Stillness, Movement and Awareness
From the murals of Shechen Monastery. Used with permission of Rabjam Rinpoche.
The Mahāmudrā Practice of Stillness, Movement and Awareness
by Mipham Rinpoche
When you are able to practice Mahāmudrā’s three simple categories of stillness, movement and awareness, the crucial point of ultimately seeing the truth of dharmatā comes about due to the presence of the buddha-nature (sugatagarbha) and an application of the key points based on the pith instructions. Since the root of all phenomena lies in the mind, it is through seeking the key to your own mind that you will come to know mind’s secret, gain insight into all phenomena, and realize the nature of selflessness. For this, we can therefore dispense with excessive theoretical analysis and follow instead the pith instructions of the realized ones.
When you turn within and look into your own mind, if it abides without any movement, that is what is referred to as stillness. When various forms of conceptualization occur, that is movement. And in either case, the mind’s own capacity to know itself is what we call awareness. If you sustain this continuously, you will discover for yourself the key point of how various experiences of joy or sorrow arise from the mind itself and dissolve back into it. As long as you understand this, you’ll recognize that all perceptions are but the manifestations of your own mind. Then, by looking directly into mind’s essence, whether it is still or active, you will understand that even though it manifests in varied ways, it’s empty and lacks any kind of true essence. You will know too that this emptiness is not a blankness like empty space but an emptiness that includes the most sublime of features, since while it is devoid of any true reality its unceasing clarity still has the capacity to know and be aware of everything. When you understand mind’s crucial secret in this way, the looker and that which is looked at are not separate, but there is an experience of genuine mind-as-such with its own natural luminosity. This is known as the recognition of awareness and is what is pointed out in Mahāmudrā and Dzogchen. If you can sustain this, your experience will develop as Saraha explained:
As you look and look into the sky-like nature
That has always been pure, seeing recedes.
This is also the message of the Mother Prajñāpāramitā:
Mind is devoid of mind; the nature of mind is clear light.
There is nothing easier than this. Putting it into practice is crucial.
By Mipham. Maṅgalam.
| Translated by Adam Pearcey, 2021.
Tibetan Editions Used
Mi pham rgya mtsho. gsung 'bum/_mi pham rgya mtsho. TBRC W23468. 27 vols. paro, bhutan: lama ngodrup and sherab drimey, 1984–1993. http://tbrc.org/link?RID=W23468 Vol. 27: 22–23
Mi pham rgya mtsho. gsung 'bum/_mi pham rgya mtsho. TBRC W2DB16631. 32 vols. khreng tu'u: [gangs can rig gzhung dpe rnying myur skyobs lhan tshogs], 2007. http://tbrc.org/link?RID=W2DB16631 Vol. 32: 326–327