Message Boards Message Boards

Claims to Attainments

Dzogchen practice and finding Riga

Toggle
Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
9/29/15 7:40 PM
I want to log my "successful" Dzogchen practice and the finding of Rigpa. There doesn't seem to me much personal or technical info on Dzogchen in general so maybe this can contribute to a discussion in some way.

Background: When I was 19 I was given a transmission of Dzogchen by a Tibetan lama. Unfortunately, I was young and stupid so I didn't learn anything and, regretfully, was unable to return. The point is, at least I was given an official "transmission". 11 years later, I started serious vipassana practice then found MTCB and this site. 2 years later (2 years ago) I got into 1st Path but did not get Path and Fruition (something else replaced stages 12-15). I posted this previously. 3 months ago, I serendipitously met an amazing eastern medicine healer who told me I would progress quickly with Tibetan Buddhism. So I researched everything I could on Dzogchen, the teaching I seem to have karma with, and set myself on a two week retreat. All my previous meditation experiences have been logged in previous posts.

What I did, and my experience:

I heavily relied on  Berzine Archives site for the excellent Tibetan Buddhism information and specifically how to practice Dzogchen here: http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/x/nav/group.html_1560843409.html. First I found the "Alaya for Habits" by remaining aware of phenomena and the awareness itself, and by reducing grasping and conceptualization.

After a time (on Day 2), while remaining in Alaya, I could feel Rigpa begin to arise, first as a positive feeling while my visual field became brighter (d.brown/black to reddish) in color (Rigpa is supposed to be very bright!). However, there was strain to my forehead between the eyes and I couldn't continue. Looking to Berzine Archives for advice, I "greased" my energy channels by doing Tummo (Inner Fire Meditation) using this book http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/bliss-inner-fire. And I recited mantras, namely Om Mani Padme Hum.

If any of you guys have doubts about mantra chanting. Just do this. Recite Om Mani Padme Hum slowly. Verbally or mentally makes no difference. Concentrate on the sounds. Watch your mental state. If you have so-so concentration with so-so vipassanna, you should see a change after a few seconds. The mind starts to change towards a "non-dual" mind, ultimately helping with "clear-light" practices like Dzogchen acc. to Berzin Archives. Try this against other mantras or even gibberish as control variables. Om Tare Tutare Soha works (Tara's mantra). Great Compassion mantra does not (its a sutra mantra, not tantra!) Why or how it works I don't know. But its freaking amazing that it does!

After doing Tummo and mantra recitation. I tried to get to rigpa again on the 4th day. Again, abiding in Alaya for Habits, I waited. And again, the positive feeling started to arise along with the brightness in the eye consciousness. Greasing the channels worked, there were sensations in the forehead but no pain. (The forehead is where the central channel begins!) Slowly rigpa came into full view. To keep things simple I will not distinguish between the two Rigpa stage. The lesser one is lost anyways after a few days.

So what does Rigpa look like or feel like. I have not been able to complete the full Dzogchen practice nor am I being guided by a teacher so my experience is my own so far as I have deepened it. When rigpa arises, there are two things I notice that are fully in line with the texts. That positive feeling becomes a full blown feeling of great compassion, more than anything I have felt at anytime. The compassion is spontaneous and is ever present. I don't always feel it while abiding (at my level) in Rigpa. But I always have access to it. I just have to open the valve, and it flows out naturally without evocation. So this is the first characteristic of rigpa. The only other states that have spontaneous compassion I am aware of are perhaps the Jhanas. At one point, I was carefully verifying whether this was just a Jhana state. It wasn't.

The second main and much more interesting characteristic is, when rigpa arises, it arises kind of like another awareness is present. And this awareness is somehow connected to all things. Like its God (to you Westerners). When you look at the awareness and look at other phenomena with that awareness, you see the emptiness aspect of phenomena. You suddenly feel in an intuitive way, all objects have no substance. But you have to look at objects using rigpa to see this. Keep in mind, your conventional self is still there perceiving rigpa.

Rigpa is often described as being like a mirror where all things in the mirror are empty. Now it makes sense. With rigpa present, you feel there is rigpa, but there is also "you" the self, present at the same time, occupying two different 'spaces'. So you have two awarenesses, the "convetional" deluded awareness and non-deluded, or enlightened awareness. With rigpa there, it is always aware of objects, but so are 'you'. And so it feels like you are viewing two very different images of the same object, one using rigpa, one using convetional self, resulting in seeing both an object that feels real, and one that is substanceless. This is the mirror-like effect. With effort, I was also able to 'cover' or temporarily merge my awareness with rigpa, and boy, it is a trip to see everything within rigpa. Your whole reality becomes a deep perception of Emptiness. And let me tell you, the way we see things normally, is competely not the way things really are. There is a reason why the Tibetans are always emphasizing Emptiness even to the point of redundancy.

What makes viewing objects through rigpa cause the perception of Emptiness? The reason why is because there is NO GRASPING to objects or concepts with rigpa's awareness. It sees things purely as they are. This is the key to perceiving Emptiness vs perceiving objects as real (conventional/deluded mind). Many Dzogchen texts say there are no conceptions in Rigpa or to leave concepts out of Rigpa. This is not true! You can have as many concepts as you want, just no grasping at them. It just helps to keep concepts out as a practice. I don't know why this point is not emphasized often as it should.

And you don't need Dzogchen to see the direct causation between grasping and Emptiness. Just do deep Vipassana and be aware of all sensations going on at once. Separate out concepts from those sensations, the biggest one being Self. (Concepts are just mental sensations anyways!) Try to see or get a feel for concepts arising in reaction to and with sensations. Then, turn on and off the grasping to the concepts by letting them go, and you will turn on and off the Emptiness characteristic of the object. Concepts are what we actually tend to be attached to.

The trick now is to make the view of Emptiness ever present with Dzogchen, Rigpa, whatever. There is much more I did but I will stop here. I wanted to clarify (from my own limited experience) what ripga actually is and why it works. Nyingmapas believe rigpa is the Buddha-nature and that to have ever present rigpa is to be Buddha. I can only say I feel like a Buddha when I cover my perception of objects using Rigpa.

And yes, the self absolutely disappears as do all preceived objects when viewed with good rigpa coverage. Does this remove suffering? Yes! But I will cover that with another post if there seems to be any interest. This one's gone on long enough!

Just a note, I know Emptiness was emphasized a lot (because it showed up!). If you are unfamilar with Empiness as how it relates to the Three Characteristics, since this site is predominantly Vipassana, both non-self and impermance are automatically intuited or perceived in the view of Emptiness. Not sure about Sufferering, though.

I will post more if there is any interest since I don't think I see much Dzogchen going on.

RE: Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
9/29/15 8:39 PM as a reply to Charles B.
Fantastic post Charles ! Finally i find someone on the exact same trails AND confirming ! (but im behind you experimentaly)
I just bought that exact same book not even a week ago (and i don't buy books often at all)  "the bliss of inner fire" , after muling over it nearly 2 years, checking around Lama Yeshe 's fantastic life and lineage,  experiencing here and there different things thanks to Robina Courtin, one of his western students.. i was looking for a "verified" tool because i feel my practice is still that of a blind neophyte playing with stuff but lacking a clear aim and understanding .. in a jungle of pseudobuddhist methods .

What you describe is what i suspect and i hope i'm going to find out by myself soon, consistently this time, and be able to replicate that again and  again and see what is all this about ! emoticon

Have you started the next of the 6 yogas of Naropa emoticon ?

Ps: you mean Om Tare Tu Tare Soha doesn't have any effect in this practice but Om Mani Padme Hum yes ?

RE: Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
9/29/15 10:34 PM as a reply to SeTyR ZeN.
Hi Se Tyr Zen,

I am glad this helped somebody. Please post how Dzogchen goes for you too, if that is where you are heading, and especially if you did it without any direct guidance or transmission. I've been told it doesn't work without a transmission, but that can't be true. Yet I find myself believing more and more on all that Tibetan mystisicm especially after the mantras.

Regarding Tummo, it can lead to a very strong state of non-duality which is the direction of the enlightment from Tibetan Buddhism. I used it specifically to "stretch" and merge my energy channels per Berzin Archives as prep for Dzogchen. However, my weak skill in it (requires much visualization) no longer had an impact by the end of the retreat. Doing Dzogchen now, I don't think I will do the other yogas. Tummo is supposed to be the next best thing prior to any clear light practices. Even Milarepa I think was only doing this to support his Mahamudra.

Om Tare Tutare Ture Soha, yes, I totaly didn't spell out all the syllables, it does indeed work. I didn't remember any other Tibetan Tantric mantras to try. But they both work. It is the Great Compassion mantra (Nīlakaṇṭha Dhāraṇī), the best sutra mantra available very popular with East Asian Buddhism, that does not work even though they all belong to Avalokiteshvara in some way! I find that very intersting. And just to clarify on the Great Compassion mantra, in itself, it is known to have very powerful effects especially when chanted en mass.

Edit: I should also say that Tibetan Buddhism is very new to me at this point. I assumed the Six Yogas of Naropa are supporting practices prior to going into Mahamudra or other "clear light" practices, but I don't know if that is true.

RE: Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
10/3/15 3:41 AM as a reply to Charles B.
Thanks for sharing this. Very interesting and I would love to hear how your Dzogchen practice continues.

RE: Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
10/11/15 5:35 PM as a reply to Charles B.
Hello again Charles;

I've been slowly and carefully reading Lama Yeshe's book since you last posted, but i read slowly with the purpose of digesting sloowly its content emoticon, so sorry if i didn't post before (Family time is also to be blamed ^^)

I am still half through and i must say i am left speechless ! oh boy am i happy, each page is bliss for me emoticon  i am also new to this.. nearly every page is validation of something i suspected about all this Tibetan mysticism.. starting with the link between Buddhist philosophy and physical yoga practices

Now i am looking for months if not years of extra-study,  learning by heart, exercizing and perfecting preparation , and thenmaybe one day ramp up to real application in this very life, and maybe get to experience something that will finally knock down what is left of my superstitions, hindrances etcc emoticon

If it will not work without direct guidance or transmission ? i can't believe that either emoticon  also, books, videos .. aren't they a form of guidance or transmission ?  .. i am more afraid of not pressing the correct button and end up upside down, as Lama Yeshe puts it ^^

RE: Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
10/11/15 11:07 PM as a reply to Charles B.
Hi Charles,
I just have to open the valve, and it flows out naturally without evocation.
Can you explain what you mean by valve?

RE: Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
10/12/15 6:17 AM as a reply to Charles B.
Very interesting post! Please post as much as you wish about Dzogchen, I've become very interested in this over the past year or two but being overwhelmed by the amount of books on the subject, it is very helpful to read practitioner's experiences.

Regarding how Emptiness goes with suffering, this phrase from Culadasa came to mind from his new book The Mind Illumined, Appendix F on The Dark Night, page 409: "[...] these three assumptions: that things exist (anicca), that there is a separate self (anatta) and that happiness comes from the interaction between the two (dukkha)"

His last bit on "happiness comes from interaction between the two" is an interesting way of looking at dukkha to me because this is the realm of clinging/aversion. And so in the Emptiness states you describe I think this might be where the dukhha characteristic comes in, because in states like that (presupposing I've experienced the specific states you describe) it is clear that there can't be interactions in the way we usually think of them, clinging/aversion doesn't make sense and takes you out of the state, etc.

It's clinging/aversion to things that don't exist, so the clinging/aversion creates the illusions of self, permanence, and thus suffering etc.

---

I recently received a Heart Sutra transmission from a tibetan lama. Whats your take/experience with Deity visualisation sadhana (such as Avalokitesvara/Chenrezig)? I haven't practiced it much yet but the feeling of compassion and empty-freedom is wonderful and relatively easy to access for me compared to metta practice etc.

RE: Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
10/13/15 9:45 PM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk:
Hi Charles,
I just have to open the valve, and it flows out naturally without evocation.
Can you explain what you mean by valve?

In the past, if I wanted to feel compassion at will or practice compassion meditation, I would usually do what the Tibetans recommend. I would evoke or 'pull out' compassion by thinking about all living beings, the suffering of living beings, think about my loved ones, or calling out the desire to bring happiness and relieve suffering to and for them. 

With this 'rigpa-like' state, I just "open up my heart" and after a few seconds compassion naturally arises without this active summoning. I notice that my default state is a closed heart. So like a "blooming lotus blossom" I open my heart. The feeling is literally in the heart area. It is like opening your energy there. Can't describe it any better than that.

RE: Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
10/13/15 10:31 PM as a reply to Andrew K.
Andrew K:
Very interesting post! Please post as much as you wish about Dzogchen, I've become very interested in this over the past year or two but being overwhelmed by the amount of books on the subject, it is very helpful to read practitioner's experiences.

Regarding how Emptiness goes with suffering, this phrase from Culadasa came to mind from his new book The Mind Illumined, Appendix F on The Dark Night, page 409: "[...] these three assumptions: that things exist (anicca), that there is a separate self (anatta) and that happiness comes from the interaction between the two (dukkha)"

His last bit on "happiness comes from interaction between the two" is an interesting way of looking at dukkha to me because this is the realm of clinging/aversion. And so in the Emptiness states you describe I think this might be where the dukhha characteristic comes in, because in states like that (presupposing I've experienced the specific states you describe) it is clear that there can't be interactions in the way we usually think of them, clinging/aversion doesn't make sense and takes you out of the state, etc.

It's clinging/aversion to things that don't exist, so the clinging/aversion creates the illusions of self, permanence, and thus suffering etc.

---

I recently received a Heart Sutra transmission from a tibetan lama. Whats your take/experience with Deity visualisation sadhana (such as Avalokitesvara/Chenrezig)? I haven't practiced it much yet but the feeling of compassion and empty-freedom is wonderful and relatively easy to access for me compared to metta practice etc.

Yes, the reason I brought up the Three Characteristics and why they are important is because they are actually experienced directly within specific insight stages (Stage 4 and 12?). My belief is that these very specific experiences are the result of the conventional mind getting a glimpse or hint at the mind that sees Emptiness. The mind for the first time sees aspects of truth through one of these three characteristics. Taking "suffering" as an example, the mind dispels the illusion that any 'thing' can bring the expected happiness because there really is no 'thing'. This deep sense of contradiction is experienced as "all things will only bring suffering".

My belief anyways.

RE: Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
10/13/15 10:40 PM as a reply to Charles B.
Paweł K:

You cannot 'cover' reality with Rigpa as is more like the background, the screen at which every single thing is experienced because it is essence of experience. You rightfully noticed it is connected to all things and God because experience in every point in space and time in this cosmos is experience of everything at all times. Nothing you experience can have more or less Rigpa because Rigpa is not type of experience, it is not in experience but IT IS experience and there is nothing except it, whole cosmos is experience of the whole.
Excellent! Somone who has treaded this path.

So
from your post it seems you now are at the stage of grasping at effects
on perception it make and naming it is it. It is understandable you
would do that. Deeper understanding comes from more experience. After
few "this is it!" perception changes and emptinesses you will naturally
stop trying to see Rigpa in presentation of experience.
Yes, at my current point I do see that you are correct. I am grasping at the effects of 'rigpa'. Even now I am attempting to separate what is actual 'rigpa' vs the sensatory effects it produces as it strengthens. I am narrowing it down to 'an awareness with special knowledge' is my best guess at the moment.

Regarding perception changes. I will follow up with a second post of what happened after finding this 'rigpa' (-like state) since a few people have asked.

Try to merge your new perception with old one by using
them at the same time so that there is no flickering/switching between
them. Now your mind runs two perception modes at different time in
separated mind flashes (literally brain firings). Trying to experience
them perfectly at the same time will cause potentials of both states to
build up and fire at the same time, at the same mind flash. It will
cause synthesis process in which new mind state will be created which
will replace both of used up perceptions. I did something like that
about two years ago and havent used perceptions used to create it from
that time.

Excellent technical description and advice. It is these that I look for in meditation instructions. I will keep this in mind!

BTW. I use word 'Rigpa'
but I am not of Tibetan buddhism school. I merely recognize what
Tibetans talk about because of my own analogous experiences and
realizations.
I want also make a disclaimer that I do not really know if this is actually rigpa, hence the single quotes ('rigpa'), or even dzogchen. I only guess at it because the intent was to practice this and the results matched important and unique characteristics described in widely available texts. Furthermore, the purification effects of the state areabsolutely amazing. I will detail in a second post.

Pawel, I do have a few questions seeing that you are on this route:

Firstly, are you a believer in Buddhism? If so, do you believe in the Tibetan style conviction of becoming a Buddha to save all living beings? Or are you the pragmatic meditator that verifies only through experience without much belief in past/futures lives, karma, and such. Many on this site sway more towards the no-belief-w/o-verification approach.

Secondly, as your practice advances (specifically 'rigpa') do you feel a direct purificaiton of mind, where your craving, aversions, and negativities feel like they are physically being purified (literally being vaporized) out of your mind?

Lastly, do you reach stages where there is deep suffering that arises, that you have to battle to purify? I am finding that I am reaching this point and it is so similar to the so-called Dark Night stages of the insight stages (6-10).

Thanks, again for an extremely helpful post!

RE: Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
10/13/15 10:51 PM as a reply to Charles B.
There is one more note I want to make off topic. I wrote that I got "1st Path" in my vipassanna practice. I want to clarify that this means MTCB 1st Path.  I am not an actual Sotapana by the 10 fetters model. But I have near absolute confidence that the 10 fetters model does indeed exist as traditionally described. A discussion for another time!

RE: Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
10/15/15 5:16 PM as a reply to Charles B.
Charles B:
What I did, and my experience:

I heavily relied on  Berzine Archives site for the excellent Tibetan Buddhism information and specifically how to practice Dzogchen here: http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/x/nav/group.html_1560843409.html.
Ok, I read that. interesting.
Charles B:

First I found the "Alaya for Habits" by remaining aware of phenomena and the awareness itself, and by reducing grasping and conceptualization.
Could you go into a bit of detail of actually what you did so we can follow along? Did you follow the instructions above? if so which ones?
Charles B:

After a time (on Day 2), while remaining in Alaya, I could feel Rigpa begin to arise, first as a positive feeling while my visual field became brighter (d.brown/black to reddish) in color (Rigpa is supposed to be very bright!).

I tried to get to rigpa again on the 4th day. Again, abiding in Alaya for Habits, I waited. And again, the positive feeling started to arise along with the brightness in the eye consciousness.

So what does Rigpa look like or feel like.--That positive feeling becomes a full blown feeling of great compassion, more than anything I have felt at anytime. The compassion is spontaneous and is ever present.
So, rigpa is -
1. positive feeling
2. brighter visual field
3. compassion
Is this correct?
Charles B:

The only other states that have spontaneous compassion I am aware of are perhaps the Jhanas.

At one point, I was carefully verifying whether this was just a Jhana state. It wasn't.

Could you explain how you were able to rule out that this was a Jhana? Perhaps a fabricated Jhana with aspects of several of the jhanas?
What was your methodology of verification?

I am quite interested in this stuff lately.
Thanks,
~D

RE: Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
10/15/15 6:37 PM as a reply to Charles B.


Edit: I should also say that Tibetan Buddhism is very new to me at this point. I assumed the Six Yogas of Naropa are supporting practices prior to going into Mahamudra or other "clear light" practices, but I don't know if that is true.


Hi again Charles;

What i understand now for sure of the six yogas of Naropa is that it is the exact shortest method dealing exactly with attaining highest Vajrayanahood, in Tibetan view (gelug/nygma/etc schools).  No more no less, It is the essential and complete method to realise AND actualise the results everyday. Also,  Dzogchen is preparation to this, all various flavours leads to this..

RE: Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
10/15/15 10:23 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
Charles B:
What I did, and my experience:

I heavily relied on  Berzine Archives site for the excellent Tibetan Buddhism information and specifically how to practice Dzogchen here: http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/x/nav/group.html_1560843409.html.
Ok, I read that. interesting.
Charles B:

First I found the "Alaya for Habits" by remaining aware of phenomena and the awareness itself, and by reducing grasping and conceptualization.
Could you go into a bit of detail of actually what you did so we can follow along? Did you follow the instructions above? if so which ones?
Charles B:

After a time (on Day 2), while remaining in Alaya, I could feel Rigpa begin to arise, first as a positive feeling while my visual field became brighter (d.brown/black to reddish) in color (Rigpa is supposed to be very bright!).

I tried to get to rigpa again on the 4th day. Again, abiding in Alaya for Habits, I waited. And again, the positive feeling started to arise along with the brightness in the eye consciousness.

So what does Rigpa look like or feel like.--That positive feeling becomes a full blown feeling of great compassion, more than anything I have felt at anytime. The compassion is spontaneous and is ever present.
So, rigpa is -
1. positive feeling
2. brighter visual field
3. compassion
Is this correct?
Charles B:

The only other states that have spontaneous compassion I am aware of are perhaps the Jhanas.

At one point, I was carefully verifying whether this was just a Jhana state. It wasn't.

Could you explain how you were able to rule out that this was a Jhana? Perhaps a fabricated Jhana with aspects of several of the jhanas?
What was your methodology of verification?

I am quite interested in this stuff lately.
Thanks,
~D

Hi Dreamwalker,

There are way too many nuances to describe in detail, especially now that significant progress has been made. This 'rigpa-like' state is much more refined and pervasive.

What exactly did I do?
In short. I really just followed the Berzine Archives site as stated (http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/advanced/dzogchen/meditation/fundamentals_dzogchen_meditation/fund_dzogchen_meditation_02.html). I will describe briefly from memory. 'Rigpa' is ever present now, so I don't do this anymore:

1) Get to a very deep and precise level of vipassana where you feel and percieve everything is just sensations, even mental concepts themselves. All sensations, all phenomena become your natural object.
2) Try to also hold the awareness itself as part of your object. The awareness is not sensations, it itself is awareness.
3) Reduce sense of self as much as possible. Reduce craving/attachment/grasping, aversion, mental conceptions as much as possible. Keep the awarness finely sharpened to as much the present micro-moment as possible. Remain as relaxed, uncontrived, unforced, as possible. 'Give yourself' to the present awareness.
4) Once the right state is achieved, this is Alaya for Habits described by Berzine Archives. Just sit here and wait, maintain the highest quality of #3 as possible
5) With luck, a different awareness begins to arise with two qualities, compassion/love, and awareness with 'special knowledge/perception'.

Preliminary practices (I could not do it without the following. Relates to energy. See Berzine Archives for reason.):
1) Practice Tummo to do energy work
2) Recited with concentration Om Mani Padme Hum. This also had effect on my energy channels.

'Rigpa' is?
1) Contains great and natural uncontrived compassion
2) An awarness with a special perception/feeling of:
- seeing all objects as Empty of true existence (exactly as described in traditional texts). This includes no-self.
- interconnectedness of all things, like 'it' knows everything
- feels like somebody else is there (at first)
- being like a mirror b/c of percieving things in two possible ways, conventional and with emptiness

How can I rule out it is Jhana?
What I posted was about just finding 'rigpa'. Since practicing within it, 'rigpa' has amazing purification effects that was directly removing defilments of mind during each sitting. My baseline state of mind has been changing with each day of practice. Jhanas suppress defilements but cannot purify. 'Rigpa' is like vipassana on steroids b/c you have the help of the (supposedly) enlightened mind itself, though it is weak at first. I will try to find time to post my practice and experience since finding 'rigpa' in detail.

RE: Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
10/16/15 12:49 AM as a reply to Charles B.
Charles B:

'Rigpa' is?
1) Contains great and natural uncontrived compassion
2) An awarness with a special perception/feeling of:
- seeing all objects as Empty of true existence (exactly as described in traditional texts). This includes no-self.
- interconnectedness of all things, like 'it' knows everything
- feels like somebody else is there (at first)
- being like a mirror b/c of percieving things in two possible ways, conventional and with emptiness

Hmmmm, well your list of what rigpa is seems a bit brief. You are not really explaining much about it in your own words.  I really am very curious about this topic and am drawn to rigpa currently as a practise. Can you go into more detail?
Having communicated with a person who has just gotten to the rigpa stage I have to say their descriptions are much more detailed and nuanced and the level of attainment is set extremely high. Like MCTB 4th path level high.
Its interesting to read about your personal expereince of it. I'd love to hear in greater detail any of the above mentioned aspects so that I might compare and contrast the diferent descriptions and practises.

What is compassion to you? Is it a feeling? if so where is it felt? how is it felt? what aspect of rigpa is the compassion? how does it present? what actions does it make you want to take? Are you compelled to act from this place of compassion or do you have freedom to act otherwise?....etc
Emptyness....there is a lot you could say about that....

Charles B:

How can I rule out it is Jhana?
What I posted was about just finding 'rigpa'. Since practicing within it, 'rigpa' has amazing purification effects that was directly removing defilments of mind during each sitting. My baseline state of mind has been changing with each day of practice. Jhanas suppress defilements but cannot purify. 'Rigpa' is like vipassana on steroids b/c you have the help of the (supposedly) enlightened mind itself, though it is weak at first. I will try to find time to post my practice and experience since finding 'rigpa' in detail.
So rigpa purifys your defilements? Which ones? How does that work? How many sits does it take? How do you know when one defilement is pure? How long hve you been sitting with the purification process and what are the results in your daily life? What is your standard of measurement for noticing the defilements are purified?
Or just post your experience in whatever detail you wish...I'm curious about whatever level of detail you wish to share...
Thanks,
~D

RE: Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
10/18/15 1:24 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:

Hmmmm, well your list of what rigpa is seems a bit brief. You are not really explaining much about it in your own words.  I really am very curious about this topic and am drawn to rigpa currently as a practise. Can you go into more detail?

Hmm, I can see how you may think these words are not my own, partly b/c of their briefness. However, they do represent what I am trying to say the best way I can think of. The only way I can go into more detail is if I understand exactly what you are looking for. This was such a wide experience with many deep areas that can be discussed. I will try to answer the specific quetions you asked below.

Dream Walker:

What is compassion to you? Is it a feeling? if so
where is it felt? how is it felt? what aspect of rigpa is the
compassion? how does it present? what actions does it make you want to
take? Are you compelled to act from this place of compassion or do you
have freedom to act otherwise?....etc
Emptyness....there is a lot you could say about that....
Compassion here is really the normal compassion a human feels for another being. It just so happens that somehow, the feeling arises spontaneously and very powerfully when in 'rigpa', not all the time, depending on my specific awareness object, but most of the time. If the feeling of compassion is not at the forefront, it is usually in the background. This is why all I have to do is 'open up' to it, and it will flow through. I often actually use it to help maintain detachment as part of the overall practice. I cannot describe how this is technically or 'mechanically' connected to my 'rigpa', it simply is there. Am I compelled to act? Not really. The compassion arise just as strong feelings or sensations. It has no target to act upon. What I can do is imagine a target like the Tibetans do and apply compassion to the welfare of living beings. This typically causes the compassion to grow exponentially when done well. My technical take on this, is that rigpa clears away the blocks in the mind that keep compassion from arising naturally and spontaneously in all of us, no different than what blocks us from viewing emptiness. The texts say compassion is the natural state of mind, just obscured by defilements. It does feel that way, but I can't confirm it technically.

Emptiness... books, thesis papers, religious texts all describe emptiness very well. My experience absolutely agrees with the technical aspects, so its difficult to say 'in my own words' what hasn't been said before. I will try though... On the micro-level, what triggers the view or obscuration of Emptiness is grasping. When you see or think of, conceptualize, an object while in deeply precise vipassanna, simply turn off and on the minds grasping to the object, and you will see Emptiness. This was a direct experience prior to 'rigpa', and I had never read it anywhere else described in this way (at that point), so I can call those words my own.

On the macro-level, I would describe the pervasive experience of viewing objects with partial Emptiness (since it is not complete), as being within a dream. In a dream, objects often feel not solid, having a characteristic of fluidity, cloud-like nature, not truly being there. You often cannot focus in on an object in a dream. This is exactly what feeling emptiness feels like and the best way I can describe it in my own words. If the self isn't as 'worked on', then there is still strong sense of self while other objects appear less substantial. But if the self has been worked on, then the self also becomes 'translucent' in a way, and its most concrete, real, part becomes smaller and smaller with practice, like its now just in some small area within the body.
Having communicated with a person who has just gotten to the rigpa stage I
have to say their descriptions are much more detailed and nuanced and
the level of attainment is set extremely high. Like MCTB 4th path level
high.
I highly recommend this person to post his experience for us to see as well!

After getting out of the retreat, reading as much material on dzogchen, and reading these posts, I don't believe my 'rigpa' is anywhere close to what it is supposed to be, definitely not MTCB 4th path level! So what did I get? Imagine taking the rigpa level of your friend or even in the texts. Obscure 95-98% of that rigpa with defilements (or whatever normally obscures it). And I believe that this is what I got on the retreat. If full rigpa is like the sun, then what I got was bits of sunlight through the heavy clouds of my mind. Thankfully, I could make full use of it to begin the process of removing those clouds. And yes, as those clouds are removed, it gets brighter and brighter. If 3-5% rigpa is indeed what I got, today, I would say I am anywhere between 15-40%. (I don't know full rigpa so can't judge well what 100% is).

In my experience, as 'rigpa' increase, more defilements can be removed. As more defilements are removed, 'rigpa' increase further, the feeling or view of Emptiness increases during daily life. These seem to be directly proportional. In addtion, though I haven't had much chances to experience suffering yet (feels strange to say that), it feels like this decreases in the same proportion. Definitely my craving is down (i.e. food, sex, being accomplished at work). My aversion is down (i.e. frustration with others). My delusion is down (i.e. thinking 'I am awesome!').

Finally, I really encourage your friend to post. The only reason I did was because I didn't see much info I can read about with others experiences. If his experience is more far-reaching, then I would like to know as well what real rigpa is supposed to feel like.

I hope this helps. If you want more details please be specific (like the questions you asked above). I will try my best to answer them. But I won't be able to answer what I do not understand yet, or have not experienced. I think I am still really low level.

RE: Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
10/18/15 2:03 PM as a reply to Charles B.
Paweł K:
Few words about me to put me in proper context. I basically practice only one thing: synesthesia...
Thanks for writing this, I know it must have taken a long time. I have never heard of synethesia. But I found a lot of what you wrote to be mesmorizingly beautiful. I especially liked the part about how you explained 'rigpa' as simply 'background'. And I think I understand what you mean when you say to have to mind just fall without trying to fall somewhere, but just a free fall. Whereas, our problems come from the mind falling onto this thing and that thing and trying to control what we fall onto and staying on it.

Some of the other things I did not understand but maybe I will one day. Again, thanks for taking the time to write this.

RE: Dzogchen practice and finding Riga
Answer
10/18/15 9:56 PM as a reply to Charles B.
Part 2: Practicing in Rigpa

This is a continuation of my post. Originally I created a new thread but was asked to move it back to this one.

So after finding what I was certain was 'rigpa', as a second awareness arising, the first thing was making sure I could repeat the process. Yes, by using the same process of finding Alaya for Habits, 'rigpa' would arise naturally. I also noticed I could 'make' rigpa deeper and stronger by controlling attachment/grasping/mindfulness/conceptions and concentration. This gives the perception that 'rigpa' gets bigger and more pervasive, and that it comes spatially closer to my sense of 'self'. Doing this required energy; plus, there was a rubberband effect where the depth of 'rigpa' would just bounce back when energy decreased. Additionally, I noticed there was no 'baseline' change to the mind which is a core evidence of spiritual progress. I could see 'rigpa's' characteristic of perceiving emptiness and having compassion, but could not carry it out to normal life. In short, this state was not making any perceptibly permanent changes to the mind.

So, late on Day 5,  I decided to 'merge' myself into 'rigpa'. It just felt like the right thing to do. At this point, there were two awarenesses, the self and 'rigpa' which in my perception occupies two different spatial locations in the mind. I can place awareness on the self and see things conventionally, or place awareness onto 'rigpa' which sees things as empty. By attemtping to merge the two, I poured in mental energy to deepen and widen 'rigpa' then imagine my 'self' and it come together. I felt as if the two became one, and I was now perceiving 'self' (usually seen as real & independently existing) using 'rigpa' with its perception of emptiness. The self 'disappeared' and there was a very strong purification effect. Strong particles of energy, described best as sankharas in the Theravadin tradition, were released with great force causing slight trembling in my head and body, very similar (in my experience) as when I went passed vipassanna stages 4 and 11 for the first times. After the meditation it felt like my mind has been relieved of a bit of weight. My perception was slightly different. There was a more 'dreamy' perception of objects off the cushion. In my belief, this is the sign of removing delusion and lessening the perception that objects are permanent. This became the first of many baseline changes on the retreat.

The other significant impact was that I could call up 'rigpa' at will without going through the exercise of finding the Alaya for Habits. I had direct access, or perhaps a low level 'rigpa' is constantly in the background of the mind. Now, with the ability to call up 'rigpa' on command, I found during sitting sessions that 'rigpa' had this enourmous ability to recognize defilements in the mind and immediately purify them. From here on out, the name of the game became the purification of defilements. For me, a meditation method is only useful if it removes craving, aversion, and delusion. No matter how much Emptiness I think I see or how many Buddhas appear in front of my eyes, if it does not purify the mind reducing the causes to create and feel suffering, it does not have value.

During my sitting sessions, I used 'rigpa' to purify the mind in several ways, depending on the quality of the sitting. In the most gross way, somehow 'rigpa' is able to make visible what I can call bundles of negative energy (AKA sankhara and defilements) all over the mind/body.  These are bundles of negative energy particles that are self contained and just bounce around in large bump-like or even wall-like shapes. I encountered this often during regular vipassanna sittings. When you try to look closely at these energies, they push back with strong aversion. The more closely you look (take them as your awarness object), the more painful they feel. By trying to 'look' at them using 'rigpa's' awareness, the energy could dissapate immediately releasing those particles. Because there is little grasping or aversion in 'rigpa', those defilements have no more grasping/aversion energy to hold in place (my best explanation). Whenever a bundle of defilement energy is released, there is almost always an accompanying emotion felt at the same time. Some of the most difficult bundles I purified was accompanied by a deep feeling of sorrow, anguish, and guilt, something I was holding onto from long ago. Like this, many more were purified that had other associated feelings such as anger, regret, lust, and fear. It was actually amazing to experience the direct and gross purification of negativies in the mind.

I also want to note, the wall-like bundles of energy is almost exactly like the vipassanna stage #10 as described very well by MTCB. I even used Daniel Ingrams excellent advice for how to pass this stage on those defilements, by understanding that this is suffering and it is just a natural part of being human (or something like this).

Using this, I was able to purify very gross and 'hard' longstanding defilements in the mind and always felt better and lighter for it. I even found that a longstanding backpain that only manifests on retreats was directly tied to a deep bundle of defilements. When I 'looked' at that defilement bundle, the backpain sharply activated, like I was poking at the pain itself. As I purified the energy, the area in my pain felt sudden relief in proportion. This was my first experience that physical ailments can be tied directly to energies and defilements.

The other major way I purified the mind was more on the whole body/mind level. After purifying the grosser defilements, I found that 'rigpa' gets stronger and deeper with more purification. Here, I should clarify what 'deep' actually means. I think that there is another spatial dimension or axis that a meditation travels through. For example, when taking one position on my body, a point on the leg, or chest, or head, I can use vipassana to travel 'deeper' into or rise out along this axis and experience different objects. On the surface level I may feel physical sensations from the muscles or tissue, but I a deeper level, I can feel those energies, sankharas, or even chi/prana. So when I mean that 'rigpa' is deeper, it is along this axis of depth that penetrates deeply into the mind/body.

As 'rigpa' would deepen, its awareness would as well. As the awareness deepens, more bundles/walls of energy would be encountered. It seemed that 'rigpa' can only deepen until blocked by defilements. Those defilements would then have to be purified and 'rigpa' would continue to deepen until more is encountered. In good sittings, 'rigpa' was self purifying. I didn't have to put energy into releasing those sankharas. Instead, 'rigpa' would automatically loosen the energy, and then a mass of it would suddenly be released, 'flow up', and be accompanied by a dizzying array of negative emotions all at once. The mind would get lighter, 'rigpa' would continue to deepen and widen until it would hit another layer of defilements and repeat the process. This is what I would call the process of purification and became the main meditation during the rest of the retreat.

There is much more but I will stop here for now for thoughts.

There was definitely a baseline change after every purification. Until now, I never really understood what Goenka was saying about sankharas and all that. (Not all sensations are sankharas!) But here it is just like he described. When defilements are removed, they don't generate negative energy which turns into discursive thoughts. My concentration improved by 3-4 times by the end of the retreat because of the removal of defilements. When I got out of the retreat all things feel differently in much the same way as after 1st Path. The mind doesn't grasp as much as it used to. Things feel more dream-like, fluid, not so real. This is everything I hoped a good meditation method would do, purify the mind, reduce craving/aversion/delusion, and yes, reduce suffering which are caused by those defilements.

However, one thing that my 'rigpa' does not fit with after coming back and reading about it, is that I did not focus on 'rigpa' itself as traditionally described by Tibetan texts (the View, Path, Fruit of it all).  I focused more on its purification effects. I don't think what I got is the same 'rigpa' as traditionally described or else the rigpa itself would be much more pervasive and overwhelming (I expect). I think what I got is something akin to a 'proto-rigpa', or a 'rigpa' that was mostly obscure. This is why I started using single quotes since my first post b/c I don't want to say it is rigpa absolutely.

What I can say is even to today, this 'rigpa' is getting much stronger with more purification and is becoming more pervasive as a whole, in direct proportion to the amount of defilements it has extinguished.

There is one more thing I should mention. Since I have been off retreat for almost 3 weeks, I have been doing just one to 1.5 hours sitting each day, but with even greater amount of purification and stronger 'rigpa'. Gone are the gross hard bundles of defilements. Now defilements arise as just a dense flow of energy particles varying in intensity and feel, but with the same nature of aversive feelings.  Last week for a period of about 4 days, intense feelings of suffering began to arise. Spontaneous sensations of fear, sorrow, anguish, attachment, hopelessness, guilt, and regret were pouring out from the depths of my mind as 'rigpa' shined its light. The feel of the experience is very much the same as the Dark Knight stages (vipassanna stages 6-10), exept more spontaneous with varying negative feelings and without the shifts in stages. My experience of the DK stages were very light unlike what I read from others experiences. However, these feelings were about 5 to 10 times more intense, but bearable.

The reason they were bearable is that as those sensations arose, they were immediately purified and liberated by 'rigpa'. So I requested as much defilements to arise as possible to accelerate the process. During my work day, the negative sensations appeared as a sharp but mild headache. During sitting, the feeling was of heavy weight was being released. But the experience was very intensive and draining. It took a lot of mental energy to remain mindful of 'rigpa' while simutaneously experiencing and letting go of strong negative feelings. A few days ago, this negative 'layer' seems to have passed and the sensations are lighter in quality but still defiling.

As I progress, I am not sure what to expect. My mind gets better, my negativities slowly decrease, the feeling of natural emptiness as a perception gradually deepens. I don't think my 'rigpa' is the same level as what I read in the texts at this point. I am not even sure if it is the same at all to be honest, but I have confidence it is. It is doing something, in fact, it is doing exactly what I would want it to do, destroying my defilements and increasing my view of emptiness and non-self.

In fact, the mind of deep 'rigpa' I recognize now to be the same mind I get from completing the vipassanna stages, something I never really understood in the past. This is significant because I never experience cessation after Stage 11 as most people. What I experience is this...

So here ends my dzogchen attempt experience. Overall, I think I am still doing vipassanna practice, it just so happens 'rigpa' is present to just purify all the defilements that arise. And until this 'rigpa' becomes the full blown Tibetan version that just pervades everything, what its doing is just fine.

Finally, I don't understand everything myself except that things are going in the right direction. At least, I wanted to share this for whatever it is...