Great Secret of Mind

Special Instructions on the Nondaulity of Dzogchen

Author : Tulku Pema Rigtsal and translated by Keith Dowman

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Synopsis

Tulku Pema Rigtsal explains how to abandon self-centredness and cultivate loving kindness by means of the practice of Dzogchen. Dzogchen focuses on meditating on the intrinsic awareness of the mind, the nature of which is clarity and compassionate power. "Dzogchen is the swiftest path and easiest goal to attain. Paradoxically, however, it is also the hardest for many of us to realize, as we are completely trapped in the habits of elaborate dualistic concepts and emotional afflictions...Kjabje Dudjom Rinpoche once said that the greatest difficulty of Dzogpa chenpo meditation (Dzogchen) is that it is too easy for many to comprehend." Tulku Pema Rigtsal.

Tulku Pema Rigtsal is one of the last Tibetan tulkus to receive the benefit of a full traditional training with no disruption from political conflict, and one of the last to head a traditional monastery. He lives in Nepal and has written this book esepecially for newcomers to Tibetan Buddhism.

"The Great Secret of Mind is the condensed meaning of Buddhadharma and particularly the Nyingma teachings." HH Penor Rinpoche.

"The fundamental teachings of Mahayana Buddhism in general and of Dzogchen in particular are elucidated in this book in the clearest possible way. For anyone who is open to learning the sacred secret of the mind that we all treasure, this is an eye opening book to read." Tulku Thondup Rinpoche.

"I strongly recommend this work to all those who meditate. I believe this work will bring benefit to people of both the West and the East who have an interest in Dzogchen, and I urge everyone who wants to practe Buddhadharma to take time to read this book." Domang Yangtang Tulku.

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The Conviction That All is Unreal...

We are told that the projected appearances of delusory mind are nonexistent: let us look, then, at harm from enemies and help from friends, at the offense rising from insults, at rampant sexual desire, and so on. As with the dream state, look at them and search first for the place where they come from, second, the place where they now abide, and finally, the place where they go to. You will find no specific locations of such places.

Then where do our present feelings of happiness or sadness, as well as our feelings in the dream state, come from? The answer is that those appearances arise from karmically induced tendencies of the mind. If they are examined, they are seen to have no substantial existence; if they remain unexplored, they seem to be real, concrete, and true.

This story is taken from the sutra The Pile of Jewels: Once in the kingdom of Magadha, there was a clever magician called “Bhadra" and his fame spread far and wide. “If I could fool the Lord Buddha with my magic, I would be the most famous magician of this world:” Thinking this, he went to see the lord with the intention to deceive him. Arriving in the district where the Buddha resided at that time, Bhadra sent him and his retinue a luncheon invitation for the next day, and the Lord Buddha accepted. The morrow arrived, and Bhadra conjured a beautiful house decorated with flower garlands, with a throne and tables displaying many delicious foods. The people living nearby were amazed to see such things. Bhadra reasoned that this enterprise was a good test of the Buddha’s omniscience because, if omniscient, the Buddha would naturally avoid coming to lunch for fear of looking foolish and subjecting himself to ridicule. But at noon that day the lord with his retinue of five hundred monks arrived for lunch. Bhadra ushered them in and begged them to sit down. Then he served them his illusory food and drink, and the Lord Buddha blessed the offerings as if they were real and began to eat. Bhadra decided at that moment to dismantle the illusion of his magic and expose the Buddha as a fool, but however hard he tried, he could not dissolve the illusion. The Lord Buddha enjoyed the lunch with his retinue and, having finished the feast, he recited a dedication prayer:

Both the giver and the recipient,
As also the gift, are unknowable;

Through the sameness of those three,
May Bhadra attain perfection.

This fine dedication prayer means that the three—giver, receiver, and gift (Bhadra, the Lord Buddha, and the lunch)—should not be reified as separate entities or imaged as individual objects. These three are the same in being unknowable, and by this recognition—that in deepest reality no one thing is necessarily more real than another—the accumulation of virtue and primal awareness can be completed for the magician Bhadra, despite the fact that his intention was deluded and the luncheon was magically produced. In deepest reality, there is not the slightest difference between a “magical” luncheon and a “real” one. Due to the inadequacy of the blessing power of his mantra, Bhadra was unable to dissolve the appearance of his magical illusion, while the superior power of the Buddhist real blessing gave what would otherwise be a magical illusion the same perceptual continuity as the conventionally real. But the specifics of the magical illusion created as “illusion” by Bhadra and made “real” by the Buddha are identical. The appearances of the waking state do not actually differ even a whit from the appearances of the dream state, and if we recognize dream as dream, then release from suffering is instantaneous.

If right now we recognize our fixated attachment to friends, reputation, and possessions, our hatred for enemies, and all other emotivity as dream appearances and understand them as nonexistent, as mere notional-conceptual products of mind, then external, material things will not be able to disturb us. Realizing that everything is apparent yet nonexistent — just images of emptiness — we attain the great citadel of everlasting pure pleasure.

At present we may have neither heard nor understood Dzogchen, or perhaps we have heard only its echo. Because of our lack of familiarity with Dzogchen, and because of our credulous minds, we run after various good objects or run away from bad objects of perception. Consciousness is like a dog following in his master’s footsteps, and the objective field is like the play of the objects of the five senses projected by a magician. When these two—consciousness and object—coincide, that coincidence is called “attachment of pure presence to an object:’ That apparently objective aspect, flowing uninterruptedly like a deep river, although a mentally projected delusion, may nevertheless be experienced as real for days and months, for years and lifetimes. Thus an old man, a hundred years old, might see his life from birth to dying as the daydream of a single day. We experience the objective and subjective poles that never exist separately from each other as duality, and everything we perceive becomes in this way a meaningless distraction, a chasing after what is not there in the first place. In that way we are inveigled by stupidity into immersing ourselves in the ongoing continuum of samsara. In The Treasury of the Dharmadhatu, Longchenpa says,


With the mind preoccupied by different petty concerns,

A moment of inconsequential fixation becomes a habit,

And a day, a month, a year—a lifetime—goes by unheeded.

We deceive ourselves by construing the nondual as duality

So, first, absorb the excellent view and gradually become familiar with it. Until that is done, no matter how much we listen to the teaching and accumulate knowledge, and no matter how deep the teaching, there will be no benefit whatsoever. The mind training is explained later in the section on meditation, but, in short, we must first recognize the view itself, then gain conviction in it, and finally thereby realize our potential. Until we are stabilized in our attainment, we must meditate.

Pleasure and pain are there for all, from high officials and the rich to beggars and small children. No matter what the degree of suffering, everyone—intellectual, fool, even the animals that know nothing—tries to solve problems by various methods requiring continuous struggle. Some are able to ameliorate their suffering a little by skillful means, while others, ignorant of technique, cannot even begin to solve their own problems. Whether it’s the frustration of getting situations and things they don’t want, or the frustration of not getting the ones they do want—not to mention violence, sickness, starvation, and so on—all beings are perpetually under the heel of suffering. The antidote to all this suffering—the single panacea or “white” medicine that cures all ills—is the understanding that no matter what feelings of happiness and sorrow we experience, none have substantial existence and none are anything more than mental projections and labels.

Whatever experiences of suffering or happiness we encounter, we should allow the natural ease and calm of pure presence to just suffuse and permeate them without allowing our own pure presence, in a process of reification, to arise as objects and attachments to objects. If we gaze at these experiences directly, seeing them clearly, the entire field of suffering and happiness will then vanish like haze melting into the sky. When, in this way, apparent substantiality has been ultimately penetrated, not once or twice but again and again, suffering and happiness and all the experiences of samsara and nirvana will be experienced as the magical illusion of a skillful magician, or like a dream, an echo, and the rest of the eight analogies of phantasmagorical illusion. Whosoever is without hope of happiness or fear of suffering, understanding that all experience is the great illusionary display of mind itself, he or she will become a Dzogchen yogin or yogini. If we understand that all appearances of our present life are naturally insubstantial, then even the happiness and sufferings of dreamtime will be recognized as dream. If dream is understood as dream again and again, then the bardo will be recognized as bardo. More details on this topic will found in the following chapter.

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