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Buddhadharma : Summer 2016
summer 2 0 1 6 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 27 to identify, through the force of a lama or guru’s empowering blessings and quintessential instruc- tions, a subtle feature of clear light that pervades each of these consciousnesses. Practicing the Path Right Now How can we take innermost awareness into the spiritual path right now? It is through being intro- duced to and identifying—in experience—the clear light that pervades all types of consciousnesses and one-pointedly meditating on this, sustaining atten- tion to it within nonthought, nonconceptualization. Then, as the clear light becomes more and more profound, the types of coarse thoughts diminish more and more. This is why this practice is called “the essential path through knowledge of which all states are released.” Coming to know this single innermost awareness in our own experience, we are liberated from all sorts of tense situations. To identify innermost awareness, the most dif- ficult part is to make the distinction between mind (sems) and innermost awareness (rig pa). It is easy to talk about this difference, to say, “Innermost awareness has never been infected by mistake, whereas mind is under the influence of conceptual- ization and polluted with mistaken thought.” This is easy to say, but in terms of actual experience in our own mental continuum, it is very difficult. Dodrubchen said that although we might fancy that we are meditating on innermost awareness, there is a danger that we are actually, in fact, merely main- taining concentration on the clear and cognitive nature of a more superficial mind, and so we need to take care. It is helpful to do the latter, but it is not so profound. The Innate Mind of Clear Light All Tibetan systems, in their final view, emphasize the fundamental innate mind of clear light. In terms of the center of these systems, all of the phenomena of cyclic existence and nirvana are the sport, the effulgence, of the fundamental innate clear light. Hence, the root, and foundation, of all of that is within the scope of cyclic existence and nirvana is the fundamental clear light. This being so, when practicing the spiritual path, there is nothing else needed to purify these impure appearances—which themselves dawn from within the context of inner- most awareness or clear light—than to turn the fundamental innate mind of clear light itself into that through which you practice the spiritual path. Manifesting the fruit of practicing the path, the fundamental innate mind of clear light itself, when separated from all obstructive defilements, is the resultant omniscience of buddhahood, a state from which the greatest benefit to others can be effected. Introducing Innermost Awareness I will now explain the first section of the text Three Keys Penetrating the Core, from the mind of the great adept Dza Patrul Jigme Chokyi Wangpo (1808–87). Patrul Rinpoche’s teaching, and thus his poem, is organized around three keys for uncover- ing innermost awareness, the Great Completeness. The essential meaning of how to place yourself in the core of reality is cast into three sets of quintes- sential teachings for the sake of severing the life, so to speak, of self-ruinous mistake. Here, I will dis- cuss the first key: No matter what kind of consciousness we might consider, the clear light of innermost awareness pervades it.