Tantra - A dynamic nothingness in which, as which...
From talks in 1996: There seems to be body, breath, feelings, mind’s thoughts, none of these is you, in fact, none of them are even themselves – none of them are any thing at all! If we are to assign any identity to “oneself” - the one which is least a lie is that you are Nothingness and nothingness is freedom. A dynamic nothingness in which, as which, of which all appearance ‘is’ appearing without ever “being.” You ‘are’ the context where all these appearances simply arise, abide, and fall away – nowhere, nothing, empty, open, spacious, luminous.
You are the peace of expanse without problem – even the problem of ‘being’ space. This nothingness, this space, is pervaded by what you call perception and Being, but there is, like the dreamer at night, nothing really happening in this vast open nothingness fortress.
Q. what is it then?
Traktung Rinpoche: It is the wisdom mandala of your play-full-ness. Please, please remember here that when I say “Your playfulness” or “your awareness” there is absolutely nothing like a you. It is not that the identity you now associate yourself with ‘Is’ this – that identity is simply a dream illusion and must end, die, so that you can be, know who you really are. Remembering this then “you” as Nothing are nothing but freedom – like a lion roaming fearlessly the body is liberated from the confusion of ‘being’ and becomes the presencing and manifestation of freedom and nothingness.
Q. I don’t get it. Can you say who I am in another way?
Traktung Rinpoche: You are Nobody, son of Nothingness.
Q. You are a difficult man to understand.
Traktung Rinpoche: You are difficult to speak to. So long as you insist on clinging to the designations such as man, woman, born, there is no possibility of understanding and you must continue with sadhana. Intensive meditation will purify the gross obscurations of mind which prevent you from discovering the truth in my words.
Wisdom is inherent in the mind. It is latent until such time as the power of Wisdom opens the mind fully to its own nature and reality. It is never lost or gone but it is obscured, veiled. My guru told me that the perceiving is deity and that the perceiver is sunyata. I took his words to heart and contemplated them and put them into practice and they bore fruit. When I came to discover that the perceiver is nothing other than stainless emptiness, then I discovered my identity, or perhaps better put – the lack of any identity. This being true, there is nothing to cause karmas and, since karma is the obstruction of wisdom, there is no obstruction and everything is recognized – ‘re,’ meaning again, ‘cognized,’ meaning to know, to know again, everything is known again – as wisdom. Phenomena are seen as wisdom, identity is seen as emptiness, only deity is seen – as Milarepa said, “I do not see consciousness I see only awareness.”
The mind that perceives is only stainless emptiness. Looked for it can not be found. Just this looking and not finding lays to rest the whole issue of all issues. But mind is restless and untrained and so it will neither accept the obvious fact which is seen when one looks for mind and in so far as it can perceive this truth for a moment it is not full or stable and so it returns to its foolishness. If you could just accept this simple clarity and emptiness as your identity which is utterly obviously is then all is finished. But this requires a profound acceptance of the guru word lived in devotion and also meditation.
The perceived object is just the play of Great Emptiness and the relative mandala of what is grasped dissolves into this wisdom vastness. The perceiving entity is only purity and so the mandala of what fixates ceases to torment. The perceiving itself is no activity at all, how could it be – how could it Be?! Can there be a child of two non existent parents?
Following carefully the advice of my Guru I have come to a place which is not a place and a state which is not a state. Having looked everywhere for a “self” and found none I have come to rest in acceptance and this acceptance has lead me to be free from body, mind, world. Due to this I need nothing and wish for nothing and yet a tender-hearted affection suffuses and informs everything. Nothingness is my stronghold and fortress and from here I do not leave. Nothingness is fearless, unmovable and desireless. Appearances arise and function but not as a separate something but merely the play of this nothingness, an ornament. Their very coming and going, which used to confound, now only points to the luminous nature of my emptiness. Appearances do not imply “anyone” and neither does perceiving what or who one is beyond either of these. The triad perceived, perceiver, and perceiving all fall like a house of cards once the mystery of reality is known. Many people speak of the perceiver and perceived as One, as the perceiving itself. But once reality is known there can not be said to be any perceiver. These words, perceiving, perceiver and perceived are merely emblems of ignorance. Such talk has not even entered the doorway of tantra let alone the fortress of reality.
Q. How can this be for I experience myself as this body and this mind, born and limited to it and in it? Moment after moment this is my experience that I am a perceiver who sees via this body and perceives and experiences the world out there separate from myself. That is my experience, perhaps yours is different, but mine is true for me.
Traktung Rinpoche: Experience can not merely be accepted as true. What one regards as “one experience” is one of the most deluded things. Even in court now they accept that so called eye-witness testimony is unreliable. There are so many states where experience shows itself to be a liar. The anorexic girl who thinks she is fat actually experiences herself as fat, but those around her, whose minds are more in tune with the way things actually are, experience her in accord with the actual facts of her physical existence. To say you experience a certain way simply says something about your mind – mind interpretation of the senses functioning and conceptualization about an imaginary self is the arbiter of experience, not the final say.
Q. Who is the one who sees?
Traktung Rinpoche: They are no one at all. They are Sunyata, dharmata, the pure empty expanse which can not be said to exist or not exist. They are utter nothingness – no thing ness. And this Nothingness is the peace and joy of perfect freedom. It is the unassailable fortress of wisdom and freedom. But it is not a mere nothingness, for it’s spaciousness is filled with a luminous beauty and wonderment.
The one you call you is a phantom, a ghost, looked for, he can not be found. Why? Because he is not. Then try and come to some understanding of who is looking.
Q. But how?
Traktung Rinpoche: Well, that is what the path is for. The path is what brings enough discipline to the mind and body that it can function harmoniously. Currently the mechanisms you have for investigating are gunked up. Your carburetor is dirty. Transmission and practice are like that stuff you pour in your gas tank to clean the engine. Transmission, the grace of the Guru received, is the fluid and the working itself through the engine is practice. Mind is continuous in two ways. On the path the deluded aspect of mind is submitted to wisdom via listening, contemplation, and meditation. When this deluded aspect of mind becomes purified, it is subsumed within its own undeluded and continuous wisdom aspect.
Mind’s functioning is just habit. Transmission connects one with wisdom habit and wisdom habit dissolves delusion habit and sooner or later the inevitable result of stainless open wisdom’s non-habit prevails.
How did this all come about you might wonder. Within the dimensionless dimension of timeless time the ceaseless and unobstructed power of wisdom’s luminosity shines infinitely – even beyond all notion of space. This shimmering beauty, this shattering of light is utterly non-dualistic freedom and the perfect non-separation of nothingness and wonderment. Here the wisdom display can not be said to exist or not exist or any other word that can be thought of. It is a mystery so deep and perfect that it can not be known, but still it is our only identity. When this is not recognized and when the mandala of fixator (the subjective sense of self) and the mandala of the grasped (the objects of appearance) are seen as two this opens the doorway of Samsara. Then habit is created. Once habit is created the mysterious power of wisdom magic simply moves through habit from habit to habit in an endless round until such time as sentient beings enter the path and purify all attachment to the ordinary habits of mind.
If on the other hand we recognize perception, perceiver, and perceived as nothing other than the stainless purity of original Buddhahood then, well then no problem!
Until every habit is resolved, dissolved, every conception liberated, then there is Samsara and suffering.
Q. My mind is restless, what can I do? This restlessness distracts me in the midst of practice and I stray from my sadhana.
Traktung Rinpoche: Mind is not restless. Mind is restlessness. They are synonyms. Mind = restlessness. One can never bring a end to mind’s activity and this is not needed. Even George W. Bush with all his tanks and airplanes can not stop the flow of concepts. Even with smart bombs and shock and awe one can not overcome the relentlessness of arising. So this is not the point.
In the beginning, as a beginner in meditation, it is indeed necessary to train the mind to behave with more decorum. The mind, in terms of its functioning, is a drunken elephant. Attention rampages here and there, restless and unkempt. It is a drunken elephant in a china shop. It is not a pretty sight. This restlessness derives from confusion and misunderstanding about the nature of appearance and attraction, aversion, and indifference. Mind in its endless identification becomes caught up in impossible projects. Trying to get happiness and self-esteem from Samsara is like trying to milk a stone. It just ain’t gonna happen. Trying to do the impossible makes the mind insane and makes self-absorption the norm. Chang Tzu said, “When the shoe fits, the foot is forgotten. When the belt fits, the stomach is forgotten.” Generation phase of practice, when it lays on a solid foundation of the preliminaries, makes the mind at ease and it is forgotten in the beauty and bliss emptiness of completion phase.
Striving too is a form of restlessness but is quite necessary in the beginning. But to strive without understanding is only more Samsara. There is conscious and unconscious suffering. Conscious and unconscious striving. By conscious I mean wedded to the path which brings liberation. Unconscious striving and suffering bring nothing but more of the same. Conscious striving and suffering – tapas, the heat of practice – swiftly bring an end to themselves. Like a fire placed in a hollow log. It burns the log then disappears itself.
Awareness has always been at rest even while being radiant to infinity. The luminous aspect of dharmata is ceaseless wisdom bliss ornaments appearing without straying from emptiness. Beyond even this dharmata is utter peace and ease. I take my stand in dharmata. Why not? I do not move from there for to move from there is to invite suffering, birth, and death. Let the luminosity play as the wisdom mandala, it is not my work or my business. I have no work and I have no business. I am utterly useless. I am useless even to myself. I no longer fret over so-called pleasant and unpleasant and by taking my stand in the mind which perceives – sunyata – I enjoy the single taste of the equality of all phenomena whether they would normally be called pleasant or unpleasant.
If you are going to work and suffer, at least work for that employer who wishes you to retire early.