Non-dual Awareness


"The river has no shape, but it takes on the boundaries which it carves out for itself, so is the mind boundless, until it creates a prison for its own thoughts."

two beautiful quotes from Rumi:

"Let the water settle; you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your being." --Jelaluddin Rumi

"Out beyond the ideas of right-doing or wrong-doing there is a field- I'll meet you there." --Jelaluddin Rumi

Profound and tranquil, free from complexity,
Uncompounded luminous clarity,
Beyond the mind of conceptual ideas;
This is the depth of the mind of the buddhas.
In this, there is not a thing to be removed,
Nor anything that needs to be added.
It is merely the immaculate,
Looking naturally at itself.

Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche

Perfectly stay in the natural flow,
There is no other concentration.
Perfectly realise the natural state,
There is no other wisdom".
Patrul Rinpoche


In Tibetan we call the essential nature of mind Rigpa—primordial, pure, pristine awareness that is at once intelligent, cognizant, radiant, and always awake. This nature of mind, its innermost essence, is absolutely and always untouched by change or death. At present it is hidden within our own mind, our sem, enveloped and obscured by the mental scurry of our thoughts and emotions. Just as clouds can be shifted by a strong gust of wind to reveal the shining sun and wide-open sky, so, under certain circumstances, some inspiration may uncover for us glimpses of this nature of mind. These glimpses have many depths and degrees, but each of them will bring some light of understanding, meaning and freedom.

This is because the nature of mind is the very root itself of understanding.

Nature of Mind

Sometimes we have fleeting glimpses of the nature of mind. These can be inspired by an exalting piece of music, by the serene happiness we sometimes feel in nature, or by the most ordinary everyday situation. They can arise simply while watching snow slowly drifting down, or seeing the sun rising behind a mountain, or watching a shaft of light falling into a room in a mysteriously moving way. Such moments of illumination, peace, and bliss happen to us all and stay strangely with us.

I think we do, sometimes, half understand these glimpses. But then, modern culture gives us no context or framework in which to comprehend them. Worse still, rather than encouraging us to explore them more deeply and discover where they spring from, we are told in both obvious and subtle ways to shut them out. We know that no one will take us seriously if we try to share them. So we ignore what could be really the most revealing experiences of our lives, if only we understood them. This is perhaps the darkest and most disturbing aspect of modern civilization—its ignorance and repression of who we really are .

The nature of mind is the background to the whole of life and death like the sky, which enfolds the whole universe in its embrace.

What is the nature of mind like? Imagine a sky, empty, spacious, and pure from the beginning; its essence is like this. Imagine a sun, luminous, clear, unobstructed, and spontaneously present; its nature is like this. Imagine that sun shining out impartially on us and all things, penetrating all directions; its energy, which is the manifestation of compassion, is like this: Nothing can obstruct it, and it pervades everywhere. Sogyal Rinpoche

You can think of the nature of mind like a mirror, with five different powers or “wisdoms.” Its openness and vastness is the “wisdom of all-encompassing space,” the womb of compassion. Its capacity to reflect in precise detail whatever comes before it is the “mirrorlike wisdom.” Its fundamental lack of any bias toward any impression is the “equalizing wisdom.” Its ability to distinguish clearly, without confusing in any way the various different phenomena that arise, is the “wisdom of discernment.” And its potential of having everything already accomplished, perfected, and spontaneously present is the “all-accomplishing wisdom.” Sogyal Rinpoche

Clear Light at Death

In death all the components of the body and mind are stripped away and disintegrate. As the body dies, the senses and subtle elements dissolve, and this is followed by the death of the ordinary aspect of the mind, with all its negative emotions of anger, desire, and ignorance. Finally nothing remains to obscure our true nature, as everything that in life has clouded the enlightened mind has fallen away. And what is revealed is the primordial ground of our absolute nature, which is like a pure and cloudless sky.

This is called the dawning of the Ground Luminosity, or Clear Light, where consciousness itself dissolves into the all-encompassing space of truth. The Tibetan Book of the Dead says of this moment:

The nature of everything is open, empty and naked like the sky.
Luminous emptiness, without center or circumference; the pure, naked Rigpa dawns.

Do not make the mistake of imagining that the nature of mind is exclusive only to our minds. It is in fact the nature of everything. It can never be said too often that to realize the nature of mind is to realize the nature of all things.

The root of all phenomena is your mind.
If unexamined, it rushes after experiences, ingenious in the games of deception.
If you look right into it, it is free of any ground or origin,
In essence free of any coming, staying or going.


"If your mind is able to settle naturally of its own accord, and if you find you are inspired simply to rest in its pure awareness, then you do not need any method of meditation. However, the vast majority of us find it difficult to arrive at that state straight away. We simply do not know how to awaken it, and our minds are so wild and so distracted that we need askillful means or method to evoke it."

"By “skillful” I mean that you bring together your understanding of the essential nature of your mind, your knowledge of your various, shifting moods, and the insight you have developed through your practice into how to work with yourself, from moment to moment. By bringing these together, you learn the art of applying whatever method isappropriate to any particular situation or problem, to transform that environment of your mind."

Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day September 16th, www.rigpa.org

September 26 -

To recognize the nature of your mind is to engender in the ground of your being an understanding that will change your entire worldview and help you discover and develop, naturally and spontaneously, a compassionate desire to serve all beings, as well as a direct knowledge of how best you can do so, with whatever skill or ability you have, in whatever circumstances you find yourself.

Sept 28th-

According to Dzogchen, the entire range of all possible appearances, and all possible phenomena in all the different realities, whether samsara or nirvana, all of these without exception have always been and will always be perfect and complete, within the vast and boundless expanse of the nature of mind. Yet, even though the essence of everything is empty and “pure from the very beginning,” its nature is rich in noble qualities, pregnant with every possibility, a limitless, incessantly and dynamically creative field that is always spontaneously perfect.

Source: Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day, www.rigpa.org


No words can describe it
No example can point to it
Samsara does not make it worse
Nirvana does not make it better
It has never been born
It has never ceased
It has never been liberated
It has never been deluded
It has never existed
It has never been nonexistent
It has no limits at all

It does not fall into any kind of category.


Rest in natural great peace
This exhausted mind
Beaten helpless by karma and neurotic thought,
Like the relentless fury of the pounding waves
In the infinite ocean of samsara.
Rest in natural great peace.



Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche describes a yogi wandering through a garden. He is completely awake to the splendor and beauty of the flowers, and relishes their colors, shapes and scents. But there is no trace of clinging or any “after-thought” in his mind.

As Dudjom Rinpoche says:

“Whatever perceptions arise, you should be like a little child going into a beautifully decorated temple; he looks, but grasping does not enter into his perception at all. You leave everything fresh, natural, vivid and unspoiled. When you leave each thing in its own state, then its shape doesn’t change, its color doesn’t fade and its glow does not disappear. Whatever appears is unstained by any grasping, so then all that you perceive arises as the naked wisdom of Rigpa, which is the indivisibility of luminosity and emptiness.”

Source: Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day, www.rigpa.org

Direct Introduction

How can the wisdom mind of the buddhas be introduced? Imagine the nature of mind as your face; it is always with you, but you cannot see it without help. Now imagine that you have never seen a mirror before. The introduction by the master is like holding up a mirror suddenly in which you can, for the first time, see your face reflected.

Just like your face, this pure awareness of Rigpa is not something “new” that the master is giving you that you did not have before, nor is it something you could possibly find outside of yourself. It has always been yours, and has always been with you, but up until that startling moment you have never actually seen it directly.

Source: Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day, www.rigpa.org

In the ordinary mind, we perceive the stream of thoughts as continuous, but in reality this is not the case. You will discover for yourself that there is a gap between each thought. When the past thought is past, and the future thought has not yet arisen, you will always find a gap in which the Rigpa, the nature of mind, is revealed. So the work of meditation is to allow thoughts to slow down, to make that gap become more and more apparent.

Introduction into the Nature of Mind

One great master in the nineteenth century had a disciple who was very thick-headed. The master had taught him again and again, trying to introduce him to the nature of his mind. Still he did not get it. Finally, the master became furious and told him: “Look, I want you to carry this bag full of barley up to the top of that mountain over there. But you mustn’t stop and rest. Just keep on going until you reach the top.”

The disciple was a simple man, but he had unshakable devotion and trust in his master, and he did exactly as he had been told. The bag was heavy and it took him a long time.

At last, when he reached the top, he dropped the bag. He slumped to the ground, overcome with exhaustion, but deeply relaxed. All his resistance had dissolved, and with it his ordinary mind. At that instant, he suddenly realized the nature of his mind. He ran back down the mountain, and, against all convention, burst into his master’s room.

“I think I’ve got it now . . . I’ve really got it!”

His master smiled at him knowingly. “So you had an interesting climb up the mountain, did you?”

Dudjom Rinpoche says of the moment when Rigpa is directly revealed: “That moment is like taking a hood off your head. What boundless spaciousness and relief! This is the supreme seeing: seeing what was not seen before.” When you “see what was not seen before,” everything opens, expands, and becomes crisp, clear, brimming with life, vivid with wonder and freshness. It is as if the roof of your mind were dying off, or a flock of birds suddenly took off from a dark nest. All limitations dissolve and fall away, as if, the Tibetans say, a seal were broken open.

Imagine you were living in a house on the top of a mountain which was itself at the top of the whole world. Suddenly the entire structure of the house, which limited your view, just falls away and you can see all around you, both outside and inside. But there is not any “thing” to see; what happens has no ordinary reference whatsoever; it is total, complete, unprecedented, perfect seeing. This is how it feels when Rigpa is directly revealed.

When you arrive naturally at a state of meditation, inspired by the View, you can remain there for a long time without any distraction or special effort. There is nothing called “meditation” to protect or sustain, for you are in the natural flow of the wisdom of Rigpa. And you realize, when you are in it, that is how it has always been, and is. When the wisdom of Rigpa shines, not one shadow of doubt can remain, and a deep, complete understanding arises, effortlessly and directly.

This moment is the moment of awakening. A profound sense of humor wells up from within, and you smile in amusement at how inadequate were all your former concepts and ideas about the nature of mind.

Unaltered State of Rigpa

If meditation in Dzogchen is simply to continue the flow of Rigpa after the introduction by the master, how do we know when it is Rigpa and when it is not? I asked Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche this question, and he replied with his characteristic simplicity: “If you are in an unaltered state, it is Rigpa.”

If we are not contriving or manipulating the mind in any way, but simply resting in an unaltered state of pure and pristine awareness, thatis Rigpa. If there is any contriving on our part or any kind of manipulating or grasping, it is not. Rigpa is a state in which there is no longer any doubt; there is not really a mind to doubt: you see directly. If you are in this state, a complete, natural certainty and confidence surge up with the Rigpa itself, and that is how you know.

Watching Thoughts & Emotions

Just as the ocean has waves, and the sun has rays, so the mind’s own radiance is its thoughts and emotions. The ocean has waves, yet the ocean is not particularly disturbed by them. The waves are the very nature of the ocean. Waves will rise, but where do they go? Back into the ocean. And where do the waves come from? The ocean.

In the same manner, thoughts and emotions are the radiance and expression of the very nature of the mind. They rise from the mind, but where do they dissolve? Back into the mind. Whatever rises, do not see it as a particular problem. If you do not impulsively react, if you are only patient, it will once again settle into its essential nature.

When you have this understanding, then rising thoughts only enhance your practice. But when you do not understand what they intrinsically are—the radiance of the nature of your mind—then your thoughts become the seed of confusion. So have a spacious, open, and compassionate attitude toward your thoughts and emotions, because in fact your thoughts are your family, the family of your mind. Before them, as Dudjom Rinpoche used to say: “Be like an old wise man, watching a child play.”

Watching Thoughts & Emotions

Whatever thoughts and emotions arise in meditation, allow them to rise and settle, like the waves in the ocean. Whatever you find yourself thinking, let that thought rise and settle, without any constraint. Don’t grasp at it, feed it, or indulge it, don’t cling to it, and don’t try to solidify it. Neither follow thoughts nor invite them; be like the ocean looking at its own waves, or the sky gazing down on the clouds that pass across it.

You will soon find that thoughts are like the wind; they come and go. The secret is not to “think” about the thoughts but to allow them to flow through your mind, while keeping your mind free of afterthoughts.

Even in the greatest yogi, sorrow and joy still arise just as before. The difference between an ordinary person and the yogi is how they view their emotions and react to them.

An ordinary person will instinctively accept or reject them, and so arouse the attachment or aversion that will result in the accumulation of negative karma.

A yogi, however, perceives everything that rises in its natural, pristine state, without allowing grasping to enter his perception.

Quietly sitting, body still, speech silent, mind at peace, let thoughts and emotions, whatever rises, come and go, without clinging to anything.

What does this state feel like? Dudjom Rinpoche used to say: Imagine a man who comes home after a long, hard day’s work in the fields, and sinks into his favorite chair in front of the fire. He has been working all day and he knows that he has achieved what he wanted to achieve; there is nothing more to worry about, nothing left unaccomplished, and he can let go completely of all his cares and concerns, content, simply, to be.

Liberating Strong Emotions

There are rough as well as gentle waves in the ocean; strong emotions come, like anger, desire, jealousy. The real practitioner recognizes them not as a disturbance or an obstacle but as a great opportunity. The fact that you react to arisings such as these with habitual tendencies of attachment and aversion is a sign not only that you are distracted but that you do not have the recognition and have lost the ground of Rigpa. To react to emotions in this way empowers them and binds you even tighter in the chains of delusion.

The great secret of Dzogchen is to see right through them, as soon as they arise, to what they really are: the vivid and electric manifestation of the energy of Rigpa itself. As you gradually learn to do this, even the most turbulent emotions fail to seize hold of you and instead dissolve, as wild waves rise and rear and sink back into the calm of the ocean.

Riding the Rays of the Sun

When you practice, say you find yourself in a deep state of stillness; often it does not last very long as a thought or a movement always arises, like a wave in the ocean. Don’t reject the movement or particularly embrace the stillness, but continue the flow of your pure presence. The pervasive, peaceful state of your meditation is the Rigpa itself, and all risings are none other than this Rigpa’s self-radiance. This is the heart and the basis of Dzogchen practice.

One way to imagine this is as if you were riding on the sun’s rays back to the sun: You trace the risings back, at once, to their very root, the ground of Rigpa. As you embody the steadfast stability of the View, you are no longer deceived and distracted by whatever rises, and so cannot fall prey to delusion.

Bardo & Rigpa

Because life is nothing but a perpetual fluctuation of birth, death, and transition, so bardo experiences are happening to us all the time, and are a basic part of our psychological makeup. Normally, however, we are oblivious to the bardos and their gaps, as our mind passes from one so-called solid situation to the next, habitually ignoring the transitions that are always occurring.

In fact, as the teachings can help us to understand, every moment of our experience is a bardo, as each thought and each emotion arises out of, and dies back into, the essence of mind. It is in moments of strong change and transition especially, the teachings make us aware, that the true skylike, primordial nature of mind will have a chance to manifest.

What is meditation in Dzogchen?

It is simply resting undistracted, in the View, once introduced.

Dudjom Rinpoche describes it: “Meditation consists of being attentive to such a state of Rigpa, free from all mental constructions, whilst remaining fully relaxed, without any distraction or grasping. For it is said that ‘meditation is not striving, but naturally becoming assimilated into it.’”

The whole point of Dzogchen meditation practice is to strengthen and stabilize Rigpa and allow it to grow to full maturity. The ordinary, habitual mind with its projections is extremely powerful. It keeps returning, and takes hold of us easily when we are inattentive or distracted.

As Dudjom Rinpoche used to say: “At present our Rigpa is like a little baby, stranded on the battlefield of strong arising thoughts.” I like to say that we have to begin by babysitting our Rigpa, in the secure environment of meditation.

View & Non-Meditation

When the View is constant,
The flow of Rigpa unfailing,
And the merging of the two luminosities continuous and spontaneous,
All possible delusion is liberated at its very root,
And your entire perception arises, without a break, as Rigpa.

A term such as meditation is not really appropriate for Dzogchen practice, you can see, as ultimately it implies meditating “on” something, whereas in Dzogchen all is only and forever Rigpa. So there is no question of a meditation separate from simply abiding by the pure presence of Rigpa. The only word that could possibly describe this is non-meditation. In this state, the masters say, even if you look for delusion there is none left. Even if you looked for ordinary pebbles on an island of gold and jewels, you wouldn’t have a chance of finding any.

It is extremely hard to rest undistracted in the nature of mind, even for a moment, let alone to self-liberate a single thought or emotion as it rises. We often assume that simply because we understand something intellectually, or think we do, we have actually realized it. This is a great delusion. It requires the maturity that only years of listening, contemplation, reflection, meditation, and sustained practice can ripen.


Remaining in the clarity and confidence of Rigpa allows all your thoughts and emotions to liberate naturally and effortlessly within its vast expanse, like writing in water, or painting in the sky. If you truly perfect this practice, karma has no chance to be accumulated, and in this state of aimless, carefree abandon, what Dudjom Rinpoche calls “uninhibited, naked ease,” the karmic law of cause and effect can no longer bind you in any way.

There is a danger, called in the tradition “losing the Action in the View.” A teaching as high and powerful as Dzogchen entails an extreme risk. Deluding yourself that you are liberating your thoughts and emotions, when in fact you are nowhere near able to do so, and thinking that you are acting with the spontaneity of a true Dzogchen yogi, all you are doing is simply accumulating vast amounts of negative karma. As Padmasambhava says, and this is the attitude we all should have:

Though my View is as spacious as the sky,
My actions and respect for cause and effect are as fine as grains of flour.


To integrate meditation in action is the whole ground and point and purpose of meditation. The violence and stress and the challenges and distractions of this modem life make this integration urgently necessary.

How do we achieve this integration, this permeation of everyday life with the calm humor and spacious detachment of meditation? There is no substitute for regular practice, for only through real practice will we begin to taste unbrokenly the calm of our nature of mind and so be able to sustain the experience of it in our everyday lives.

If you really wish to achieve this, what you need to do is practice not just as occasional medicine or therapy but as if it were your daily sustenance or food.

Sit for a short time; then take a break, a very short break of about thirty seconds or a minute. But be mindful of whatever you do, and do not lose your presence and its natural ease. Then alert yourself and sit again. If you do many short sessions like this, your breaks will often make your meditation more real and more inspiring; they will take the clumsy, irksome rigidity, solemnity, and unnaturalness out of your practice and bring you more and more focus and ease.

Gradually, through this interplay of breaks and sitting, the barrier between meditation and everyday life will crumble, the contrast between them will dissolve, and you will find yourself increasingly in your natural pure presence, without distraction.

Then, as Dudjom Rinpoche used to say: “Even though the meditator may leave the meditation, the meditation will not leave the meditator.”

What really matters is not just the practice of sitting but far more the state of mind you find yourself in after meditation. It is this calm and centered state of mind you should prolong through everything you do. I like the Zen story in which the disciple asked his master:

“Master, how do you put enlightenment into action? How do you practice it in everyday life?”
“By eating and by sleeping,” replied the master.
“But Master, everybody sleeps and everybody eats.”
“But not everybody eats when they eat, and not everybody sleeps when they sleep.”

From this comes the famous Zen saying, “When I eat, I eat; when I sleep, I sleep.”

To eat when you eat and sleep when you sleep means to be completely present in all your actions, with none of the distractions of ego to stop you from being there. This is integration.

As abiding by the flow of Rigpa becomes a reality, it begins to permeate the practitioner's everyday life and action, and breeds a deep stability and confidence.

Dudjom Rinpoche says:

Action is being truly observant of your own thoughts, good or bad, looking into the true nature of whatever thoughts may arise, neither tracing the past nor inviting the future, neither allowing any clinging to experience of joy, nor being overcome by sad situations. In so doing, you try to reach and remain in the state of great equilibrium, where all good and bad, peace and distress are devoid of true identity.

Since pure awareness of nowness is the real buddha,
In openness and contentment I found the Lama in my heart.
When we realize this unending natural mind is the very nature of the Lama,
Then there is no need for attached, grasping, or weeping prayers or artificial complaints,
By simply relaxing in this uncontrived, open, and natural state,
We obtain the blessing of aimless self-liberation of whatever arises.


CONCEPTUAL MIND & RIGPA by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

Liberation from ignorance and suffering occurs when we recognize and abide in our true nature. That which recognizes is not the conceptual mind; it is the fundamental mind, the nature of mind, rigpa. Our necessary task is to distinguish, in practice, between the conceptual mind and the pure awareness of the nature of mind.


The conceptual or moving mind is the familiar mind of everyday experience, constantly busy with thoughts, memories, images, internal dialogues, judgments, meanings, emotions, and fantasies. It is the mind normally identified as "me" and "my experience." Its fundamental dynamic is engagement with a dualistic vision of existence. It takes itself to be a subject in a world of objects. It grasps at some parts of experience and pushes others away. It is reactive, wildy so sometimes, but even when it is extremely calm and subtle-for example, during meditation or intense concentration-it maintains the internal posture of an entity observing its environment and continues to participate in dualism.

The conceptual mind is not limited to language and ideas. Language-with its nouns and verbs, subjects and objects-is necessarily subject to dualism, but the conceptual mind is not limited to language and ideas. Language-with its nouns and verbs, subjects and objects - is necessarily subject to dualism, but the conceptual mind is active in us before the acquisition of language. Animals have a conceptual mind, in this sense, as do infants and those born without the capacity for language. It is the result of habitual tendencies that are present before we develop a sense of self, even before we are born. Its essential character is that it instinctively divides experience dualistically, beginning with subject and object, with me and not-me.

The Mother Tantra refers to this mind as the "active manifestation mind". It is the mind that arises dependent on the movement of karmic prana, and manifests in form as thoughts, concepts, and other mental activities. If the conceptual mind becomes completely still, it dissolves into the nature of mind and will not arise again until activity reconstitutes it.

The moving mind's activities are virtuous, non-virtuous, or neutral. Virtuous actions host the experience of the nature of mind. Neutral actions disturb the connection to the nature of mind. Non-virtuous actions create more disturbance and lead to further disconnection. The teachings go into detail regarding the discriminations between virtuous and non-virtuous actions, such as generosity and greediness and so on. This however, is the clearest distinction: some actions lead to greater connection to rigpa and some lead to disconnection.

The ego bound by the duality of subject and object arises from the moving mind. From this mind all suffering arises; the conceptual mind works very hard, and this is what it accomplishes. We live in memories of the past and fantasies of the future, cut off from the direct experience of the radiance and beauty of life.


The fundamental reality of mind is pure, non-dual awareness: rigpa. Its essence is one with the essence of all that exists. In practice, it must not be confused with even the subtlest, quietest, and most expansive states of the moving mind. Unrecognized, the nature of mind manifests as the moving mind, but when known directly it is both the path to liberation and liberation itself.

Dzogchen teachings often use a mirror to symbolize rigpa. A mirror reflects everything without choice, preference or judgment. It reflects the beautiful and the ugly, the big and the small, the virtuous and the non-virtuous. There are no limits or restrictions on what it can reflect, yet the mirror is unstained and unaffected by whatever is reflected in it. Nor does it cease reflecting.

Similarly, all phenomena of experience arise in rigpa: thoughts, images, emotions, the grasping and the grasped, every apparent subject and object, every experience. The conceptual mind itself arises and abides in rigpa. Life and death take place in the nature of mind, but it is neither born nor does it die, just as reflections come and go without creating or destroying the mirror. Identifying with the conceptual mind, we live as one of the reflections in the mirror, reacting to other reflections, suffering confusion and pain, endlessly living and dying. We take reflections for the reality and spend our lives chasing illusions.

When the conceptual mind is free of grasping and aversion, it spontaneously relaxes into unfabricatred rigpa. Then there is no longer identification with the reflections in the mirror and we can effortlessly accomodate all that arises in experience, appreciating every moment. If hatred arises, the mirror is filled with hatred. When love arises, the mirror is filled with love. For the mirror itself, neither love nor hatred is significant; both are equally a manifestation of its innate capacity to reflect. This is known as the mirror like wisdom; when we recognize the nature of mind and develop the ability to abide in it, no emotional state distracts us. Instead all states and all phenomena, even anger, jealousy and so on, are released into the purity and clarity that is their essence. Abiding in Rigpa, we cut karma at its root and are released from the bondage of samsara.

Stabilizing in rigpa also makes it easier to realize all other spiritual aspirations. It is easier to practice virtue when free of grasping and the sense of lack, easier to practice compassion when not obsessed with ourselves, easier to practice transformation when unattached to false and constricted identities.

The 'Mother Tantra' refers to the nature of mind as "primordial mind." It is like the ocean, while ordinary mind is like rivers, lakes and creeks that share in the nature of the ocean and return to it, but temporarily exist as apparently separate bodies of water. The moving mind is also compared to bubbles in the ocean of primordial mind that constantly form and dissolve, depending on the strength of the karmic winds. But the nature of the ocean does not change.

Rigpa arises spontaneously from the base. Its activity is ceaseless manifestation; all phenomena arise in it without disturbing it. The result of abiding wholly in the nature of mind is the three bodies (kayas) of the buddha: the dharmakaya, which is thoughtless essence; the sambhokaya, which is ceaselss manifestation; and the nirmanakaya, which is undeluded compassionate activity.

Paradox of the Essenceless Self by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

But how, if the individual of the individual is pure, empty awareness, can a conventional self and a moving mind exist at all? Here is an example based on experiences we all have: when we dream, an entire world manifests in which we can have any kind of experience. During the dream we are identified with one subject, but there are other beings, apparently separate from us, having their own experiences and seeming as real as the self we take ourselves to be. There is also an apparent material world: the floors hold us up, our body has sensations, we can eat and touch.

When we wake, we realize that the dream was only a projection of our mind. It took place in our mind and was made of energy of our mind. But we were lost in it, reacting to the mind created images as if they were real and outside of ourselves. Our mind is able to create a dream and to identify with one being that it places in the dream, while disidentifying with others. We can even identify with subjects that are far different than we are in our life.

As ordinary beings, we are in the same way, identified, right now with a conventional self that is also a projection of mind. We react to apparent objects and entities that are further mind projections. The base of existence (Kunzhi) has the capacity to manifest everything that exists, even beins that become distracted from their true nature, just as our mind can project beings that are apparently separate from us in a dream. When we wake, the dream that is our conventional self dissolves into pure emptiness and luminous clarity.

Source: p203 ***** Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep by Tenzin Wangyal (UK / US), Snow Lion

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, a Lama in the Bon tradition of Tibet, presently resides in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the founder and director of The Ligmincha Institute, an organization dedicated to the study and practice of the teachings of the Bon tradition. He was born in Amritsar, India, after his parents fled the Chinese invasion of Tibet, and received training from both Buddhist and Bon teachers, attaining the degree of Geshe, the highest academic degree of traditional Tibetan culture. He has been in the United States since 1991 and has taught widely in Europe and America.

A wave in the sea, seen in one way, seems to have a distinct identity, an end and a beginning, a birth and a death. Seen in another way, the wave itself doesn’t really exist but is just the behavior of water, “empty” of any separate identity but “full” of water. So when you really think about the wave, you come to realize that it is something that has been made temporarily possible by wind and water, and is dependent on a set of constantly changing circumstances. You also realize that every wave is related to every other wave. Sogyal Rinpoche


Excerpts by Rob Nairn, 'Diamond Mind, A Psychology of Meditation'

Observer Consciousness and Activity Mind

The essence of meditation is training in mindfulness. This is done by resting the attention on an external meditation support, and returning to it every time it drifts away into thought. This action is possible because one part of the mind observes and identifies with thoughts and feelings as they arise. If we did not have this capacity for self-reflective awareness we would not know or realize we were thinking when thinking happens.

We call the part of mind that observes "observer consciousness," and the part that thinks and gets observed "activity mind". When we talk of the "thought", the word includes feelings and emotions.

Engaging Content

The mind is enslaved because it is continually engages content, identifying with thoughts and feelings as they arise and getting glued to them. With the development of bare attention this will change and the compulsive reactive response that causes us to pick up on thought will weaken.

The main reason we engage is that the mind carries messages which say,"it is normal", "this is how I am", "I should do this." This attitude of mind constitutes an inner authority that dominates and sometimes tyrannizes our thinking. The result is we can't observe our thoughts objectively, but are compelled to get in and change, control, get rid of (especially unwanted feelings), and so on. The basic steps are:

Until we understand this and challenge the underlying compulsive response, we remain in bondage.


Happiness, compassion, wisdom, and clarity are inherent qualities within all human beings. The true nature of the mind is gentle, peaceful and clear. This seems difficult to believe because most of the time our minds are in a state of anxiety, agitation, desire, passion, anger, or grief - all clouds that obscure the bright pure quality of what we truly are. We ourselves are creating obscurations and thus keeping our innate qualities inaacessible within our minds.


Mindfulness is the systematic training in knowing what is happening, while it is happening. So if I'm standing here waving my right arm around I'm mindful, I know I am doing it. If I'm not mindful, only you know I'm doing it. Mindfulness is this moment-to-moment precision about your consciousness in relation to your body, mind, and environment.....


Awareness is a quality of knowing which develops out of that, encompassing of whatever is happening around you without directing attention specifically to it. If I become mindful, I become more aware of things both within and without. So awareness develops out of mindfulness.

Wakefulness is a term that is used in a number of different contexts. In Buddhism, the term of wakefulness is applied to that quality of mind which is no longer lost in not wanting to know. It is a quality of mind that is spontaneously present and alert and therefore picking up what's going on. So it is a sharpening of awareness. It is also applied to somebody who has woken to the true nature of his or her own mind in which case it has a much more extended meaning. That means that you are beginning to move into the area where you are enlightened. The Buddha was often referred to as the Awakened One. Awakened to all the illusions and freed from them. The analogy that is often used is that the non-enlightened state is like being asleep. This is because your Buddha-nature, your enlightened awareness, is masked by a the sleep of ignorance, greed, and hatred. When you awake to the fact that that all is part of the illusion of egocentricity, you are free from that illusion. So you are awakened from the ego-illusion and all that goes with it.

These three terms are useful to look at because they describe the different stages we experience. It's quite useful to see meditation as a growth process, rather than a mystical or magical experience. As a growth process, it has its own systematic order. It's graduated within the Kagyu Lineage.

Source: Diamond Mind, A Psychology of Meditation by Rob Nairn, Shambhalla Publications

above excerpts from 'Diamond Mind, A Psychology of Meditation' by Rob Nairn

In his 'Guide to the Bodhisattvas' Way of Life', Shantideva wrote:

It is the supreme elixir
That overcomes the sovereignty of death.
It is the inexhaustible treasure
That eliminates poverty in the world.
It is the supreme medicine
That quells the world's disease.
It is the tree that shelters all beings
Wandering and tired on the path of conditioned existence.
It is the universal bridge
That leads to freedom from unhappy states of birth.
It is the dawning moon of the mind
That dispels the torment of disturbing conceptions.
It is the great sun that finally removes
The misty ignorance of the world.

No Mind

The power of the warrior mind is its ability to act from a state of "No Mind", with technique arising effortlessly out of emptiness. As a mirror reflects objects without clinging to the images, the "Warrior Mind" is free to flow from one object to the next without impediment. From this state arises instinctive wisdom, the power that allows ordinary people to perform extraordinary feats. This Zen mind-guide to empowerment is an active meditation for those who wish to be in the world, but not of it. Soul Sword - Vernon


The Infinite Power of the Self

Mother Amma once said,

'Once you are established in the state of no-mind, no one can do anything to you, unless you consciously let them do it. You can allow something to happen or not to happen. Whether it happens or not, you remain a witness - completely untouched and unpeturbed, ever established in the state of supreme detachment. Suppose someone wants to harm you or even kill you. They cannot lift a finger against you if you do not permit it. As long as your sankalpa (resolve) is there, nothing they do can affect you. They will in some mysterious way always fail. Finally they might reach the conclusion that something, some divine power, is protecting you. But this power is the infinite power of the Self, it is not some power that comes from outside. The source of this power is within you. You become that infinite power. When you are egoless you are everything. The entire universe is with an enlightened being. Even the animals, trees, mountains and rivers, and the sun and the moon and the stars are on the side of the Self-Realized soul - because in that state you are ego less. When you bow down before all existence, in utter humility, the universe (existence) bows doen to you and serves you. But remember that you can also command them to turn against you, because, either way you are not affected."

Awaken Children Volume VII


The Four Faults:

Why is it that people should find it so difficult even to conceive the depth and glory of the nature of mind? Why does it seem to many such an outlandish and improbable idea?

The teachings speak of four faults, which prevent us from realizing the nature of mind right now

1. The nature of minds is too close to be recognized. Just as we are unable to see our own face, mind finds it difficult to look into it's own nature.

2. It is too profound for us to fathom. We have no idea how deep it could be; if we did, we would have already, ta a certain extent, realized it.

3. It is too easy for us to believe. In reality all, we need do is simply to rest in the naked, pure awareness of the nature of mind, which is always present.

4. It is too wonderful for us to accomadate, The sheer immensity of it is too vast to fit into our narrow way of thinking. We just can't believe it. Nor can we possibly imagine that enlightenment is the real nature of our minds.



In Buddhism we establish whether a teacher is authentic by whether or not the guidance he or she is giving accords with the teachings of the Buddha. It cannot be stressed too often that it is truth of the teaching which is all-important, and never the personality of the teacher. This is why Buddha reminded us in the "Four reliances":

Rely on the message of the teacher, not on his personality;
Rely on the meaning, not just on the words;
Rely on the real meaning, not just the provisional one;
rely on your wisdom mind, not on your ordinary, judgmental mind.

So it is important to remember that the true teacher, as we shall see, is the spokesman of the truth: its compassionate "wisdom display." All the buddhas, masters, and prophets, in fact are the emanation of this truth, appearing in countless skillful, compassionate guises in order to guide us through their teaching, back to our true nature. At first then, more important than finding the teacher is through making a connection with the truth of the teaching, for it is through making a connection with the truth of the teaching that you will discover your living connection with a master.

"A common misunderstanding is that the meditative state of mind has to be captured and then nursed and cherished. That is definitely the wrong approach. If you try to domesticate your mind through meditation-try to possess it by holding onto the meditative state-the clear result will be regression on the path, with a loss of freshness and spontaneity. If you try to hold on without lapse all the time, then maintaining your awareness will begin to become a domestic hassle. It will become like painfully going through housework. There will be an underlying sense of resentment, and the practice of meditation will become confusing. You will begin to develop a love-hate relationship toward your practice, in which your concept of it seems good, but, at the same time, the demand this rigid concept makes on you is too painful. " Chogyam Trunpa Rinponche

"So the technique of the mindfulness of life is based on touch-and-go. You focus your attention on the object of awareness, but then, in the same moment, you disown that awareness and go on. What is needed here is some sense of confidence-confidence that you do not have to securely own your mind, but that you can tune into its process spon­taneously. " Chogyam Trunpa Rinponche

Advice from Chogyal Namkhai Norbu

"In the Dzogchen teaching we say that if you don't feel like doing
practice, you should never force yourself. Some people say, "Oh, if I
don't do practice then my laziness will be stronger than me and I will
lose my possibility of doing practice," and you fight with your
laziness. This is a method that is used more in the Sutra style of
practice. If you follow a Dzogchen teacher and you ask him, "What shall
I do? I don't feel like practicing today." The teacher will say, "OK.
don't do any practice. Relax, enjoy yourself." But don't relax and enjoy
yourself without having presence. You always need your presence. If
there is a continuation of your presence then you relax, you don't
practice. After a few days you will discover why you don't feel like
practicing. You can't feel that you don't want to do practice without
having a cause. There is always a cause, a factor. It's very important
that you give yourself more space, relax and discover what it is. When
you discover what it is then you can work with that and then you can do
practice, you have less problems"


"Even if those who begin to practice this find it difficult to continue
> in this state for more than an instant, there is no need to worry
> about it. Without wishing for the state to continue for a long time
> and without fearing the lack of it altogether, all that is necessary is
> to maintain pure presence of mind, without falling into the dualistic
> situation of there being an observing subject perceiving an observed
> object."

"If out of this natural condition thoughts arise, whether good or bad,
rather than trying to judge whether one is in the calm state or in the
wave of thoughts, one should just acknowledge all thoughts with the
awakened presence of the State itself.
"When thoughts are given just this bare attention of simple
acknowledgment, they relax into their own true condition, and as
long as this awareness of their relaxedness lasts one should not
forget to keep the mind present."
> source..."Advice on Presence and Awareness" by...Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche

Master Namkhai Norbu:

In the same way, throughout limitless time we have been suffering from
the serious illness of being subject to the dualistic condition, and
the only remedy for this illness is real knowledge of the state of
self-liberation without falling into limitations.
When one is in contemplation, in the continuation of the awareness
of the true State, then it is not necessary to consider one's way of
behaving as important, but, on the other hand, for someone who is
beginning to practise, there is no way of entering into practice other
than by alternating sessions of sitting meditation with one's daily
life. This is because we have such strong attachment, based on
logical thinking, on regarding the objects of our senses as being
concrete, and, even more so, based on our material body made of
flesh and blood.
When we meditate on the 'absence of selfnature', examining
mentally our head and the limbs of our body, eliminating them one by
one as 'without self', we can finally arrive at establishing that there
is no 'self or 'I'.
But this 'absence of self-nature' remains nothing but a piece of
knowledge arrived at through intellectual analysis, and there is as
yet no real knowledge of this 'absence of self-nature'. Because,
while we are cosily talking about this 'absence of self-nature', if it
should happen that we get a thorn in our foot, there's no doubt that
we'll right away be yelping 'ow! ow! ow!' This shows that we are still
subject to the dualistic condition and that the 'absence of self-
nature' so loudly proclaimed with our mouth has not become a real
lived state for us. For this reason it is indispensable to regard as
extremely important the presence of awareness which is the basis
of self-liberation in one's daily conduct.


"We are already conditioned by karma, by the passions, and by
dualism. If one then adds limitations derived from having
compulsorily to follow rules and laws, our burden becomes even
heavier, and without doubt we get even further from the correct
'way of seeing' and from the right 'way of behaving'.
"If one understands the term 'self-liberating' as meaning that one can
just do whatever one wants, this is not correct; this is absolutely
not what the principle of self-liberation means, and to believe such
a mistaken view would show that one has not truly understood what
awareness means.
"But then again we should not consider the principle of laws and
rules as being just the same as the principle of awareness. Laws and
rules are in fact established on the basis of circumstances of time
and place, and work by conditioning the individual with factors
outside him or herself. Awareness, on the other hand, arises from a
state of knowledge which the individual him or herself possesses.
"Because of this, laws and rules sometimes correspond to the
inherent awareness of the individual, and sometimes do not.
"However, if one has awareness, it is possible to overcome the
situation of being bound by compulsion to follow rules and laws. Not
only is this so, but an individual who has awareness and keeps it
stably present is also capable of living in peace under all the rules
and laws there are in the world, without being in any way
conditioned by them.

The masters stress that to stabilize the View in meditation, it is essential, first of all, to accomplish this practice in a special environment of retreat, where all the favorable conditions are present; amid the distractions and busyness of the world, however much you meditate, true experience will not be born in your mind.

Second, though there is no difference in Dzogchen between meditation and everyday life, until you have found true stability through doing the practice in proper sessions, you will not be able to integrate the wisdom of meditation into your experience of daily life.

Third, even when you practice, you might be able to abide by the continual flow of Rigpa with the confidence of the View, but if you are unable to continue that flow at all times and in all situations, mixing your practice with everyday life, it will not serve as a remedy when unfavorable circumstances arise, and you will be led astray into delusion by thoughts and emotions.

www.rigpa.org - sogyal rinpoche -

Message: 23
Date: Jan 2003
From: "Joyce S"
Subject: what is the relationship between.....

"What is the relationship between the mindfulness discussed earlier, which
takes some effort, and the innate awareness of the Great Completeness, which
one discovers by relaxing into it? Once having experienced innate
awareness, there is, strictly speaking, no need to depend on effortful
mindfulness. Yet even exemplary teachers in the Great Completeness
tradition continue to practice the more stringent type of meditation. In a
poem written in 1991 during a serious illness, with a lifetime of experience
and a considerable reputation as a master in the Great Completeness
tradition, the Nyingma lama Khetsun Sangpo exhorts himself in this way:

Not forgetting mindfulness in any kind of activity.
Always make effort regarding what should be done and not done.
Khetsun, when you sleep, sleep within awareness and introspection, do not
leave them behind.
The great Santideva also, again and again, praised the guarding of
mindfulness and introspection...
It is also praised in [Nagarjuna's] Letter To a Friend.
Saying that when mindfulness deteriorates, all practice is destroyed...
Also Pa-trul Cho-hyi-wang-bo said, mindfulness and introspection sustain the
paths of sutra and mantra.
The word of Guru Pema and the words of [his root] lamas
All mandate its implementation again and again.

Unlike either mindfulness or concentration, innate awareness is always a
nondualistic state, and one that can only be discovered, not developed. For
this reason the Great Completeness traditions distinguish carefully between
effortful mindfulness and the mindfulness that occurs when one relaxes into
ones already present innate awareness. One of the most widely known female
lamas of Tibet, concisely states the point:

First tighten with tightness,
Then loosen with looseness.
The essence of the view is here.

Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche, a lama in the Nyingma Great Completion tradition,
describes the initial tightening this way: "Beginners like ourselves need
such mindfulness when we are sleeping, walking, standing, eating and so
forth..Until one reaches the point of never forgetting ones object of
attention, thought is bound by a stringent mindfulness...Through this type
of mindfulness becoming steady, the mind is kept tight. Then, let the mind

From: Meeting the Great Bliss Queen
Anne Carolyn Klein

Message: 9
Date: Jan 2003
From: "Malcolm F.E S"
Subject: RE: Re: Adding to the Teacher Series


Experience does not work as well as "finding oneself in the state of
knowledge of rigpa..." because in the Dzogchen tradition experience
[nyams] is consistently contrasted with self sufficient awareness [rang
rig]. Why? Because experience implies both a subject experiencer and an
object experienced. So for technical reasons, I do not like the term
"directly experienced"-- but you know what? At a certain point language
becomes inadequate.

So, here it would be akin to water discovering its own lustre once the
dirt has settled. Any effort by water to find its own lustre will result
in stirring up the mud, likewise, any mental attempt to discover this
state of rigpa will stir up concepts. So, if the mind is left along with
presence, it will discover its own inner radiance.

The hardest part of Dzogchen practice is learning how to leave the mind
just as it is. And truthfully, all of the techniques in Dzogchen,
postures, gazes, breathing, etc., all of it is focused on just this.



Unto this Darkness which is Light, pray that we may come, and
may attain unto vision through the loss of sight and knowledge, and
that in ceasing thus to see or to know, we may learn to know this
which is beyond all perception and understanding - for this emptying
of our faculties is true sight and knowledge - and that we may offer
the transcendent in all things the praises of transcendent hymnody,
which we may well do by denying or removing all things that are - like
any person who, carving a statue out of marble, removes all the
impediments that hinder the clear perception of that latent image and
by this mere removal display the hidden statue itself in its hidden


UNKNOWABLE? - Christian Perspectives

The Buddha's approach may be somewhat different from that of many Christian saints, mystics, and
theologians, but it would certainly be understandable to many of them. Saint Augustine doubtlessly believed
in God, but he was also sure that God is unknowable to the thinking mind alone, "if you can understand it,"
he said, "then it is not God. "His contemporary Saint Gregory of Nyassa, a great mystical teacher of the
Eastern Church said that all ideas about God run the risk of becoming idols.

The apophatic traditions of Christian prayer - prayer without thought or image of any kind - are profoundly
and existentially true to the basic biblical idea of the mysteriousness of God. As expressed in the 'Cloud
of Unknowing', a medieval English treatise on contemplative prayer, we can know God not by thought
but only by love. The most systematic and catophatic of theologians, the great Thomas Aquinas, said that
all we can say about God is that God is, not what God is. Toward the end of his life, after a transforming
mystical experience, Aquinas dismissed all he had thought and written as straw. Nicholas of Cusa also
spoke of learned ignorance," stating it was a form of awareness that does not have an intellectual root but
has the greatest power to lead us into truth. Meister Eckhart, a friend to Buddhism, emphasizes the
unknowability and no-thingness of God, at times to a delightful excess:

"Let thy soul be de-spirited of all spirit; let it be spiritless. Love God as he is: a not-God, a
not-spirit, a not-Person, a not-image, as sheer, pure, limpid unity, alien from all duality." Sermon XCIX

Above Excerpt from

The Good Heart, His Holiness The Dalai Lama Explores the Heart of Christianity and of Humanity, Rider
Publications, 2002

pp24, Introduction by Laurence Freeman OSB


The Cloud of Unknowing is a 14th century anonymous
English mystical treatise written in the apophatic
tradition of Christian prayer. See William Johnson's
translation, Image Books, Doubleday, 1973

Even though you might make an effort to do this, it would be
pointless, so don't!
Don't! Do not strive or try to achieve!
Don't look! Don't look! Do not look at the concepts in your mind!
Don't meditate! Don't meditate! Do not meditate on the phenomena of
your ordinary consciousness!
Don't analyze! Don't analyze! Do not analyze sense objects and
ordinary mind!
Don't try to achieve! Don't try to achieve! Do not try to achieve
results out of hope and fear!
Don't reject! Don't reject! Do not reject afflictive emotions and
Don't accept! Don't accept! Do not accept anything as true!
Don't bind! Don't bind! Do not bind your mindstream!"

Longchen Rabjam

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no
matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your intelligence and your
common sense."

Buddha Sakyamuni (from the Pali canon)

Message: 2
   Date: Jan 2004
   From: "Simon"
Subject: Take The Meditation Road Home

if you can begin to understand how you feel ... then you can begin to
understand why you feel such and such an emotion ... then you can
begin to understand your mind and it's internal machinations ... then
you can begin to understand the nature of your feelings and
emotions ... then you can begin to understand the nature of your
thoughts ... and then possibly you can begin to understand 'nature of
mind' ... and then perhaps you can rest in 'nature of mind' ...




related books:

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying ~Sogyal Rinpoche Rider Paperback - 7 May, 1998 - Paperback - 440 pages new edition (7 May, 1998) Rider; ISBN: 0712671390 (.co.uk)

related articles:

related links:


Related pages:


How do I find clarity & peace of Mind?


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