The Degrees of Rigpa 

(Loppön Namdrol/Malcolm Smith)

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

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

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

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

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

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

    PadmaVonSamba wrote:
    Very interesting.

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

    Read the Heart Sutra again, in case you forgot.


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

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

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

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

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

    In reality the three kāyas are also conventions.

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

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

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

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

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

    Origination from self is axiomatically negated in Buddhadharma,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Three Kāyas Tantra from the Ka dag rang shar

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

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

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

    The Clear Lamp from the Ka dag rang shar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The basis is not space.

    Malcolm wrote:
    Nyibum* states:

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

    The basis is nothing more nor nothing less this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Or as the Great Garuda has it when refuting Madhyamaka:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Malcolm wrote:
    They never cease....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Shabkar, Key to One Hundred Doors of Samadhi

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


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

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

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

    Origination from self is axiomatically negated in Buddhadharma,

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

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

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

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

    dzogchungpa wrote:
    This I understand.

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

    This I don't.

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

    dzogchungpa wrote:
    OK, now it all makes sense.

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

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

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

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

    HI Malcolm

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

    Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    There are two propositions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    More importantly Shabkar states:

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


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

    Compare these last two with Nyibum:

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

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


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

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

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

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

    asunthatneversets wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    (vii) Original purity [ka dag].

    Malcolm wrote:

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

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

    gad rgyangs wrote: then what is that wisdom?

    Malcolm wrote:

    A mind lacking fabrications.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Malcolm wrote:

    Yes, and I was also wrong.

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

    Yes this is called Advaita Vedanta.

    Malcolm wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Not pristine unfabricated mind.
    Malcolm wrote:

    They are the same thing.

    And no, I was slightly mistaken before.

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

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

    Then we gave this from the Rig pa rang shar:

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

    Or the Rang grol:

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

    Or the Mind Mirror of Samantabhadra has an interlinear note:

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

    The Sun and Moon Tantra states:

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

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

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

    Stop right there. No need to go further.

    This indicates the basis is the 5 lights.


    Old Malcolm wins over new Malcolm.

    Malcolm wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Malcolm wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    On 120 he says:

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

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

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

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

    Malcolm wrote:

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

    The "Illuminating Lamp" says:

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

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

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

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

    Malcolm wrote:

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

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


    There is no universal basis in Dzogchen. The view of Dzogchen is emptiness.


    This translation is incorrect. It is from this passage:
    • Samantabhadri is the unrestricted vast sphere.
      Vast Samantabhadra is displayed to all.
      Samantabhadra father and mother have a non-dual single form.
      The state of Samantabhadri endowed with the meaning of realization
      arises as every diversity since her unchanging bhaga is vast.
      The whole universe is included in her bhaga.
      The bhaga of the mother is the field of great emptiness.
      The non-dual form of the father and mother totally pervade migrating beings.

    The basis of the universe in Trika is Shiva, who really exists, and so everything which comes from Shiva really exists. This point is made very clear by Lakshmanijoo in his critique of Advaita Vedanta.

    When I say there is no universal basis, I mean that there is no basis taught in Dzogchen which is ontologically real, singular, and overarching. The basis [gzhi, sthana] is one's own unfabricated mind which is originally pure, i.e., empty. The all-basis (kun gzhi, ālaya) in Dzogchen refers to the aspect of mind which gathers traces.


    No, it is a different principle altogether.


    • The third area of difference between Kashmir Śaivism and Vedānta concerns the essence, the substance, the basis of this universe. Vedānta holds that this universe is untrue, unreal. It does not really exist. It is only a creation of illusion (māyā). Concerning this point, Kashmir Śaivism argues that if Lord Śiva is real, than how could an unreal substance come out from something that is real? If Lord Śiva is real, then His creation is also real. Why should it be said that Lord Śiva is real and Hs creation is an illusion (māyā)? Kashmir Śaivism explains that the existence of this universe is just as real as the existence of Lord Śiva. As such, it is real, pure, and solid. This is nothing about it at all which is unreal."
    -- pg. 104, Kashmir Shaivism, The Secret Supreme; 1st Books, 2000.

    In Dzogchen it is held that the appearance of the universe is caused by the imputing ignorance which is a result of the neutral awareness at the time the basis arises from the basis not recognizing its own appearances as being its own state. Needless, to say, that mind is also empty, and lacks any nature or inherent existence. That mind is also individual, which accounts for why Samantabhadra woke up at the time the basis arose from the basis, and sentient beings did not.

    In short, the foundation of Dzogchen teachings is the Buddha's teaching of the five elements, five aggregates, emptiness, dependent origination,etc.; while the foundation of Kashmir Shaivism is Samkhya, with an added eleven principles on top of Samkhya's original 25, in addition to asserting there is only one universal puruśa, Śiva, as opposed to Samkhya's assertion that there are infinite individual puruśas.


    Because our mind is stirred by wind, it seeks outside its own state, because it seeks outside its own state, it reifies the five elements; because it reifies the five elements, it takes on bodies. Therefore, to control the mind, control the wind, to control the wind, control the body.



    My friend, I can assure you that is indeed the case that rig pa becomes ma rig pa. And why? Because vāyu stirred consciousness and that consciousness that does not recognize its own display is ma rig pa. As it states in my forthcoming translation (Wisdom, 12/16) of one of the most seminal of all Dzogchen commentaries:
    • As such, knowledge (vidyā, rig pa) itself becomes ignorance (ma rig pa, āvidyā) and nondelusion becomes delusion.
    And how does this happen?
    • The trio of the essence, nature, and compassion of the original basis becomes the three ignorances. Since the essence is made the cause of delusion, it is designated “the ignorance of the same identity” and becomes so. Once the nature is made the condition of delusion, since the vāyu of the impelling karma manifests as color, it is designated “the connate ignorance” and becomes so. Compassion is made the result of delusion. Since pristine consciousness manifests as different names, that is designated as “the imputing ignorance” and becomes so. As such, from not recognizing that knowledge and ignorance have the same cause, like the front and back of one’s hand, the ignorance of the same identical cause arises from not arriving at ultimate nonduality. The connate ignorance (arising from the preceding) is a term of duality, meaning as soon as the conceit “this is originally pure” occurs, it is inseparable from that ignorance. Thus, ignorance depends on knowledge and delusion depends on nondelusion.
    And as Vimalamitra states:
    • The vidyā that is moved and stirred by vāyu
      is subtle; its stirring is difficult to understand.

    You might wish to reconsider your point of view in this light.


    Yes, of course I agree with his statement. If you want to understand Dzogchen, than you have to understand that the basis is exactly what Vimalamitra says it is, i.e., pristine consciousness, luminosity, ordinary mind, etc. Otherwise, the basis is just a blank invert voidness. How can emptiness along reify anything?


    Each mind has its own basis [nature].

    There is no such thing as a singular, transpersonal, universal basis in Dzogchen.


    There is no universal basis, as such. There is however a generic basis, which has three characteristics: essence, nature and compassion. Just as all instances of water are generically limpid, clear and moist, likewise the basis for each and every sentient being is the trio of essence, nature and compassion. Put in the simplest terms, all sentient beings possess a consciousness which has the nature being empty and clear. When examined from the point of view of reducing this to the most essential point, the basis is just one's unfabricated mind, nothing more, nothing less.

    The all-basis is of course the imputing ignorance.


    I never said that each individual consciousness was ultimate per se. The point is that the ultimate (inseparable luminosity and emptiness) is a generic attribute they all share, in the same way all fires share the generic attribute of heat, and so on, or that each and every entity is empty. As Candra points, all things have two natures, one relative, one ultimate. In Madhyamaka, the ultimate nature of each and everything is emptiness. This is true also in Dzogchen; but in Dzogchen, not only are all minds ultimately empty, they are also ultimately luminous. This inseparable luminosity and emptiness is given the name "one's unfabricated mind" by Vimalamitra, or as Mipham puts it:
    • That basis is originally pure from the aspect of lacking any proliferation, and since it is not solely empty like space, its impartial clarity is naturally perfect without being delimited or falling into extremes. Since it is the source of the appearances of all samsara and nirvana, compassion is said to pervade everything. In the Dharma terminology of the Great Perfection, the pristine consciousness that is said to be three-fold.

      Likewise, in the sūtras and tantras, it called “the dhātu” and “emptiness” from the aspect of the characteristic freedom from all kinds of proliferation that cannot be perceived at all. [4/a] From the aspect of intrinsically radiant (mdangs) clarity it is called “self-originated pristine consciousness.” Since it does not change in aspect, it is called “original mind (sems),” “original mind (yid),” “naturally luminous mind,” “the vajra of mind,” “the vajra of space that pervades space” and so on. Even though there is an explanation with many different names, all of them are not different in meaning than dharmatā of the mind, the nondual dhātu and vidyā, or bodhicitta, the ultimate reality is like a vajra.

      Therefore, since the so called “dharmadhātu” is not understood to be only empty, it is the emptiness that possesses the supreme of all aspects, whole and indivisible from luminosity. Though it is called “self-originated pristine consciousness,” the subjective mind that realizes the emptiness of the duality, and of subject and object, does not know conditioned signs. It is also necessary to understand that such natural clarity does not have an iota of a sign that can be designated as conditioned.

      The bodhicitta mentioned in the mind series of the Great Perfection, the dharmadhātu mentioned in the space series, the self-originated pristine consciousness mentioned in the intimate instruction series, the dharmadhātu mentioned in the Prajñāpāramitā, the original mind mentioned in most of the mantra tantras and so on may have different names by virtue of their purposes, but since the meaning to understand is the pristine consciousness of that meaning which illustrates the union of knowing and emptiness, the reality of all phenomena, it is the original connate pristine consciousness. Since it is naturally settled dharmatā because it is not generated by the traces of transmigration’s three appearances, it is called the great bliss that is free from all pain of transmigration.

    No, not multiple bases, no more than there are multiple heats.

    The basis, as we saw above, is just the dharmatā of one's own mind, just as heat is the dharmatā of fire. We don't say of emptiness for example, that there multiple emptinesses for multiple entities, we don't need to say that of the basis either when we understand that the basis is a generic set of attributes for all minds, just as emptiness is a generic attribute of phenomena. We speak of emptiness often without distinguishing whether we mean one emptiness or many emptinesses, because it is understood at the outset that there is no entity "emptiness" that needs to spoken of in plural or singular terms. Likewise, we don't need to speak about the basis in plural or singular terms because we can understand at the outset the term "basis" refers to the dharmatā of the mind, and not some entity out of which minds arise, or in which they are somehow located. Likewise, we discuss fire in terms of heat, we don't say that fires have heats, we merely generically declare that all fires are hot.


    The universe does not exist outside the minds that project it, and there is no inseparable clarity and emptiness for us to discover apart from the inseparable clarity and emptiness of our own minds. The fact that we can discover the knowledge of our own state through the three experiences proves that we are discovering the knowledge of the real state of our own minds, and nothing else. As far as the reality of the universe goes, well as Āryadeva put it, when one discovers the emptiness of one thing, one discovers the emptiness of all things, and as the Dzogchen tantras put it, knowing one thing liberates everything (gcig shes kun grol).

    You should should also bear in mind that the experience of clarity, which is connected with lhun grub, is just an example, the same goes with the experience of emptiness, it is merely an example. This is why, for example, we don't attain the first bhumi at direct introduction (99.999 percent of us at any rate) —— that only happens if one happens to be diligent enough to reach the third vision in this life.


    I never said the universe didn't exist. I did not insist that basis inheres anywhere. I said the basis is a set of generic qualities of a given consciousness, the realization of which results in Buddhahood. It is really not hard to understand and is all perfectly consistent with Dzogchen texts and teachings. Shabkar writes:
    • Fortunate children of good families, listen without distraction:
      although the discourses of the eighty-four thousand aggregates of Dharma and so on,
      taught by all the victors of the three times,
      are equal with space and immeasurable,
      in reality, they were taught in order to realize one’s own mind;
      apart from this, nothing else was taught by the victors.

    • All perceived appearances are the appearances of one’s mind.
      The outer world that appears to be inert is the mind.
      The sentient beings inhabiting it appearing in six classes are also the mind.
      The appearance of the happiness of the higher realms of gods and men is the mind.
      The appearance of the suffering of the three lower realms is also the mind.
      Avidyā appearing as the five poisons is also the mind.
      Vidyā appearing as self-originated pristine consciousness is also the mind. [106]
      Negative thoughts appearing as the traces of samsara are also the mind.
      Positive thoughts appearing as buddhafields are also the mind.
      The appearance of obstacles of ghosts and demons is also the mind.
      The appearances of gods and siddhis are also the mind.
      The appearances of the variety of concepts are also the mind.
      Non-conceptuality, appearing as one-pointed meditation, is also the mind.
      The signs and colors of things are also the mind.
      The absence of signs and non-existence of proliferation is also the mind.
      Appearances without the duality of being one or many is also the mind.
      Appearances that are not established as being either existent or non-existent are also the mind.
      There are no appearances at all apart from the mind.

    • This relaxed unfabricated ordinary mind
      is the vast space of the realization of the Jinas free from extremes.
    Frankly, my friend, I think you are a little too hung up on words.

    Dante, the term "basis" describes a state of nonrealization, nothing more.

    We use the term to describe a set of qualities of what is termed "pristine consciousness." The basis is a consciousness, term "pristine consciousness, as the Six Dimensions states:
    • Because pristine consciousness has three aspects,
      the basis is explained in different words.
    The Sgra thal gyur states:
    • The pristine consciousness dwelling in its own essence
      is inseparable in three modalities.
    Further, the Illuminating Lamp commentary on Sgra thal gyur states
    • the pristine consciousness—subsumed by the consciousness which apprehends primordial liberation and the abiding basis as ultimate—is inseparable in all buddhas and sentient beings as a mere consciousness.
    A rock in a garden is just a projection of a mind that does not recognize its own state. This is very explicitly stated of inanimate objects — they are reified out of the five lights from our nonrecognition of the five lights. For example, the Illuminating Lamp states:
    • The luminous aspect of delusion resulting from that is stirred by a subtle vāyu. Also, all the previous lights are stirred and obscured, such that the light’s own appearance grows dimmer and dimmer. After it becomes impure, the latent appearances of earth, water, fire, and air emerge and appear as subtle particles.


    The passage means that if the basis isn't a consciousness, it would be inert, like the four elements.

    What is the basis? Garab Dorje states in a commentary in the Vima Snying thig:
    • "The fundamental basis is the trio of essence, nature and compassion of each individual's vidyā."
    We saw already that essence, nature and compassion are aspects of what is termed "pristine consciousness" aka ye shes or primordial wisdom.

    I also want to point out, that though it may seem to some people that Dzogchen is proposing some temporal beginning to samsara and nirvana, this is really not the case. Dzogchen is not a cosmology. It is a phenomenology of bondage and liberation.


    gad rgyangs wrote:so luminosity is a primary substance?
    Malcolm: If it were, it would not be empty. It is for this reason that it is an error to say that the generic basis is only a naturally perfected (lhun grub, anabhogana) nature (rang bzhin, prakriti). If this were the case, Dzogchen would be Samkhya, basically.


    gad rgyangs wrote:if luminosity is empty then it is a dependent arising. Upon what causes and conditions does it arise?
    Malcolm No, this is not the case. Why are you introducing two truths through back into the conversation?

    Emptiness is unconditioned, so is luminosity. Conditioned/unconditioned, this is just a mental reification.

    In any case, all fires are hot, all water is wet, all minds are empty and luminous. This is not a problem.

    "There is no mind in the mind, but the nature (prakṛiti) of the mind is luminousity."


    gad rgyangs wrote:so luminosity is not the basis, rather emptiness and luminosity are qualities of the basis, which is itself empty of both those qualities, as well as all others, including existence and non existence.
    Malcolm: The basis is just your mind. Not your thoughts, not its content, etc. It has three qualities, essence, nature, and compassion.

    There is no basis apart from your mind, in its unfabricated, unmodified state. If this wasn't the case, your nonrecognition of the five lights would not result in samsara, and your recognition of the five lights would not result in buddhahood. But in any case, it is just your own mind and its characteristics we are discussing. These five lights are just the result of the stirring of vāyu which is the internal movement of your own consciousness prior its self-recognition/nonrecognition.

    Now, you don't have to accept the Dzogchen account of the basis and the arising of the basis, and that is just fine with me. But let's not pretend that Dzogchen has some other kind basis in mind than the one I have just described.

    From the point of view of the potentiality of the basis, your own consciousness, the basis is luminosity; from the point of the essence of the basis, your own consciousness, the basis is emptiness free from extremes. This emptiness and luminosity are inseparable, and are the essence and nature of your own mind. This is all very clearly explained in Dzogchen texts, I am not sure why you have a problem with this.་

    Further, the basis is only called "the basis" because one has not realized this.


    gad rgyangs wrote:"mind" is an imputation, a conceptual proliferation. the basis is neither since it is beyond all conceptual categories. seeing this directly is called rigpa.

    No, seeing that the display of the mind as your own state is called "rigpa."

    For example, how do "sense organs rise up from the basis" in the following citation from the sgra thal gyur?
    • since the buddhas did not become deluded,
      the sense organs that rose up out of the basis
      recognized the self-appearances as natureless
    For that matter, how would one account for this citation as well?
    • In the basis, totally undifferentiated
      and undefined,
      consciousness is grasped as moving, vanishing,
      and spreading out,
      and holding taints through accumulation.
    Moreover, we here have a citation from the commentary on the sgra thal gyur would adds more understanding:
    • In Ati, the pristine consciousness—subsumed by the consciousness which apprehends primordial liberation and the abiding basis as ultimate—is inseparable in all buddhas and sentient beings as a mere consciousness. Since the ultimate pervades them without any nature at all, it is contained within each individual consciousness.
    Again, the so called generic basis is set of qualities which all consciousnesses share.

    Even when we get to defining sems, what does the sgra thal gyur say?
    • Sems enters the pure and impure
      three realms, and also buddhahood.
    The basis has an aspect of consciousness, as the Six Dimensions clearly states:
    • If that aspect of pristine consciousness did not exist,
      it would not be any different than the physical matter of the four elements.
    If it were the case that the basis was single entity, there could not be separation of samsara and nirvana. How can delusion be accounted for, which is the whole reason for describing the basis? As Vimalamitra further states:
    • [D]elusion arises from the difference between the basis and the conscious aspect of the basis.
    If the basis is some unitary entity, this conscious aspect would have to be unitary, etc., in the sense that it would there could be no diversity. But when it is understood that the basis is generic set of attributes of every consciousness, there are no contradictions which remain.

    In other words, Dzogchen is describing a phenomenology of liberation and delusion, and the language around the so called "basis" is merely a starting point for discussing that which we are deluded about. What we are deluded about is the nature our own states, and apart from a stream of empty consciousness, there is no other state that is under discussion.


    "Rigpa" is just a mind that is undeluded concerning its own state. Apart from that, there is no other "rigpa."

    You can put scare quotes around "mind" and make all kinds of distinctions in English around words you have not defined nor clarified; but the basic reality is this: Dzogchen teachings describe how sentient beings become deluded, and how to remedy that delusion with the path.


    There is no need to remove "mind" from the sentence, since rig pa is knowledge that a mind has, apart from which, no rig pa is possible. This is the reason why prajñā and vidyā are synonymous. For example, Vimalamitra in the Vima sNying thig, among the five definitions of vidyā, which are contextual, states first that vidyā is "a clear nonconceptual consciousness contaminated by many consciousnesses." The second type is the vidyā that appropriates the basis (meaning the body) existing in the body, generates consciousness, existing within its own clarity, also termed, "unripened vidyā." The third type of vidyā is the one that exists in the basis, defined as possessing three pristine consciousness of essence, nature and compassion. The fourth is defined as the vidyā of insight, vipaśyāna, having to do with the visions. The fifth is the vidyā of thögal, here meaning vidyā at the conclusion of the fourth vision.

    In the end, all five of these are just means of talking about one's own mind and it's knowledge of its own state or lack thereof, since all five of these vidyās, Vimalamitra points, are essentially the same.



    Lopon Malcolm:

    “In the basis (Tibetan: གཞི, Wylie: gzhi) there were neutral awarenesses (sh shes pa lung ma bstan) that did not recognize themselves. (Dzogchen texts actually do not distinguish whether this neutral awareness is one or multiple.) This non-recognition was the innate ignorance. Due to traces of action and affliction from a previous universe, the basis became stirred and the Five Pure Lights shone out. When a neutral awareness recognized the lights as its own display, that was Samantabhadra (immediate liberation without the performance of virtue). Other neutral awarenesses did not recognize the lights as their own display, and thus imputed “other” onto the lights. This imputation of “self” and “other” was the imputing ignorance. This ignorance started sentient beings and samsara (even without non-virtue having been committed). Yet everything is illusory, since the basis never displays as anything other than the five lights.”

    Kyle Dixon:

    “I’m obviously preferable to the Dzogchen system because I started there and although branching out, my primary interest has remained there. But I do appreciate the run-down of avidyā or ignorance in the Dzogchen system because it is tiered and accounts for this disparity I am addressing. 

    There are two or three levels of ignorance which are more like aspects of our delusion regarding the nature of phenomena. The point of interest in that is the separation of what is called “innate” (or “connate”) ignorance, from what is called “imputing ignorance.”

    The imputing ignorance is the designating of various entities, dimension of experience and so on. And one’s identity results from that activity. 

    The connate ignorance is the failure to correctly apprehend the nature of phenomena. The very non-recognition of the way things really are. 

    This is important because you can have the connate ignorance remain in tact without the presence of the imputing ignorance. 

    This separation is not even apparent through the stilling of imputation like in śamatha. But it can be made readily apparent in instances where you awaken from sleep, perhaps in a strange location, on vacation etc., or even just awakening from a deep sleep. There can be a period of moments where you do not realize where you are right yet, and then suddenly it all comes back, where you are, what you have planned for the day, where you need to be, etc., 

    In those initial moments you are still conscious and perceiving appearances, and there is still an innate experience of the room being external and objects being something over-there, separate from oneself. That is because this fundamental error in recognition of the nature of phenomena is a deep conditioning that creates the artificial bifurcation of inner and outer experiential dimensions, even without the activity of imputation.”



    There are two ways be free of grasping: regarding all things as impure and rejecting them as such (Hinayāna and common Mahāyāna), and regarding all things as pure and accepting them as such. The latter method more rapid, but requires special methods, so that it is not merely an intellectual posture.


    In sūtra there is no antidotal method of conceiving the appearance of things as pure which are typically conceived by ordinary sentient being as impure. Emptiness, in sutra, is provided as cure for this, in terms of nature, but not in terms of appearance. Vajrayāna address both nature and appearance; sūtra only addresses nature, not appearance.


    In common Mahāyāna, like Hinayāna schools, relatively speaking, phenomena, other than path dharmas, are still compounded, suffering, and not-self, and hence impure. Their ultimate nature, emptiness, is pure.


    In uncommon Mahāyāna Secret Mantra, phenomena are rendered pure through special methods which change our attitude towards phenomena.


    Malcolm wrote:

    It is pretty straightfoward according to Mipham:


    "In the realization of the Great Perfection that the three times are not time, there are no phenomena of the ten directions and three times that are not perfect. Therefore, this is the dharmakāya at the time of the basis, but because the temporary afflictions have not been purified it has not ripened into the nature of the result.


    While maintaining the position, “This purification of any obscurations is the feature of the time of path. This total purification of obscurations is the feature of the time of the result,” is in accord with the mode of appearance of sentient beings, from the perspective of the mode of existence of dharmatā, it is not possible to move even slightly away from abiding in state of uniformity which lacks any divisions of dualistic phenomena such as division by three times, division into pure and impure, sentient beings and buddhas, and so on."


    Thus, florin and krodha are both correct. Florin is correct from the point of view of mode of reality [gnas tshul], kyle is correct from the point of view of the mode of appearances [snang tshul] for sentient beings.




    Krodha (Kyle Dixon):


    Thanks. Although I suppose my gripe is that I'm willing to (and strive to) account for both sides of the equation (mode of reality and appearances) whereas Florin is solely clinging to the mode of reality and declaring that the mode of appearances is irrelevant and "not Dzogchen", which is essentially nihilism.






    The so called "primordial state" aka the original basis is called "the basis" because it has not been realized. When that is realized, it is given the name, "the result." "The path" is just the method of realizing that, which in the case of the Great Perfection, is the intimate instructions of the direct introduction and their application.


    Florin's point of view is influenced very much by "sems sde", which is primarily about the basis. Your point of view is more influenced by man ngag sde, which is more concerned with the methods of realizing that basis.


    Another useful snippet from Mipham:


    According to that principle, though from the perspective of ultimate reality it is necessary to propose that the universe and beings are primordial buddhahood and meditate in that way, from the perspective of the conventions of the mode of appearances, the differentiation by wisdom into three — the basis, the reasoning that buddhahood is valid; the path, the time of practice; and the result, the culmination of purification — are asserted up to the Great Perfection. Also the treatises of the Great Perfection purpose buddhahood once the fives paths of trekchö and the four visions of thögal are finished, but in terms of the mode of appearances, they never assert the accomplishment of buddhahood without finishing the path. When these two are differentiated, after the darkness of doubt about the topics that any of the vehicles of the cause and result have difficulty realizing, since there arises the appearance of confidence knowledge that cannot be diverted, this differentiation is very important.






    I dont really understand this quote.

    I think it needs some work.




    All Mipham is saying is that there are two perspectives, how things are and how things appear. From the perspective of how things are, "it is necessary to propose that the universe and beings are primordial buddhahood and meditate in that way."


    From the point of view of how things appear, the basis, path and result are divvied up by wisdom according their features: the basis concerns proving the validity of buddhahood. This is why, for example, we have the account of Samantabhadra's buddhahood and the account of the delusion of sentient beings. There is also a practice, and also the culmination of the purification of the delusion which gave rise to sentient beings in the first place. Since only deluded people are concerned with liberation, the path of Dzogchen is very much concerned with correcting the delusion that arises from ignorance [ma rig pa] by remaining in the knowledge [rig pa] of how things actually are, i.e. that the universe and beings are primordial buddhahood.


    We are not approaching practice from the point of view of accepting something that is not true, i.e., that the universe and beings are impure, etc. But we must acquiesce that this is indeed how things appear to us, and that as long as things appear in this way to us, we are under the influence of the two obscurations, which while temporary and not innate, conceal from us our actual state.




    The problem with shentong, which CHNN has addressed many times, is that in Dzogchen the result exists as a potentiality of the basis; but in Shenton it is fully formed at all times. For this reason, in several retreats ChNN has declared that shentong is incompatible with Dzogchen.


    BuddhaFollower wrote:

    Brahman is not pristine consciousness?


    Nope. Pristine consciousness (ye shes, jñāna) is not transpersonal.


    Okay, then this is the same as the Upanishads.

    Remember there is a difference between the Upanishads and Advaita Vedanta formulated by Adi Shankara etc.


    It is not the same as the Upanishads, since jñāna in the Upanishads is not empty.


    Malcolm wrote:

    The view is self-originated pristine consciousness, free from the extreme of the dualism of an apprehended object and an apprehending subject.

    — Self-Liberated Vidyā Tantra


    Yes, just as emptiness is a quality: that is what the generic basis is, a set of qualities which inhere to all sentient beings.

    It is not really that complicated. We say that minds are empty and luminous. When we analyze a given mind (for example, our own, since we cannot examine the minds of others), all we can discover is emptiness and luminosity. These are the irreducible facts that pertain to minds. The fact that minds are empty means they are free from extremes and not monadic, or even plural entities. The fact that they are luminous means that they are not inert, like rocks, etc. We don't need to discuss these things in terms of the two truths, because there is no separation between the two truths anyway.
    Well, given that Shankara is one of the 60 teachers identified as promulgating wrong view in the Self-Arisen VIdyā Tantra, it would be very surprising to learn of any so called khenpo of Dzogchen claiming that Atman was just a Hindu name for the mind essence. You yourself admit the idea does not even exist in their system.

    There is no substratum, minds do not "overlap." The reason why Buddhas and high bodhisattvas can know the minds of others, know past lives, etc. is because the nature of everything is emptiness and therefore while there is no universal substratum there is also no impediments because everything is empty. And since everything is empty, Buddha's wisdom is unimpeded in all directions and times.
     The Śrī Maladevi sutra states:
    • In that respect, the dharmakāya of the tathāgatagarbha is definitely released from the sheath of afflictions. Bhagavān, the so called "tathāgatagarbha" is tathāgata's wisdom of emptiness that cannot be seen by śravakas and pratyekabuddhas.
    Dharmakāya is just the total realization of emptiness. Nothing more.

    Further, The Trikāya Sūtra states:
    Kṣitigarbha, tathāgatas are endowed with the three kāyas: the dharmakāya, the sambhogkāya and the nirmanakāya…In that regard, the dharmakāya is visible to the tathagātas. The sambhogakāya is visible to bodhisattvas. The nirmanakāya is visible to ordinary persons on the stage of devotional practice.

    Kṣitigarbha, for example, clouds are produced on the basis of an empty sky; rain is produced on the basis of clouds. Likewise, the sambhogakaȳa appears on the basis of the dharmakāya, and the nirmanakāya appears on the basis of the sambhogakāya.


    From a very old post Dzogchen, Rigpa and Dependent Origination
    Update: On 13 February 2013, I added two more posts by Loppon Namdrol below.

    The following recent post by Loppon Namdrol (Malcolm Smith) reminds me of Acharya Mahayogi Shridhar Rana Rinpoche, who said in his article Madhyamika Buddhism Vis-a-vis Hindu Vedanta, "However, the Buddhist Ultimate Truth is the absence of any such satta i.e. ultimately existing thing or ultimate reality. That is the significance of Shunyata - absence of any real, independent, unchanging existence (Skt. svabhava). And that fact is the Ultimate Truth of Buddhism, which is diametrically opposite to the Ultimate Truth of the Hindu Brahma. So Shunyata can never be a negative way of describing the Atman - Brahma of Hinduism as Vinoba Bhave and such scholars would have us believe. The meaning of Shunyata found in Sutra, Tantra, Dzogchen or Mahamudra is the same as the Prasangika emptiness of Chandrakirti i.e. unfindability of any true existence or simply unfindability. Some writers of DzogChen and Mahamudra or Tantra think that the emptiness of Nagarjuna is different from the emptiness found in these systems. But I would like to ask them whether their emptiness is findable or unfindable; whether or not the significance of emptiness in these systems is also not the fact of unfindability."

    (Also see: Rigpa and Aggregates by Daniel M. Ingram)

    Loppon Namdrol (Malcolm Smith):

    There is no teaching in Buddhism higher than dependent origination. Whatever originates in dependence is empty. The view of Dzogchen, according to ChNN (Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche) in his rdzogs chen skor dri len is the same as Prasanga Madhyamaka, with one difference only - Madhyamaka view is a result of intellectual analysis, Dzogchen view is not. Philosophically, however, they are the same. The view of Madhyamaka does not go beyond the view of dependent origination, since the Madhyamaka view is dependent origination. He also cites Sakya Pandita "If there were something beyond freedom from extremes, that would be an extreme."

    Further, there is no rigpa to speak of that exists separate from the earth, water, fire, air, space and consciousness that make up the universe and sentient beings. Rigpa is merely a different way of talking about these six things. In their pure state (their actual state) we talk about the radiance of the five wisdoms of rig pa. In their impure state we talk about how the five elements arise from consciousness. One coin, two sides. And it is completely empty from beginning to end, and top to bottom, free from all extremes and not established in anyway.

    Dzogchen teachings also describe the process of how sentient being continue in an afflicted state (suffering), what is the cause of that afflicted state (suffering), that fact that afflicted state can cease (the cessation of suffering) and the correct path to end that suffering (the truth of the path). Dzogchen teachings describe the four noble truths in terms of dependent origination also.

    Ergo, Dzogchen also does not go beyond Buddha's teaching of dependent origination which Nagarjuna describes in the following fashion:

    I bow to him, the greatest of the teachers,
    the Sambuddha, by whom dependent origination --
    not ceasing, not arising
    not annihilated, not permanent,
    not going, not coming,
    not diverse, not single,
    was taught as peace
    in order to pacify proliferation.

    Loppon Namdrol:

    First, one has to distinguish the general theory of dependent origination from the specific theory of dependent origination. The general theory, stated by the Buddha runs "w
    here this exists, that exists, with the arising of that,this arose". The specific theory is the afflicted dependent origination of the tweleve nidanas. There is however also a non-afflicted dependent origination of the path. For the most part, Madhyamaka covers the principle general dependent originationi order to show that all dependent phenomena are empty. Since, according to Madhyamaka, there are no phenonomena that are not dependent, the emptiness of non-dependent phenomena is never an issue, like hair on a tortoise or the son of a barren woman, since there are no non-dependent phenomena at all.

    Nagarjuna however does discuss the twelve nidanas, ignorance and so on, in chapter 28 of the MMK.

    The basis in Dzogchen is completely free of affliction, it therefore is not something which ever participates in afflicted dependent origination. Unafflicted causality in Dzogchen is described as lhun grub, natural formation. However, since there is causality in the basis, it also must be empty since the manner in which the basis arises from the basis is described as "when this occurs, this arises" and so on. The only reasons why this can happen is because the basis is also completely empty and illusory. It is not something real or ultimate, or truly existent in a definitive sense. If it were, Dzogchen would be no different than Advaita, etc. If the basis were truly real, ulimate or existent, there could be no processess in the basis, Samantabhadra would have no opportunity to recognize his own state and wake up and we sentient beings would have never become deluded. So, even though we do not refer to the basis as dependently originated, natural formation can be understood to underlie dependent origination; in other words, whatever is dependently originated forms naturally. Lhun grub after all simply and only means "sus ma byas", not made by anyone.

    Rigpa is not a phenomena, it is not a thing, per se. It is one's knowledge of the basis. Since it is never deluded, it never participates in affliction, therefore, it is excluded from afflicted dependent orgination. However, one can regard it as the beginning of unafflicted dependent origination, and one would not be wrong i.e. the nidanas of samsara begin with avidyā; the nidanas of nirvana begin with vidyā (rigpa).



    Emptiness is the same thing in Dzogchen and Madhyamaka. Even rigpa is completely empty. But in Dzogchen we do not say that emptiness is dependent origination because of the way the term dependent orgination is used in Dzogchen. Not because Nāgārjuna is wrong.


    The definition of lhun grub is "not made by anyone". Lhun drub is dependent origination free of afflictive patterning, thus it is pure process and transformation.


    On Madhyamaka:

    [10:51 PM, 10/17/2019] Soh Wei Yu: malcolm (Arcaya Malcolm Smith) wrote:

    There is no typing typer, no learning learner, no digesting digester, thinking tinker, or driving driver.


    No, a falling faller does not make any sense. As Nāgārjuna would put it, apart from snow that has fallen or has not fallen, presently there is no falling.


     It is best if you consult the investigation into movement in the MMK, chapter two. This is where it is shown that agents are mere conventions. If one claims there is agent with agency, one is claiming the agent and the agency are separate. But if you claim that agency is merely a characteristic of an agent, when agent does not exercise agency, it isn't an agent since an agent that is not exercising agency is in fact a non-agent. Therefore, rather than agency being dependent on an agent, an agent is predicated upon exercising agency. For example, take movement. If there is an agent there has to be a moving mover. But there is no mover when there is no moving. Apart from moving, how could there be a mover? But when there is moving, there isn't a mover which is separate from moving. Even movement itself cannot be ascertained until there has been a movement. When there is no movement, there is no agent of movement. When there is moving, there is no agent of moving that can be ascertained to be separate from the moving. And since even moving cannot be ascertained without there either having been movement or not, moving itself cannot be established. Since moving cannot be established, a moving mover cannot be established. If a moving mover cannot be established, an agent cannot be established.


     Hi Wayfarer:

    The key to understanding everything is the term "dependent designation." We don't question the statement "I am going to town." In this there are three appearances, for convenience's sake, a person, a road, and a destination.

    A person is designated on the basis of the aggregates, but there is no person in the aggregates, in one of the aggregates, or separate from the aggregates. Agreed? A road is designated in dependence on its parts, agreed? A town s designated upon its parts. Agreed?

    If you agree to this, then you should have no problem with the following teaching of the Buddha in the Vimalakīrtinirdeśa Sūtra:

    This body arises from various conditions, but lacks a self. This body is like the earth, lacking an agent. This body is like water, lacking a self. This body is like fire, lacking a living being. This body is like the wind, lacking a person. This body is like space, lacking a nature. This body is the place of the four elements, but is not real. This body that is not a self nor pertains to a self is empty.

    In other words, when it comes to the conventional use of language, Buddha never rejected statements like "When I was a so and so in a past life, I did so and so, and served such and such a Buddha." Etc. But when it comes to what one can discern on analysis, if there is no person, no self, etc., that exists as more than a mere designation, the fact that agents cannot be discerned on analysis should cause no one any concern. It is merely a question of distinguishing between conventional use of language versus the insight into the nature of phenomena that results from ultimate analysis.


    [11:36 PM, 10/17/2019] John Tan: Yes should put in blog together with Alan watt article about language causing confusion.


    From other threads:

    There is no "experiencer" since there is no agent. There is merely experience, and all experience is empty.

    Why should there be someone upon whom karma ripens? To paraphrase the Visuddhimagga, there is no agent of karma, nor is there a person to experience its ripening, there is merely a flow of dharmas.


    There are no agents. There are only actions. This is covered in the refutation of moving movers in chapter two of the MMK.


     The point is that there is no point to eternalism if there is no eternal agent or object.


     Things have no natures, conventionally or otherwise. Look, we can say water is wet, but actually, there no water that possesses a wet nature. Water is wet, that is all. There is no wetness apart from water and not water apart from wetness. If you say a given thing has a separate nature, you are making the exact mistaken Nāgārajuna points out in the analysis of movement, i.e., it is senseless to say there is a "moving mover." Your arguments are exactly the same, you are basically saying there is an "existing existence."


    This is precisely because of the above point I referenced. Nagārjuna clearly shows that characteristics/natures are untenable.

    Candrakīrti points out that the possessor does not exist at all, but for the mere purpose of discourse, we allow conventionally the idea that there is a possessor of parts even though no possessor of parts exists. This mistake that we indulge in can act as an agent, for example a car, we can use it as such, but it is empty of being a car — an agent is as empty of being an agent as its actions are empty of being actions. 


    Malcolm Smith
    Malcolm Smith Lamps do not illuminate themselves. Candrakirti shows this.

    · Reply · 1w

    Malcolm Smith
    Malcolm Smith Nāgārjuna is addressing the realist proposition, "the six senses perceive their objects because those sense and their objects intrinsically exist ." It is not his unstated premise, that is the purvapakṣa, the premise of the opponent. The opponent, in verse 1 of this chapter asserts the essential existence of the six āyatanas. The opponent is arguing that perception occurs because the objects of perception actually exist.

    · Reply · 1w · Edited

    Malcolm Smith
    Malcolm Smith
    [Participant 1] "The argument from chap 2 depends on natural functions (movement, burning of fire, seeing of the eye, etc.) being predicated on the moment of time which it takes place, and when the non obtaining of time is established it leads to the non happening of the function. This is not justified."


    Nāgārjuna shows two things in chapter two, one, he says that if there is a moving mover, this separates the agent from the action, and either the mover is not necessary or the moving is not necessary. It is redundant.

    In common language we oftren saying things like "There is a burning fire." But since that is what a fire is (burning) there is no separate agent which is doing the burning, fire is burning.

    On the other hand, when an action is not performed, no agent of that action can be said to exist. This is why he says "apart from something which has moved and has not moved, there is no moving mover." There is no mover with moving, etc.

    This can be applied to all present tense gerundial agentive constructions, such as I am walking to town, the fire is burning, etc.

    · Reply · 1w · Edited

    Hide 11 Replies

     [Participant 2] Malcolm Smith these are not agentive constructions, they are unaccusative (cf. "byed med") verbs, so of course no separate agent can be established. So what?

    The example of the fire and the eye are likewise not convincing, because they just happen to describe natural functions, but this is not all that unaccusative verbs do. When you say "the cat falls down", you cannot say that "falling down" is what a cat "is", the same way you can with fire burning.

    · Reply · 1w

    Malcolm Smith
    Malcolm Smith
    [Participant 2] the point is aimed at the notion that there has to be a falling faller, a seeing seer, etc. it is fine to say there is a falling cat, but stupid to say the cat is a falling faller. The argument is aimed at that sort of naive premise.

    For example, if eyes could see forms by nature, they should be able to forms in absence of an object of form, and so on.

    But if the sight of forms cannot be found in the eyes, and not in the object, nor the eye consciousness, then none of them are sufficient to explain the act of seeing. Because of this, statements like the eyes are seers is just a convention, but isn’t really factual.

    And it still applies in this way, apart from what has been seen and not been seen, there is no present seeing.

    · Reply · 1w · Edited
     Rigpa (Sanskrit: vidyā, "knowledge") is a central concept in Dzogchen. According to Ācārya Malcolm Smith
     Ācārya Malcolm Smith:

    A text from the Heart Essence of Vimalamitra called the Lamp Summarizing Vidyā (Rig pa bsdus pa’i sgronma) defines vidyā in the following way: “...vidyā is knowing, clear, and unchanging” In Sanskrit, the term vidyā and all its cognates imply consciousness, knowing, knowledge, science, intelligence, and so on. Simply put, vidyā means unconfused knowledge of the basis that is its own state.[78]



    A Brief History of the Dzogchen Teachings by Ācārya Malcolm Smith

    Garab Dorje was a Buddha, therefore he had all three kāyas: Samantabhadra is a name for his mind, just as Vajrasattva is a name for his speech. As for the 6.4 million slokas of Dzogchen tantras, these were written down by Mañjuśṛīmitra and divided into the three series, according to the lo rgyus chen mo, and then divided into the four cycles by Sṛī Simha, which were then given to Jñānasūtra and Vimalamitra, etc. The transmission for these texts however was given in symbols, rather than extensive discourses, hence the symbolic vidyādhara lineage. Finally, Vimalamitra, according the lo rgyus chen mo, translated these texts and gave them to Tingzin Zangpo (who hid them in Zhva Gonpa), initiating the so called aural lineage of esteemed persons. However, this aural lineage was accompanied by texts from the beginning, since according to tradition, Vimalamitra translated many Dzogchen tantras into Tibetan, some where hidden as treasures, and others, like the thirteen later lungs, were part of the bka' ma tradition. Naturally, the historical accounts given in the so called sems sde histories and klong sde histories are represent an earlier tradition of Dzogchen teachings than the lo rgyus chen mo, and are significantly different form the lo rgyus chen mo in terms of the details they present. We have independent confirmation of the existence of Sṛī Simha, etc., in the form of an Indian polemical treatise, which dates from the late 10th century and was authored by Mañjuśṛīkīrti, that refutes the views of Sṛī Simha by name and the movement he presented. So one thing we can be quite confident about is that there was a guy name Sṛī Simha, he was a student of Mañjuśṛīmitra, he taught a radical doctrine whereby he asserted only the completion stage was necessary. Finally, we can also be certain that there was a Tibetan named Bagor Vairocana, who was the first person to translated Dzogchen texts in Tibetan, and we can also be certain that Sṛī Simha was a contemporary of Trisong Detsen. Before this period, it is extremely unlikely there was anything remotely like the teaching of the Great Perfection in Tibet. Dzogchen is wholly an Indian-inspired Vajrayāna movement. There is really no evidence that suggests otherwise.
    — Ācārya Malcolm Smith

    12 Responses
    1. anaj Says:

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

    2. Soh Says:

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

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

      adinatha wrote: How about the wide open sky?

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

      adinatha wrote:

      Oh okay. So unconditioned space is just a definition?

      Malcolm replied: Yes.


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

    3. Soh Says:

      ghzi: basis having the nature of compassion.

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

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

      rigpa: one's knowledge of the basis

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

      Yes, it seems that he distinguishes:

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

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

      Realization of emptiness occurs at the third vision.

    4. Soh Says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    5. Soh Says:

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

    6. Soh Says:


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

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

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

    7. Soh Says:

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

    8. Anonymous Says:

      Thanks for the reply,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    10. Soh Says:

      Cool, thanks Malcolm for that clarification.

    11. Anonymous Says:

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

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

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

    12. Anonymous Says:

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