Schools & Systems › Dzogchen › Striking the Vital Point in Three Statements | Tibetan Masters › Pema Kunzang Rangdrol
Annotation Commentary on the Special Teaching of the Wise and Glorious King
by Pema Kunzang Rangdrol
The guru is the essence and embodiment of the three rare and supreme ones, so the text says, Homage to the master!
There follows an explanation of the view, meditation and conduct related to the names of the root and lineage masters: The view is Longchen Rabjam: infinite, vast expanse. Meditation is Khyentse Özer: rays of wisdom and love. Action is Gyalwé Nyugu, that of the bodhisattvas. One who practises in such a way, renouncing the affairs of this life, if they are able to take this to heart, may well attain enlightenment in this very life. And even if not, since they will take up the path again in future, what happiness! What joy! A la la!
1. Introducing directly the face of rigpa in itself
As for the view, Longchen Rabjam, the instruction is the three statements that strike the vital point. As a means of introducing the view, first, relax and release your mind without contriving. Wisdom has always been present from the very beginning, so rest in a state that is neither scattered, nor concentrated, without thoughts. When you do so, as a beginner it is impossible to avoid attachment to experience, so, while resting in this even state, at ease, suddenly let out a mind-shattering ‘phaṭ!’, in order to reveal naked and transparently clear awareness. To cut the chain of thoughts make the sound of 'phaṭ' fierce, forceful and abrupt. Emaho! Immediately you will experience awareness without reference point, nakedly clear dharmakāya, wisdom that is beyond the ordinary mind. There is nothing there: transfixed in wonder, struck by wonder, and yet all is transparent and clear. It is beyond any extreme such as arising, ceasing and so on. It is inconceivable and inexpressible wisdom: fresh, pure and sudden, so beyond description. This is the awareness that abides as the ground. Recognize this as the pure awareness of dharmakāya, since it is the view of primordial purity beyond elaboration. This is wisdom that abides within and is not to be sought elsewhere, so the text says, 'The first vital point is: introducing directly the face of rigpa in itself.'
2. Deciding upon one thing, and one thing only
What follows is how to put this into practice through meditation. Whether mind and thoughts are in a state of movement or there are no thoughts but only stillness, in a state of anger or attachment to the five sense pleasures, happiness or sorrow, whatever happens, all the time, in any situation, you must never be apart from great spontaneous rest in the natural state. Recognize the view of the dharmakāya you recognized before, and the clear light of the ground, which is the primordial dharmakāya, and the path clear light pointed out by the guru — mother and child clear light — already acquainted, will reunite. Rest in the aspect of awareness, beyond all description, thought and expression. The feeling of stillness, the feeling of bliss and the feeling of clarity: whatever varied experiences might arise disrupt them, again and again. Whenever thoughts arise, let out a fierce-sounding 'Phaṭ!' Suddenly striking with the syllable of skilful means and wisdom, repeatedly exclaim 'Phaṭ!' and 'Phaṭ!' Immediately disrupt attachment to experience and thinking. You must sustain the flow of inexpressible and transparently clear awareness with no difference between meditation and post-meditation. Whatever you are doing, whether sitting still or moving about, as long as you are not without the mindful awareness that sustains the essential nature, there will be no division between sessions and breaks. You must always remain in this indivisible state. But, for those of lesser capacity who might fall under the power of conceptual thought, until stability is attained, it is vital to meditate, away from all distractions and busyness, practising in proper meditation sessions and having breaks when you do not maintain the natural state. For post-meditative awareness you must let go of any focus and remain in unimpeded clarity. All the time, in any situation, abide by the flow of what is only dharmakāya — that is, recognizing the dharmakāya view and without any other mental activity, neither suppressing nor cultivating thoughts. Decide with absolute conviction that there is nothing other than this— genuine wisdom beyond elaboration, the union of calm and insight. The second vital point is: deciding upon one thing, and one thing only.
3. Confidence directly in the liberation of rising thoughts
Then, without confidence in the mode of liberation you will be incapable of withstanding the conditions of attachment and aversion, so the text says: At that time, whether attachment or aversion, happiness or sorrow—all momentary thoughts, each and every one, whatever arises, whether gross or subtle, do not part from mindful awareness and do not allow thoughts to become a subtle undercurrent. Upon recognition, you must allow them to be liberated upon arising and sustain the recognition so that, just as with writing on water, they leave not a trace behind. By looking directly into your own essential nature, you will recognize the dharmakāya in which they are freed, and thoughts will naturally disappear without trace. Just as writing vanishes on water, arising and liberation become natural and continuous. And whatever arises as thoughts based on the five poisons is, as long as we allow self-liberation to unfold, food for the bare rigpa emptiness. Whatever stirs in the mind,** as long as liberation upon arising is unobstructed, is the inner power of the dharmakāya king. Thoughts and mental states are purified into dharmakāya, leaving no trace, and innately pure. What joy! The way things arise may be the same as before, but, since for the yogi thoughts are liberated upon arising, the difference lies in the way they are liberated: that’s the key. At the beginning, arising thoughts are liberated upon being recognized, like meeting an old friend; in the middle, thoughts are liberated by themselves, like a snake uncoiling its own knots; at the end, arising thoughts are liberated without causing either benefit or harm, like a thief breaking into an empty house. This is the vital key: the way in which liberation occurs. Without this, the path that reveals self-liberation directly, meditation is but the path of delusion. When you have such a key point as this, there’s non-meditation, meaning that there is no deliberation cultivation fabricated by the mind, and there is only the state of dharmakāya, without deliberate application or effort. The third vital point is: confidence directly in the liberation of rising thoughts.
For the view which has the three vital points mentioned above — introducing directly the face of rigpa in itself, deciding upon one thing and one thing only, and confidence directly in the liberation of rising thoughts — meditation, the union of wisdom and love, because when encountering one's own natural face of primordially pure awareness, the wisdom born of meditation and compassionate love for beings arise spontaneously. This is accompanied by the action common to all the bodhisattvas, which can be summed up as the path of the six transcendent perfections. These develop like the sun and its rays. As for this view, meditation and action, were all the buddhas of past, present and future to confer, no instruction would they find greater than this, the key point of the path of the Heart-Essence, the pinnacle of all vehicles. This profound and succinct instruction was brought out as a treasure from the depth of transcendental insight, the immaculate words of the sublime lineage gurus, by the tertön of dharmakāya, the inner power of rigpa. It is nothing like ordinary treasures of this world, which are but earth and stone, for this instruction of the three statements that strike the vital point is the profound final testament of Garab Dorje given to the ācārya Mañjuśrīmitra. It is the essence of the wisdom mind of the three transmissions: the mind-direct transmission of the victorious ones, sign transmission of the vidyādharas and whispered transmission of ordinary beings. It is entrusted to my heart disciples, sealed to be secret — only for students who will practise it but inappropriate to share with those who will not take the instruction to heart. It is profound in meaning, my heart’s words. It is the words of my heart, the crucial key point and distillation of the six million four hundred thousand tantras of the Great Perfection. This crucial point, since it includes all this without error: never hold it cheap, consider it trivial or treat it with ambivalence. Never let this instruction slip away from you or go to waste. Such is the advice given repeatedly.
This is the special teaching of the wise and glorious king. In other words, this is an especially sublime instruction containing the wisdom nectar of Dza Patrul Jigme Chökyi Wangpo.
These notes were added by Kyabje Choktrul Pema Kunzang Rangdrol Sherab Gyaltsen Palzangpo in the hermitage of Paldro Gyatsa Drakkar.
| Translated by Adam Pearcey 2019 on the basis of the root text translated by Rigpa Translations, 2008.
Tibetan edition used
- Padma kun bzang rang grol. "mKhas pa śri'i rgyal po'i khyad chos kyi mchan 'grel" in Pad+ma kun bzang rang grol gyi gsung 'bum. TBRC W2PD17453. 2 vols. ?rMugs sangs dgon/?: rMugs sangs dgon/?, 2010. Vol. 1: 171–174
- Dalai Lama, the Fourteenth. Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 2000.
- Reynolds, John Myrdhin. The Golden Letters. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 1996.