teachings of a modern spiritual adept

Bite size teachings across 30 years.

For 30 years t.k. has offered radical spiritual teachings on the divine nature of non-dual contemplation and realization. Enlightened mind here and now, born from this culture, addressing the issues of this time and place t.k. offers transmission through countless forms - words being one of them. Here are some short pieces from his teachings over the last 30 years.

 Q. What is the point of sadhana?

Q. What is the point of sadhana?

Traktung Rinpoche: The benefits of sadhana are so many and on so many levels that it could fill volumes, but in essence the two stages of sadhana purify the mind of the trickery of delusion and delusions turmoil so that awareness can recognize it’s true nature. 

Q. Two stages? 

Traktung Rinpoche: The first stage is called kye rim (generation phase) wherein one visualizes one’s awareness as the deity and says the mantra. This stage removes the heavy and most distorted aspects of delusion. Then in dzogrim (completion phase), the subtle tendency to confuse the union of bliss and emptiness is removed. This unity of bliss emptiness gives one such a supple, pure, calm and undistorted mind, that consciousness can easily become awareness. Remaining in awareness, free from any identification with emptiness or appearance, remaining in ones natural state and simply allowing the unity of awareness emptiness appearance to play, is the beginning and the end of all sadhana and all life.

Q. Why do you say beginning and end? I can understand how it is the end but I can not understand how it is the beginning. It seems the beginning is my delusion and the end is the transformation of that into wisdom, but I can not see how this very end state could also be referred to as the beginning. 

Traktung Rinpoche: In the beginning of your efforts, there is such confusion that you can not see clearly. It is like there are cataracts of ignorance covering your eyes. But, in truth it is more like the eyes are just fine and you are wearing a blindfold. Because of this blindfold you are confused as to how things are right now. You say, “I can see how in the end my eyes will see marvelous sights, but right now I am blind.” Truly your eyes see quite well right now, but you have so mistaken what is going on in perception that you can not recognize this. You do not need make your eyes work, you need to take off the blindfold. Sadhana is the process of taking off the blindfold. In these talks I am mostly speaking of the stage of removing the blinfdfold and letting the eyes adjust to the blazing light of Truth. Sadhana is the process of taking off the blibndfold. 

These days so many people read dzogchen and advaita books and they mistake knowing the conceptual framework of non-duality for “seeing”. (laughing) By these days, I mean from the beginning of the human spiritual endeavor, things are not really worse in “this age.” Human beings are like beggars who hearing of a vast fortune buried in their yards go out and try to spend the money without the work of digging it up. But the words, “I have money!” and the money are not the same and the shop keepers of death and suffering are unimpressed by words.

From the beginning of your sadhana, it is best to listen and contemplate the meaning of this highest teaching carefully and apply its views to all your spiritual life while at the same time engaging the actual work of sadhana to remove the blindfold.

Q. But it seems to me that sadhana is just more mind. It seems I am making up more mind stuff to superimpose on the way things are and adding fantasy to fantasy.

Traktung Rinpoche: This sentence is filled with contradictions!. Yes, you are adding fantasy to fantasy, but then you can not say you are covering over the way things are. You do not ever see the way things are! You can not cover it over because you have not seen it, you do not know its location. If you can see and rest in that empty vastness of ‘the way things are,’ then by all means do so! But you will find you can not because this very you are referring to is the starting from the way things are.

First, luminous emptiness mistakes its cognizant aspect for a self and the luminous aspects pretty shattering’s of light for objects. This ‘self’ is confused as the infinite vast of Being – an ultimate subjectivity and the primal illusion which destroys most yogis. In that very same moment, what we call co-emergently, world, body, and beings arises. Both container and contained. In Truth, nothing has happened, nothing ever will happen, and nothing is happening now. Just dream images are being confused and the dreamer has forgotten that his dream is only himself, that both his dream and his self appear as empty play of awareness, and even awareness dissolves ultimately in the pure mystery of dharmata.

From this simple mistake mind’s functioning begins, belief in a certain feeling called ‘self’ begins and the endless recursive loop of thoughts and strategies to protect this self – a small pocket of life in the vast ocean of Life is entered. This is a giant illusion. It is illusion’s game and it takes countless forms. It is all a fantasy born from a barren mother. Wandering lost in this realm of confusions everything you do is designed to protect an imaginary being from the ultimate harm of death. But this being has never been born at all! If you would look into the question of this “birth,” you would have a great laugh indeed. Everyone is worrying about death, the end point of a process, which in truth, is a process that has never even begun.

Into the world of beings, a collection of self-conscious light patterns enters a pattern called Buddha, and in sadhana, a pattern called deity. Not all patterns are the same. Those patterns which are more consumed by self-consciousness are denser, darker, and involve more suffering. Those patterns which relax the stranglehold of ego become more expansive and open and filled with light – human beings call this happiness, increasing happiness. The pattern called Buddha is pure brilliance with no reference to something called a self. It is just light shining to infinity. This clear light takes on patterns according to the minds of those who call out to it. It is utterly responsive and this responsiveness is called compassion. This Guru Buddha pattern, these deity patterns appear in this realm solely for the benefit of beings and according to the needs of beings. They guide you according to your deepest longing to see exactly what you truly are.

In sadhana, one superimposes this deity pattern onto one’s ego pattern. Yes, yes the deity pattern is also just pattern, but its pattern is one of beauty, ease, simplicity, calm, openness and so it helps the mind become these qualities which are inherent to its true nature, but not to its deluded nature.

 In a nutshell, sadhana keeps the mind away from its deluded preoccupations. In this way, mind becomes quiet, sattvic. When the mind is simple, pure, sattvic, then it begins to notice that this open space is suffused with light. It is pervaded by love. In this noticing, even the noticer dissolves like sugar into water. These are the two stages of sadhana, in the first mind becomes pure, simple, strong, quiet, and in the second the bliss emptiness of spaciousness becomes apparent. In the third and final stage, the unity of emptiness and luminosity discovers its true nature and the question of Being and non-being, birth and death is settled. Once this is understood, then nothing can be the same again. An unruly mind is the only rudra (here rudra is being used in the Buddhist tantric sense as delusion).

In the beginning, the mind only remains quiet and simple for a short time within one’s meditation session, and even this quiet is often hard won. But, over time, if one perserveres, there is victory over the mind, manojaya. The unruliness of mind is an intense habit. It has a great deal of momentum. But, like rock worn down by water rushing over it, the healing balm of the Guru Buddha’s grace applied in meditation will wear this down to nothing.

When that happens, the identification with mind’s functioning is no more and one simply returns to where one never really left. Then, all fantasy is put to rest. As my Guru said, “You must move from unvirtuous habit to virtuous habit to go beyond all habit.” You complain about the sadhana sharing the quality of fantasy with your delusion, but if this were not so you would in no way be able to perceive it. This is pure compassion that the wisdom itself appears in forms you can comprehend. And it is also the most sweet display for it appears in this fashion and demonstrates appearance without ever straying from dharmata’s utter purity and freedom. In this way, the virgin birth is seen again and again and you come to know that appearance and emptiness are not at war – only your mind is.

Q. Why do you say born from a barren mother when obviously the mother is not barren because all this has been born from her.

Traktung Rinpoche:  Your words while seeming clever to yourself are in fact only sign posts of your ignorance and failure to listen. The mother does not ever give birth. When you go to sleep at night and dream up a bunch of beings and realms do we say you need to learn family planning so as not to have so many children? No one is actually born in a dream, no one is actually born in this so called ‘human realm.’ It has never happened. Birth is the fantasy! Birthlessness is what is pointed out by superimposing the wisdom vision of the deity, guru, and Buddha onto the mistaken view of birth. People keep looking for the meaning of this life, this birth but they do not deeply investigate if there even is such a birth! It is hearsay inadmissible in court.

In truth this is your birth (Rinpoche sits up straight and passes his hand from outside of his line of site into his line of sight) and this is your death (Rinpoche passes his hand from within his line of sight to outside of his line of sight). The awareness which perceives the hand remains untouched by the hand’s coming and going. Your so-called birth is simply the perception of some information called the five aggregates and five elements. It is the nature of awareness, its beauty and downfall, that it has such intimacy with whatever is seen that it becomes it. So then you wander about seemingly  ‘Being’ this body mind. This is just the same as dream states where your consciousness unquestioningly thinks it has become the character in the dream, utterly forgetting its daytime persona.

Forgetfulness is birth and death. Remembrance is the essence of sadhana and perfect remembrance is liberation’s simplicity. You live convicted by the forgetfulness, I live in remembrance, this is our only difference. It is not so much and it is your own minds first glimmer of waking that creates this dream of the Guru who opens the shades and lets in the light further disturbing your sleep. When you wake up fully dream, Guru, self, and world will all have the same value – all empty and wondrous and illusory.

Priya Tsomoindex 4