Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Instant Enlightenment

If there is no such thing as instant enlight­enment, how can you free your mind of the twenty-five states of being in the three realms? How can you free your mind of the sensation of uncertainty?

Now there have already been professional priests coming here saying, “Perception is unobscured,” totally accepting perception and claiming that is right. That means they do not see what is not obscured. When I ask them about other worlds, they do not know; and when I question them about the senses and objects, it turns out they have not broken through. How can they imag­ine that the feelings and perceptions of ordinary people are exactly the same as instant enlightenment?

Today I say to everyone, just trust that there is such a thing as instant enlightenment. It is like a farmer finding an alchemi­cal pill as he plows the fields; after taking it, the whole family goes to heaven. It is also like a commoner being appointed prime minister.

In the Teachings it says that those ordinary feelings and per­ceptions of yours are like unbaked clay, which is useless before it has been fired. You have to bake it in a hot fire before it is use­ful; that is like an instant enlightenment.

When I came out of Szechwan, I only called on one person. I know this person’s talk was the same as the ancients. I once asked my teacher, “I’ve heard it said that there is enlightenment in Zen; is that so?” My teacher said, “If there were no enlightenment, how could it be attained? Just investigate in an easygoing way.” So I studied in a relaxed frame of mind. There was a certain Elder Fu, whose insight was so luminously clear that I used to go to him with questions. But he just used to tell me, “You must make a living on your own; don’t come questioning me.”

One day he recited a story to me: Zhaozhou showed some fire to a student and said, “Don’t call it fire. What is it?” I won­dered deeply at this: obviously it is fire — why not call it fire? I contemplated this for three years, always reflecting, “How dare I use the feelings and perceptions of an ordinary man to ask about the realization of sages?”

I have also heard what it says in the Lotus Scripture, “ This truth cannot be understood by the discriminations of discursive thought,” I have always kept this in mind. Today when you say you are right just as you are, that is because you have pro­duced an interpretative understanding, and so do not understand.

Once my teacher went to the residence of Judge Li, who invited him into the library. After lighting a fire, the judge picked up a copy of Transmission of the Lamp and said to the teacher, “Although I am a man of the world, I have always taken an inter­est in this path. Whenever I read this book I find many points I do not understand.” My teacher said, “This matter is not under­stood in that way. You need to have realization of enlightenment first. If you have enlightenment, you naturally need not ask oth­ers about whatever you do not understand. If you have no enlight­enment, even what understanding you do have is not yet right either.” The judge remarked, “My teacher, you have spoken rightly.”

As for me, since I was the superintendent of guests, I attained understanding at the fireside; after that, there was nothing I did not understand. You must see the reality of instant enlighten­ment yourself before you can attain it. No one in the Zen com­munities of the present time tells of it.

-Master Foyan

Monday, June 13, 2016

Inner Silence

Don Juan defied inner silence as a peculiar state of being in which thoughts were canceled out and one could function from a level other than that of daily awareness. He stressed that inner silence meant the suspension of the internal dialogue -- the perennial companion of thoughts -- and was therefore a state of profound quietude.

"The old sorcerers," don Juan said, "called it inner silence because it is a state in which perception doesn't depend on the senses. What is at work during inner silence is another faculty that man has, the faculty that makes him a magical being, the very faculty that has been curtailed, not by man himself but by some extraneous influence."

"What is this extraneous influence that curtails the magical faculty of man?" I asked. "That is the topic for a future explanation," don Juan replied, "not the subject of our present discussion, even though it is indeed the most serious aspect of the sorcery of the shamans of ancient Mexico."

"Inner silence," he continued, "is the stand from which everything stems in sorcery. In other words, everything we do leads to  that stand, which, like everything else in the world of sorcerers, doesn't reveal itself unless something gigantic shakes us." Don Juan said that the sorcerers of ancient Mexico devised endless ways to shake themselves or other sorcery practitioners at their foundations in order to reach that coveted state of inner silence. They considered the most far-fetched acts, which may seem totally unrelated to the pursuit of inner silence, such as, for instance, jumping into waterfalls or spending nights hanging upside down from the top branch of a tree, to be the key points that brought it into being.

Following the rationales of the sorcerers of ancient Mexico, don Juan stated categorically that inner silence was accrued, accumulated. In my case, he struggled to guide me to construct a core of inner silence in myself, and then add to it, second by second, on every occasion I practiced it. He explained that the sorcerers of ancient Mexico discovered that each individual had a different threshold of inner silence in terms of time, meaning that inner silence must be kept by each one of us for the length of time of our specific threshold before it can work.

"What did those sorcerers consider the sign that inner silence is working, don Juan?" I asked. "Inner silence works from the moment you begin to accrue it," he replied. "What the old sorcerers were after was the final, dramatic, end result of reaching that individual threshold of silence. Some very talented practitioners need only a few minutes of silence to reach that coveted goal. Others, less talented, need long periods of silence, perhaps more than one hour of complete quietude, before they reach the desired result. The desired result is what the old sorcerers called stopping the world, the moment when everything around us ceases to be what it's always been."

"This is the moment when sorcerers return to the true nature of man," don Juan went on. "The old sorcerers also called it total freedom. It is the moment when man the slave becomes man the free being, capable of feats of perception that defy our linear imagination."

Don Juan assured me that inner silence is the avenue that leads to a true suspension of judgment -- to a moment when sensory data emanating from the universe at large ceases to be interpreted by the senses; a moment when cognition ceases to be the force which, through usage and repetition, decides the nature of the world.

"Sorcerers need a breaking point for the workings of inner silence to set in," don Juan said. "The breaking point is like the mortar that a mason puts between bricks. It's only when the mortar hardens that the loose bricks become a structure."

From the beginning of our association, don Juan had drilled into me the value, the necessity, of inner silence. I did my best to follow his suggestions by accumulating inner silence second by second. I had no means to measure the effect of this accumulation, nor did I have any means to judge whether or not I had reached any threshold. I simply aimed doggedly at accruing it, not just to please don Juan but because the act of accumulating it had become a challenge in itself.

-Carlos Castaneda

Sunday, June 12, 2016


by Dudjom Lingpa

So I had the idea to put on some beautiful clothes made out of silk and brocade and go out and meet some people, but when I looked around I couldn’t find any. So I applied mud on my body for clothes, and for ornaments I stuck sticks and feathers in it. Then, thinking that these were the finest ornaments, I said, I have something stupid to tell people regarding putting mud and feathers on for clothing. So hark!  Listen to this foolish meditation of mud and feathers. Listen, observe and laugh.

Some meditators value good thoughts and try to block bad thoughts. This is like a dog which has come into your house, stolen some food, then escaped outside, so you close up all the doors and windows and grope in the dark. Some meditators, after compulsive ideation has dissolved, send an antidote after it which is like sending a hunting dog after a fox which has already escaped. Some meditators practice by looking at their thoughts from afar, like an old shepherd viewing his herds of cows and sheep over a flat plain, but if you are a garuda flying away from your nest, it’s too much to throw out the corpses of 21,000 mice in a single day.

Some meditators regard thoughts like a flash of lightening, and awareness like clear light, considering the nonduality of appearance and awareness to be the genuine path.

Some meditators believe the genuine path is as soon as a thought arises, recognizing the thought and thinker as nondual.

These practices are good for beginners, but if you continue to meditate this way, it’s like compounding delusion upon delusion. If you practice this way, and achieve joy, clarity and non-conceptuality, and an inflated sense of having ascended to some high tower from which you look down on others with a haughty attitude, like sitting in the saddle of a fine horse, or posing on a high throne as some lamas do, how can you ever hope to ascend from the depths of samsara? It’s like lifting a big stone out of the bottom of the ocean. Grasping still occurs and liberation is out of the question.

When you engage in the path, if you focus single pointedly on an object, and forcefully block thoughts, more thoughts will arise, and you will become miserable, sick and mad. But if you are like a shepherd looking at thoughts from afar, then everything that arises will be seen with clarity, the mind is identified as awareness, and what is seen is understood as movement. In this stable experience, joy, clarity and non-conceptuality will arise. When you fuse stillness, movement and awareness, thoughts will be self-knowing, self-illuminating. What is crucial is not to lose your ground in terms of clear awareness free of hope and fear, negation and affirmation.

When I was young, I heard people say that meditation was a fine path to spiritual awakening. Giving this careful thought, I believed this path was something you could see, feel and hear, and so I thought if these old monks can do it, why can’t I? So I went to a remote area, sat in solitude, and waited for three days for meditation to arise. On the third day I got pooped and fell asleep. I had a dream of a white child who asked me, ‘What are you doing here?’ I replied, ‘I’m waiting to see meditation.’ The child closed his eyes and sang the following song:

‘Hey, hey! You blind boy who wishes to enter the genuine path, listen! The body is like a paper bag carried away by the wind; the speech is like the sound of wind in a tube; the mind is the creator of both samsara and nirvana. Among these three, mind is foremost. You will wait a long time to see meditation.’ Then I woke up.

A few days later I had another dream of a yogin who called himself Orgyen Padma Vajra, who placed a vase on my head and said, ‘Investigate first the origin of the mind, second its location, and third its destination.’ Then he dissolved into me.

Another night I dreamed of a red yogin who called himself Orgyen Speech Vajra who said, “Thoughts are called movement; that which understands them is called awareness; and remaining in that understanding is called stillness. Never be separate from these three.’ Then he dissolved into me.

Three years later a young woman appeared in a dream. She placed 13 white mustard seeds on the surface of a clear mirror, then held it at my heart and sang this song:

‘Ema! Child of clear light, your own mind is the ground of all of samsara and nirvana. Its origin is empty, its location is empty, its departure is empty. It is spontaneously present in great emptiness. Your mind is a mirror that transcends causes and conditions. Like a mirror, it gives rise to various reflections, but its essential nature is unchanging. Distinguish between mind and awareness. They have the same ground, but they are not the same. The mind is what becomes deluded in samsara; awareness recognizes the nature of existence. Identify ground awareness. Child of wisdom awareness, this is the secret treasure of the dakinis.’ Then she dissolved into me, and my body, speech and mind were pervaded with bliss.

Applying myself to identifying luminous awareness, at times I had the sense that appearances, and that which recognizes appearances were nondual. Sometimes this experience appeared outside. Sometimes this experience appeared inside. Sometimes nondual appearance and awareness went out to the object then vanished. I knew these experiences were due to grasping to the ground as an object. At other times, grasping onto phenomena naturally dissolved when I relaxed into the all-pervasive, originally pure ground. Then the creative displays arose naturally and dissolved in a state free from antidote.

A mind devoid of activities, free from hope and fear, is reality itself, which can be likened to the sun rising in a clear sky. This is spontaneously present awareness, the dharmakaya. The essential nature of the ground is that all self-arising appearances naturally release themselves. The ground and appearance is nondual, like the sun and its rays. Mind grasps to phenomena; awareness doesn’t. Appearances, which are the creative display of the expansive ground of awareness, naturally dissolve in the primordial womb like waves in the ocean.

Later, in a dream, I saw Orgyen Dorje Trolod in an expanse of flame and light, and he was chanting a song of Hung:

‘Hung hung. Do you understand that the cord that holds you to samsara is the duality of subject and object? Do you understand that joy and sorrow, your environment and companions, are manifestations of light and dark, devoid of true existence like a dream? Although space is free of periphery or center, it doesn’t go beyond the expanse of awareness. Space is none other than the expanse of awareness itself. Supplicating the demon above you grasp to the buddha; supplicating the demon below you grasp to delusive appearances. These are both products of reification. Do you understand that all appearances are natural projections of thoughts? Do you understand that samsara and nirvana are nondual displays within the ground expanse of the absolute nature? Do you understand that dynamic energy is naturally released into the all-pervasive nature without meditation? All grasping is devoid of substance. Subject and object are one taste. Myself and emanations of myself are primordially one with the mother’s womb of the great expanse.’ Then Orgyen Dorje Trolod dissolved into me.

Samsara and nirvana are co-arising, but these are one, not two. It is very important to understand that the nature of being is the great perfection of samsara and nirvana. Don’t be satisfied with just the empty aspect of the view, but have the all-embracing dzogchen view. Good and bad are expressions of your own nature. The five buddhafields are the creative expression of the expanse of primordial wisdom. The compassionate buddha appears spontaneously, without effort.

Heh, heh! The originally pure absolute nature is free from the extreme of dualistic grasping. The palace of pure light is the display of pure presence. From the nondual realm of bliss and emptiness pure awareness beings arise as the face of natural being. From this effortless place, I naturally encountered these beings and received these quintessential instructions from the treasury of the expanse of reality itself.

Heh, heh! The essential nature free from extremes is the primordial ground, originally pure. Don’t look for any buddha apart from this. All fictitious appearances are perfected in the expanse of your own natural awareness. This is the meaning of the Great Perfection.

In the unchanging field of all-pervasive bliss and emptiness arising as the expanse, the sun of clear light neither rises nor sets. In the fortress of fearlessness, in the palace of spontaneous presence seated on the immutable throne, never disengaged from skillful means and wisdom, I, a useless old man, have held my own ground as an embodiment of reality itself, arising as Dorje Trolod, standing on the corpse of mental afflictions.

My path is the essential nature. I am not bound by reified practices. I have a way of practice without meditation or propitiation. This way is all-pervasive, free from extremes, holding one’s ground without antidote or structure. It is unmixed with intellectual analysis, and without focus. Whatever comes up, let it go. Here is a practice free from activity which transcends good and bad, hope and fear. Awakening to suffering and peace as being the expanse of reality, I have cut from my heart the darkness of ignorance. Mental afflictions are dispelled in total openness, in clear, empty wisdom awareness, the womb of non-objectivity.

These verses are the foolish dharma of an idiot who wears mud and feathers for clothing.