In my previous post I introduced this book which contains arguably the most important text in Dzogchen, the Kunjed Gyalpo, with Dzogchen itself considered by many to be the height of Buddhist teachings. If true, this would mean that this text is the ‘creme-de-la-creme’ of spiritual instruction.
For me the text is sublime and poignant and complete. Whilst I think many other teachings are just as ‘high’, reading it makes my heart open and sing, and I offer you some extracts, with my thoughts interspersed with the aim of highlighting important aspects of Dzogchen teachings.
Firstly, here is the theme of just letting things be without interfering or searching which mirrors the essential Buddhist tenant of not-clinging:
‘All phenomena are the unchanging natural condition: letting it be without acting, it self-liberates. Spontaneously arising wisdom should not be sought: in liberating itself, it also shows the path of liberation.’
Chapter 30, p 168
Below is the same theme again of letting go, but this time stating that our true nature is not to be found as ‘something other’, meaning our True Nature is not an object that can be perceived or possessed:
‘Meditation is letting be without seeking the ultimate nature that never discloses itself visibly. Hoping to find it as something other, it will never be obtained.’
Chapter 30, p 169
In the next quote the distinction is drawn between actual experience vs. simply thinking about this. This is a call to gain direct experience of the teachings so it is not just something theoretical or intellectual. You can see this for yourself, right now. Listen to the teachings and see for yourself! Additionally this verse shows us that The Total Consciousness that you are includes discursive thoughts – these do not need to be pushed away:
‘Meditative stability of supreme quality does not involve the thought of meditative stability. Without applying thought and without needing to purify, wisdom arises from discursive thought itself.’
Chapter 30, p 169
We do not need to push away so-called negative attributes such as anger, attachment or ignorance. Nor do we have to suppress the enjoyment of our 5 senses:
‘Anger, attachment and ignorance derive from the path of total enlightenment. The five objects of enjoyment, too, are said to be the ornaments of the ultimate dimension.’
Chapter 30, p 169
Here it is said clearly, seeking it means seeking for it as an object. This implies that you believe in a subject – the ego. Implicit is this entire teaching is that there is no ego – the ego is a false construct, an illusion. You are not the ego because there is no ego:
‘Marvellous! The sphere of the experience of the Buddhas is not something that is found by seeking it. Like the six sense objects, it is not an object: Thus [those who seek it] are like a blind man trying to grasp the sky…
…Not grasping anything, it is free of I”
Chapter 30, p 170-1
This next quote states that in reality there is no progressive path to enlightenment. Like other non-dualistic traditions such as Zen and Advaita Vedanta, it negates the idea of incremental levels of purification leading to enlightenment.
‘The path of purification that proceeds from level to level does not concur with the teaching on non-action. Were there really a path to tread, then, just like the bounds of the sky, one would never reach one’s destination.’
Chapter 30, p 170
Contrast this with the first 2 verses of Ramana Maharshi’s pithy Upadesa Saram (The Essence of Spiritual Instruction):
1. Action yields fruit,
For so the Lord ordains it.
How can action be the Lord?
It is insentient.
2. The fruit of action passes.
But action leaves behind
Seed of further action
Leading to an endless ocean of action;
Not at all to moksha (liberation).
from Upadesa Saram by Ramana Maharshi
The first verse states that all actions have effects or consequences, but that this is a mechanical process and not divine at all. The second verse states that the effect of one action becomes the cause of another leading to a never-ending chain of cause and effect. In both Upadesa Saram and the Kunjed Gyalpo, the inference is that all actions are finite and a series of finite steps can never lead to that which is infinite. Action is not the way. Here it is said in a different way, explaining that each method of spiritual practice gives rise to a specific result, or flower, but that which is Causeless can never be a result of practice:
‘All the hundreds and thousands of methods give birth to their characteristic flower, but as [the true nature] is free of charateristics, it does not manifest from these abodes’
Chapter 30, p. 172
Many spiritual techniques ask us to cultivate compassion, worship a guru, do good works or concentrate on some aspect of the Divine such as bliss or consciousness; but these too are negated, being compared with worldly non-spiritual things. Spiritual practices by themselves are not the way:
‘All the secondary methods of realisation, in which one meditates on the various attributes, are like the reflection of the moon in the water. Even if one attains a detached state free of defilements, meditating in this way is like the affairs of ordinary folk’
Chapter 30, p. 171
‘Making offerings to the teacher, performing generosity and all the other similar meritorious deeds: if they are done without the power of non-attachment and of impertubability, they become a great fetter’
Chapter 30, p. 173
In places, a concession is made to the progressive teachings though. All comes from the Supreme Source, all is perfection itself:
‘Human beings have different capacities. Some are more inclined to training and gradual progress, whilst others have the capacity for instantaneous understanding. Thus what is most necessary is taught in congruence with the various capacities’
Chapter 29, p.166
In summary, be rid of the notion of doership and ego/self. In truth you are beyond action and non-action. Here is what the last verse of chapter 30 says about it:
‘Thus acting in any way hinders the obtainment of the true meaning of the scriptures. By conceptualising the true condition one can never attain it’
Chapter 30, p. 173
All action implies that you take yourself to be a doer. Be rid of this notion. Then things just happen. These things: anger, happiness, pleasure, pain – they are just ornaments of That True State:
‘Fortunate are the yogins who abide in this ineffable state: not discriminating between self and others, they delight in self-perfection as magical illusion. Without anything excluded, it is perfectly complete. It is unchanging and always remains whole, boundless like space: existence does not depend on anything else.’
chapter 30, p. 172