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Buddhadharma : Spring 2017
spring 2017 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 77 focus on inner experience. That may at best be transformative and at the very least provide structure and meaning for our complex, modern lives. It is direct. Although nested within the rich, complex, tantric ethos of Tibetan Buddhism, Dzogchen discourse (especially that of cutting through) is marked by what Bernard Faure calls a “rhetoric of immediacy,” which asserts that ultimate reality—our pris- tine awareness—is directly and easily accessible to us because it is what we are, beyond all our anxious striving and intellectual chatter. As with presen- tations of Vipassana, Zen, and Maha- mudra, this rhetoric is appealing in the West because it seems to promise a way to happiness—or more—that does not require excessive ritual or the adoption of “alien” ideas and practices. We are invited simply to know our own mind, as it really is. The appeal of the Great Perfection to Westerners is thus understandable. As anyone who studies Dzogchen learns quickly, however, it’s not nearly so sim- ple. We may already be buddhas, but the delusions that keep us from fully recognizing our true nature are deeply rooted and still require concerted effort to eliminate. Meditative experience may be front and center in Dzogchen, but Nyingma has a long and distinguished history of philosophical inquiry, and its masters and texts warn us constantly against the deceptions that may arise in meditation. They caution us, too, that meditation itself should not be an object of attachment. Our pristine awareness may in principle be immediately acces- sible because “it is what we are,” but its simplicity is deceptive, and we are in fact far likelier to uncover it if we adopt attitudes and actions not natural to most Westerners, including guru devotion, the generation of imaginal worlds and beings, and (as in direct crossing over) spontaneous and unconventional yogic behavior of a sort not generally counte- nanced in “the cities of the West.” His commitment to spreading the tra- dition notwithstanding, Wallace clearly recognizes all this, and it is to his credit that Heart of the Great Perfection gives us not just a stripped-down Dzogchen aimed solely at Westerners looking for an easy path but also a fully rounded version of the Great Perfection practiced by Tibetan masters, with its rich meta- phors, gnostic metaphysics, vertiginous paradoxes, complex meditation instruc- tions, and, yes, challenging cultural idio- syncrasies. How Dudjom Lingpa’s Pure Vision teachings will settle in the lives and imaginations of Western practi- tioners remains to be seen, but we are indebted to Wallace, and to those who inspired and assisted him, for providing us with such a rich and vital resource for coming to terms with the profundities and puzzles of the Great Perfection. revieWs santa fe, new mexico 505-986-8518 www.upaya.org firstname.lastname@example.org MARCH 31- APRIL 2 Stories from the Book of Serenity APRIL 8 Zazenkai: A Day-long Meditation Retreat APRIL7-9 Zazenkai Weekend (includes 2 nights lodging) APRIL 14 - 21 Sesshin: Vasubandhu’s Thirty Verses Join R oketsu Norman F Spring Practice Period: vasubandhu’s thirty verses This includes these retreats which may also be attended individually: MARCH 31 - APRIL 21, 2016 Upaya Zen Center spring retreats in santa fe, new mexico see entire calendar, teachings, & more at upaya.org