Posted by: Wei Yu
Thusness, 2005 "A “True experience” is better than a thousand words but it is also the very “true experience” of the Brilliance Bright that has blinded Mystics of all ages. The Brilliance Bright is more vivid then we can imagine. In All IT is seen and In All IT is experienced. Being vividly bright it also serves as the “condition” that obscures its very own Emptiness nature."

Below are excerpts from Thrangu Rinpoche's teaching.

Q: If the nature of mind is this all-pervading, brilliant union of luminosity and emptiness, ungraspable, how is it that it could be obscured, even for a moment, let alone for lifetime after lifetime?

{Tibetan translation}

A: Because it's too brilliant, that's the short answer. {laughter} It's like this. Luminous, brilliant emptiness, is the nature of mind. And it's been there with us inseparably for beginningless time. But the brilliance is a bit too strong. If you take the two, the factor of luminosity and the factor of emptiness, the former one, the factor of luminosity is a bit strong. A bit stronger. And because it's so strong, we don't see the empty factor. We don't see the factor of emptiness. Because of the brilliance of the mind, all these things appear, and they look so real, and we get so fascinated with it. {laughter} We're really stuck. We're really stuck on them, and we're confused, and becoming bewildered and confused by them, then we don't realize the nature of our minds. We become completely intoxicated with the brilliance and the luminosity, and what all of what it displays to us, and we don't see the emptiness.

Now when Buddhists talk about ignorance, they don't mean some sort of black darkness, just shrouded... they actually mean it's so brilliant. It's so vivid, that we become confused by it. So we have to turn inwards and look, and see the emptiness that we've not been seeing, because we've been following after the luminosity for so long. Good example is a movie, movie comes on, we know it's just a movie, pretty soon {laughter}. We know it's somebody... picture, you know. There's human beings, and there's mountains, and there's rivers, and these wild life and plains, and we're completely drawn to it. And it's just because its brilliance is too strong, that's why we have to turn and look at the emptiness.

{Questioner: Wow. Laugher}

p.s. For those wondering what 'Luminosity' mean, here's a glossary definition by Lama Tony Duff:

Luminosity or illumination, Skt. prabhåsvara, Tib. ’od gsal ba: The core of mind has two aspects: an emptiness factor and a knowing factor. The Buddha and many Indian religious teachers used “luminosity” as a metaphor for the knowing quality of the core of mind. If in English we would say “Mind has a knowing quality”, the teachers of ancient India would say, “Mind has an illuminative quality; it is like a source of light which illuminates what it knows”.

This term been translated as “clear light” but that is a mistake that comes from not understanding the etymology of the word. It does not refer to a light that has the quality of clearness (something that makes no sense, actually!) but to the illuminative property which is the nature of the empty mind.

Note also that in both Sanskrit and Tibetan Buddhist litera- ture, this term is frequently abbreviated just to Skt. “vara” and Tib. “gsal ba” with no change of meaning. Unfortu- nately, this has been thought to be another word and it has then been translated with “clarity”, when in fact it is just this term in abbreviation.
2 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Definitely, the term "illumination" or "brightness" do give me the impression of some kind of physical bright light that shines on something; At least to the ignorant like me & others, we see things through physical senses.

    Things would be much clearer, using more direct terms like "awareness", "knowing" or "bare awareness", which is direct knowing at this present moment; Not some kind of illumination/bright light that is projected on the outside world.

    And this bare awareness we can use it now; It's always present. U don't have to wait until u have attained some kind of jhana/absorption to acquire the bright light kind of mystical experience. (I am sorry, that's what I used to understand in the past; All these look like it's a faraway thing that only a few are blessed with the talent to experience it.

  2. Indeed. In actual fact, every single experience is none of than a display of luminosity. Every experience has this 'knowing' 'aware' quality, without which, nothing can manifest or appear! Nothing can be experienced without the factor of luminosity.

    So in actual fact, luminosity already pervades as the essence of all experience... but realizing this luminosity isn't enough. Luminosity can be reified in wrong ways, in many cases it is reified into an ontological unchanging entity or a Self. This leads to further grasping instead of liberation.

    Luminosity has always been so right from the beginningless beginning... and it is precisely because of its brilliance that it has obscured its empty nature, it has blinded us and led us into deeper delusion. Realizing this luminosity itself won't liberate us.

    Awareness, knowing, is empty of a self or knower apart from the known... and every experience dependently originates, is empty of any locatable core or essence... this too must be realized.