The Essence of Wisdom
From the murals of Shechen Monastery. Used with permission of Rabjam Rinpoche.
The Essence of Wisdom: How to Sustain the Face of Rigpa
by Mipham Rinpoche
To the glorious Primordial Protector, I pay homage!
There are three stages to sustaining the essence of rigpa: recognition, perfecting the strength, and gaining stability.
At first, refine your understanding until, through the guru’s instructions, you come to see the actual face of rigpa, nakedly and without intellectual speculation. Once you have arrived at certainty, it is crucially important that you sustain rigpa’s essence by yourself. Mere recognition is insufficient; you must develop its strength. Moreover, although you might recognise rigpa in the beginning, unless you settle in that recognition, it will soon be interrupted by thoughts, making it difficult to experience the naked, unadulterated rigpa. So, at this stage it is crucial that you settle without blocking or indulging thoughts, and rest repeatedly, and for periods of increasing duration, in an experience of uncontrived, pure awareness. Once you have familiarised yourself with this again and again, the waves of thought will weaken and the face of rigpa that you are sustaining will grow clearer. During meditation remain in this experience for as long as you can, and in post-meditation maintain the mindfulness of recalling the face of rigpa. If you can familiarise with this the strength of rigpa will increase. Thoughts will continue to arise at first, but, without having to resort to any other remedy in order to stop them, they will be freed by themselves in an instant simply by leaving them as they are—like a snake uncoiling its own knots by itself. Then, with further familiarity, rising thoughts will continue to bring some slight disturbance but will dissolve immediately by themselves, like writing on water. As you become still more familiar with this state, you will reach a point at which rising thoughts no longer have any effect at all, and you have no hope or fear about their arising or non-arising. This experience beyond benefit and harm is likened to a thief entering an empty house. By continuing to familiarise yourself with this, you will reach the level of perfect strength, at which point thoughts and the ālaya, together with any tendency to produce movement in the mind, all dissolve into unaltered dharmakāya, and rigpa is secure in its own place. Just as you might search for ordinary earth and stones on an island of gold, without ever finding them, the whole of appearance and existence, without exception, arises as a dharmakāya realm, in which purity is all-encompassing. This is known as ‘gaining stability’, the point at which any hopes and anxieties about saṃsāra and nirvāṇa or birth and death are eradicated entirely.
Just as, in this way, daytime perceptions and thoughts are gradually brought into rigpa’s domain, during the night-time too, there is no need to rely on any other instruction, as this can be applied to dreams and the recognition of the clear light of light and heavy sleep. Having understood this, you must persist in the practice until you gain stability, with unflagging diligence like the continuous flow of a river.
This instruction was given by Mipham. May virtue and goodness abound!
Translated by Adam Pearcey, 2016, with the kind assistance of Alak Zenkar Rinpoche.