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Dzogchen/Mahamudra after fourth path

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Dzogchen/Mahamudra after fourth path
Answer
2/12/18 1:18 PM
Hi all,

After completing the fourth cycle of the Progress of Insight and realizing there's more work to be done, I'm trying Mahamudra/Dzogchen techniques. The meditation instructions I've managed to find are easy to follow, just investigate the ground state of the mind (instead of the characteristics of the fabrications) and the nature of the arising event ("how/from where" does it arise, as I understand it)

What I'm doing is some vipassanā to reach Fruition and after it, I try to observe the stilled mind (between thoughts or sensations, more or less). The end result I'm getting are more fruitions (some hard ones in fact). Not sure if the approach is actually correct or if I should be avoiding climbing the ñanas. I have never cultivated Jhana states outside vipassanā so I can't really start with samatha and right now is quite easy for me to reach EQ, so I'm prone to use this way. Any pointers?

In addition, although I've searched a little, I haven't found anything related to some kind of path or model like MCTB/Mahasi MoI instructions. Is there any? How can one track progress?

Help is really appreciated, thank you very much!

RE: Dzogchen/Mahamudra after fourth path
Answer
2/14/18 9:25 PM as a reply to pointless_researcher.
Some thoughts:
  • It is helpful to do some samatha at the outset of practice so the mind is stable and flexible. You may be doing this already, combined with your vipassana meditation, considering you are fourth path. If the Dark Night is still fairly intense as you go through the cycle, or if you have trouble stabilizing insight, then go back and do an intensive in samatha until you have it nailed down. One reason to do samatha is that it allows you to stabilize the recognition of rigpa, which is initially done a few seconds at a time, then a few minutes, etc.
  • Do the standard series of more and more refined objects of meditation. Start with whole body, go to breath, then thoughts, then just be aware of awareness, resting in equipoise the whole way. At the thoughts stage, do not try to suppress thoughts or focus on the gaps. Turn the awareness to watch the thoughts come and go, sensations come and go. Then note the quality that does not change regardless of whether the thoughts are there, in the same way that a mirror does not change regardless of what is shown in it. Do that for a while, relaxing in the natural state of your mind. Then, invert the awareness onto itself for a moment, so awareness is knowing awareness. Then, let go. Cycle through that again as needed.
  • If you are hitting repeat fruitions already, that should do it for you.
  • You will also find it valuable to hear pointing out instructions, such as those here. 
  • Dudjom Lingpa's Visions of the Great Perfection contains the full Dzogchen toolkit, in various states of concision. Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche also has a number of writings that are very helpful. One is here.
  • There are 5-10 fully qualified teachers who teach regularly in the US who can take you through a retreat on Dzogchen, if you want to do that. They all have their own ideas about what you need to have done before they'll take you through the advanced material.

RE: Dzogchen/Mahamudra after fourth path
Answer
2/13/18 12:45 AM as a reply to pointless_researcher.
Angra Mainyu:
If one cycle of insight means one path then complete few more and have few more paths. It is so simple emoticon
I've completed all four, I can't progress any more in that respect

RE: Dzogchen/Mahamudra after fourth path
Answer
2/13/18 1:03 AM as a reply to Scott.
Scott:
Some thoughts:
  • It is helpful to do some samatha at the outset of practice so the mind is stable and flexible. You may be doing this already, combined with your vipassana meditation, considering you are fourth path. If the Dark Night is still fairly intense as you go through the cycle, or if you have trouble stabilizing insight, then go back and do an intensive in samatha until you have it nailed down.
  • Do the standard series of more and more refined objects of meditation. Start with whole body, go to breath, then thoughts, then just be aware of awareness, resting in equipoise the whole way. At the thoughts stage, do not try to suppress thoughts or focus on the gaps. Turn the awareness to watch the thoughts come and go, sensations come and go. Then note the quality that does not change regardless of whether the thoughts are there, in the same way that a mirror does not change regardless of what is shown in it. Do that for a while, relaxing in the natural state of your mind. Then, invert the awareness onto itself for a moment, so awareness is knowing awareness. Then, let go. Cycle through that again as needed.
  • If you are hitting repeat fruitions already, that should do it for you.
  • You will also find it valuable to hear pointing out instructions, such as those here. 
  • Dudjom Lingpa's Visions of the Great Perfection contains the full Dzogchen toolkit, in various states of concision. Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche also has a number of writings that are very helpful.
  • There are 5-10 fully qualified teachers who teach regularly in the US who can take you through a retreat on Dzogchen, if you want to do that. They all have their own ideas about what you need to have done before they'll take you through the advanced material.

I'm quite pragmatic, even for this scene. In that sense, investing in samatha has never really interested me as I've always found it like "a waste of time" (I'm only interested and pretty much focused on liberation). Probably, my fault. Nonetheless, I easily abide in very calm states.

I'm hitting repeated fruitons, yes. I'm unsure if that is actually helping me or acting as a distraction. Thanks for the meditation instructions, I'm right now trying to grasp the "ground state" or as you put it "focus on the gaps". I'll try the "note the quality that does not change regardless of whether the thoughts are there" (it will probably be even easier than what I'm trying that is somehow stressful) and the inverted cycle.

I'll check that readings you mention! Hope they are what I'm looking for (detailed steps or a "map"). Unfortunately, I'm from Europe (and quite a DIY type of person) so I can't attend retreats in the US.

RE: Dzogchen/Mahamudra after fourth path
Answer
2/13/18 9:36 AM as a reply to pointless_researcher.
An additional, Daniel recommended Mahamudra book that might be helpful is Clarifying the Natural State by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal.

Heart Drops of Dharmakaya by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen with commentary by Lopon Tenzin Namdak has some of the most concise Dzogchen meditation instructions from the Bon tradition.

_____

Chogyal Namkhai Norbu teaches Dzogchen in the EU and does online empowerments three times a year, so you may find it useful to visit dzogchen.net.

John Myrdhin Reynolds (Vajranatha) is Berlin based, but teaches pragmatic dharma- (and Western magic-) compatible material all over Europe (as do most of the teachers active in North America); 

_____

Jackson Peterson has a Dzogchen "map". It's a bit heavy on the subtle/energy body though.

_____

RE: Dzogchen/Mahamudra after fourth path
Answer
2/13/18 10:23 AM as a reply to pointless_researcher.
Could you clarify whether you've gone through four Progress of Insight cycles or whether you've gone through many more cycles but believe that you've gone through all four paths? In A Revised Four-Path Model, Daniel alludes to going through many full cycles between what he considers second and third path, and 27 full cycles between third and fourth path:
I completed around twenty-seven full, complete insight cycles with mind-blowing A&P Events, Ass-kicking Dark Nights, Equanimity phases, and what seemed to be brand new, fresh Fruitions and Review phases between third and fourth path. There is nothing special about that number, both because it is just a guess and because of the reasons I stated when describing the phenomena of Twelfth Path. The later cycles got faster and faster, so that by the end it seemed I was whipping one out every few weeks or even every few days, but they still seemed to be leading nowhere. 

You also may want to revisit [url=https://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB+Beyond+First+Path+(What+Next)]Beyond First Path:

There can arise an odd phenomenon that has been referred to by one of my teachers as “Twelfth Path,” though this phrase is not in common usage. It is, however, a common phenomenon in those who have attained at least stream entry and is probably the most important concept in this book for those working on the higher paths, particularly beyond second path. Twelfth Path is making a joke about the fact that there are at most four stages of enlightenment in the Theravada map and five or ten in the Tibetan maps. However, it can easily seem that more than ten brand-new and full-blown cycles of insight have been completed and yet there is still much more to go. If one is going to get obsessed with the fractal model that I mentioned earlier, it is likely to happen around here. Unfortunately, the fractal model is even more useless now than it was earlier, and so I strongly recommend avoiding it like the plague if you think you are in a new progress cycle rather than a review cycle. 



RE: Dzogchen/Mahamudra after fourth path
Answer
2/13/18 11:29 AM as a reply to JP.
JP Lewicke:
Could you clarify whether you've gone through four Progress of Insight cycles or whether you've gone through many more cycles but believe that you've gone through all four paths? In A Revised Four-Path Model, Daniel alludes to going through many full cycles between what he considers second and third path, and 27 full cycles between third and fourth path:
I completed around twenty-seven full, complete insight cycles with mind-blowing A&P Events, Ass-kicking Dark Nights, Equanimity phases, and what seemed to be brand new, fresh Fruitions and Review phases between third and fourth path. There is nothing special about that number, both because it is just a guess and because of the reasons I stated when describing the phenomena of Twelfth Path. The later cycles got faster and faster, so that by the end it seemed I was whipping one out every few weeks or even every few days, but they still seemed to be leading nowhere.


I've gone through four cycles. The thing is, once you understand how the mechanics go, there is no challenge involved. I can believe Daniel went through many more cycles and, I guess, I could do it as well.

The problem is, though, I'm not sure you're getting anything anymore (insights, I mean). After four cycles I can't call myself an Anagami because lust & attachment still arise (somewhat intensely). I still think about myself as "I". I'm not sure more cycles would remove those fetters (that is, by itself PoI alone cannot take you to what The Buddha called an Arahant after all).

I'm quite sure I could go though a new cycle again (even pretty fast) and end basically in the same spot. Of course, may be 27 cycles later something new could happen but my bet is, at this moment, I'm probably better off trying new things and breaking out of my confort zone. Now, given that my meditation starts with vipassanā till Fruition and then proceed with this new techniques, it's always possible that a new path opens and, in that case, I would complete it, of course.

RE: Dzogchen/Mahamudra after fourth path
Answer
2/13/18 11:35 AM as a reply to Scott.
Scott:
An additional, Daniel recommended Mahamudra book that might be helpful is Clarifying the Natural State by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal.

Heart Drops of Dharmakaya by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen with commentary by Lopon Tenzin Namdak has some of the most concise Dzogchen meditation instructions from the Bon tradition.

_____

Chogyal Namkhai Norbu teaches Dzogchen in the EU and does online empowerments three times a year, so you may find it useful to visit dzogchen.net.

John Myrdhin Reynolds (Vajranatha) is Berlin based, but teaches pragmatic dharma- (and Western magic-) compatible material all over Europe (as do most of the teachers active in North America); 

_____

Jackson Peterson has a Dzogchen "map". It's a bit heavy on the subtle/energy body though.

_____

Thanks again! I've already bought the trilogy you mentioned. I have material for quite some time with all this!

About the empowerments...I'm skeptic. Not sure why anything like that would be required to reach Arahanship. The Buddha never mentioned something even remotely similar, did he?

RE: Dzogchen/Mahamudra after fourth path
Answer
2/14/18 5:39 PM as a reply to pointless_researcher.
The Tibetans are very big on empowerments and maintaining direct lines of transmission through gurus. There's a spiritual model for this and a practical model. On the practical side, if you're teaching anything that needs to be done with precision, it's important to keep the transmission lines as short as possible so you don't get degradation of the message, and it's helpful to have face to face interaction between teacher and students because it facilitates learning and resolves confusions faster and more reliably, just as with a calculus class, for example.

However, because you're doing Dzogchen, you're relying on the perspective of your actual, inner Buddha/guru who will be unveiled from behind the temporary or adventitious obscurations, and that primordially pure nature is always present, all Dzogchen is in some sense self-initiated, self-empowered. Dudjom Lingpa also says that if you were not karmically ready for it, you wouldn't even have encountered the teachings, so the fact that you have means that you're ready for them.

Obviously, there are others with more orthodox Vajrayana views on the importance of the spiritual model, some of whom would say its important to have completed the 5x100,000 ngondro (general preliminary) repititions, or to have done Yidam, Guru & Dakini tantric practice through generation and completion stages. While this may be true for them, I've seen definite benefits from Dzogchen without having done either of these other practices.

The trekcho (breaking through) practices, which allow you to get through the substrate consciousness into the unconditioned, primordial mind (rigpa) are very effective. You may want to find an experienced guide for the togal (crossing over) work, which deals with manipulating the energy body and other aggregates in preparation for going for rainbow body at death, although the practices themselves are straightforward, paritcularly if you're doing them at retreat level doses for an extended period of time.

The advantage of this method is that it allows for sudden hops up through the bodhisattva bhumis. The maps used include the ten or sixteen bodhisattva bhumis, the five path model, and the four levels of the vidyadharas.