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Buddhadharma : Spring 2012
40 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SPRING 2 0 1 2 made of flesh, stone, or wood. After he had given his student a good look, Milarepa said, “If you want to reach perfection in meditation practice, then you should sit as I have. I sat on solid stone continuously for so long that my butt is like a fossil—it’s as hard as stone. You should train with this kind of perseverance. That is my last instruction.” It is not sufficient to look at where you are standing and think that you have arrived somewhere else. Recognizing the awak- ened state of rigpa is not enlightenment, but the path towards enlightenment. You still need to develop the full strength of this recognition by training continually. Now let’s identify what we train in during a meditation session. Generally this is said to be “natural mind” or “ordinary mind,” but what is that? Does it mean our normal state of mind or the specific natural state of mind as described in Dzogchen? The great treasure revealer Sherab Özer said, “It is not enough to suspend your attention into not distinguishing between any- thing at all. Simply not meditating or keeping any concept of meditator or meditation object is not enough. This is likely the vacant state of absentmindedness that is the basis for all samsara and nirvana.” According to Dzogchen, one must identify the ground of liberation, the natural state of rigpa, which is not the same as the ordinary state of mind known as the all-ground. No matter how many thousands of years one trains in the state of the all-ground, there will be absolutely no prog- ress—one will simply arise again in the state of samsara—whereas training in the natural state of rigpa is nothing other than the ground of libera- tion. Therefore it is important to distinguish the normal, ordinary mind of the all-ground from the natural, ordinary mind that is the ground of liberation, and train accordingly. To put it sim- ply, according to Dzogchen, self-knowing origi- nal wakefulness is pointed out in our natural, ordinary state of mind. According to Mahamudra, the essence of meditation practice is also found within the ordinary, natural state of mind. This is pointed out to be original, true wakefulness. Having rec- ognized this, one can then proceed to train in it, and as one’s training deepens, there are certain stages of progress that are described as the four yogas. Each of these are further divided into the three categories of lesser, medium, and higher capacity. These are collectively known as the twelve aspects of the four yogas on the path of Mahamudra. Another approach is to apply the structure of the four yogas to each of the yogas, resulting in sixteen aspects. These are equally valid and merely describe the ever-deepening levels of experience and stability in the natural, ordinary mind. The Dzogchen path has a similar explanation. According to trekchö, there is a growing sense of becoming more and more accustomed to the state of rigpa, which is described as the stages of the path known as the four visions. These four can also be applied to the practice of tögal. Whether you progress according to Dzogchen or Mahamudra, please understand that ulti- mately there is no real difference. There is not one awakened state called Mahamudra and a separate one known as Dzogchen. It is all of one taste within the expanse of dharmakaya. What these two words actually refer to is the basic nature of things. Since all phenomena, all that appears and exists within samsara and nir- vana have the stamp of great bliss, it is called the “Great Seal,” which is the literal meaning of Mahamudra. Similarly, since all phenom- ena are perfected in the expanse of self-existing awareness, it is called the “Great Perfection,” or Dzogchen. Fruition, or the final result of the path, is described as awakening to true enlightenment within the expanse of the three kayas, or bod- ies of enlightenment. This is explained to be the empty essence that is realized as dharmakaya, the cognizant nature that is realized as sam- bhogakaya, and the ever-present capacity that is realized as nirmanakaya. These three kayas are also realized to be indivisible within the single sphere of original wakefulness. This holds true whether we call that state of fruition Mahamu- dra or Dzogchen. From Freedom in Bondage: The Life and Teachings of Adeu Rinpoche, translated by Erik Pema Kunsang and compiled by Marcia Binder Schmidt. Published by Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2011. (Opposite) Vajradhara Buddha (detail) Tibet, 1600 –1699 Drigung (Kagyu) Lineage Collection of Rubin Museum of Art (acc.# C2006.66.95) Vajradhara is the primordial buddha of the Kagyu lineage