Posted by: Soh
Writings by Kyle Dixon (asunthatneversets) in TheTaoBums:

Extending the space between thoughts is an excellent (and necessary) preliminary practice, however the assumption that there is a gap between thoughts (which becomes more apparent) would still be a subtle byproduct of ignorance.

A gap between thoughts assumes that thoughts sequence consecutively in a linear fashion, and that they arise and fall. This assumption however is predicated on a fundamental misconception and therefore the 'gap' will not reveal the definitive nature of mind [sems nyid]. Recognition of the definitive nature of mind is recognizing the non-arising of thoughts and gaps.

Achieving a stable śamatha is important to sever (or decrease) the compulsory habit of conceptualization, but simply increasing that space between thoughts is nothing more than a stable śamatha [tib. zhi gnas]. Yes you marry the śamatha with vipaśyanā but whether it is wisdom or ignorance makes all the difference. The true vipaśyanā of the natural state is resting in svayambhu vidyā [tib. rang byung rig pa], which only occurs when the stillness and movement of mind are recognized to have been inseparable since beginningless time... and the clarity [cognizance] of mind is then recognized as empty i.e. non-arisen.

Thoughts sequencing consecutively with gaps in between is still a subtle structuring of ignorance. The illusion of a space abiding between apparent occurrences is partly responsible for the idea of an entity (or capacity) which exists in time and is subject to experiences in the first place. When mentation is recognized to be the immediate and disjoint clarity of mind itself, then it's suddenly realized there was never a space between thoughts (beyond conventionality) and the foundation for the chain of conceptualization and cyclic existence is undone. Only then does the primordially non-arisen display of wisdom [ye shes] become fully apparent.

Resting in the stillness of mind and refraining from involvement with thought still assumes there is something that can accept or reject thought. The idea is to see that 'thought objectifying thought' is one of the main culprits which sustain the illusion of the mind's continuity, along with the various implications, tendencies, proclivities, habits, propensities etc., which arise as a direct result of that error.

The underlying substratum (or gap) that seems to abide apart from thought is actually an illusion created by the supposition that thoughts are relating to each other in time. So thought B is supposing that it follows thought A etc., and then thought B will even suppose it can refer to thought A, but by the time that's occurring it's thought C. None of them ever touch, no two thoughts are ever present together in the immediacy, so a thought isn't referencing anything, but only infers that other thoughts have preceded it, it is an illusion. Even the idea that there is more than one thought. That very idea creates the notion that there is a space between them etc.

Thusness also has some succinct insight on this:

"Depending on the conditions of an individual, it may not be obvious that it is 'always thought watching thought rather than a watcher watching thought.' or 'the watcher is that thought.' Because this is the key insight and a step that cannot afford to be wrong along the path of liberation, I cannot help but with some disrespectful tone say,

For those masters that taught,
'Let thoughts arise and subside,
See the background mirror as perfect and be unaffected.'
With all due respect, they have just 'blah' something nice but deluded.


See that there is no one behind thoughts.
First, one thought then another thought.
With deepening insight it will later be revealed,
Always just this, One Thought!
Non-arising, luminous yet empty!"


          rex, on 18 Feb 2014 - 04:21, said:
Glad it helped, though the credit goes to Garab Dorje and his Three Statements. The Third Statement is relevant to Ralis' question:

On the Three Statements of Garab Dorje

The third testament of Garab Dorje is 'continuation', which is the state of one's condition after the second testament [confidence or familiarity i.e. integration] has been brought to its culmination and there is no longer a difference between equipoise and post-equipoise. It is said that this level occurs only for those practitioners who are very close to buddhahood. Most individuals are generally not capable of this.

It should be understood that the three testaments of Garab Dorje coincide with the basis, path and result in Dzogchen. The first (i) introduction, is recognition of the basis. Once that recognition has occurred the basis then becomes the path, which is the second testament, 'confidence', which involves integration and familiarity as mentioned above. After one's rigpa has been brought to its full measure, then the path becomes the result, as buddhahood, and that is the third testament i.e. 'continuation'.


          Anderson, on 19 Feb 2014 - 00:42, said:
The three statements also correspond to the three cycles Sem de , Longde and Mengagde.

Not necessarily, since each cycle actually has its own introduction and so on. They are different cycles and aren't meant as a progression. Klong sde is actually not too widely practiced, Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche has gone out of his way to make it available whereas for the most part sems sde and man ngag sde practices are the most common.


          Anderson, on 19 Feb 2014 - 21:03, said:
I was probably wrong in saying that tregcho is the path because according to Malcolm:

"Tregchö is not the path in Dzogchen.
It is the ground for practicing the path. The path in Dzogchen is thögal. Hence, the way the basis is explained in Dzogchen reflects the actual path in Dzogchen, thus the explanation of the basis in Dzogchen is completely different than that of Mahāmudra. "

Yeah he has stated elsewhere in passing that tregchö is the basis, thögal is the path, and the result is one of the few forms of death, be it rainbow body, atomic body, etc.

Also that 'tregchö' [khregs chod] is essentially any means which is implemented to cut through delusion and/or fixation towards delusion, and in that way, tregchö begins to naturally imply the other integrative practices found in man ngag sde and klong sde. Each of those practices in relation to one another is a combination naturally akin to two sides of the same coin. Dzogchen practices are tregchö by definition though, for example; people have asked Chögyal Namkhai Norbu why he doesn't regularly teach tregchö, and in response he laughed and said he's always teaching tregchö.

At the same time though, Malcolm has also stated that the result of tregchö is the realization of ka dag, which is emptiness free from extremes as unobscured buddha mind [dharmakāya]... while through the other man ngag sde practices (that incorporate energy) is it possible to realize ka dag chen po [nondual ka dag and lhun grub] which reveals the unobscured three kāyas in their entirety.


          Anderson, on 20 Feb 2014 - 02:43, said:
Yes, something like that.
I think that the idea is that budhahood doesn't arise from treckchod alone.
One needs to work with lhundrup also which is the speciality of thogal only.

Buddhahood does occur via tregchö alone, it just takes a lot longer to achieve and doesn't incorporate lhun grub like the other energy based practices do.

Yang ti nag po and klong sde practices also work with lhun grub.


          Creation, on 20 Feb 2014 - 13:17, said:

How do you rectify this with the fact that Namkhai Norbu's favored illustration of the nature of mind is the mirror?

Something I wrote awhile ago, and some quotes from Chögyal Namkhai Norbu:

The mirror-analogy is commonly used in attempting to describe the 'nature of mind' and there is a common misconception which tends to arise from this analogy because the implementation of a mirror seems to convey a substantiated background (or unchanging source). I was attempting to point out that the analogy isn't meant to explore the mirror in itself as an unchanging basis, but solely the mirror's capacity to reflect. So the capacity is the aspect the analogy is exploring. Equating the nature of mind to the mirror's reflective capacity (but not the mirror itself). That the reflections are inseparable from that capacity, just like AEN elucidated with the fire-to-heat and water-to-wetness examples. That capacity isn't a conceivable quality, it isn't something which can be 'known' as a substantiated suchness. The capacity (to reflect) cannot be rolled, thrown or bounced, it has no shape, color, location, weight or height. There is nothing there one can point to and declare 'there it is!'. Yet in it's elusiveness it is still fully apparent in the presence of the reflections themselves. The capacity is evident because of the reflections and the reflections are evident because of the capacity, in truth they co-emergent and mutually interdependent qualities which are completely inseparable. Evident, clear and pure, yet unestablished, ungraspable and ephemeral.

Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche used the capacity aspect as well;

"Our primordial potentiality is beyond form, but we have a symbol, and when we have a symbol then we can get in that knowledge. It is very easy to understand with an example. If you want to discover the potentiality of a mirror, how can you go about it? You can neither see or touch the nature or potentiality of a mirror, nor can you have contact with it in any ordinary way, the only way is to look in a mirror, and then the reflections will appear and through the reflections you can discover it. The reflections are not really the potentiality of the mirror but they are manifesting through that potentiality, so they are something visible for us. With this example we can get in the knowledge of the potentiality of the mirror...."
- Chögyal Namkhai Norbu

"Why then do we have this symbol of primordial potentiality? Primordial potentiality in the Dzogchen teaching is explained with three principles: sound, light and rays. This does not mean that sound, light and rays are manifestations, but rather that these are the root of all manifestations. When you have this potentiality then there is always the possibility of manifestations. If we wonder, for example what the potentiality of a mirror looks like, we couldn't say very much, we could say for example that it is clear, pure, limpid and so forth, but we could not really have contact with it directly through our senses. In the same way sound, light and rays are the essence of potentiality. When we have this potentiality, if secondary causes arise, then anything can manifest.
What do we mean by secondary causes? For example, if in front of a mirror there is tree, or a flower or a person, the object instantly manifests. These are secondary causes. So if there is no secondary cause there is no manifestation. Thus in front of our primordial potentiality there are all the possibilities of manifestation of the secondary causes....."
- Chögyal Namkhai Norbu


          steve, on 22 Feb 2014 - 01:41, said:
From my limited experience and current practice, tregchod is a tool used to bring us to the natural state and helps us to return and eventually stabilize there, whereas thogal develops the insight to recognize and dwell in the knowing that all "vision" and experience (sound, light, and rays) are simply an ornament of the base - one taste.

The important aspect of the mirror analogy for me is the fact that the mirror itself has no preference, makes no judgement. The mirror does not color, influence, or affect, nor is it affected by, the reflections that manifest within it. The danger of the analogy is that we tend to look at the mirror as 'something' and that which is reflected in the mirror as 'something else.' This is a wrong view. In fact, the mirror and that which is reflected in the mirror, and the reflection itself are all of one taste - clear light, emptiness and clarity, mother and son.

In my opinion the 'mirror' itself is an aspect of the analogy that can be dispensed with altogether (or just ignored). Much like in the analogy of the moon reflected in water, the water itself isn't an important aspect of the analogy, the important part is seeing that the moon appears, yet it is not a moon, it is simply an image, apparent yet unreal. Same goes for appearances in a mirror, they are apparent yet unreal. Inseparable from the capacity to reflect, yet that capacity isn't anything. Just like they say in Dzogchen; the nature of mind does not exist, and is nothing at all in itself, yet it cognizes everything.

I just feel once the 'mirror itself' is introduced into the equation it too easily lends to an idea of 'something' substantial, much harder to go down that road if it is simply the mirror's capacity or potentiality that is used, and I think Norbu Rinpoche took note of that as well, being that he distinctly referenced the potentiality rather than the mirror itself.

But to each their own! The ability for interpretation and so on is the beauty of analogies, metaphors and so on.


          steve, on 22 Feb 2014 - 10:35, said:
I find value in the "presence" of the mirror in the analogy. The mirror is not stained by the reflection, the mirror reflects all images equally without preference or aversion. The mirror is unchanged and unchanging while the reflections manifesting in it are as you describe. Another wonderful and related analogy is that of writing in water. Attempting to write in water is like the arising of thoughts and visions in the mind of the accomplished Dzogchenpa. While resting in the Nature of Mind thoughts have no where to rest, no where to take hold, as they form they nature liberate… like trying to write words in water.

  "the nature of mind does not  exist." Do they say that in Dzogchen? That sounds a bit too nihilistic for my taste. Yes, it is empty of inherent existence but it cannot be said to "not exist" either. That is made clear over and over again by the masters. It is equally nothing and everything, yet neither of those…

Yes, there is a danger of taking the presence of the mirror too literally but we are already living in samsara and fully pervaded by duality so I don't think it's a big deal to use samsaric analogies and point out the correct way to approach them. After all, every analogy is rooted in duality. Even the "mirror's capacity or potentiality" is rooted in duality. Removing the mirror is artificial and may, in fact, make it easier for folks to overlook the duality due to the subtlety of it's presence.

Yes but the 'mirror' suggests a 'something' which is not stained by reflections, 'something' which is unchanged or is itself unchanging. Dharmatā is not a 'something' which is a thing in itself that is unstained, dharmatā is simply the non-arising nature of appearances themselves, their lack of inherency, their emptiness. So yes, the dharmatā [nature] of dharmins [phenomena] is never stained, it does not waver or change (because it never arose in the first place) and so on, but that dharmatā is inseparable from the so-called thing itself. It is the absence of inherency, or the unfindability of whatever phenomena is in question.

The 'writing on water' part is describing a different aspect of recognizing that non-arising nature. Recognition of the nature of mind [cittatā] voids the subjective knowing reference point and results in experience being 'self-luminous' and 'self-knowing', Dzogchen terms this self arising [tib. rang byung] and self liberation [tib. rang grol]. Self-liberation [rang grol] occurs because in the absence of a mind that grasps, empty dharmas, being non-arisen are unmediated and so there is no clinging. It also points to the fact that dharmas are liberated of an essence, core or being i.e. self. So recognition of the nature of mind frees up the illusory reference point of mind and therefore mind no longer mediates experience and appearances self-arise [rang byung] and self-liberate [rang grol]. The 'writing on water' attempts to convey this lack of mediation in relation to empty appearances, for without foundation, root, or an observing reference point which abides in relation to them, they simply liberate upon arising. The flight of a bird through the sky which leaves no trace is another way this is framed, but in either case, the water or the sky are not aspects of the metaphor which are pertinent. The metaphor is simply attempting to describe the manner in which unmediated and non-arising occurrence manifests itself.

Dzogchen does sometimes parse one's nature as 'non-existent', but will do it while suggesting an avenue of expression or appearance at the same time. So for instance the example you questioned says that one's nature is non-existent, yet it cognizes everything. So it isn't an utter absence.

Vajrayogini uses this same description:
"The earth outside, the stones, mountains, rocks, plants, trees and forests do not truly exist. The body inside does not truly exist. This empty and luminous mind-nature also does not truly exist. Although it does not truly exist, it cognizes everything."

Garab Dorje says something to the same effect:
"This vidyā is devoid of true existence.
Its natural expression arises as everything without obstruction."

Longchenpa comments on the metaphor of 'space' in relation to our nature:
"Therefore, if the metaphor being used does not refer to some 'thing', then the underlying meaning that it illustrates - mind itself [skt. cittatā, tib. sems nyid], pure by nature - is not something that has ever existed in the slightest."

You are right however that one's nature is usually presented as being free from extremes (the quotes above are intended to suggest that as well). And that is the safest way to describe it, otherwise the lack of inherent existence can be misinterpreted as a nihilistic statement. It isn't that one's nature is equally nothing yet at the same time everything, yet neither of those. The freedom from the four extremes is a way to convey that our nature is non-arisen and empty from the very beginning. Meaning, it therefore is nothing which can accord with any of the four extremes: (i) existence, (ii) non-existence, (iii) both, (iv) neither. It cannot truly be non-existent, because it is nothing which has ever existed in the first place.


          steve, on 23 Feb 2014 - 11:51, said:
Nice post (as are all the posts of yours that I've read so far...).
In Vajrayogini's quote "The earth outside, the stones, mountains, rocks, plants, trees and forests do not truly exist. The body inside does not truly exist. This empty and luminous mind-nature also does not truly exist. Although it does not truly exist, it cognizes everything.", if all does not "truly exist," what "everything" is there to be cognized?
Our use of language to discuss these concepts is inherently inadequate and necessarily leads to confusion.
I like Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's comments from "The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep" (and everything else he has written, but I'm admittedly biased) in referring to the base (khunzi) -
"The essence of kunzhi is emptiness (sunyata). It is unlimited, absolute space; it is empty of entities, inherent existence, concepts, and boundaries. It is the empty space that seems to be external to us, the empty space that objects inhabit, and the empty space of the mind. Kunzhi has neither inside nor outside, cannot be said to exist (for it is nothing), nor not to exist (for it is reality itself). It is limitless, cannot be destroyed or created, was not born, and does not die. Language used to describe it is necessarily paradoxical, since kunzhi is beyond dualism and concept. Any linguistic construction that attempts to comprehend it is already in error and can only point to that which it cannot encompass."

In terms of what is cognized, there isn't truly anything which is 'cognized' per se, in terms of cognition it is said that recognition of our nature is a 'correct cognition', though this title is merely a conventional designation. From the standpoint of the definitive view, empty appearance is known to be empty appearance. Which means appearances are known to be non-arisen, essenceless, coreless, selfless, like illusions. Nothing within or behind appearance.


          Anderson, on 24 Feb 2014 - 01:19, said:
Can you explain us using your own words and from your own experience and  without the help of  language used in the dozogchen  tantras  what "self luminous" and self knowing"  means ?

'Self luminous' and 'self knowing' are concepts which are used to convey the absence of a subjective reference point which is mediating the manifestation of appearance. Instead of a subjective cognition or knower which is 'illuminating' objective appearances, it is realized that the sheer exertion of our cognition has always and only been the sheer exertion of appearance itself. Or rather that cognition and appearance are not valid as anything in themselves. Since both are merely fabricated qualities neither can be validated or found when sought. This is not a union of subject and object, but is the recognition that the subject and object never arose in the first place [advaya].


          steve, on 24 Feb 2014 - 03:38, said:
Yes. In addition, I referenced this analogy because it reinforces the mirror analogy. The mirror is unstained by whatever it reflects and makes no judgement or selection. The water allows anything to be written in it and yet cannot be marked or affected. An important difference and weakness in the analogy is that the mirror can be cracked, the water can be dyed, the Nature of Mind cannot be affected in any way...

However, there is no mirror. The nature of mind is not an X which is itself unstained. The nature of mind is the non-arising of mind, the recognition that the mind is and always has been a misconception.

The moment we posit a mirror, or a substantial 'something' which is itself unstained, then we have deviated from the teaching of the buddhadharma and are venturing into Hindu Vedanta and so on.

The 'unconditioned' is simply the correct understanding of the 'conditioned'. There is no 'unconditioned something' which is the nature of conditioned phenomena. Phenomena are empty, their emptiness is their unconditioned nature and recognizing that is wisdom.


          Anderson, on 24 Feb 2014 - 08:55, said:
But i still dont understand why you shift the emphasis from cognition to appearance.
What is the reason in saying  "it is realized that the sheer exertion of our cognition has always and only been the sheer exertion of appearance itself."

This almost sounds like the cognition is empty  and only the appearances are real .Since they arise on their own and their effort is theirs alone in arising.This way of looking at things reminds me of something i read a while back where Thusness was saying that after a while there is only manifestation appearing and appears to no one or something similar.
However in the light of what follows you  conclude that both the cognition and appearances are empty.

The cognition is empty. That is what it means to recognize the nature of mind [sems nyid]. The clarity [cognition] of mind is recognized to be empty, which is sometimes parsed as the inseparability of clarity and emptiness, or nondual clarity and emptiness.

Ultimately the appearances are not valid either, but the reason the emptiness of clarity is stressed, is due to the fact that clarity [cognizance] is the factor which becomes conditioned, and so traditions like Dzogchen consider that conditioning (which appears as mind) to be the linchpin that the whole charade is centered upon. So recognition of the nature of mind is the definitive insight which causes the house of cards to collapse.

The mind is the factor which is sustaining ignorance and manifesting the appearance of an external world and the being(s) which inhabit(s) it. The very first link in the specific theory of dependent origination i.e. the Twelve Nidānas [the links in the cycle of pratītyasamutpāda]; is avidyā [ignorance]. The logic then follows that severing that initial ignorance means that the other 11 links have no foundation to stand on.

As Padmasambhava said, “Do not seek to cut the root of phenomena, cut the root of the mind", Tilopa has insight which is very close to the same: "Cut the root of a tree and the leaves will wither; cut the root of your mind and samsara falls." So recognition of the mind's nature, as co-emergent emptiness and clarity (rather than a individuated substratum) means that the 'grasper' [subject] who grasps at experience and causes the proliferation, is emptied out, implying the emptying of other-than-subject [object] (though the exhaustion of so-called outer-phenomena, and the complete exhaustion of mind, usually come later in the path).


          steve, on 25 Feb 2014 - 12:33, said:
I find cognition to be a loaded word when it comes to discussing the Nature of Mind. Cognition implies thought, interpretation, and discrimination in most definitions I've seen. When resting in the Nature of Mind, does cognition enter in? I'm not sure I would use that word. Certainly there is emptiness, lack of inherent existence, spaciousness. Defining sunyata (those very words are paradoxical - emptiness is undefinable) has been argued for centuries. Then there is presence, luminosity, clarity - all good words and all analogies and equally inadequate. And most profound, perhaps, is Bodhicitta. The inseparability of clarity and emptiness is great bliss, spontaneous exposure of oneness, boundless love.

Cognition [gsal ba] is simply the clarity of mind. The mind possesses and is defined by its characteristic of clarity, it is wakeful, bright, present and has the faculty of cognizant knowing. That factor, is what is recognized as empty, meaning unborn, lacking inherency, free from extremes when the nature of mind [sems nyid] is referenced.

This 'emptiness of clarity' is demonstrated in expositions such as the bāhiya sūtra and so on. Which conveys insight such as; in seeing there is only the seen, in hearing - only the heard, in thinking - only the thought. The emptiness of the clarity is the emptiness of that quality of cognizance being mistaken as a fixed reference point. So there is no 'seer' which is seeing, no 'hearer' which is hearing, no thinker of thoughts and so on. Likewise those varying modalities, exemplified by the faculties of seeing, hearing, thinking are also nothing in themselves, but rather are precisely the sheer exertion and nature of so-called cognizance.

The inseparability of clarity and emptiness is the nature of mind [sems nyid].

The nature of mind is 'non-dual emptiness and clarity', so either (i) clarity (cognizance) must be recognized as empty, or (ii) emptiness must be recognized as non-dual with clarity. Clarity (cognizance) alone implies a subtle reference point and a subtle grasping, but when clarity is sealed with emptiness that reference point is freed up and the grasping is cut. Clarity alone (divorced of the recognition of its emptiness) is merely the neutral indeterminate cognizance of mind. All sentient beings function from the standpoint of the mind, buddhas are free of mind because they know its emptiness, meaning; they know that clarity is non-arisen.

The inseparability of clarity and emptiness is not a 'oneness', because emptiness is a freedom from extremes. That inseparability may imply a 'single taste' or 'one taste' which is devoid of subject and object, but that doesn't mean that subject and object are merged into one [advaita], it means there is an intimate recognition that the illusory dichotomy of subject and object never arose in the first place [advaya].


From another thread:

The idea that Dzogchen and the heart sutra are pointing to the same insight is true, but I find your interpretation, positing a void from which energy springs and so on to be more along the lines of Vedanta.

The essence [ngo bo] as original purity [ka dag] in Dzogchen is not an inert void, but rather is the utter innate purity of phenomena itself. Which is pointing to the non-arising nature of phenomena. Definitely not a dead sea with no motion, nothing close to that. In the heat sutra, when it says form is emptiness and emptiness is form, it is simply saying that the emptiness of phenomena is not to be found apart from the phenomena itself, it is not something which needs to be sought elsewhere, but rather only needs to be recognized within the very appearances themselves.

In Dzogchen, the 'energy' or rather 'compassion' [thugs rje] is simply nondual ka dag and lhun grub. Appearances are empty, apparent yet unreal, nothing substantiated, and so there is infinite potentiality for dynamic expression in myriad forms. If our nature was something fixed or inherently existent, then it would be the inert dead void you posit in the first paragraph, and there would be no dynamism, no energy, no life.

Lhun grub is not the raw building stuff of universal mind, there is no universal mind in Dzogchen.

'Void' or more accurately emptiness, is not nothingness, it is a lack of inherency.


          rex, on 26 Feb 2014 - 05:04, said:
I don't believe that the Dzogchen use of energy is the same as other tradtions. Sorry I'm intellectually challenged here and can't prove it. Anyone able to explain the three types of energy in Dzogchen, namely Dang, Rolpa and Tsal?

In Dzogchen, the basis [gzhi] is comprised of three characteristics, which are essence [ngo bo], nature [rang bzhin], and compassion (sometimes translated as 'energy') [thugs rje]. The essence is original purity [ka dag] and the nature is natural perfection [lhun grub], the inseparability of the essence and nature is the compassionate dynamism [thugs rje] of the basis.

Thugs rje expresses itself in three modes of energy, which are gdangs, rol pa, and rtsal, and although these three modes of energy are in truth inseparable, due to misunderstanding the nature of this compassionate aspect of the basis, the inseparable continuum of these three energies becomes compromised and is seemingly divided into internal and external dimensions [dbyings] of experience.

After that continuum is compromised as such, the gdangs then accounts for the capacity which lends to the expression of phenomena which appear to manifest within the internal dimension or ying [dbyings], (such as so-called subjective phenomena, thoughts, emotions, etc.) much like the appearance of colors can appear to manifest inside a crystal ball when it is placed in front of them.

rTsal accounts for the capacity which lends to the expression of phenomena which appear to manifest within the external dimension or ying [dbying] (such as so-called physical phenomena), much like a crystal prism which can bend light and project a display of colors outside itself.

Rol pa accounts for the capacity which (bridges gdangs and rtsal, and) expresses itself in a mode of manifestation that cannot be placed within the apparent internal dbyings, nor within the apparent external dbyings (such as pure visions). Rol pa energy is much like reflections which are nondual with the capacity to reflect of a given reflective surface, the image of a mirror is often used to illustrate the role of rol pa (demonstrated by the mirror's reflections being inseparable from the mirror's capacity to reflect).


          Jeff, on 26 Feb 2014 - 08:41, said:
Ultimately, emptiness is all there "is" and what the world & we "are". In this context, Emptiness is a realization, not a mental concept (even though things are "inherently empty").

Ultimately emptiness is also empty. The world and 'we' are empty, but we and the world are not emptiness.

In Vedanta they would say that Brahman is all there 'is' and what the world and we 'are'. But emptiness is not used in this way.


          Jeff, on 26 Feb 2014 - 09:09, said:
Then how would you better describe you, another person, or a tree in simple terms?

Myself, others and trees are simply conventional designations.

Myself, is found neither within nor apart from the compositional aggregates which allegedly constitute 'myself', and since those so-called aggregates do not compose an aggregated 'thing', they themselves are also mere abstractions.

That is the basic gist of how these things are described in the buddhadharma, though there are subtle variations of this and its initial causes/conditions, found from system to system.


          C T, on 26 Feb 2014 - 09:50, said:
I think Dzogchen is best approached from the understanding of kadag and lhundrub, primordial purity and spontaneous presence. Asunthatneversets explained these 2 terms quite clearly in post no. 7 above.

Basically, the mind's empty essence is related to primordial purity, while its cognizant nature is linked to spontaneous presence. When this is seen in the context of the Heart Sutra, then primordial purity is the Void aspect, while spontaneous presence would be the Form aspect. Its an inseparable unity from before the beginning even. Suchness, the fruit of going beyond, is the specific term which clarifies this quality of non-separateness which is the essence of the 3rd turning of the wheel by Buddha Shakyamuni. The way i see it, the realisation of Suchness exceeds even that of the relative truth of Dependent Origination, which is a principle that only applies where duality is present in adequate measures. The word 'primordial' directly points to the absence of any origination whatsoever.

Further to the above, to assert only the Empty nature of all things would be to leave out the immediate and present cognition of phenomena (form). Those who surpass samsara gets to cognise phenomena as insubstantial due to ending the afflictive tendencies of grasping, while those within samsara who continually cognise phenomena as substantial will be subjected to the rounds of rebirths until such time when grasping (which automatically produces the dual manifestation of clinging and aversion) is eventually extinguished.

* Please note that insubstantial does not mean non-existent. 

Dependent origination also points to an absence of any origination whatsoever, as what originates dependently does not originate.

The aspect of wisdom which is explored via dependent origination when attempting to resolve afflictive appearances is expressed in its unadulterated form as lhun grub. Lhun grub underlies dependent origination.

Dependent origination is correct relative truth, which can lead to ultimate truth i.e. emptiness i.e. suchness.

The only issue with Madhyamaka when it comes to dependent origination, is that Madhyamaka lacks a process to adequately reveal lhun grub in its complete and unobscured expression.

As for the cognition of form, form is empty and cognition is as well. Non-arisen appearance simply arises unceasingly, and within its arising there is no arising.

Insubstantial would not mean non-existent because that which is recognized as empty is non-arisen, and that which has not arisen cannot not-exist just like horns on a hare cannot truly be non-existent. To be non-existent they would need to exist in the first place. So while insubstantial doesn't mean non-existent, it certainly means unreal, in the same sense that a reflection, a mirage, or magicians trick are not 'real'.


Tibetan_Ice, on 21 Mar 2014 - 15:23, said:
Hi Sun...
That statement seems backwards to me. It is not the clarity or cognizance of the mind that is empty, but that the mind is empty and cognizant (knowing). Is that what you were trying to say?

I guess in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter, but another way to look at this is that the emptiness cognizes, not that cognitions are empty. See what I mean?


Mind is clarity [cognizance] reified into a substantial reference point. The clarity aspect is the part that can be conditioned and as long as that conditioning is present then the illusion of an entity is present. In order to cut through that delusion, the emptiness of that substantiated reference point must be recognized, which is the non-arising [i.e. emptiness] of clarity. When that non-arising nature is directly recognized then the artificial reference point of mind collapses.

The mind is an illusion, so the mind cannot be empty and cognizant (knowing). The knowing [shes pa] and cognizance [gsal ba] are wrongly attributed to a 'mind'. However in truth there is no mind.

'Emptiness' is not a quality which can cognize or perform actions. Emptiness is simply the lack of inherency of that which is empty. So there is cognizance, and cognizance is empty. There is knowing, and knowing is empty. The trouble arises when these modalities are not recognized as empty, and are instead reified into substantial characteristics which belong to an established entity. Recognizing the emptiness of these faculties means it is realized that they are not truly existent modalities, they are nothing substantial, this knowledge is the doorway to liberation.


Anderson, on 27 Mar 2014 - 10:56, said:
The mere recognition that mind is non existent and the knowing is empty is not enough for eliciting liberation or conducive to liberation.
I myself have been toying with things that way by looking at the mind for years and seeing that there is nothing there , nothing to find and recognising that the thoughts and present experience is empty.But this only  meant that i've contacted the empty side of my condition and not understood the total real meaning of my existence .Just seeing the emptiness of our mind and its content is after all a concept as explained to me by CNNR and one needs to go beyond any kind of concept of identifying this or that. This realisation can only come about when the total experience is realised as the potential of our condition which is not only the inseparability of emptiness and clarity  but also continuous, uninterrupted.In fact understanding this continuity reveals the true meaning(the nature) and the totality of our vision as humans .
The nature of mind needs to be seen as continuity and not only the indivisibility of emptiness and clarity.
I consider this aspect of continuity or continuum very important 

The recognition that mind is non-arisen [sems nyid] is what reveals dharmatā, and resting in dharmatā is the path of liberation. So recognition of the nature of mind is precisely what elicits the process of liberation. The nature of mind is not something which is an inferential toying, you either recognize it or you don't, if you have recognized it then you know wisdom and familiarization with wisdom is the cause of liberation. If you have not recognized it, then avidyā is still in tact, and one must continue to practice any of the various methods which are provided to induce recognition.

Recognizing the nature of mind [sems nyid] is what separates ignorance from wisdom.

Padmasambhava states:
"If you are asked what the difference is between the mind of the truly perfected Buddha and the mind of sentient beings of the three realms, it is nothing other than the difference between realizing and not realizing the nature of mind. Since sentient beings fail to realize this nature, delusion occurs and from this ignorance the myriad types of sufferings come to pass. Thus beings roam through samsara. The basic material of buddhahood is in them, but they fail to recognize it."

The nature of mind is not a concept, it is the pacification of concepts. The collapse of ignorance and the afflictive structuring called 'mind'.

You are separating the 'empty side' of your condition from 'clarity' and 'continuity'... however this cannot be done. Your mind is already clarity, reified into a mind. You mistake your clarity as a substantiated reference point, this is why sentient beings are sentient beings, and this is the cause of suffering. Only when clarity is recognized to be empty i.e. non-arisen, is that reference point pacified.

In the context of the mind's nature, emptiness and clarity are non-dual, meaning; clarity is naturally unborn, unstructured, free of inherency, free of arising, abiding and cessation. The fact that clarity is primordially empty means that it never arose in the first place, and what has not arisen cannot cease, hence; the unceasing continuity of our unfabricated nature.

"Friends, I know of no other single thing, so quickly changing as this swift mind,
insofar as it is not easy to find just one other phenomena changing equally fast.
Shining bright, friends, is this mind, yet it is obstructed by external defilements.
Luminous absolutely, is that pure mind, when it is safely released and freed from
these alien impurities. Naturally Radiant is this mind, though it is soiled by these
accumulated foreign obscurations. This, the ordinary unlearned persons cannot
understand as it really is! I tell you, that is why uneducated ordinary persons
neither meditate nor develop mentally. Luminous is that mind, friends, when it is
purified & released from these fermented pollutions. This does the learned Noble
Disciple fully understand as it really is. I tell you, that is why that educated Noble
Disciple develops & improve mentally by training meditation..."

- Buddha Śākyamuni

('developing mentally' in this context is referencing integration with dharmatā)


Tibetan_Ice, on 28 Mar 2014 - 12:34, said:
Hi Steve :)

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche has an interesting perspective and teaching. He maintains that many short periods of recognizing the empty cognizant mind will eventually lead to enlightenment. short periods like two seconds long. And he says that continuity in that state is the key...

But you probably knew that already.

That quote is from his book called "As It Is vol 1".

He also says:
So, continuity is part of the equation.


You two are using continuity in two completely different ways.

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche is discussing resting in the continuity of dharmatā when flashes of prajñā shine forth. Short moments, many times, which is just about all the average practitioner is capable of anyway.

Anderson was talking about the compassion aspect of our nature, which is the dynamic and energetic continuity implied by the inseparability [dbyer med] of clarity and emptiness.

14 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    In this kind of stage one cannot lead a normal life. Hv to be supported by others liao.

  2. Soh Says:

    Why is that? Realization of twofold emptiness does not make one incapable of functioning normally.

  3. jackson Says:

    Its been interesting reading Kyle's version of Dzogchen theory again. He applies a Hinayana concept of emptiness to the Dzogchen view, which is nihilistic in its not affirming a "Buddha Nature" or "Tathagata" nature. It is this Buddha Nature with all the Buddha attributes that allows the view of emptiness not to err on the side of nihilism. Our nature is empty but is also an aware and active presence as a Buddha. In this way we don't stray into either extreme. Kyle is simply presenting the Gelugpa view of emptiness which does not affirm a changeless and permanent Mind of Clear Light, the permanent untarnished mind-nature that is the only "knower". Rigpa is exactly this affirmation beyond mere emptiness.

  4. kyle Says:

    I'm not sure what the tathāgatagarbha has to do with this topic Jackson. You state that it is the sugatagarbha which prevents a view of emptiness from erring in to nihilism (I haven't advocated for nihilism in the first place), yet it is precisely emptiness which makes 'buddha qualities' possible. No one ever contested that the cognizant factor of mind is outright negated, it simply has no inherent existence and that view is in line with Atiyoga perfectly, nothing to do with Hīnayāna.

    I also do not prescribe to a Gelug view. Really there are no views which 'affirm' a changeless and permanent 'M'ind of clear light. The nature of mind is permanent in that it has never arisen to begin with and therefore is not something conditioned that is subject to origination, cessation decay etc., so it is parsed as 'permanent' in a conventional way. Same goes for the 'changeless', mind-essence is only changeless because it is non-arisen, like space, not because it is an affirmed species of permanent, changeless 'knowing' like that taught in Vedanta.

    The 'knower' is simply the clarity of mind, though it is a coarse expression of rigpa, grasping at clarity as ultimate is a major deviation.

    All in all we will have to agree to disagree, per usual.

  5. Soh Says:

    Even Rigpa is empty of any intrinsic existence in Dzogchen.

    “Hey, hey, apparent yet nonexistent retinue: listen well! There is no object to distinguish in me, the view of self-originated wisdom; it did not exist before, it will not arise later, and also does not appear in anyway in the present. The path does not exist, action does not exist, traces do not exist, ignorance does not exist, thoughts do not exist, mind does not exist, prajñā does not exist, samsara does not exist, nirvana does not exist, vidyā itself does not even exist, totally not appearing in anyway.”

    -- Unwritten Tantra

  6. kyle Says:

    "Notice that you are in this dimension of infinite emptiness. This is called 'instant presence' (rigpa). So there isn't only a sensation of emptiness, there is also 'someone' who feels it, 'someone' who notices it. This instant presence is a presence without judgements and without thoughts. If you don't discover it the first time you have the experience, repeat it ten, twenty, and a hundred times . The important thing is to really discover instant presence (rigpa). Instant presence (rigpa) isn't the experience of emptiness, but you enter into instant presence though the experience of emptiness."

    Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche is discussing the 'experience of emptiness' [gnas pa], i.e. stillness of mind, mental quietude, non-movement... he doesn't mean emptiness [stong pa nyid].

  7. Soh Says:

    When room is hot, whole body is the burning!

    Just one alive total exertion!

    Anything more or less is creating ghosts.

    Dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, nirmanakaya... is no where apart. They are not three separate ghosts.

  8. jackson Says:

    Kyle, you must not be reading clearly. First the book is not about meditation states of presence of thought or non-thought. His words are "Notice that you are in this dimension of infinite emptiness." That is referring to Dharmata as Dharmakaya. We are here at the level of Yang Ti theory not shamatha.

    Also, relate this to Malcolm's note:

    Malcolm Smith, wrote recently;

    "...In fact, there is even a passage in RR ["Rigpa Rangshar" text] that asserts it is ok to refer to vidya (rigpa) as a self...."

    "...If we have to have a soul, it might as well be vidya (rigpa), it is after all, permanent, unconditioned, a knower, stainless, and free from the three realms. But If we don't have to have one, vidya (rigpa) still has these characteristics. It is our essenceless essence."

  9. kyle Says:

    Norbu Rinpoche is quite obviously discussing gnas gyu rig gsum in order to present rig pa as gnas gyu shes pa.

    But feel free to believe whatever you'd like, it makes zero difference to me.

    Malcolm's quotations there are off topic.

  10. jackson Says:

    Kyle, you are completely wrong, the topic is about how to distinguish rigpa from emptiness or any state of experience as the consciousness "ye nas shes pa" that is what knows the experience, and that "knowingness" is a living, timeless presence. That is the "someone" he is referring to. Please read page 76 and 77 in Teachings on Shitro and Yangti. And yes, the quote from Malcolm clarifies that rigpa is a living and permanent "knower" as what we are in all experiences and situations at all times that remains unchanged and unconditioned. Again, you seem to have the rangtong view with emphasis on the emptiness which is ok for Madhyamaka, but in Dzogchen the emphasis is on the awareness within that emptiness, rigpa.

  11. jackson Says:

    The Mind of Clear Light is not the same as its effulgence as "transience". This is like saying the sun's rays are the SAME as the sun itself. The rays are just provisional impermanence,like empty holograms, but the sun is permanent, yet empty, yet full of potential, both expressed and not. Or one could say the Dharmakaya is the changeless empty space within which the holograms arise as its "exertion". In Dzogchen there is just one Super Hologram that enfolds all others within it as Thigle Chenpo.

  12. kyle Says:

    October 1, 2014 at 11:16 PM
    Kyle, you are completely wrong, the topic is about how to distinguish rigpa from emptiness or any state of experience as the consciousness "ye nas shes pa" that is what knows the experience, and that "knowingness" is a living, timeless presence. That is the "someone" he is referring to.

    No, he is using 'someone' nominally as a pointer. He surely is not referring to some species of permanent knower, but again, believe whatever you'd like.

    Please read page 76 and 77 in Teachings on Shitro and Yangti. And yes, the quote from Malcolm clarifies that rigpa is a living and permanent "knower" as what we are in all experiences and situations at all times that remains unchanged and unconditioned.

    Malcolm has said more about this than you are insinuating, and definitely never at any time drew the conclusions you are.

    Again, you seem to have the rangtong view with emphasis on the emptiness which is ok for Madhyamaka, but in Dzogchen the emphasis is on the awareness within that emptiness, rigpa.

    Rang stong and gzhan stong are irrelevant in this context. But since you brought it up, ChNN has said on more than one occasion that Nagarjuna's view of a freedom from extremes is correct for Dzogchen and is 'supreme', therefore how you are attempting to state that Norbu Rinpoche is advocating for a self or changeless knower makes no sense.

    We will have to agree to disagree.

  13. jackson Says:

    Kyle... the conversation is hopeless as ever. The Dharmakaya is the permanent empty knowingness that never changes. Dzogchen is surely not the simple negation of rangtong, but is also the affirmation of the Buddha Nature. I think you are completely wrong about what Norbu says and said. I spent a lot of time one on one with him. Have you? Also, Longchenpa is in total agreement with what I am sharing along with EVERY other Dzogchen master and Tantra. You are the only one in your hinayana dzogchen boat... no one else.

  14. kyle Says:

    October 2, 2014 at 7:05 AM
    Kyle... the conversation is hopeless as ever.

    Yes it definitely is.

    The Dharmakaya is the permanent empty knowingness that never changes.

    This statement is so vague it's practically meaningless. Dharmakāya has various contexts in Dzogpachenpo, making a blanket assertion such as "dharmakāya is the permanent empty knowingness that never changes" really doesn't even qualify as an acceptable definition. On top of that only buddhas can see dharmakāya, so really what you are describing is the sugatagarbha i.e., unrealized dharmakāya.

    Dzogchen is surely not the simple negation of rangtong, but is also the affirmation of the Buddha Nature.

    Rang stong is a gzhan stong pa strawman and essentially simply means 'traditional madhyamaka'. The view of traditional madhyamaka does not negate buddhanature... everything has a dharmatā and madhyamaka addresses that quite thoroughly. In terms of something to raise an issue with when comparing Dzogchen and Madhyamaka (since the fundamental view of both systems is identical) one will only be able to successfully scrutinize the praxis of Madhyamaka, which differs greatly from Atiyoga.

    I think you are completely wrong about what Norbu says and said.

    Hmm well, not sure what to tell you, his statements are written and featured in his texts, ergo you really cannot contest what he says, all you can do is disagree.

    I spent a lot of time one on one with him. Have you?

    This is really irrelevant to the subject and doesn't constitute a valid basis for asserting that your opinions are more valid than mine.

    Also, Longchenpa is in total agreement with what I am sharing along with EVERY other Dzogchen master and Tantra.

    Interesting being that Longchenpa states in his sgrub mtha' mdzod that he considers Prasaṅgika Madhyamaka to be the definitive view.

    You are the only one in your hinayana dzogchen boat... no one else.

    No idea what you're talking about.