Laurel for me, yanny for others, “roses” are red for me, “roses” are black for dogs.
Whatever arises is "empty".

Zen Master Dogen:

In general, then, the way of seeing mountains and waters differs according to the type of being [that sees them]. In seeing water, there are beings who see it as a jeweled necklace. This does not mean, however, that they see a jewele
d necklace as water. How, then, do we see what they consider water? Their jeweled necklace is what we see as water. Some see water as miraculous flowers, though it does not follow that they use flowers as water. Hungry ghosts see water as raging flames or as pus and blood. Dragons and fish see it as a palace or a tower, or as the seven treasures or the mani gem. [Others] see it as woods and walls, or as the dharma nature of immaculate liberation, or as the true human body, or as the physical form and mental nature. Humans see these as water. And these [different ways of seeing] are the conditions under which [water] is killed or given life.

Given that what different types of beings see is different, we should have some doubts about this. Is it that there are various ways of seeing one object? Or is it that we have mistaken various images for one object? At the peak of our concentrated effort on this, we should concentrate still more. Therefore, our practice and verification, our pursuit of the way, must also be not merely of one or two kinds, and the ultimate realm must also have a thousand types and ten thousand kinds. (Bielefeldt Trans.)


Hitting the Essence in Three Words

“The Special Teaching of the Wise and Glorious King”

The Commentary

Homage to the incomparable lord of compassion, my root master, in all his kindness!
In order to explain, in a few crucial points, how to take to heart the practice of view, meditation and action, first of all, as the lama embodies completely the Buddha, Dharma and Saṅgha simply to pay homage to him alone is to pay homage to all sources of refuge everywhere. And so: “Homage to the master!”
Now for the main subject: If you take the practice to heart, while recognizing that the root and lineage masters are all inseparable from the true nature of your mind, this embodies the actual practice of view, meditation and action. So view, meditation and action are explained here by relating them to the meaning of the root and lineage masters’ names.
First, the View is the realization that all the infinite appearances (rabjam) of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa, in their entirety, are perfectly contained and by nature equal within the all-encompassing space of the vast expanse (longchen) of buddha nature, which is the true nature of reality, free from any elaboration or complexity. And so: “The view is Longchen Rabjam: infinite, vast expanse”.
This view of the freedom from all elaboration is realized conclusively with the wisdom (khyen) that is the insight of vipaśyanā; and to rest evenly and one-pointedly in that state of śūnyatā, without ever separating from the skilful means of the śamatha of loving compassion (tsé), is the meditation that unites emptiness and compassion. So, “Meditation is Khyentse Özer: rays of wisdom and love”.
Action is to be imbued with such a view and meditation and then to practise the six perfections so as to benefit others, in keeping with the ways of the bodhisattvas, “the new shoots of the buddhas”. So, “Action is Gyalwé Nyugu, that of the bodhisattvas”.
To show how fortunate is the person who practises such view, meditation and action, “One who practises in such a way,”
Those who are able to seclude themselves in an isolated retreat, put aside the worldly cares and activities of this life and practise single-mindedly, will gain liberation—in their very lifetime—in the ground of primordial purity. So, “May well attain enlightenment in this very life”.
And in the next life you will go from happiness to happiness. So, “And even if not, what happiness! What joy! A la la!”
In order to explain, step by step, such a beneficial view, meditation and action, first I wish to set out at greater length how to take to heart and practise the view. And “As for the view, Longchen Rabjam,”
The entire meaning of this is imparted in this advice on the three words, for when they hit the essence of the practice, delusion is put to death. So: “Three statements strike the vital point”.

I. Introducing Directly the Face of Rigpa Itself

First is the method of introducing the view that has not yet been revealed. Generally speaking, there are many ways of bringing the view to realization. In the sūtrayāna path of dialectics the method of lung rig is employed; that is, using the scriptural authority of the teaching of Buddha and the great masters, and through logic and reasoning, arriving at the realization of the view.
According to the common approach of Secret Mantrayāna, by means of the wisdom of example in the third empowerment, one is introduced to the real, ultimate wisdom in the fourth empowerment. Here, according to the special approach of the great masters of the practice lineage, the nature of mind, the face of rigpa, is introduced in and upon the very dissolution of conceptual mind.
Amidst the churning waves of delusory thinking, the gross arising thoughts which run after the objects of perception obscure the actual face of mind’s true nature. So even if it were introduced, you would not recognize it. Therefore, in order to allow these gross discursive thoughts to settle and clear, “First, relax and release your mind”,
However, leaving your own mind relaxed and uncontrived is itself the wisdom of clear light. So paths that are contrived can never bring you to the realization of your true nature, and to signify that this uncontrived co-emergent wisdom is there, present within you: “Neither scattered, nor concentrated, without thoughts”.
When you are a beginner, even if you maintain mind’s fundamental state, resting naturally, it will not be possible for you to avoid fixation on the many experiences such as ‘bliss’, ‘clarity’ and ‘non-conceptuality’ that come in the state of calm and stillness: “While resting in this even state, at ease”.
To free yourself from the ‘cocoon’ of attachment-to-experience, lay bare the all-penetrating rigpa and reveal explicitly its true state, “Suddenly let out a mind-shattering phaṭ!”,
Since it is vital to cut through the flow of arising thoughts, and destroy meditation made by the mind, the sound ‘phaṭ!’ should be fierce, forceful and abrupt: “Fierce, forceful, and abrupt. How amazing (emaho)!”
At this moment, you are free from all fixed notions of what mind might be, and liberation itself is actualized: “There is nothing there: transfixed in wonder,”
In that state of dharmakāya, devoid of any reference or reliance whatsoever, all-penetrating, naked awareness dwells, just as it is, as the wisdom that transcends the mind, and so: “Struck by wonder (hedawa), and yet all is transparently clear (zang tal lé)”.
This all-penetrating, unimpeded awareness is the key point of inexpressible and naturally inherent wisdom, beyond all extremes such as rising and ceasing, existing and non-existing, and so beyond words and out of reach of mental enquiry. “Fresh, pure and sudden, so beyond description:”
The crucial point here is that rigpa, which abides as the ground of dharmakāya, is the primordial purity of the path of the yogins, the absolute view of freedom from all elaboration. Until you recognize this one point, then whatever meditation or practice you do, you can never get beyond a fabricated mind-made view and meditation. The difference between this and the approach of the natural Dzogpachenpo is greater than that between earth and sky, as it does not possess the essential point—the unceasing flow of clear light, which is non-meditation. So it is most important, first of all, to recognize this and this alone, and: “Recognize this as the pure awareness of dharmakāya”.
This, then, is the first of the three words which hit the essence. If the view has not been introduced and recognized, there is nothing to maintain in meditation. This is why it is so important, first and foremost, to be introduced to the view.
And since the natural, inherent wisdom is introduced as something natural and inherent in you, it is neither to be sought elsewhere, nor is it something that you did not have before, and that now arises newly in your mind. So: “The first vital point is: introducing directly the face of rigpa in itself”.

II. Deciding upon One Thing, and One Thing Only

Now to give a more detailed explanation of how to take the practice of meditation to heart:
In a natural state of rest, all the time and in any situation, let your meditation be like the continuous flow of a river.
Without cultivating stillness or suppressing the movement of thought, simply maintain the recognition that when stillness occurs, it is the dharmakāya’s own face, and when movement arises, it is the inherent power of wisdom. And: “Then, whether in a state of movement or stillness,”
From the energy of mind’s thinking come negative emotions like anger and attachment that constitute the truth of the origin of suffering, as well as feelings like happiness and sorrow, which constitute the truth of suffering itself. Yet whatever experiences arise, if you can realize that the true nature of these thoughts and emotions is the very nature of reality, they will be just the flow of dharmakāya. And so: “Of anger or attachment, happiness or sorrow,”
Furthermore, generally speaking, even though you may have recognized the view, if you do not sustain it in meditation, and you slip into the ordinary proliferation of delusion, the same old patterns of thought will bind you to saṃsāra. As a result, the Dharma and you become divorced, and you end up no different from an ordinary person. That is why you must never be apart from this supreme state of resting naturally in non-meditation, and why: “All the time, in any situation,”
Therefore, whether the mind is still, active or whatever, it is not a question of overcoming each individual negative emotion and thought with its own separate remedy. Instead, the sole remedy for whatever thought or emotion may occur, the one remedy for all, is the recognition of that view which was introduced before, and that alone: “Recognize that dharmakāya you recognized before,”
So, whatever thought or emotion arises, in itself it is no other than the wisdom of dharmakāya, and the true nature of these thoughts and emotions is the actual clear light of the ground of dharmakāya. When you recognize this, that is what is known as ‘the mother clear light present as the ground’.
To recognize your own nature in that view of the clear light of self-knowing rigpa introduced earlier by the master is what is known as ‘the path clear light of practice.’ To remain in the state where these two, the clear light of ground and path, are inseparable is known as ‘the meeting of mother and child clear light’. “And mother and child clear light, already acquainted, will reunite”.
In this way, always remind yourself of the view, which is the clear light recognized in you as your true nature. And as you are resting in that state, you should neither suppress nor indulge, neither accept nor reject, in any way, the thoughts and emotions that are its dynamic energy (tsal). This is a crucial point: “Rest in the aspect of awareness, beyond all description”.
When you maintain that state for a long time, as a beginner you will have experiences of bliss, clarity or non-conceptuality, which will mask the face of your true nature. So if you free it from this shell of attachment-to-experience, and lay bare the actual face of rigpa, then wisdom will shine out from within.
There is a saying:
The more its flow is interrupted,
The better the water in the mountain stream.
The more it is disrupted,
The better the meditation of the yogin.
So: “Stillness, bliss and clarity: disrupt them, again and again,”
“How to disrupt them?” you might ask. Whenever experiences of stillness, bliss or clarity arise, or feelings of joy, glee or delight, you must pulverize the shell of your attachment-to-experience, shattering it as if by a bolt of lightning, with the forceful sound of ‘phaṭ!’ which is the combination of ‘pha’, the syllable of skilful means that concentrates and gathers and ‘ṭa’, the syllable of prajna which cuts through. “Suddenly striking with the syllable of skilful means and wisdom”.
When you do not lose this vital point of personal experience, and you maintain that indescribable, all-penetrating rigpa, all the time and in every situation, formal meditation and post-meditation will no longer be distinct: “With no difference between meditation and post-meditation,”
That is why the meditation in sessions and the meditation when you are active during breaks are not separate: “No division between sessions and breaks,”
In this ‘great meditation with nothing to meditate on’, the continuous river-like yoga of inherent, even and all-pervasive wisdom, there is not even a hair’s breadth of anything to meditate on, nor an instant of distraction.
This is what is meant by the saying:
Neither do I ever meditate, nor am I ever separate from it;
So I have never been separate from the true meaning of ‘non-meditation’.
And that is why: “Always remain in this indivisible state”.
If someone is a suitable and receptive vessel for the unique path of Dzogpachenpo, just as the teachings themselves intend, and he or she belongs to the ‘instantaneous’ type of person who is liberated upon hearing the teaching, then, for such a person, perception and thoughts are the supreme ground for liberation, and anything that happens becomes the flow of dharmakāya. 
There is nothing to meditate on, and no one to meditate. Others, however, who are less fortunate and who still fall prey to delusory thinking must find stability in ‘gradual stages’. Until they do so, they must engage in the practice of meditation. Therefore: “But until stability is attained,”
That meditation must be practised when all the conditions favourable for meditative stability are complete; only then will real experience occur. No matter how long you spend meditating in the midst of busyness and distraction, true meditation experience will not arise, and so: “It is vital to meditate, away from all distractions and busyness”.
While meditating too, though there is no difference between practice in formal sessions and post-meditation, if you are not truly grounded in your meditation first, you will be unable to blend the wisdom you experience with your post-meditation. However hard you try to turn your daily life into the path, your vague and generalized understanding makes you prone to slip back into your old negative patterns and habits. Therefore: “Practising in proper meditation sessions”.
You might have the sort of practice which makes you confident that you can keep up this state of meditation in proper sessions. Even so, if you do not understand how to integrate that practice with the activities of post-meditation and how to maintain it continuously, then this practice will not serve as a remedy when difficulties arise. When some discursive thought leads you off, you will sink back into very ordinary things. This is why it is so crucially important to abide in that all-penetrating state of awareness after meditation: “All the time, in any situation,”
At that point, there is no need to seek for anything else on which to meditate. Instead, in a state of meditative equipoise that never parts from this very view of dharmakāya, maintain a carefree nonchalance towards all actions and all thoughts, without suppressing or indulging them, but letting things come and go, one after another, and leaving them be: “Abide by the flow of what is only dharmakāya”.
A practice such as this, which is the indivisible union of śamatha and vipaśyanā, the yoga of the natural state free from elaboration, the uncontrived and innate, the abiding by the face of the intrinsic nature of reality, is the heart of the practice of all the tantras of the Secret Mantra Vajrayāna. It is the ultimate wisdom of the fourth empowerment. It is the speciality, the wish-fulfilling gem, of the practice lineage. It is the flawless wisdom mind of all the accomplished masters and their lineages, of India and Tibet, of both old (nyingma) and new (sarma) traditions.
So decide on this, with absolute conviction, and do not hanker after other pith instructions, your mouth watering with an insatiable appetite and greed. Otherwise it is like keeping your elephant at home and looking for its footprints in the forest.
You walk into the trap of unending mental research, and then liberation will never have a chance. Therefore you must decide on your practice, and: “Decide with absolute conviction that there is nothing other than this—”
Make a decision then that this naked wisdom of dharmakāya, naturally present, is the awakened state, which has never known delusion, and abide by its flow: this is the second secret and vital word. Since it is so crucially important: “The second vital point is: deciding upon one thing, and one thing only”.

III. Confidence Directly in the Liberation of Rising Thoughts

Now, at such times as these, if there is not the confidence of the method of liberation, and your meditation is merely relaxing in the stillness of mind, you will only get side-tracked into the samadhi of the gods. Such a meditation will not be able to overcome your attachment or anger. It will not be able to put a stop to the flow of karmic formations. Nor will it be able to bring you the deep confidence of direct certainty. Therefore, this method of liberation is of vital importance.
What is more, when a burning attachment is aroused towards some object of desire, or violent anger towards an object of aversion, when you feel joy about favourable circumstances, material possessions and the like, or you are afflicted by sorrow on account of unfavourable circumstances and things like illness—no matter what happens—at that moment the power of your rigpa is aroused, and so it is vital to recognize the wisdom that is the ground for liberation. “At that point, whether attachment or aversion, happiness or sorrow—”
Besides, if your practice lacks the key point of “liberation upon arising”, whatever subtle thoughts creep unnoticed into your mind will all accumulate more saṃsāric karma.
So, the crucial point is to maintain this simultaneous arising and liberation with every thought that rises, whether gross or subtle, so that they leave no trace behind them. “All momentary thoughts, each and every one,”
Therefore, whatever thoughts arise, you do not allow them to proliferate into a welter of subtle delusion, while at the same time you do not apply some narrow mind-made mindfulness. Instead:
Without ever separating from a natural genuine mindfulness, recognize the true nature of whatever thoughts arise, and sustain this ”liberation upon arising” that leaves no trace, like writing on the surface of water. So: “Upon recognition, leave not a trace behind”.
If, at this point, the arising thoughts are not purified, dissolving as they liberate themselves, the mere recognition of thoughts on its own will not be able to cut the chain of the karma that perpetuates delusion. So at the very same instant as you recognize, by seeing the true nature of the thought nakedly, you will simultaneously identify the wisdom with which you are familiar from before. By resting in that state, thoughts are purified, dissolving so that they leave no trace, and that dissolution is a crucial point. “For recognize the dharmakāya in which they are freed,”
To take an example: writing or drawing on water. The very instant it is written, it dissolves—the writing and its disappearance are simultaneous. Likewise, as soon as thoughts arise, liberation is simultaneous, and so it becomes an unbroken flow of “self-arising and self-liberating”: “And just as writing vanishes on water,”
And so, by not suppressing the risings, but allowing whatever arises to arise, any thoughts that do arise are actually purified into their own fundamental nature. You must hold to this method of integrating everything into the path as the essence of the practice: “Arising and liberation become natural and continuous”.
By applying the ‘exercise of dharmakāya’ to your thoughts in this way, whatever thoughts occur only serve to strengthen the rigpa. And however gross the thoughts of the five poisons are, that much more vivid and sharp is the rigpa in which they are liberated. “And whatever arises is food for the bare rigpa emptiness,”
Whatever thoughts may stir, they all arise from the all-penetrating true face of rigpa itself as its own inner power. Whenever they occur, if you simply abide in this, without accepting or rejecting, then they are liberated at the very instant they arise, and they are never outside the flow of the dharmakāya: “Whatever stirs in the mind is the inner power of the dharmakāya king”.
Thoughts in the mind, the delusory perceptions of ignorance, are pure within the expanse of dharmakāya that is the wisdom of rigpa, and so within that expanse of uninterrupted clear light whatever thoughts stir and arise are by their very nature empty. So: “Leaving no trace, and innately pure. What joy!”
When you have become used to integrating thoughts into your path like this over a long period of time, thoughts arise as meditation, the boundary between stillness and movement falls away, and as a result, nothing that arises ever harms or disturbs your dwelling in awareness: “The way things arise may be the same as before,”
At that juncture, the way that thoughts, the energy [of rigpa], arise as joy and sorrow, hope and fear, may be similar to the way they arise in an ordinary person. Yet with ordinary people, their experience is a very solid one of suppressing or indulging, with the result that they accumulate karmic formations and fall prey to attachment and aggression.  
On the other hand, for a Dzogchen yogin, thoughts are liberated the moment they arise:
  • at the beginning, arising thoughts are liberated upon being recognized, like meeting an old friend;
  • in the middle, thoughts are liberated by themselves, like a snake uncoiling its own knots;
  • at the end, arising thoughts are liberated without causing either benefit or harm, like a thief breaking into an empty house.
So, the Dzogchen yogin possesses the vital point of the methods of liberation such as these. Therefore, “But the difference lies in the way they are liberated: that’s the key.”
That is why it is said:
To know how to meditate,
But not how to liberate—
How does that differ from the meditation of the gods?
What this means is that those who put their trust in a meditation which lacks this vital point of the method of liberation, and is merely some state of mental quiescence, will only stray into the meditation states of the higher realms. People who claim that it is sufficient simply to recognize stillness and movement are no different from ordinary people with their deluded thinking.
And as for those who give it all kinds of labels like ‘emptiness’ and ‘dharmakāya’, the basic flaw in their remedy is exposed when it fails to hold up under the first misfortune or difficulty they meet. So: “Without this, meditation is but the path of delusion”.
‘Liberation on arising’, ‘self-liberation’, ‘naked liberation’, whatever name you give it this manner of liberation where thoughts liberate themselves and are purified without a trace is the same crucial point: explicitly to show this self-liberation. It is the extraordinary speciality of the natural Dzogpachenpo,  
And so if you possess this key point, then whatever negative emotions or thoughts arise simply turn into dharmakāya. All delusory thoughts are purified as wisdom. All harmful circumstances arise as friends. All negative emotions become the path. saṃsāra is purified in its own natural state, without your having to renounce it, and you are freed from the chains of both conditioned existence, and the state of peace. You have arrived at such a complete and final state, there is no effort, nothing to achieve, and nothing left to do. And: “When you have it, there’s non-meditation, the state of dharmakāya”.
If you do not have the confidence of such a way of liberation, you can claim your view is high and your meditation is deep, but it will not really help your mind and nor will it prove a remedy for your negative emotions. Therefore, this is not the true path.
On the other hand, if you do have the key point of ‘self-arising and self-liberating’, then without even the minutest attitude of a ‘high view’ or notion of a ‘deep meditation’, it is quite impossible for your mind not to be liberated from the bonds of dualistic grasping.
When you go to the fabled Island of Gold, you can never find ordinary earth or stones, however hard you look. In just the same way, stillness, movement and thoughts, all arise now as meditation, and even if you search for real, solid delusions, you will not find any. And this alone is the measure to determine whether your practice has hit the mark or not, so: “The third vital point is: confidence directly in the liberation of rising thoughts”.

IV. The Colophon

These three key points are the unerring essence which brings the view, meditation, action and fruition, of natural Dzogpachenpo all together within the state of the all-penetrating awareness of rigpa. So in fact this constitutes the pith instructions for meditation and action, as well as for the view.
However this is not some abstract concept about which, to use the Dharma terminology of the mainstream textual tradition, a definitive conclusion is reached after evaluating it with scripture, logic and reasoning.
Rather, once you actually realize wisdom itself directly and in all its nakedness, that is the view of the wisdom of rigpa. Since all the many views and meditations have but ‘a single taste’, there is no contradiction in explaining the three vital points as the practice of the view. So: “For the View which has the three vital points,”
A practice such as this is the infallible key point of the path of primordial purity in the natural Dzogpachenpo, the very pinnacle of the nine graduated vehicles. Just as it is impossible for a king to travel without his courtiers, in the same way the key points of all yanas serve as steps and supports for the Dzogchen path. Not only this, but when you see the face of the lamp of naturally arising wisdom—the primordial purity of rigpa—its power will blaze up as the insight that comes from meditation. Then the expanse of your wisdom swells like a rising summer river, while the nature of emptiness dawns as great compassion, so infusing you with a loving compassion without any limit or bias. This is how it is, and: “Meditation, the union of wisdom and love,”
Once this key point on the path, the unity of emptiness and compassion, is directly realized, the ocean-like actions of the bodhisattvas, all included within the path of the six pāramitās, arise as its own natural energy, like the rays shining from the sun.
Since action is related to the accumulation of merit, anything you do will be for the benefit of others, helping you to avoid seeking peace and happiness for yourself alone, and so deviating from the correct view. So it: “Is accompanied by the Action common to all the bodhisattvas”.
This kind of view, meditation and action is the very core of the enlightened vision of all the buddhas who ever came, who are here now or who will ever come, and so: “Were all the buddhas of past, present and future to confer,”
The supreme peak of all the yanas, the key point on the path of the Vajra Heart Essence of the Nyingtik, the quintessence of all fruition—nothing surpasses this. And so: “No instruction would they find greater than this”.
The real meaning of what is expressed in this instruction is the heart-essence of the pith instructions of the lineage, it is certain; yet even the lines that express it, these few words, should arise, too, out of the creative power of rigpa. So: “By the tertön of dharmakāya, the inner power of rigpa,”
I have not the slightest experience of the actual meaning behind these words as a result of ‘the wisdom that comes from meditation’. Yet by hearing the unerring oral transmission of my holy master, I cleared away all doubts completely with ‘the wisdom that comes from listening’, and then came to a conclusive understanding through ‘the wisdom born of contemplation’, whereupon I composed this. And so it was: “Brought out as a treasure from the depth of transcendental insight,”
It is unlike any ordinary kind of worldly treasure, which might simply bring temporary relief from poverty. “Nothing like ordinary treasures of earth and stone,”
These three vital points of the view, known as ‘Hitting the Essence in Three Words’, were given by the nirmanakaya Garab Dorje, from within a cloud of light in the sky as he passed into nirvāṇa, to the great master Mañjuśrīmitra. These are the very pith-instructions through which their realization became inseparable. “For it is the final testament of Garab Dorje,”
It was through penetrating to the essential meaning of this instruction that the omniscient king of Dharma, Longchen Rabjam, during his life-time directly realized the ‘wisdom mind’ of primordial purity, where all phenomena are exhausted and so awakened to complete and perfect buddhahood. Actually appearing in his wisdom body to the vidyādhara Jikmé Lingpa, he blessed him in the manner of the ‘sign transmission of the vidyādharas’. From him in turn, by means of ‘the transmission from mouth to ear’, our own kind root master, Jikmé Gyalwé Nyugu, received the introduction through this instruction, and encountered the true nature of reality face to face. And this is the instruction I heard from Jikmé Gyalwé Nyugu, while he was present among us as the glorious protector of all beings. That is why it is: “The essence of the wisdom mind of the three transmissions”.
Pith-instructions such as these are like the finest of gold, like the very core of the heart. It would be a pity to teach them to people who would not put them into practice.  
But then again it would be a pity, too, not to teach them to a person who would cherish these instructions like his or her own life, put their essential meaning into practice, and attain buddhahood in a single lifetime. So:
“It is entrusted to my heart-disciples, sealed to be secret.
It is profound in meaning, my heart’s words.
It is the words of my heart, the crucial key point.
This crucial point, do not let it go to waste!
Never let this instruction slip away from you!”

With this brief commentary, ‘The Special Teaching of the Wise and Glorious King’ is complete at this point. Virtue! Virtue! Virtue!
| Rigpa Translations, 2008.
Thusness wrote in 2009:

I think realization and development will eventually reach the same destination.

A practitioner that experience the “Self” will initially treat
1.The “Source as the Light of Everything”.
2. He/she will eventually move to the experience that the “Light is really the Everything”.

In the first case, the Light will appear to be still and the transience appears to be moving. Collapsing of space and time will only be experienced when one resides in Self. However if the mind continues to see the 'Light' as separated from the 'Everything' , then realization will appear to be apart from development.

In the second case when we experience the “Light is really the Everything”, then Everything will be experienced as manifesting yet not moving. This is the experience of wholeness and completeness in an instantaneous moment or Eternity in a moment. When this experience becomes clear in practice, then witness is seen as the transience. Space and time will also collapse when we experience the completeness and wholeness of transience. An instantaneous moment of manifestation that is complete and whole in its own also does not involve movement and change (No changing thing, only change). Practicing being 'bare' in attention yet at the same time noticing the 3 characteristics will eventually bring us to this point.

However what has a yogi overcome when moving from case 1 to 2 and what exactly is the cause of separation in the first place? I think realizing this cause is of utmost importance for solving the paradox of realization and development.

Thusness and I like this book very much. It discusses the energetics and somatic experience of Yoga practice in relation with the insight of Thusness's seven phases. As Thusness said, "This is a very good. To interprete yoga sutra in anatta insight is my practice... should not only see from anatta but must see from yoga also." "Realization is quite the same insight as the seven phases... ...This is a very good book written from very deep experiential insights."

The author, Godfrey Devereux, is a yoga teacher who was awakened under the guidance of Zen Master Genpo Roshi.

You can buy the book here:

His website:

Some of his writings: 

"click here to open a PDF excerpt from this book in a new window. Never before have the Yogasutras of Patanjali been cast into such a clear light.
Stripped of metaphysical jargon Yoga is revealed as a depth psychology as pragmatic as it is profound. In releasing Patanjali's analysis of human perception and cogntion from academic sepculation his vision becomes the perfect antidote to contemporary pop psychology and pseudo-spirituality.
The subtleties of human consciousness so tersely etched by Patanjali are fleshed out by Godfrey into a clear and relevant presentation of the pitfalls and possibilities of human intelligence. Just reading through the glossary of the technical terms will provide you with clear and profound insights into the subtleties of your own mind.
The short introduction provides a simple insight into the core of the text, before Godfrey original and provocative translation begins the process of demystifaction that then continues into his commentary. The sutras themselves are explained, either individually or in contextual groups, in terms that will make deep sense to anyone with a practical interest in yoga, meditation or human intelligence."

Very good text from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, translated with commentary by Francesca Fremantle and Chogyam Trungpa

Based on a text by


"May the element of space not rise up as an
may I see the Realm of the blue buddha.
May the element of water not rise up as enemy,
may I see the realm of the white buddha.
May the element of earth not rise up as an
may I see the realm of the yellow buddha.
May the element of fire not rise up as an
may I see the realm of the red buddha.
May the element of air not rise up as an enemy.
may I see the realm of the green buddha.
May the rainbow of the elements not rise up as
may I see the realms of all the buddhas.
May the sounds, lights and rays not rise up as
may I see the infinite realms of the Peaceful
and Wrathful Ones.
May I know all the sounds as my own sound,
may I know all the lights as my own light,
may I know all the rays as my own ray.
May I spontaneously know the bardo as myself,
may I attain the realms of the three kāyas.

...When the journey of my life has reached its
and since no relatives go with me from this
I wander in the bardo state alone,
may the peaceful and wrathful buddhas send
out the power of their compassion
and clear away the dense darkness of
When parted from beloved friends, wandering
my own projections’ empty forms appear,
may the buddhas send out the power of their
so that the bardo’s terrors do not come
When the five luminous lights of wisdom shine,
fearlessly may I recognize myself;
when the forms of the peaceful and wrathful
ones appear,
fearless and confident may I recognize the
When I suffer through the power of evil karma,
may the peaceful and wrathful buddhas clear
away suffering;
when the sound of dharmatā roars like a
thousand thunders,
may it be transformed into the sound of
mahāyāna teaching
When I follow my karma, without a refuge,
may the peaceful and wrathful buddhas be my
when I suffer the karma of unconscious
may the samādhi of bliss and luminosity arise
. "

Homage to Padmasambhava 🙏
Thusness wrote in 2009:

‘Psychological pain’ is directly related to our ‘sense of self’. The sense of self is directly related our deeply rooted ‘inherent and dualistic thought’. This pain is an indication that we have not fully recognized the cause and many faces of the arising ‘sense of Self/self’ and that includes the attempt to remain as an unaffected passive observer. If we prescribe the wrong medicine, then there is no cure. Therefore your experience that “remaining as a detach observer doesn’t seem to eliminate the pain and anxiety yet breathing exercises and some physical exercises do” is a precious realization. There are 2 parts to it.

First we must realize why we equate ‘detachment’ to this ‘unaffected and passive observer’. It is due to an incomplete insight of our pristine yet non-dual and empty nature of awareness. It is partly due to our direct and non-conceptual experience of our “Unborn, pristine and luminous nature “of awareness and partly due to the karmic tendency of solidify experience. When this direct experience is understood from the lens of a ”dualistic and inherent” framework, it is natural that we view “a passive observer” as the way to solve this psychological pain.

Second, in addition to the ‘unborn, pristine and luminous’ aspect of awareness, we must have a more thorough and deeper insight into our ‘intimate, inseparable, non-dual and dependent originated’ aspect of Awareness. This relates to why “breathing exercises and some physical exercises is able to relieve psychological pain". We must directly and deeply experience what is meant by “inseparable” from the transient and understand “beingness” is never apart from whatever arises.

Lastly what that is ‘unborn, pristine and luminous’ cannot be “dependent and inseparable from the transient” appears sound only logically but not experientially. It will first seem illogical and unnatural to accept such an idea, but when the tendency to dualify and solidify experience subsides, then scenery, taste, scent, sound, breathe, the sensation of our feet touching the ground…all arising will help lighten this psychological pain. Therefore fearlessly, unreservedly and completely open to whatever arises.
Thusness and I like the articles in this site very much.…/

Both dharma teachers (Yogi Prabodha Jnana and Yogini Abhaya Devi) are yogis that went for 9 years retreat and trained in the Nyingma lineage.

Their main practice is Dzogchen. They went for 9 years retreat and was encouraged by their gurus to teach. Their gurus are Kyabje Penor Rinpoche, Kyabje Karma Kuchen Rinpoche and the three Khenchens of Namdroling Monastery.

Here's the article "Bodhidharma Teachings":

Breaking the Silence – The Teachings of Bodhidharma

Bodhidharma Teachings
In this second part of the trilogy on Bodhidharma, let us go deeper into his teachings, including the two methods Bodhidharma taught for entering the Way of Awakening.  We shall also see how Bodhidharma’s teachings fit within the broader context of various Mahayana methods.

View other parts of this Trilogy at 

Bodhidharma Life StoryPart I – Transcending Movement and Stillness – The Life of Bodhidharma
Part III – The Wild Leaps of Awakening – Bodhidharma and Martial Arts

 Bodhidharma taught through silence and words, and through resting and movement. Sometimes he just sat silent and dissolved the conceptual proliferations of seekers in that silence. Sometimes, he used abrupt and loud words and expressions to totally shift the mindset of disciples and to bring to dust their  frames of reference. In resting like a mountain, gazing at the empty wall of mind’s nature, he showed how the mind of dualities and conceptual proliferations comes to rest in the basic space of the perception and the perceived1. In moving like a wild goose spreading its wings, he showed how the perception and the perceived never harm the silence of the basic space.

The View from the Summit

View from the Summit

In the view of awakening, as expressed by the Buddha in the Prajna-paramita-sutras, Lankavatara-sutra, and so on, the perception and the perceived are seen to be unborn, without a beginning. The perception and the perceived have never ever arisen as independent realities separate from the basic space of all phenomenal arising2.  Realizing this principle cannot be the result of seeking. It is rather like seeing the entire landscape from the top of a high summit by resting and not seeking. All teachings of the Buddha, and particularly Mahayana Sutras, skillfully take disciples to this summit. Bodhidharma’s teachings are in essence no different from this.

There are broadly two approaches to arrive at the summit. One is that of the Nalanda masters. It involves elaborate study and then using the sword of prajna (understanding) through logical reasoning and contemplations to cut one’s conceptual proliferation branch by branch. As the thoughts that proliferates with dualistic conceptions are gradually eliminated with the sword of prajna, one reaches the summit of non-conceptual view that is beyond seeking. The other approach is that of close master-disciple relationship. In this case, by following the skillful personal instructions of a master, the disciple quickly gains a glimpse into that non-conceptual view by instantaneously cutting through whatever obscured true seeing. Then, the disciple trains to rest at the summit of that non-conceptual view of the basic space, without taking recourse to elaborate reasoning and logic. Bodhidharma emphasized the latter.

Bodhidharma’s teachings, matching with his time, made sure that the skillful means of realizing the vast expanse of one’s own mind does not turn into mere religiosity. Buddha-dharma was already very popular by then and people were turning it into religious systems. So, for Bodhidharma, it was important to dismantle the religiosity to show the true meaning of the Buddha’s teachings.

He always emphasized that the purpose of practicing Dharma should be to tame and transform mind, and all the more to realize Buddhahood that is in one’s nature beyond all seeking and rejecting. He repeatedly made it clear that there is no use doing elaborate practices in a religious way if you miss this real meaning and purpose.

Finding the Buddha

Bodhidharma said,
To find a Buddha, you have to see your nature.
Whoever sees one’s own nature is a Buddha.
Invoking Buddhas, reciting Sutras,
Making offerings, and keeping precepts
Are all useless if you don’t see your nature.
Invoking Buddhas results in feeling blessed;
Reciting Sutras results in a good memory;
Keeping precepts results in a good rebirth;
And making offering results in good karma;
Yet, none of those result in finding the Buddha.

Seeking the BuddhaTo find a Buddha all you have to do is to see your own nature. Your own true nature is no different from that of a fully awakened Buddha. If you don’t see your nature, and instead run around all day looking elsewhere, you’ll never find a Buddha. In fact, there’s nothing to find. There is no Buddha to seek elsewhere. Just recognize your own innate potential and let it naturally flourish. There, you find the true Buddha. Invoking Buddhas, reciting Sutras, making offerings, keeping precepts and various other such activities are only to create conditions to get closer to that recognition and to make it easier for it to flourish. But, if you go on looking outwardly to see results from such actions without turning attention towards your own mind, then you won’t find a Buddha. The best one can gain by performing such acts religiously is some good karma, good memory, good rebirth, and feeling blessed, keeping the hope alive, but never Buddhahood!

Thus Bodhidharma’s style was to turn the attention of the disciple inward to the mind, and into its empty nature. The Master leads the disciple into realizing that one’s mind by its very nature is equal to that of a fully awakened Buddha. Yet, when one recognizes the nature of one’s own mind, nothing is found there to cling to as ‘this is mind’. Discovering one’s own Buddhahood in the empty-mind is the essence and the way of Mahayana Buddhism.

Bodhidharma said,
You should realize that the cultivation of the Way does not exist apart from your mind. If your mind is pure, everything is pure as buddha-fields. As sutras states, “If the minds of beings are impure, beings are impure. If the minds of beings are pure, beings are pure,” and “To reach a buddha-field, purify your mind. As your mind becomes pure, everything becomes pure as buddha-fields.” (from the Breakthrough Discourse)

Dissolving the Mind

Dissolving the mind
Though purifying mind is the essence of practicing the Way, it is not done by clinging at the mind as a glorified and absolute entity. It is not that one simply goes inward by rejecting the external world. It is not that the mind is pure and the world is impure. When mind is clear, the world is a pure-field. When mind is deluded, the world is Samsara. Bodhidharma said,
Seeing with insight, form is not simply form, because form depends on mind. And, mind is not simply mind, because mind depends on form. Mind and form create and negate each other.  …  Mind and the world are opposites, appearances arise where they meet. When your mind does not stir inside, the world does not arise outside. When the world and the mind are both transparent, this is the true insight.” (from the Wakeup Discourse)

Just like the masters of Madhyamaka, Bodhidharma too pointed out that mind and form are interdependently arising. Mind and form create each other. Yet, when you cling to form, you negate mind. And, when you cling to mind, you negate form. Only when such dualistic notions are dissolved, and only when both mind and the world are transparent (not turning to obstructing concepts) the true insight arises.

In this regard, Bodhidharma said,
Using the mind to look for reality is delusion.
Not using the mind to look for reality is awareness.
(from the Wakeup Discourse)

So, to effectively enter the Way, one has to go beyond the dualities (conceptual constructs) of mind and form. As far as one looks for reality as an object of mind, one is still trapped in the net of delusion (of seeing mind and form as independent realities), never breaking free from it. In that way, one holds reality as something other than oneself, and even worse, one holds oneself as a spectator to a separate reality!

When the mind does not stir anymore and settles into its pristine clarity, the world does not stir outside. The reality is revealed beyond the divisions of Self and others, and mind and form.  Thus, as you learn not to use the mind to look for reality and simply rests in the natural state of mind as it is, there is the dawn of pristine awareness –  knowing reality as it is, non-dually and non-conceptually.

When the mind does not dissolve in this way to its original clarity, whatever one sees is merely the stirring of conceptuality. Even if we try to construct a Buddha’s mind, it only stirs and does not see reality. Because, the Buddha’s mind is simply the uncompounded clarity of Bodhi (awakening), free from stirring and constructions. So, Bodhidharma said,
That which ordinary knowledge understands is also said to be within the boundaries of the norms. When you do not produce the mind of a common man, or the mind of a sravaka or a bodhisattva, and when you do not even produce a Buddha-mind or any mind at all, then for the first time you can be said to have gone outside the boundaries of the norms. If no mind at all arises, and if you do not produce understanding nor give rise to delusion, then, for the first time, you can be said to have gone outside of everything. (From the Record #1, of the Collection of Bodhidharma’s Works3 retrieved from Dunhuang Caves)

Often, this approach of simply not using mind and the instruction to rest naturally, are confused with  simply sitting in tranquility or Shamatha. Particularly, those who did not obtain the direct and clear instructions confuse so. Then, though they keep meditating, they do not enter the Way. However, if one understands Bodhidharma’s approach properly, it is not about holding mind in a passive state. His Way is a union of Shamatha (pacification of mind) and Vipashyana (cultivating insight). For example, Bodhidharma gave the following instructions regarding how to work with the mind that arises,
When mind arises, rely on teachings to watch the source where it arises from. If mind discriminates, rely on teachings to watch the source of discrimination. If attachment, anger or deluded thoughts arise, rely on teachings to watch the source they arise from. [When nothing arises,] not seeking for their arisings is cultivating the Way. When there is arising of thought, then investigate, and by relying on teachings, clear it up!(From the Record #1, of the Collection of Bodhidharma’s Works retried from Dunhuang Caves)

As it is evident from the above, Bodhidharma’s approach of dissolving mind is through insight, and not that of holding mind in a passive state. Various states of meditation attained through simply pacifying mind into various states of absorption (dhyana) are merely temporary and do not lead to real insight and liberation. Whereas, when  the dualistic mind is dissolved through insight, and then by simply resting in that insight, there is the view of reality, and thus liberation.

Thus, Bodhidharma clarified,
Not creating delusion is enlightenment.
Not engaging in ignorance is wisdom
No affliction is Nirvana.
(from the Wakeup Discourse)

Breaking the Silence

Bodhidharma spent nine years meditating in a cave near Shaolin Monastery

Bodhidharma kept silence for many years and stayed in a Samadhi of clear insight. He said,
Freeing oneself from words is liberation. (from the Wakeup Discourse)

The words, even when not spoken out, are proliferations of a conceptual and dualistic mind. To dissolve mind, it is important to free oneself from such proliferations and be able to rest naturally. Yet, he cautioned that a dumb kind of silence should not be confused as the Way. So, in the same discourse, he mocked those who glorify the silence of stupidity,
Those who understand both speech and silence are in Samadhi. If you speak when you know, your speech is free. If you are silent when you don’t know, your silence is bondage. If your speech is not attached to appearances, it is free. If your silence is attached to appearances, it is bondage. Language by itself is not bondage. Because, language by itself is not attachment. And, attachment has nothing to do with language. (from the Wakeup Discourse)

Clearly, it does not matter whether you speak or keep silence as far as either of it is from a point of wisdom and understanding. And, even the silence can be bondage if there is attachment and the lack of insight. In fact, the depth of inner silence of realization can pervade every spoken word. Then, words transcend silence and stirring.

The Two Ways to Enter the Way

The wide-eyed yogi, Bodhidharma
Bodhidharma (Daruma) – a 15th Century painting. (Photo courtesy – Kyoto National Museum)

Bodhidharma’s approach to the Way can be classified into two methods. In one of his famed teachings in China, he spoke of these two kinds of entry to the Way. They are,
  1. Entering the Way through Insight – The instantaneous Entrance to the Way
  2. Entering the Way through Practice – The Gradual Entrance to the Way

Entering the Way through Insight

Entering the Way through insight happens when a disciple of high caliber listens to the instructions of the master, and then leaving behind all deluded pursuits, directly gains insight into the empty nature of mind. Then without making distinction between self and others, one maintains a stable and clear mind like a wall. This is the instantaneous entrance to the Way that Bodhidharma is most well known for. Relaxing in the stable and clear nature of the empty mind is the meditation that is unmoving like a wall. Unmoving does not mean that the mind is lost in vacuity with no thought and perception at all. It also does not mean that one is just sitting all the time. It is not that kind of unmoving. Even while various perceptions and experiences arise, one remains unmoving from the insight of the empty nature of mind and evenness of knowing that all beings possess Buddha-nature. As Bodhidharma said,
To transcend motion and stillness is the highest meditation. (from the Wakeup Sermon)

In this way, Bodhidharma’s approach is not that of just remaining still in body and mind, but that of meditation transcending motion and stillness. It is about maintaining unmoving realization of the reality throughout all actions of life, or simply, ‘unmoving meditation in action’.

Zen Master Dogen
Zen Master Dogen
The sitting meditation of Bodhidharma is also known as ‘Wall-gazing Meditation’ (Pi-kuan in Chinese). Though in certain traditions of Chan/Zen, it is practiced by facing a wall, its meaning is not limited to simply gazing at the wall. In this, one trains to abandon all conceptuality and relax in the utter clarity of mind. As a poetic expression, it is like directly ‘gazing’ into the empty wall of the  mind’s nature. However, in practice there is nothing to gaze as the nature of mind transcends object-subject dualities. So one simply relaxes in the natural clarity of mind.

Often, Bodhidharma’s approach of entering the Way through insight is confused with purely sitting meditation, devoid of everything else. In fact, his tradition got the name Zen School or Chan School (which literally means Meditation School) because ordinary people confused this to be just always sitting in meditation. As Dogen, a later master of Zen and the founder of Soto School of Zen in Japan pointed out in his Bendowa,
At first, while Master Bodhidharma sat facing the wall for nine years …, both monks and non-monastics … called him the sage who just practiced zazen (sitting meditation) as the essence. After that, his successors for generations practiced zazen. Seeing this, foolish worldly people, who did not understand what goes on in the sitting, in confusion [of seeing only the outer form] called this the ‘Zazen School’ (the school of sitting meditation). … Do not take zazen to be same as the samadhi [of the three trainings of discipline, samadhi and wisdom], or dhyāna (meditation) of the six perfections. [The true zazen practice is what] Tathagata in the assembly at Vulture Peak (Grhakuta Mountain of Rajgir) transmitted to Venerable Mahakashyapa, the unsurpassed great transmission of the wondrous mind of Nirvana, the vision of dharma-eye. … It is a complete Way of Buddhadharma 

Entering the Way through Practice

Though the instantaneous approach of entering the Way through insight appears simple, it is difficult to gain instantaneous insight for most people even when a Master guides them to the view. So, Bodhidharma also taught a gradual way of entrance to the Way that is easy for all. This is ‘entering the Way through practice’. This has four practices,
  1. Accepting Suffering
  2. Adapting to Conditions
  3. Seeking nothing
  4. To unite with the Way

The first step in the gradual way is to learn not to react foolishly to sufferings arising from karmic ripening of past deeds. By reacting negatively, we only add more fuel to the karmic ripenings. In the face of painful situations that life presents, a skillful practitioner spends his or her energy in creating positive conditions and doing positive deeds rather than lamenting or reacting to painful situations negatively. This brings a first level sanity to life.

From Bodhidharma's Wakeup DiscourseThe second step is a little more advanced. Adapting to conditions is about realizing that all painful and pleasurable incidents of life are conditional and would also go away as conditions change. A skillful practitioner learns to maintain evenness of mind during both happiness and suffering, without giving into excessive elations and depression. This leads to profound clarity and  peace of mind.

The third step is even more advanced. Seeking nothing means that one has already realized a mind of contentment and  sees the meaninglessness of all selfish pursuits. In this stage, one even abandons seeking enlightenment. It does not mean that one remains inactive or shies away from action. Rather, one enjoys engaging in heroic pursuits for the benefit of others. (same as relative bodhicitta.)

As the final stage of the gradual way, the practitioner unites with the Way by seeing the emptiness of Self and all phenomena and by recognizing the empty expanse of the ground of all phenomena.

Honoring the Words of the Buddha

Though Bodhidharma emphasized the need to go to the essential meaning than merely reading scriptures, he also valued scriptural knowledge. In fact, Bodhidharma held Sutras in high esteem. Particularly he held that Mahayana Lankavatara Sutra contains the essential teachings of the instantaneous realization tradition of Mahayana. When Bodhidharma made Huike his Dharma successor, along with his robe and bowl he passed on a copy of the scripture of Lankavatara Sutra.

The Teachings Go further East

Bodhidharma’s teachings spread mainly in China and further east in Korea and Japan. His teachings later evolved into the instantaneous tradition of the Southern Chan school of China and the gradual tradition of the Northern Chan school of China. These teachings reached Vietnam through an Indian master named Vinītaruci who was a disciple of the Chinese master Sengcan, who in turn was a disciple of Huike, the heart disciple of Bodhidharma.  In Vietnam this school came to be known as the Thien school. The Chinese Chan school propagated to Japan when Myoan Eisai learnt it in China and established the Rinzai Zen School, following the Chinese tradition of the Linji Chan school.  Further, Dogen learnt from the Chinese tradition of the Caodong Chan school and established the Soto Zen school in Japan. All of these schools practice the meditation of just sitting and resting in the unborn nature of all appearances without seeking or rejecting appearances. The difference among these schools is in the additional supports they use such as Sutra recitation, contemplation on koans (verses, often with seemingly paradoxical meaning, supposed to take the disciple beyond conceptuality), walking meditation, etc.

Placing in a Broader Context

During the 8th century CE, Bodhidharma’s teachings (Chan) reached Tibet from China. And that provides a unique opportunity to review Bodhidharma’s teachings in the context of many other Mahayana Buddhist teachings that arrived in Tibet. Tibetan Buddhism had both the pandita methods (those who made thorough scholarly study to enter the Way of awakening) and the kusulu methods (those who just practiced the essence of non-conceptual realization, without much scholarly study). These pandita and kusulu methods blended into an integral whole in Tibet with the same lineages and masters handling both kinds of methods together. Thus, the Tibetan scholars were able to come up with some of the best works of systematizing, contrasting and co-developing various methods of awakening, without denigrating one style for another. Since Chan tradition did not survive in Tibet for long, Bodhidharma’s teachings do not occupy a place in the analytical works of later Tibetan scholars. However, during the short period of the Chan presence in Tibet, some important scholarly works were composed that covered Bodhidharma’s tradition.

Nub Sangye Yeshe’s Classification of the Four Systems

Nub Sangye Yeshe
Nubchen Sangye Yeshe

Amongst those were Nubchen Sangye Yeshe’s composition of a very important work, with the name Samten Migdron (Lamp to the Eye of Meditation). Nubchen was a direct disciple of Guru Padmasambhava who brought Vajrayana Buddhism from India to Tibet. Nubchen’s work analyzed all the traditions of Mahayana Buddhist meditation into four systems with equal respect. This work also helps to distinguish between Chan / Zen and Atiyoga, and to avoid mixing up of the two methods.

Samten Migdron was lost for a long time. A manuscript of this text was recovered in early 20th Century from the Dunhuang caves in China. This became a very helpful source to see how Bodhidharma’s teaching style fits within the broader context of Mahayana Buddhism.

Nubchen classified Mahayana Meditation of the union of Shamatha (calm-abiding meditation) and Vipashyana (insight meditation) broadly into four systems. These are
Two methods of Sutrayana
  1. Gradual
  2. Instantaneous 
 and the two of Vajrayana
  1. Mahayoga (generation and completion stage practices of Mantrayana) 
  2. Atiyoga (the Great Perfection or Dzogchen practice). 

All of these four have their own respective ways of arriving at the union of shamatha and vipashyana on the unborn and empty nature of the basic space of all phenomena, and attaining liberation in that basic space.

According to Nubchen’s classification, the Gradual Sutrayana refers to the path of gradually abandoning various conceptual clingings and gradually realizing the unborn and empty nature of the space of all phenomena. Here, one cultivates non-conceptuality with respect to various phenomenal appearances, and that gradually leads to the basic space.

The second system, the Instantaneous Sutrayana, is what Nubchen identifies  primarily as the teachings of the Great Abbot Bodhidharmottara (or Bodhidharma), particularly ‘Entering the Way through Insight’ (Nubchen also deals with many other masters of Chan / Zen as belonging to this category). According to Nubchen, this method teaches the unborn nature of the space of all phenomena from the very beginning. The practice here is that of wall-gazing as the union of shamatha and vipashyana by training to rest in the unborn ultimate nature. According to Nubchen, this unborn nature is the parinishpanna svabhāva (Perfect Nature) of the unborn space as in Yogacara. Here one cultivates non-conceptuality with respect to the emptiness of all phenomena. In other words, one cultivates non-conceptuality with respect to non-appearances4, without clinging to a conceptual notion of emptiness.

The third, Mahayoga, refers to the generation and completion stage practices of the Vajrayana. Here, one cultivates the non-dual non-conceptuality of the inseparability of the unborn space and wisdom-appearances.

The fourth, Atiyoga, refers to Great Perfection or Dzogchen. Here, a disciple is directly introduced to the play of his or her pristine awareness that is inseparable from the unborn space of all phenomena. In Atiyoga, one directly rests in the spontaneously present non-conceptuality where there is no reference for meditation, such as the object or subject. In this spontaneously present non conceptuality, emptiness and appearances are naturally unified.

Prasangika Madhyamaka and Bodhidharma

In the context of the above analysis, it is also interesting to compare Prasangika Madhyamaka with Bodhidharma’s method. Though these two methods of entering the Way differ drastically, the qualities of their meditation are essentially the same.

Prasangika uses consequential reasoning (the logic of reduction-ad-absurdum) to see the absurdity of every possible conceptual elaboration. Here, conceptual elaborations include the views such as existence, non-existence, both and neither. As one studies scriptures and thoroughly analyzes, one gains certainty in the absurdity of all such conceptual positions. Having gained certainty through such analysis and contemplation, one’s mind comes to rest in the uncontrived nature of mind, giving rise to self-arisen wisdom that is in the nature of mind. (Nubchen Sangey Yeshe did not analyze Prasangika as a separate system in Samten Migdron. However, since the Prasangika approach is to cut all extremes of existence, non-existence and so on simultaneously, its meditation is the same as what Nubchen explains for the Instantaneous Sutrayana, namely, that of non-conceptuality of non-appearance.)

Unlike Prasangika, Chan / Zen does not use elaborate logic and reasoning to analyze every possible position. Instead, a disciple in this case relies on the individualized instructions of a realized Master to move from the position where he or she is stuck  to the point of gaining glimpse into the view of the unborn nature. The effectiveness of this approach depends on the ability of both the master and the disciple. Though a detailed Madhyamaka style analysis is not performed, some systems of Chan / Zen use riddles (koan). Riddles are chosen by the Master depending upon where the disciple is stuck currently. The real Chan / Zen according to ‘Entering the Way through Insight’ (Instantaneous Entrance) starts only when gradually the disciple arrives at the gate of having a glimpse of the unborn nature.

View the Complete Trilogy at 

Bodhidharma – a Trilogy on His Life and Teachings

Authors – Yogini Abhaya Devi Yogi Prabodha Jnana

Yogini Abhaya Devi
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