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Buddhadharma : Spring 2014
recognize this. The unborn mind is like water and the deluded mind is like ice. No matter how long it has been frozen, ice retains the nature of water; they are one and the same. Likewise, when the solid mind of ignorance, confused by appear- ances, melts into the expanse of the nonarising mind, there is no separation to be found. We can habituate ourselves to this under- standing when we meditate, especially when we dissolve into the Mahamudra state. Pay close attention to that and experience the unceasing, nonarising mind. The duality of external projec- tions, such as nonvirtues and positive thoughts, will fade. When you have developed the skill to recognize them, there are no poisons to give up. There is no medicine to seek. Everything falls into one pile. That is the nonarising mind. Why is this called the bardo of conduct? This verse is about internal conduct, the actions of the mind. The mind makes the decisions, then the body and speech follow. Milarepa exemplified perfect conduct after he purified his delusions. His mind flowed as freely as air, with no attach- ment to good and no aversion to negativity. He functioned in perfect nonduality. Last night’s dreams arise from habitual patterns. We know them to be false when we awaken. These states are one in being illusion-like. This is the bardo of dreams. Dreams arise when we sleep. Most dreams arise out of our habitual tendencies, whether based in this life or some other lifetime. While we are dreaming, the experience seems true. When we go places in the dream, we perceive that we are really going there, meeting people, eating food, seeing things, and so forth. We don’t see the dream as a dream until later. When we awaken we say, “Oh, that was just a dream, not something real.” But when we interact with people in the daytime, we see that experience as real, as being fundamentally different from our dreams. In actuality, our dream experiences and waking experiences are both illusory. They have the same nature. When you awaken from a dream, where does that dream-world abide? Where did all those people and places come from? In a moment, all we have left is a memory of a vanished experi- ence. Examine your daytime experience in the same way. Do all those people and buildings exist or not? You have a perception of solidity, of real- ity, but is it valid? After a while, all we have is a memory again—the daydream has vanished too. When we engage in purification practices, we have a better chance to understand what this means because our mind becomes very sharp and more relaxed through meditation. When the mind calmly abides, there is less suffering and greater wisdom. This wisdom can directly per- ceive all phenomena as a momentary display— and that is the purpose of dream bardo practice. There is a special practice called dream yoga that is used to enhance the Mahamudra medita- tion practices. Practitioners who are interested in this must be very serious, attend an authentic teacher, receive the teachings, and go into retreat. As a foundation, it is of utmost importance to have achieved single-pointed absorption. Dream yoga provides an opportunity to be aware of the illusion of dream while we are dreaming. That experience is then applied during the daytime in order to see the illusory state of all phenomena and to experience manifestations as being insepa- rable from Mahamudra itself. The impure five skandhas and the pure five families of the victorious ones are one within the nonconceptual completion stage. This is the bardo of the generation and completion stages of the path. The yogi Milarepa is a central figure in the Kagyu lineage and Tibet’s most beloved poet-saint. Born in the eleventh century, he was a student of the farmer and translator Marpa, whose primary teacher was the Indian mahasiddha Naropa. Following his atonement for violent acts committed in his youth, Milarepa practiced the tantras Marpa had brought from India and realized Mahamudra. Leaving his teacher, Milarepa became a wandering yogi—dwelling in caves, teaching a small circle of students, and singing spontaneous songs of realization. Institutionalized by his student Gampopa, Milarepa’s teachings are a foundation of the Kagyu school we know today. (Opposite) Milarepa Tibet, 1600–1699 Collection of the Rubin Museum of Art acc. #C2002.24.4 33