We are in many ways creatures of habit. If we live within certain conditions long enough, they come to seem natural to us. But if we had lived in different conditions, they would seem equally natural. Looking at the cultural, religious, or material conditions that others have become habituated to may make us feel that they must be totally different from us, but we are just mistaking something circumstantial for something essential. It is largely an accident of our birth and our life circumstances that we have come to find certain conditions familiar and others alien or distant. It is not an indication of anything essentially other or different about us.
Beyond any superficial circumstantial factors that differentiate us, all living beings share a much deeper common ground, as I discussed in the previous chapter. Buddhism identifies this deeper ground as the wish to be happy and the longing for freedom from suffering. This fundamental inner condition lies at the very core of our existence. Our apparent physical and circumstantial differences are relatively unimportant and shallow, compared to the more important — and much more foundational — level of reality on which we all stand.
Focusing on this deeper level can help us to access a sense of closeness and shared experience — of all being in it together. With this as our starting point, we can explore our particular conditions without experiencing them as a gulf that separates us.
If you have great devotion, seeing the teacher as the Buddha himself, and maintain a lofty inner view while keeping your external conduct completely down to earth, all the qualities of experience and realization will grow effortlessly. Experiences and realization in fact come through the spontaneous devotion you have to your teacher, so when they occur, they are truly due to the teacher’s kindness.
The Buddha meditated for six years, Bodhidharma for nine. The practice of meditation is not a method for the attainment of realization – it is enlightenment itself.
Subhūti, I know with clairvoyance that in the past period, during five hundred lifetimes, I was the rishi called ‘Preacher of Patience’; even then there did not arise in me the discrimination as a self; there did not arise the discrimination as a sentient being, discrimination as a living being, discrimination as a person. Subhūti, therefore, the bodhisattva mahāsattva, completely abandoning all discrimination, should generate the mind for unsurpassed perfectly complete enlightenment. One should generate the mind not abiding in form. One should generate the mind not abiding in sound, smell, taste, tactility, or phenomena. On should generate the mind not abiding in non-phenomena either. One should generate the mind not abiding in anything whatsoever. Why is that? Because that itself which is abiding does not abide. Therefore, the Tathāgata taught, ‘The bodhisattva should give gifts not abiding.’
Ho! The atiyoga of natural perfection! Dzogchen Ati!
The Great Perfection, in its unbiased inclusivity,
actualizes the meaning of self-sprung awareness;
as the lion overawes all other beasts with his roar,
so the language of Great Perfection commands the gradual approaches;
speaking a tongue of its own, it engenders its own ultimate meaning.
The land of natural perfection is free of buddhas and sentient beings;
the ground of natural perfection is free of good and bad;
the path of natural perfection has no length;
the fruition of natural perfection can neither be avoided nor attained;
the body of natural perfection is neither existent nor nonexistent;
the speech of natural perfection is neither sacred nor profane;
and the mind of natural perfection has no substance nor attribute.
The space of natural perfection cannot be consumed nor voided;
the status of natural perfection is neither high nor low;
the praxis of natural perfection is neither developed nor neglected;
the potency of natural perfection is neither fulfilled nor frustrated;
the display of natural perfection is neither manifest nor latent;
the actuality of natural perfection is neither cultivated nor ignored;
and the gnosis of natural perfection is neither visible nor invisible.
The hidden awareness of natural perfection is everywhere,
its parameters beyond indication,
its actuality incommunicable;
the sovereign view of natural perfection is the here-and-now,
naturally present without speech or books,
irrespective of conceptual clarity or dullness,
but as spontaneous joyful creativity
its reality is nothing at all.
The self-arisen wisdom, which is also called bodhichitta, is not something that has been fabricated, a new product created by the conjunction of causes and conditions. It never has changed, never changes, and never will change. The absolute nature remains what it is, perfectly pure, at all times. Even if it appears obscured for impure beings at the start of the path, it has never actually been obscured. If it seems to be a mixture of pure and impure during the course of the path, it in fact always remains pure. And at the time of the result, perfect enlightenment, it is simply the same ground nature made evident and not something new that was not there before. So even though all the hallucinations that make up existence fall like rain from the sky, it cannot affect one’s confidence: the kinglike bodhichitta that is the doer-of-everything will never be stained or dampened.
If you spend the present meaninglessly and leave with empty hands,
People of Tingri, a human life in the future will be very hard to find.
Outwardly, practise according to the sutras,
Be meticulous about cause and effect, and what you adopt or avoid.
Inwardly, practise according to the unsurpassable secret mantra,
It is important to combine generation and completion.
Secretly, practise according to the great secret Atiyoga,
And gain liberation in a body of light within a single lifetime.