Message Boards Message Boards

The Maps in General

Mapping Dzogchen and Mahamudra

Toggle
Mapping Dzogchen and Mahamudra
Answer
5/20/09 10:19 PM
Author: PaulMarshall
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

First of all forgive me if this has been dealt with before - but a search has not really turned anything up on DU about this.

My main practice is Dzogchen since I appreciate its incredible directness. After hearing Daniel Ingram's discussions on Buddhist Geeks, I became very impressed with the model he has constructed with a great deal of detail. I have always had a Mahayana bent, mainly due to the groups I've practiced with and a fondness for the Prajnaparamita literature. I have a growing feeling I've failed to sufficiently investigate the Theravada school to own my detriment.

My question is: how one would go about correlating the Dzogchen/Mahamudra maps of progress to liberation to those presented here? Other questions that come to mind are where does the first initial glimpse of Rigpa place you in the vipassana scheme of things, and since there is no real emphasis on dhyanas/jhanas in Dzogchen/Mahamudra (other than a brief element in the preliminaries) can they be correlated with the Theravadin degrees of samatha at all?

If all of this is in Daniel's book I apologise - it's in the post!

Paul

RE: Mapping Dzogchen and Mahamudra
Answer
5/21/09 12:36 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
This isn't exactly what you are looking for, but it might be a good place to start. I haven't read this carefully, but skimmed through it to see if it was addressing the sort of thing you were asking about. I think it does.

http://dharmaoverground.wetpaint.com/page/Singular+vs+Multiple+Types+of+Awakening

Ed

RE: Mapping Dzogchen and Mahamudra
Answer
5/21/09 3:17 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
While the progress of insight can easily be mapped irrespective of the tradition, as long as we stay in the Buddhist "territory", both mahamudra and dzogchen deal with the inherent attributes much more directly, and these are absent in the theravada perspective. If you look at Daniel Brown's overview of mahamudra (e.g. "Pointing out the Great Way") or equivalent presentations of dzogchen, you will notice many similarities. I would argue that these two traditions offer much richer understanding as well as upaya of the same progressive stages.

As to shamatha, in spite of there not being any emphasis on it, the traditional samadhi-spectrum is implicit to both mahamudra and dzogchen, although the methods employed in principle belong to the hybrid class (wherein calm and insight are developed alongside as mutually dependent and inclusive).

Where the two traditions radically differ is in the model of buddhahood, and that's something not easily discussed due its sheer complexity. In short, the buddhahood discussed in esoteric traditions is not only the one achieved and embodied in individual realization, but also the universal buddhahood embodied in and as reality expanse, which is completely off charts for any pre-vajrayanic tradition/path, whether theravada or strict mahayana. Hope this helps to narrow down the inquiry to what can be a useful comparison.

RE: Mapping Dzogchen and Mahamudra
Answer
5/21/09 9:06 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: JamesAlexander

I find this topic very interesting, since I'm currently attending a 4 day course/retreat that's based on the dzogchen method. However, I find the shamata and insight maps to be very clearcut and helpful and I'm therefore struggling a bit in terms of which maps to use.

It seems to me that the practice we're doing, which is divided into several levels, kinda fuses shamata and vipasana together. The 3 first stages are:

1. NEUTRAL AWARENESS (resting in awareness without judging, getting caught up) My teacher said that this can serve as shamata training, because resting in this state requires stability. Instead of having one object to focus attention on, it's more about just keeping the correct attention on whatever object that arises.
2. CHOICELESS AWARENESS (resting in the same awareness as mentioned in stage 1, but in addition to "turning of" the judging tendency, you're also turning of the tendency to bring one object to the foreground of awareness, while keeping others in the background. This seems to require a higher degree of stabilization and the ability to "let go" more,
3. TWO-WAY DIRECTED AWARENESS (continuing the type of attention developed through stages 1 and 2, but in addition paying attention to awareness itself ). I have experienced this to bring about some of the same insights as formal vipasana practice does, because when trying to pay attention to the faculty thats being attentive, your drilling holes in what used to be a solid conception of a "subject" a "perceiver" a "self" etc...

Does this actually line up with Dzogchen? I'm not very familiar with the maps used in that tradition, but I've been told that the method above draws on Dzogchen teachings.

JamesAlexander

RE: Mapping Dzogchen and Mahamudra
Answer
5/21/09 8:18 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: PaulMarshall

Hi,

That seems similar to both Mahamudra and Semde Dzogchen instructions, both having a more gradual introduction where the conceptual mind is slowly eroded through insight practices. 'Clarifying the Natural State' by Takpo Tashi Namgyal is fantastic for a slow, sure direct introduction.

Both traditions fuse shamatha and vipashyana together as one practice - during contemplation there's the stability in realisation (shamatha) and the realisation (vipashyana) itself. Rigpa, which can be described in several ways, can be said to have a shamatha aspect - it's unchanging spaciousness - and the non-dual empty awareness aspect that knows its own state which is sometimes called its vipashyana aspect. Both arise simultaneously when rigpa's experienced.

There's a rather amusing element to Dzogchen training in that the propaganda is that it's super-instantaneous liberation, but 'for the sake of elucidation, we shall break down training and realisation into the following steps...' I can't quite remember the names and properties of the levels of realisation, but I can look them up later if anyone's interested.

BTW I've found Song Eight here http://www.keithdowman.net/books/fg.htm#Flight to be of great use.

RE: Mapping Dzogchen and Mahamudra
Answer
5/22/09 6:50 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: JamesAlexander

Thanks for a great reply. It makes a bit more sense now. Please share more if you have time.

James

RE: Mapping Dzogchen and Mahamudra
Answer
5/22/09 10:02 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: PaulMarshall

I'm going on a week long personal retreat this weekend. I'll take my books and try to make something of a map. It'll allow me to geek out and give me something to do so as to not go completely insane.

RE: Mapping Dzogchen and Mahamudra
Answer
5/23/09 12:44 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
I just grabbed Pointing Out the Great Way this morning from the library. The technical descriptions are really, really interesting. I'm curious to try slotting the Mahamudra technical terms under each of the Theravada Jhanas, i.e. what might be the salient objects and praxis at each Jhanic level.

RE: Mapping Dzogchen and Mahamudra
Answer
5/23/09 1:22 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: PaulMarshall

It's worth noting that in tantra cultivating anything above the 1st jhana is discouraged. They also don't make an appearance in either Mahamudra or Dzogchen apart from the preliminaries. When either's taught with preliminaries, the order's:

1) meditation with object
2) meditation without object
3) introduction to combination of shamatha and vipashyana, which is the pointing out instructions.
4) resting in the nature of mind and passing through the stages of familiarity with it

To get theoretical, only 1 and 2 could involve jhanas since 3 and 4 are non-conceptual, that is they are non-dual with no creation of subject/object out of the experiential field. Jhanas are (according to the M&D theoretical framework) conceptual in that they always still have a subject/object. *Every* meditation manual and teacher will strongly warn about mistaking rigpa for any other kind of meditation state - it's the dharmata or nothing.

RE: Mapping Dzogchen and Mahamudra
Answer
5/23/09 7:37 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: JamesAlexander

I asked my teacher if he could point out and describe stage 3 for me, but he wouldn't. He said that only a teacher who has realized rigpa (the nondual state) should teach this. Of course I've tried to hit at it by myself, I've read instructions on it and seen the instruction on video. Occasionally I get a strong sense of what this is all about.

Do you believe the pointing-out-instruction is impossible to "catch" unless it's conveyed directly from a "nondual source"?

RE: Mapping Dzogchen and Mahamudra
Answer
5/23/09 9:59 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: PaulMarshall

I can't say if it's impossible. However, I read an awful lot about direct introduction before getting it in person and it only ever induced an experience of rigpa *after* introduction. Interestingly, if you don't recognise it at the time of the introduction, it can crop up later either during meditations for investigating the nature of mind (the semdzins and rushens) of just out of the blue when you're not expecting it.

It's often portrayed as a 'collaboration' between teacher and student - I don't know how on earth it works, but it does.