mantra teachings. Essence Mahamudra draws from both sutra and mantra, but is traditionally distinguished as the devotional path based on blessings.
Sutra Mahamudra: The Secret Road in the City The general teachings of Mahamudra were presented by Lord Buddha and his followers in such sutras as the Prajnaparamita sutras or the discourses on transcendental knowledge. These sutras teach primarily "the great emptiness. That sutra, along with the whole collection of Prajnaparamita teachings, is one of the bases for Sutra Mahamudra.
The teachings on buddha nature are the other basis for Sutra Mahamudra. That wakefulness is what we call buddhahood, or enlightenment. Furthermore, that enlightenment is the nature of all sentient beings. This essence of enlightenment is what we call buddha nature or tathaaataoarbha in Sanskrit. These two streams of teachings form the basis for the sutra aspect of Mahamudra. The practice of Sutra Mahamudra essentially involves the study and contemplation of these sutras, followed by meditation. We contemplate the teachings on emptiness, or shunyata, as well as the teachings on buddha nature, which is our fundamental wakefulness.
Through this process, we discover our own heart of enlightenment. We discover that enlightenment is nothing external to us but is found within this very mind-within our emotions, thoughts, and perceptions. It is within these experiences that we see the basic state of enlightenment. The meditation of Sutra Mahamudra essentially consists of resting one's mind, free of mental activity, in the state of nonconceptual wisdom. This resting is essentially a nonconceptual wisdom beyond all elaboration, or the unity of clarity and emptiness. In this context, one meditates in the following way: The object of one's meditation is luminosity free of any projections; the perceiving subject is the lack of mental engagement; and one meditates without mental engagement.
There are many extensive explanations on meditating without mental engagement, found primarily in the teachings of Maitripa and Sahajavajra. The Sutrayana approach to Mahamudra is seen as a very profound method because it does not require any of the sophisticated and complex tantric rituals, deity yoga visualization practices, or samayas. This particular approach is also known as a secret passage. It can be compared to a secret street within a citya route that has not been widely discovered.
Although it is right in the heart of the city, very few people know about this secret street. What is the difference between this street. This street is a shortcut, without traffic or traffic lights, and it is a direct route. This street is right within this very city, and it will take you straight to your destination without any delays. Thus, in order to find this path, you do not have to go far. The direct and profound methods of Sutrayana Mahamudra are found right within the sutra approach, right within the ordinary and simple path of spiritual practice.
Through this path, we can attain complete buddhahood by traversing the five paths and ten bhumis. The difference between Sutra Mahamudra and other sutra approaches, such as the general Hinayana and Mahayana paths, is that Sutra Mahamudra has a tradition of skillful means that contains profound methods of directly pointing out the selfless and luminous nature of mind. There is a direct method of pointing out, which usually does not exist in other sutra approaches. The skillful methods of pointing out the nature of mind used in Sutra Mahamudra are imported, in a sense, from the Vajrayana tradition.
Therefore, the essence of Sutra Mahamu- Mahamudra: The Great Seal 33 dra is usually described as being prajnaparamita, or the transcendental wisdom of emptiness, with a touch of the Vajrayana. Finally, it is called Mahamudra, the great seal, because by using the very words and teachings of the sutras, it brings the realization ofMahamudra. The Sutra Mahamudra approach is seen as a specialty of the Kagyu tradition and was the central emphasis of Gampopa's teachings. Therefore, although it originated in India and was also taught by Marpa and Milarepa, Gampopa is regarded as the main figure responsible for bringing this teaching to its full development and manifestation.
Yosa tantras and in the instructions of those tantras. These tantras are transmitted through the four principal abhishekas, or empowerments. When Mahamudra is introduced as the naked, natural state through the use of Vajrayana methods, this is called Mantra Mahamudra.
A special feature of the Vajrayana path is the variety and. This diversity of methods is not emphasized in the Sutra Mahamudra approach, in which there is just one simple pointing-out method for experiencing Mahamudra. In Mantra Mahamudra, there are many means of pointing out mind's nature, such as the process of the four abhishekas. When we go through the initiation process of an abhisheka, we are empowered to practice the mandala of a particular deity, which symbolizes the nature of mind.
This is the traditional way in which a student is introduced to the nature of mind. The images of deities represented in paintings and sculptures are actually reflections, mirror images, of the nature of our own mind. For example, in order to see your own face, you have to rely upon a mirror. When you see your reflection, you can say, "Oh, yes, my face has such and such features," and you can recognize whether your face is clean or dirty.
Similarly, the pure and impure aspects of mind are reflected in these symbolic images of a deity. Thus, through deity yoga practice, Mantra Mahamudra reflects to us the nature of mind. The Mantra Mahamudra deity practice is very profound; at the same time, it is quite easy to misunderstand the images and to misinterpret the deity as an external entity. The practice of the Vajrayana path requires a very strong understanding, and the source of that understanding is the instructions of the lineage and the Vajrayana tantras. When we study the instructions and receive the transmission, our understanding becomes clear.
Through this clear understanding, we are able to genuinely relate to Vajrayana deity practice. This empowerment is regarded as the descent of the actual realization of the root and lineage gurus upon or into a student. Through the descent of the blessings of this vajra wisdom, thamal gyi s.
As a result, the student experiences what is called simultaneous realization and liberation. On this path, there is no need for either the elaborate methods of Mantra Mahamudra or the gradual training of Sutra Mahamudra. In Sutra Mahamudra, there are still some forms; for example, the practices of shamatha and vipashyana meditation, as well as the practices of Mahamudra: The Great Seal 3S bodhichitta, are retained. There is also a great deal of formal study. In Mantrayana Mahamudra, there is also a certain formality of method that can be seen in the reliance upon ceremony and ritual; for example, there are extensive liturgies, visualizations, and mantra recitations.
Thus, in this sense, Vajrayana Mahamudra is also a very formal way of introducing the nature of mind. In contrast, the Essence Mahamudra path is totally formless. The transmission happens instantaneously. Essence Mahamudra is nothing more than one's naked, ordinary mind resting in the unfabricated state. In the Essence Mahamudra tradition, all conceptual clinging, such as clinging to ideas of sacred and profane or of virtuous and unvirtuous, is cut through, and we work directly with the experience of mind and its nature.
This kind of pointing-out instruction is very genuine. It is not something that we can mimic or repeat. We cannot "try it out" one time and say, "That was just a rehearsal. It did not work out, so okay, let's do the same thing again. In the tradition of this lineage, we get one direct and naked pointing out, which has an effect. Throughout the history of Essence Mahamudra, pointing out has always happened in a simple, ordinary way. This type of pointing out typifies the Essence Mahamudra approach, where we are working directly with our experiences of ordinary, worldly life, as well as our experience of the nature of mind.
Then we will be ready to look more closely at the details of the three modes of Sutra, Mantra, and Essence Mahamudra. Ground, Path, and Fruition The Mahamudra journey is usually viewed from the perspective of ground, path, and fruition. At this stage, we are introduced to the fundamental nature of reality, the basic state of our mind and of the phenomenal world. We develop a clear intellectual understanding of the view of emptiness and of the nature of mind through our study, contemplation, and meditation practices. When we are ready to give rise to the actual experience of Mahamudra meditation, we enter the stage of path Mahamudra by first engaging in the preliminary practices and then receiving the pointingout instructions from our guru, which prepare us to engage in the corresponding meditation practices.
Subsequently, we develop our practice more fully through what are known as enhancement practices. The fruition stage is the completion of our journey. Thus, whether our Mahamudra journey follows the methods of Sutra, Mantra, or Essence Mahamudra, we relate to the progressive stages of ground, path, and fruition. This is true even though the Mahamudra teachings speak about "sudden awakening. These teachings are typically distinguished from the Vajrayana Buddhist teachings, yet Gampopa describes the Mahamudra of the Sutrayana tradition as being consistent with the Vajrayana teachings.
Therefore, we might well ask what it means to say that Sutra Mahamudra is consistent with the techniques ofVajrayana.
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It is important to see that Sutra Mahamudra does not consist only of the teachings on emptiness yoga; it is not simply a philosophical or intellectual approach to understanding emptiness. Sutra Mahamudra introduces a certain method of"clicking," which comes from the Vajrayana tradition. When the "click" occurs, there is a strong sense of force-a sense of something happening suddenly. When the extensive teachings on emptiness are connected to this Vajrayana notion of clicking, they become much more powerful and our journey progresses much more quickly.
This clicking is strongly connected to or Mahamudra:The Great Seal 37 dependent upon our devotion to the teacher, to the teachings, and to the power of the blessings of the lineage. We suddenly click into a certain state of awakening. We are talking about two states of mind here: asleep and awake. When you are sleeping, you have the potential of being awakened-of being an awake person. You always have that potential, and from the point of view of potential, there is no difference between you lying there asleep and the awake person who is watching you sleep like a log.
At the same time, there is a communication taking place between the sleeping mind and the awakened mind. For example, the fully awakened mind of Vajradhara communicated with Tilopa, who was possibly half-awake at a certain point. Then the clicking happened between them, and Tilopa was fully awakened by Vajradhara's teaching. In one sense, we could see this click as the result of something coming from the outside. Because we experience the world dualistically, we cling to the notion of receiving something from outside ourselves. However, whatever we "receive" is not something foreign to the essence of our minds.
It is already there in the same way that the potential for being awake is present in our minds while we are in a state of sleep. In order to wake up, we need only this clicking; it does not matter whether we use an alarm clock to click into the awakened state or another technique, such as a bucket of water, which is much more powerful.
However, since we are following a progressive path, if we attempt to use the clicking method to jump into the state of awakening at the beginning of our journey, we might experience some confusion. In general, our guru, our spiritual friend, guides our journey on the Buddhist path. Because of this, we always have some sense of a reference point and some sense of blessing. However, we should not misconstrue this to mean that our teacher has total power over us. A teacher does not have the power to pull us out of samsara. For example, at the general or basic Sutrayana level of the path, the teacher is simply like an alarm clock.
We must make the effort to approach the clock and set the alarm for the right time. It is our own individual responsibility-we can press the snooze button or we can get up. Thus, there needs to be a sense of balance. Although the teacher or spiritual friend is very important on our journey, he or she is not like God.
We have to put in our own effort. This effort begins with ground Mahamudra, which is the fundamental teaching of the Mahamudra path. The purpose of the preliminary practices is to bring about Mahamudra meditation when it has not yet arisen in the practitioner's mindstream. In other words, at this first stage, the preliminary practices function so as to bring, generate, or give rise to Mahamudra mind in our own meditation. The Pointing-Out Instructions.
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The second stage occurs when Mahamudra meditation is ready to arise in our mind. Pointing-out instructions are given at this point in order to make Mahamudra meditation arise successfully in our mindstream. This is called the Mahamudra path of pointing out. The Enhancement Practices. When the pointing out has been done successfully, we develop our practice to its fullest extent in the third stage of our meditation path through engaging in the enhancement practices.
Our first introduction to path Mahamudra is through the preliminary practices. The great importance of these preliminary practices is expressed succinctly in a traditional aphorism of the lineage: "The preliminary practice is more profound than the actual practice. This essential preliminary is followed by the four uncommon preliminaries, which are common to all Vajrayana and Mahamudra traditions.
There is an additional set of four preliminaries, called the four special preliminaries, which precedes the main practice. Following completion of the preliminary practices, students go directly into the path of Mahamudra. The four common preliminaries, or four reminders, are the contemplations or reflections on precious human birth, impermanence, karma, and the shortcomings of samsara. Unless we generate a proper experience of the four reminders, it will be very difficult for us to connect with any other experiences on the path.
Precious Human Birth In the first contemplation, we reflect on what is known as precious human birth. Such a birth is regarded as one that possesses the three essential qualities of confidence, diligence, and wisdom. When we possess these three qualities, our human birth becomes precious. We develop confidence in our own qualities of buddha nature, in the teachings of the enlightened path, and in the teacher. This first quality is an important aspect of our precious human birth because without The Path That Brines Experience 41 these types of confidence we have no sense of protection.
When we develop confidence, we develop a form of protection that can be compared to the body of an automobile. The body of an automobile provides us with a certain level of protection, as well as a sense of beauty and comfort. For example, we can enjoy a comfortable seat. We do not have to walk in the rain, in a hailstorm, or under the hot sun because we have the protection of a roof. Developing the quality of confidence is like developing protection all around us.
This confidence surrounds and protects our positive qualities and the energy we already possess. This can be compared to the fuel that is required to run our automobile. Although we have a beautiful car with comfortable seats and a powerful engine, if there is no gasoline, then the car is not going to move.
Our enjoyment will be limited to sitting in the car and enjoying its physical qualities. In order to get it moving, we need gasoline. Similarly, in order to move along the path, we need diligence. Without the generation of diligence, we will not get anywhere-we will be stuck with a beautiful concept. Simply having confidence in our basic buddha nature, in the teachings, and in the teacher does not really move us along the path. Neither faith nor devotion alone is enough to move us. Shantideva said that diligence means being inspired by wholesome or virtuous actions.
Diligence does not mean being a workaholic, working hard for twenty-four hours at a time. Both diligence and confidence require a certain degree of understanding and insight. Without such knowledge and wisdom, we cannot have genuine confidence or genuine diligence. This quality begins with our fundamental intelligence, our common sense, and our rational mind. In this context, wisdom begins with engaging our basic human wisdom in the form of common sense and rational mind, and it continues all the way to the transcendental wisdom of prajnaparamita-the great wisdom of Buddha, of seeing things as they are.
This wisdom is similar to the knowledge of driving. We need to know both how and where to drive. We might have a beautiful car and we might have gasoline, but if we do not know how to drive, then a moving car can become a dangerous weapon. And if we do not know where to drive, then once we have started our car and once we are speeding along the highway, we do not know where we might end up. The wisdom of knowing how to drive comes first; second, we need the wisdom of knowing where we want to go and how to get there.
Possession of these three qualities of confidence, diligence, and wisdom constitutes a precious human birth. Traditionally, this is explained as possessing the eight freedoms and the ten favorable conditions. However, all of these are contained in these three major qualities. Impermanence Having reflected on our precious human birth, having seen clearly how difficult it is to obtain and how powerful obtaining this situation is for us, we move on to the second reminder, which is the reflection on impermanence.
Once again, we can use the analogy of a car. No matter how safe and beautiful our car might be, no matter how much gasoline we might possess, and no matter how great our knowledge of driving might be, our situation is still impermanent. One day the whole thing will degenerate, either naturally or accidentally. This cannot be prevented, for example, by leaving our car in the garage for a hundred years.
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It will still degenerate. On the other hand, if we actively drive our car for the next twenty years, it will also degenerate. There is a natural sense of degeneration or falling apart. This is true for the driver as well as for the car. We can see this deterioration very clearly, both in accidents and in natural processes. Reflecting on that, we can appreciate our precious birth and the opportunity we have to use our qualities properly. The Path That Brinos Experience 43 Once we have everything we need-the car, the gasoline, the driving skills, along with good eyesight, good memory, and so forthit is important for us to make use of our situation properly before it falls apart.
Contemplating impermanence simply means that we see the nature of impermanence very clearly and we reflect on the natural degeneration of our existence. Reflecting on that is the reminder of impermanence, which is a very powerful contemplation. As Buddha said in the sutras: Of all footprints, the elephant's are outstanding; just so, of all subjects of meditation for a follower of the Buddha, the idea of impermanence is unsurpassed. Through understanding cessation, one understands impermanence. Knowing how to engage impermanence, One will realize the genuine Dharma. It is through knowing the nature of these two that we realize the truth and depth of impermanence-that we come to truly understand the genuine Dharma and have the wisdom to enter such a path.
This also means that we realize the subtle nature of impermanence-the subtle nature of arising and ceasing or birth and deathwhich is happening in every moment, every second, in fact. When we contemplate that and see the truth of impermanence, we are not very far from seeing the truth of emptiness. We are getting closer and closer to ultimate truth. Thus, reflecting on the second reminder of impermanence is not only good for the relative aspect of our practice; but it is also a profound contemplation on ultimate truth.
This is so because impermanence is the ultimate nature of the relative truth. Therefore, in order to realize the truth of Mahamudra, it is essential to reflect on impermanence. In a literal sense, karma means "action"; in this particular context, it refers primarily to mental action. Regardless of the kinds of physical acts in which we might be engaged, each of these has been preceded by a related mental action.
Generally speaking, we must differentiate between karma and "fate. If we were to say that each person is I oo percent subject to his or her past karmic actions, then our view of karma would be identical to the view of fatalism. We would be living in a world in which everything is predetermined. We would all have a blueprint of our lives, and there would be little point in practicing the path of Buddhism. There would be little point in Buddha having presented his teachings long ago. If our lives were completely predetermined by karma, then those who were I oo percent predetermined by their karma to attain enlightenment would do so regardless of their actions in this life, while those who were I oo percent predetermined not to attain enlightenment because of their karma would be unable to attain it regardless of any action they took.
There would be no point in presenting the spiritual path of Buddhism and no point in practicing or working hard, unless we had to do it due to a karmic force. From the Buddhist point of view, when we refer to karma, we are not talking about fate but about a situation in which our actions from the past carry a certain weight and power to affect our present lives. We do have a blueprint, but it is one in which our past karma and our present karma both carry a certain percentage of the power.
For example, there might be a particular situation in which our past karma carries so percent of the weight. This would mean that there is space-room for present conditions to arise and affect the current situation-for our present karma also to exert half of the total influence on that situation.
These two together-past and present karma-con- The Path That Brines Experience 45 stitute I oo percent of our karma, or the totality of the causal elements that are present in any given situation. From this perspective, our previous karma is like the seed of a flower. This seed has the potential to grow and produce a beautiful blossom. However, if we were to leave this flower seed on a table for a hundred years, then it would not produce any result.
In order for the seed to produce its potential result, a number of supporting conditions must come together, for example, proper soil, proper temperatures, and sufficient water and sunshine. When these supporting conditions are present at the same time, the seed produces its result, which is a flower. Each of us faces various challenges in our lives. There are karmic.
Wild Awakening: The Heart of Mahamudra and Dzogchen
Even so, these karmic seeds cannot grow without space. We have a great opportunity in the present moment to decide how we want to grow this flower and how we want to relate to it. Working with karma means knowing how to balance our previous and present karma, as well as how to work with the energy of the growing seed. For example, imagine that because of my actions in the past, I have the karmic propensity to kill fish. If that karma from the past is very small-perhaps only 2 s percent of the required causal elements-then there will be a natural sense of space so that I can easily avoid repeating the negative actions of killing fish and also the karmic consequences of those actions.
Nevertheless, I must make an effort. For example, such a karmically related situation might arise in the form of an invitation for a long weekend or a holiday. A friend might approach me and say, "How about going on a fishing trip? I have a beautiful place in the country on a lake. I might follow the 2 s percent, thus increasing it to I oo percent. Alternatively, I could work with the situation and make an effort to see how I might transcend that karma.
This is the third reminder: the reflection on cause and effect, which is the natural law of relative truth. This contemplation is very easy to understand if we just think about all of our complaints-our physical and mental sufferings. At this point, we reflect on the fundamental nature of samsara until we see clearly that its basic nature is characterized by suffering and pain. This reminder is simply reflecting on that. Reflecting on the shortcomings of samsara is like reflecting on the truth of suffering.
These preliminaries are 1 refuge and bodhichitta, which purify the coarse level of negative karma of the body; 2 Vajrasattva mantra recitation, which purifies karma of speech; 3 mandala practice, which is the basis of acquiring the two accumulations of merit and wisdom; and 4 guru yoga practice, which invokes the. More than one hundred thousand repetitions of each of these practices are generally done. The first of the four uncommon preliminaries is taking refuge and generating bodhichitta. In the Vajrayana, there is a sixfold refuge. When we take the sixfold refuge, we are actually entering into the path of the Buddhadharma in general and Vajrayana in particular.
We begin by taking refuge in our guru, since the Vajrayana path cannot exist without the guru principle. We also take refuge in the yidams, or deities, and in the protectors. In order to have a smooth journey and achieve realization, we have to purify our negativities and obscurations, which are obstacles on the path. The second uncommon preliminary is a profound purification practice known as Vajrasattva, one of the supreme methods used in the Vajrayana for overcoming negativities.
The third uncommon preliminary is the mandala offering. In this The Path That Brines Experience 47 practice, we work with our attachments, our clinging, and our grasping--our basic sense of ego-mind. Ordinarily, our habitual connection with relative reality tends to enmesh us in conceptual mind and conceptual reference points, thus blocking us from achieving the complete state of Mahamudra realization, or buddhahood.
The purpose of attaining enlightenment is to benefit a limitless number of beings of different capacities, and it is only through the accumulation of merit that we are able to attain such enlightenment. In order to achieve any glimpse of the nature of mind, we have to let go of our ego-clinging.
On the Vajrayana path, we accomplish this through the mandala offering, which is a practice of letting go of our habitual tendencies to grasp and cling to the ego and to the whole universe of phenomena that exists around us. The most important key to our realization is found through the blessings of our guru, our teachers, our lineage forefathers, and primordial wisdom itself.
This transmission is not possible without opening ourselves fully to our lineage gurus. Opening to the lineage blessings and transmissions is catalyzed by the practice of guru yoga, which is the fourth uncommon preliminary practice. We should learn from these texts together with the practical guidance of an instructor.
When we engage in the specific practices, we should follow the directions and instructions within the liturgies. For this, it is necessary to work with a practice manual. In addition, it is essential to receive instructions personally from one's teacher. In order to bring about the actual state of Mahamudra meditation, it is necessary to cultivate the four conditions. If we have not developed these four conditions, it does not matter how hard we try to study and practice what we call "Mahamudra" or how well-versed our teacher may be in giving these instructions-it will not be possible to generate the experience of Mahamudra meditation.
For a serious practitioner on this path of simplicity, it is crucial to pay close attention to these four conditions. The alternative is simply to indulge in a fantasy about Mahamudra meditation. The Causal Condition The first condition is the causal condition, which is the practice of revulsion.
Revulsion is actually the mind that is free from the temporal and immediate concerns of worldly things. That mind becomes the "foot" of meditation, as is taught in the Kagyu lineage supplication. We cannot walk the path of Mahamudra without this "foot. Ordinarily, we think our garbage is very precious. It is as though it is wrapped in beautiful silk, so we do not see it as garbage. Part of developing the first condition is making an effort to acknowledge our karmic garbage for what it is. When we can recognize and accept our own garbage, we can begin to develop genuine revulsion and renunciation.
In addition to developing a certain quality of detachment or revulsion for samsara, we free ourselves from all activities that are not useful or meaningful-activities that bring us into the depths of further confusion and suffering, or activities that cultivate the causes of suffering. In order to develop a clear view of detachment, renunciation, or revulsion, we contemplate the four common preliminaries. After seeing the precious quality of our human birth, as well as its impermanent nature, we develop a genuine heart of renunciationwanting and being completely willing to achieve freedom from the The Path That Brinas Experience 49 pain of samsara.
Genuinely and wholeheartedly wanting to be free from samsara becomes very important in the causal condition. A genuine heart of renunciation does not come from someone telling us that samsara is pain and that therefore we must develop renunciation. It is important to carry out our own analysis and analytical meditation and to have our own theoretical and experiential understanding. When all of these come together, we can develop a genuine heart of longing for freedom. Drawing on our own experience, we can clearly see our own precious opportunity, as well as both the truth and origin of suffering in the world in front of us.
Only then can we develop a genuine heart of renunciation. It certainly would not be theoretical. However, renunciation does not necessarily mean simply running away from something. It means that we will go into the depths of any such reality to find freedom within it. That is very important here. The desire to free ourselves and others must be balanced with the sense of complete trust in our ability to achieve liberation. We do not see samsara as something that consists solely of unfavorable situations; we also see the possibilities for freeing ourselves from suffering right on the spot.
We see that freedom, liberation, and enlightenment are possible within this very moment. Once we recognize this, samsara is no longer seen as something to escape. Freedom is not seen as something that exists outside samsara. Therefore, there is nowhere to run. For example, if you are in Manhattan and you run to a Himalayan cave, you will carry Manhattan with you. It may be even worse for you because the cave is much smaller than Manhattan.
In the cave, you will probably appreciate and long for all the good qualities of Manhattan: There are nice subways and it is easy to get around. While the Hinayana notion of renunciation sees the possibility of freedom in getting away from samsara, the Mahamudra notion of renunciation sees the possibility of freedom within that very situation.
Whoever is able to connect with impermanence will understand the true Dharma. The nature of all phenomena is emptiness, shunyata; an understanding of impermanence leads to this realization. The point of contemplating impermanence is not to seek depressing news but rather to find enlightening news, which is the realization of egolessness, selflessness, or shunyata.
Although we have many insights, thoughts, and ideas based on discriminating awareness, among all these thoughts, the supreme is the thought of impermanence. It is the thought that makes the deepest impression. In these teachings on the causal condition, we are instructed to contemplate the four reminders; to think deeply and carefully about impermanence, and then to develop a genuine heart of renunciation.
That renunciation will encourage us and engender the effort and wisdom to enable us to see shunyata. From this instruction, we can see that it is important to develop our own heart of renunciation, abandoning all activities that are not meaningful. The EmpowerinB Condition The second condition is called the empowering condition.
This term is usually used in reference to a particular component in the process of sense perception. For example, when we see a visual object, the empowering condition is the eye faculty. Unless the sense faculty of the eyes is intact, we cannot have the experience of seeing objects.
The eye faculty "empowers" our ability to experience a visual perception, so it is called the empowering condition. Thus, the principle of devotion is emphasized again: Without the guru, nothing is possible on the path. In his Mahamudra songs, the great yogi Tilopa said that the main characteristic of a guru is the lineage blessing, or lineage transmission. There is no guru without the lineage transmission.
Therefore, Mahamudra practitioners are The Path That Brines Experience s1 very serious about keeping their relationship with the lineage pure. Within the empowering condition there are four types of gurus. The first of the four gurus is the individual who holds an authentic lineage-a lineage master.
The second is the guru that is the very words of the Buddha. The third is the guru of symbolic appearances. The fourth is the ultimate or absolute guru. This guru is also called the guru of the oral instruction, or ear-whispered, lineage. The lineage guru is one who holds the unbroken lineage and tradition of the Mahamudra key instructions, meditation, experience, and realization.
From the great dharmakaya buddha Vajradhara, the lineage comes down to the nirmanakaya buddha of our own guru. It is the unbroken tradition of the lineage of the mahasiddhas of India, such as Tilopa, Naropa, and Maitripa. There are eighty-four mahasiddhas, each with a different tradition and a different lineage. The adhishthana of such a lineage can bring the experience and realization of Mahamudra into the mindstreams of disciples through the creation of the right space or the right atmosphere. Thus, instruction consists of more than mere words.
The atmosphere-space itself, the ground, the earth-feels different. Such an atmosphere can be created only by an authentic teacher who is a master of the lineage. Description Mahamudra and Dzogchen are perhaps the most profound teachings within all of Tibetan Buddhism. Jewel ornament of liberation Clear light series by sGam.
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