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The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation

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The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation Omega Point 4/14/14 12:50 PM
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Hi everyone, it has been a while. The past year or so has been one of the busiest for me, new job, moving, travel, family deaths and births, starting a local sangha, and leading/participating in retreat. On top of this, short pieces and informal lectures written up to five years ago all began coming home to roost, as I have been flooded with in-depth private communications. With this, I am sorry for my absence and my short stay now. I am particularly sorry for anyone who has sent private messages sent to me over the past ~13 months through this website, as it appears I am unable to access any of those. Either re-send them or post your email and I will try to get back to you personally, especially to anyone who has made significant progress with the tantrayana heat-yoga/bliss-based practices I partially and somewhat cryptically divulged a while back. Thanks for your time and I hope this has been a smashingly successful year for all of you!


http://www.scribd.com/doc/218160907/The-Art-of-Nakedness-Bearing-it-all-for-the-single-nature-of-mind-a-look-at-Buddhist-salvation




<reproducible draft v.1.2>




The Art of Nakedness: Bearing it all for the single nature of mind,
a look at Buddhist salvation


Omega Point



Abstract



This paper explicates, in brief, the soteriological principles underpinning Buddhist methodology, with weighted attention placed on Tantrayana and in particular Ati Dzogpa Chenpo, additionally, brief philosophical and geohistoriographical summaries are given. Taking from the author’s personal study, experience, and practice of Buddhism, primary and secondary literature, and various communications with qualified contemplatives, this paper, while remaining true to Buddhism as an indivisible complex, provides examples that highlight the essentials amongst the myriad Buddhist array, while contrasting the differences between the various Buddhist schools, vehicles, and paths through the lens of Ati Dzogpa Chenpo, which culminate in the ultimate consolidations found solely in Ati Dzogpa Chenpo.1 2







Introduction




Perhaps one of the grandest collective endeavors ever undertaken by humanity, Buddhism has often been a source of inspiration, mystery, and intrigue. Of the many denominations of Buddhism, Indo-Tibetan Buddhism has sparked a great modern interest in Buddhism, both in the East and West, in part due to it being a living warehouse for Buddhist scripture, knowledge and methodology. Beyond the enormous gift to the world that are the Tantric traditions, Indo-Tibetan Buddhism offers the pinnacle of contemplative insight, the crest of Buddhist paths, the Ati Dzogpa Chenpo.
Being such a complex and in-depth mammoth tradition spanning throughout varying geographies and cultures, from antiquity to modern times, gives Buddhism a sense of grandeur, and yet this very vastness can also lead to misapprehension, misapplication of methodology, seeming innavigability and paradoxical impenetrability; which will need to be rectified if Buddhism is ever to become firmly established in the West.3 The modern world appears to be in desperate need of contemplative wisdom, as the lack of interdependent awareness and of the wisdom leading to the end of the individual’s experience of existential lack are key obstacles to solving global problems such as the destabilization of the environment and the high proportion of mental health issues. Buddhism’s teachings on compassion, non-duality, non-self, and overcoming the existential lack can bring much needed calmness and clarity to a sometimes chaotic, stressful, and self-absorbed world. Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, with its use of skillful Tantric transformational means and skillfully spontaneous transcendent means, offers individuals the means to achieve full enlightenment in this lifetime.4 This paper seeks to illustrate the aforementioned skillful means via examination of various fundamental teachings, highlighting with increasing emphasis the progressively advanced schools leading to the zenith of Buddhist soteriology, Dzogchen.



Outline of the Paths and Vehicles

The sum of all possible vehicles can be classified into (1) mundane vehicles, generally non-relating to Buddhism, which have the aim of improving samsaric existence, and (2) supramundane vehicles, which comprise the totality of Buddhist vehicles and which have the aim of leading beyond samsara. The three-fold classification used in this work is far less known and utilized in modern times, despite it being favored by great masters such as Longchenpa, and despite it being most consistent and relevant to our time.5 This three-fold system of classification consists of the Path of renunciation, the Path of transformation, and the Path of spontaneous liberation. It was originally taught in Oddiyana, then was established in Tibet in the eighth century, and was primarily introduced through two texts, the Kathang Dennga by Namkhai Nyingpo, which was concealed during the eighth century as a terma, or spiritual treasure, and then discovered in the sixteenth century by terton Orgyen Lingpa.6 7 The second text is the Samten Migdroni by Nubchen Sangye Yeshe, and was buried in Tun Huang from the eleventh or twelfth century until 1908, when discovered by Paul Pelliot.8 9

The Path of renunciation corresponds to the Hetuyana or “cause-based vehicle”, also known as the Hetulakshanayana or “cause-based vehicle of the discrimination of characteristics”, which refers to the vehicle by which one is supposed to attain when causes are brought to their fruition and are catalyzed by the concurrence of secondary conditions. The Path of renunciation and the Hetuyana consists of the vehicles contained in the Sutrayana, which include the Shravakayana and Pratyekabuddhayana of the Hinayana as well as the Bodhisattvayana and Sudden Mahayana of the Mahayana.

Deriving from tantra, the Path of transformation corresponds to the Phalayana or “fruit-based vehicle”, which refers to the vehicle by which one is supposed to attain the fruit as a result of an unveiling of the accordant condition, an unfolding of a “sample of primordial gnosis” or peyi yeshe (dpe-yi-ye-shes), opposed to being an effect of causes.10 More specifically, the Path of transformation is divided into the outer/lower Tantras and the inner/higher Tantras. The outer Tantras, in of themselves called the Path of purification, corresponds to the Kriyatantrayana and the Ubhayatantrayana, while the inner Tantras, strictly called the Path of transformation, consist of Mahayogatantrayana and Anuyogatantrayana. The Yogatantrayana utilizes aspects of both the outer and inner and so is considered in the middle of the two in this schema, serving as the transition yana.

Finally, applying the principle of Ati Dzogpa Chenpo, the Path of spontaneous liberation corresponds to the Atiyoga, meaning “primordial yoga” or Atiyana, meaning the “primordial vehicle”, which is completely beyond cause-fruit relation, and so is beyond the Hetuyana and the Phalayana.11 12 The practice of this path can only begin once an initial non-dual recognition of the true nature of all reality has been had, called the “Direct Introduction” into the truth, presence, and awake awareness of rigpa. This vehicle’s teachings can be divided into three series of increasing subtlety. First, the Semde (Sems-sde) or “nature of mind series”, which are primarily concerned with Direct Introduction, and despite being rooted in spontaneous liberation, often are practically split into successive partitions. Second, the Longde (kLong-sde) or “space series”, being more sudden and involving the direct modulation of the energy-system, mainly involve methods in which revolve around persisting in doubtlessness.13 Finally, the Menngagde or “secret oral instruction series”, which are primarily concerned with the ways to continue in the state of rigpa, these teachings and practices are the most sudden and abrupt, and the ways most different from those of the other vehicles of Buddhism.

This system of classification brings a continuity to the aforementioned paths in that one generally practices them subsequently. First practicing the Path of renunciation, which can be practiced by anyone, leading to its point of arrival, that of emptiness. This emptiness is the realization of the lack of self-existence of beings and phenomena, relating to the Hinayana and Mahayana respectively. Then practicing the Path of transformation, which has as its starting point the very realization of voidness that is the point of arrival in the Path of renunciation (at minimum the emptiness of beings of the Hinayana). The Path of transformation is then undertaken until glimpsing the realization of rigpa, which serves as its arrival point. Finally, the Path of spontaneous liberation is undertaken, having as its starting point the direct glimpsing of rigpa found in the Path of transformation, until the point of arrival, which is the total exhaustion of samsara, the complete uprooting of existential lack, the subject-object duality, the illusion of an internal and external dimension, etc., and finally one of the four “unique modes of death” exclusive to this path. It is important to understand that this sequence is a generality, as some individuals having the right capacity may directly enter into the Path of transformation (realizing voidness during the course of its practice) or the Path of spontaneous liberation (requiring a Direct Introduction into the awake awareness of rigpa) without previously practicing any other Path.



The Trailblazing Prince of the Shakya Clan


Prince Gautama Siddhartha, the monk who became the “Sage of the Shakya” upon his Awakening, likely lived in the sixth and fifth centuries BC.14 Leading to his Awakening, the Prince sought to confront and find a solution to the “problem of life”, for he was experiencing a significant sense of existential lack. This experience of the suffering inherent in the ordinary human condition, led him to reject his father’s hopes for him and give up all that had been allotted to him as prince, to instead seek answers as a wandering ascetic.15 16 The Prince sought and found, in and for himself and others, the way putting an end to existential lack and the meaning of human existence.

Prior to his Awakening and being titled Shakyamuni Buddha, Prince Gautama Siddhartha sought teachings from two of the most experienced gurus of the time.17 He quickly mastered the highest states both gurus could offer and realized the produced and conditional nature of such states, realizing that these did not provide the answer as to how to actually solve the problem of existential lack. He moved onward and utilizing his extraordinary levels of vivid attentional stability to directly explore and examine consciousness itself and its movements, eventually leading the Prince to his Awakening.18

After the beneficent Prince became the “Awake One” or Buddha of the era, consequent to waking to the true nature of himself and the whole of reality, he declared not that he had uncovered something completely new, unknown, and previously undiscovered, but rather that he rediscovered the truth “of the rishi of antiquity”.19 Owing to the mistakes of his contemporaries, Shakyamuni Buddha distinguished the wisdom of the doctrine leading to true liberation from the limitations of the Vedic tenants, establishing a tradition complex that would eventually comprise the largest numbered and most detailed works on contemplative science, philosophy, and methodology in human history.20 21



A Handful of Leaves, A Thumbnail Sketch of the Hinayana

Shakyamuni’s teachings set forth during the first period, such as the Four Truths, are known as the “Promulgation of a cycle of teachings” or the first dharmachakra. This cycle of teachings constitute the canonical basis of all the schools under the name Hinayana, meaning “narrow” or “little” vehicle, including the only school of this vehicle still existing independently, the Theravada, which abounds throughout most of Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka.22 23 24 In Tibet, two Hinayana doctrines, of the Vaibhashika and Sautrantika schools, have been taught in a contrasting fashion as part of the philosophical curricula by Tibetan schools that do not adhere to the Hinayana, however Vaibhashika and Sautrantika do not exist in an independent fashion.25

The general aim of the Hinayana is personal liberation, as in the attainment with regard to the cessation of the dissatisfaction and unpleasantness (duhkha) outlined by the First Noble Truth and to the existence known as samsara that is marked by duhkha, which is to be achieved through the termination of the basic craving outlined by the Second Noble Truth as well as the accompanying illusion of being a separate and substantial individual.

Authoritative reports as to the progressive unfolding of the Buddhist tradition rooted in the first dharmachakra indicate that through successive divisions of the original lineage. The first division produced four schools: the Aryasthavira, the Aryasammitiya, the Aryamahasamghika, and the Aryasarvastivada. Over time the Aryasarvastivada partitioned into the Bahushrutiya, the Dharmaguptaka, the Kashyapiya, the Mahishasaka, the Mulasarvastivadin, the Tamrashatiya, and the Vibhajyavada. The Aryamahasamghika gave rise to the Haimavata, the Lokottaravada, the Prajñaptivada, the Purvashaila, and the Uttarashaila. Likewise the Aryasammitiya subdivided into the Avantaka, the Kaurukullika, and the Vatsiputriya. Lastly, the Aryasthavira divided into the Abhayagirivasin, the Jetavaniya, and the Mahaviharavadin.26 The Theravada emerged within Mahasthavira or Aryasthavira, having been established by Moggaliputta Tissa in the “Council of the Pali School” that King Ashoka pressed him to organize, which congregated around 244 BC.27 The Council excluded the monks opposed to Moggaliputta Tissa’s views. Then Tissa, in his Kathavatthu, attempted to address and “refute” some of the excluded monks’ views and afterwards his text assimilated into the Abhidharma of the Theravada. The new doctrine was adopted by the monks in Ceylon who held to the Mahaviharavada. The Theravada then later divided into the Mahishasaka and the Kashyapiya.

In Tibet, the original eighteen schools and Theravada were not taught and thus are not mentioned in their texts on the philosophical institutions of Buddhism. Since Theravada isn’t listed amongst the eighteen original schools, some Indian scholars do not consider it a separate system and thus classify it amongst the Sarvastivadin or “realistic”. However this is mistaken, as the Sarvastivada, unlike the Theravada, held the doctrine that arhats were imperfect and fallible.28

Of the range of views concerning the attainment of arhat, among the many doctrinal differences between the early schools, the Bahushrutiya, the Kashyapiya, the Lokottaravada, and the Prajñaptivada regarded arhats as imperfect, fallible, and still subject to ignorance, while emphasizing the supermundane and transcendent nature of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.29 30 The Kashyapiya asserted that arhats have not entirely eliminated desire, and so their "perfection" is incomplete, and thus it is possible for them to relapse. The Dharmaguptaka considered arhats and Buddhas to have the same liberation but achieved through entirely different paths. The Mahishasaka and the Theravada considered arhats and Buddhas much more similar to one another.

In the Theravada, the individual is entirely an illusion composed of the five aggregates (skandha), which are form (rupa), consciousness (vijñana), mental formations (samskara), sensations (vedana), and recognition (samjña). This schools asserts that what is considered “mental” is comprised of indivisible mental events which are not in polar opposition to the “physical” world. Following, the “physical” world is made up of atomic dynamic processes, opposed to atoms as concrete and discrete static units. Theravada asserts that nirvana is the only unmade, unborn, and unconditioned phenomenon, and so it is not attainable through producing, constructing, or applying conditioning practices. Therefore nirvana is found through a path of dismantling and undoing the made and conditioned or “tearing-down one” (apachayagami), “by bringing about a deficiency in those conditions which tend to produce birth and death”.31 32



The Four Truths of the First Promulgation


A short while after his Awakening, Shakyamuni Buddha reflected deeply on and found answers to a range of questions, of them he realized the “Three marks of existence".33 34 The Three marks are (1) (anicca) everything is in a constant state of change, nothing is permanent, (2) (duhkha) that "unpleasantness" exists everywhere in samsara, and (3) (anatta) that everything is devoid of a "self".With this knowledge Shakyamuni then delineated the “Four Noble Truths”, which comprised the first teaching of the princely Buddha, which was first given to his former ascetic friends and thereby establishing the first Buddhist order of monks.35 36 The normative characterization of the original presentation is as such: (1) Life is characterized by dissatisfaction and unpleasantness (duhkha). (2) The cause of dissatisfaction and unpleasantness is craving (trishna), such as craving for pleasure (kama-trishna), thirst-for-existence (bhava-trishna) as in the the basic compulsion to allege, establish, and sustain oneself as an inherently real, valuable, isolated individual, and to fill the accompanying sensation of lack, or when this thirst or craving shifts toward self-annihilation (vibhava-trishna). (3) If the causes of dissatisfaction and unpleasantness are uprooted, then the cessation of the essential craving that is trishna, and its associated dissatisfaction and unpleasantness, end in nirvana. (4) There is marga, a way leading to this end, to nirvana, the Path for putting an end to the basic craving and thus to dissatisfaction and unpleasantness.

The Fourth Truth, as illustrated, is the Path that allows the first two Truths to be overcome and the third Truth to be attained, which is explained in terms of the famed “Eightfold Path,” consisting of: (1) right view (samyagdrishti), meaning adhering to key Buddhist concepts and uprooting relevant false views; (2) right thought (samyaksamkalpa), consisting in the development of an attitude focused on following the Buddhist Way to its final haven; (3) right speech (samyagvak), meaning to avoid harsh words, lying, slander and gossip, and to cultivate their opposites; (4) right behavior (samyakkarmanta) consisting in the disciplined accordance with whatever precepts one has taken up; (5) right livelihood (samyagajiva), meaning avoiding occupations harmful to beings; (6) right effort (samyagvyayama), consisting in doing good and avoiding evil, adopting and maintaining the mind-set aimed at liberation from samsara, and implementing the practices in-line with this focus; (7) right mindfulness (samyaksmriti), meaning the persistent presence and awareness of mind governing one’s behavior by it; (8) right meditation (samyaksamadhi), consisting in the proper capacity to fix the mind in absorptions eventually leading to liberation.37 These eight aspects when taken literally, apply to the Path of renunciation, or the Sutra vehicle (Sutrayana).



The Oasitic Triumphwagen, A Mahayanan Conspectus

Succumbing to King Ashoka’s political pressure to establish an official, newly-orthodoxical taxonomy and by extension suppress neo-heterodoxy, Moggaliputta Tissa held the “Council of the Pali Schools”, which purposefully excluded monks opposing Tissa’s views. Due to this attempt to create a hegemonic orthodoxy, a great schism occurred within the Buddhist community, one side of which, eventually becoming known as Mahayana or “Great Vehicle”, rejected many of the newly-"orthodoxical” views in favor of upholding and expanding upon the doctrines of some of the original schools, such as the Bahushrutiya, the Kashyapiya, the Lokottaravada, and the Prajñaptivada. The doctrinal differences related to the schism range from rules of ethical conduct, the attainment of the arhats and its proximity to Bodhisattvahood and Buddhahood, and the true and original nature of samsara and mind. Ironically, the “heterodoxical” side of the schism, the Mahayana, grew to be by far the largest branch of Buddhism, having several hundred thousand texts to its collective name.

Mahayana, meaning “great” or “wider” vehicle, is designated this name because its aim is to work for the liberation of all sentient beings, opposed to that of Hinayana and its search centered around personal liberation in regards to unpleasantness. While the latter may be considered self-centric or even selfish, the former may be considered altruistic or self-unconcerned, as for example it is said that there is a type of Bodhisattva that refuses to enter nirvana as long as there are sentient beings which have not entered it. “Great” or “wider” vehicle also refers to how Mahayana places privileged status on intentions and their nature over acts, thereby resulting in greater personal responsibility and individual freedom of choice. Additionally, unlike Hinayana, which is based much more strictly on the “principle of renunciation”, where one commits oneself to a set of vows and avoids various acts, Mahayana tempers the principle of renunciation with the “principle of training”, which entails the commitment to break any vow, any prohibition, and to go beyond any personal limitation when necessary in order to benefit sentient beings. While Hinayana’s emphasis on the renunciation principle consists of withdrawing from stimulus that provokes the passions, which is much more easily achieved through adopting a monastic life, however, through the application of antidotes, Mahayana places great emphasis on neutralizing the passions that are already active. Therefore the Bodhisattva Path can be practiced without radical changes made to one’s lifestyle, providing considerable flexibility and ease, especially to lay practitioners. These differences in emphasis can be understood more easily when considering that Hinayana explicitly views the cause of unpleasantness to be due to a basic craving, Mahayana makes clear this basic craving is due to a basic ignorance and delusion.38

Furthermore, unlike Hinayana, in which primary emphasis is placed on the cognitive shift resulting from realizing the lack of an independent “I” or self-being, and its corresponding attainment of personal liberation from unpleasantness, Mahayana places emphasis on realizing the lack of independent self-being of all phenomena, having its goal as the cognitive shift occurring upon such a realization, and by extension, becoming aware of the nature of reality and attaining the three aspects of Buddhahood (the dharmakaya, sambhogakaya and the nirmanakaya).39 40

The schools of the Mahayana can be classified threefold: (1) Gradual Mahayana, primarily represented by Yogachara and Madhyamaka. In general the gradual Mahayana is established on the progressive cultivation of the “Mind of Awakening” or bodhicitta. Specifically, the bodhicitta of intention, which includes the training the “four immeasurable catalysts of awakening”, and the bodhicitta of action, which consists of training in the Paramitas.41 In this system, there generally is an emphasis placed on training in mental pacification and then insight subsequently, while realization here entails the manifestation of an absolute wisdom inseparable from compassion, which has been explained by some schools in this system to be the very realization of the emptiness of substance.42 43 (2) Sudden Mahayana, most recognizably the Ch’an or Zen. Sudden Mahayana does not try to produce the qualities of realization, and generally rejects gradual training and mimetic methods, instead employing skillful means directed at promoting the sudden and spontaneous unveiling of absolute wisdom. In this system there is no separation between mental pacification and insight practice, for the simultaneous manifestation of both is considered to naturally bring about the Mahayanan qualities effortlessly. (3) Eclectic, such as the Hua-yen or the T’ien-t’ai, which utilize teachings and methods of both gradual Mahayana and Sudden Mahayana. However, schools explicitly rooting themselves in this eclecticism are virtually extinct. With this being said, some of the most decisive teachers of the gradual Mahayana, such as Nagarjuna, Ashvagosha, Vasubandhu, and other Indian masters are suggested to have had sudden Mahayana as their inner practice.

The Mahayana upholds the Second Promulgation stemming from both Shakyamuni’s teachings at Vulture’s Peak and the Prajnaparamita, inherited by the Mahayanan teacher, philosopher, and mystic Nagarjuna.44 The Second Promulgation emphasizes the fact that the trishna that was named the cause of unpleasantness and dissatisfaction, is actually caused by a more fundamental misapprehension, a delusion called avidya, which involves taking the insubstantial to be substantial, the dependent to exist inherently, the relative to be absolute, the empty to be self-existent. And so, in line with the Prajnaparamita, the Mahayana rejects three types of “own-being” or svabhava which are cornerstones to fundamental delusion, “essence svabhava”, meaning a property an object cannot lose or else it ceases being that very thing; “substance svabhava”, meaning something that doesn't depend on anything else; and “absolute svabhava”, meaning some final or true nature of something. Thus the Second Promulgation emphasized the emptiness of phenomena as lacking self-existence, opposed to merely the emptiness of beings. Additionally the Mahayana contains the Third Promulgation, stemming from both Shakyamuni’s teachings at Mount Malaya and the teachings of Maitreyanatha, Asanga, and Asanga’s brother, Vasubandhu. Shakyamuni’s teachings here emphasized practice in the context of mind and experience, neglecting to posit a self-existing, external material world and its nature. Not being based in a mere intellectual theory of reality, these teachings were based on Shakyamuni’s Awakening and practice as its basis. The Third Promulgation is divided into lower and higher interpretations, the lower rejected a physical world in favor of asserting that all was mind or experience, that all phenomena of experience was illusory in that it was representation or information only, and that they were dependent and conditioned by other factors; the higher interpretations assert that phenomenal existence is utterly unconditioned in its totality, that only our experience of it is conditioned by our deluded thoughts, which we become confused by, and that through this failure of interpretation, we come to live in a wholly conditioned sphere, samsara.45



Transmogrifatory Allotropia, A Tantric Digest

Over the stretch of time, there are and have been highly realized yogis having the capacities sufficient to connect to other experiential dimensions, who enter into visionary experiences and witness great manifestations of a sambhogakaya deity(s). Upon such visionary experiences and interactions with luminous deities, wisdom teachings are transmitted, received and then in turn usually relayed to others in the human dimension, many of which collectively gave rise to the outer Tantras. Similarly over time, there are and have been yogis who are struck with teachings directly inherited from a non-dual non-visionary connection to the dharmakaya; which generally resulted in the inner Tantras.46 Aside from the Tantric teachings being inherited by mahasiddhas, some sources claim an unbroken esoteric Tantric lineage extending all the way back to Shakyamuni, where teachings were passed to select individuals to be revealed publicly much later, after having being passed secretly from generation to generation.47

Tantrayana or “continuity” vehicle is interchangeable with the other Path of transformation vehicles that derive from the Tantras, such as the Vajrayana, meaning the “unalterable” vehicle and the Guhyamantrayana, meaning the “secret sacred words” vehicle, and so the Tantrayana can also be rendered vehicle “of the Tantras” when it designates the consolidation of these mentioned three into one vehicle, for classification purposes.48 The general aim of the Path of transformation Tantras is to bring about exposure to the fundamental nature of reality, and so Buddhahood, at a highly expedited pace. The methods often involve higher risk than the lessor yanas (Hinayana and Mahayana), but this is considered a worthy price for Buddhahood in a single lifetime (where in the Hinayana and Mahayana, this is by no means guaranteed). The source of this path-catalyst is the fact that this Path is said to relate principally to the energy and modulating that energy to modify the vision and awareness/experience in general, therefore direct observation of the organism’s subtle energetic system is required.49 Considering all of this, this Path and its vehicles requires a much higher capacity than the Path of renunciation (the Hinayana and Mahayana vehicles) which is accessible to all kinds of people, while in order to practice this path and further, to bring the Path of transformation to fruition, one must have uncommonly high capacity and skill, and the ability to apprehend and work with the subtle luminous dimension of the essence of elements.

Tantric practice is rooted in the bodhisattva ideal found in the Mahayana and the notion of Bodhicitta-Samantabhadra, which is the single and true condition of the totality of reality.50 Despite the fact that all experiences are fundamentally empty, in that they totally lack svabhava, experiences continue to arise, therefore Tantric practice seeks to discovery its primordial nature, which is both empty and simultaneously luminous (in that it manifests experience). Inner Tantras explain the true condition of all reality in terms of two indivisible aspects, that of “primordial purity”, which corresponds to emptiness, and “spontaneous perfection”, corresponding to the spontaneous manifesting of experience and its functionality. Often compared to a rosary to demonstrate the manifest luminous continuity of the true condition in the context of time, where the beads represent experience and the empty spaces, where there is only thread, between the beads represent the spaces between one experience and the next. Tantrism emphasizes the continuity of luminosity in that it words with both the succession of beads and the spaces between, negating neither in favor of the other.

Instead of trying to renounce and reject the passions, the Tantric Path of transformation seeks to transform them into their pure forms. The transformation of the burden of the passions into fuel for Awakening, is compared to alchemists who transform coarse metals into precious metals. Utilizing the “principle of method”, it is like using a poison of passions to neutralize their root, compared to manufacturing anti-venom serum from snake venom, to introducing the causative agent of a disease into the body in order to induce immunity, and to using poisons in the transformation of metals in alchemy. As mentioned, the use of poisons in this manner always involves some risk. Every instance where passion arises contains two rapid moments, the initial one that is “pure” and the subsequent one in which it becomes “impure”. The Tantric Path involves stabilizing the initial moment and the greater clarity that manifests from it, before the second moment follows and the energy becomes unchanged and impure, which obfuscates and distracts us. In a general sense, by visualizing ourself or others as deities to various degrees and in different respects, we can keep the passion in its first “pure” moment, thereby transformation the subsequent energy that would usually cause harm, obfuscation, and distraction, instead is mobilized as fuel to both maintain the visualization and to bring about and remain in a non-dual state without distraction. In turn the visualization and non-duality keep further passions from arising, as passions cannot arise without dualism, and the conception of an attitude of some sort of a subject toward and object, therefore the passions are a function of dualism and cannot arise when non-duality has been made manifest.51 Following in this view, the Tantras teach that the true nature of each passion is a sort of primordial wisdom, which is the purity into which it should be transformed. An example from one system, is that the true nature of ignorance is the wisdom of the dharmadhatu or all-encompassing panoramic wisdom, that of anger is mirror-like wisdom, that of pride if equalizing wisdom, that of desire is discriminating wisdom, and that of jealousy and envy is all-accomplishing wisdom.

The vehicles of the tantra are classified into two different groups, according to the functional principles on which they are based. The first of these two groups is the “outer Tantras”/”lower Tantras” which make up the path of purification and that comprise the Kriyatantra, the Ubhayatantra (also called Charyatantra), and the Yogatantra.52 While the second group is the “inner Tantras”/”higher Tantra” constituting the path of transformation most properly speaking, referring to either the Mahayogatantra and Anuyogatantra of the Nyingmapa classification or the Anuttarayogatantra of the Sarmapa classification. The Tantric teachings are transmitted in accordance with the four types of disciples.53 The first type as well as those with inferior capacity are taught Kriyatantra, for the second type as well as those with medium capacity the Ubhayatantra is taught, the third type as well as those with superior capacity the Yogatantra is taught, while the fourth type as well as those with supreme capacity are taught the Anuttarayogatantra. Additionally, in general accordance with the inclinations of the four types of disciples, those more obscured by ignorance are taught the Kriyatantra, those who are more obscured and conditioned by anger are taught the Ubhayatantra, those who are individuals with undefined characteristics are taught the Yogatantra, and those who feel greater attachment and lust are taught the Anuttarayogatantra.



Outer Tantras, The Path of Purification

The Path of purification’s basis is that phenomena appearing at the relative level are subject to being purified, and that the ultimate sphere, consisting in the naturally pure nature of mind, is the basis of the purification aimed at.54 The Tantras of this Path advise that one manifest an outwardly pure livelihood and meditate on the great emptiness or “suchness” (tathata) of the deities, relating to them in one way or another according to the specific level of outer Tantra that one is practicing. The superiority of the outer Tantras compared to the Sutrayana Path of renunciation lies in that the outer Tantras clearly point out the fact that our true condition is the Vajra-nature, comprising the three kayas of Buddhahood and that it has always been actual opposed to merely a seed of Buddhahood, that has to sprout and mature into actual Buddhahood thanks to causes and secondary conditions. Secondly, the outer Tantras take the deity as the manifestation on the relative plane of the absolute nature of the dharmakaya beyond birth and cessation, here then the relative is directly the manifestation of the unconditioned nature and the very basis of the Path, rather than being merely an impure and conditioned vision needing to be overcome or rejected. Therefore the practice of these Tantras is based on the clarity aspect of direct knowledge of, and communion with, the primordial nature, the spontaneous perfect aspect of the non-dual base of reality, which is not utilized by the Sutrayana. Following in this line of thought, the outer Tantras speak of, by means of ordinary insight of the Tantras, that one does not renounce the relative and that by supreme insight one realizes that the absolute is not something to achieve.


1. View of the Kriyatantra: According to the Kriyatantra, in the absolute there is neither birth nor cessation. One is to recognize the absolute in the form of the deity and that on the relative plane one is to meditate on it. The relative is considered valuable here rather than viewed as an impure vision to be overcome. This system asserts that in it realization is achieved mainly by means of the combination of ritual objects and ritual preconditions together with primary and secondary realization factors, namely the image of the deity, the symbol of the state of non-dual awakened mind, recitation of the mantra, observing the conventions of cleanliness, observing the astrological cycles, etc. The “entrance gate” here, that which guides and leads to enlightenment, comes from three purities, purity of deity and mandala, purity of ritual objects and substances, and purity of mantras and concentration. This includes ritualistic action, including the vows that involve reciting the mantra, not associating in various ways with those who break the Tantric vow, and always behaving without distraction. The view is based on the relationship between deity and contemplative as being basically lord (deity) and subject (contemplative). Things renounced in Kriyatantra include meat and alcoholic beverages, while one is actively promoting attachment to the practice of concentration on the deity.

The superiority of this system over the lower vehicles is in that without deeming the relative plane to be true, it is brought into the Path by means of concentration. (1) Concentrations on the state of the non-dual body as the form of deity, all phenomena of form are recognized as the deity of form. As such, without renouncing form practitioners transcend conceptual elaboration and signs concerning form, such as the limitations of unity and multiplicity. (2) Concentrations on the state of the non-dual energy/voice as the essence of the seed syllable, everything audible is recognized as the deity of sound, so all sounds become the recitation of mantra. Each and every sound is heard as the sound of the deity. As such, without renouncing sound, the practitioner transcends conceptual elaboration and signs concerning sound, such as the limitations of arising and ceasing. (3) Concentrations on the state of the non-dual mind as the symbolic attribute, all thinking is seen to be the meditation deity, so that thoughts do not distract or deviate from meditative stability. Without renouncing thoughts, the practitioner transcends the limitations of that which is dependently arisen, the ordinary relative condition, for nothing arising, originated, conditioned, and made exists in the relative sphere here. The practitioner regards the wisdom deity (jnanasattva) as lord, utilizing awareness that is the manifestation of the absolute plane, the practitioner is transformed into servant in the form of the promise deity (samaysattva), it is said that upon this, all interruptions cease and that supreme insights and capacities are obtained.

There are mainly two types of methods of practicing Kriyatantra, that which mainly applies purity and that which mainly applies concentration. The former focuses on at least three cycles of ritual purification a day and higher standards of cleanliness, consuming particular substances, and meditating on their own body as the form of the deity. The latter method of practicing the Kriyatantra, is simply that by utilizing methods involved with the creation stage and the subtle completion stage, the practitioner meditates on the deity with the emphasized visualization of the radiation and reabsorption of all phenomena, so that in this way the contemplative comes to concentrate on thoughts, sounds, and forms as the non-dual mind, the non-dual voice/energy, and the non-dual body of the deity.55


2. View of the Ubhayatantra/Charyatantra: The Ubhayatantra follows the Kriya in asserting that in the absolute there is neither birth nor cessation. It also, like the Kriya, recognizes this absolute in the form of the deity, while on the relative plane meditating on it, which in addition is recognized as the unconditioned itself rather than being impure phenomena to overcome. This system asserts that following in this way, realization is attained by virtue of the concentrating on the four characteristic conditions and of the conjoined power of the ritual objects and requisites together with primary and secondary factors of realization (as with Kriya) etc. The Ubhaya is called the vehicle “of the Tantra of both” as it applies the behavior of Kriya and has the same view as Yogatantra, and so is also called the “neutral” vehicle. Unlike the Kriya, which sees the relationship between deity and practitioner as being like lord and subject, the Ubhaya sees the deity as an elder brother or elder dharmic-friend. After purifying the body, energy, and mind by virtue of ablutions and the conventions of cleanliness, by visualizing the factors of realization etc., it practices the Sadhana of the non-dual “Supreme Mandala”, etc.56 Supreme mandala here is the complete creation of the mandala with the central deity fully formed, “Supreme Action” is the visualization of the activities performed by the deity, such as the purifying the impure dimensions etc. This process refers to two of the three phases, first being the contemplation of preparation, including transforming oneself into the deity, and then contemplation of the supreme mandala, which refers to the complete creation of mandala with the summoning of the wisdom deity in front of oneself, and finally the contemplation of the supreme action, which refers to the visualization of the activities performed by the actual yi-dam deity, such as purifying the impure dimensions. To conclude then, the means of realization in Ubhaya are: (1) the five factors of realization of the Yogatantra, (2)the concentration having four characteristic conditions, which are visualizing oneself in the form of the deity; the deity in front of oneself; the syllables of the mantra residing in one’s heart and in the deity’s, here symbolizing and provoking inseparability; and (3), the ritual objects and requisites, as well as the power of the primary and secondary factors. This system asserts that all of this enables realization of the absolute state beyond birth and cessation.57


3. View of the Yogatantra: The Yogatantra practices without ascribing fundamental importance to external ritual exercises, instead meditating on the male and female deities that represent the absolute and unconditioned state beyond birth and cessation. It practices concentration with the goal to make their own state as wholly pure as that of the deities. The aim is the direct realization of our original unmodified condition, to realize that one’s own mind is the deity. Put another way, that one’s own mind is in truth the unconditioned and utterly pure nature-of-mind, the non-dual base-awareness which constitutes the absolute condition, which in this case manifests as the deity. This system asserts that realization is achieved mainly through meditating on the mudras of the forms of the realized ones. The entrance gate consists in the five factors of realization; the non-dual view involving the initial view of the deity and oneself as being like friends or siblings and the final recognition that one’s own mind is the deity; the vow to be observed includes not failing the deity, not failing one’s teacher and spiritual companions, and not failing one’s own mind; the conduct is taken to transcend the acceptance and rejection (though in practice one still does not engage physically in the behaviors that the Path of renunciation considers “impure”). Considering all of this, and since the visualization includes deities engaged in sexual union that arouse passion and at the same time providing the means for transforming it, this vehicle clearly contains elements of both the Path of purification and the Path of transformation. However, when considering that this vehicle only visualizes the sexual union rather than directly participating in sexual acts, this vehicle does not apply the methods of transformation directly.

This system can be subdivided into the system that mainly applies action and the system that mainly applies meditation. The former performs ritual actions, such as that of the Supreme Action and/or the the Supreme Mandala. “Supreme Action” is subdivided into (1) minor action, in which attainment is sought by one of the ritual practices and which thus involves assiduous worship through offerings, tormas, fire rites, recitation of the essential mantra etc., and (2) supreme action, in which these rituals are practiced as secondary factors for realization of the mandala. The practitioners of the supreme mandala assert that by means of ritual from the earth consecration rite as the base of the mandala, up to receiving the initiation, the individual can attain non-dual Awakening. The latter, the system that mainly applies concentration, apply the five factors of realization after having done the initial meditation of preparation and then the meditation of total purity. The five factors of realization are (1) of the method and prajna by means of the sun and moon seat that emerges from meditation on the sun and moon one on the top of the other on a lotus seat;(2) of purity of the sense bases by means of the non-dual body-form complete with ornaments; (3) of sounds, words, and names by means of the chakra of the non-dual voice; (4) the factor of realization in the dimension of one’s specific Buddha family by means of the symbolic attributes of the mind such as the vajra, wheel jewel and so on; (5) of the purity of the ultimate nature of phenomena by means of the pure wisdom deity. This system claims that by meditating on the above factors, that on the outer level the five aggregates and five elements are purified, on the inner level karma and the five emotions are purified, and on the secret level the five objects and five senses are purified, so that one realizes the state of Awakening of the five families. Due to meditating on the deity as a sibling or friend with the aim of recognizing that one’s own mind is the deity, one learns not to expect anything from the deity in light of the recognition that one’s mind posses the insights and siddhis, and that they emerge from oneself, additionally to not expect anything bad from oneself as one’s own mind possesses the nature of the deity and the capacity to manifest the illusory body. Upon acknowledging non-duality between the deity to visualize and oneself, not even the names and signs of the relative and absolute exist any longer. As such this system has superiority over all lower vehicles. This system asserts that by engaging in these practices along with the meditation on the four mudras (the Samayamudra, aspect of the non-dual mind; the Dharmamudra, the aspect of the non-dual energy/voice; Karmamudra, the accomplishment of the actions concerning radiation and reabsorption etc.; and Mahamudra, the aspect of the non-dual body), that it is possible to achieve the supreme state of the absolute beyond birth and cessation.58 By means of the mudras, the true and unconditioned nature of one’s own three doors, that of body, energy/speech, and mind, is supposed to be realized in their non-dual essences as well as activity as the non-dual activity of the deity.59



Inner Tantras, The Path of Transformation

Comprising the highest category of the Tantras of the Path of transformation, it is divided into two classifications, the Sarmapa system of classification in which contains a single category, that of the higher Tantra, called the Anuttarayogatantra, while the Nyingmapa system of classification considers there to be three categories of inner Tantra, two of which are the Mahayogatantra and the Anuyogatantra, which are properly part of the Path of transformation, while the third is the Atiyogatantra, which is not based on the principle of transformation and therefor isn’t belonging to the Path of transformation, but constitutes the Path of spontaneous liberation that will be considered afterwards. The the greater two vehicles within the Nyingmapa system of classification, the Anuyogatantra and the Atiyogatantra, are considered greater due to more thoroughly representing the principle of spontaneous perfection.60 61

The Higher Tantra of the Sarmapa, the Anuttarayogatantra: The Anuttarayogatantra has the following characteristics, (1) one trains to perceive the totality of phenomenal existence as the mandala of the deity; (2) the transformation whereby one visualizes oneself as a deity is practiced in a gradual manner; (3) it contains a “Path of liberation” and a “Path of method”, the latter of which comprises a generation/creation stage in which one develops the visualization of oneself as the deity and one’s dimension to be the mandala of the deity, and a perfection/completion stage where one contemplates “total bliss” as indivisible from emptiness. In the generation stage, after inducing a state of undifferentiated voidness, one gradually builds up the visualization where the inseparability of clarity (corresponding to the visualization) and emptiness (the deity and the rest of the transformation are visualized as being intangible, like a rainbow, and totally lacking svabhava) is made manifest. Here one meditates on the union of one’s (body, energy/voice, and mind) with the three vajras of the deities (nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya and dharmakaya), with major emphasis mainly being placed on the generation of the visualization of the mandala by means of the “three samadhis”.62 While in the completion stage, by means of specific practices one contemplates the inseparability of supreme bliss and emptiness, some of the practices are applied in solitude and involve working with the energetic system in connection with physical yoga in order to generate bodily heat, while others may comprise erotic union with a consort in which heat is spontaneously generated. According to this system, in the completion stage one gains access to the primordial gnosis or primordial wisdom of absolute bliss generally by means of two alternative trainings, which are (1) the one working with the “upper doors”, in which total bliss is obtained by means of yantra yoga-related practices like dynamic asanas and breath-control that generate heat in the navel chakra, which ascends through the “central channel” and “melts” the amrita/ambrosia that is visualized at the crown of the head, so that the molten amrita may descend successively through the chakras and channels, giving rise to progressive degrees of pleasure; and (2), the one working with the “lower entrances” (in which heat and the ensuing total bliss arise spontaneously as a result of mystic erotic-union with a Tantric consort).63 The practice of the completion stage increases the bio-energetic volume (thig-le), causing the individual’s focus of attention to widen, becoming more and more panoramic and permeable, and thus the insubstantiality or voidness of all entities may more easily and thoroughly be realized. Additionally, this system asserts that the total pleasure mitigates and relieves the stanayogatah, the spasm-like contractions inherent craving and the illusion of self-existence and substantiality. Most importantly, even in the briefest moment, the impossibility to apprehend the flow of bliss that cannot be confined into limits and therefore cannot be conceptualized, which is like space, is claimed to allow one to realize the true meaning of the absence of characteristics equal to space, and so achieve the final goal. The idea here is that considering the ungraspable character of the flow of bliss and the co-emerging panoramification and permeabilization of conscious attention and its focus, if questioning one’s experience in the right ways, there may be a possibility that the fundamental delusion will spontaneously dissolve, so that the illusion of selfhood and substantiality may be overcome in the unveiling of the primordial non-dual gnosis that discloses the unconditioned and unmade nature of our selves and of the entire universe, the true and original purity.64


The Inner Tantra of the Nyingmapa, the Mahayogatantra: The Mahayogatantra shares in common some of the characteristics of the Anuttarayogatantra, including: (1) that one trains to perceive the totality of phenomenal existence as the mandala of the deity; (2) that the transformation of involving visualizing oneself as a deity is practiced in a gradual manner; (3) that it contains a “Path of liberation” and a “Path of method”; etc. In the Mahayogatantra, two sections of teachings exist, the “Section of the Sadhanas” and the “Section of the Tantras”. The former arriving through two lineages, that of long linear transmission and that the short transmission by means of a terma or “treasure-teaching”, and is limited to the Path of method, while the latter is divided into both Path of method and Path of liberation. The fruit in this vehicle is called Dzogchen and explained as the Vajra-nature using terms that are properly Dzogchen, such as primordial purity and spontaneous perfection. This vehicle teaches to apply gradually the three non-dual contemplations: (1) the non-dual concentration on the essential nature, which consists in abiding in a state of non-dual equanimity free of thoughts, in a pure and limpid condition that is pervading like space; (2) the non-dual contemplation of the total vision, which corresponds to the arising of an impartial compassion, like a magical illusion, towards all beings failing to understand the essential nature, and who nonetheless are realized to be equally illusory, staying clearly and without distraction in this non-dual state; (3) non-dual contemplation of the cause, which depending on the two preceding ones consists in visualizing a syllable (such as AH or HUM) as the essence of the wisdom of the state of rigpa, compared to fish jumping out of clear water, meditating on the three divine manifestations (sattwa) that emanate from the syllable, one within the other. It is said that in the Mahayoga, the entrance is the three non-dual contemplations; the view recognizing whatever appears as the male and female deities; the basic vows include keeping the body, speech, and mind in the view and transformation. The fruit here is the state of method and wisdom (here the meaning of which also entails energy) beyond union and separation (here method and prajna are not two different things that can unite or separate), realization is attained by the meditation that creates the mandala step by step after gradually applying the three non-dual contemplations. Though in both Mahayogatantra and Anuttarayogatantra the training involves building the mandala in a gradual manner, Mahayogatantra is considered by some teachers to be utterly beyond Anuttarayogatantra. One of the reasons is that Mahayogatantra considers that the mandala is spontaneously perfect and that this true nature is where cause and fruit are inseparable and wherein all beings have always been non-dually awake. The fact that all beings have always been non-dually awake is called “Awakening in Nature”, where there are three stages of which, the paternal and maternal causes for existence of a being, consisting of sperm,ovum, and consciousness; the “physical” and “mental” elements that produce the body structure; and the body-mind system as support for the the mandala of deities. Then there is “Awakening in Understanding”, which refers to the levels of the vidhyadharas, when one really understands the original condition and therefore the fact that all beings have always been non-dually awake. Finally, there is “Awakening in Realization”, which is the actual realization of the Awakened condition beyond all interpretations in terms of concepts and therefore beyond the subject-object duality. This last type of Awakening is taken by the Mahayogatantra to be the manifestation of absolute truth having the characteristic of the non-dual fruit.

The Mahayogatantra involves thirteen “levels of the bodhisattva” (bhumi) rather than the eleven of the Mahayana. Mahayogatantrayana, despite asserting that all phenomena and all beings are already Awake, asserts that in order to effectively realize this, one has to train the mind in the three levels Awakening of the Mahayoga, which respectively make up the eleventh, the twelfth, and the thirteenth bhumi. To train for the total light bhumi, which is the 11th and in the Mahayana is the last bhumi and considered by Mahayana to correspond to unsurpassed total awakening (anuttara samyak sambodhi), one directly practices the non-conceptual non-dual contemplation of the essential nature, instead of undertaking the progressive Sutric training through the four paths and fist ten levels.65 To train the bhumi “of the lotus”, the 12th level, one meditates on the inseparability of prajna, energy, and compassion through the non-dual contemplation of total vision. Finally, to train for the 13th level, the bhumi “of the chakra of letters”, one meditates on the seed-syllable of the non-dual contemplation of the cause in order to then gradually create and become familiar with the mandala.66 67.


The Inner Tantra of the Nyingmapa, the Anuyogatantra: The Anuyogatantra has no real equivalent in the Sarmapa system of classification and is considered to be superior to both the Anuttarayogatantras of the Sarmapa and the Mahayogatantras of the Nyingmapa.68 Just like the Anuttarayogatantra and Mahayogatantra however, it has two paths, one of method and that of liberation. In the Path of method of the Anuyogatantra there is a generation/creation stage and a completion/perfection stage, unlike the Mahayoga and Anuttarayoga it is more directly based on spontaneous perfection, as transformation is instantaneous and the sensation of being the deity has priority over the details of the visualization to a much greater degree than in any of the three Anuttarayogatantras, which means there is a far greater emphasis on sensation than on clarity.69 Additionally, the individual remains indivisible from the deity, opposed to dissolving the visualization or sensation of being the deity. The Anuyogatantrayana is better served to allow the Path of transformation to be practiced effectively in daily life due to this, for when passions arise in daily life, one can instantly take oneself as the deity and use the energy of the passion for sustaining the transformation, opposed to laboriously having to enter into meditative absorption characterized by emptiness, then develop the visualization of ourself as the deity step by step, then to maintain consciousness of all the details of the visualization, and then finally to dissolve the visualization and remain in a state of emptiness free from characteristics. In this vehicle it is said that on the absolute level one never separates from the unborn and uninterrupted manifestation of the male and female deities, or from the total intrinsically empty expanse of the space in which all phenomena manifest (dharmadhatu) which cannot be understood in terms of conceptual extremes and can only be apprehended non-conceptually. On the relative level, through a distinct equanimity meditation while visualizing the dimension of form of the realized ones, it is said that one attains realization. As mentioned, in the Anuyoga, one neither constructs the visualization of the deities step by step nor does one dissolve the visualization, Rather, at the beginning one is supposed to instantly visualize the deities in the instant non-dual presence of awake awareness (rigpa), that panoramic awareness being indivisible from the total empty expanse of the dharmadhatu, with certainty concerning the fact that the deities never ceased being there and so that one is not creating anything. Then, one does not formally dissolve the deities into emptiness, but rather continues in the state of rigpa while maintaining the non-dual panoramic awareness of the dharmadhatu with certainty of the fact that the deities continue to be the embodiment of the true nature of all reality.
This method has been transmitted for those who have the capacity to remain clearly and wholly in the single instantaneous non-dual pure non-conceptual presence called rigpa. All the aspects of meditation and practice established in the Yogatantra are perfectly perfected in the same instant in the Anuyoga.70 This perfection of the instantaneous presence of rigpa is called the ‘method of completion’. It doesn’t separate from the sense that all animate and inanimate phenomena are the state of spontaneous perfection of Awakening in the spontaneously perfect mandala of the images, which embodies the true nature of the absolute condition beyond birth and cessation, and not separating from the state in which the true condition of the primordial expanse containing all phenomena, which is free from and overcoming the extremes of all concepts, has unveiled. It is described as “without separating from the two”, because without separating from these two, one meditates clearly on the aggregates, constituents and sense bases on the mandala of higher contemplation, this is called the ‘single clarity’. It is described as “abiding indivisibly as one”, meaning that whatever appears and whatever one meditates on, is indivisible in the empty dimension of bodhicitta beyond birth and cessation, the ultimate nature of phenomena. It is also described with the statement “three clearly distinct”, meaning (1) that even though one meditates on the mandala in which everything is spontaneously perfect, the specific meditation is clearly distinct from other contemplations; (2) that even though the colors and attributes etc. of the deity manifest clearly in the mandala of higher contemplation, they are clearly distinct from those of other deities; (3) that the manifestations of the central deity, consort, and surrounding retinue must be clearly distinct; these are the three clearly distinct points.71 In Anuyoga, the dharmadhatu is Samantabhadri, the feminine aspect of primordial Buddhahood that is the mandala of primordially pure space, while the self-arisen non-dual awake awareness, which may be said to correspond to the mind aspect of Buddhahood (dharmakaya), is Samantabhadra, the masculine aspect of primordial non-dual Awakening, which makes up the mandala of spontaneous perfection and that gives rise to all phenomena, which are indivisible in it. While, total pleasure is the “child”, which in symbolic terms, is said to be born as a result of the union of the two non-separable aforementioned aspects, and that corresponds to the mandala of original bodhicitta. Moreover, in the view of the Anuyoga, the primordially pure empty expanse where all phenomena manifest is associated with the female sexual organ and as such, from the standpoint of the male it is seen as the cause of the flow of bliss that arise from sexual union. Since according to the vehicle, the self-arisen non-dual awake awareness manifests upon the realization of the non-aprehendable character of this flow of bliss, Anuyoga views the empty expanse as the cause and the self-arisen awareness as effect, which corresponds to the explanation of interdependent origination, according to which contact is the cause of sensation. In the Anuyoga the bhumis are not a result of progressive training, and it is possible to go beyond the levels attained by the Mahayoga and the attain the fourteenth bhumi, called the bhumi “of total pleasure”.72



Primeval Quintessence, The Ati Dzogpa Chenpo

Several centuries after the time of Shakyamuni Buddha, a lay yogi nirmanakaya named Garab Dorje (Prahevajra), from Oddiyana and likely born 55 CE, received the Atiyogatantrayana, transmitted to him from the dharmakaya Samantabhadra and the sambhogakaya Vajrasattva, who in turn also had it transmitted from the dharmakaya Samantabhadra. While the Nyingmapa system of classification also include the Atiyogatantra, which is commonly known as Dzogchen, this vehicle isn’t part of the Path of the transformation, instead it solely constitutes the Path of spontaneous liberation. The Nyingmapa uses the term Dzogchen to also refer to the fruit of the inner Tantras, of which Atiyogatantrayana utilizes Dzogchen as an independent and autonomous vehicle by virtue of the fact that its base, path, and fruit are all Dzogchen. As such the Path of spontaneous liberation is the only Path that consists of a single vehicle, which is also referred to as Atiyana or the “primordial” vehicle and Ati Dzogpa Chenpo. Additionally, the Ati Dzogpa Chenpo texts are still correctly called Tantras, in that Tantra means continuity/luminosity and despite the Ati Dzogpa Chenpo having spontaneous liberation as its functional principle and not the principle of transformation, the Ati Dzogpa Chenpo texts are based on the continuity of primordial luminosity.73 Unlike the Path of transformation, in the Path of spontaneous liberation there is generally no generation stage where any new reality must be created or where effort is applied to change one’s vision in order to produce a wholly new way of perceiving oneself and one’s dimension, and then in a completion stage using this as a basis to non-dually see through that reality into the uncreated an and unconditioned base of reality, instead one’s visions to be left as it is, without effort. Without effort or contrivance, one non-dually sees the primordially pure and perfect nature, so the phenomena that appear through perception are not to be transformed into primordially pure and total awareness through the three contemplations, they are not to be perfected by reciting the seed syllable of the deity, for there is nothing that is not complete and perfect. In response to the “ten natures of Tantra” which are the ten fundamental points that the Path of transformation is based on, the Semde series refers to “ten absences” which are characteristic of Dzogchen: (1) there is no view on which one has to meditate; (2) there is no commitment one has to keep; (3) there is no capacity for spiritual action one has to seek; (4) there is no mandala one has to create; (5) there is no initiation one has to receive; (6) there is no Path one has to tread; (7) there are no levels of realization or bhumis one has to achieve through purification; (8) there is no conduct one has to adopt or abandon; (9) free from the beginning, self-arisen wisdom has been free of obstacles; (10) spontaneous perfection is beyond hope and fear.74 The superiority of this vehicle over all others is clear in that it involves the direct and spontaneous unveiling of the pure vision of reality and the self-manifestation of its qualities, without having to create or deconstruct realities, visualizations or the qualities of Awakening, unlike the Tantrayana Path of transformation or the Sutrayana Path of renunciation. When Guru Chowang was asked the question as to what is Dzogchen, he responded with “not to visualize”. Despite this, there are secondary practices where such things are utilized, specifically in accordance with the needs and capacities of the practitioner, as Dzogchen has become an entirely independent Path tailored for everyone and all ranges of understanding and capacity, from complete novices to yogi’s who have gone beyond the 11th bhumi.


The Base of Ati Dzogpa Chenpo: The Dzogchen, the total plentitude and perfection which is the indivisible original condition, is the base of the Atiyogatantrayana, three aspects of which can be distinguished: (1) Essence aspect or ngowo (ngo bo), which is the utterly timeless emptiness having no fixed color or form; (2) Nature aspect or rangzhin (rang bzhin), which is the utterly timeless mirror-like clarity, the condition that allows the reflection of forms and colors; (3) Energy aspect or thukje (thugs rje), which is the disposition for the uninterrupted manifestation of phenomena and the manifesting process itself, including both phenomena and neutral moments of non-manifestation. Through the nature and energy aspects, the essence aspect contains and manifests any color or form, like a screen, sky-horizon, or mirror capable of showing any image because its surface has no fixed form or color. The nature aspect is like the radiant illumination of the screen and sky-horizon or the reflectiveness of the mirror, the very condition that illuminates and shows forms and colors. The energy aspect is non-staining continuous flux of phenomena on the screen, sky-horizon, and mirror, not blocking or hindering the subsequent mirage-like reflections of form and color, and due to their utter non-substantiality, non-externality to the base, and so total nonexistence, they in no way alter the Base by their occurrence or their disappearance.

The three functional possibilities of the base are (1) samsara, where the true condition of the Base is concealed and its functionality is impaired. The manifesting of this possibility is the fundamental delusion, which in turn gives rise to the illusory impression of the three aspects of the Base being separate. One of the two cornerstones of this delusion is the vibratory activity that seems to generally emanate from or concentrated in the center of the chest at the level of the heart, which “charges” thoughts and so on with apparent meaning, truth, and importance. The second cornerstone of this delusion is the fragmented and limited focus of consciousness, which upon apprehending a segment of the sense-data continuum, the continuum of the energy aspect of the Base, submerges the rest of the continuum in some sort of a dimming, an obscuration, a sort of shrouding or veiling, a “penumbra of consciousness”. Thus emerges the delusory valuation-absolutization of the super-subtle thought structure known as the “directional threefold thought structure”, giving rise to the delusory subject-object duality. Additionally, the delusory valuation-absolutization of the subtle and coarse thought structures determines the segment of the totality now appearing as a perceptual object that is to be singled out, after which is established as being inherently this or that entity. Specifically, the first cornerstone is what gives rise to the illusory subject-object duality, and the two cornerstones in conjunction single out segments of the objectified sense-data, giving rise to the illusion that the singled out segments are inherently self-existing entities that are separate from the rest of the sense-data continuum, the continuum of the energy aspect of the Base. While caught in this delusory spell, the subject is unable to apprehend the Base’s void essence, so the submerging of the three aspects of the Base follows, the phenomena of energy appears not to be a manifestation of the single essence of the Base’s emptiness, nor appears to be arising by virtue of the nature aspect’s uninterrupted flow of manifestation. (2) The base-of-all, where neither nirvana nor samsara are active; (3) nirvana where the true condition of the Base is unveiled and its spontaneously perfect functionality is unhindered.

The energy aspect continuum of the Base manifests in three modes, (1) dang (gDangs) which is explained by the simile of a crystal ball that is pure, limpid, and clear, where there is nothing in particular and lacking the separation of an external and external dimension; (2) rolpa (Rol-pa) is depicted through the simile of a mirror that manifests reflections that do not seem to be either internal or external, emerging non-dually with the mirror’s reflectiveness itself; (3) tsel (rTsal), illustrated with the simile of a crystal prism having white light pass through, separating the light into a spectrum that in turn is projected into an external dimension, giving rise to phenomena that clearly appear to lie in an external dimension/jing. When tsel energy has manifested in the context of dang energy, all that may manifest in the dang form of energy begins to appear to lie in an internal dimension/jing, just like with reflections of external phenomena appearing in a crystal ball. Rolpa energy links the other two energy modes, featuring phenomena that totally defy any attempt to superimpose dualism and place them in an internal or an external dimension.74 The illusory subject and object duality, of an internal dimension and an external, entail the illusory separation of the continuum of energy. Upon such dualities manifesting, there emerges the appearance of a mental subject that seems to lie in an internal dimension and which looks to be essentially separate and at a fundamentally unsurmountable distance from the external dimension, however this mental subject is nothing but an aspect of the delusory valuation-absolutization of the super-subtle thought-structure known as the “directional threefold thought structure”. Once the rupture has occurred and dualities manifest, only working with the rolpa mode of manifestation of energy can definitively put an end to the illusory separation of the continuum of energy, such an end is the absolute uprooting of delusion.


The Path of Ati Dzogpa Chenpo: In order to transcend the confines of samsara, one walks a path to reach the supramundane fruit of nirvana. In various teachings, like many in the Vajrayana, assert the fruit as going beyond fear of samsara and desire/hope for nirvana, however this does not entail the fruit not being nirvana, for such a realization of the true nature of samsara and nirvana is entailed in the very manifestation of nirvana. However, in the Dzogchen teachings there are radical methods whereby samsara is totally surpassed and nirvana is uninterruptedly manifest. The three aspects of Path in all Buddhist vehicles are tawa (lTa-ba) normally meaning view; gompa (sGom-pa), meaning contemplation; and chopa (sPyod-pa) meaning regulated behavior. The Atiyana however applies these aspects in very different senses than in other Buddhist paths.

Concerning tawa, in the Dzogchen teachings it is born from direct awareness that the true nature is absolutely ineffable and unthinkable, and so tawa is not a merely theoretical view, instead referring to the direct non-conceptual undistorted non-dual view of the Base, which is our original and perfect nature, the total completeness, plenitude, and perfection. The first manifestation of the tawa, which is the entrance to this Path, is the Direct Introduction, which is the initial sudden unveiling of our original uncompounded condition of Dzogchen (total completeness, plentitude, and perfection) in the state of rigpa. Direct Introduction is nothing short of the temporary and spontaneous dissolution of delusion, the delusory valuation-absolutization of thoughts (most critically the directional threefold thought structure giving rise to the subject-object duality and so the necessary condition for the arising of the discursive passions) and other mental functions that lead to the original perfection and completeness, the Dzogchen, to be hidden from the narrowly focused consciousness which becomes associated and obsessed with an illegitimate mental subject.76 After the initial spontaneous Direct Introduction, one has to apply the methods again and again that allow the continued spontaneous manifestation of the tawa until the subsequent emergence of delusion no longer causes doubts to arise concerning the truth of the tawa insofar as the true nature of reality is the single undivided and non-conceptual condition. This doesn’t mean that one has conceptual certainty or that one has decided or concluded something concerning the nature of reality, rather that the non-conceptual certainty attained in the state of rigpa has percolated into the state of mind, so that there is no need to decide due to a spontaneous absolute certitude concerning the true nature of reality.

Concerning gompa, in the Dzogchen teachings does not refer to contemplation involving the contrived application of mind, which are activities that are functions of delusion and so sustain and confirm delusion. Contemplation therefore in the Dzogchen teachings doesn’t refer to meditation on an object by a subject, but to the continuity of the state of tawa beyond the subject-object duality, during periods of non-meditation called “sessions” (thun). During thun, as long as we remain in the gompa and so remain in the continuity of the state of the tawa, then all that arises and that otherwise would have concealed the Base’s true condition spontaneously liberates itself and therefore the propensities for the emergence of delusion are progressively neutralized, while the capacity to remain in the continuity of the tawa progressively increases.

Concerning chopa, in the Dzogchen teachings it doesn’t refer to any types of predetermined behavior that are contrived and applied. Applied and contrived behaviors and conduct are functions of delusion and so confirm and sustain delusion. Thus chopa here doesn’t refer to regulating one’s behavior with a set of rules or even general principles, as it entails a directionality of mind, instead referring to spontaneous and authentic “action through non-action” as well as the prolongation of gompa beyond thun sessions and so throughout daily activities, therefore entailing an absolute spontaneity beyond adherence to rules or principles. The principle of chopa thus means that the dichotomy in life between a contemplation state and a post-contemplation state must spontaneously be transcended. However in order to carry the state of rigpa throughout all daily activities and during sleep, one must have a state of rigpa to integrate with, which is why sessions are had and ideally in the beginning a strict retreat is undertaken. Initial failure and error are common in that one may first lose the state of rigpa again and again during daily activities, falling under the sway of delusion, however this is glorious fuel to burn away the identity-sustaining mechanisms in which we adhere to the idea and associated pride that one is an accomplished or talented practitioner, as this pride and identity-sustenance can make delusion comfortable and so can act as an obstacle to the continuation of the practice.

As such the Atiyana entails a perfect continuity between the the three aspects of the Path, which consists of unveiling the Base in the manifestation of tawa, the continuity of this unveiling through gompa and the continuity of gompa through chopa. This continuity is absent even in the highest and innermost Tantric vehicles of the Path of transformation, as for them the tawa is still conceptual and so tawa is ultimately nothing but a conceptual view, which in turn entails a disjunct between the Base, Path, and Fruit, while in Atiyana there is a perfect continuity and harmony between them.

Dzogchen teachings talk of four samayas after establishing that the supreme samaya is broken by thinking in terms of precepts, as they introduce and even sustain the subject-object duality and the delusory valuation of concepts and judgments, and so veiling the state of rigpa: (1) mepa or absence, meaning all is empty from the beginning and there is nothing to confirm; (2) chalwa (Phyal-ba) or omnipresence, meaning the clarity that manifests; (3) chikpu (gCig-bu) or single, meaning the state of the individual as pure non-dual presence; (4) spontaneously perfect from the beginning. In total these mean that the state of rigpa of each individual is the center of the universe. Like the sun in that though it may be occasionally obscured by clouds, the quality of the sun remains unchanged and continues. Therefore the only difference between a realized one and someone who isn’t is that they have overcome the obstacle of the clouds and lives where the sun shines. Thus it is said that we must recognize and maintain samayas, who’s gist is that as practitioners we should never get distracted with respect to the non-dual state of rigpa, this being the only real commitment.

Upon his death, Garab Dorje imparted his last testament to Manjushrimitra, the main disciple of the Garab Dorje, these precepts summarizing the whole of Dzogchen teachings, (1) “Direct introduction”, referring to the importance of one being directly introduced into one’s true nature; (2) “Remaining without doubt”, referring to the attainment of certainty about this natural state; (3) “Continuing in the state of rigpa”, referring to one continuing in liberation. On the basis of these three phrases, Manjushrimitra classified the doctrines and instructions he had received from the master into three series of teachings, which have been perpetuated as the three major categories of Dzogchen traditions and teachings. The teachings that are mainly concerned with “Direct introduction” are called the Semde or “Nature of mind series”. Despite these teachings being rooted in the principle of Ati Dzogpa Chenpo (spontaneous liberation, spontaneous perfection, original purity), there are many instances where they involve practices that resemble calm-abiding, insight practices, and begin to act on the bio-energetic system in a manner loosely corresponding to those used in the Path of transformation. The teachings that are mainly concerned with the means for “Not remaining in doubt”, which are far more sudden and emphasize to a much greater degree directly acting on the bio-energetic system, in very sudden and unique ways that have not even a loose correspondence to the Path of transformation, are called the Longde or “Space series”. Lastly, the teachings mainly concerned with “Continuing in the state of rigpa” are called the Menngagde/Upadeshavarga or “Secret oral instruction series”. These final teachings are the most abrupt and most different to all other vehicles, having the greatest mastery over the bio-energetic system using the most sudden and unique ways, and best embodying the Ati Dzogpa Chenpo principle.

In the Dzogchen teachings the state of rigpa corresponding to the non-dual recognition of awake awareness that makes its original face evident, is characterized as chikshe kundrol or “all-liberating single gnosis”, for every moment that this non-dual recognition manifests the delusorily valued thoughts liberate themselves in that they spontaneously dissolve into their perfectly blatant true condition, the same true condition of reality and so oneself. The non-dual recognition therefore puts an end to the delusion, or more properly marigpa, in its three senses, (1) the innate be-clouding of primordial awareness or gyu dagnyi chikpai marigpa (rgyu bdag nyid gcig pa’i ma-rig-pa), which emerges when the contingent arising of an element of stupefaction prevents the non-dual recognition from making evident the nature of rigpa, instead obscuring the true condition of the Base and so obscures rigpa’s inherent non-dual self-awareness. This initial occurrence of marigpa gives rise to the neutral condition of the base-of-all, where neither nirvana or samsara are manifest, which is not manifested as active delusion giving rise to dualistic appearances, which is why marigpa in the first sense doesn’t translate well to “delusion” in that it isn’t the active delusion of samsara found in the subsequent two senses of marigpa (it should only be translated as “delusion” when samsara is active), though it continues to manifest after samsara actively arises when it is accompanied by the second and third marigpas; (2) the second type of marigpa is the compound of both lhenchik kyepai marigpa (lhan cig skyes pa’i ma-rig-pa) or the failure to non-dually recognize the shining forth of rigpa as the expression of the condition of the Base and the error of taking it to be an external reality, which involves the arising of the subject-object duality. As well as kuntu tagpai marigpa (kun tu brtags pa’i ma-rig-pa) the fully-fledged illusion of selfhood in the individual and of a self-existent plurality in the world, the imaginative delusion which consists of the divisive singling out of objects within the continuum, involving the grasping at appearances as substantial, absolute, and inherently existing. It involves the superimposition of the idea of an “I” on the illusory subject and sustains the dualistic consciousness and inherent drive to confirm this subject’s existence and so gratify it by means of contact with seemingly self-existing, seemingly external entities. Finally it involves the inversion of the Base insofar as the thee aspects of the Base are mistakingly seen to be inherently separate from each other; (3) is the seal of delusion that makes it impossible to realize the illusions indicated in (2) as they actually are, consisting in ignoring or mishepa (mi-shes-pa) that the dualistic appearances that arise by virtue of the second marigpa are false and baseless; in normal individuals the third marigpa always accompanies the second marigpa. While these marigpas do not negate the true condition of the Base, they refer to the non-manifestation of the true condition of the Base, so it refers to an unawareness of the true condition, and further refers to the subsequent manifestation of active delusion in samsara. When the non-dual primordial awareness is not veiled by the unawareness of marigpa, its function is similar to a mirror in that there is no distance between the reflective capacity and the reflections it manifests, and so there is no one to adhere to the reflections; thus the moment the non-dual gnosis is recognized, its all-liberating nature is actualized, so that whatever thought or phenomena is present spontaneously liberates itself into its true nature, leaving no trace as reflections leave no traces in a mirror. If however the basic delusion is allowed to persist and so the veiling of the primordial awareness, there is an automatic clinging to the appearances that manifest through acceptance/rejection attachment/aversion, which prevents their spontaneous liberation and then results in the production of karmic trances that can give rise to perpetual samsara.

The mind trainings used as basic practices that are most distinguished in that they are easy for beginners to apply, generally considered even easier than those of other systems and at the same time more effective are: (1) training the mind in the thought that everything compounded is impermanent; (2) training the mind in the thought that all actions are the cause of suffering; (3) training the mind in the thought of how we are beguiled by diverse secondary causes; (4) training the mind in the thought that all actions of this life are meaningless; (5) training the mind by reflecting on the Fruit of supreme liberation; (6) training the mind by reflecting on the value of the teachings of one’s teacher; (7) training the mind by means of meditative stability of the state beyond thought.

Prime examples of the essential Dzogchen practices are “Tekcho” or “Trecko” (Khregs-chod) and “Thogel” or “Togal” (Thod-rgal) of the Menngagde series. These practices are subsequent stages of the same core practice, the first being Tekcho which means the “spontaneous, instant, and absolute release of tension”, and the second is Thogel which means “acceleration”.77 The idea behind these practices is based on the fact that the mental subject necessarily has to adopt some attitude toward the objects it experiences as different from itself, such attitudes are sustained by the delusory valuation-absolutization of thought, entailing varying degrees of tension via the illusory subject-object duality. When the delusory valuation of thought becomes more intense and the resultant tension becomes stronger, then it is said that one is being affected by a passion, as passions are nothing but emotionally charged attitudes that a mental subject has toward an object. Therefore, if upon looking at thoughts in one of the characteristic Tekcho ways, then the intrinsically all-liberating single gnosis unveils and so all delusorily valued thoughts dissolve of themselves, including the subject-object duality, which is called the “spontaneous rupture of tension”. Simultaneously along with this rupture of tension, the complex of the individual (body-voice-mind) will completely and instantly relax, compared to a stack of firewood falling on the ground when the cord holding it together suddenly breaks, or like feathers entering fire. This is radically different from calm abiding which involves pacifying the attitude of the mental subject towards its objects, and cannot result in the absolute relaxation of rigpa found in the practice of Tekcho.78 While Thogel sets the conditions ripe for the self-arising of thigles and other mirage-like phenomena that initially manifest in an apparently external dimension, manifesting as tsel energy in the external dimension, and activating the dynamic of rolpa energy and luminosity proper to the chonyi bardo (Chos-nyid bar-do) or dharmata bardo, which eventually does not allow the continuation of the illusion of an internal and external dimension and a subject and an object. The conditions then activate the basic orientations and reactions to delusion called zhedang (Zhe-sdang) causing us to react to the phenomena of luminosity with irritation, even fear, misery, and disgust, and so exacerbating tensions. Such tensions lead to instant conflict as soon as the appearance of there being a mental subject in an internal dimension that seems to be at a distance from objects that appear to lie in an external dimension manifests. If one has sufficiently developed the capacity of spontaneous liberation through Tekcho practice, then the dynamic of rolpa energy will lead this dualistic delusion to immediately liberate itself spontaneously, so that the tensions and conflicts are instantly released, which in turn catalyzes tremendously the process of spontaneous, instant, and absolute releasing of tensions found in Tekcho, intensifying, accelerating, and enhancing its power to neutralize delusion. Each and every time delusory phenomena liberate themselves spontaneously, the propensity for them to manifest is neutralized to an extent that is directly proportional to the degree of emotional intensity and the volume of the energetic-volume-determining-the-scope-of-awareness, both of which tend to reach their maximum potential in the practice of Thogel and so the maximum panoramification of awareness, leaving no more room for delusory phenomena, such as a separate mental subject, to manifest. Thogel therefore has the power to swiftly neutralize the propensity for the individual to experience oneself as a mental subject in an internal dimension that is at a distance from objects that lie in an external dimension and the capacity for the delusory valuations of thoughts and concepts to sustain, allowing concepts to manifest with absolutely no delusory valuation, thus distinctions are automatically made that are necessary for life, but without the valuation or absolutization of such, so without experiencing the distinctions and without experiencing perceptual objects, let alone perceptual objects-in-terms-of-concepts or -as-concepts. Thogel may be regarded as the spontaneous instance of zhitro (Zhi-khro) or “practice of the peaceful and forceful”, as in Thogel the experiences of “total pleasure” associated with the peaceful or zhiwa (Zhi-ba) aspect are as important as the trowo (Khro-bo) or wrathful aspect, especially in the practice of darkness. If the practice is carried on to its limit, the rolpa energy will blend with the tsel energy and one will never again experience oneself as being at a distance from the continuum of the universe, and thus never depart again from Dzogchen (total completeness and plenitude).

The most essential and direct teachings of the Menngagde series are the Nyingthik (sNying-thig) teachings, meaning “essence of potentiality”.79 While in the Nyingthik the practices of Tekcho and Thogel are taken to be indivisible, the general teachings emphasize Tekcho. There is also the Yangthik meaning “innermost essence of potentiality” section of the Nyingthik teachings which emphasize the activation of luminosity and rolpa energy in the bardo and so emphasize the Thogel aspect of practice. However if the Thogel and Yangthik are practiced to a sufficient degree without the necessary capabilities in spontaneous liberation, then the practice will result in undesirable outcomes, including psychosis. Under the right conditions though, these practices are the most important to undertake, so that the acceleration most rapidly develops and leads to a finale end of the obscuration of the true condition of the Base and so the appearance of the illusory internal and external dimensions. Lastly, the Thogel and Yangthik must be mastered to a sufficient degree for a mass of light to manifest in the external dimension so that the awareness integrates with it, which is required for the two highest and most supreme modes of attainment characteristic of the Atiyoga teachings. In addition to all the above, these teachings are superior to those of all other vehicles in that they are designed specifically to counteract marigpa in all three senses, including the most subtle unawareness found in the condition of the base-of-all, which cannot be found in other paths. The condition of the base-of-all is easily mistaken for Awakening, even by experienced practitioners, and therefore might be considered quite a treacherous obstacle to true Awakening, in that while under its persistent spell, which can last for extremely long periods, one’s progress is almost always totally blocked. Jigme Lingpa predicted that in our time many yogis would commit the grave mistake of mistaking the base-of-all for awakening and thus the dharmakaya.80 Thus the Thogel practices and other practices from the secret oral instructions are so critical for serious practitioners in our time, as one of their key functions is to disrupt, destroy, and/or hijack the condition of the base-of-all and its imitation of freedom, making apparent its limitations and the error of taking it as refuge.


The Fruit of the Ati Dzogpa Chenpo: The fruit of the Dzogchen teachings is the definitive stabilization and complete unveiling of the three aspects of their Base and their indivisibility, and so it will never again be concealed. This fruit is not achieved all at once, but by stages, first the dharmakaya manifests as the true condition of the essence aspect of the Base. Then without losing sight of the true condition of the essence aspect, the sambhogakaya manifests as the true condition of the nature aspect. Finally without losing sight of the true condition of essence and nature aspect, including that of indivisibility, the nirmanakaya manifests as the true condition of the energy aspect. Once the total indivisibility of the three aspects has completely unveiled itself and become stable, then the svabhavikakaya has manifested and so the the Fruit has been achieved. However there are additional attainments made possible by Atiyoga that go beyond even this, as the process of Awakening can only be said to reach an actual end once the fourth vision of the Thogel has unfolded to its ultimate degree and so the highest attainment is had, the Total Transference or Phowa Chenpo, which is one of the four unique modes of death solely found in this Path.

As shown, the first level of realization consists in the unveiling the true condition of the essence aspect of the Base, corresponding to the Base’s emptiness. In the Menngagde series this may initially occur with the methods associated with Direct Introduction, when the ngowi shi (Ngo bo’ gshis) manifests, and taking place again and again throughout the practices of the Nyingthik, such as Tekcho, where the practitioner deals with and non-dually recognizes the dang manifestation of energy as the true condition of these phenomena. Thus the non-dual recognition of the true condition of the essence and of the “inner” phenomena of the dang mode of manifestation of energy corresponds to the manifestation of the dharmakaya, which progressively consolidates through practices of the Nyingthik, such as Tekcho. Once the capacity for spontaneous liberation has developed to a given degree and then devoting to the practices of the Yangthik, such as Thogel, one gains access to the dharmata bardo. The dharmata bardo brings about immaterial luminous phenomena that may manifest in the external dimension as visions of the tsel manifestation of energy. Then the spontaneous dynamic inherent in the rolpa manifestation of energy catalyzes the repeated spontaneous liberation of the duality of an internal and external dimension and subject and object. The luminous visions are thus non-dually recognized as the sambhogakaya and continue to manifest, but the dualistic perception of them liberates itself each time a manifestation takes place, uncovering the subtlest propensities for delusion, which are progressively burned out as the sambhogakaya gradually consolidates and one transcends the valuation-absolutization of the luminous visions, which is the second level of realization. Finally, when the practice arrives at the point where rolpa and tsel manifestations of energy blend, the so-called external, objective, or physical world is no longer experienced in an external dimension. The tsel energy then acquires characteristics of rolpa energy and accumulate and manifest as wisdoms of quantity and quality, upon which the nirmanakaya and the complete indivisibility of the svabhavikakaya are then considered to be consolidated to a considerable degree, entailing the third level of realization. However it must be said that in each of the levels of realization, by virtue of the continuity and indivisibility of the Base, that all three kayas are realized to various degrees. In the first level of realization, there is the realization of the emptiness of dang energy simultaneously with its clarity and with its unceasing manifestation, therefore in this sense the dang’s clarity is a minor realization of the sambhogakaya and the dang’s unceasing manifestation is a minor realization of the nirmanakaya, so that the complete realization of the ture condition of dang energy entails a specific sense in which the three kayas are realized. At the second level of realization we realize the emptiness of the rolpa energy simultaneously with its clarity and unceasing manifestation. Here then the emptiness of the rolpa energy is a minor realization of the dharmakaya and the unceasing manifestation is a minor realization of the nirmanakaya. Similarly in the third level of realization, we realize the tsel energy’s emptiness simultaneously with its clarity and unceasing manifestation, so here the emptiness is a minor realization of the dharmakaya and the clarity a minor realization of the sambhogakaya. The minor realization aspect of the three levels of realization drives home the indivisibility of the three aspects of the Base and so the three kayas.

In terms of bhumi, the Atiyoga presents two angles on this. First that there is only one single level, compared to hatching from a shell already fully developed, as the state that manifests in the Direct Introduction that marks the outset of the Path of Atiyoga is not different from the Awakening that is the final fruit of the Path. However, to demonstrate that the Atiyoga consolidates Awakening far beyond the arrival point of other vehicles, totally surpassing the separation of the internal and external dimension, the second angle concerning bhumi suggests additional levels attained by the Atiyoga, three beyond the levels and final goal of the Mahayogatantra and two beyond the final goal of Anuyogatantra. The fifteenth bhumi, called “vajradhara” and the sixteenth bhumi called “supreme primordial gnosis”. Here, the individual does not progress gradually in a clear-cut way like in the Mahayana, but in a way that is not possible to pinpoint the precise level the individual is going through at any given moment.

Though the sixteenth level is considered in one sense the unsurpassable final fruit of the Thogel practice, there are still final attainments to be had when the Menngagde series of Dzogchen teachings is carried to its absolute limit or very close to it, where the yogi may attain one of the four modes of death that are unique and characteristic of Ati Dzogpa Chenpo: (1) The rainbow body or jalu (Ja-lus), resulting from the “mode of death of the dakinis” and particular to those who have attained the highest realization of the Vajra-bridge or Dorje Zampa (rDo-rje zam-pa) pertaining to the Longde series of Dzogchen teachings. This realization should not be confused with the so-called “rainbow body” resulting from the Tantrayana Path of transformation, as they are in no way equivalent or referring to even remotely the same thing; (2) the body of atoms or lu dul thren du deng (Lus rdul phran du dengs), resulting from the “mode of death of the vidyadharas”, proper to those who have attained the highest realization resulting from the Nyingthik practices such as Tekcho which belong to the Menngagde series of Dzogchen teachings, and compared to the breaking of a closed vase, where the internal space and the external space fuse; (3) The body of light or okyiku (Od-kyi sku)/ophung(Od-phung), resulting from the mode of death called “self-consuming like a fire” and characteristic of those who have developed to a certain extent the fourth vision of Thogel and/or Yangthik, attaining the second highest level of realization that can result from these practices, (it should be noted that this body is causally called “rainbow body” as well, but shouldn’t be technically confused or conflated with the body already mentioned of the same name); (4) the total transference or phowa chenpo (Pho-ba chen-po), which does not involve going through the process of death and which results from the mode of ending life called “invisible like space”, proper to those who have attained the highest level of realization resulting from the practices of Thogel and/or the Yangthik.





Notes




1. Such as Chögyäl Namkhai Norbu and his close personal students, amongst others. This text can be understood as rather derivative of their work. Chögyäl Namkhai Norbu being of the few living Masters of Ati Dzogpa Chenpo.

2. This paper seeks to be structured around and intent on exploring aspects of technical accuracy and explicating on the soteriology of the Way (the fourth truth) itself. Stylistically differing from some of the author’s works in which the primary purpose is for the works themselves to serve as soteriologically progressive devices, differing from works like this which are focused on describing soteriological devices.

3. Despite the increasing integration with western psychology, post-modernism in general, systems-biology, system and complexity theories, physics and physics based theories of consciousness etc. (e.g., Moacanin, 2003; Olson, 2000; Chuang, 2006; Suzuki; Stapp, 2007-et al.; Penrose, 1989-et al.; Hameroff, 1987-et al.; Pribram, 1987; Bohm; Capra, 2010; Watson, 2001; Whitehead, 1961; Chew, 1968; Hadron, 1970; Smetham, 2011; Allday, 2009; Barrow, 2004; d’ Espagnat 2003; Schlosshauer, 2011; Vedral 2010; Wallace, 2007, ‘08; Chalmers 1996; Waldron, 1995, ‘02, ‘03; Verhoeven, 2001; Yong, 2005; Padilla, 2008; James, 1902; Scott, 2000; Reed, 2006; Goleman, 2004; Kabat-Zinn, 2005; Hayes, 2002; Watts, 1975; Shenk-Masuda-Bunting-Hayes, 2006; Jameson, 1991; to name a few).

4. Other schools of Buddhism also provide skillful means, but as will be shown, do not lead to the most consolidated form of Buddhahood and Awakening. Further, the methods used by other schools, even the Tantric Path of transformation, are generally not as efficient as Ati Dzogpa Chenpo. With this said, some individuals, even individuals with greater faculties, under certain circumstances will experience a greater resonance and thus temporarily greater efficacy and results with lower vehicles. Thus to those individuals, a lower vehicle will provisionally serve as a “higher” vehicle.

5. This paper is primarily framed in the older classical system (during the first dissemination in Tibet, though distinct from the typical non-centralized Nyingmapa categorization) of categorizing the vehicles (which deal with the Way, the 4th Noble Truth) will be used, as it is naturally more fluent and providing more overall consistency. However for the sake of clarity the other systems of categorization are mentioned numerous times to varying degrees. The other two systems of classification are the new or Sarmapa (gSar-ma-pa) schools and the Nyingmapa or “Ancient” tradition.

6. Oddiyana: present day valley of Kabul, Afghanistan and/or valley of Swat, Pakistan.

7. Namkhai Nyingpo was a direct disciple of Padmasambhava.

8. Nubchen Sangye Yeshe was a third generation descendent in the disciple-lineage of Padmasambhava.

9. The Samten Migdroni by Nubchen Sangye Yeshe was devoid of modification due to it being entombed for so long, and who’s authenticity is attested to via exact quotations that correlate precisely with relevant paragraphs of the terma revealed by Orgyen Lingpa. It is clear this classification existed before the political dominance of the Sarmapa since both texts were protected from any modification for nearly a thousand years.

10. As a whole this vehicle can be organized as the Unalterable vehicle (Vajrayana), the Continuity vehicle (Tantrayana) or the Secret-Sacred-Words vehicle (Guhyamantrayana).

11. Here it is important to point out that “spontaneous liberation” is the far more accurate translation, a correction from the rather misleading "self-liberation”.

12. Traditional titles for this vehicle include “primordial yoga” (Atiyoga), “Tantra of primordial yoga” (Atiyogatantra) and “vehicle of the Tantra of primordial yoga” (Atiyogatantrayana). While the concise Atiyana, meaning “primordial vehicle” is a more recent, but well fitting, coined contraction. The term Dzogchen can refer this vehicle as well, and has several meanings, including “The Great Perfection”, bodhicitta, and being a reference to the fruit of the other higher Tantras (distinct from Dzogchen qua the arrival point of Atiyana). Which leads to from which Dzogchen is derived (as it is a contraction of), and also referring to this vehicle and the general principle of spontaneous liberation, “Ati Dzogpa Chenpo”.

13. It should be noted that the Semde methods also usually involve directly working on the energetic system, often with methods similar to that of the Path of transformation. The point of the generalization concerning Longde is that the methods are far more direct, sudden, and emphasized by the latter, applying an upper mastery opposed to the lower mastery of methods similar to the Path of transformation methods.

14. Shakyamuni’s parinirvana is considered to be 880 BC according to the Kalachakra Tantra tradition. Some accounts place it around 544 BC. Modern scholarship estimates and rounds it to 480 BC, while precisely estimating his lifetime to be 563-483 BC.

15. With Brahmanism prominent and the mystics of the time (called “rishi"/"seers”) accustomed to early Upanishadic and Vedic orthodoxy, predictions were made based off astrological musings and royal Gautama Siddhartha’s caste (Kshatriya caste) that the Prince would be either a grand and worldly monarch or an enlightened sage who reintroduces into the world the
practices and doctrines leading to Awakening after said practices and doctrines have been lost (a Chakravartin, which is the term that refers to this specific duality of potentials). His father, a king, wanted Siddhartha to follow him and become a monarch and by all means not a sage. Prince Gautama Siddhartha was thus raised by his parents with this goal in mind, they overloaded him with sense pleasures and isolated him from the hardships of life, intent on disallowing him reflection as to the meaning of life and therefore turning towards a path of truth as sage. Despite or perhaps because of this, the existential lack overwhelmed Prince Gautama Siddhartha and he was compelled to renounce all and to seek the sagely path of truth.

16. Giving up his family, home, and all the luxuries and privileges inherited through his royal status, such as several hundred royal consorts.

17. Prince Guatama Siddartha’s first teacher was Alara Kalama, who taught him how to enter what was called “nothingness”. This “nothingness” is where a luminous void mind is disengaged with the regular senses, brought on by intensive concentration subtler than normative meditative stabilization. Gautama, being a prodigy, achieved “nothingness” very rapidly, saw the limitations of such a state and moved on. In his quest to find even subtler states, he trained with another contemplative guru, Uddaka Ramaputta, who taught him to go deeper than “nothingness”, into a state withdrawn from the senses and phenomena in general. A state so disengaged that it was a void space of only pure mind, upon which he taught Gautama to then drop and disengage from even the mind.

18. Through gaining insight into many aspects of mind, such as observing the movement of mind and its qualities, which lead the Prince to the “consciousness of the base-of-all” or kunzhi namshe (kun-gzhi rnam-shes)/kunzhi nampar shepa (kun-gzhi rnam-par shes-pa) and then the “dimension of the base-of-all” or kunzhi kham (kun-gzhi khams), then abiding in this state, in which there is neither samsara or nirvana active. Upon being awoken from said state upon the rising of the morning star, the continuity of awareness of the unmade perfect plentitude and unconditioned total completeness that is nirvana dawned, and so the Prince arrived at Awakening.

19. Meaning the truth of the other Awake Seers, who also practiced the doctrines of true liberation and absolute communion with the whole of reality, since the most ancient of times.

20. Shakyamuni’s new doctrine (relative to Vedic tenants) taught that all that was born or produced was impermanent, that all states produced would eventually dissolve and thus could not provide the true salvation. His new doctrine, to protect against wrong views and deviations like those of his teachers, was that true liberation would be be found in the unmade, unconditioned, and un-originated. Shakyamuni denied the true existence of an individual soul, self, substance, or universal God. He refuted identifying with pseudo-totalities that gave the grand impression of the destruction of the subject-object duality, which was often mistaken as the true unveiling of the nature of reality and absolute truth (which was a mistake of his teachers, who took the peak of existence as such an absolute truth). He imposed a skeptical and critical attitude more in line with philosophy (such as the Kalama Sutra), and he broke from Vedic limitations and accepted all castes in the order he founded.
Further, as to the denial of a self or a substance, though Mahayana did assert all was tathata or dharmata, Madhyamaka clearly denies that all substances and entities are made up of a basic constituent substance. However, despite this being highly protective from false views of eternalism, the extreme error and disease of nihilism and its views were counteracted by the development of the “emptiness of emptiness” which forms a major underpinning to Mahamadhyamaka and similar traditions.

21. 500,000 to 650,000 surviving texts coupled with a vast heap of secondary literature.

22. Hinayana relative to and referred to by the Mahayana. Some have mistaken the term Hinayana to offensively mean “inferior vehicle”, "deficient vehicle", “lesser vehicle” etc. However this does not appear to be contextually accurate, as the seemingly pejorative use of the term by followers of the Mahayana, appears to be a function of skillful means, to arouse and support its followers to remain diligent in their quest for universal-salvation opposed to seeking personal-salvation only (can be thought of similarly someone pejoratively referring to a bachelor’s degree in order to support and motivate someone else to finish their master’s degree or PhD). Moreover, in the eyes of the majority of practitioners of the Mahayana, (as well as many who followed the Hinayana) the followers of Hinayana can choose to seek universal-salvation and it’s associated attainments and is not necessarily restricted to personal-salvation only (albeit in a less efficient manner in the eyes of Mahayana).

23. Theravada means “which adheres to the ancient”.

24. ...such as part of Vietnam and most of Laos, Kampuchea, Myanmar, and Thailand.

25. Until modern times, as for the most part this has majorly dwindled since the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Sautrantika is a school generally believed to have emerged from the Sarvastivadin, likewise Vaibhashika is a sub-school of the Sarvastivadin.

26. Therefore the original eighteen schools are: the Abhayagirivasin, the Avantaka, the Bahushrutiya, the Dharmaguptaka, the Haimavata, the Jetavaniya, the Kashyapiya, the Kaurukullika, the Lokottaravada, the Mahaviharavadin, the Mahishasaka, the Mulasarvastivadin, the Prajñaptivada, the Purvashaila, the Tamrashatiya, the Uttarashaila, the Vatsiputriya, and the Vibhajyavada. Therefore Theravada, the Vaibhashika, and the Sautrantika are not included among the first eighteen original Buddhist schools of the First Promulgation.

27. The Pali School considers that the schism that occurred between the Mahasanghikas and Sthaviras to have occurred in the council prior (the Second Council), however the schism did in fact occur during the third, the “Council of the Pali School”.

28. In addition, some scholars have asserted that there is no historical evidence that Theravada arose until two centuries after the Third Council.

29. “Arhats” are the “realized ones” of this vehicle.

30. As well as the Sarvastivada, the Mahasaṃghika, the Caitika, and the Ekavyavaharika. The Sarvastivada, which though has an origin cloaked in mystery, may have been a schism of the Vibhajyavada, the Dharmaguptaka, or the Mulasarvastivadin. The Mahasaṃghika, which is often considered the initial development of Mahayana and which arose during the great schism of the third council. The Caitika, which has texts attributed to it that advocate the Tathagatagarbha-like doctrine of the universal potentiality of Buddhahood and the One vehicle, emerged from the Mahasaṃghika. The Ekavyavaharika, which also arose from the Mahasamghika, held that all beings possessed an originally and fundamentally pure mind.

31. Buddhaghosha’s Atthasalini

32. The Ati Dzogpa Chenpo critique of the Hinayana in that in its discussion of cause and effect and the belief that by eliminating virtue and negativities that can release themselves from the world, which can be summed up as “eliminating the cause, the effects are cleared” they are actually showing complacency in accepting and rejecting. Through diverse views concerning the nature of existence, there are those (like shravakas) who deem things poison and so from this emerges the concept of renunciation. Such as when desire and aversion arise, they deem the five sense objects to be the cause of the passions and so of suffering, unpleasantness, and dissatisfaction, however, by trying to eliminate them, they attempt to eliminate precisely five natural objects that are self-arisen wisdom. As such, because it takes so very long to eliminate them, they continue to transmigrate. Additionally, the pratyekabuddhas renounce the idea of objects but without renouncing the subject, and as such the implicit subject-object duality persists and strongly so, but made covered by an unawareness of objects. Furthermore, though they understand the absence of identity of the human being, they only have a partial understanding of the emptiness of other, that which is much more fully realized in the Mahayana. Lastly, the pratyekabuddhas also try to eliminate the five natural objects which are actually self-arisen wisdom, which they take to be the cause of samsara, and thus they are unsuccessful for a very long time, and so continue to transmigrate.
Thus, even though the fundamental nature, the pure and total non-dually awake awareness is the sole reality and alone, the Hinayana speaks of the Noble Truths concerning suffering and its origin. By affirming that the origin of suffering is the cause of rebirth, they forsake the fundamental nature that is pure and total non-dually awake awareness, so not understanding the fundamental nature, they abandon it. So, in addition, its practitioners have a tendency to be obscured by their attachment to the subject-object dichotomy.

33. It is often asserted that 28 days went by reflecting on his enlightenment before Shakyamuni Buddha was persuaded one way or another to teach beings. Though there are different accounts amongst the Hinayana sects, the most major differences concerning the sequence of events before, during, and after his enlightenment lie in what now is the Mahayana (another topic all together and therefore won’t be much discussed here).

34. Also known as the “three universal truths” and the “dhamma seals” etc.

35. ..or the “Four Arhat Truths”, which can be understood as “four truths of one who has destroyed the foes of afflictions”, or the “four truths of one who has thus gone”. However of the last two, the latter is not considered etymologically accurate.

36. These ascetic friends were Assaji, Bhaddiya, Kondanna, Mahanama, and Vappa, who had rejected Shakyamuni when he was still unawakened for accepting a full meal and therefore giving up fasting, so they considered that he had fallen back into a life of ease, comfort, and luxury-loving. Later however, as they saw and heard from their formerly rejected friend, they quickly dropped these opinions and saw that Shakyamuni had indeed become profoundly enlightened.

37. Key concepts such as dependent origination, the laws of cause and effect, the Four Truths, etc.

38. Despite Hinayana stating the root craving as a problem, it is implicitly understood that this craving is rooted and due to a basic ignorance. Therefore the major difference in this regard
between Hinayana and Mahayana is how they view this root ignorance at the root of unpleasantness. Hinayana generally views it as a passive lack of knowledge or apprehension, while Mahayana considers the root ignorance to be an active misengagement with reality.

39. A distinction needs to be drawn between merely understanding something and realizing it in the contemplative sense. Realization entails a cognitive and perceptual shift, while mere understanding does not. Take for example one of the many optical illusions, merely understanding that these are illusions, even knowing how they operate and their origin, doesn’t make the illusion go away, the illusion continues to function successfully. While realization would be comparable to a situation where we have trained ourselves out of being perceptually tricked.

40. It should be noted that the Buddha-bodies, the dharmakaya, nirmanakaya,
sambhogakaya (or “rupakaya” when considering both the nirmanakaya and the sambhogakaya), and svabhavikakaya mean different things depending on the vehicle in question. Most generally the primary differences are between Ati Dzogpa Chenpo and the lower vehicles.
More specifically, for the most part in the Hinayana, there little concern for the Buddha-bodies, with scant mentioning of them. In the Theravada and Sarvastivada, there is mention of the dharmakaya, which can be rendered as “truth-body”, and rupakaya or “form-body” referring to the physical form of the Buddha. In the Theravada, the dharmakaya is used as a seeming figurative term relating to the truth of the Buddha and the manner a Buddha embodies the truth of the Dharma, later distinguished from the physical compounded body of the Buddha. The Sarvastivada considered the rupakaya to be impure and thus unfit for taking refuge in, and unlike the Theravada, regarded the dharmakaya in a much more literal light, regarding the accomplished qualities of the dharmakaya to be real and worthy of taking refuge in. In sharp distinction to this view, virtually all other schools and paths that mention the rupakaya, considers it to be the sum of the nirmanakaya and the sambhogakaya, often referred to as the two “form kayas”, and are considered to be originally and wholly pure. Additionally, unlike the former account of the rupakaya as being impure, thus a compounded and conditioned product of samsara, the Mahayana generally considers the rupakaya to be a product arising from the accumulation of merit. Lastly of the Hinayana, the Mahasamghika considers there to be essential and real Buddha, equated with the dharmakaya, which is omniscient and omnipotent, and the manifest forms through which it liberates sentient beings through skillful means, usually through “transformation bodies” called nirmanakaya. The historical Shakyamuni Buddha is thus considered one of these transformation bodies. This view of the one essential real Buddha being equated with the dharmakaya is a theme we also see in the Mahayana (sometimes implicitly) and explicitly in Ati Dzogpa Chenpo.

In the Mahayana and to some extent the Tantras, there generally is reference to the two Buddha-bodies, the dharmakaya and the rupakaya (again, consisting of both the nirmanakaya and the sambhogakaya), usually held to be the result of the accumulations of merit in the post-contemplation state, or jethob (“after experiencing equanimity meditation”) for the rupakaya and accumulations of wisdom in the contemplative state or nyamshag (“remaining in equanimity meditation”) for the dharmakaya. This accumulation view is rejected unsurprisingly in sudden Mahayana, while it appears that the only gradual Mahayana school rejecting that the rupakaya and dharmakaya are the results of accumulation is the Mahamadhyamaka. Despite the view of accumulations and the rejection of the view, both poles can be said to generally describe the dharmakaya as the ultimate uncreated essence of the enlightened mind, completely free from the limits of conceptual elaboration, generally considered empty of inherent existence, naturally radiant, non-dual, and sky-like.

To clarify further and to iterate somewhat, the nirmanakaya is the physical body of a Buddha, the created body which manifests in time and space. The sambhogakaya can be rendered several ways, such as the “body of mutual enjoyment”, the “body of bliss”, the “body of clear light manifestation”, the “reward-body” or “retribution-body”, the “body of perfect-resource”, and the “subtle body of limitless form”. The sambhogakaya is the connecting link, conceptually fitting between the nirmanakaya and the dharmakaya. It is both the aspect of the Buddha and/or Dharma that one meets in visionary trance and deep meditation. The sambhogakaya usually is considered an interface with the dharmakaya and often considered to be, like the nirmanakaya ultimately unreal in the face of the dharmakaya, having the status of a provisional tool, providing apprehensions of the dharmakaya. It also refers to the radiant forms of clear light accessible to the higher dimensions of practice attained by advanced practitioners. A manifestation of the sambhogakaya according to Mahayana and the Tantrayana is the rainbow-body, however as mentioned again below, this is a very different rainbow-body than that of Ati Dzogpa Chenpo. The dharmakaya is the truth body embodying the very principle of enlightenment, knowing no limits or boundaries. It can be rendered the “body of reality”. The rupakaya is the collection of the sambhogakaya and the nirmanakaya. The swabhavikaya or svabhavikakaya usually rendered “essential body” is the unification of prior bodies or kayas. It is the realization of the unity and non-separateness of the three kayas, or used to designate either an active or passive distinction in the body of reality. The three kayas are occasionally referred to by the literal trikaya, but generally this rendering does not explicitly entail the non-separateness of the three kayas, while the four bodies taken together is called the catuhkaya. In the Gelug tradition, the svabhavikakaya is considered one of the two aspects of the ultimate dharmakaya, it being the essence body and the other being the jnanakaya or jnanadharmakaya meaning “body of gnosis”/”wisdom-body”. In the Tantras attributed to the Nyingma there are five bodies, called the pancakaya. Including the abisambodhikaya, referring to the “body of awakening” that refers to the apparitional modes of three bodies, when the Buddha-bodies appear in various subtle forms suitable for benefitting others. The pancakaya also includes the vajrakaya, the “body of indestructible reality” meaning the immutable and unchanging nature of the other four bodies, their indivisible essence. Elsewhere there is the mentioning of the mahasukhakaya, meaning “great bliss body”, referring to the uninterrupted and unconditional ultimate bliss arising from the unification, realization, and associated wisdom of all the kayas, it is the essential nature of bliss, and can also refer to the blissful awareness of the omniscient mind of ultimate Buddhahood, in some instances this can also subsume the meaning of the vajrakaya, when referring to the eternal changelessness and immutability of the four bodies. Though this list is broad and covering much ground, it is not fully exhaustive, as subtly differing renderings (such as the nisyandakaya) are to be expected throughout the over half-million texts that comprise the great Buddhist tradition.

In Ati Dzogpa Chenpo, unlike the Tantrayana Path of transformation, which goes from realizing the bodies in the order of nirmanakaya-sambhogakaya-dharmakaya-svabhavikakaya, the Ati Dzogpa Chenpo begins with realization the dharmakaya, then the sambhogakaya, and then the nirmanakaya and the svabhavikakaya. In fact, when the Ati Dzogpa Chenpo experiences the Direct Introduction, what manifests and glimpsed is exactly the final stage of the realization of the Tantrayana Path of transformation, which that path calls the svabhavikakaya. What is critical in Ati Dzogpa Chenpo is that the svabhavikakaya of the Tantrayana is considered solely the dharmakaya, therefore the Ati Dzogpa Chenpo considers that the Tantrayana Path of transformation entails a mistake, namely it thinks that it has accomplished the nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, and svabhavikakaya, when in fact it has not accomplished these at all, it solely has realized aspects of the dharmakaya. Continuing in this, the Ati Dzogpa Chenpo attains the actual nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, and svabhavikakaya, again after the dharmakaya, and so attains Buddha-bodies untouched by the other paths. Which is why the Atiyana entails more bhumis (levels of the bodhisattva) than other paths, for they are greater consolidations of Buddha-nature. In the Ati Dzogpa Chenpo, the dharmakaya is the Buddha-nature’s absence of self-nature, of its conceptualizable essence, it is the uncreated essence or emptiness of intrinsic awareness. The fruit of which is realized when the true condition of the ngowo or “essence aspect” of the Base is manifest and realized. The sambhogakaya is the cognizance or clarity of Buddha-nature, the natural expression and radiance. The fruit of which is realized, without losing sight of the true condition of the ngowo aspect realized in the prior body, when the true condition of the rangzhin or “nature aspect” is realized. The nirmanakaya is the very fact that the Buddha-nature is suffused with self-existing awareness, the all-pervasive unimpeded compassionate energy expressed in physical form. The fruit of which is realized, without losing sight of the true condition of the indivisibility of the ngowo or “essence aspect” and rangzhin or “nature aspect”, when the true condition of the thukje or “energy aspect” is manifest and realized. Once the unveiling of the indivisibility of the three aspects of the Base has completely become manifest and stable, it can then be said that the svabhavikakaya is present. Which may be considered the fruit, but the ultimate fruit is when following this process of continuing Awakening that goes on until the fourth vision of the Thogel has unfolded to its ultimate degree, achieving the ultimate consolidation of Buddha-nature/activities, the Phowa Chenpo.

41. The “Four Immeasurables” are love/loving-kindness or jampa (Byams-pa), compassion or nyingje (sNying-rje), sympathetic joy or ganwa (dGa-ba), and equanimity or tang-nyom (bTang-snyoms).
While the paramitas or “transcendences”/”perfections” are grouped as six or ten, the ten being (1) generosity or jinpa (sByin pa); (2) discipline and morality or tsultrim (Tshul khrims); (3) forbearance or zopa (bZod pa); (4) perseverance or tsondru (brTson grus); (5) stable mental absorption or samten (bSam gtan); (6) discriminating wisdom or sharab (Shes-rab); (7) skillfull means or thab (Thabs); (8) aspiration or monlam (sMon-lam); (9) effort/power or tob (sTobs); and (10), primordial gnosis or yeshe (Ye-shes). When only six paramitas are considered, then the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th, are subsumed into the 6th.

42. Insight here is associated with the movements of mind.

43.Such as by the Uma Rangtongpa Schools.

44. Nagarjuna is said to have inherited the Prajnaparamita from the Nagas, either literally or symbolically referring to wisdom inherited via Tantric means. The Nagas are said to have received this directly from the Buddha. Shakyamuni discerned that the disciples of the Buddhist order were mostly unsuited for the Prajnaparamita, as the emptiness that is posited is far more thorough and so can be frightening, additionally this wisdom entails that actions sustain and reinforce delusion that an inherently existing being is acting, the Second Promulgation stresses that there is no way action could ever lead to Awakening, emphasizing going beyond delusion. However this emphasis is not suited for lower disciples, primarily do to the fact that it could lead them to states of apathy rather then encouraging them to engage in the practice of the teachings, thereby the Prajnaparamita requires more courage to digest and apply the teachings.


45. The Ati Dzogpa Chenpo critique of the Mahayana is that with the intention of attaining the eleventh level of total light through the concepts and analysis of the two truth, they deviate from the non-conceptual total completion and plenitude, as the great bliss of Atiyoga is the bodhicitta free from concepts and analysis. Therefore the view with concepts and analysis in Dzogchen is a diversion to the sutras. In addition, its practitioners have a tendency to be obscured by their attachment to the extremes of the two truths. While non-Madhyamaka Mahayana practitioners also have a tendency to be obscured by their attachment to the extremes of singularity and multiplicity. Mahayana, especially sudden Mahayana, is criticized in that its contemplation is partial towards emptiness, it over emphasizes emptiness, which entails a certain degree of directionality and so fragmentation. Namkhai Nyingpo illustrated this with the examples of a hen pecking at grain, though it may seem that the hen is looking at the ground, it is looking at the grains, and also a person threading a needle, though it may seem that the person is looking at the sky, they are actually looking at the eye of the needle. The total bliss of Dzogchen is completely devoid of any directionality and fragmentation of consciousness, while the practitioner of sudden Mahayana has a partiality towards voidness that veils the indivisibility of the two aspects of the Base. Second, these practitioners, like all of Mahayana practitioners, do not directly raise the energy-volume most critical to realization, instead having to rely on passive and indirect energy-volume increases, which means a practitioner of Mahayana may practice a lifetime and still not attain Awakening. Thirdly, if a genuine instance of satori does fully manifest, the Mahayana, especially the sudden Mahayana, lacks the means in which to rapidly bring it about again and again, and to make it stabilized and uninterrupted.

46. ...and the Atiyana

47. The Tantric teachings are still authentically Buddhist regardless of whether or not they came from the physical nirmanakaya of Shakyamuni, as they fit the criteria established by various masters, which include the the consistence of view with the four signs of the Buddha (everything compounded is impermanent; everything contaminated by delusion is suffering; all compounded phenomena are devoid of independent being or existence; nirvana, the condition beyond suffering is peace), whether or not the meditations act as an antidote to the peak of existence, thus leading to the supramundane liberation, whether or not they relinquish the two extremes of behavior (between self mortification and insatiable craving), and whether or not the fruit is considered consistent with the truth of cessation, as in the special state where there is no more negativity to overcome. Additionally a characteristic of that which makes up a Buddhist path is that it has a fundamentally consistent base, path, and fruit.

48. Utilizing the sense of the term Tantra which refers to woven fabric. This is reflected in the Tibetan word used to translate the Sanskrit Tantra which is gyu (rGyud), which in its normal use means “thread”.

49. This is often mistaken for merely the voice, and though the voice can relate to the energy, it is the energy and not the voice that is the focus, as the energy is not exclusive to the voice. This level of energy is far more difficult to apprehend and understand than that of the plainly available coarse body, most people, including many contemplatives, cannot perceive it through the senses.

50. Here, Bodhicitta has a meaning slightly divorced of that of the Mahayana, as here it refers to the true conditional of all reality. Samantabhadra refers to the primordial Buddha, that which is our own rigpa or non-dual awake-awareness. Samantabhadra here means “all good” and “all is viable”, which in both the latter two paths (Path of transformation and the Path of spontaneous liberation) refers to how what manifests in samsara isn’t considered useless or impossible to incorporate into the Path and so is repressed, instead it is considered viable in that it can directly be turned into the Path.

51. In addition, more advanced practices entail oscillating between duality and non-duality, continually generating the passions so that greater and greater amounts of energy can be unchained. If this increasing energy-volume is tempered with emptiness then very rapid advancement towards the goal is had, with increased risk. Padmasambhava said "My
secret path is very dangerous; it is just like a snake in the bamboo, which, if it moves, must either go up or come down." Yogi Chen comments on this: "There is no middle way here, either by this method one gains Full Enlightenment or else one falls straight into hell." Where hell here refers to the living neurotic, even psychotic state of an extremely high energy-volume without being properly tempered by emptiness, leading to mental instability and psychosomatic ailments.

52. As mentioned Yogatantra is most properly in between these two groups, as it shares characteristics of both, however for the sake of classification it is usually put into one of the two groups, however it is most commonly put at the end of the first group. As though it does apply the method of transformation, it doesn’t do so directly like the second group, and so it is placed in the first group.

53. The four types of disciples of the Buddha: (1) those who appreciate to a greater extent external practices such as purification and ablutions, who desire to practice the Teaching in this way; (2) those who are more interested in the real meaning and less in external actions (3) those who understand that external actions can be a source of distraction, and therefor dedicate themselves principally to meditation on the real inner meaning; (4) those who rejoice in the enjoyments through the non-dual wisdom of method and prajna.

54. Phenomena appearing on the relative level such as the five aggregates, the twelve sense bases, the eighteen sense constituents, etc.

55. The Ati Dzogpa Chenpo critique of the Kriya view is that it considers a pure subject and a pure object, while the Ati Dzogpa Chenpo consists of a pure and total non-dual awake awareness which is totally free from the duality of apprehended and apprehender. In this way, that which transcends subject and object is hindered by Kriya, as conceiving total completeness, plenitude, and perfection in terms of subject and object is a misleading deviation. Its practitioners have the tendency to be obscured by attachment to the extremes of ritual service, and to a lessor degree attainment, as well as the tendency to maintain the subject-object dichotomy in relation to purity.

56. Sadhana, meaning “a means of accomplishing something”.

57. The Ati Dzogpa Chenpo critique of the Ubhaya is that since it bases its conduct on Kriyatantra and the view and practice on Yogatantra, that there cannot be an integration of view and behavior, which amounts to duality. This thus means they cannot grasp the full meaning of non-duality. While the total bliss of the Atiyoga is pure and total non-dual awareness, Ubhaya effectively conceives the total completeness. plenitude, and perfection in dualistic terms, this amounts to a misleading deviation. Its practitioners have the tendency to be obscured by their attachment to the extremes of ritual service and attainment, as well as the tendency to maintain a dichotomy of view and conduct.

58. The correct translation of Mahamudra is “total symbol” opposed to “great seal”, referring to the total integration with the symbol and so there is nothing but the symbol. This stems from the Tantric notion that all begins and ends with symbols, including the very manifestation of deities and divinities themselves being symbols of the unconditioned and unmade reality, rather than the presence of a given being.

59. The Ati Dzogpa Chenpo critique is that the Yogatantra, while aspiring to the pure land, undertakes trainings with and without characteristics and mainly practices in terms of the four mudras, and as such cannot actually apply the principle of “beyond acceptance and rejection”. The total bliss of Atiyoga is pure and total non-dual rigpa which is beyond acceptance and rejection. Thus acceptance and rejection with regard to total completeness, plenitude, and perfection, amounts to falling into misleading deviation. Its practitioners have a tendency to be obscured by their attachment to attainment and to a lessor degree ritual service, as well as the tendency to maintain acceptance and rejection in relation to meditation.

60. The transformation practiced in the Anuyogatantra is instantaneous rather than gradual.

61. In connection to the completion stages of the Anuttarayoga, the Mahayoga, and the Anuyoga, the role of physical yoga is stressed in its role, which is the case of the Tantras in general is of the kind known as “yoga of movement” (Yantra Yoga), this yoga acts on the channels (tsa) and on the circulation of the energy (lung), in order to harmonize the latter, bringing increasing integration of body and mind through the link of energy between them. While in Atiyoga, a specific variety of Yantra yoga is utilized as an important secondary practice.
Additionally, Yantra yoga is used to act on the energetic-volume-determining-the-scope-of-awareness (thigle) in order to raise it, as well as on the seed-essence (thigle), in order to catalyze experiences of total pleasure. Generally the practices of pleasure and emptiness not involving a physical consort depend on combined application of physical yoga, which include yogic breathing/breath control (pranayama), visualizations etc. While practices of pleasure and emptiness involving a physical consort, specific muscular contractions and movements, together with breath control are often used to maintain the seed-essence, which is the critical and necessary condition for experiences of total pleasure to possibly arise and for the energy-volume-determining-the-scope-of-awareness to be allowed to increase to the requires levels.
In Sanskrit the energetic-volume-determining-the-scope-of-awareness is called kundalini the seed-essence is called bindu, the so-called channels are called nadi, and the circulation of the energy is called pranavayu, there is a tendency for confusion and misleading conceptual elaboration due to flawed presentations that place view these phenomena in dualistic terms, such as kundalini and bindu, which is extremely inaccurate in that they are not two different entities in a coarse physical reality, but rather are a single subtle reality that is best referred to in Tibetan, such as the single Tibetan word thigle (thig-le).

62. The three samadhis are (1) the samadhi of the great emptiness or “thatness”/”suchness” (tathata); (2) the samadhi of illusory or all-embracing compassion; (3) the samadhi of the cause constituted by clear and stable syllables.

63. The author would like to point out that this is a very general classification, and that through his own experience and study, it is clear that there a myriad number of sub-approaches which involve many various aspects of the inner/higher Tantra, including approaches that involve both the upper doors and the lower entrances in conjunction with heat yoga/breath control, the generation of passions, dynamic movements, sexual stimulation of some sort, and certain critical anu and ati principles/methods.

64. The inner/higher Tantras in general place a greater emphasis on the inseparability of skillful means/method and prajna than even the Mahayana. However the scope and context of the term prajna is expanded to additionally mean “energy”. This pair makes up the root of a very common classification of the Sarmapa classification, that divides the Tantras into Mother Tantras, Father Tantras, and non-dual Tantras. Which of the two (method/prajna) are more emphasized is the primary criteria for establishing which sort of Tantra one is dealing with. If method is emphasized, then it is a mother Tantra, if prajna is emphasized, then it is a father Tantra, if both are equally emphasized, then it is a non-dual Tantra.

The father Tantras place a greater emphasis on the creation stage than on the completion stage, they stress ritual actions and the connection with secondary practices, having been transmitted mainly for individuals of lower capacity who love elaborate external activities and who are prone to outbursts of anger. It teaches the Illusory Wisdom Body in relation to aspects of vision and method, which teach that the completion stage is to be practiced in relation to prana and teaches the specific action of ‘direct action’, denoting the fierce and forceful actions tied to the Karma family who aim is to destroy evil beings by freeing their consciousness.

The mother Tantras place a greater emphasis on the completion stage over the generation stage, favoring the aspect of prajna and of emptiness over that of method. It teaches the yoga of the Clear Light as the means of realization and so utilizes the Path of Method which stresses the experiences of pleasure obtained by means of the secret instruction on melting and re-absorbing the seed-essence, additionally it teaches the specific action of 'conquest’ pertaining to the Padma family. These have been transmitted mainly for individuals of medium capacity who are of a passionate nature who are able to practice the specific methods that are to be applied within their own bodies.
The non-dual Tantras balance the aspects of method and prajna, as well as the creation and completion stages. It considers practice mainly in context of the consideration that our own natural state is that of the rigpa-bodhicitta, where here bodhicitta denotes the primordial state of the individual that is pure from the beginning and is perfectly endowed with all the good qualities, thus corresponding to the “absolute bodhicitta“ of the Mahayana Sutrayana. While rig pa here denotes the non-dual knowledge of the primordial state as a continuous living non-dual presence. Teaching the single sphere of total wisdom of purity and equality being the ultimate nature of all phenomena, it is transmitted mainly for individuals who are dominated by ignorance and blessed by the higher capacity to apply the “principle of freedom from effort”.

Therefor in the father Tantras, the generation/creation stages predominates, correspondingly clarity is emphasized over pleasure. Following then, during the practice no details of the visualization can be neglected. In the completion stage, of which some key practices are said to be impracticable for woman, the practice is primarily concerned with the illusory-body yoga, which consists in imagining that one’s body is intangible, like a reflection, a rainbow, a shell, a balloon, a mirage, a cloud, or a ghost. While in the mother Tantras, since the completion stage is predominating, pleasure is emphasized over clarity. Following then, during the practice there is no need to emphasize the details of the visualization to the same degree as in the father Tantras, not only because pleasure is central here, but also because sensation or feeling is most emphasized, therefor in visualization the feeling or sensation of “being” the deity is critical. Additionally, in mother Tantras, the completion stage is mainly concerned with the seed-essence and retaining the seminal fluid, the energetic-volume-determining-the-scope-of-awareness, and the practice of remaining in limitless and formless luminosity.
Lastly, there is a separate criterion posited by Je Tsongkhapa, where in the father Tantras, the deity is masculine, the mantra spins clockwise, and the practice is done in the daytime, while in the mother Tantras, the deity is feminine, the mantra spins counterclockwise and the practice is done at night.

65. Though this 11th level isn’t “unsurpassed” in the sense that there are not greater consolidations of realization and so Buddhahood. The final state of realization of the Mahayana Sutrayana, the Bodhisattvayana of the Path of renunciation, is characterized by a certain partiality towards voidness, which entails and implies a directionality and so fragmentation, therefore preventing the manifestation of the greatest consolidation and attainment of Buddha-nature, the limitless total completeness, plenitude, and perfection that is the true condition of the original pure reality.

In Mahayana, the last three of the five paths of the Sutrayana are divided into the eleven bhumis, Mahayana explains the five paths of the Sutrayana as: (1) The path of accumulation, which involves the accumulation of merits and wisdom in addition to the “thorough abandonings”, where factors of virtue are developed through meditation and moral training (abandoning non-virtuous phenomena already generated; non-generation of non-virtuous phenomena not yet generated; increasing virtuous phenomena already generated; and generating virtuous phenomena not yet generated), this path is entered upon the generation of relative bodhicitta; (2) The path of preparation or application, which is attained when the union of mental pacification and insight is attained, and it involves four levels which are concerned with overcoming fear of voidness (such a fear prevents the way to the next path) and closing the doors to lower realms (the first stage is “Heat”, which involves having an initial and partial non-conceptual apprehension of the suchness concerned with the constituent of all entities; the next is “Peak”, which entails one reaching the point at which the virtuous roots one has cultivated can no longer decrease or disappear, and where the apprehension of suchness becomes clearer; next is “forbearance”, which entails one becoming so familiar with the concept of emptiness that one has overcome the fear of it, and that the doors of lower realms are irreversibly closed; finally “supreme mundane qualities”, signifying that one has actualized the highest qualities of mundane existence and therefore is prepared to enter the supramundane Path, which is to gain access to the third path); (3) The path of vision, which is the entrance into the actual Path, where one has begun directly realizing the supramundane truth and has begun seeing through the conditioned and made into the unconditioned and unmade nature, and that one has attained absolute bodhicitta which consists of the indivisibility of emptiness and compassion; (4) The path of contemplation, involving the development of the realization obtained in the prior path, in it by seeing through the conditioned and made contents of experience into the unconditioned and unmade nature, one gradually progresses from the second to the tenth bhumi; (5) The path of no more learning, where one is said to attain the final fruit of the Mahayana, the anuttara samyak sambodhi.

The path of vision entails to the absolute wisdom and bodhicitta, which corresponds to the first bhumi, called “joyous”. The second to tenth bhumi are divisions of the path of contemplation, which are (2) “stainless”; (3) “illuminating”; (4) “flaming”; (5) “difficult to achieve”; (6) “manifest”; (7) “far gone”; (8) “immovable”; (9) “supreme intelligence”; (10) “cloud of dharma” . The eleventh bhumi known as “all pervading light” corresponds to the path of no more learning and an attainment of Buddhahood.

66. In questioning how it is possible to arrive at the unconditioned and unmade by means of creation, the Mahayoga practitioner would reply that according to Mahayogatantrayana, the true condition of all forms is deity, the true condition of all sounds is mantra and the true condition of mind is the samadhi of suchness, and therefore the reality one creates is merely a way of acknowledging the true nature, the original condition, and the original purity. As such one is not superimposing anything on it. Additionally, they would assert that the conscious construction of the deity in the mandala allows one to become familiar with the mechanisms which had been priorly used to build up ordinary reality, eventually gaining some sort of control over the process involved. Then asserting that these things culminate in the completion stage where one gains direct insight into the unconditioned and unmade reality, for the essence of such a stage is exactly the non-dual seeing past the reality one has created into the unborn and original nature. Furthermore, the superiority of this vehicle also lies in the fact that the practices of the completion stage can increase the energetic-volume-determining-the-scope-of-awareness (thig-le) which if raised to threshold should allow the unconditioned and unmade to unveil more easily and then to be more clearly evident, while simultaneously making the process of neutralization or eradication of the karmic propensities at the root of samsara far more powerful and thus effective. This relates directly to the fact that the Mahayogatantrayana is structured on a model of death, the bardo, and rebirth that in some way reproduces the function of the de-conditioning experiences that result from the unleashing of loops inherent in the human system. This corresponds to the highest sense of the principle of spontaneous perfection, and therefor shows the power of this vehicle to unveil the unmade and unconditioned, as well as to neutralize samsaric conditionings, to be much greater than that of all lower vehicles.

67. The Ati Dzogpa Chenpo critique of the Mahayogatantra is that while aspiring to the realization of vajradhara using the Path of method and prajna, practicing the four branches of approach and attainment, and constructing the mandala of the purity of their own mind, they apply effort. While the total bliss of Atiyoga is pure and a total non-dual awake awareness totally beyond effort. Thus the state that is evident when there is no striving is hindered by Mahayoga, for applying effort to attain the total completeness, plenitude, and perfection amounts to falling into the misleading deviation.

The four branches here mentioned of the Mahayogatantra are “approach”, “complete approach”, “attainment” and “great attainment”. Approach here refers to the recognition of bodhicitta, the understanding that all phenomena have been from the very beginning of the nature of Awakening, for which there is nothing to obtain through practice or to correct by means of antidotes. Complete approach is the recognition of oneself as the deity, the understanding that since all phenomena have been from the beginning of the nature of Awakening, we too have been from the beginning of the nature of the deity, which is not something to realize now by means of practice. Attainment here is the creation of the mother, the understanding that from the dimension of space, which is the great mother, space itself manifests in the four great mothers of the elements earth, water, fire, and air, and that from the beginning these are the mothers endowed with the active function of existence. Great attainment here is the union of method and prajna, from the prajna of the five mothers and from the emptiness of space that is the mother there emerges as consort the Buddha of the five aggregates that represent method, from the beginning in union without any intention. From their union comes bodhicitta, the nature of which has the capacity to emanate the deities, brothers and sisters, whose true meaning is primordial Awakening. In the illusory enjoyment of a dimension that itself is also illusory, one experiences the illusory flow of supreme bliss, in the very moment of bliss without conceptualization one realizes the true meaning of the absence of characteristics equal to space, thus acceding to the state of spontaneous perfection. In this way the four demons (in this context: pride, the aggregates of the body, death, and passions/disturbing emotions) too are vanquished and the final goal is achieved.

Following this there are additional and increasingly subtle Ati Dzogpa Chenpo critiques of Mahayogatantra, an example of such is the fact that in the approach, the recognition of bodhicitta is not something that depends on the temporary factor of the Path. In addition, their practitioners have the tendency to be obscured by their attachment to the extremes of space and awareness, in addition to an excessive perseverance in regard to ritual service and attainment

68. Each of the inner Tantras of the Nyingmapa, including the Atiyogatantra (which corresponds to the Path of spontaneous liberation, and not that of the Tantrayana Path of transformation) has three sections which are based on the view of the corresponding inner tantra, but each of which uses methods proper to one of the inner Tantra classifications. So Mahayoga for example, which are based on the view of Mahayoga, but which uses methods belonging respectively to Mahayoga, Anuyoga, and Atiyoga. Therefore the classifications for Mahayoga are Maha-maha, Maha-anu, Maha-ati; the classifications for Anuyoga are Anu-maha, Anu-anu, and Anu-Ati; finally the classifications for Atiyoga are Ati-maha, Ati-anu, and Ati-ati.

69. Contrariwise, the Anuttarayoga and Mahayoga transformation corresponds much more directly to gradual iterations, as the visualization is developed step by step. Additionally, once the the visualization has been generated, there is a greater emphasis on its details (especially in the father Anuttarayogatantras, but in general the totality of Anuttarayogatantras and Mahayogatantras) thus there is a greater emphasis placed on clarity than in that of the Anuyogatantra. Furthermore, at the end of the practice it is indispensable to dissolve the visualization one has built up, while in the Anuyoga, the individual does not dissolve the visualization, but remains indivisible from the deity. The degree to which prajna prevails over method in the Anuyoga is far greater than in the mother Tantras of the Sarmapa, the same applies to the degree to which the sensation of being the deity prevails over the details of the visualization, to the degree to which emphasis is placed on the practices of the stage of completion that should give rise to experiences of total pleasure, and to the degree to which pleasure prevails over clarity in practice. Similarly the generation stage in the Anuyogatantra is far briefer, simpler, and less emphasized than even in the mother Tantras, as the transformation is instantaneous rather than gradual and almost the whole of the practice is instead devoted to the completion stage. Lastly, the swiftness of which the experiences both of total pleasure and the realization of the inseparability of pleasure and emptiness is significantly greater than the lessor vehicles.

70. The aspects of meditation and practice established in the Yogatantra such as the aspects of meditating on the non-conceptual state of the ultimate nature, on the illusory mandala of the deity, on the mandala of higher contemplation or on the mandalas of nature, images, and so on.

71. It is said that if one is able to engage in this contemplation effortlessly on the basis of the principle of spontaneous perfection, integrating space and time in the total condition of absolute equality, then this practice is not different from the method of Dzogpa Chenpo. What is critical to understand is that here one doesn’t have the capacity to indeed do so, namely because effort is applied in directing the non-dual presence of rigpa in a certain direction, and because attempting to make the instantaneous timeless state be contained within a period of time, entails fragmentariness. Thus one engages in the practice in this manner in order to perfect all aims in the single instantaneous non-dual presence.

72. The Ati Dzogpa Chenpo criticism of the Anuyoga is that while aspiring to the level of ‘Indivisible’ realization and having entered the Path of the empty expanse and primordial gnosis, that it considers the primordially pure empty expanse where all phenomena manifest to be the cause and the mandala of primordial gnosis to be the effect. While the total bliss of the Atiyoga is pure and total non-dual awake awareness beyond cause and effect. Thus the state beyond cause and effect is hindered by Anuyoga, as conceiving total completeness, plenitude and perfection in terms of cause and effect amounts to falling into the misleading deviation. So, in addition, their practitioners have the tendency to be obscured by their attachment to the extremes of awareness and space.

73. One of the most common errors in regard to understanding the Path of spontaneous liberation, comes from the term which the translation “spontaneous liberation” is derived, that of the term rangdrol (Rang-grol), translating it as “self-liberation”. Self-liberation can be very misleading as it can be taken to mean that one is liberated as a result of one’s own action and of one’s own efforts in some dichotomy to liberation by an external power. Rangdrol however means nothing of the sort and such views are totally wrong, for rangdrol entails that any action or effort whatsoever on the part of an illegitimate mental subject would affirm and maintain its non-authentic existence as well as that of its objects. So while it is true that in this vehicle one is liberated not by the power of a meditation deity like in the Path of transformation, and rather the potentiality of the primordial awareness beyond all cause/effect and subject/object distinction, the liberation doesn’t result from one’s actions or efforts, rather from the pure spontaneity.

74. The “ten natures of Tantra” are view, conduct, mandala, initiation, commitment, capacity for spiritual action, sadhana, visualization, making offerings, and mantra.

75. Such as those arising in the chonyi bardo (Chos-nyid bar-do)/dharmata bardo and those occurring in the practices of Thogel (Thod-rgal) and Yangthik (Yang-thig). As such the rolpa mode of energy is absolutely critical to some of the higher Dzogchen practices.

76. What is critical to understand is the fact that the Direct Introduction isn’t produced, conditioned, nor a result of an action, it is spontaneous.

77. Mistaken translations of Thogel include “taking the leap”, “leaping over”, “direct crossing” and “direct approach”. Dzogchen masters and their closest students have made it clear that this is highly mistaken in that it suggests that it involves an action (such as leaping) on the part of the illusory mental subject. Dzogchen Master Chogyal Namkai Norbu has relayed that a much more precise translation of the term would be “as soon as you are here, you are there”. This is a cumbersome title so his close students advise to use “acceleration” in that it has also been used by the Master Norbu and that it expresses the essence of Thogel, in that the practice catalyzes the spontaneous liberation process of the Tekcho, making it swifter.

78. However, calm-abiding can allow the individual to transcend all conceptuality in the state known as kunzhi (kun-gzhi), the base-of-all, which then entails a total relaxation, however this state is not Awakening or liberation, it is not rigpa but rather the condition in which neither samsara nor nirvana are active. Dzogchen teachings compare abiding in the non-conceptual base-of-all state with “cutting one’s own head”, for as long as one remains in it one’s possibilities of proceeding on the Path will be blocked.

79. Nyingthik (sNying-thig) is commonly mistranslated as “heartdrop”, this is misleading in that it doesn’t refer to the physical heart at all, nor a “drop” of anything or any sort.

80. The dimension of the base-of-all or kunzhi kham (kun-gzhi khams) in which neither samsara nor nirvana are manifest is easily mistaken for the non-dually awake awareness (rigpa) revealing the true condition of the Base (nirvana) because: (1) both entail a non-positional and non-reflexive awareness that is beyond center-periphery distinctions; (2) both appear non-dual and transpersonal (3) both entail a non-reflexive non-self-conscious functioning of memory; (4) both entail a halting of the process responsible for partitioning the stream of sense-data into perceptual objects (including taking the stream of sense-data itself as object) and in turn experiencing those perceptual objects in terms of concepts; (5) both entail a total relaxation; (6) both can become apparently unconditioned and therefore persistent. Despite appearances, there are major differences which become blatant once one gains familiarity with the direct experiential introduction to rigpa. The base-of-all entails the first marigpa, the unawareness which obscures the true condition of the Base, while rigpa lacks this marigpa and so makes patent the true condition of the Base, that of nirvana. While the base-of-all appears non-dual and transpersonal, dualism and the non-authentic mental subject implicitly persists, out of sight and under the surface. Additionally, though the base-of-all can last for extremely long periods of time, it is still subject to being effected by extreme circumstances and conditions, and so isn’t actually unconditioned, unfaltering, and unwaveringly persistent. When rigpa is still being used as the path, dualism and perceptual objects liberate themselves instantly, when it has become fruit, rigpa is totally transcending the subject-object dualism and so is utterly transpersonal, it is completely unceasing and unconditioned. Lastly, since rigpa is awareness where the base-of-all is unawareness, it is not merely a total relaxation, but is the total completeness, plenitude, bliss, and satisfaction.




Works Consulted





I am forever grateful to Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, Dharma Sangha Rinpoche, and their respective personal students for inspiring this paper and for their tireless work in elucidating the Dzogchen, making its teachings increasingly accessible and no doubt assisting countless beings. I would also like to thank all the authors and other contributers for their works which now make up this paper. Their personal correspondence and written works have provided the bulk of material found in this work. Only a small fraction of this paper originates from me, most of it is inherited, humbly derivative and paraphrased from the works of others, and so I take no credit for this work (save any errors) as it emerged from others. My writing merely organized and consolidated the essence of their precious works and wish to make it clear that the true authors of this work are therefore numerous. The works that have led to this are numerous, both explictly and as well those which have percolated into implicit knowledge over the years, and so this list is by no means exhaustive or in any particular order.

Namkhai Norbu: The Self-Perfected State; Dzogchen and Zen; The Necklace of Zi; The Precious Vase:Instructions on the Base of Santi Maha Sangha; The crystal and the way of light: Sutra, Tantra, Dzogchen; The Mirror:An Advise on Presence and Awareness; The Cycle of Day and Night, An Essential Tibetan Text on the Practice of Contemplation; et al.

Jamgon Kongtrul: The Light of Wisdom; The Treasury of Knowledge, Systems of Buddhist Tantra; et al

Sam Van Schaik: Approaching The Great Perfection, Simultaneous and Gradual Methods of Dzogchen Practice in the Longchen Nyingtig

Herbert V. Guenther: Longchenpa’s Kindly Bent to Ease Us Part I: Kindly Bent to Ease Us:Triology of Finding Comfort and Ease : Part Three: Wondermen; The Teachings of Padmasambhava; The Jewel Ornament of Liberation; The Philosophical Background of Buddhist Tantrism; The Experience of Being: The Trikaya Idea in its Tibetan Interpretation; et al.

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche: Wonders of the Natural Mind

Elias Capriles: Buddhism and Dzogchen: the Doctrine of the Buddha and the Supreme Vehicle of Tibetan Buddhism; Part One; Buddhism: A Dzogchen Outlook; Beyond Being, Beyond Mind, Beyond History, A Dzogchen-Founded Metatranspersonal, Metapostmodern Philosophy and Psychology for Survival and an Age of Communion; Volume II: Beyond Mind: A Metaphenomenological, Metaexistential Philosophy, and a Metatranspersonal Metapsychology’; et al.

Sameten Gyaltsen Karmay: The Great Perfection, A Philosophical And Meditative Teaching Of Tibetan Buddhism; et al.

Jeffrey Hopkins: Fifth Dalai Lama’s The Practice of Emptiness; Dolpopa’s Mountain Doctrine; Jamyang Shayba’s Great Exposition of Buddhist and Non-Buddhist Views on the Nature of Reality; Fundamental Mind: The Nyingma View of the Great Completeness; et al.

John Reynolds: Dudjom Rinpoche’s The Alchemy of Realization; The Sadhana Practice of Wrathful Deities in Tibetan Buddhist Tantra; Bonpo Dzogchen Teachings; The Golden Letters; Self-Liberation through Seeing with Naked Awareness; et al.

Matthieu Ricard: Dudjom Rinpoche’s Extracting the Quintessence of Accomplishment; The Quantum and the Lotus; et al

W.Y. Evans-Wentz, Kazi-Dawa Sangdup: Padmasambhava’s Rigpa ngotho cherthong rangdrol
Luis Gomez: Indian Materials on the Doctrine of Sudden Enlightenment

Tulku Pema Rigtsal and Keith Dowman: The Great Secret of Mind:Special Instructions on the Nonduality of Dzogchen

Keith Dowman: Sky Dancer: The Secret Life and Songs of Lady Yeshe Tsogyel; The Flight of the Garuda:The Dzogchen Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism; Longchenpa’s Treasury of the Dharmadhatu; Longchenpa’s Finding Comfort and Ease in Enchantment; Longchenpa’s Treasury of Natural Perfection; Old Man Basking in the Sun, Longchenpa’s Treasury of Natural Perfection; Eye of the Storm Original Perfection, Vairotsana’s Five Early Transmissions; et al

Keith Dowman and Chogyal Namkhai Norbu: Natural Perfection: Longchenpa’s Radical Dzogchen

Adriano Clemente and Namkhai Norbu: The Universal Great Perfection of Pure Mind, the Supreme Source

Gareth Sparham: Ocean of Eloquence, Tsong Kha pa’s Commentary on the Yogacara Doctrine of Mind

Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein: Dudjom Rinpoche’s Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism

Trungpa, Chogyam, and Francesca Fremantle: Guru Rinpoche according to Karma Lingpa The Tibetan Book of the Dead

Gyurme Dorje, Graham Coleman, and Thupten Jinpa: The Tibetan Book of the Dead

Kennard Lipman and Merril Peterson: Longchenpa’s You Are the Eyes of the World

Longchen Rabjam: The Precious Treasury of the Way of Abiding; A Treasure Trove of Scriptural Transmission

Elizabeth Napper: Dependent-Arising and Emptiness: A Tibetan Buddhist Interpretation of Madhyamika Philosophy Emphasizing the Compatibility of Emptiness and Conventional Phenomena

Tulku Tarthang: Time, Space, and Knowledge: A New Vision of Reality

Karmapa Rangjung Dorje: Ordinary Awareness & Pristine Awarenes: A Treatise on the Distinction

Chogyam Trungpa: Journey Without Goal; Mudra; Transcending madness: The experience of the six bardos; et al.

Tulku Thondup: The Practice of Dzogchen; Hidden Teachings of Tibet: An Explanation of the Terma Tradition of the Nyingmapa School of Buddhism

Ventaka Ramanan: Nagarjuna’s Philosophy

Yeshe Tsogyal: The Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava

Thinley Norbu: A Cascading Waterfall of Nectar

Jay Garfield: Ocean of Reasoning: A Great Commentary on Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika; Empty Words: Buddhist Philosophy and Cross-Cultural Interpretation; Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika;

Jan Westerhoff: Twelve Examples of Illusion; Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka: A Philosophical Introduction; The Dispeller of Disputes: Nagarjuna's Vigrahavyavartani

Tom Tillemans, Jay Garfield, and Mario D’Amato: Pointing at the Moon: Buddhism, Logic, Analytic Philosophy; The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way
Alexander Berzin: Fundamentals of Dzogchen Meditation; The Major Facets of Dzogchen; et al.

Jamgon Mipham: Chandrakirti’s Madhyamakavatara

Denma Locho: Treatise on the kun gzhi

Marco Alejandro Chaoul: The Mother Tantras

Chandrakirti: Bodhisattvayogacharyachatuhshatakatika

S. G. Karmay: The great perfection: A philosophical and meditative teaching of Tibetan Buddhism

Daniel Scheidegger: The First Four Themes of Klong chen pa’s Tshig don bcu gcig pa

Etienne Lamotte: Suramgamasamadhi Sutra: The concentration of heroic progress on the path to Enlightenment

T. Leary, R. Metzner, and R. Alpert: The psychedelic experience: A manual based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead

J. W. Pettit: Mipham’s Beacon of certainty: Illuminating the view of Dzogchen the Great Perfection

K. Crosby and A. Skilton: Shantideva’s The Bodhicharyavatara

D.T. Suzuki: The Lankavatara sutra; et al.

Anne Carolyn Klein, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche: Unbounded Wholeness, Bon, Dzogchen, and the Logic of the Nonconceptual

D.K. Nauriyal, Michael S. Drummond, and Y.B. Lal: Buddhist Thought and Applied Psychological Research

Khenchen Palden Sherab: The Blazing Lights of the Sun and Moon

G. Xing: The concept of the Buddha: Its evolution from early Buddhism to the trikaya theory

Baruah, 2008;

Sree. Barber, 2008

Warder, 2000

Napper, 2003

Wallace, 2001 et al.

Keown, 2003

Dattajeevo, 2002

...and so on



Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo: kLong lnga’i yi ge dum bu gsum pa

P. Pfandt: De-bzhin gshegs-pa’i snyingpo’i mdo
Padmasambhava: Man ngag lta ba’i phreng ba

Pawo Tsuglag Threngwa: Chöjung Khepai Gatön:chos ‘byung mkhas pa’i dga’ ston

Jigme Lingpa: Kun-mkhyen zhal-lug bdud-rtsi’i thigs-pa

Dodrupchen Rinpoche: Theg pa’i mchog rin po che’i mdzod ces bya ba

Longchenpa: Chos-’byung rin-po-che’i gter mdzod bstan pa gsal bar byed pa’i nyi ’od

Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche: Kun-bzang Ye-shes gSal-bar sTon-pa’i Thabs-kyi Lam-mchog ’Dus-pa’i rGyud. rNying-ma’i rgyud-’bum; bDer-’dus rTsa-rgyud. rNying-ma’i rgyud-’bum; rNal ‘byor grub pa’i lung; et al.

Ju Mi Pham:Yid bzhin mdzod kyi grub mtha’ bsdus pa


...to mention a few; I am indebted to all authors and texts whom are not mentioned.

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
4/14/14 1:09 PM as a reply to Omega Point.
Thanks very much for these essays! They are great!

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
4/14/14 1:12 PM as a reply to Omega Point.
Hi Omega Point,

Thanks for your writings. You said you started a local sangha, where did you start it?

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
4/15/14 8:54 AM as a reply to Omega Point.
Hi Omega Point,

I can't thank you enough for your massively beneficial and informative posts.

Thus the Thogel practices and other practices from the secret oral instructions are so critical for serious practitioners in our time, as one of their key functions is to disrupt, destroy, and/or hijack the condition of the base-of-all and its imitation of freedom, making apparent its limitations and the error of taking it as refuge.


Further, the methods used by other schools, even the Tantric Path of transformation, are generally not as efficient as Ati Dzogpa Chenpo. With this said, some individuals, even individuals with greater faculties, under certain circumstances will experience a greater resonance and thus temporarily greater efficacy and results with lower vehicles. Thus to those individuals, a lower vehicle will provisionally serve as a “higher” vehicle.


In turn the visualization and non-duality keep further passions from arising, as passions cannot arise without dualism, and the conception of an attitude of some sort of a subject toward and object, therefore the passions are a function of dualism and cannot arise when non-duality has been made manifest.


So for Theravada lay practitioners who are cycling regularly, getting fruitions and Nirodha Samapatti, and who have seen a very substantial reduction in craving and aversion that suggests 2nd path or beyond by the 10 fetters model, but who's progress has slowed or stopped entirely, and who no longer resonate particularly with the Theravada path, would you recommend they move on to Dzogchen, or have any other advice on how to progress, assuming a practice regimen of 1-2 hours per day and a willingness/capacity to undertake retreats of 1-4 weeks per year? I ask because there are apparently many on this forum stuck below 3rd path, and none (apart from yourself) who are claiming to have progressed beyond it. I'm also getting the impression that this is a wider issue among western lay practitioners. E.g. in a recent post (dated 4/8/14), Daniel Ingram, the founder of this forum, wrote the following:

Find me the confirmed example of someone who can be known in person who has achieved what the limited emotional models purport and actually holds up to the scrutiny that long exposure as close and honest friends across years and in adverse circumstances can provide.

...

So far, I have been lucky enough to have spent time running in some pretty amazing circles of practitioners for about 20 years and have failed to fine one person who meets the ideals that the Theravadan models in this regard, and yet I do know a few who appear to know non-duality to the end: none are emotion-free in practice.

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
4/17/14 6:13 AM as a reply to Omega Point.
Really enjoyed reading this. Particularly the following..

When the delusory valuation of thought becomes more intense and the resultant tension becomes stronger, then it is said that one is being affected by a passion, as passions are nothing but emotionally charged attitudes that a mental subject has toward an object. Therefore, if upon looking at thoughts in one of the characteristic Tekcho ways, then the intrinsically all-liberating single gnosis unveils and so all delusorily valued thoughts dissolve of themselves, including the subject-object duality, which is called the “spontaneous rupture of tension”. Simultaneously along with this rupture of tension, the complex of the individual (body-voice-mind) will completely and instantly relax, compared to a stack of firewood falling on the ground when the cord holding it together suddenly breaks, or like feathers entering fire. This is radically different from calm abiding which involves pacifying the attitude of the mental subject towards its objects, and cannot result in the absolute relaxation of rigpa found in the practice of Tekcho.78 While Thogel sets the conditions ripe for the self-arising of thigles and other mirage-like phenomena that initially manifest in an apparently external dimension, manifesting as tsel energy in the external dimension, and activating the dynamic of rolpa energy and luminosity proper to the chonyi bardo (Chos-nyid bar-do) or dharmata bardo, which eventually does not allow the continuation of the illusion of an internal and external dimension and a subject and an object. The conditions then activate the basic orientations and reactions to delusion called zhedang (Zhe-sdang) causing us to react to the phenomena of luminosity with irritation, even fear, misery, and disgust, and so exacerbating tensions. Such tensions lead to instant conflict as soon as the appearance of there being a mental subject in an internal dimension that seems to be at a distance from objects that appear to lie in an external dimension manifests. If one has sufficiently developed the capacity of spontaneous liberation through Tekcho practice, then the dynamic of rolpa energy will lead this dualistic delusion to immediately liberate itself spontaneously, so that the tensions and conflicts are instantly released, which in turn catalyzes tremendously the process of spontaneous, instant, and absolute releasing of tensions found in Tekcho, intensifying, accelerating, and enhancing its power to neutralize delusion. Each and every time delusory phenomena liberate themselves spontaneously, the propensity for them to manifest is neutralized to an extent that is directly proportional to the degree of emotional intensity and the volume of the energetic-volume-determining-the-scope-of-awareness, both of which tend to reach their maximum potential in the practice of Thogel and so the maximum panoramification of awareness, leaving no more room for delusory phenomena, such as a separate mental subject, to manifest.

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
4/17/14 2:54 AM as a reply to Omega Point.
I just want to express my deepest gratitudes for your texts here at the forum Omega Point. They have been a tremendous source of inspiration to me. Thank you

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
5/8/14 4:25 PM as a reply to B B.
Good friends,

So for Theravada lay practitioners who are cycling regularly, getting fruitions and Nirodha Samapatti, and who have seen a very substantial reduction in craving and aversion that suggests 2nd path or beyond by the 10 fetters model, but who's progress has slowed or stopped entirely, and who no longer resonate particularly with the Theravada path, would you recommend they move on to Dzogchen, or have any other advice on how to progress, assuming a practice regimen of 1-2 hours per day and a willingness/capacity to undertake retreats of 1-4 weeks per year? I ask because there are apparently many on this forum stuck below 3rd path, and none (apart from yourself) who are claiming to have progressed beyond it. I'm also getting the impression that this is a wider issue among western lay practitioners.




If one is no longer resonating with the Theravada path and one observes that one’s progress has stagnated, then moving on to either the path of transformation or the path of spontaneous liberation is perfectly reasonable to consider. Which of the two depending on the individual’s capacities, and generally determined either by consulting their reasoning and intuition; or if a personal relationship with an accomplished master is had, by following their advice, as the master will likely have a sufficient understanding of one’s capacities and may be able to provide the appropriate empowerments, transmissions, and/or the Direct Introduction.

The contemporary Theravada path, relatively speaking, is still in an “early” experimental phase. This is not only referring to very recent modern adaptations such as Mahasi noting, which at best appears to be only loosely based on the texts claimed to have inspired it; but also to a lesser extent various portions of the living traditions which are referred to by the name Theravada. Over a short period of time after the Pali texts were written, it seems they faded from popular and monastic use, eventually being read only by highly educated elite monks (and only those texts that were available at this or that particular monastery, for small numbers of random texts were littered throughout; there are instances to this day of theravadan monks that don’t actually read the texts, let alone the collection of texts in its entirety or majority). After which it appears that for an extended period there was what may be considered a total decline of any sort of a Theravada orthodoxy, instead entailing a diverse variety of localized “theravadas”, often contradicting one another and struggling with the centralizing forces of nationalism. These theravadas, far from being an orthodoxy derived from a textual monolith, consisted of local folk beliefs and customs, generally scant numbers of Pali texts, and mainly the the views, interpretations, and writings of local monks (reports from around this time seem to indicate that almost no monasteries possessed the entire Tipitaka, even less so the commentaries, and instead the teachings relied on nissaya, meaning a set of lecture notes by the local a teacher). It seems that it wasn’t until around the mid-1800s when Europeans rediscovered the Pali texts, that they were re-organized and began to widely re-percolate across Asiatic countries as well as being newly distributed worldwide. With this in mind, there may indeed still be major kinks to work out insofar as practicing popular and modern forms of Theravada or theravadan-inspired methodology.
Take again for example Mahasi noting, while it indeed may be effective to various ends or degrees, a sensitive reading of the texts claimed to have inspired it do not appear to organically lead to such a practice, instead leading to practices which appear quite different. Furthermore, as Bhikkhu Sujato and others have argued pretty convincingly, and remaining thus un-refuted, the Satipatthana Sutta, which is supposedly seminal to Mahasi noting and the general over-emphasis of vipassana, appears to actually be a late compilation (and so does not accurately reflect how the Buddha taught it), with the supposed emphasis on vipassana seeming to mostly stem from a particular revised version of it (further that the vipassana aspects are the least authentic part). This point is then used to seriously call into question the textual basis of most of 20th century Theravada meditation, no matter how effective.
In the very early teachings the term satipatthana appears to be primarily associated with samatha and not vipassana, however with this said, it should be noted that for the early texts, samatha and vipassana cannot be divided, in while in fact a small number of texts explain how the critical samatha practice evolves into vipassana. It appears that it wasn’t until later and adulteration crept into the texts that we see the vipassana aspect predominating, even usurping the place of samatha in satipatthana. The vipassana-centric or vipassana-only approaches seem to have originated in the colonial era as part of the modernist Buddhism movement as the schools attempted to address the challenges of the modern age. It was a response born of a growing skepticism of samatha, or more precisely, the degeneration of samatha found across many of the theravadas which allowed local folk customs and lore to inform and taint their practice. Reverting authentic samatha, that which stably evolves in an organic fashion to reflect its indivisible vipassana aspect, into mere-relaxation, mundane states of contracted consciousness, fortune telling and other other states of degenerate quasi-magical mysticism. With this said, virtually all the early texts expressing central doctrine portray samatha as the four jhanas, making clear the essential nature of the samatha jhanas in the Buddha’s teachings insofar as the Pali texts present them. Additionally, “access concentration” or “momentary concentration” which are commonly practiced now, are commentarial ideas and so a later interpretation and thus it is argued that interpreting the texts and thus one’s practice through such a lens may indeed amount to a misinterpretation of those very texts and thus of what is designated as proper practice in regards to the supermundane path laid down by the Buddha (regardless of their efficacy).

To this mind, it appears that in many instances both a degenerated samatha and an overemphasis on vipassana persists in modern practice. For example, there is a tendency to reinterpret the qualities of jhana in some cases totally leaving out listed qualities and having a “good enough” attitude; an over-willingness to bend the descriptions of the qualities in favor of one’s experience, to exaggerate aspects of one’s experiences of samatha/jhana to fit the listed qualities, even if they are but an extremely weak shadow or imitation of the actual quality in question; and thus to iterate, an overall tendency for complacence, a settling for a weak and generally unstable samatha that one self-soothes oneself, in quite a deceptive and gullible fashion, into thinking that it instead is a strong samatha or at least qualifyingly enough. However, instead it might be considered that the lengths of mastery described in the texts, that of unshakable stability and of such penetrating concentrative absorption that if sitting by a muddy road and having a large assembly of merchant carts and animals loudly stomp and roll by, splashing mud at one, and that one doesn’t notice such a circus in the slightest, is not merely an exaggeration, but an accurate representation of what expected mastery entails; that feeble-samatha should be identified as feebke-samatha, instead of taking a mere single-pointed attentiveness that is both impressionable and unstable (and thus not diamond-like) for the heights of actual concentrative absorptions. Lastly, that samatha and vipassana are not two separate baskets, but two sides of something indivisible, very simply put, the vipassana side dealing with discrimination, discernment, understanding and thus the overcoming of cogitative defilements; while samatha deals with  peace, bliss, energy, heart qualities and thus the overcoming of non-conceptual (or super-subtle conceptual/perceptual), somatic, and emotional defilements.


-
There of course are still the looming issues of the original challenges from many of the schools predating Theravada, that of the status of the arhat, the particular emphasis or lack thereof of the Bodhisattva path, and the status of the true nature of mind whether it was originally pure etc. To just deal with the first one: some of these challenges went as far as to assert the lack of enlightenment of an arhat, that their state still had passions, a lack of perfection, or in some cases asserting that arhatship entailed some sort of prolonged temporary state and that this “enlightenment” could be fallen from. Which to this mind basically results in three emerging positions throughout Buddhism:

1. Arhats are not truly enlightened and do not truly reach nirvana.
or
2. Arhatship entails an enlightened state and reaches nirvana, however this enlightenment and nirvana is not maximally consolidated.
or
3. Arhats are totally enlightened, reach nirvana, and are very close if not virtually identical to Buddhas.

Considering the many reoccurring criticisms such as the retained possibility of “nocturnal emissions”, the lack of direct control over the energetic-volume-determining-the-scope-of-awareness, the lack of threefold sunyata-svabhava wisdom concerning phenomena, the apparent persistence of subtle duality, lacking the realization of the Buddha-bodies in their totality and inseparability, lacking the unique modes specific to Dzogchen, and many others, to this mind position three is to be emphatically rejected. When considering all of Buddhism in its totality, the general approach is pragmatically towards position two (and generally thus that enlightenment and nirvana can be consolidated well past the arrival point of the Arhat path).    

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Concerning vipassana, in Theravada the three marks of existence, anicca, dukkha, and anatta are considered very introductory (“chapter one, page one”). Eventually however, these marks often take a backseat to a set of more subtle marks, that of sunnata, tathata, and atammayata. Very simply put, sunnata not only encompasses the three coarser marks, representing them in various ways at a much more refined level, but refers to the illusory mirage-like aspect of existence, that things are not exactly as they seen, not merely that they are impermanent or lacking self-being, but that they are totally dream and mirage-like, that they are dynamically unreal. Sunnata derives from a sort of void-like denial, refusal, and rejection of the phenomenological world, it derives from no longer believing in it, from recognizing that it isn’t entirely real. Tathata is a very similar quality to sunnata, except that it is like an affirmation of sorts opposed to a negation of sorts. It is that which affirms the universe, it is like the fabric of the non-thingness of the universe, that though there is the “nothing” that is pointed out by sunnata, there is still “something” remaining that is neither thingness or object, it is the is-ness or suchness of the universe.

 Finally and most importantly, there is atammayata, which despite not being well known, in Theravada has been considered the ultimate concept. Literally meaning “not made of that”, atammayata is hard to pin down in that nearly all translations have a tendency to overemphasize the “subject” or “object” aspect of what is being negated, for example Bhikkhu Bodhi can be subtly criticized in that his rendering of it as “non-identification” can lead to the tendency to mistakenly take this as an emphasis of the subject aspect, while in instances with other translators terms like “non-fashioning” are used, which has in it a tendency to be mistaken for emphasizing the object aspect.
 It is the opposite quality from that which is found in the term “tanmayata” (meaning “made of that”, which seems to stem from a classical Indian theory of perception described by a grasping hand taking the shape of what it grabs; to the eye sending out a ray, that ray taking shape of what is seen, and then returning to the eye; mental energy conforming to the shape of its objects and then returning to the subject; and where the mental energy of the experiencer becomes analogous with the object or thing being realized.

Very simply put, atammayata refers to the quality of awareness apparently prior or without subject-object duality, it refers to the quality by which awareness doesn’t take the shape of that which it apprehends. Where the mind’s energy doesn’t go out to the object and occupy it, where awareness doesn’t partition itself into perceptual objects while reflecting/apprehending the sense-data continuum, so that there simply is the natural flow of the non-partitioned sense-data stream (thus lacking percepts). Therefore it makes neither an objective “thing” or “object” nor a subjective “observer” or “witness” knowing it, hence non-identification of any sort of a subject (or the subjective) non-fashioning of any sort of object (or the objective). It is the correction of subtle conceptual errors concerning sunnata and tathata. It is the application of the essential meaninglessness of dualities of this/that and subject-object. It is the recognition that ‘there is no that, only this; and since there is no that, there is no attributable meaning to this; thus there is not even “this”’. It is that which sees that there cannot be anything other than the ultimate and ultimately insubstantial reality, it is letting everything go, including the entire relative world of subject-object, apparently at the subtlest level, and so such a world is broken apart, dissolved, and totally abandoned, resulting in spacious wholeness and fulfillment.

If understood well (including direct experience of it), it is easy to see the tragedy of atammayata being so unfamiliar, both now and historically. It is also easy to begin seeing similarities to this and that which is sought in the Sudden Mahayana (Zen/Chan), and to a lessor degree even Dzogchen. It is reasonable to consider that for those following Theravada and having the right capacities, that the eventual transition to heavily prioritizing these finer marks into samatha/vipassana practice might be rather essential. Additionally, atammayata is likely one of, if not the, most advanced concepts and teachings relayed in the Pali texts. A Theravada practitioner, at a certain point in practice, therefor might even consider taking the application of atammayata as the sole practice. If lacking the capacity to meaningfully apply atammayata, then one should at least keep notice of the differences between the mind-mode that tears down the phenomena it apprehends (according to the principle of apachayagami) and the mind-mode that passively sustains and conforms to the phenomena it apprehends, as the latter can sneak into even seasoned vipassana practice (often very subtly and momentarily).


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Concerning those that feel stuck around “3rd path", it is rather important to understand that the Theravada lacks direct control and mastery of the thigle/energy-volume-determining-the-scope-of-awareness (in many cases practitioners of Theravada lack the capacity to directly observe the energy), instead only raising it passively through mindfulness and concentrative absorptions. Without direct control and mastery of the energy-volume, there is no guarantee of enlightenment in this lifetime (and so the energy-volume, and a high one at that, is recognized by the path of transformation and the path of spontaneous liberation as the single most crucial factor). One way to deplete the energy-volume and to keep it low, is to allow outward emissions (read:ejaculations), thus it is imperative for Theravada practitioners to avoid these emissions (such emissions are common for householder Theravada practitioners, to their detriment), especially since they rely on passive methods to gradually raise what they are in turn actively depleting. Though contemplatives of all grades and capacities can practice the Theravada, if one is dead-set on enlightenment in this lifetime, then one might consider working diligently on training one’s overall capacities, gaining experience with the emptiness of self, and additionally gaining skill in the direct observation of the energy, after which one is qualified for at least the lower mastery of the energy-system found in the path of transformation (as it requires greater faculties to successfully practice this path, and thus isn’t immediately open to everyone). With this said, according to the Pali texts, someone with extremely great natural capacities and faculties, great karma, as well as being well-learned, might achieve the enlightenment offered by Theravada in a single week, presumably during a no-sleep, perpetual retreat. While on the other end of the spectrum, someone with extremely poor capacities, faculties, karma, and learning, will likely not achieve enlightenment until a great many lifetimes from now. Most fall somewhere in the middle, meaning many people will likely not achieve enlightenment during this lifetime using the Theravada path.  

Second to this, many who claim to practice the Theravada path do not practice it in regards to the fundamental principle of renunciation that this path is actually founded on. As such, as the Buddha relayed, the wood will not catch fire because it is wet and sappy, in other words in regard to the Theravada path there isn’t a proper arrangement of primary and secondary conditions for the fire of awakening to catch. One should let go of everything, such as distractions, frivolous chatter, sources of the passions, etc. Truly letting go of everything is the essential point, which seems to emphasize the principle of renunciation that some seem so keen to forget or dance around. Instead many of these people, though possibly not bearing it in mind, seem to be fashioning and operating on some sort of implicit “principle of wisdom/insight”, these people should consider instead practicing Mahayana, in particular those forms of it which emphasize valid cognition of, and insight into, emptiness. These paths are more suited to those basing their personal practice on a path operating on an emphasis revolving around said “principle of wisdom/insight”, while with the Theravada path, emphasis is placed on a convergence of factors, including wisdom/insight, which are all operating through the principle of renunciation.




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Concerning the rather apparent wider problem for western lay practitioners, there are several factors that seem to be at play here. This has been a pretty common theme for normal lay practitioners throughout the history of Buddhism. There are very few references in the Pali texts, if any (according to interpretation and translation disputes), of an individual householder attaining enlightenment.

“The early teaching admitted that laypersons could attain the first three degrees of sainthood (stream-winner, once-returner, and non-returner); but whether they could become arhants was a disputed point....”

“A famous passage at A.iii, 450-51 is often held to provide evidence for lay persons attaining arahantship and continuing to remain as householders, but such an interpretation is erroneous, based on mistaking the expression niṭṭhaṅgata to mean 'attained the goal,' when it actually means 'attained to certainty' and signifies a stream-enterer or one at some other grade of noble attainment short of arahantship.”
 
In one text, the Buddha explictly refers to the fetter of householdership (which sparked later debates as to its extent and meaning). It was generally concluded that it isn’t the material possessions in of themselves that amounts to the fetter.

In Tibetan Buddhism, lay people being great masters has been much more explicitly the case and common, but they specifically are advanced lay yogis, who practice intensively, often more intensively than and more often than ordained monks. As well as usually practicing very advanced methods, very often with very high levels of blatant renunciation. Many revered masters have been like this, but these people are very different then regular lay contemplatives, as the regular lay person isn’t a yogi who spends years in serious retreat or lives extremely simple lives rigorously practicing or effortlessly persisting in primordial gnosis.

Lay people often do not practice enough, many practice less than they participate in their hobbies. The brain is one of the most, if not the single most, complicated things in the universe, and people expect to master it in a minor portion of their pastime (keep in mind the Buddha often is claimed to have spoken time and time again on the truth being so subtle and difficult to understand). Many want to practice and achieve letting everything go without letting everything go, often letting go of only what is immediately convenient.
Aside from not practicing enough, many don’t practice very well and so effectively participate in anti-meditations of various sorts a moment or an hour after they get off the mat. Furthermore, to generalize quite a bit: lay practitioners in the east tend to be prone to anti-protestant and folk versions of Buddhist practice. Deriving much of their practice from the popular religious culture than from serious examinations of the texts or serious study under a qualified master.

 While in the west there is a fresh frothing sea of issues, such as deep-seated hyper-cynicism (which is indeed also emerging with many of the younger generations of eastern practitioners who are chasing western material comforts) and doubt which seriously hinder the path, namely, rigorous dedication to the path and practice, as many appear to want their Buddhism al a carte and streamlined (or in a pill if possible!). Many actually practice a path in line with German romanticism that is relaxed and buddhistic at best, rather than practicing a Buddhadharma path.
Aside from the obvious tendency to not practice nearly enough or nearly as seriously and guided, there are some which embrace a free-for-all freestyle practice which often has no arrival point and as such is directionless in a rather negative sense. Sharing some of the same core issues with eastern lay practitioners, there is a tendency towards poor education on the subject and almost always lacking serious tutelage under a truly qualified master (thus lacking an esoteric understanding and personalized pith instructions).
 The lack of an institution in the still-young world of western Buddhism has its pros and cons. One of the cons being that they have completely unqualified and feebly-attained people appointing themselves as masters or spokespeople for Buddhism (in other situations, the bar has been set lower to make sure that there is at least somebody to pass this or that linage to in the west, and/or for the sake of passing it to an actual westerner) which is something that can seriously lead to the decline of the essential Buddhism capable of bringing about authentic transcendence, especially in the west if not eventually remedied. There are many people who lack the training and knowledge, who jump into advanced practices, fail to take off because they cannot operate nor understand the controls, and then jump out of all practice or any serious practice.
 There is a problem with a sort of sanitizing effect or effort by many westerners, who in effect are seeking, explictly or otherwise, to purge Buddhism from religion, from tradition, from what seems incomprehensible, etc. Who have tried to reduce nearly all practices to some sort of crude mindfulness or overly reductionist quasi-insight practices. Who have tried to, in line with deviant consequences of particular lines of some post-modern thought, seek to establish all Buddhisms on equal ground, all somehow sharing the same views, insights, efficacy, and/or potential (mistaking similarities for complete and unflinching sameness). Additionally, there are the potential issues of pragmatic dharma movements intent on perpetuating “what works”, which usually consists of people collectively dragging themselves and others down to a lower common denominator, as many people suffer from the aforementioned problems of not practicing very long and/or with practicing with insufficient education and training, and generally a total lack of proper knowledge insofar advanced practices -As such the results of rigorous practice are scantly reported, which encourages many to take it considerably less seriously, not practice as diligently, attaining fewer results and (not only completing the self-fulfilling prophecy) turning the cycle of degradation for others.
With an Wilber teaching his gradualist quasi-Vedanta-cloaked-as-uninformed-Buddhism and claiming he is in the prime position to (and so will do so) initiate the fourth turning of the dharma wheel, to a Stephen Batchelor teaching retreats and advising people that a crude freestyle mindfulness and a short quote or two from any pet text is enough for a Buddhist path. The western community has a lot of work to do, as right now much of the monastic and lay community seems to be in disarray and appears in some respects to be giving only a half-hearted go at it. Many of these trends, if they are to improve, will likely get a bit worse first.

Globally, though the proportion of well-accomplished realized individuals has historically always been very small, presently the numbers appear to be unfortunately shrinking. Concerning what matters, there indeed does seem to be a Buddhist decline and a greater instance of the so-called ‘Buddhist dark-age’ appears to be on the horizon. Unless something is turned around in a pretty significant way, then in all likelihood there will only be very small numbers of mostly non-lineage bodhisattvas with great inheritance that will accomplish extremely well. These beings will lead, teach, and inspire others to the path and progress along such, but aside from these small pockets, likely with decreasing returns, mara will gain ground.

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Concerning the four path model,
There is no reason to assume that all the other paths can somehow be subsumed and consolidated to fit neatly into this model, often other paths don't even correspond very well to this model. Nearly all pragmatic models which attempt to reconcile the ‘four path model’ with other paths do not place and limit the other paths to strictly within the confines of the four path model, as it amounts to smashing and amputating these other paths. Instead, they define only a portion of the other paths in terms of the four path model, and then at a point have the other paths transcend the four path model, such as having 4th path correspond in certain ways to the 6th, 7th, and/or 8th bhumi (within certain forms of the short-bodhisattva path; and corresponding to a much lower bhumi in nearly every respect when in relation to the long-bodhisattva paths; lastly one should note that the bodhisattvayanas almost always entail a five path model).
To this mind, though in some occasions implicit parallels are drawn for the sake of discourse, there is a rejection of the idea that the other paths can be stuffed solely into the confines of the four path model, additionally, there has not been any explicit technical claim to 3rd or 4th path due to walking a path not easily reconciled within the context of the 4th path model.

This mind was introduced to the Path through experiencing the inner re-creation of the experience of death trances (bardo trances). Further, only for a relatively short time did it later undergo practices relating to the path of renunciation, both Hinayana and Mahayana (with a leaning towards Mahayana, and even at this time often a tantrically-inspired Mahayana). Following intuition and taking as View the direct experience of the bardo, there was a transfer to the path of transformation until fully glimpsing Rigpa (with the innate meta-bliss of the actual clear-light “activated”) via the total pleasure, and then a transfer to the path of spontaneous liberation, maintaining certain practices inherited from the path of transformation as secondary practices. However, this is still an extremely crude and loose description, as visionary initiation into the Path, via the bardo in the very beginning, entailed spontaneously natural applications of thogal, and so the Dzogchen-esque View and methodological-leaning were sprinkled throughout the practicing of all three paths (path of renunciation, transformation, and spontaneous liberation). So for example in brief, when applying concentration/samatha-like practices during the relatively short tour of the path of renunciation, there still was an emphasis on the Tibetan single-point compound techniques, which are Dzogchen-rooted (they are practices of the first series of Dzogchen teachings/methods which start as preliminary samatha/vipassana and then eventually evolve organically to be concerned with bringing about the Direct Introduction; generally such introduction initially lacks the ”activation” of the innate bliss of the actual clear-light); and during the practice of the bliss-based subset of the path of transformation, visualization was intuitively marginalized and in most cases rejected (in fact there was much more visualization practice during the period that is being very loosely tagged as corresponding to the path of renunciation), which is generally contrary to tantra and is central to Dzogchen. One might say that to describe the path walked by this mind would be something akin to mentioning first a series of bardo visions which include the first, second, and third thogal vision; then a short tour through the simultaneity of anuttara/maha-path of renunciation, anu-path of renunciation, and ati-path of renunciation; then starting an extended stay (after a series of intuitions and accomplishments, such as overcoming the black precipice of ignorance called “nearly perfected” during sleep, which thus realizes the two-fold emptiness/emptiness of other and allows the wondrous sample of the manifest sambhogakaya) in the simultaneity of anuttara/maha-path of transformation, anu-path of transformation, and ati-path of transformation (during which the first instance of the fourth thogal vision occurred); and finally a simultaneity of ati-anu and ati-ati, while utilizing anu-maha/anuttara, ati-maha/anuttara, and anu-ati as secondary practices.

Therefore, despite having experience with Theravada, it unjustified to think that a Theravada-like path has been walked or that what was walked is to be cognized all within terms of the four path model. However, if forced to do this very thing and to think within the very crude and amputating confines of solely the four path model, then the 2nd path, the 3rd path, or somewhere between the two, manifested as the arrival point of the initial series of bardo trances, after which punctuated-equilibrium-like progress persisted until the first special extinction in primordial gnosis occurred, brought on by the total pleasure, which is the super-unified extraordinary bliss or meta-bliss found in the great blisses becoming boundlessly one, all-pervading (as contrasted with the standard extinction in the sampling of primordial gnosis), and unapprehendable. It is within reason to imagine some calling this 4th path, however there continues to be greater consolidation from that point. While referring to different levels of consolidation, it is helpful to remember that in most instances by the 6th bhumi the bodhisattva is considered enlightened, and in many cases it is considered that nirvana is the case, however it is considered that there still is room for greater consolidation of enlightenment and nirvana. Likewise, as mentioned in the paper there are the bhumis 11-16, all entailing enlightenment, nirvana, and Buddhahood, and so different consolidation levels.



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If one decides on the path of transformation then they should keep in mind that at minimum, a threshold degree of the emptiness of self is required to properly practice this path in any meaningful way (opposed to the much fuller understanding that Madhyamaka rightfully claims comes with knowledge of the emptiness of phenomena). If practicing the path of transformation only with the minimum of the emptiness of self, the emptiness of phenomena should arise naturally throughout the course of practice, if this doesn’t happen then eventually one will need to emphasize contemplations that reinforce this, such as seeing all as lucid-dream, as mirage, as hologram, etc.
If deciding to attempt the path of transformation improperly, without the threshold level of emptiness of self, then this becomes the emphasis of practice and study, as such one should seek valid cognition of the absence of the three standard svabhava categories refuted in Madhyamaka, practice the guru yoga of the lowest and outermost tantras (avoid practicing any guru yoga within the context of it being one’s own mind until after the sufficient emptiness of self has been attained), additionally the aforementioned practices advised for the emptiness of phenomena, but with the extended emphasis of selfhood being an empty shell, a balloon, dream, a mirage, a hologram, and lastly any other of the many practices related to voidness and thinning the duality.

It really should be understood that one’s practice will be crude at best without the mentioned minimum, with untrained peoples often spending years “playing around with tantra”, ultimately failing, and then falling into doubt, suspending or expelling all practice, and partaking in indifferent hedonism the remainder of their lives. Secondly, it is critical that one be able to directly observe the energy-volume or one’s practice will be totally lackluster and shallow. Though this capacity improves throughout the course of practice, without a reasonable amount to begin with, serious obstacles will arise. To gain or improve this capacity, one should perpetually be mindful of body and sensations, then include the fabrication of sensations and re-fashioning already present sensations (for example generating bliss, excitation, and heat; and taking already present bodily tension, pain, and discomfort as sensually spasmodic pleasure). One should imagine an energy system with the channels, and fabricate the sensed circulation of energy through the channels as well as sensed congregation of the energy around the designated wheels. One should make a point to practice proto-dissolution stage methods, which involve fabricating an image and/or sensation and then upon dissolving it experiencing pleasure or whatever else. An example of such is creating an individual (or set thereof) color and/or mantra and/or sensation at the navel and a different set at the heart, having one set come to the other and forming a different set. Then introducing an additional set at the level of the head, having the aforementioned combined/consubstantial set, that is now at the level of the heart or navel, then travel to the set at the level of the head and to merge together with it, re-fashioning into a brilliant new set or point and having that drip or stream down to the heart, which is taken to cause extreme fabricated experiences like bliss and spaciousness. Gradually or suddenly as the set or point at the level of the head has completely dissolved or traveled into the area at the level of the heart, one simply rests and remains comfortably in that transformed state, taking it to be the natural and subtly default mode of awareness. Additionally, here are what Capriles calls CREVs, meaning chemical raisers of the energy volume, which should be considered with caution and can raise the energy-volume and movement sufficiently to where it is easily seen that such energy and its movement underlies all perception, thought, and sensation (some activate the body-map quite considerably, which can greatly assist the discovery and observance of the energy, Indian tantrics for example are quite fond of cannabinoids for a variety of reasons, including the fact that they stimulate the body-mapping and can raise the energy-volume proportionally to dose). One should note that the path of transformation emphasizes having a personal relationship with and studying under a qualified guru, and that only one out of a million practitioners can achieve well without one (referring to Buddhadharma practitioners, so at present times maybe 300-350 people globally have this capacity).  

Until reaching a legitimate glimpse of the true nature of awareness, where the non-discriminating and non-dual bodhicitta begins to dawn from the gentle authenticity of the true original nature, it is increasingly critical that one cultivate a healthy level of “standard” bodhicitta. Many of the tantric practices, especially the essential ones, have a naturally emerging built-in requirement for such and contain mechanics that short-circuit the practice if bodhicitta isn’t strong enough. For example, it will be much harder to sublimate the great blisses in emptiness (and thus control them), it thus is much harder to sustain the upward movement of the energy when the pleasure becomes so intense that the body has problems keeping up, and so when the critical moments dawn when the energy becomes totally untethered and must move all the way up towards realization or all the way down and out of the body (via outward emission), one is unable to sustain the movement upwards and so one fails with an outward ejaculation. As a strong bodhicitta assists with the upwards flow of the totally untethered energy moving fully up or down, and very importantly provides the rare capacity to sustain the energy in the heart if one lacks the skill and upward flow to move it fully upwards, essentially re-tethering the energy during the course of a bodily orgasm/attempted involuntary ejaculation and effectively preventing the outward ejaculation of fluid and energy.

Concerning the criticalness of successfully controlling the untethered energy, Padmasambhava remarks:

"My secret path is very dangerous; it is just like a snake in the bamboo, which, if it moves, must either go up or come down."





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If one decides to pursue the path of spontaneous liberation then for the sake of understanding one might provisionally view the Dzogchen path in terms of the preliminary path and the essential path. Indeed the path of spontaneous liberation has become an inclusive path that is open to be practiced by all, but one must recognize that this isn’t essential Dzogchen that is being undertaken. For example, preliminarily a beginner might be advised to practice certain forms of samatha/vipassana. An intermediate might be advised to undertake methods which resemble strongly various tantric practices. Only those with high capacities and direct introduction into the original nature of awareness can undertake essential Dzogchen authentically, with its effortless non-meditations (higher capacities than required for the path of transformation and so obviously the capacity for observing the subtle energy-flow is required). For example if one were to go a ati-ati thogal retreat without the minimum capacity and direct introduction, then one would not be undertaking the essential Dzogchen practice, but instead would be performing inauthentic imitative meditations (though still capable of providing great benefits), or would be performing tantric practices with the Dzogchen-like view (something like ati-maha/anuttara), or would be undertaking some sort of zen/chan-like practice. None of this should induce discouragement, instead one should strive steadily pursuing the spontaneous instance of an authentic direct introduction, studying and implementing the first series of Atiyana teachings and attempting any pith instructions until direct introduction. A reasonable starting point:

http://www.keithdowman.net/books/cc.htm#ANALYTIC%20MEDITATION

http://rainbow349.blogspot.com/2009/11/pith-instructions-on-great-perfection.html

http://www.keithdowman.net/dzogchen/eyeofthestorm.htm



   In the beginning one should use all of one’s free time for practice, every minute needs to be utilized to its fullest. The idea being that one needs to establish what can be called a sort of ‘meditative/contemplative momentum’, where one is practicing sufficiently to retain one’s primary practice throughout all activity, completely dissolving the boundaries between contemplative periods and post-contemplative periods. Which is a distinct break-away point in Dzogchen from Mahayana, which distinguishes contemplative and post-contemplative states and behaviors, in Dzogchen, there is only the contemplative state in the sense discussed by Mahayana (however, there can be a Dzogchen consideration in of a post-contemplative state, meaning the periods of time in which unawareness has crept in and one has lost rigpa), which is very important. So for example, while at work: undertake the pith instructions provided, while with the kids: undertake the pith instructions, while on the toilet and eventually while sleeping: undertake the pith instructions. This may prove difficult in the beginning, and may be unrealistic unless one completely devotes oneself (insofar as every minute of free/down time) in the beginning to contemplative sessions, again to iterate, to acquire the meditative momentum. Without such a momentum, one will likely not sustain an increasing energy-volume, nor the mindfulness to apply the practice. Upon direct introduction, without proper momentum one will lack the mindfulness to keep rigpa or notice when unawareness has crept in. Socialization also has the tendency to lower the energy-volume, it domesticates and amputates it, counter this by keeping the practice at all times (with aid of the momentum), retaining a total openness and nakedness of awareness, which will assist in retaining and increasing the energy during the course of socialization etc. Don’t stop even if one notices the corruptions from such a high energy volume, such as involuntary body spasms, panic, hallucinations etc., instead totally open oneself up to and embrace them right as they are.
It is essential to be able to let go of everything, including subtle identifications and concepts of humanity, being human, and social niceties etc. Maintaining awareness and guarding against unawareness must take priority over all else, including the destruction of one’s reputation, disappointing others, and ‘ruining everything’. Thus it is clear, especially for a householder, how critical gaining that momentum in the beginning is, so that mindful awareness and one’s practice can seamlessly integrate with the daily human affairs, and thus allowing one to do without having to choose between awareness and the aforementioned subtle attachment. To iterate and sum up, awareness that is neither thing, object, or mind is the priority, protect it at all costs; the true nature of this insubstantial awareness that is neither thing, object, or mind, and which is without boundary is that which is closest to what could be considered what one “is”.

http://www.keithdowman.net/guestpage/patrul_advice.htm


Furthermore, it is best to take as many retreats as you can, and if possible, travel and gain a personal relationship with a qualified and authentic Dzogchen master, such as Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, taking one’s retreat under direct guidance (in person) or indirectly. Not only can this help with the direct introduction, but after a personal relationship has been established, personalized pith instructions (potentially including that of spyti and yangti) may be transmitted, which are invaluable and despite the age of the internet, this order of pith instructions is kept rather secret (and for good reason).

Lastly, by the time one is ready for the third series of Dzogchen teachings, the series of pith instructions, understand there are four cycles which detail the thogal to increasing degrees and clarity and provide increasingly sudden and explosive methods. They are the outer, inner, secret, and innermost secret unsurpassed cycles. Intended for those (relatively speaking within the realm of advanced contemplatives with high capacities) with lessor, medium, high, and exceptionally high capacities.

 However, there is an additional (fourth) and even more esoteric series of Dzogchen teachings, called the Yangti Nakpo or Black Quintessence series (or The Single Golden Letter of the Black Quintessence series), which sometimes is grouped as two subset (spy-ti and yang-ti) categories within the innermost secret unsurpassed cycle of the third series. These teachings are surely mistaken in their true meaning without an authentic understanding and direct experience of the profound and totally transcendental fourth thogal vision, as these teachings generally take direct experience of the fourth thogal as their starting point. Despite the virtual certainty of reactionary mistaken views:

“This spyi ti, the pinnacle of the nine yanas, cannot be attained from
another, is attained from oneself, the special amazing vehicle. The
demonstration of Dzogchen spyi ti is that appearance and existence,
samsara and nirvana, liberated into total non-conceptual original
purity. E ma, this amazing, wonderful Dharma, does not arise from
another, arises from A. A la la ho, everything is liberated in total
original purity...

This yang ti, the essence of the sun and the moon, has not view,
meditation, or conduct to practice; no focus, nothing to perceive,
fresh, free from mind. All appearances are liberated into total
namelessness. Non-arising original purity is without real phenomena.
If it is asked why is it superior to spyi ti, whatever aspect of
appearances, cannot be given a name, because of being outside the
universal sphere. Without pure and impure, liberated into total
ignorance, these three realms are without suffering, liberated just
as they are. Buddhas and sentient beings, do not exist in the six
destinations, liberated without any nominal designation by a
designating mind. Phenomena exhausted, mind abandoned, liberated
beyond all indications, expressions, and thoughts... “

From the “perspective” of the profound fourth thogal vision, one is liberated from attainment and realization. Attainment becomes an aberration and simultaneously a playful inside joke, a spontaneously playful expression of the natural state with and within itself; both the attainment and the aberration are aberrations and yet are simultaneously uncaused whimsical expressions of the natural state. The natural state isn’t causal or productive (it doesn’t cause or produce phenomena), yet the whimsical display shines away anyway, inseparably “outside” of the sphere of the fourth vision. One can either taste the sugar or become the sugar, in of itself all phenomena are exhausted, freed into the absolutely full nothingness, and are non-existent. From the very beginning, all have always been the one totally complete primordial Buddha which is neither thing or object, neither existing nor otherwise, and is the supreme emptiness qua emptiness, the natural state of the all-good all-metabliss found in the absence of all characteristics. If one is to ponder on the possibility of some sort of further attainment and aberration then one is wound up in the web of ignorance again, which is another whimsical expression of the profound inside joke of the all-good primordial nature, the sole Buddha beyond singularity/non-singularity and multiplicity/non-multiplicity. From the very beginning, this is and has been all for us, all of it, the dramatic dance of paradise, of both tasting and being the sugar. Primordial original liberation, the profound illusory liberation from liberation itself, and the ultimate two-fold liberation.





Thanks for your writings. You said you started a local sangha, where did you start it?



Local sangha chapter relatively speaking, in several respects it has subtly functioned in part as a Nepalese action group and in part as an informal effort to connect various sanghas to one another, both nationally and internationally. Due to the location of current job, it is in USA. The root sangha is based in Kathmandu, Nepal (where personal support has been given since about 2010), the primary chapter’s office is in Los Angeles, California. It still is in a very early and preliminary phase and is rather decentralized, with its current priority being the assistance of the Nepalalese sangha in overcoming various circumstances with the aim of eventually relocating them out of Nepal. Secondly, there are various administrative and networking responsibilities in starting sister chapters or at least networking vectors (such as spearheading an informal and decentralized Ohioan sister chapter, which is one of the first) this secondary priority has been significantly slowed and stalled in favor of assisting the Nepalese sangha through various obstacles and hardships, the process may indeed stagnate for some time considering some of these obstacles are increasingly becoming governmental/political.
The personal share of responsibility for this process will be completely passed back to others in a few short months as will be personally relocating again and so the personal priority of internationally searching for individuals with great natural capacities or inherited potential, for the sake of bringing them into extended guided retreat (which is one of the reasons networking to and through other sanghas has been had as a major personal priority, as it assists in potentially finding the best and brightest; and is a subtler reason why initial posts where made on this forum) more thoroughly continues. Hopefully over the years to come, some of these talented and dedicated contemplatives will flourish in retreat and in relaying their experience, as well as in providing teachings, guidance and inspiration.




Thanks very much for these essays! They are great!



Concerning the informal lecture/essay posted in this thread, it should be again emphasized that my role in this is more accurately described as somewhere between writer, editor, and that of a compiler. The credit is due elsewhere, as was mentioned in the text, much of the body of it is directly inherited from the works of others. In many cases, aside from minor content addendums and formatting edits for the sake of a fluid and mostly un-obstructed reading and comphrension, there was an emphasis placed on staying very true to the original wording. With that said, quotation marks were stylistically avoided, and rather strictly at that, as working them around the formatting edits and the content addendums was deemed to place an unnecessary burden on the reader in light of the purpose of the work. The work is merely a casual tool or guide, a brief overview for readers of all levels, a condensed compilation of works edited and boiled to a single manageable and friendly essence. Hopefully it assists or at least provides food for thought.




Thanks for your time!

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
5/9/14 12:21 PM as a reply to Omega Point.
This has to be among the more depressing (if not the most depressing) posts I've read on the DhO (I also read DhammaWheel.com and also have been studying the Pali Canon for the last year, though I understand that it probably at least 3-5 years of studying the Pali Canon to consider the studying to have been significant). To be clear, this latest post by OmegaPoint hits the head on the nail (confirms) in terms of what I've been reading through my own study of the Pali Canon, it's commentaries and highly valued modern writings about the Tipitaka. (This includes pretty much all the books in Ian Andrews' reading list that use to be a sticky)

I know this is probably a lot to ask for, but it would really be appreciated (I think likely by most of the DhO community) if Daniel Ingram, Kenneth Folk and Nikolai could provide responses to this post by Omega Point. Each of you three appear to have reached significant realizations that at the very least have altered your baseline experience in such a way that it has continued on for a number of years, so it would be interesting to hear what you have to say.

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
5/9/14 8:51 PM as a reply to super fox.
Dear Omega Point,

Thanks for posting that detailed and excellent essay. I really enjoyed it. It is one of the better comparisons of the various schools I have seen.

I noticed a few possible typos of the sort that spell-checkers would generally miss, so I will pass those on:

Tantrism emphasizes the continuity of luminosity in that it words (works?) with both the succession of beads and the spaces between, negating neither in favor of the other.

To train for the total light bhumi, which is the 11th and in the Mahayana is the last bhumi and considered by Mahayana to correspond to unsurpassed total awakening (anuttara samyak sambodhi), one directly practices the non-conceptual non-dual contemplation of the essential nature, instead of undertaking the progressive Sutric training through the four paths and fist (first?) ten levels.

Unlike the Path of transformation, in the Path of spontaneous liberation there is generally no generation stage where any new reality must be created or where effort is applied to change one’s vision in order to produce a wholly new way of perceiving oneself and one’s dimension, and then in a completion stage using this as a basis to non-dually see through that reality into the uncreated an and unconditioned base of reality, instead one’s visions (vision is?) to be left as it is, without effort.

One of the two cornerstones of this delusion is the vibratory activity that seems to generally emanate from or concentrated (concentrate?) in the center of the chest at the level of the heart, which “charges” thoughts and so on with apparent meaning, truth, and importance.

Concerning gompa, in the Dzogchen teachings (it?) does not refer to contemplation involving the contrived application of mind, which are activities that are functions of delusion and so sustain and confirm delusion.

Finally it involves the inversion of the Base insofar as the thee (three?) aspects of the Base are mistakingly seen to be inherently separate from each other; (3) is the seal of delusion that makes it impossible to realize the illusions indicated in (2) as they actually are, consisting in ignoring or mishepa (mi-shes-pa) that the dualistic appearances that arise by virtue of the second marigpa are false and baseless; in normal individuals the third marigpa always accompanies the second marigpa.

I will comment on the rest shortly.

Thanks again for posting.

Daniel

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
5/10/14 3:31 PM as a reply to super fox.
I did this on TextEdit, and when I tried to paste it in it removed all the returns so it was one giant block paragraph, so please see attached .pdf
Actually, now I figured out how to post it and the attached .pdf is duplicated in the post below.

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
5/10/14 2:23 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
(Alright, if I take it from Text Edit and into Mail and then post it here, it is somewhat better, then inserting double-returns made it readable.)

Dear Super Fox,

Here is my reply to Omega Point's many points:

First, a bit about my background. I started meditating in the Mahasi tradition but ran into problems mostly beginning in the territory after moving on from what I think of as second path, when suddenly I was seeing the luminosity of phenomena and noticing that all energies, all emotions, all of this fluxing space, all seemed to be luminous, and this seemed really important, but the Theravada didn't talk about it, and the people who were my teachers then didn't talk about it, and they had no idea what I was talking about, and I got frustrated, as I was seeing something they didn't see, so I started looking elsewhere.

Specifically, I started looking at sources like Chögyam Trungpa, as well as books like The Light of Wisdom by Jamgon Kongtrul the Great, as well as things like Tracing Back the Radiance on the teachings of Chi Nul, a Korean Chan monk. I was particularly taken with some very specific things, such as the section on the 5 Buddha Families in Journey Without Goal by Trungpa, which talks about seeing the enlightened aspect of all qualities of being. I was also influenced by Introduction to Tantra, by Lama Yeshe, as well as Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche's book Dharma Paths, and later by books like Secret of the Vajra World, by Reggie Ray, as well as texts such as Liberation on the Palm of Your Hand, by Pabongka Rinpoche. I read a lot of Taoist stuff in odd sources, such as the cartoons of Tsai Chih Chung, examples being things like The Roots of Wisdom (which is not actually strictly Taoist, but it is in the ballpark). I read Moon in a Dewdrop about the teachings of Dogen many times. This is a very incomplete list, but it gives you a sense of the thing. I also played around with Ceremonial Magick, but that is another story for another time.

At some point, I realized that all moments must spontaneously realize  emptiness, luminosity, centerlessness, selflessness, undifferentiated suchness, or whatever you wish to call it, and that this must be the all-the-time, walking-around way of being. About 95% of the field knew it, and chasing down the 5% that didn’t became my obsession. So, my practice changed in some ways, but kept basic facets of the Theravada in others.

I played around with vipassanizing (seeing the Three Characteristics of) the 6th subjhana aspect of the 4th jhana (meaning the Boundless Consciousness sub-aspect) of the formed fourth jhana. I played around with noticing all thoughts as colors of space, as textures of space, and practiced really hard to see space in all its aspects as the utterly transient thing that it is, spending time vipassanizing the 5th jhana itself. I sought to bring the light of clear, direct comprehension to layer up on layer upon layer of subtle illusory duality, trying hard to figure out how to get the last subtle layers of duality to untie themselves, to realize their true nature. I got really good at being mindful of all of the sensations of my scalp and face, trying to get so good at seeing all categories of sensations that could make up the illusion of a separate self or Subject that nothing would be left to create this illusion, as the habit of seeing it as it was would be too strong, to automatic. It was a long process that went on for about 6 years of hard work.

I also played around with my own version of what might loosely be termed tantra (which OP warns about, and I can see why, as, were one not to guard the mind really carefully when it gets that strong, that level of practice can really quickly turn to some really screwed up stuff and crazy-land). On a kasina retreat using candle flame, I got so that I could find myself in a totally different realm with remarkably detailed visualizations of luminous, 3D, intelligent and interactive tantric deities (particularly this white male one with white female consort in the classic pose) and then get No-Self Door Fruitions as the light of their awareness collapsed this way into the sense of intelligence on this side. I did this again and again and again on retreat with a high degree of concentration.

This is a short summary of a much longer and more complex process that took years, spanning the time from December or so 1996 to my last retreat in 2003 in April.

Oddly enough, after lots and lots of playing around with things that might be considered relatively fancy, and after getting very frustrated with the whole thing, I actually turned back to some very Theravadan assumptions on my last retreat: do not let any single sensation anywhere in the entire space of experience go by without instantly comprehending its true nature, not a single friggin’ one. After a week of doing that at an extremely high degree of intensity, things flipped over for the first time to the pristine, direct, non-dual, centerless, etc. way of perceiving things, and then that would fade and it would feel like my heart was broken. I would get it back, it would fade again. I went through a week of that, which was basically awful half the time (the half when I was not in the better way of perceiving things), and then finally, a week later, it stayed that way and that was that on that front.

Hopefully that helps clarify the background to my answer, anyway.

Now, to answer Omega Point:

If one is no longer resonating with the Theravada path and one observes that one’s progress has stagnated, then moving on to either the path of transformation or the path of spontaneous liberation is perfectly reasonable to consider.

I couldn't agree more. Doing that helped me a lot. In fact, if you read MCTB with an eye for it, you will see lots of Dzogchen in there, it is just not obvious. You will also see the Tantric perspective on emotions, though it is not that obvious.

The contemporary Theravada path, relatively speaking, is still in an “early” experimental phase.

Yes and no. Literally hundreds of thousands of people have trained in Mahasi Centers during the last 60+ years or so. It is a large sample size, larger than the number of people who have probably practices some of the higher tantras. Are there problems? Yes.

Do people run into problems in other systems (such as the Tibetan systems)? Yes. Are all the kinks worked out of any of those systems? No.

This point is then used to seriously call into question the textual basis of most of 20th century Theravada meditation, no matter how effective.

As a pragmatist, I love the qualifier...

while in fact a small number of texts explain how the critical samatha practice evolves into vipassana.

Such as my favorite Sutta MN 111.

The vipassana-centric or vipassana-only approaches seem to have originated in the colonial era as part of the modernist Buddhism movement as the schools attempted to address the challenges of the modern age. It was a response born of a growing skepticism of samatha, or more precisely, the degeneration of samatha found across many of the theravadas which allowed local folk customs and lore to inform and taint their practice.

Totally true.

Additionally, “access concentration” or “momentary concentration” which are commonly practiced now, are commentarial ideas and so a later interpretation and thus it is argued that interpreting the texts and thus one’s practice through such a lens may indeed amount to a misinterpretation of those very texts and thus of what is designated as proper practice in regards to the supermundane path laid down by the Buddha (regardless of their efficacy)

Scholastically he is spot on, and again, as a pragmatist, I love the qualifier...

it appears that in many instances both a degenerated samatha and an overemphasis on vipassana persists in modern practice.

I totally agree. Hence, I advocate for both and using them skillfully to help augment and balance each other. Years of watching those who try it too “dry” frying themselves here should convince anyone reading that this view makes sense.

For example, there is a tendency to reinterpret the qualities of jhana in some cases totally leaving out listed qualities and having a “good enough” attitude; an over-willingness to bend the descriptions of the qualities in favor of one’s experience, to exaggerate aspects of one’s experiences of samatha/jhana to fit the listed qualities, even if they are but an extremely weak shadow or imitation of the actual quality in question; and thus to iterate, an overall tendency for complacence, a settling for a weak and generally unstable samatha that one self-soothes oneself, in quite a deceptive and gullible fashion, into thinking that it instead is a strong samatha or at least qualifyingly enough.

Omega Point writes truth. I would add that I still argue against those who are in the "only really, really ultra-hard jhana is jhana" camp, as even moderate jhana has real benefits and can be used for lots of useful things, but I also totally agree that people often settle for really weak jhana not knowing that the stronger versions can be much stronger than the imagine.

Lastly, that samatha and vipassana are not two separate baskets, but two sides of something indivisible, very simply put, the vipassana side dealing with discrimination, discernment, understanding and thus the overcoming of cogitative defilements; while samatha deals with  peace, bliss, energy, heart qualities and thus the overcoming of non-conceptual (or super-subtle conceptual/perceptual), somatic, and emotional defilements.

I also totally agree, as it is basically impossible to do either pure samatha or vipassana, as there will always be some mix of these, and this gets more and more true as realization progresses, though it is possible to use the artificial dichotomy to provide some useful guidance for those who are getting stuck one way or the other.

There of course are still the looming issues of the original challenges from many of the schools predating Theravada, that of the status of the arhat, the particular emphasis or lack thereof of the Bodhisattva path, and the status of the true nature of mind whether it was originally pure etc.

Actually, there are some Thai Forest schools that place more emphasis on the Bodhisattva path, but they are clearly a small part of the complex thing, and you find the ideal of being a Bodhisattva in the Pali Canon, as the Buddha himself was one for countless lifetimes before becoming a Buddha, so it says. The status of the arahat is a problem, as I go on and on about.

1. Arhats are not truly enlightened and do not truly reach nirvana.or
2. Arhatship entails an enlightened state and reaches nirvana, however this enlightenment and nirvana is not maximally consolidated.or
3. Arhats are totally enlightened, reach nirvana, and are very close if not virtually identical to Buddhas.

There are other options, actually... Consider the point of view presented in MCTB: that arahats have dissolved artificial perceptual dualities, stopped habitual subject-fixation, ended the misperception of the true nature of phenomena, eliminated the sense of the split between the internal and external spaces mentioned above, unified the field into an empty, transient, luminous, intrinsically self-revealing flux, and thus accomplished the end of that particular axis of development, while leaving the question of many other axes of development open, those being dependent upon the individual in question. How can there be consolidation of something that is perceived that way? There is nothing at that point to consolidate.

One must then posit the definition of a Buddha. It is relevant, as to compare two things, one must know what we are comparing. Certainly, by the standard Theravadan definition, in which Buddhas have necessarily perfected all sorts of other aspects of development, including having 40 teeth and arms that hang down past their knees, as well as having perfected all samatha jhanas, as well as eliminating all unskillful personality traits, as well as having mastered all the powers, the two are very far apart except along the single axis of direct realization of the truth of things and whatever benefits that specific aspect of perceptual transformation necessarily and always brings with it.

Concerning anicca, dukkha, and anatta, they are deep and profound things, much more deep than most generally give them credit for, and shouldn't be so easily dismissed. It is easy to not take them as far as they can go. While I can see the appeal of the Tibetan versions, I still like those personally.

Concerning 3rd path and energy practices, that was actually the territory in which I found them to be most useful, and actually did some on that same retreat where I got my concentration strong and could see and merge with images of deities and the like. I got so that I could see them all, manipulate them all, just like one would intend to do anything else. It produced some very interesting effects, and now this later lead to anything else, I can only barely speculate. I categorically disagree that ejaculation necessarily impedes spiritual practice, as much as it gets tossed around. I think it helps some at times, may help to balance and chill some things out, may also cause some at times to be sleepier or have less energy, but also can calm restlessness and provide ease and a sense of well-being. I think it is more contextual and individual/situation-specific, at least in my view.

Regarding his commentary on the Theravada necessarily being the path of the strict renunciate, the more modern practice of alternating heavy, intense single-technique retreats with basically no breaks in technique while awake with getting one’s daily life back together and pursuing worldly goals actually works better than he thinks it does, though I agree that being sure to take daily life as path and to work whenever possible to see its true nature as one goes about it really helps, as it helped me make that oscillation between the two extremes work a lot better.

I also categorically disagree that it isn’t possible to understand the true nature of sensations as a householder, though I definitely think that really solid retreats and really solid practice during them with plenty of daily life practice makes things much more likely to happen, something that most don’t do.

It is true that when I was in my most serious practice years (1995-2003), I barely watched TV, didn’t hang out with friends much, read dharma books like crazy (way over 100 during that period, many studied seriously and read again and again, including things like the Middle Length Discourses, the Visuddhimagga and Vimuttimagga, the Long Discourses, and lots of other Pali texts), burned nearly all available vacation time on retreats, and practiced daily-life mindfulness like a person possessed, like my hair was on fire (maybe that is where it went?). I did some sort of formal practice a minimum of at least an hour each day and, for some of the early years (1996-1997) actually sat at least 3 if not 5 hours each day, this while working some part-time jobs and living on very little money.

I totally agree that Westerners are generally slackers/cynics/meditation-in-a-pill-if-possible-type who don’t want to disrupt their life while Easterners are more into the folk/religious aspects and that the transplanted Easterners are cynics and all interfere with practice.

The lack of qualified tutors and the critique of free-for-all freestyle practice with poor direction and guidance is also a totally valid point, just as parts of their critique of ultra-dogmatic, hyper-traditional traditions also makes some very important points.

The urge to purge the religion and strange and uncomfortable cultural trappings from Buddhism is very much my thing, actually. Fire rituals with butter and meat offerings, bone trumpets, fancy hats, human skull bowls, freakishly high levels of binge alcohol consumption, medieval-feudal wars between traditions, virtual peasant slavery, sexual exploitation, sectarian arrogance, patriarchal dominance: not my things, to put it gently. It is easy to forget what Tibet has been like, particularly before the last 70 years or so, and particularly before kids like Jamgon Kongtrul helped to bring the warring sides together into something less preposterously violent and dysfunctional. Stripping all of that crap out sounds like a fantastic idea. I could launch into the problems with modern Zen in Japan, etc. but that would take all day, wouldn’t it? You really want to keep all that?

I also do agree that reducing all the practices to some low-grade mindfulness is equally vile and misguided. Hence, I advocate for keeping the powerful techniques, the maps of high-level practice, the richness of the technical beauty, conceptual sophistication, and empowerment that comes from these things at their best while leaving so much of the insanity that comes along with the traditions to rot on the great trash-heap of the past. Just as I am no fan of lots of aspects of my American culture, just so I am not a fan of lots of aspects of the original cultures these traditions come from, just so you know I try to apply the same standards to all of it. Needlessly huge SUVs being driven by single people guzzling gas from ultra-conservative Saudi royalty-owned production facilities? Not into it. Global imperialistic robber-baron capitalist oligarchy? Not a fan. I could go on and on. What I worry about is when anyone buys so much into something that they will take the bad of it without feeling like they can seriously question its value and function. That happens with the meditative traditions all the time, and to me represents intellectual retardation.

His warning that the take what works approach can lead to a very watered down set of standards is frequently mentioned by others, such as myself, here on this forum and is worth perpetually guarding against, but this phenomenon is not anything new, as plenty of the history of all of the ancient and culturally-embedded traditions also demonstrate with equal obviousness, again consider travesty of modern Zen in Japan, consider the totally ritualized/lifestyle/prestige-building/political/etc. version of Theravada “practiced” today in most monasteries in Thailand, etc, and I could basically pick on all the others (Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, etc.) in similar ways. I could also blast 99% of the Western Tibetan practitioners I know for basically saying, “The Mahayana and Vajrayana are so much better than the Hinayana as they have the Bodhisattva Vow!” and then having the learning of that bit of dogma being the farthest their “practice” ever gets.

Wilber… What to say, eh? It is not that he doesn’t make some good and interesting points and draw some fine correlations and the like, as he clearly does. However, while no expert in his stuff, I don’t see him reaching the level he claims to. I could be wrong, as I don’t know him well.

Stephen Batchelor: both times I met him we instantly didn’t get along, to put it gently. I will leave it at that. His wife Martine is a great person and practitioner, though, with that great sense of light and humble humor that marks someone with a mature practice.

As to the global decline in realized beings, I am not sure, as firm numbers are damn hard to come by. I do know that in the Theravadan world until the last 120 years or so there were precious few enlightened beings and this really hit an upswing in numbers during the 20th century, producing some fine practitioners and great teachings. I am less aware of the numbers in Tibet and how they compare from, say, the 19th century to today.

I do know that I personally know a lot more people with strong practices, and I am not sure if this is the effect of some of the few that are out there gathering together to participate in forums like this one, and this thus just being a networking effect that obscures some true decline.

Regarding the problems with reconciling the paths and bhumis and the like, it clearly is problematic for very large numbers of reasons, not the last of which is what I call the “package models” that each entail, meaning that if you have this quality or realization then you will automatically have these other very specific qualities and aspects, favorite examples being that anagamis couldn’t possibly have erections or orgasms as they can’t feel ordinary lust, as well as bodhisattvas of the whatever bhumi definitely manifesting exactly 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, etc. copies of themselves to bring awakening to that many realms and beings at all times. Both barking crazy, if you ask me. OP: do you really believe in and like the full and unedited dogma of the bhumi models? So often we are quick to poke holes in a tradition based on the worst parts of its dogma while making allowances for the worst dogma of our own tradition. I do this myself regularly and am doing it actually right now, but it makes the point that we must all be careful of this pervasive tendency.
That is why I prefer my Simple Model, my many and various axes of development that don’t assume progress on one axis will guarantee progress on another, breaking the models down into their more component parts so that we may begin to address each aspect of them, and the like.

Will it be impossible to create reasonable models and correspondences that can adequately accommodate the wide range of the specific manifestations of individual practitioners and their various progressions along the many and various axes of development while maintaining high standards and strict criteria for essential aspects of the path that serve the basic function of helping to guide and direct and inspire better practice? I personally believe we will be able to do this when the various traditions get over themselves and people can sit down and talk like mature, rational adults and really let their hair down and swap notes and stories and try to line it up in a way that goes beyond the pathetic and infantile term-wars and dogma-spats and finally gets down to business.

Given that it may be hundreds of years before anything that functional happens, if ever (doesn’t seem to have actually ever occurred during the last 2,500 years or so in the way I dream it will) we will probably be waiting a while, but those are the conversations I dream of having in my most optimistic fantasies. Omega Point: interested in something like that? I could spend a whole day talking about these things if you are up for it, and I doubt that would even really be more than a crude beginning. The problem with modern life is that we don’t take the time to do the deep, very long conversations that would help to sort out so many things and so much is wasted in misunderstanding and confusion. This goes doubly for the “internal arts” we concern ourselves with here. The biases between traditions fly so thick and fast, we stumble over words from other traditions we are so sure we understand but don’t, there is the issue of personal quirks of language usage, and the list of barriers to real dogma-transcending dialogue goes on and on and on. You want to talk about rare beings? Those who have realization and would be willing to talk about it honestly and without the armor of their tradition and social role all around them: that’s more rare than a live snow lion.

Regarding Omega Point’s progression from Hinayana to Mahayana to Dzogchen-like/Rigpa-based practices to spontaneous liberation, makes sense to me and sounds like a nice way to go. It seems to have produced good results, which again is what I care about.
As to what OP calls consolidation, I also have noticed various things have helped to integrate some aspects of the thing I call arahatship, untying, centerlessness, non-duality, and other names, as those who have read this forum for a while know, so that progression and deepening makes sense to me also.

Regarding practice being crude at best without some minimum understanding of things, this is still where I think that the Mahasi practices kick ass, as I still don’t know anything that is on average faster for getting people to Stream Entry than a good Mahasi retreat done really well as instructed. As my friend Sean Pritchard (ex monk who taught Mahasi retreats for years) says, if they do the technique, progress is basically guaranteed and is basically mechanical, in that it just steps along in a remarkably predictable way.

What is interesting is that as soon as I got stream entry, all I could think about was how everything was the balanced manifestation of empty compassion, and that this applied to all beings without exception, and I did this with very strict noting technique in a very Theravadan context and set of conceptual frameworks. Suddenly so much Mahayana stuff that had been so obscure suddenly made sense, and I also saw how I had misread plenty of the Theravadan stuff to miss those aspects in it. Thus, one should be careful to not imagine that there is no overlap, that one can’t lead to the other, that they are unrelated, that realization is totally different between traditions. 
OP’s commentary about how you should do some very specific energetic and visualizations practices is beyond easy ability to comment on, as I lack the fine points and haven’t done those, so can’t reasonably judge them.

As to the necessity of a guru, here we differ. I had no guru that I am aware of, though I studied with a bunch of people with very strong practices and various degrees of understanding of various things. Does that count? I don’t think so from the Tibetan point of view. Am I so rare as all that? I totally reject the idea, lest it poison the minds of those would devalue their own abilities and shoot for something less than they were capable of as they also had no guru. I know plenty of great practitioners who have and had no guru.

His comments about energy and bodhichitta and the like are beyond me, as those seem very practice and tradition-specific and I didn’t practice in his tradition.

As to the dangers of the path, I agree, can be dangerous, even just doing something simple like noting or following the breath, even more if one is playing around with energy and powers and visualizations, as that side of things is very powerful but also very risky, as psychosis crawls much closer to the surface, and without adequate protections can go horribly awry.

Any of that helpful?


RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
5/10/14 4:00 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I also thought of one more thing about my history that might be relevant, though fitting it into any ordinary traditional context is hard.

I spent a few years obsessively playing around with the sub-jhanas, sub-sub-jhanas, and sub-ñanas of the various jhanas and ñanas.

Why is this relevant? I don't know, but I think it is.

It is not traditional, as it seems to have been something that basically Bill Hamilton cared about and perhaps nobody except a few of his students, e.g. Kenneth Folk, probably have ever played with this stuff the way that I did.

What does mastering the sort of fluency with mindstates where you can just call up the 2nd sub-subjhana of the 6th sub-jhana of the 11th ñana and have that show up in its refined glory mean for things like energetic systems and the like, and then immediately after that just call up the 3rd subjhana aspect of the 6th ñana, then suddenly slam shift the thing and really grind hard on the 1st subsubjhanic aspect of the 3rd subjhana of the 10th ñana (or hit something really totally awful like ñ10.ñ10 really hard), and then immediately down-shift hard again and really revel in the rapturous wonder of the 4th subñanic aspect of the 2nd jhana, and then just keep going like that for hours? I don't know, as the numbers of people who have mastered that is so tiny, but I feel it did something really good, as if you can do that, you have some seriously fluid ability to shape reality however you wish it to be and have an energetic system that can handle some radical and rough changes and extremes. It is all relative stuff in some ways, but still, I think it built good skills and understandings.

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
5/11/14 10:26 PM as a reply to Omega Point.

You wrote:

Mahayana, meaning “great” or “wider” vehicle, is designated this name because its aim is to work for the liberation of all sentient beings, opposed to that of Hinayana and its search centered around personal liberation in regards to unpleasantness. While the latter may be considered self-centric or even selfish, the former may be considered altruistic or self-unconcerned, as for example it is said that there is a type of Bodhisattva that refuses to enter nirvana as long as there are sentient beings which have not entered it. “Great” or “wider” vehicle also refers to how Mahayana places privileged status on intentions and their nature over acts, thereby resulting in greater personal responsibility and individual freedom of choice.
My Reply:
If one were to work for the liberation of all sentient beings, would not one have to be fully liberated first, for if one is not fully liberated then they would only be able to help others up to the point of partial liberation and not beyond as they would not be fully liberated.  Then, also, if one were fully liberated, then what else would they do but help other sentient being to become fully liberated, as they would naturally do so out of unlimited compassion. So, then in the light of reality, how is that considered to be selfish or even self-centric.  This idea seems to be derived from an ego view and not a universal view and is therefore just a misunderstanding.
 
You wrote:
Lastly, the teachings mainly concerned with “Continuing in the state of rigpa” are called the Menngagde/Upadeshavarga or “Secret oral instruction series”. These final teachings are the most abrupt and most different to all other vehicles, having the greatest mastery over the bio-energetic system using the most sudden and unique ways, and best embodying the Ati Dzogpa Chenpo principle.
 
My reply:
How does one liberate all beings if they keep the instructions a “secret”?  And since humans are born with the same glands, nervous systems, brains, neurons, etc.  , then why would one system feel the need to claim it is special over other systems.  Mostly, from what I have seen, this is Kundalini, Shaktipat, telepathic communications with deities and angels, japa, mantra, seed syllables, chakras, gurus, really this stuff has been around long before the Buddha was even born, so why say it was from the Buddha?
You wrote:
Concerning those that feel stuck around “3rd path", it is rather important to understand that the Theravada lacks direct control and mastery of the thigle/energy-volume-determining-the-scope-of-awareness (in many cases practitioners of Theravada lack the capacity to directly observe the energy), instead only raising it passively through mindfulness and concentrative absorptions. Without direct control and mastery of the energy-volume, there is no guarantee of enlightenment in this lifetime (and so the energy-volume, and a high one at that, is recognized by the path of transformation and the path of spontaneous liberation as the single most crucial factor).
 
My reply:
One is not “stuck” around third path.  Third path is a wonderful thing for a being to be in, and the universe should rejoice in sympathetic joy, not chastise and poke fun of such a magnificent occurrence.  Further, once one is a “Stream Enterer” there is no being “stuck” though it may seem that way.  A fruit that is ripening may seem like it will never fall from a tree, but the fruit always falls when the causes and conditions are correct.  So what is your hurry?  Who is going anywhere?  And where is there to go to?
Further,  what exactly is passive mindfulness and concentrative absorptions?  Shouldn’t one practice Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.
 
My overall view of all this stuff?
Methods and thoughts. 
Rigpa is not Methods and Thoughts.
Hoping this didn’t  sound snarky, it’s just your thought triggered my thought associations and my mind isn’t trained enough to avoid this whole re-enactment wheel cycle, maybe next time…
Peace
 
B
 

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/22/14 3:31 PM as a reply to Omega Point.
Omega Point:
Good friends,

So for Theravada lay practitioners who are cycling regularly, getting fruitions and Nirodha Samapatti, and who have seen a very substantial reduction in craving and aversion that suggests 2nd path or beyond by the 10 fetters model, but who's progress has slowed or stopped entirely, and who no longer resonate particularly with the Theravada path, would you recommend they move on to Dzogchen, or have any other advice on how to progress, assuming a practice regimen of 1-2 hours per day and a willingness/capacity to undertake retreats of 1-4 weeks per year? I ask because there are apparently many on this forum stuck below 3rd path, and none (apart from yourself) who are claiming to have progressed beyond it. I'm also getting the impression that this is a wider issue among western lay practitioners.




If one is no longer resonating with the Theravada path and one observes that one’s progress has stagnated, then moving on to either the path of transformation or the path of spontaneous liberation is perfectly reasonable to consider. Which of the two depending on the individual’s capacities, and generally determined either by consulting their reasoning and intuition; or if a personal relationship with an accomplished master is had, by following their advice, as the master will likely have a sufficient understanding of one’s capacities and may be able to provide the appropriate empowerments, transmissions, and/or the Direct Introduction.

The contemporary Theravada path, relatively speaking, is still in an “early” experimental phase. This is not only referring to very recent modern adaptations such as Mahasi noting, which at best appears to be only loosely based on the texts claimed to have inspired it; but also to a lesser extent various portions of the living traditions which are referred to by the name Theravada. Over a short period of time after the Pali texts were written, it seems they faded from popular and monastic use, eventually being read only by highly educated elite monks (and only those texts that were available at this or that particular monastery, for small numbers of random texts were littered throughout; there are instances to this day of theravadan monks that don’t actually read the texts, let alone the collection of texts in its entirety or majority). After which it appears that for an extended period there was what may be considered a total decline of any sort of a Theravada orthodoxy, instead entailing a diverse variety of localized “theravadas”, often contradicting one another and struggling with the centralizing forces of nationalism. These theravadas, far from being an orthodoxy derived from a textual monolith, consisted of local folk beliefs and customs, generally scant numbers of Pali texts, and mainly the the views, interpretations, and writings of local monks (reports from around this time seem to indicate that almost no monasteries possessed the entire Tipitaka, even less so the commentaries, and instead the teachings relied on nissaya, meaning a set of lecture notes by the local a teacher). It seems that it wasn’t until around the mid-1800s when Europeans rediscovered the Pali texts, that they were re-organized and began to widely re-percolate across Asiatic countries as well as being newly distributed worldwide. With this in mind, there may indeed still be major kinks to work out insofar as practicing popular and modern forms of Theravada or theravadan-inspired methodology.
Take again for example Mahasi noting, while it indeed may be effective to various ends or degrees, a sensitive reading of the texts claimed to have inspired it do not appear to organically lead to such a practice, instead leading to practices which appear quite different. Furthermore, as Bhikkhu Sujato and others have argued pretty convincingly, and remaining thus un-refuted, the Satipatthana Sutta, which is supposedly seminal to Mahasi noting and the general over-emphasis of vipassana, appears to actually be a late compilation (and so does not accurately reflect how the Buddha taught it), with the supposed emphasis on vipassana seeming to mostly stem from a particular revised version of it (further that the vipassana aspects are the least authentic part). This point is then used to seriously call into question the textual basis of most of 20th century Theravada meditation, no matter how effective.
In the very early teachings the term satipatthana appears to be primarily associated with samatha and not vipassana, however with this said, it should be noted that for the early texts, samatha and vipassana cannot be divided, in while in fact a small number of texts explain how the critical samatha practice evolves into vipassana. It appears that it wasn’t until later and adulteration crept into the texts that we see the vipassana aspect predominating, even usurping the place of samatha in satipatthana. The vipassana-centric or vipassana-only approaches seem to have originated in the colonial era as part of the modernist Buddhism movement as the schools attempted to address the challenges of the modern age. It was a response born of a growing skepticism of samatha, or more precisely, the degeneration of samatha found across many of the theravadas which allowed local folk customs and lore to inform and taint their practice. Reverting authentic samatha, that which stably evolves in an organic fashion to reflect its indivisible vipassana aspect, into mere-relaxation, mundane states of contracted consciousness, fortune telling and other other states of degenerate quasi-magical mysticism. With this said, virtually all the early texts expressing central doctrine portray samatha as the four jhanas, making clear the essential nature of the samatha jhanas in the Buddha’s teachings insofar as the Pali texts present them. Additionally, “access concentration” or “momentary concentration” which are commonly practiced now, are commentarial ideas and so a later interpretation and thus it is argued that interpreting the texts and thus one’s practice through such a lens may indeed amount to a misinterpretation of those very texts and thus of what is designated as proper practice in regards to the supermundane path laid down by the Buddha (regardless of their efficacy).

To this mind, it appears that in many instances both a degenerated samatha and an overemphasis on vipassana persists in modern practice. For example, there is a tendency to reinterpret the qualities of jhana in some cases totally leaving out listed qualities and having a “good enough” attitude; an over-willingness to bend the descriptions of the qualities in favor of one’s experience, to exaggerate aspects of one’s experiences of samatha/jhana to fit the listed qualities, even if they are but an extremely weak shadow or imitation of the actual quality in question; and thus to iterate, an overall tendency for complacence, a settling for a weak and generally unstable samatha that one self-soothes oneself, in quite a deceptive and gullible fashion, into thinking that it instead is a strong samatha or at least qualifyingly enough. However, instead it might be considered that the lengths of mastery described in the texts, that of unshakable stability and of such penetrating concentrative absorption that if sitting by a muddy road and having a large assembly of merchant carts and animals loudly stomp and roll by, splashing mud at one, and that one doesn’t notice such a circus in the slightest, is not merely an exaggeration, but an accurate representation of what expected mastery entails; that feeble-samatha should be identified as feebke-samatha, instead of taking a mere single-pointed attentiveness that is both impressionable and unstable (and thus not diamond-like) for the heights of actual concentrative absorptions. Lastly, that samatha and vipassana are not two separate baskets, but two sides of something indivisible, very simply put, the vipassana side dealing with discrimination, discernment, understanding and thus the overcoming of cogitative defilements; while samatha deals with  peace, bliss, energy, heart qualities and thus the overcoming of non-conceptual (or super-subtle conceptual/perceptual), somatic, and emotional defilements.


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There of course are still the looming issues of the original challenges from many of the schools predating Theravada, that of the status of the arhat, the particular emphasis or lack thereof of the Bodhisattva path, and the status of the true nature of mind whether it was originally pure etc. To just deal with the first one: some of these challenges went as far as to assert the lack of enlightenment of an arhat, that their state still had passions, a lack of perfection, or in some cases asserting that arhatship entailed some sort of prolonged temporary state and that this “enlightenment” could be fallen from. Which to this mind basically results in three emerging positions throughout Buddhism:

1. Arhats are not truly enlightened and do not truly reach nirvana.
or
2. Arhatship entails an enlightened state and reaches nirvana, however this enlightenment and nirvana is not maximally consolidated.
or
3. Arhats are totally enlightened, reach nirvana, and are very close if not virtually identical to Buddhas.

Considering the many reoccurring criticisms such as the retained possibility of “nocturnal emissions”, the lack of direct control over the energetic-volume-determining-the-scope-of-awareness, the lack of threefold sunyata-svabhava wisdom concerning phenomena, the apparent persistence of subtle duality, lacking the realization of the Buddha-bodies in their totality and inseparability, lacking the unique modes specific to Dzogchen, and many others, to this mind position three is to be emphatically rejected. When considering all of Buddhism in its totality, the general approach is pragmatically towards position two (and generally thus that enlightenment and nirvana can be consolidated well past the arrival point of the Arhat path).    

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Concerning vipassana, in Theravada the three marks of existence, anicca, dukkha, and anatta are considered very introductory (“chapter one, page one”). Eventually however, these marks often take a backseat to a set of more subtle marks, that of sunnata, tathata, and atammayata. Very simply put, sunnata not only encompasses the three coarser marks, representing them in various ways at a much more refined level, but refers to the illusory mirage-like aspect of existence, that things are not exactly as they seen, not merely that they are impermanent or lacking self-being, but that they are totally dream and mirage-like, that they are dynamically unreal. Sunnata derives from a sort of void-like denial, refusal, and rejection of the phenomenological world, it derives from no longer believing in it, from recognizing that it isn’t entirely real. Tathata is a very similar quality to sunnata, except that it is like an affirmation of sorts opposed to a negation of sorts. It is that which affirms the universe, it is like the fabric of the non-thingness of the universe, that though there is the “nothing” that is pointed out by sunnata, there is still “something” remaining that is neither thingness or object, it is the is-ness or suchness of the universe.

 Finally and most importantly, there is atammayata, which despite not being well known, in Theravada has been considered the ultimate concept. Literally meaning “not made of that”, atammayata is hard to pin down in that nearly all translations have a tendency to overemphasize the “subject” or “object” aspect of what is being negated, for example Bhikkhu Bodhi can be subtly criticized in that his rendering of it as “non-identification” can lead to the tendency to mistakenly take this as an emphasis of the subject aspect, while in instances with other translators terms like “non-fashioning” are used, which has in it a tendency to be mistaken for emphasizing the object aspect.
 It is the opposite quality from that which is found in the term “tanmayata” (meaning “made of that”, which seems to stem from a classical Indian theory of perception described by a grasping hand taking the shape of what it grabs; to the eye sending out a ray, that ray taking shape of what is seen, and then returning to the eye; mental energy conforming to the shape of its objects and then returning to the subject; and where the mental energy of the experiencer becomes analogous with the object or thing being realized.

Very simply put, atammayata refers to the quality of awareness apparently prior or without subject-object duality, it refers to the quality by which awareness doesn’t take the shape of that which it apprehends. Where the mind’s energy doesn’t go out to the object and occupy it, where awareness doesn’t partition itself into perceptual objects while reflecting/apprehending the sense-data continuum, so that there simply is the natural flow of the non-partitioned sense-data stream (thus lacking percepts). Therefore it makes neither an objective “thing” or “object” nor a subjective “observer” or “witness” knowing it, hence non-identification of any sort of a subject (or the subjective) non-fashioning of any sort of object (or the objective). It is the correction of subtle conceptual errors concerning sunnata and tathata. It is the application of the essential meaninglessness of dualities of this/that and subject-object. It is the recognition that ‘there is no that, only this; and since there is no that, there is no attributable meaning to this; thus there is not even “this”’. It is that which sees that there cannot be anything other than the ultimate and ultimately insubstantial reality, it is letting everything go, including the entire relative world of subject-object, apparently at the subtlest level, and so such a world is broken apart, dissolved, and totally abandoned, resulting in spacious wholeness and fulfillment.

If understood well (including direct experience of it), it is easy to see the tragedy of atammayata being so unfamiliar, both now and historically. It is also easy to begin seeing similarities to this and that which is sought in the Sudden Mahayana (Zen/Chan), and to a lessor degree even Dzogchen. It is reasonable to consider that for those following Theravada and having the right capacities, that the eventual transition to heavily prioritizing these finer marks into samatha/vipassana practice might be rather essential. Additionally, atammayata is likely one of, if not the, most advanced concepts and teachings relayed in the Pali texts. A Theravada practitioner, at a certain point in practice, therefor might even consider taking the application of atammayata as the sole practice. If lacking the capacity to meaningfully apply atammayata, then one should at least keep notice of the differences between the mind-mode that tears down the phenomena it apprehends (according to the principle of apachayagami) and the mind-mode that passively sustains and conforms to the phenomena it apprehends, as the latter can sneak into even seasoned vipassana practice (often very subtly and momentarily).


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Concerning those that feel stuck around “3rd path", it is rather important to understand that the Theravada lacks direct control and mastery of the thigle/energy-volume-determining-the-scope-of-awareness (in many cases practitioners of Theravada lack the capacity to directly observe the energy), instead only raising it passively through mindfulness and concentrative absorptions. Without direct control and mastery of the energy-volume, there is no guarantee of enlightenment in this lifetime (and so the energy-volume, and a high one at that, is recognized by the path of transformation and the path of spontaneous liberation as the single most crucial factor). One way to deplete the energy-volume and to keep it low, is to allow outward emissions (read:ejaculations), thus it is imperative for Theravada practitioners to avoid these emissions (such emissions are common for householder Theravada practitioners, to their detriment), especially since they rely on passive methods to gradually raise what they are in turn actively depleting. Though contemplatives of all grades and capacities can practice the Theravada, if one is dead-set on enlightenment in this lifetime, then one might consider working diligently on training one’s overall capacities, gaining experience with the emptiness of self, and additionally gaining skill in the direct observation of the energy, after which one is qualified for at least the lower mastery of the energy-system found in the path of transformation (as it requires greater faculties to successfully practice this path, and thus isn’t immediately open to everyone). With this said, according to the Pali texts, someone with extremely great natural capacities and faculties, great karma, as well as being well-learned, might achieve the enlightenment offered by Theravada in a single week, presumably during a no-sleep, perpetual retreat. While on the other end of the spectrum, someone with extremely poor capacities, faculties, karma, and learning, will likely not achieve enlightenment until a great many lifetimes from now. Most fall somewhere in the middle, meaning many people will likely not achieve enlightenment during this lifetime using the Theravada path.  

Second to this, many who claim to practice the Theravada path do not practice it in regards to the fundamental principle of renunciation that this path is actually founded on. As such, as the Buddha relayed, the wood will not catch fire because it is wet and sappy, in other words in regard to the Theravada path there isn’t a proper arrangement of primary and secondary conditions for the fire of awakening to catch. One should let go of everything, such as distractions, frivolous chatter, sources of the passions, etc. Truly letting go of everything is the essential point, which seems to emphasize the principle of renunciation that some seem so keen to forget or dance around. Instead many of these people, though possibly not bearing it in mind, seem to be fashioning and operating on some sort of implicit “principle of wisdom/insight”, these people should consider instead practicing Mahayana, in particular those forms of it which emphasize valid cognition of, and insight into, emptiness. These paths are more suited to those basing their personal practice on a path operating on an emphasis revolving around said “principle of wisdom/insight”, while with the Theravada path, emphasis is placed on a convergence of factors, including wisdom/insight, which are all operating through the principle of renunciation.




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Concerning the rather apparent wider problem for western lay practitioners, there are several factors that seem to be at play here. This has been a pretty common theme for normal lay practitioners throughout the history of Buddhism. There are very few references in the Pali texts, if any (according to interpretation and translation disputes), of an individual householder attaining enlightenment.

“The early teaching admitted that laypersons could attain the first three degrees of sainthood (stream-winner, once-returner, and non-returner); but whether they could become arhants was a disputed point....”

“A famous passage at A.iii, 450-51 is often held to provide evidence for lay persons attaining arahantship and continuing to remain as householders, but such an interpretation is erroneous, based on mistaking the expression niṭṭhaṅgata to mean 'attained the goal,' when it actually means 'attained to certainty' and signifies a stream-enterer or one at some other grade of noble attainment short of arahantship.”
 
In one text, the Buddha explictly refers to the fetter of householdership (which sparked later debates as to its extent and meaning). It was generally concluded that it isn’t the material possessions in of themselves that amounts to the fetter.

In Tibetan Buddhism, lay people being great masters has been much more explicitly the case and common, but they specifically are advanced lay yogis, who practice intensively, often more intensively than and more often than ordained monks. As well as usually practicing very advanced methods, very often with very high levels of blatant renunciation. Many revered masters have been like this, but these people are very different then regular lay contemplatives, as the regular lay person isn’t a yogi who spends years in serious retreat or lives extremely simple lives rigorously practicing or effortlessly persisting in primordial gnosis.

Lay people often do not practice enough, many practice less than they participate in their hobbies. The brain is one of the most, if not the single most, complicated things in the universe, and people expect to master it in a minor portion of their pastime (keep in mind the Buddha often is claimed to have spoken time and time again on the truth being so subtle and difficult to understand). Many want to practice and achieve letting everything go without letting everything go, often letting go of only what is immediately convenient.
Aside from not practicing enough, many don’t practice very well and so effectively participate in anti-meditations of various sorts a moment or an hour after they get off the mat. Furthermore, to generalize quite a bit: lay practitioners in the east tend to be prone to anti-protestant and folk versions of Buddhist practice. Deriving much of their practice from the popular religious culture than from serious examinations of the texts or serious study under a qualified master.

 While in the west there is a fresh frothing sea of issues, such as deep-seated hyper-cynicism (which is indeed also emerging with many of the younger generations of eastern practitioners who are chasing western material comforts) and doubt which seriously hinder the path, namely, rigorous dedication to the path and practice, as many appear to want their Buddhism al a carte and streamlined (or in a pill if possible!). Many actually practice a path in line with German romanticism that is relaxed and buddhistic at best, rather than practicing a Buddhadharma path.
Aside from the obvious tendency to not practice nearly enough or nearly as seriously and guided, there are some which embrace a free-for-all freestyle practice which often has no arrival point and as such is directionless in a rather negative sense. Sharing some of the same core issues with eastern lay practitioners, there is a tendency towards poor education on the subject and almost always lacking serious tutelage under a truly qualified master (thus lacking an esoteric understanding and personalized pith instructions).
 The lack of an institution in the still-young world of western Buddhism has its pros and cons. One of the cons being that they have completely unqualified and feebly-attained people appointing themselves as masters or spokespeople for Buddhism (in other situations, the bar has been set lower to make sure that there is at least somebody to pass this or that linage to in the west, and/or for the sake of passing it to an actual westerner) which is something that can seriously lead to the decline of the essential Buddhism capable of bringing about authentic transcendence, especially in the west if not eventually remedied. There are many people who lack the training and knowledge, who jump into advanced practices, fail to take off because they cannot operate nor understand the controls, and then jump out of all practice or any serious practice.
 There is a problem with a sort of sanitizing effect or effort by many westerners, who in effect are seeking, explictly or otherwise, to purge Buddhism from religion, from tradition, from what seems incomprehensible, etc. Who have tried to reduce nearly all practices to some sort of crude mindfulness or overly reductionist quasi-insight practices. Who have tried to, in line with deviant consequences of particular lines of some post-modern thought, seek to establish all Buddhisms on equal ground, all somehow sharing the same views, insights, efficacy, and/or potential (mistaking similarities for complete and unflinching sameness). Additionally, there are the potential issues of pragmatic dharma movements intent on perpetuating “what works”, which usually consists of people collectively dragging themselves and others down to a lower common denominator, as many people suffer from the aforementioned problems of not practicing very long and/or with practicing with insufficient education and training, and generally a total lack of proper knowledge insofar advanced practices -As such the results of rigorous practice are scantly reported, which encourages many to take it considerably less seriously, not practice as diligently, attaining fewer results and (not only completing the self-fulfilling prophecy) turning the cycle of degradation for others.
With an Wilber teaching his gradualist quasi-Vedanta-cloaked-as-uninformed-Buddhism and claiming he is in the prime position to (and so will do so) initiate the fourth turning of the dharma wheel, to a Stephen Batchelor teaching retreats and advising people that a crude freestyle mindfulness and a short quote or two from any pet text is enough for a Buddhist path. The western community has a lot of work to do, as right now much of the monastic and lay community seems to be in disarray and appears in some respects to be giving only a half-hearted go at it. Many of these trends, if they are to improve, will likely get a bit worse first.

Globally, though the proportion of well-accomplished realized individuals has historically always been very small, presently the numbers appear to be unfortunately shrinking. Concerning what matters, there indeed does seem to be a Buddhist decline and a greater instance of the so-called ‘Buddhist dark-age’ appears to be on the horizon. Unless something is turned around in a pretty significant way, then in all likelihood there will only be very small numbers of mostly non-lineage bodhisattvas with great inheritance that will accomplish extremely well. These beings will lead, teach, and inspire others to the path and progress along such, but aside from these small pockets, likely with decreasing returns, mara will gain ground.

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Concerning the four path model,
There is no reason to assume that all the other paths can somehow be subsumed and consolidated to fit neatly into this model, often other paths don't even correspond very well to this model. Nearly all pragmatic models which attempt to reconcile the ‘four path model’ with other paths do not place and limit the other paths to strictly within the confines of the four path model, as it amounts to smashing and amputating these other paths. Instead, they define only a portion of the other paths in terms of the four path model, and then at a point have the other paths transcend the four path model, such as having 4th path correspond in certain ways to the 6th, 7th, and/or 8th bhumi (within certain forms of the short-bodhisattva path; and corresponding to a much lower bhumi in nearly every respect when in relation to the long-bodhisattva paths; lastly one should note that the bodhisattvayanas almost always entail a five path model).
To this mind, though in some occasions implicit parallels are drawn for the sake of discourse, there is a rejection of the idea that the other paths can be stuffed solely into the confines of the four path model, additionally, there has not been any explicit technical claim to 3rd or 4th path due to walking a path not easily reconciled within the context of the 4th path model.

This mind was introduced to the Path through experiencing the inner re-creation of the experience of death trances (bardo trances). Further, only for a relatively short time did it later undergo practices relating to the path of renunciation, both Hinayana and Mahayana (with a leaning towards Mahayana, and even at this time often a tantrically-inspired Mahayana). Following intuition and taking as View the direct experience of the bardo, there was a transfer to the path of transformation until fully glimpsing Rigpa (with the innate meta-bliss of the actual clear-light “activated”) via the total pleasure, and then a transfer to the path of spontaneous liberation, maintaining certain practices inherited from the path of transformation as secondary practices. However, this is still an extremely crude and loose description, as visionary initiation into the Path, via the bardo in the very beginning, entailed spontaneously natural applications of thogal, and so the Dzogchen-esque View and methodological-leaning were sprinkled throughout the practicing of all three paths (path of renunciation, transformation, and spontaneous liberation). So for example in brief, when applying concentration/samatha-like practices during the relatively short tour of the path of renunciation, there still was an emphasis on the Tibetan single-point compound techniques, which are Dzogchen-rooted (they are practices of the first series of Dzogchen teachings/methods which start as preliminary samatha/vipassana and then eventually evolve organically to be concerned with bringing about the Direct Introduction; generally such introduction initially lacks the ”activation” of the innate bliss of the actual clear-light); and during the practice of the bliss-based subset of the path of transformation, visualization was intuitively marginalized and in most cases rejected (in fact there was much more visualization practice during the period that is being very loosely tagged as corresponding to the path of renunciation), which is generally contrary to tantra and is central to Dzogchen. One might say that to describe the path walked by this mind would be something akin to mentioning first a series of bardo visions which include the first, second, and third thogal vision; then a short tour through the simultaneity of anuttara/maha-path of renunciation, anu-path of renunciation, and ati-path of renunciation; then starting an extended stay (after a series of intuitions and accomplishments, such as overcoming the black precipice of ignorance called “nearly perfected” during sleep, which thus realizes the two-fold emptiness/emptiness of other and allows the wondrous sample of the manifest sambhogakaya) in the simultaneity of anuttara/maha-path of transformation, anu-path of transformation, and ati-path of transformation (during which the first instance of the fourth thogal vision occurred); and finally a simultaneity of ati-anu and ati-ati, while utilizing anu-maha/anuttara, ati-maha/anuttara, and anu-ati as secondary practices.

Therefore, despite having experience with Theravada, it unjustified to think that a Theravada-like path has been walked or that what was walked is to be cognized all within terms of the four path model. However, if forced to do this very thing and to think within the very crude and amputating confines of solely the four path model, then the 2nd path, the 3rd path, or somewhere between the two, manifested as the arrival point of the initial series of bardo trances, after which punctuated-equilibrium-like progress persisted until the first special extinction in primordial gnosis occurred, brought on by the total pleasure, which is the super-unified extraordinary bliss or meta-bliss found in the great blisses becoming boundlessly one, all-pervading (as contrasted with the standard extinction in the sampling of primordial gnosis), and unapprehendable. It is within reason to imagine some calling this 4th path, however there continues to be greater consolidation from that point. While referring to different levels of consolidation, it is helpful to remember that in most instances by the 6th bhumi the bodhisattva is considered enlightened, and in many cases it is considered that nirvana is the case, however it is considered that there still is room for greater consolidation of enlightenment and nirvana. Likewise, as mentioned in the paper there are the bhumis 11-16, all entailing enlightenment, nirvana, and Buddhahood, and so different consolidation levels.



-
If one decides on the path of transformation then they should keep in mind that at minimum, a threshold degree of the emptiness of self is required to properly practice this path in any meaningful way (opposed to the much fuller understanding that Madhyamaka rightfully claims comes with knowledge of the emptiness of phenomena). If practicing the path of transformation only with the minimum of the emptiness of self, the emptiness of phenomena should arise naturally throughout the course of practice, if this doesn’t happen then eventually one will need to emphasize contemplations that reinforce this, such as seeing all as lucid-dream, as mirage, as hologram, etc.
If deciding to attempt the path of transformation improperly, without the threshold level of emptiness of self, then this becomes the emphasis of practice and study, as such one should seek valid cognition of the absence of the three standard svabhava categories refuted in Madhyamaka, practice the guru yoga of the lowest and outermost tantras (avoid practicing any guru yoga within the context of it being one’s own mind until after the sufficient emptiness of self has been attained), additionally the aforementioned practices advised for the emptiness of phenomena, but with the extended emphasis of selfhood being an empty shell, a balloon, dream, a mirage, a hologram, and lastly any other of the many practices related to voidness and thinning the duality.

It really should be understood that one’s practice will be crude at best without the mentioned minimum, with untrained peoples often spending years “playing around with tantra”, ultimately failing, and then falling into doubt, suspending or expelling all practice, and partaking in indifferent hedonism the remainder of their lives. Secondly, it is critical that one be able to directly observe the energy-volume or one’s practice will be totally lackluster and shallow. Though this capacity improves throughout the course of practice, without a reasonable amount to begin with, serious obstacles will arise. To gain or improve this capacity, one should perpetually be mindful of body and sensations, then include the fabrication of sensations and re-fashioning already present sensations (for example generating bliss, excitation, and heat; and taking already present bodily tension, pain, and discomfort as sensually spasmodic pleasure). One should imagine an energy system with the channels, and fabricate the sensed circulation of energy through the channels as well as sensed congregation of the energy around the designated wheels. One should make a point to practice proto-dissolution stage methods, which involve fabricating an image and/or sensation and then upon dissolving it experiencing pleasure or whatever else. An example of such is creating an individual (or set thereof) color and/or mantra and/or sensation at the navel and a different set at the heart, having one set come to the other and forming a different set. Then introducing an additional set at the level of the head, having the aforementioned combined/consubstantial set, that is now at the level of the heart or navel, then travel to the set at the level of the head and to merge together with it, re-fashioning into a brilliant new set or point and having that drip or stream down to the heart, which is taken to cause extreme fabricated experiences like bliss and spaciousness. Gradually or suddenly as the set or point at the level of the head has completely dissolved or traveled into the area at the level of the heart, one simply rests and remains comfortably in that transformed state, taking it to be the natural and subtly default mode of awareness. Additionally, here are what Capriles calls CREVs, meaning chemical raisers of the energy volume, which should be considered with caution and can raise the energy-volume and movement sufficiently to where it is easily seen that such energy and its movement underlies all perception, thought, and sensation (some activate the body-map quite considerably, which can greatly assist the discovery and observance of the energy, Indian tantrics for example are quite fond of cannabinoids for a variety of reasons, including the fact that they stimulate the body-mapping and can raise the energy-volume proportionally to dose). One should note that the path of transformation emphasizes having a personal relationship with and studying under a qualified guru, and that only one out of a million practitioners can achieve well without one (referring to Buddhadharma practitioners, so at present times maybe 300-350 people globally have this capacity).  

Until reaching a legitimate glimpse of the true nature of awareness, where the non-discriminating and non-dual bodhicitta begins to dawn from the gentle authenticity of the true original nature, it is increasingly critical that one cultivate a healthy level of “standard” bodhicitta. Many of the tantric practices, especially the essential ones, have a naturally emerging built-in requirement for such and contain mechanics that short-circuit the practice if bodhicitta isn’t strong enough. For example, it will be much harder to sublimate the great blisses in emptiness (and thus control them), it thus is much harder to sustain the upward movement of the energy when the pleasure becomes so intense that the body has problems keeping up, and so when the critical moments dawn when the energy becomes totally untethered and must move all the way up towards realization or all the way down and out of the body (via outward emission), one is unable to sustain the movement upwards and so one fails with an outward ejaculation. As a strong bodhicitta assists with the upwards flow of the totally untethered energy moving fully up or down, and very importantly provides the rare capacity to sustain the energy in the heart if one lacks the skill and upward flow to move it fully upwards, essentially re-tethering the energy during the course of a bodily orgasm/attempted involuntary ejaculation and effectively preventing the outward ejaculation of fluid and energy.

Concerning the criticalness of successfully controlling the untethered energy, Padmasambhava remarks:

"My secret path is very dangerous; it is just like a snake in the bamboo, which, if it moves, must either go up or come down."





-
If one decides to pursue the path of spontaneous liberation then for the sake of understanding one might provisionally view the Dzogchen path in terms of the preliminary path and the essential path. Indeed the path of spontaneous liberation has become an inclusive path that is open to be practiced by all, but one must recognize that this isn’t essential Dzogchen that is being undertaken. For example, preliminarily a beginner might be advised to practice certain forms of samatha/vipassana. An intermediate might be advised to undertake methods which resemble strongly various tantric practices. Only those with high capacities and direct introduction into the original nature of awareness can undertake essential Dzogchen authentically, with its effortless non-meditations (higher capacities than required for the path of transformation and so obviously the capacity for observing the subtle energy-flow is required). For example if one were to go a ati-ati thogal retreat without the minimum capacity and direct introduction, then one would not be undertaking the essential Dzogchen practice, but instead would be performing inauthentic imitative meditations (though still capable of providing great benefits), or would be performing tantric practices with the Dzogchen-like view (something like ati-maha/anuttara), or would be undertaking some sort of zen/chan-like practice. None of this should induce discouragement, instead one should strive steadily pursuing the spontaneous instance of an authentic direct introduction, studying and implementing the first series of Atiyana teachings and attempting any pith instructions until direct introduction. A reasonable starting point:

http://www.keithdowman.net/books/cc.htm#ANALYTIC%20MEDITATION

http://rainbow349.blogspot.com/2009/11/pith-instructions-on-great-perfection.html

http://www.keithdowman.net/dzogchen/eyeofthestorm.htm



   In the beginning one should use all of one’s free time for practice, every minute needs to be utilized to its fullest. The idea being that one needs to establish what can be called a sort of ‘meditative/contemplative momentum’, where one is practicing sufficiently to retain one’s primary practice throughout all activity, completely dissolving the boundaries between contemplative periods and post-contemplative periods. Which is a distinct break-away point in Dzogchen from Mahayana, which distinguishes contemplative and post-contemplative states and behaviors, in Dzogchen, there is only the contemplative state in the sense discussed by Mahayana (however, there can be a Dzogchen consideration in of a post-contemplative state, meaning the periods of time in which unawareness has crept in and one has lost rigpa), which is very important. So for example, while at work: undertake the pith instructions provided, while with the kids: undertake the pith instructions, while on the toilet and eventually while sleeping: undertake the pith instructions. This may prove difficult in the beginning, and may be unrealistic unless one completely devotes oneself (insofar as every minute of free/down time) in the beginning to contemplative sessions, again to iterate, to acquire the meditative momentum. Without such a momentum, one will likely not sustain an increasing energy-volume, nor the mindfulness to apply the practice. Upon direct introduction, without proper momentum one will lack the mindfulness to keep rigpa or notice when unawareness has crept in. Socialization also has the tendency to lower the energy-volume, it domesticates and amputates it, counter this by keeping the practice at all times (with aid of the momentum), retaining a total openness and nakedness of awareness, which will assist in retaining and increasing the energy during the course of socialization etc. Don’t stop even if one notices the corruptions from such a high energy volume, such as involuntary body spasms, panic, hallucinations etc., instead totally open oneself up to and embrace them right as they are.
It is essential to be able to let go of everything, including subtle identifications and concepts of humanity, being human, and social niceties etc. Maintaining awareness and guarding against unawareness must take priority over all else, including the destruction of one’s reputation, disappointing others, and ‘ruining everything’. Thus it is clear, especially for a householder, how critical gaining that momentum in the beginning is, so that mindful awareness and one’s practice can seamlessly integrate with the daily human affairs, and thus allowing one to do without having to choose between awareness and the aforementioned subtle attachment. To iterate and sum up, awareness that is neither thing, object, or mind is the priority, protect it at all costs; the true nature of this insubstantial awareness that is neither thing, object, or mind, and which is without boundary is that which is closest to what could be considered what one “is”.

http://www.keithdowman.net/guestpage/patrul_advice.htm


Furthermore, it is best to take as many retreats as you can, and if possible, travel and gain a personal relationship with a qualified and authentic Dzogchen master, such as Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, taking one’s retreat under direct guidance (in person) or indirectly. Not only can this help with the direct introduction, but after a personal relationship has been established, personalized pith instructions (potentially including that of spyti and yangti) may be transmitted, which are invaluable and despite the age of the internet, this order of pith instructions is kept rather secret (and for good reason).

Lastly, by the time one is ready for the third series of Dzogchen teachings, the series of pith instructions, understand there are four cycles which detail the thogal to increasing degrees and clarity and provide increasingly sudden and explosive methods. They are the outer, inner, secret, and innermost secret unsurpassed cycles. Intended for those (relatively speaking within the realm of advanced contemplatives with high capacities) with lessor, medium, high, and exceptionally high capacities.

 However, there is an additional (fourth) and even more esoteric series of Dzogchen teachings, called the Yangti Nakpo or Black Quintessence series (or The Single Golden Letter of the Black Quintessence series), which sometimes is grouped as two subset (spy-ti and yang-ti) categories within the innermost secret unsurpassed cycle of the third series. These teachings are surely mistaken in their true meaning without an authentic understanding and direct experience of the profound and totally transcendental fourth thogal vision, as these teachings generally take direct experience of the fourth thogal as their starting point. Despite the virtual certainty of reactionary mistaken views:

“This spyi ti, the pinnacle of the nine yanas, cannot be attained from
another, is attained from oneself, the special amazing vehicle. The
demonstration of Dzogchen spyi ti is that appearance and existence,
samsara and nirvana, liberated into total non-conceptual original
purity. E ma, this amazing, wonderful Dharma, does not arise from
another, arises from A. A la la ho, everything is liberated in total
original purity...

This yang ti, the essence of the sun and the moon, has not view,
meditation, or conduct to practice; no focus, nothing to perceive,
fresh, free from mind. All appearances are liberated into total
namelessness. Non-arising original purity is without real phenomena.
If it is asked why is it superior to spyi ti, whatever aspect of
appearances, cannot be given a name, because of being outside the
universal sphere. Without pure and impure, liberated into total
ignorance, these three realms are without suffering, liberated just
as they are. Buddhas and sentient beings, do not exist in the six
destinations, liberated without any nominal designation by a
designating mind. Phenomena exhausted, mind abandoned, liberated
beyond all indications, expressions, and thoughts... “

From the “perspective” of the profound fourth thogal vision, one is liberated from attainment and realization. Attainment becomes an aberration and simultaneously a playful inside joke, a spontaneously playful expression of the natural state with and within itself; both the attainment and the aberration are aberrations and yet are simultaneously uncaused whimsical expressions of the natural state. The natural state isn’t causal or productive (it doesn’t cause or produce phenomena), yet the whimsical display shines away anyway, inseparably “outside” of the sphere of the fourth vision. One can either taste the sugar or become the sugar, in of itself all phenomena are exhausted, freed into the absolutely full nothingness, and are non-existent. From the very beginning, all have always been the one totally complete primordial Buddha which is neither thing or object, neither existing nor otherwise, and is the supreme emptiness qua emptiness, the natural state of the all-good all-metabliss found in the absence of all characteristics. If one is to ponder on the possibility of some sort of further attainment and aberration then one is wound up in the web of ignorance again, which is another whimsical expression of the profound inside joke of the all-good primordial nature, the sole Buddha beyond singularity/non-singularity and multiplicity/non-multiplicity. From the very beginning, this is and has been all for us, all of it, the dramatic dance of paradise, of both tasting and being the sugar. Primordial original liberation, the profound illusory liberation from liberation itself, and the ultimate two-fold liberation.





Thanks for your writings. You said you started a local sangha, where did you start it?



Local sangha chapter relatively speaking, in several respects it has subtly functioned in part as a Nepalese action group and in part as an informal effort to connect various sanghas to one another, both nationally and internationally. Due to the location of current job, it is in USA. The root sangha is based in Kathmandu, Nepal (where personal support has been given since about 2010), the primary chapter’s office is in Los Angeles, California. It still is in a very early and preliminary phase and is rather decentralized, with its current priority being the assistance of the Nepalalese sangha in overcoming various circumstances with the aim of eventually relocating them out of Nepal. Secondly, there are various administrative and networking responsibilities in starting sister chapters or at least networking vectors (such as spearheading an informal and decentralized Ohioan sister chapter, which is one of the first) this secondary priority has been significantly slowed and stalled in favor of assisting the Nepalese sangha through various obstacles and hardships, the process may indeed stagnate for some time considering some of these obstacles are increasingly becoming governmental/political.
The personal share of responsibility for this process will be completely passed back to others in a few short months as will be personally relocating again and so the personal priority of internationally searching for individuals with great natural capacities or inherited potential, for the sake of bringing them into extended guided retreat (which is one of the reasons networking to and through other sanghas has been had as a major personal priority, as it assists in potentially finding the best and brightest; and is a subtler reason why initial posts where made on this forum) more thoroughly continues. Hopefully over the years to come, some of these talented and dedicated contemplatives will flourish in retreat and in relaying their experience, as well as in providing teachings, guidance and inspiration.




Thanks very much for these essays! They are great!



Concerning the informal lecture/essay posted in this thread, it should be again emphasized that my role in this is more accurately described as somewhere between writer, editor, and that of a compiler. The credit is due elsewhere, as was mentioned in the text, much of the body of it is directly inherited from the works of others. In many cases, aside from minor content addendums and formatting edits for the sake of a fluid and mostly un-obstructed reading and comphrension, there was an emphasis placed on staying very true to the original wording. With that said, quotation marks were stylistically avoided, and rather strictly at that, as working them around the formatting edits and the content addendums was deemed to place an unnecessary burden on the reader in light of the purpose of the work. The work is merely a casual tool or guide, a brief overview for readers of all levels, a condensed compilation of works edited and boiled to a single manageable and friendly essence. Hopefully it assists or at least provides food for thought.




Thanks for your time!


As per the "fetter of householder-ship" that reference was taken straight from the Tevijja-Vacchagotta sutta. The Buddha states in that discourse that it is impossible to attain arahatship whilst possessing the fetter of householder-ship, (the laymen bonds), I recall that Piya Tan took his translation of that discourse down due to the fact that it conflicted with his notion of laymen arahats.

Also the reference to concentration in the midst of carts and whatnot was a reference to Alara Kalama who was the Buddha's first teacher of yogic meditation, the Buddha did not necessarily praise intense one-mindedness (read: dead concentration), but instead praised jhana. Which in his system was:

"Quite secluded from sensual pleasures... etc"

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 5:45 AM as a reply to Omega Point.
Omega Point,


Thanks for the post. To some extent, your rigor seems to me similar to that of René Guénon. He also wrote about an intellectual/spiritual darkness and darkening in this world. However, he did not limit this to a Buddhist-only context.


http://tohno-chan.com/ddl/src/Rene_Guenon_-_The_Crisis_of_the_Modern_World.pdf


http://www.academia.edu/882409/The_Reign_of_Quantity_and_Signs_of_the_Times_Rene_Guenon

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 8:35 AM as a reply to Omega Point.
"Buddhism’s teachings on compassion, non-duality, non-self, and overcoming the existential lack can bring much needed calmness and clarity to a sometimes chaotic, stressful, and self-absorbed world"

The Buddha taught non-duality?

That is news to me and I imagine most Theravada Buddhists.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_27.html

In my opinion, the promulgation of non-duality in Buddhism is the direct cause of the majority of real, in your face suffering that has plagued Buddhism in the west.

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 9:38 AM as a reply to deleted deleted.
Bill McCloskey:
The Buddha taught non-duality?


I think it's the case that non-dual teachings were historically influenced by Buddhism, via, for example Nagarjuna -> Gaudapada -> Shankara.

I once listened to a recording of a workshop given by Ven. Thanissaro where he showed plausibly how Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika developed out of Theravada-style teachings like the Discourses on Emptiness. In his talk, he also made clear the differences between Theravadan and Mahayana teachings, of course. Still, to me the take-away was that nondual teachings are not as fundamentally alien to Theravada as is often assumed, even if that was probably not the main point he wanted to drive home.

That is news to me and I imagine most Theravada Buddhists.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/bps-essay_27.html


I think it someone else has already mentioned it: the Teaching to Bahiya certainly has an explicit non-dual slant to it: there is no duality of "observer vs observed".

In my opinion, the promulgation of non-duality in Buddhism is the direct cause of the majority of real, in your face suffering that has plagued Buddhism in the west.


Can you explain or give examples how non-duality directly causes suffering?

Cheers,
Florian

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 10:17 AM as a reply to Florian.
Pick your western zen monestary. Now find one that wasn't ridden with scandal.

(hell, pick your eastern zen monestary. Now find one that wan't ridden with fascism).

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 11:23 AM as a reply to deleted deleted.
Florian:
I think it someone else has already mentioned it: the Teaching to Bahiya certainly has an explicit non-dual slant to it: there is no duality of "observer vs observed".
Bill McCloskey:
In my opinion, the promulgation of non-duality in Buddhism is the direct cause of the majority of real, in your face suffering that has plagued Buddhism in the west.

Can you explain or give examples how non-duality directly causes suffering?
Bill McCloskey:
Pick your western zen monestary. Now find one that wasn't ridden with scandal. (hell, pick your eastern zen monestary. Now find one that wan't ridden with fascism).

So to clarify,
Non-dual = Zen and
Zen = scandal/fascism therefor
Non-dual = scandal/fascism. This is a bit tenuous. I believe you can do better than that
I'd would rather you quote the Pali cannon showing that non-duality of "observer vs observed" is not a component of awakening.
Thanks,
~D

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 11:47 AM as a reply to deleted deleted.
Bill McCloskey:
Pick your western zen monestary. Now find one that wasn't ridden with scandal.

(hell, pick your eastern zen monestary. Now find one that wan't ridden with fascism).


This is not reddit. You can assume we aren't in it for the lulz but genuinely interested.

As to scandal: I can't see anywhere that Theravada would be exempt from it. Not too long ago, for example, Theravada monks in Sri Lanka were engaged in behavior reminiscent of fascism, such as tearing down shrines of other religions. Burmese monks are in it when it comes to persecuting the muslim minority there, likewise in Thailand. Even western Thervada has its shadow sides, like as the open misogyny of such highly esteemed teachers as the Ven. Thanissaro in his role as a scholar, keeping it a boys club and preventing women from taking full ordination. To me, this kind of thing is really general everyday all-purpose kilesas doing their part in keeping suffering plentiful, rather than highly specific nondual kilesas.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 12:06 PM as a reply to Florian.
The non ordination of women is hardly scandal. It is doctrine. You can argue the doctrine but you can't equate not letting women become monks with sleeping with female students.

As for the pali canon, I'll paraphrase. Ananda specifically asks is all phenomena empty? and the Buddha replies, only insofar as we have no identifiable self. That is how we view emptiness.

The message is clear to me. We have no self and that is as far as we can take it. I think the Buddha was specifically pointing here to the dangers of extrapolating no self to all phenomena is empty.

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 12:11 PM as a reply to Florian.
"This is not reddit. You can assume we aren't in it for the lulz but genuinely interested."

Ha.. I apologize. I'll try and keep that in mind in the future. emoticon

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 12:46 PM as a reply to deleted deleted.
Bill McCloskey:
The non ordination of women is hardly scandal. It is doctrine. You can argue the doctrine but you can't equate not letting women become monks with sleeping with female students.

As for the pali canon, I'll paraphrase. Ananda specifically asks is all phenomena empty? and the Buddha replies, only insofar as we have no identifiable self. That is how we view emptiness.

The message is clear to me. We have no self and that is as far as we can take it. I think the Buddha was specifically pointing here to the dangers of extrapolating no self to all phenomena is empty.

Emptiness does not refer only to our personal self, but also the 'selves' we conceptually ascribe upon all phenomena.  As you may be aware, in regards to a correct understanding of emptiness Buddhism teaches that there are two pitfalls to be avoided; eternalism and nihlism.  Anyone who understands emptiness to mean that nothing truly exists falls into the trap of nihlism.  All phenema are empty of inherant existance, or 'self' as you called it, however this should not be understood to mean phenomena do not exist at all. 

Those who act imorally on the basis that 'all is empty and thus nothing matters' have thus clearly misunderstood teachings on emptiness.  This doesn't mean however that teachings on non-duality are the root of all evil.  Teachings on non-duality, such as those found in Tibetan Buddhism are simply higher-level teachings which necesitate a sound basis of prior meditative acomplishment to comprehend. 

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 1:00 PM as a reply to deleted deleted.
Bill McCloskey:
The non ordination of women is hardly scandal. It is doctrine. You can argue the doctrine but you can't equate not letting women become monks with sleeping with female students.


Nuns, actually. Bhikkhunis. I think it is a scandal.

I was talking about the suffering that results when Theravada monks argue the doctrine to rationalize their misogyny and persecution of other faiths.

Just as you were talking about the suffering that non-Theravada monks cause when they rationalize the abuses they commit.

As for the pali canon, I'll paraphrase. Ananda specifically asks is all phenomena empty? and the Buddha replies, only insofar as we have no identifiable self. That is how we view emptiness.

The message is clear to me. We have no self and that is as far as we can take it. I think the Buddha was specifically pointing here to the dangers of extrapolating no self to all phenomena is empty.


Actually, whether we have a self is a question he declined to answer, such as when Vacchagotta asked him about it.

I don't really want to play quote that verse with you. What about nondual teachings is it that you think leads directly to suffering? Moral relativism? Postmodern arbitrariness?

Cheers,
Florian

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 3:32 PM as a reply to deleted deleted.
I am getting confused. First you make this pretty strong statement about non-duality.
Bill McCloskey:
In my opinion, the promulgation of non-duality in Buddhism is the direct cause of the majority of real, in your face suffering that has plagued Buddhism in the west.

And here you are talking about emptiness and no self
Bill McCloskey:
As for the pali canon, I'll paraphrase. Ananda specifically asks is all phenomena empty? and the Buddha replies, only insofar as we have no identifiable self. That is how we view emptiness.
The message is clear to me. We have no self and that is as far as we can take it. I think the Buddha was specifically pointing here to the dangers of extrapolating no self to all phenomena is empty.

Perhaps if you defined the terms a little it would clarify things a bit. I am interested in your first statement and would like to resolve that first before moving on to other concepts unless they are somehow related. If they are related please explain how and tie it back to the suffering caused from the first statement.
Thanks,
~D

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 5:57 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Hi Dream Walker,

All Buddhists agree in the concept of no-self. We do not have a specific soul that gets reincarnated, or sent to heaven. The perception we have of ourselves is the result of our sense perceptions of sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste and the mental formations that pop up in our day to day living. Just like film, which is a series of still frames with no movement, yet seems to represent movement, stories, emotions, but are in reality nothing more than one still frame following another to give the illusion of movement, stories, emotions etc, so our aggragated senses give us the illusion of a self. It is only when we look at that percieved self over time, from the time we are a baby, to childhood, to adulthood, to old age, to dementia, do we see there is little connecting all those selves. We are who we are only in a single frame, and our senses give us the illusion that there is continuous flow. On the cushin, we start slowing down the frames until we can see them for what they really are: no-self.

Non-duality on the other hand is the notion that all things are empty. There is not only no film showing motion, stories, and emotion...there is no camera, projector, seats, screen, no anything. All of it is an illusion.

The troubling aspect of this idea is that you start painting yourself into a very dark corner. If everything is empty, then there is no difference between samsara and nibbana, there is no difference between good and bad, there is no difference between right and wrong. Once we go down the road of everything is empty, that there is no this and no that, we begin to get the idea that nothing can hurt the enlightened being who has witnessed this emptyness. Therefore, rape, drunkeness, sexual conquest, beating students, having them wash your Bently, having them work in your stores for free, any and all of it are not subject to the laws of kamma. Because kamma iteself is empty, an illusion. We see exactly this thing happening with Richard Baker, with Eido Shimano, and even John Daido Loori who had affairs with students.

And if there is no difference between samsara and nibbana, what are we working for and towards? Gone is the necessity of believing in rebirth, gone is the necessity of living a noble life so that you will not pay for it in the next, all that is necessary is to work diligently towards enlightenment now! at all costs, and you are removed from the responsibilities of your actions.

It sounds absurd but this is exactly how this has been playing out in real life with teachers who believe a certain amount of time on the cushion, and so called enlightenment experiences give them carte blanche to do as they will and not suffer any karmic retribution for their actions.

The Buddha told us no-self, but that no-self is placed against the ground of very real laws of kamma and rebirth, very real concepts of good and bad, very real concepts of realms of existence. The very real reality of samsara and nibbana. We only need to work on three things: concentration, wisdom, morality. Those efforts need to played out against very real dangers of karmic law. Which provides us our urgency, our need to watch our intent, the need to live a good and wholesome life, the need not to do harm to others or ourselves.

We give dynamite to children and wonder why the building blew up. So many young people have such a distorted view of Buddhism and such a weak undertstanding of the dangers they are playing with. Anyone, I think who has been around this space for any length of time, know people who have been irrevocably damaged by so called enlightened masters.

People who are just starting out on this path have to set out on the right path if they are going to avoid disaster. and that path is the Buddha's words as they are preserved in the pali canon and any ideas not contained in those sacred texts should be looked upon with great suspician and trepidation. I have seen too much damage to think otherwise, and too much faith in the Buddha to believe otherwise.

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 5:41 PM as a reply to deleted deleted.
Bill McCloskey:
Non-duality on the other hand is the notion that all things are empty. There is not only no film showing motion, stories, and emotion...there is no camera, projector, seats, screen, no anything. All of it is an illusion.
Thanks for the clarification.
This is not how I see the term non dual being used by practitioners here that have experienced it. My understanding of the term is that the Sense of agency, the sensations that make up the implied sense of self are seen clearly for what they are, just sensations with no more or less importance than any other sensations. This leads to the eradication of subject vs object distortions and the previous experience of duality is changed to a non dual experience.
I have little grasp of the concept of emptiness that you are positing as the cause of many bad behaviors. I think that there could be many causes for people, whether they claim enlightened/non dualness/emptiness or not, to behave unskillfully. Perhaps you could delineate this minority subset and describe the particular aspects of emptiness that would cause such behaviors. Or maybe we just have a bunch of morally bankrupt people out there of which some will meditate and lie to take advantage of things.
Thanks,
~D

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 6:05 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
In my opinion, Dream Walker, what you describe falls squarely in the concept of no-self and the way you describe it is correct.

I'll be the first to admit, I am no Buddhist scholar. I am a practitioner. And my opinions are based on my reading of the canon, my own personal realizations of those readings in my life, and people I TRUST to help me understand the more subtle concepts, people like Thanissaro Bhikkhu. In other words, people whose intrepretations of the Buddha's teachings are based strictly on the pali canon.

But think of this. We have samsara and nibbana. Two very different things. One is the trap of rebirth. The other is the unbinding from that trap. If there is non-duality, that implies everything is one. One can't be both this and at the same time the opposite of this. So either samsara and nibbana are not real, or non-duality is false.

Anyway that is the way I see it and it gets me through the day. emoticon

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 6:34 PM as a reply to deleted deleted.
Bill McCloskey:
But think of this. We have samsara and nibbana. Two very different things.

What's different, exactly? Fundamental reality itself, or our experience / interpretation of fundamental reality?

If there is non-duality, that implies everything is one. One can't be both this and at the same time the opposite of this. So either samsara and nibbana are not real, or non-duality is false.

This strikes me as seriously oddball logic, for reasons relating to the above distinction.

A great line from the MCTB concerning all this:

It is because we are none of this that freedom is possible. It is because we are all of this that compassionate action for all beings and ourselves is so important.

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 7:06 PM as a reply to deleted deleted.
Bill McCloskey:
Hi Dream Walker,

All Buddhists agree in the concept of no-self. ..we start slowing down the frames until we can see them for what they really are: no-self.

Non-duality on the other hand is the notion that all things are empty. There is not only no film showing motion, stories, and emotion...there is no camera, projector, seats, screen, no anything. All of it is an illusion.

If everything is empty, then there is no difference between samsara and nibbana, there is no difference between good and bad, there is no difference between right and wrong. Once we go down the road of everything is empty, that there is no this and no that, we begin to get the idea that nothing can hurt the enlightened being who has witnessed this emptyness. Therefore, rape, drunkeness, sexual conquest, beating students, having them wash your Bently, having them work in your stores for free, any and all of it are not subject to the laws of kamma. Because kamma iteself is empty, an illusion. 

And if there is no difference between samsara and nibbana, what are we working for and towards? Gone is the necessity of believing in rebirth, gone is the necessity of living a noble life so that you will not pay for it in the next, all that is necessary is to work diligently towards enlightenment now! at all costs, and you are removed from the responsibilities of your actions.

It sounds absurd but this is exactly how this has been playing out in real life with teachers who believe a certain amount of time on the cushion, and so called enlightenment experiences give them carte blanche to do as they will and not suffer any karmic retribution for their actions.

The Buddha told us no-self, but that no-self is placed against the ground of very real laws of kamma and rebirth, very real concepts of good and bad, very real concepts of realms of existence. The very real reality of samsara and nibbana. We only need to work on three things: concentration, wisdom, morality. Those efforts need to played out against very real dangers of karmic law. Which provides us our urgency, our need to watch our intent, the need to live a good and wholesome life, the need not to do harm to others or ourselves.


People who are just starting out on this path have to set out on the right path if they are going to avoid disaster. and that path is the Buddha's words as they are preserved in the pali canon and any ideas not contained in those sacred texts should be looked upon with great suspician and trepidation. I have seen too much damage to think otherwise, and too much faith in the Buddha to believe otherwise.

Hi Bill,

You seem to have ignored my earlier post where I discussed emptiness.  While it is well and good to have opinions, having them challenged and considering other viewpoints is an important part of growth. 

Perhaps you are aware of the concepts of 'relative' versus 'ultimate' truth.  Relative truth refers to conceptual frameworks, i.e. all teachings.  Ultimate truth refers to the way things truly appear to an enlightened being who sees beyond concept. 

As you mention, while there is 'no-self', there are also teachings on karma and rebirth.  Your critique of emptiness, in my view, is that the idea that all is empty would negate the idea of cause and effect.  In essence it would mean that all actions are meaningless.  This is the view of nihlism.  This has been seemingly abused by teachers who think their actions have no consequence.

However, consider that these are simply teachers who have misunderstood, or abused higher level teachings.  Emptiness does not mean that nothing exists or that actions have no consequence.  As I wrote in my previous post, there are two pitfall to avoid whien considering teachings on emptiness; eternalism, and nihlism.  Eternalism consists of believing that things are truly and solidly eternally existant.  Nihlism consists of beliving things do not exist at all.  The doctrine of emptiness is the middle way between these two pitfalls, and teaches that phenomena do not; exist, not exist, both exist and not exit, and neither exist or not exist.  Simply put, emptiness refers to an understanding of the word the is beyond conceptual aprehension.

To tie into relative and ultimate truth, again relative truth consists of concept, while ultimate truth is that experience beyond concept.  For example, 'Banana's are yellow' is relative truth.  The words 'banana' and 'yellow' are conceptual labels ascribed to phenomena.  However, these phenomena exist beyond the conceptual label.  Their uttely unique existence is merely described using concept.  Same with the ideas of bad and good.  These are labels ascribed to phenomena.  Underneath the labels, phenomena simply exists, it is not judged.  Thus phenomena are 'empty' of their ascribed conceptal labels.

Teachings such as karma are very usefull on the relative level, however ultimately the goal is a state of being beyond conceptual aprehension.  Relative truth is not wrong, and it is very helpfull, however it is not entirely accurate in describing the way in which phenomena truly exist.  It fails to encapsulate the uterrly transient, everchanging nature of phenomena.  Teachings on emptiness point to the way in which such concept is negated, and thus assist one in attaining enlightenment.

Teachings such as emptiness and karma may be seemingly contradictory, but on deeper examination this is not so.  It is said that a good teacher offers a harmonious view of seemingly contradictory teachings, and indeed, this is a tricky situation where such a teacher could come in handy.  Karma and emptiness, relatieve and ultimate truth are two pieces of the puzzle.

I am aware a strict Therevadan mindset may not allow for the acknowledgement of teachings from other traditions, and you seem to have said as much in expressing your single minded devotion to the pali cannon.  However it seems prudent to at least be open to the possibilities of truth in their teachings given that one can never really know for certain if something is true gold unless they test it.

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 8:17 PM as a reply to deleted deleted.
Wrote a rebuttal to Bhikkhu Bodhi's essay months ago. It's ridden with misconceptions.

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/critique-on-bhikkhu-bodhis-article.html

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
6/24/14 11:03 PM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
An Eternal Now:
Wrote a rebuttal to Bhikkhu Bodhi's essay months ago. It's ridden with misconceptions.

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/critique-on-bhikkhu-bodhis-article.html
Wow.....just wow (slow clap). After reading that my response is.....empty emoticon
~D

RE: The Art of Nakedness: A look at Buddhist salvation
Answer
11/26/15 6:57 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:

...As to the dangers of the path, I agree, can be dangerous, even just doing something simple like noting or following the breath, even more if one is playing around with energy and powers and visualizations, as that side of things is very powerful but also very risky, as psychosis crawls much closer to the surface, and without adequate protections can go horribly awry....




Bump.

I'm reading through this thread, fascinating stuff - I think I need to re-read OP's essay again to really get the finer points.

This quote from Daniel struck me somewhat - I've been doing shamatha-vipassana (Trungpa Rinpoche style) and I'm trying to really develop my practice in a solid, pragmatic way. As I mentioned in an exchange with Daniel, I've been trying to find a teacher to work with given my current conditions but haven't found much luck yet, only sporadic interviews in which I couldn't get much technical detail from them.

What counts as 'adequate protections' from psychosis? Is there a best way to avoid psychosis whilst really developing a solid householder practice (I'm working on 3hours a day plus one day a week of 'nyinthun', all day sitting). I'm generally not a fan of the 'psychologising' of dharma, but I'd rather not go psychotic heh.


Again - appreciate the thread & time.