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Buddhadharma : Fall 2006
fall 2006| 52 |buddhadharma minGyuR RinPoche: In objectless shamatha, the instruction is not to meditate, not to be distracted, just to rest. Just resting is good, but just resting alone does not become rigpa practice, because you don’t have recognition. The main difference between objectless shamatha and natural mind is recognition. You get that recognition from the pointing-out instruction from the teacher, and then you can cultivate it further. To cultivate the recognition of natural mind, one can hold the gap between first and second thought. But if you wait for the gap, that is a big mistake, because you don’t have to wait for natu- ral mind. Rigpa is always present. It is spontane- ous presence. People are always thinking that to meditate on rigpa, natural awareness, means you have to extinguish thought and emotions. They think, “I ... have ... such ... openness ... and ... spaciousness,” but what they have is strong grasp- ing for spaciousness, openness, and rigpa. Their meditation becomes tiny, because they are focusing on having something to practice and something to abandon. People think like that because they have been told that rigpa is beyond subject and object. Since thoughts and emotions are tied up with subject and object, they think they have to block them to experience rigpa. But rigpa doesn’t do anything with thought and emotions; it lets them be there. If you recognize natural clarity, then everything is transformed. Although something might look like an emotion, it is not a real emotion. That’s why rigpa is not impermanent. But of course, that’s why it’s not permanent, either. buDDhaDhaRma: Would the modern-day Western student’s experience of the Dzogchen path be dif- ferent from those who practiced in Tibet for many hundreds of years? maRcia schmiDT: Tulku Urygen gave teachings to both Westerners and Tibetans, and I was able to sit in with both of them. He taught people exactly the same thing. Some people call it Tibetan Buddhism, but it’s not exclusive to the Tibetan people. There are cultural norms – salted tea, tsampa, and so forth – that are Tibetan but have nothing to do with the Buddhist teachings. To practice Dzogchen, you just have to be a sentient being. But while the teachings are the same, there is a different level of diligence between us and practi- tioners of the past. We have the Internet and the five hundred channels, and our culture doesn’t support people being practitioners so much. It’s a different kind of value system. There is also a difference in our openness. Tibetans just do things with blind faith. They don’t question and examine as much. There’s a good side to blind faith, but for us it just doesn’t happen. It’s not our culture; it’s not something we’ve grown up with and are encouraged to practice. Ron GaRRy: Fundamentally the Dzogchen we study and practice is identical, because we’re all humans. At the same time, there are some adap- tations based on our culture and our upbring- ing, on what makes us tick. Some teachers are more familiar with our culture and others are less familiar. The actual dharma teaching is not really different, but if you’re more comfortable with a lama who can really speak to our culture, you may want to find a teacher like that. The style of communicating can be different. One may sound more traditional and one may speak more to our culture, but the actual teaching isn’t different. It’s the very same path. maRcia schmiDT: It’s helpful to recognize that there have always been two main approaches: the path of the scholar and the path of the simple medita- tor. Which avenue you follow depends upon the type of person you are. The end result can be the same. The pandita, the scholar, goes through all the philosophical vehicles and works a lot with their mind in an analytical way. This is often a very good approach for Westerners, given the propen- sity to investigate and examine that I talked about. You question, discuss, debate, and engage in intel- lectual methods of reaching understanding. The kusulu, the simple meditator, may be some- one who doesn’t have the time or the inclination to study all the philosophical texts. He or she is someone who can receive pith instruction, gain certainty in that pith instruction, and go out and practice. That was how Tulku Urgyen had been taught. Following the kusulu approach doesn’t mean that you don’t study. You always need to study everything you are practicing. But you don’t need to study all the philosophical views. Ron GaRRy: Whatever approach you take, when you learn from a Dzogchen master, it speaks directly Dzogchen is something living and it comes from a real-life teacher who is an embodiment of nondualistic awareness. Authentic lineage is about being in the presence of buddha mind. — Ron Garry