(Loppön Namdrol/Malcolm Smith)

  • These recent discussions are taken from the Dharmawheel forum. Thanks to Kyle Dixon for sharing this compilation.

    PadmaVonSamba wrote:
    Since this basic awareness cannot be found to have a cause other than itself, and since it has no defining characteristics of its own, and since it cannot be denied, or separated into any kind of 'non-awareness' parts, I would suggest that it is truly existent, non-specific, non-self, synonymous with the meaning of Dharmakaya and the essence of realization.

    Malcolm wrote:
    As I said before, you have a monistic hindu nondual view. Not even dharmakāya is "truly existent".

    PadmaVonSamba wrote:
    Well then, refute awareness. I suggest it is "truly existent" meaning I used that phrase) for the reasons I have stated, the way that space is truly existent. not in the "Monistic Hindu" way that you suggest. Such an entity would still be an object of awareness, something which is experienced and not awareness itself. If a "Monistic Hindu" (if there is such a person) wished to label it Mahatama or something, and claim that it is awareness that is his doing, and perhaps yours but it is beside what I am saying.

    However, you may be right that it is in fact not synonymous with Dharmakaya
    if you are saying that Dharmakaya is a composite,
    produced by other causes.

    Malcolm wrote:
    You already did [refute awareness] by claiming it truly existed. There is no such thing as "truly existent". I am not refuting awareness, I am refuting your claim that awareness truly exists. Individual awarenesses exist, just not "truly", they have no original cause because they are all conditioned entities. No conditioned series has an origin. Such is the logic of the Buddha.

    PadmaVonSamba wrote:
    Very interesting.

    Malcolm wrote:
    Space is also not "truly existent". Nirvana is not truly existent.

    Read the Heart Sutra again, in case you forgot.

    M

    PadmaVonSamba wrote:
    if you are saying that Dharmakaya is a composite,
    produced by other causes.

    Malcolm wrote:
    No, but as a I just said, even uncompounded phenomena — of which Mahāyāna Buddhism recognizes only four: space, the two cessations and emptiness — are not truly existent.

    Malcolm wrote:
    Not even dharmakāya is "truly existent".

    smcj wrote:
    There is not 100% agreement on that.

    Malcolm wrote:
    People who think dharmakāya is truly existent are simply wrong, and suffer from an eternalist bias.

    In reality the three kāyas are also conventions.

    PadmaVonSamba wrote:
    I am talking about even the awareness of these four things [space, the two cessations and emptiness].

    Malcolm wrote:
    Yes, I understand. All awarenesses are conditioned. There is no such thing as a universal undifferentiated ultimate awareness in Buddhadharma. Even the omniscience of a Buddha arises from a cause.

    PadmaVonSamba wrote:
    isn't this cause, too, an object of awareness? Isn't there awareness of this cause? If awareness of this cause is awareness itself, then isn't this awareness of awareness? What causes awareness of awareness, if not awareness?

    If awareness is the cause of awareness, isn't it its own cause?

    Malcolm wrote:
    Omniscience is the content of a mind freed of afflictions. Even the continuum of a Buddha has a relative ground, i.e. a the rosary or string of moments of clarity is beginingless.

    Origination from self is axiomatically negated in Buddhadharma,

    Each moment in the continuum of a knowing clarity is neither the same as nor different than the previous moment. Hence the cause of a given instant of a knowing clarity cannot be construed to be itself nor can it be construed to be other than itself. This is the only version of causation which, in the final analysis, Buddhadharma can admit to on a relative level. It is the logical consequence of the Buddha's insight, "When this exists, that exists, with the arising of that, this arose."

    PadmaVonSamba wrote:
    I am not referring to cognition, rather, the causes of that cognition.

    Malcolm wrote:
    Cognitions arise based on previous cognitions. That's all.

    If you suggest anything other than this, you wind up in Hindu La la land.

    Malcolm wrote:
    There is no such thing as a universal undifferentiated ultimate awareness in Buddhadharma.

    gad rgyangs wrote:
    "In other words, following Khenpo Jikphun (transcript from JLA) :
    « — You have the Base (gzhi) of the natural state. That state has a knowledge (rig pa) which, owing to the dynamism of the state (which is not static), flashes out of the Base."

    Malcolm wrote:
    This occurs because of latent traces of karma and affliction left over from the previous eon, according to a commentary attributed to Garab Dorje on the Single Son of All the Buddhas Tantras.

    So this neutral awareness that rises out of the basis upon the stirring of vāyu in the basis actually has a cause.

    "Amazing!
    Mere clear vidyā, this mere intermediate realization,
    it is not a buddha, is not a sentient beings,
    neutral, dependent on both conditions.
    For example, it is like a stainless crystal ball,
    which can produce fire or water through the condition of the sun or the moon.
    Likewise, vidyā, the essence of the mind,
    arises as the suffering of samsara or the bliss of nirvana through conditions."

    The Three Kāyas Tantra from the Ka dag rang shar

    gad rgyangs wrote:
    how could the basis be subject to karma and afflictions?

    Malcolm wrote:
    The basis does not have a cause, just like space does not have a cause. But it is a repository for the build up of traces nevertheless.

    'The way samsara arose at first is, when the trio of vāyu, vidyā and space arose from the undifferentiated basis, since vidyā was unstable because of isolation, and engaged in self-delusion, panicked at sound, frightened of the light, and fainted at the light and was covered by ignorance. After it engages in self-delusion, the duality of outer objects and inner mind arises. The mere thought of self arising from other, and other arising from self, disturbed the karmavāyus. Mind is built up by the vāyu, the analytical mind analyzes objects. The self-deluded awareness demarcated sensation and since it did not recognize it own appearances, apparent objects were apprehended as a duality. Since that accumulated traces of karma, a physical body was appropriated and the suffering of delusion is uninterrupted. For example, sentient being formed out of ignorance are like being stuck pitch dark.'

    The Clear Lamp from the Ka dag rang shar

    The whole process is clearly personal and individual, not transpersonal.

    gad rgyangs wrote:
    It could only be a repository if it was reified. The basis is said to have/be "rang byung ye shes", and is equated with rigpa in many texts. are these not cognitive terms?

    Malcolm wrote:
    Space is a repository for all things, one does not have to reify space to understand that.

    "Rang byung ye shes" means "wisdom that arises from oneself". This point is very clearly explained in many places.

    In any event, we can consider that the Vima Nyinthig commentary attributed to Garab Dorje authoritative:

    "From now on, the stirred pit of samsara will not appear as the six kinds of living beings. for twenty thousand eons, sentient beings, having severed the stream of samsara, will not appear with a bodily form. After that, from the arising of the subtle latent defilements of different actions, it will be equivalent with the production of the previous samsara and nirvana"

    Thus we find out that all this business about the basis and so on is really just a way to talk about what happens in the so called dark eons, when everything below the third and fourth rūpadhātu are held to disappear, even though the origin of the basis is often couched in terms to place in an unimaginable primeval beginning.

    Its a Buddhist way to try to talk about origins without talking about origins. "I can't find where it started so I am going to call it 'self-originated'." But if someone thinks it is pointing to some transcendental uber consciousness, well, if that is what someone thinks, I think someone doesn't really understand Dzogchen at all. If someone things the basis is consciousness, or some cognitive or noetic principle, they have understood nothing.

    gad rgyangs wrote:
    Then what does it ['Rang byung ye shes' meaning 'wisdom that arises from oneself'] mean as an attribute of the basis?

    The basis is not space.

    Malcolm wrote:
    Nyibum* states:

    As such, because the basis, one’s unfabricated mind, arose as the essence of reality of a single nature, there is no need to search elsewhere for the place etc., i.e. it is called self-originated wisdom.

    The basis is nothing more nor nothing less this.

    *the son of Zhang stong Chobar, the terton of the Vima Nyinthig

    gad rgyangs wrote:
    I'm glad you took out the part where you said the basis is nothing but alaya!

    as to the quote, the basis does not "arise", it is the basis of arising. I'm also not sure I like equating one's mind, unfabricated or not, with the basis: one's mind is clearly an appearance, not the basis.

    Malcolm wrote:
    Sorry but the term ālaya in Dzogchen and term as it is used, for example in Sakya, are completely different.

    The term basis in Dzogchen (sthāna) and the term ālaya in Lamdre for example, have precisely the same meaning, i.e. one’s unfabricated mind (rang sems ma bcos pa).

    gad rgyangs wrote:
    whats an "unfabricated mind" anyway? awareness without the prapanca?

    Malcolm wrote:
    Yes, I believe so. So basically, all that fancy Dzogchen lingo about the basis and so on is really just talking about a mind stream that is proposed to have a primordial start point which is completely free of proliferation.

    We can trust Nyibum about this because his father invented/revealed the Nyinthig tradition and he himself was a great scholar who studied widely.

    gad rgyangs wrote:
    I dunno Malcolm, the basis is more like the backdrop against which any appearances appear, including any consciousness. Also, what sense would it make to say "rigpa is one's knowledge of the basis" if that basis was one's own continuum? the basis is pure no-thing as abgrund of all phenomena. Consciousness is always a phenomenon.

    Malcolm wrote:
    I prefer to put my faith in the guy whose father started the whole Nyinthig thing.And what is says is verified in many Dzogchen tantras, both from the bodhcitta texts as well as others.

    The basis is not a backdrop. Everything is not separate from the basis. But that everything just means your own skandhas, dhātus and āyatanas. There is no basis outside your mind, just as there is no Buddhahood outside of your mind.

    [Quoting gad rgyangs: Consciousness is always a phenomenon.] So is the basis. They are both dharmas.

    Or as the Great Garuda has it when refuting Madhyamaka:

    Since phenomena and nonphenomena have always been merged and are inseparable,
    there is no further need to explain an “ultimate phenomenon”.

    An 12th century commentary on this text states (but not this passage):

    Amazing bodhicitta (the identity of everything that becomes the basis of pursuing the meaning that cannot be seen nor realized elsewhere than one’s vidyā) is wholly the wisdom of the mind distinct as the nine consciousnesses that lack a nature.

    In the end, Dzogchen is really just another Buddhist meditative phenomenology of the mind and person and that is all.

    gad rgyangs wrote:
    Then why speak of a basis at all? just speak of skandhas, dhātus and āyatanas, and be done with it.

    Malcolm wrote:
    Because these things are regarded as afflictive, whereas Dzogchen is trying to describe the person in his or her originally nonafflictive condition. It really is just that simple. The so called general basis is a universal derived from the particulars of persons. That is why it is often mistaken for a transpersonal entity. But Dzogchen, especially man ngag sde is very grounded in Buddhist Logic, and one should know that by definition universals are considered to be abstractions and non-existents in Buddhism, and Dzogchen is no exception.

    gad rgyangs wrote:
    There is no question of the basis being an entity, thats not the point. Rigpa is precisely what it says in the yeshe sangthal: instant presence experienced against/within the "backdrop" (metaphor) of a "vast dimension of emptiness" (metaphor).

    Malcolm wrote:
    It's your own rigpa, not a transpersonal rigpa, being a function of your own mind. That mind is empty.

    gad rgyangs wrote:
    When all appearances cease, what are you left with?

    Malcolm wrote:
    They never cease....

    gad rgyangs wrote:
    In the yeshe sangthal you dissolve all appearances into the "vast dimension of emptiness", out of which "instant presence" arises. This is cosmological as well as personal, since the two scales are nondual.

    rigpa is ontological not epistemic: its not about some state of consciousness before dualism vision, it is about the basis/abgrund of all possible appearances, including our consciousness in whatever state its in or could ever be in.

    Malcolm wrote:
    Sorry, I just don't agree with you and think you are just falling in the Hindu brahman trap.

    Sherlock wrote:
    Isn't the difference between transpersonal and personal also a form of dualism?

    Malcolm wrote:
    The distinction is crucial. If this distinction is not made, Dzogchen sounds like Vedanta.

    Malcolm wrote:
    [Quoting gad rgyangs: in the yeshe sangthal you dissolve all appearances into the "vast dimension of emptiness", out of which "instant presence" arises. This is cosmological as well as personal, since the two scales are nondual.]

    'The way that great transference body arises:
    when all appearances have gradually been exhausted,
    when one focuses one’s awareness on the appearances strewn about
    on the luminous maṇḍala of the five fingers of one’s hand,
    the environment and inhabitants of the universe
    returning from that appearance are perceived as like moon in the water.
    One’s body is just a reflection,
    self-apparent as the illusory body of wisdom;
    one obtains a vajra-like body.
    One sees one’s body as transparent inside and out.
    The impure eyes of others cannot see one’s body as transparent,
    but only the body as it was before...'

    Shabkar, Key to One Hundred Doors of Samadhi

    Outer appearances do not disappear even when great transference body is attained. What disappears are the inner visions, that is what is exhausted, not the outer universe with its planets, stars, galaxies, mountains, oceans, cliffs, houses, people and sentient beings.

    M

    gad rgyangs wrote:
    I'm talking about the perception of the relationship between nothing and something. The question of what jargon to use when talking around it is secondary, although not without historical interest.

    Malcolm wrote:
    Rigpa is just knowing, the noetic quality of a mind. That is all it is.

    Malcolm wrote:
    Omniscience is the content of a mind freed of afflictions. Even the continuum of a Buddha has a relative ground, i.e. a the rosary or string of moments of clarity is beginingless.

    Origination from self is axiomatically negated in Buddhadharma,

    Each moment in the continuum of a knowing clarity is neither the same as nor different than the previous moment. Hence the cause of a given instant of a knowing clarity cannot be construed to be itself nor can it be construed to be other than itself. This is the only version of causation which, in the final analysis, Buddhadharma can admit to on a relative level. It is the logical consequence of the Buddha's insight, "When this exists, that exists, with the arising of that, this arose."

    dzogchungpa wrote:
    Honestly, this doesn't make any sense to me.

    Malcolm wrote:
    It is pretty straight forward Madhyamaka. If a cause exists at the same time as the effect, the effect is a non-effect, like a seed and its sprout existing at the same time. On the other hand if causes and effects are temporally separate, i.e. of the cause exists at a different time than the effect, the cause will amount to a non-cause and the effect, a non-effect. If the cause is the same as the effect, the cause will be a non-cause and the effect will be a non-effect. If they are different, then also cause will be a non-cause and the effect will be a non-effect.

    Therefore, what Candrakirti proposes, following Nāgārjuna, is that causes and effects are neither the same nor are they different, and that they are not simultaneous nor are they temporally distinct.

    dzogchungpa wrote:
    This I understand.

    [Quoting Malcolm: Therefore, what Candrakirti proposes, following Nāgārjuna, is that causes and effects are neither the same nor are they different, and that they are not simultaneous nor are they temporally distinct.]

    This I don't.

    Malcolm wrote:
    Sure you do. We have shown that the standard accounts of cause and effect, that they are temporally distinct, or that they are identical of different, are incoherent, from a Madhyamaka point of view. But since effects do appear to arise from causes, given that all of the above is true, this leaves only one option, that causes and their effects are neither the same nor are they different, for example, butter and milk, etc.

    dzogchungpa wrote:
    OK, now it all makes sense.

    dzogchungpa wrote:
    Can you say a little more about what you mean by a primordial start point?

    Malcolm wrote:
    It doesn't really mean anything. The continuum of a mind has no beginning. What is being proposed in (some) Dzogchen texts is that at some idealized point in the most distant past beyond our imagination there was a time when our mind was in a state of non-fabrication. At that time this non-fabricated mind, aka the basis, was not aware of itself or anything else but contains within it all the qualities of buddhahood. Then somehow, and it is never really explained how, our own mind's cognitive potentiality [rtsal] stirs and rises up ['phags] out of itself giving rise to neutral awareness that either becomes prajñā or ignorance depending on whether it recognizes its own potentiality or not. This kicks off the division between samsara and nirvana. It is completely personal and is not transpersonal at all. But unfortunately, because Dzogchen texts are not very clear about this, the account of the basis tends to be interpreted transpersonally, most likely due to the proliferation of Advaita.

    It is my deeply held conviction that this transpersonal account which is favored by many people is a total misunderstanding based on reading these texts in Tibetan for the past 20 years and receiving detailed teachings on them from a variety of very qualified masters .



  • cloudburst wrote: [Quoting Malcolm: As I said the basis is just your own mind.]
    [Quoting Malcolm: The gzhi, in Dzogchen, has nothing to do with the mind.]

    HI Malcolm

    Could you give a brief account of how your view has changed on this matter? It's somewhat striking.

    Thank you.

    Malcolm wrote: It is simple: the basis has nothing to do with afflicted mind, the one we ordinarily experience.The two statements may be reconciled in the following way.

    The basis is simply a way of talking about the components of the universe — earth, water, fire, air, space and consciousness — from the point of view their luminous intrinsic purity. A way of saying this in Tibetan in Dzogchen terms would be ཆོས་ཐམས་ཅད་རང་བཞིན་གྱིས་ཀ་དག་དང་ལྷུན་གྲབ (all phenomena are pure and naturally perfect by nature); a gsar ma equivalent presentation might run ཆོས་ཐམས་ཅད་རང་བཞིན་གྱིས་དག་པ་དང་འོད་གསལ་བ (all phenomena are pure and luminous by nature).

    The Kalacakra tantra makes a very important point about this, as Tagtshang Lotsawa points out in his survey of the Vimalaprabha:

    Great bliss and empty forms [śunyatābimba, stong gzugs] are shown to exist in the basis with this wisdom element of the basis [gzhi] because Bhagavan Vajsattva Mahāsukha explains that all three realms exist in oneself in the commentary of the third verse of this [adhyātma] chapter, and it is established through the citation of the root text and commentary of “wisdom merged into emptiness”.
    What is this wisdom? He again clarifies:

    Bearing the name “wisdom”, this consciousness that exists pervading the bodies of all sentient beings is merged into that emptiness which pervades all sentient beings, including the sentient beings of the bardo and the formless realm. This is taught in the commentary as existing through a relative mode.

    In Kalacakra, for example, the wisdom element is considered to be the five elements counted as one. Tatshang again:

    As such, from among the ten elements, the first five are enumerated individually, i.e., the elements of space, air, fire, water and earth. Counting the latter five as one, since they are made into one so called “wisdom element”, these six elements form this womb-born body.

    The fact that points towards the same meaning as the basis in Dzogchen is provided by him here:


    This statement of the root text “Wisdom is merged into emptiness, uniform taste, unchanging, and permanent” is intended for the mind of the apprehending subject that apprehends the object of the empty form established through the power of meditating on the main [devatā]. Here, the meaning of uniform taste, unchanging and permanent are though to be “complete in perfection.” Further, the meaning of permanent is said to be freedom from obscurations. That also intends intrinsically lacking obscuration or without the obscurations of movements. Though there is nothing to identify here in inseparable uniform taste, while produced conditionally, the intention is that the apprehended object and the apprehending subject have a single essence, and that a transforming continuum is not possible.

    This is an extremely important point and demonstrates why the body of light is possible through either Dzogchen thögal or the path of the two stages.

    Now, someone might object that it is inappropriate to cite the Kalacakra to clarify points in Dzogchen tantras, but then if this is so, then all great masters from Nubchen on down to Dudjom Rinpoche are at fault for using such tantras as the Mañjuśrīnamasamgiti to clarify Dzogchen.

    Now, I am just a scholar, sharing with those who are interested my research. For many people it is annoying that I change my opinions, but I only have opinions based on what I know. Since I am not an enlightened person I can only understand what is said in the texts along with my own experience. Therefore, when my learning contradicts my earlier opinions, I change the latter immediately as soon as I have confirmed them mistaken. Such is the only honest path of real scholarship. Since I am not a person who can just accept what is told to me, my path is a bit more brutal and hard than most. But I consider that I am like a goldsmith, and it would be remiss of me not to rigorously test these texts that appear to shine like gold to see if they really are gold, merely gold-plated or fool's gold.

    gad rgyangs wrote:you are forgetting that at the level of the basis there is no distinction between personal and universal. If you want to call the basis a quality shared by everything that arises you have merely coopted the term ususally used for the origin/ground of everything that arises and now you need a new term for that. unless of course you want to reify indivduals as independent monads of some sort, which is basically svabhava.

    Malcolm wrote:
    Defining the basis as a sort of fabric out of which appearances arise does not solve the problem of individuated consciousnesses.

    What is the basis in fact? The Dzogchen tantras describe this as "wisdom". This wisdom is said to have three aspects [rnam pa], original purity, its svabhāva; natural perfection, its prakṛiti; and compassion, the inseparability of the first two.

    Even discussing wisdom as a the basis, even a nonsubstantiated basis as in Dzogchen does not make sense if that wisdom is not describing a noetic entity. Simplistic solutions like refusing to define it as one or many simply raise more questions than they answer.

    There are two propositions:

    B1, the basis as a transpersonal field out of which everything in samsara and nirvana is instantiated through its non-recognition.

    B2 the basis is meant only to apply to any given sentient beings. Since this applies to all sentient being, here the basis is like fire, fire as light and heat as a quality, every instantiation of fire has light and heat. Likewise, every sentient beings shares common characteristics because they are sentient, they have consciousness.

    Dante, your position is B1, and while I can understand how people are lead to accept B1 as the message of Dzogchen teachings, it is an exaggeration in my estimation.

    Instead, I think B2 is the more proper understanding, based for example on Nyibum's remark that the basis is one's unfabricated mind. This is an authoritative citation that must be addressed and heeded. For example, the Mind Mirror of Vajrasattva states:

    That is one’s own basis but it was not recognized by oneself. The samsaric three realms are formed through delusion. 
Then, after the afflictions become more coarse, different forms of sentient beings emerge, deluded from the basis in that way.”

    This just means that each and every sentient being is deluded from their own basis; even though the basis is described in generic terms, it is not the case that all sentient beings ultimate share one basis. The basis is uniform in its nature, if you will, among all instantiations of sentient beings but each and every sentient being's basis is unique to that being. Since the Dzogchen tantras do describe wisdom as being a repository for traces, again we can try to explain this through B1 or B2.

    In the B1 scenario, the basis would have to like a bank, where different people placed their traces, kind of like samsara accounts.

    A B2 scenario is much simpler, since it is only means that since sentient beings did not recognize their own unfabricated minds, then they begin to develop the traces of action that produce our common karmic visions of the six realms. This is certainly the intent of Shabkar when he writes:

    Therefore, since appearances are not fixed,
    whatever appears [appears] because of the power of traces.


    And:

    Therefore, everything is an appearance of the mind.
    Since everything is created by the concepts of the mind,
    in reality, all of the appearances of the mind are empty.


    More importantly Shabkar states:

    Self-originated primordial wisdom appearing as vidyā is also the mind...
    There are no appearances at all apart from the mind.


    And:

    This is the introduction that confirms the basis,
    the natural reality of the mind essence.


    Compare these last two with Nyibum:

    As such, because the basis, one’s unfabricated mind, arose as the essence of the sole reality, there is no need to search elsewhere for the place etc., i.e. it is called self-originated wisdom.
    (Apologies for the last version, which was from an earlier unedited version by mistake)

    My present position therefore, is B2, the basis is just the way a sentient being's consciousness [shes pa rather than rnam par shes pa] or mind [sems, citta] is talked about in Dzogchen texts prior to being afflicted for all the reasons I mentioned earlier.

    M

    gad rgyangs wrote:
    Malcolm wrote:B1, the basis as a transpersonal field out of which everything in samsara and nirvana is instantiated through its non-recognition.


    the basis is not a field. its not an any-thing.

    Malcolm wrote:
    This is a faulty presentation of the basis, one of the six faulty positions about the basis described in the Six Dimensions of Samantabhadra Tantra, as well as others.


    gad rgyangs wrote: thats why it cannot contain traces, it would have to be some kind of existent locus for that.

    asunthatneversets wrote:

    Here are the sixfold faulty definitions of the basis [gzhi] from The Six Dimensions of Samantabhadra in case anyone is interested. Compiled from David Germano's and Tsele Natsok Rangdrol's translations of this section:

    There are two types of understanding in reference to the basis [gzhi]:

    (a) The basis as an object of knowledge held to be absolute.
    (b) The basis as original purity [ka dag].

    (a) The Basis as an Object of Knowledge held to be Absolute:

    It has six aspects (all of which are inaccurate).

    (i) The belief that the basis is spontaneously present.
    (ii) The belief that the basis is indefinite.
    (iii) The belief that it is the definite and determinate foundation.
    (iv) The belief that it is totally changeable.
    (v) The belief that it can be said to be anything whatsoever.
    (vi) The belief that it is multifaceted with various aspects.

    These six aspects are faulty beliefs. They are partial and biased and should not be accepted in this context as the true basis. Through them you would have no more than a partial understanding of the natural state.

    The following is the seventh understanding of the basis which is held to be the single accurate view.

    (b) The basis as original purity [ka dag]:

    (vii) Original purity [ka dag].

    Malcolm wrote:

    Wisdom is suitable as a basis for traces, or so the Dzogchen texts tell us.



    Malcolm wrote: Even discussing wisdom as a the basis, even a nonsubstantiated basis as in Dzogchen does not make sense if that wisdom is not describing a noetic entity.

    gad rgyangs wrote: then what is that wisdom?

    Malcolm wrote:


    A mind lacking fabrications.



    Malcolm wrote: the basis is just the way a sentient being's consciousness [shes pa rather than rnam par shes pa] or mind [sems, citta] is talked about in Dzogchen texts prior to being afflicted for all the reasons I mentioned earlier.


    gad rgyangs wrote: ok, then whats the basis of that consciousness?


    Malcolm wrote:Ka dag or emptiness, the correct description of the basis according the the man ngag sde texts. But as pointed out in these same texts, the basis is not merely emptiness. It also has "wisdom" (ye shes), which is a kind of shes pa or sems, a primordial or pristine consciousness, as opposed to a rnam shes, an aspected consciousness that possesses concepts.

    Basically, even though Dzogchen texts describe such a "beginning time", I personally don't believe that there is a start point ever. The description of such a start point is merely a literary device, much as Samantabhadra is a literary device.

    The five elements are also included in wisdom, etc., so there is no contradiction between saying that the basis is wisdom, and the basis is empty. The problem comes only if one imagines that basis is somehow a unitary entity, a fabric, which provides the basis for the arising of sentient beings and buddhas on an objective level. But if, as I have come to understand, it is not referring to an objective entity or context, then the basis is easily described as a a set of general features which every noetic entity that we call "buddhas" or "sentient being" shares in common as an idealized "initial" set of conditions. The only difference between buddhas and sentient beings then is the extent to which they recognize this set of general features within their own continuums. Hence in this respect the so called original general basis merely describes an abstract set of qualities, but is not itself an instantiation of those qualities in any way. Those qualities are only instantiated in a sattva, a being. In this way the basis is not one, because it is instantiated individually; it is not many because it is a uniform set of qualities that are being instantiated across all beings.

    This way, the general Buddhist dictum which extends all the way down to Vasubandhu's Kośabhaṣ (and clearly the authors of the Dzogchen tantras were familiar with it because they use the Kośa cosmology in such tantras as the Rigpa Rangshar), matter arises from mind/s. I.e. the order of the arising of matter presented in virtually all buddhist texts is:

    Consciousness --> space --> air --> fire --> water --> earth.

    In Dzogchen texts we see an analogous sequence: wisdom --> blue light --> green light --> red light --> white light -- yellow light; which when reified becomes the standard Buddhist sequence above. The only difference between the two sequences is that the former sequence occurs when the latter sequence is not recognized for being what it is, the display of a given being's own noetic capacity.
    ConradTree wrote:
    Malcolm wrote:[Instead, I think B2 is the more proper understanding, based for example on Nyibum's remark that the basis is one's unfabricated mind. This is an authoritative citation that must be addressed and heeded. For example, the Mind Mirror of Vajrasattva states:

    M


    You have previously argued the basis of Dzogchen is not even the unfabricated mind:

    viewtopic.php?f=100&t=6459&hilit=basis+Mahamudra#p76393
    Malcolm wrote:

    Yes, and I was also wrong.

    Malcolm wrote:But as pointed out in these same texts, the basis is not merely emptiness. It also has "wisdom" (ye shes), which is a kind of shes pa or sems, a primordial or pristine consciousness, as opposed to a rnam shes, an aspected consciousness that possesses concepts.


    Yes this is called Advaita Vedanta.

    Malcolm wrote:


    No, since this ye shes is personal, never transpersonal, and at the time of the basis, is merely describing the mind (shes pa, sems) in a pre-afflictive state.

    Malcolm wrote:In Dzogchen texts we see an analogous sequence: wisdom --> blue light --> green light --> red light --> white light -- yellow light; which when reified becomes the standard Buddhist sequence above. The only difference between the two sequences is that the former sequence occurs when the latter sequence is not recognized for being what it is, the display of a given being's own noetic capacity.
    ConradTree wrote:

    If you are defining wisdom as pristine consciousness, then this a slight twist on Advaita Vedanta.
    Malcolm wrote:

    Tibetans translate jñāna as ye shes. That term "ye shes "is frequently translated as "pristine awareness" or "primordial wisdom", etc. I am saying that Dzogchen authors take this term very literally (a literalism criticized by people like Sakya Pandita) because they are taking this mode of shes pa (jñatā, jñānatā, parijñāna, etc.), which they describe as ye shes to mean that the original state (ye nas) of the mind (shes pa) is pre-afflictive, and Dzogchen is the path to recover that primordial state.

    I am not saying that this consciousness is a universal plenum, like brahman, from which all beings arise; that is exactly the mistake I think most people fall into when studying Dzogchen, i.e. they wind up falling into an unintentional brahman trap.

    Thus what I am saying is the basis is personal, not universal. Each's being has their own basis since they each have their own mind, the characteristics of the basis (essence, nature and compassion) are general, and apply to all minds, just as all candles on a table are separate and unique, but all flames on those candles bear the same qualities, heat and light.

    The fault that I suffered from was not seeing the fact that "rnam shes" (vijñāna), "shes rab" (prajñā), "ye shes" (jñāna), "shes pa"(jñatā) are all talking about one thing, different modalities of a single continuum from sentient being hood to Buddhahood, based on language in man ngag sde texts, reinforced very strongly by Longchenpa, which make a very hard distinction between sems (citta) and yeshe (jñāna) without recognizing the distinction is not in substance, but merely in mode i.e. afflicted/non-afflicted.

    Let me add, that the way I see it now is that "rnam shes", consciousness, refers to the afflicted mind, "ye shes" refers to the unafflicted mind; and "shes pa" refers the a mind which is neutral, that can go either way depending on whether it is under the influence of vidyā or avidyā.

    Really, I am not saying anything that is terribly controversial. I am recognizing that I was mislead by a distinction made by Longchenpa and others who, for didactic reasons, make a hard distinction between mind/consciousness and wisdom when what they are really doing is making a hard distinction between utterly afflicted minds and utterly pure minds, and providing a literary mythology (the universe arises out of the basis) to explain the separation of sentient beings and buddhas.

    I have similarly come to the conclusion that the account of the basis arising out of the basis and the separation of samsara and nirvana at some imagined start point unimaginable eons ago is just a literary myth, and it does not need to be taken literally.

    dzogchungpa wrote:
    Malcolm wrote:ka dag = śuddha
    lhun grub =anābhoga/nirābhoga
    thugs rje = karuna.

    OK, then why do 'karuna' and 'abheda' have the same meaning here, if that is what you are saying?
    Malcolm wrote:

    No, thugs rjes is often defined as the inseparability of ka dag and lhun grub.

    Ngo bo/svabhāva, i.e. emptiness is the characteristic of ka dag/śuddha
    Rang bzhin/prakṛtī, i.e. clarity, is the characteristic of lhun grub/ anābhoga
    Thugs rjes/karuna, i.e. compassion, is the characteristic inseparability/abheda of the former pair.

    ConradTree wrote:
    Someone who finishes the dzogchen menngagde practices, sees the 5 lights everywhere they look.

    Not pristine unfabricated mind.
    Malcolm wrote:

    They are the same thing.

    And no, I was slightly mistaken before.

    The reason people see the five lights everywhere they look is that they no longer have traces to reify the five elements as the five elements because their consciousness has become free of all traces of the two obscurations, i.e. with those removed, what remains is wisdom.

    Of course, there is nothing substantial that is ever removed, from such a mind.

    Then we gave this from the Rig pa rang shar:

    Son of a good family, one must recognize the awareness [shes pa] free from grasping as one’s own state.

    Or the Rang grol:

    A vidyā that performs actions does not exist
    in the essence of pure awareness.


    Or the Mind Mirror of Samantabhadra has an interlinear note:

    The nature of one’s vidyā is light. Since kāyas are the gathered in the sphere of wisdom, the meaning of the view of Samantabhadra is realized. Further, there is vidyā and the wisdom that arises from vidyā. Further, vidyā that is free from extremes and beyond multiplicity does not transcend awareness (shes pa) and knowing (rig), endowed with a core of empty wisdom free from the extremes of things.

    The Sun and Moon Tantra states:

    At that time, that fortunate one
    when the appearances are self-evident,
    the non-abiding awareness is called “natural”.


    Anyway, there are too many references in various Dzogchen texts which state quite clearly that the basis is just one's mind. This is consistent with Buddhadharma. Other explanations are not.

    M
    ConradTree wrote:
    Malcolm wrote:The reason people see the five lights everywhere they look


    Stop right there. No need to go further.

    This indicates the basis is the 5 lights.

    checkmate.

    Old Malcolm wins over new Malcolm.

    Malcolm wrote:

    The basis is not the five lights. The five lights are expressions of wisdom.

    Those all just exist in one's mind, as Shabkar point out.

    The basis is not something separate from you the person, and it is not some uniform transpersonal field. It is just your own mind and it's essence.


    By the way I never thought the basis was a transpersonal field. But have become aware that many people interpret is as such, and therefore, I writing to correct this misapprehension.

    In other words, Dzogchen teachings about the basis are actually "disappointingly" Buddhist and not so radical after all.

    smcj wrote:the basis" is not simply your own mind (which would be what is usually called a Yogacaran interpretation)

    Malcolm wrote:
    The ālaya cause continuum (Sakya), the fundamental mind of luminosity (Gelug), "ground mahāmudra" (Kagyu) or the "basis" (Nyingma) all refer to the same thing, i.e., one's unfabricated mind. There is no contradiction between these positions and a position that holds that the basis is tathāgatagarbha. All of these are merely different ways of discussing tathāgatagarbha.

    M

    smcj wrote:
    Malcolm wrote:
    smcj wrote:the basis" is not simply your own mind (which would be what is usually called a Yogacaran interpretation)
    =
    It is called Wisdom (Skt.: jnana) and also the dharmata. It is the essential reality of all things. It is said to be truly existent and not self-empty. As such it offends the sensibilities of people that get hysterical when the specter of brahman shows itself.


    Malcolm wrote:

    As I already pointed out, wisdom is a noetic quality. It cannot be a noetic quality separate from our mind. It cannot be a singular noetic quality pervading all minds.

    When the "mind" is completely purified of all taints, it is called "wisdom" (jñāna) When it is with taints it is called consciousness (vijñāna).

    If we follow what you are saying, there is no hope at all of finding Buddhahood within our own minds, since buddhahood and wisdom would be extraneous to our continuums. If we are to find buddhahood within our own minds, as hundreds of texts recommend, then we have to discover that buddhahood in the essence of our own minds. That is not transpersonal.

    Even gzhan stong does not presuppose a brahman like entity. They are merely stating that the three kāyas are the inherent in the nature of the mind. For example, Dolbupa, arguable the founder of gshan stong terms the tathāgatagarbhe the ālaya, the all-basis. He says too, [Hopkins, 2006, pg. 65] "Similarly the Glorious Hevajra Tantra also says that the natural clear light mind that resides in all sentient beings is buddha..." And on page 106 he says "

    ...Bhavya's "Lamp for (Nāgājruna's) Wisdom" if the middle way:
    It consciousness,
    clear light, nirvana,
    All-emptiness, and body of attrubutes.

    [The term] "consciousness" on this occasion is in consideration of the consciousness of the noumenon and pure consciousness because it is used as a synonym for the clearly body of attributes."


    On 120 he says:

    If the matrix-of-the-one-gone-bliss did not exist in fact, it would incur the irreversible fallacy of contradicting the statement in the Descent to Lankā Sūtra that the mind beyond logic, the essence of the ultimate 12 grounds, natural clear light, buddha-matrix, natural virtue, basis free from all positions, final source of refuge, and exalted buddha wisdom is the matrix-of-one-gone-bliss.

    So you can see, the term below "one's unfabricated mind" has exactly the same meaning and for this reason I maintain that the view of the basis proposed in Sakya, Kagyu, Gelug, Nyingma and Jonang are the same, even though they describe it differently, from different angles and with different terminology. The meaning and the subject of discussion however is the same.

    As such, because the basis, one’s unfabricated mind, arose as the essence of the sole reality, there is no need to search elsewhere for the place etc., i.e. it is called self-originated wisdom.

    M
    gad rgyangs wrote:
    3) the appearances of the basis consist of all phenomena of samsara and nirvana, including "sentient beings" and their "minds":


    Malcolm wrote:

    The tantra is describing the basis in abstract general terms, not as an instantiated entity which has a function. Therefore, the basis is not transpersonal in manner in which you have previously suggested.


    The "Illuminating Lamp" says:

    "From within this indeterminate spontaneous presence
    There is a manifestation-process of varied plurality,
    And its unceasing play accomplishes everything and anything,
    As it shines forth everywhere in any way;
    In its indeterminancy, there is a plurality of appearances"


    so yes, the basis of the mind of a sentient being is the same basis as the basis of all phenomena of samsara and nirvana: the basis beyond all words and categories.


    Nyibum who is an authority on this subject, could not be clearer. The basis is just one's unfabricated mind. That is the basis for all samsara and nirvana. In Sakya it is called the all-basis cause continuum, in Kagyu, ground mahāmudra, in Gelug, the mind of clear light and in Jonang, tathāgatagarbha.



    gad rgyangs wrote:
    3) the appearances of the basis consist of all phenomena of samsara and nirvana, including "sentient beings" and their "minds":


    Malcolm wrote:

    "All phenomena" simply means one skandha, one āyatana and one dhātu e.g. rūpaskandha, mano-āyatana and the dharmadhātu.

    And as I pointed, even the container universe arises from consciousnesses according to Buddhism through their collective activity. Dzogchen is just another way of describing this insight which is found even in Abhidharma (of which Dzogchen is a self-described part).




  • 12 Responses
    1. anaj Says:

      Can someone explain how space is dependently originated? I don't mean phenomenal space of consciousness but real physical space of which the very notion of dependent origination seem to rely on. I mean how can stuff depend on one another unless they exist in space? The very notion of causality seem to presuppose the existence of space. Am I missing something?


    2. Soh Says:

      malcolm said: That kind of space is conditioned space, defined by enclosure and area -- for example, the space of a room. When talking about space, one ought to define which space one is referring to, conditioned or unconditioned space.

      But even when one "looks into space" what one is seeing is not "area" qua "area" but rather a shape defined by apparant colors which is part of the rupadhātu, the object of the eye. N

      adinatha wrote: How about the wide open sky?

      Malcolm replied: It's defined by the horizon and by its color; so, still part of rupadhātu.

      adinatha wrote:

      Oh okay. So unconditioned space is just a definition?

      Malcolm replied: Yes.

      Malcolm:

      There are two kinds of space detailed in Buddhist texts, unconditioned space, which is what is meant by the above, the absence of obstruction, and conditioned space, i.e., cavities and dimensionality.


    3. Soh Says:

      ghzi: basis having the nature of compassion.

      "Ngo bo/svabhāva, i.e. emptiness is the characteristic of ka dag/śuddha
      Rang bzhin/prakṛtī, i.e. clarity, is the characteristic of lhun grub/ anābhoga
      Thugs rjes/karuna, i.e. compassion, is the characteristic inseparability/abheda of the former pair."


      kun ghzi: "The ālaya is the kungzhi i.e. all-ground (ignorance). The ālayavijñāna is the kungzhi rnamshes which is one of the eight consciousnesses which arises as a direct result of ignorance. Ignorance itself is a direct result of not recognizing the basis' (gzhi) display to be self-display. The kungzhi and kungzhi rnamshes are both ignorance at root. There is no ignorance in the gzhi." - Kyle

      rigpa: one's knowledge of the basis

      "recognizing rigpa is not the same as realzing emptiness."

      Yes, it seems that he distinguishes:

      recognition of rigpa = recognition of unfabricated awareness/clarity. This is not complete knowledge but


      realization of rigpa = full realization of all three wisdoms, and the inseparability of kadag and lhun grub

      Realization of emptiness occurs at the third vision.


    4. Soh Says:

      "Now I´m trying to relate the Dzogchen perspective to Thusness´seven stages. Is Rigpa equivalent to I Am with wrong view?"

      As I understand, there is inferential understanding of emptiness even if one does not realize it. I do not think the Dzogchenpas will equate wrong view with rigpa, however, the realization of unfabricated awareness that I call "I AM realization" (as opposed to "I AM imputation") is clearly the recognition of rigpa in Dzogchen. When I pointed this out to Malcolm, he simply said that it is misleading to call direct apprehension of Awareness as "I AM realization", which I agree. It can be misleading. During that moment of realization there is no imputation of "I AM", sense of self, concepts, etc.

      I AM realization is apprehension of unfabricated awareness, that in itself is not wrong, what is faulty is the view of inherency causing attachment to an image of non-dual Presence as a background identity.


      "As Malcolm said rigpa is not ripened, so no understanding of emptiness."

      There can be inferential understanding of emptiness but not yet direct realization. The view is pointed out from the Dzogchen master from the beginning, and then one tries to slowly understand and realize what that master taught.

      "Or has this non-dual thought nothing to do with it? Are the stages I am and One Mind related to the Alaya (kun ghzi)?"

      The imputation of I AM and one mind are related to the manifestation of alaya, not the direct realization of I AM, which is in fact a recognition of rigpa.


      "Since they talk about self-liberation, understanding of anatta und impermanence must be there. So it should be at least stage five?"

      As Malcolm pointed out, realization of emptiness - either anatta or secondfold emptiness, is not required to begin Dzogchen practice (a recognition of unfabricated awareness is). But emptiness is realized at some point.


    5. Soh Says:

      Thusness told me "higher vehicle is a misperception". I think there are a lot of commonalities beyond sectarian polemics.


    6. Soh Says:

      (continued)


      In reality, what is it? It is actually just one aggregate, one dhatu out of the 18! (six sense organs, six sense objects, six sense consciousness) What is that one dhatu? It is simply a non-conceptual thought. There is no 'sense of being/identity' at that moment of realization. It is a PCE in a non-conceptual thought, or rather, a pure conscious experience of thought, just like a pure conscious experience of sound (neither are purer). However, because the realization of Anatta has not arisen, the PCE quickly devolves into an ASC after that moment of realization, it becomes reified into a super-self, an ultimate Being... especially if one's inquiry is structured in such a way which presumes an ultimate identity: 'Who am I?', which will lead to the realization of I AM. Whereas the inquiry/method of HAIETMOBA does not assume such a being.

      What Richard stress however is PCE in all dhatus (all sense experiences) without identity, which can be 'induced' by the practice of HAIETMOBA.

      The I AM realization resulted from the practice of self-inquiry becomes reified into an ultimate Background of all experience... a ground of being which everything manifests out of, subsides to, yet itself remaining unchanged. Is there such a background? The background is actually an illusion, an image of a previous PCE captured by memory and made more ultimate than other experiences, and reified into an ultimate Self... the actual realization and experience is a full foreground dhatu, aggregate, just like any other manifestations in the sensate field. In actuality, that non-conceptual thought is not any more special than a passing sight, a passing scent! Further insights into non-dual and then anatta will reveal that All are equally marvellous, wonderful, intensely luminous. There is no need to make the set of dhatu that relates to mind-consciousness more special or ultimate than any other, and just as we do not make sound any more ultimate than taste, we also do not need to make non-conceptual thought more ultimate than a sight or indeed even a conceptual thought itself... even though each dhatu and manifestation is radically different from another and arises according to different and various conditions."


    7. Soh Says:

      *Tibet does not have, not Tibetan Buddhism does not have.


    8. Anonymous Says:

      Thanks for the reply,

      very interesting. I always wondered about the expression I AM, because as you say there is no imputation. So I was confused about it, because the certainty is so striking that I asked myself: "How can that not be Rigpa?".

      Yeah, the whole path model by either Kenneth or Daniel is, althoug it seems to work somehow, kinda misleading in comparison to the pali description.

      And regarding the need of direct transmission to your own nature... what bollocks. No guru needed if you are sincere and don´t remain in coneptual thinking. The way they represent Dzogchen and talk about it on the forums is unbelievable ignorant. Although, I love the precision of the teachings.


    9. "First of all, there is a lot of misinformation about Zen in Tibetan Buddhism. Why? Tibetan Buddhism does not have Ch'an or Zen masters. They only had fabricated records of meetings with Hashang Mahayana. And that is where their strawman of Zen stems from."

      On the contrary, there are many writings from early Chan preserved in Tibetan translation, and even a number of 8th and 9th century Tibtean Zen masters. Many of the early translators were first trained in Chan. Chan did not die out in Tibet over night.

      The issue is simply that experience of "rig pa" is something which is based on a type of introduction experience. This type of introduction simply does not exist outside of Vajrayāna. The point is not that Sutrayāna paths are incapable of leading one to the experience of "rig pa", it is that they are slow, as well as other technical considerations. There are some Dzogchen masters like Aro Yeshe Jungnay who cross trained in Chan.

      The issue with "Hashang" has to do with Tibetan clan politics, since all the info about this debate comes from the so called Ba bzhed, written by Ba Sal snang. The Ba clan was anti-Chinese and pro-Indian. This account came to be held definitive by post 11th century scholars, and caused the so called new diffusion schools to have an inaccurate view of Chan and the debate at Samye.


    10. Soh Says:

      Cool, thanks Malcolm for that clarification.


    11. Anonymous Says:

      "The point is not that Sutrayāna paths are incapable of leading one to the experience of "rig pa", it is that they are slow, as well as other technical considerations."

      Okay, that´s another thing. But, how can you say that they are slower. I think it is something that depends on the capacity of the practitioner. I mean, I think although you may had a direct introduction, it doesn´t mean that you really recognized rig pa. So you must add some other practices to have no doubt. Besides, I would like to know what role plays shine in Dzogchen. Is inside (recognition of rig pa or the natural state or what ever you call it) without samadhi possible, or is it also an individual question? That what is categorized in sutra as ethic and concentration, is that in Dzogchen seen as unnecessary or is it something which is embedded to some point in Ngöndro?

      I mean, consider someone who has got nothing to do with all this spiritual stuff all his life, will he get "it" trough simply have some direct introduction?


    12. Anonymous Says:

      *insight not inside, sorry for my bad english ;D