[ Guest post by Jackson Peterson, via Facebook. Dzogchen was one of the last regular practices I had done prior to the Gate, and the only “formal” practice that could be “done” in the month or so afterword. Please enjoy the beauty and clarity of this post ! ]
Immediate Realization Instruction in Dzogchen, The Great Perfection
by Jackson Peterson on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 1:05pm
Let’s begin by acquiring an understanding of the most basic concepts discussed in the Great Perfection teachings. Most important is the understanding regarding the nature of mind and consciousness. It is taught that we have within our consciousness two essential components. One is our thinking, conceptualizing and imagining mind and the other is the awareness that is conscious of all mental and perceptual events.
The central pillar of all Great Perfection teachings is this witnessing or knowing awareness within all experience. It is this knowing awareness that the teacher is attempting to point-out to the student conclusively and beyond any doubt. The student actually recognizes him or herself to be the knowing awareness. This knowing awareness is a very naked witnessing or perceiving awareness. By naked I mean it has no sense of personal identity nor a personal story regarding its history.
It is very much like our five senses. Our eyes just see without any sense of being some defined “seer”. Hearing is the same in that we just hear sounds without the capacity to hear being defined as a specific “listener”.
Likewise our naked awareness is just noticing or observing the interior mental events as well as the “external” perceptual events of experience without there being any sense of identity assigned to this quality of pure observation.
Immediately after an experiential event, the mind may begin labeling, judging and otherwise categorizing the input as received by awareness. This is the same for all five senses. The sensory input is immediately, and nakedly seen or heard as-is. However, a split second later the mind kicks-in and begins to process the sensory input. So in this way our awareness is just like our five senses.
Also, just like the five senses are there by default, regardless of the minds activities, so too our awareness is a default presence. It turns out we are always aware, awareness is always switched on. It is even present when we dream, as it is the awareness that notices the dream and its content.
Now in contrast to this unchanging awareness, we also have the activities of the mind that are always changing. It is this unchanging awareness that notices or observes all the mind’s activities. It is the mind that creates or conceptualizes a sense of personal identity.
It is again this awareness that notices these thoughts about personal identity. The naked awareness has no concept of identity hence it has no ego to remove or reduce. At this point the Great Perfection teacher may utilize the example of a mirror and its reflections. The mirror would be pointed out to be like the unchanging perceiving awareness and all the thoughts and mental activities would be like the reflections. At no time do the reflections condition the glass of the mirror. Reflections would be pointed out to include thoughts, identity, emotions, feelings, sensations and sensory perceptions.
It is possible that based on this explanation alone, the student may have a sudden insight recognizing his true nature to be the unchanging awareness within the mind as opposed to its contents. If this insight hasn’t arisen spontaneously upon the student’s mind-stream, the teacher would continue with various examples and explanations until the student’s intrinsic awareness-wisdom arises suddenly in a moment of total realization.
Once the initial, authentic realization of one’s true nature as being this unchanging awareness occurs, the student is instructed to just continue in that enlightened self-recognition that arises from moment to moment but is ignored and not actualized.
The enlightened insight is actually arising in every moment of our experience from the beginning. However our attention goes to the mind’s content and activities instead. So we are taught to relax vividly and alertly without any mental agenda or topic whatsoever, which then allows the always-arising enlightened wisdom-insight to be recognized from moment to moment. We then simply continue in this profound condition of Knowing Being.
The mind will kick-in from time to time with all its stories about “me” and my issues, but those appearances will just dissolve upon their arising as we continue in our actual condition.
Eventually the mind’s dualistic thought processes will become more and more transparent as our natural condition of Being outshines all other of the mind’s activities.
Dzogchen Master Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche
(my Dzogchen teacher)
Thanks to Jackson Peterson for the entirety of this excellent post, unedited.
Spacing adapted to fit the blog format. No words were altered.
Jackson Peterson’s site: http://www.wayoflight.net/
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