Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reflections on Niguma - Vajra Verses of Self-Liberating Mahamudra - Reflections

The wisdom dakini known as Nigupta, illustrious Narotapa's sister, was a self-manifest yogini, a powerful lord bodhisattva on awakening's tenth stage, who received direct instruction from Conqueror Vajra Bearer. She sang these vajra verses of self-liberating Great Seal:

Nature of mind,
Wish-fulfilling jewel, to you I bow.

Wishing to attain perfect enlightenment,
Visualize your body clearly as the deity
To purify ordinary thoughts.
Develop a noble intention to help others
And pure devotion to your spiritual master.

Don't dwell on your spiritual master or the deity.
Don't bring anything to mind,
Be it real or imagined.
Rest uncontrived in the innate state.

Your own mind, uncontrived, is the body of ultimate enlightenment.
To remain undistracted within this is meditation's essential point.
Realize the great, boundless, expansive state.

Myriad thoughts of anger and desire
Propel you within the seas of existence.
Take the sharp sword of the unborn state
And cut through them to their lack of intrinsic nature.
When you cut a tree's root,
Its branches won't grow.

On a bright ocean,
Bubbles emerge then dissolve back into the water.
Likewise, thoughts are nothing but the nature of reality:
Don't regard them as faults. Relax.

When you have no clinging to what appears, what arises,
It frees itself within its own ground.

Appearances, sound, and phenomena are your own mind.
There are no phenomena apart from mind.
Mind is free from birth, cessation,
And formulation.

Those who know mind's nature
Enjoy the five senses' pleasures
But do not stray from the nature of reality.
On an island of gold,
You search in vain for earth and stones.

In the equanimity of the great absolute expanse,
There is no acceptance or rejection,
No states of meditation or postmeditation.

When you actualize that state,
It is spontaneously present,
Fulfilling beings' hopes
Like a wish-fulfilling jewel.

Persons of highest, middle and common levels of capability
Should learn this in stages suitable to their understanding.


----------------------------------------

Nigumafrom Timeless Rapture - Inspired verses of the Shangpa Masters.
compiled by Jamgon Kongtrul.
Translated by Ngawang Zangpo.

Selections from an alternative translation are here.

After preliminary instructions, of maintaining vajra pride, bodhicitta and guru devotion, Niguma's beautiful verses teach how to realise ordinary mind through mahamudra, through the non-meditation, and the self-liberation of all experiences.

Don't dwell on your spiritual master or the deity.
Don't bring anything to mind,
Be it real or imagined.
Rest contrived in the innate state.

There's no need to alter your mind in any way, to bring anything in particular or special to mind. You can recognise how mind or experience is, how it truly is, and how it appears, at any time, with any particular thought or appearance present, or none at all.

Your own mind, uncontrived, is the body of ultimate enlightenment.
To remain undistracted within this is meditation's essential point.
Realize the great, boundless, expansive state.

Experience, just as it is, at any time, *is* the Dharmakaya. It is empty, it cannot be found. When I'm aware and rest in that awareness in how experience is, it's clear it isn't anything. It isn't anywhere. It isn't anything that a concept can tie up or encapsulate. Knowing mind's nature, mind is ungraspable and indescribable. This groundlessness *is* what the notion of Dharmakaya points to.

It's relatively easy to know this, to experience this. But to rest in that knowing - *that* is much, much harder to do. To remain undistracted in this resting, without falling off into conceptual thought, or losing that groundlessness that one is resting in .... like balancing on the tip of a needle, for one of limited capacity as myself. It's also easy to get lost in 'understanding' this, rather than knowing it .... but what is the relation between understanding concepts and direct experience?

Just as it's impossible to say where experience is, where mind is, just so is it impossible to say that it's limited in any way. Experience appears to be boundless, without circumference, without limits. Empty, open and full is experience.

Myriad thoughts of anger and desire
Propel you within the seas of existence.
Take the sharp sword of the unborn state
And cut through them to their lack of intrinsic nature.
When you cut a tree's root,
Its branches won't grow.

The disturbing emotions create the six realms of existence for us. As they arise, so too does the corresponding realm, and so too do we appear to inhabit that realm, that aspect of samsaric conditioned existence, without either knowing or freedom.

As such as anger or desire arises, it's easy to lose knowing, to lose our resting in the knowing of the groundless, empty nature of experience, and to get sucked up into 'believing' in the solidity, the facticity, the reality of the emotion that arises. As we lose that knowing, then we get lost in a world of seemingly solidity that pushes and pulls away at us, driving us on and on, and giving rise to a sense of 'me' as well as 'other' or 'things'. These arise simultaneously with the loss of resting in knowing emptiness. As Niguma says, we are propelled on ... a lovely choice of word which describes so well how we are as if a runaway train, without little ability to either steer or stop our course.

Yet as we come to knowing, as we realise our error, and being groundlessness back into view, that simple recollection cuts all the roots of this delusion, and the six realms dissolve from whence they came .. like dreams they melt away in an instance. In meditation or postmeditation, when you rest in minds nature, it's almost impossible to imagine how disturbing emotions could ever arise again, or how you could ever ride the runaway train of samsaric realms again. (and yet you do, time and time again!).

On a bright ocean,
Bubbles emerge then dissolve back into the water.
Likewise, thoughts are nothing but the nature of reality:
Don't regard them as faults. Relax.

How strongly I tried to get away from thoughts in my early days of meditation, and attempt to quieten the mind through subduing this enemy! Myriad ways of working with thoughts, each more subtle than the last, but each with the same end in mind - to get rid of thoughts from my mind, and instill clarity, peacefulness and stillness.

It's funny that, how pushing a cork down into the water results in? ... results in the cork shooting up out of the waters surface ... reacting to the effort, and triggering a new cycle of activity.

Regarding thoughts as in any way problematic, or to be removed is counterproductive. Thoughts are just what they are, seeming arisings in mind, seeming appearances in experience. When aware of thoughts, what is known? They are empty in nature - you can't find a thought, you can't hold it, you can't pin it down. It comes from where? .. we can't say ... they go to where? we can't say. And whilst seeming there ... are they there? ... we can't say. Ungraspable and unfathomable are thoughts.

So thoughts reveal the nature of experience, when knowing is directed there. Just like anything else, their nature is the same. Not different from a still mind, not different from an 'enlightened' mind, not different from any other experience at all. Thoughts are empty. Know them, and you will not find them. Bizarre but true - the more clearly you know, the less that's there to actually know!

Why on earth would you want to get rid of them, when they are precisely what you are looking for?

One of the most direct ways I can know the nature of mind is to cause a thought to arise, and 'see' whether the nature of experience changes before, during or after the thought is there. Or to see where it comes from, abides at, and goes to. Etc. Resting in the response to those allows me to know that mind/experience doesn't change in nature whether thought is present or not. Empty, and groundless.

Of course, our habitual patterns tend toward grasping onto ideas. Many of us find them particularly alluring, and we buy into them as if they were 'fact', rather than thought. Then we get lost. But as we practice the entrancing quality of thoughts lessens, and we can more easily know them as just what they are, just another seeming appearance in mind.

As we come to know the nature of thoughts, we can ask "what is going on at the story level" ... and rest in the gap or response that arises. Knowing thoughts in this way, we see them as no other than mind's nature, as empty arisings.

As we because less fearful of thoughts through no longer seeing them as the enemy of meditation, we can relax, and rest in what is, whatever is, and know if for what it is.

When you have no clinging to what appears, what arises,
It frees itself within its own ground.

Without clinging to what arises, without pushing or pulling at it (with desire or ill-will), without attempting to apply any antidote to it, just allowing it to be, and resting in the knowing, thoughts naturally self-liberate, they are empty in nature, and mind remains empty throughout.

Appearances, sound, and phenomena are your own mind.
There are no phenomena apart from mind.
Mind is free from birth, cessation,
And formulation.

When an appearance arises, such as a sound, we can ask "where is this thought"? The knowing that arises in the resting after this question reveals the same answer as when we ask "where is mind"? Nowhere and yet everywhere.

I can't find a difference when knowing mind and knowing thought. I can't find a difference when knowing 'awareness' and knowing 'what it is that awareness holds'. When I ask "what is this"? ..... and direct knowing towards awareness itself ..... that is, when I know 'mind' in Niguma's teaching .... and also when I ask "what is known by awareness?" when I direct awareness towards whatever seems to be known or held by awareness ... I can't find anything that would allow me to say 'these are different.

There's different flavours to directing one's attention to awareness or to what seems to arise in awareness .... they seem to appeal to me at different times, and keep practice fresh. But when I know either .... inseparable is the only way I can describe what is revealed.

When I rest in experience, it's clear that experience is what there is. No phenomena are known to mind beyond itself. There's nothing out there, and there's nothing in here. There's nothing other than the endless unfolding of experience, nothing other than mind itself. It's not saying that nothing exists outside of 'my' mind. It's simply that I know nothing of anything other than experience. How could I? Nothing I know is untouched by awareness. Nothing is known 'before' it touches experience or awareness or mind. There is nothing beyond experience that can be known. The great completeness. Innocence

When "where do appearances (of sight, sound, pressure, etc) arise from"? And where do they go to? Where are they when they are arisen? Do these 'things' actually happen at all? Mind's nature remains the same, and untouched by all of this seeming display. Not a jot more, or less, better or worse is the nature of experience, regardless of whatever seems to arise.

Those who know mind's nature
Enjoy the five senses' pleasures
But do not stray from the nature of reality.
On an island of gold,
You search in vain for earth and stones.

No longer either caught up in pushing/pulling, in Samsara's game ... nor indeed caught up in trying to change things, trying to apply antidotes, trying to get somewhere in meditation, trying to make things better, in hopes or fears .... no longer caught up in all this .... one can simply abide in what is ... know if for what it is ... and enjoy the magician's display ... the dance of luminosity ... and smile :-)

Why try to change mind, when it is 'perfect' as it is? Why look for rocks and stones of ideas of perfection, when knowing reveals the great completeness/perfection, right here and now, wherever that is?

In the equanimity of the great absolute expanse,
There is no acceptance or rejection,
No states of meditation or postmeditation.

You don't need to do anything at all ... just relax and rest in mind's nature. You don't need to change anything, to get anywhere ... all goals are empty .... just rest .. and what needs to be done is revealed each moment ... and actions take place, effortlessly, without doing, without a doer.

When you actualize that state,
It is spontaneously present,
Fulfilling beings' hopes
Like a wish-fulfilling jewel.

Should I ever remain resting in wakefulness, rather than slipping off the resting, then no doubt activities will flow forth, as the teachings say .... and Enlightened activity will pervade the ten directions!

Persons of highest, middle and common levels of capability
Should learn this in stages suitable to their understanding.

Dimwits such as I .... build capacity to do nothing ... rest, slip away, come back, rest again ... slip away. Knowing is timeless, awareness is timeless ... coming back to it ... you've never been aware .. stringing a thread of beads, of beads that are not discrete or other than infinity ....

such as it is ... is how it is ... awareness opens .... and resting in this allows knowing to deepen.

What does it reveal ... nothing other than what was there all along.

The taste of grapes, the sight of mountains ... the discordant sound of car engines ... just what they are ... complete, and none other than empty, lucid, and unhindered ...

"May Niguma's heart words illuminate the hearts of all beings ... and the unborn awareness bring great peace to all"

1 comment:

An Eternal Now said...

Hi Chodpa,

Just like to thank you for your sharing... you have a gift in expressing the inexpressible.

This article triggered the 'my' realization of the magic of luminous and empty apparitions... and the seeing of this is amazing, marvellous, wonderful, blissful, freeing.

I wrote to wrote an email to PasserBy/Thusness titled "the unborn dharma":

"In attempting to find and locate where thought comes from, reside, and go to, it is realised that thought is ungraspable, unfindable, unfathomable... A magicians magical apparition, like everything (the experiential universe) is... A wonderful display of luminous emptiness, dependent origination. Yet after this is seen, it is nothing resembling nihilism or non-existence... When someone lights up his lighter to burn an innocent ant, compassion just arise... A magical universe demands magical response and compassion from no one to no one"

(more about it in my e-book http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2010/12/my-e-booke-journal.html )

Thanks...