View, Meditation and Action
Photo © Barry Beckett
A Brief Presentation of View, Meditation and Action
by Yangthang Rinpoche
Primordial protector, who remains forever within the single all-encompassing sphere of reality,
Lord who pervades all buddha families, Lama Vajradhara,
With complete reliance and fervent devotion, I pray to you one-pointedly:
Grant your blessings so that the wisdom-mind transmission may enter my heart!
Now that you've gained the support of a human life, so hard to find,
Aroused a mind of renunciation, so difficult to develop,
Met an authentic master, so rarely encountered,
And taken up the sacred Dharma, so scarcely discovered,
Reflect, over and again, on the difficulty of finding
Such a physical support providing all the right conditions for practice.
If you fail to make use of the full human potential you now possess,
Which is impermanent like a candle in the wind,
Don't think that you can rely on it for a long time to come.
At death and in the bardos, lacking the confidence of liberation,
How frightening will be the next life’s sufferings!
When we must wander endlessly in saṃsāra,
How distressing it is to contemplate its nature!
Whatever you can do to gain real confidence in this life,
I, for one, will be most grateful!
This is what I hope for you.
If you wish to look into the mirror of mind's nature,
Don't look outwards, but turn within.
Looking outwards brings perpetual delusion.
But look within and you'll see your own mind.
Don't follow past thoughts,
Nor anticipate thoughts to come,
And as for present thoughts and agitation,
As soon as you turn your mind inwards,
Don't try to adjust or modify it in the slightest,
But leave it, just as it is, totally free, in its own natural resting place.
Leaving thoughts in their natural place of rest like this
Is not the actual main practice, but simply the way to leave the mind.
Yet in that very experience of leaving the mind in this way
You're on the verge of meeting the rigpa of the main practice.
As soon as you leave the mind in its natural state,
Thoughts will naturally cease and be gone.
What is left when the natural radiance of thoughts has vanished,
Is the essence of mind, empty and vivid.
Free of fixation, dimension or limit,
There arises a space-like experience.
This is the empty essence, the dharmakāya.
In this empty state,
The nature of the mind is clear and lucid —
Free of any actual characteristic one could point to,
It is the natural clarity of the mind, unrestrained and unimpeded.
Innately cognizant, it's the saṃbhogakāya.
Besides this cognizant yet empty rigpa,
There is no other one that sees.
What is seen is the empty dharmakāya,
And the one that sees it is cognizant wisdom,
These two can be referred to as ‘empty’ and ‘cognizant’,
Or as ‘all-pervading space’ and ‘wisdom.’
But they're not two different things:
The nature of that which is empty is clarity,
And the essence of that which is clear is empty.
Therefore, clarity and emptiness are an inseparable unity.
Since they're not different, but of a single taste,
There's no duality of something seen and one who sees it,
This is ‘seeing’ in a non-dual way.
Hence it is called ‘self-knowing rigpa.’
The mind sees itself by itself.
In the experience of the single taste of clarity and emptiness,
Good and bad — saṃsāra and nirvāṇa — are of equal taste.
Thus, ‘saṃsāra and nirvāṇa’ are not different.
This is the Great Perfection, Dzogpachenpo.
This Great Perfection,
When it is realized by anyone at all,
Brings impartial compassion
And unlimited pure perception —
Arising effortlessly and naturally in the mind.
This is all-pervading compassion, the nirmāṇakāya.
This, therefore, is the three-kāya rigpa.
Decide that there is nothing else apart from this.
As long as you're undecided, you’ll be scattered
And never realize the nature of mind.
Decision must be made in certainty.
This is the view of the Great Perfection.
Of the view, meditation and action, view is most important.
It's crucial that you realize the view without error,
For unless you realize the view, meditation will have no basis.
So you must realize the view directly, with no confusion.
And then, when taking this to heart through meditation,
To abide in the experience of the view that you have recognized,
For longer and longer periods, through perseverance, is meditation.
Other than this, there's nothing else on which to meditate.
Furthermore, until you perfect the view,
Don't count your practice in years or months,
But decide to dedicate the whole remainder of your life to Dharma practice.
This is the approach of the very best practitioners.
If from the start you talk about simplicity, equality and the like,
But instead of practicing in sessions remain completely lax,
Acting out whatever comes to mind, whether eating, sitting, indulging yourself or lying about,
In the end, there's a great danger your simplicity will prove futile,
And when death comes, all will have been in vain.
Meaningless talk and boasting are useless,
So you should follow in the footsteps of the great ones,
And be humble, a genuine Dharma practitioner in word and deed.
It would be best to go to deserted mountains,
But, otherwise, stay away from busy places.
Having divided your time into sessions and periods in-between.
Practise meditation formally, and abandon the nine forms of activity.
Without being outwardly distracted or inwardly grasping,
Settle evenly into an experience of the natural resting place of mind.
No matter what appears to the five senses,
Let it be like stars or planets reflected in the surface of a lake,
And rest evenly in the natural expanse, without grasping
And without the slightest reference point — this is the supreme meditation.
Although this may be difficult in the beginning,
With gradual training, it will progressively unfold.
In post-meditation, train in emptiness and compassion,
Seeing things as magical illusions or dreamlike.
Exert yourself as much as you can in the Dharma practices that purify obscurations.
And, in particular, it's crucial to merge the view from the time of meditation
With whatever thoughts arise, in order to unite meditation and post-meditation.
Distinguish between the all-ground and dharmakāya, mind and rigpa.
Recognize qualities and faults such as the three forms of erring, straying and being mistaken,
And make adopting qualities and avoiding faults the very heart of your practice.
This is what to do during the post-meditation.
When you strive in such practice for a long time,
All the experiences of bliss, clarity and emptiness will occur.
But no matter what arises, don't fixate on the constant flow of perceptions,
But resolve them with the view, and maintain the flow of practice in the natural resting place of mind.
Progressively, positive experiences will increase, and bad signs disappear.
In each session, first arouse the mind of enlightenment,
And receive the four empowerments of guru yoga.
At the end, seal the session with dedication and aspiration prayers.
Since these provide the structure of meditation practice, they're indispensable.
In particular, the practice of Guru Yoga
Is the ultimate means of arriving at the state of non-meditation.
So, until your own rigpa dawns directly as the lama,
Since this is the main form of meditation practice, cherish it as crucial!
If you can practise like this in four sessions each and every day,
Constantly and without wavering,
You’ll perfect the various stages, such as the five experiences Vimalamitra taught,
And in the original resting place,
You’ll seize the citadel — of this you must have no doubt!
Even if you can't manage this, and you practise these instructions with only moderate effort,
Listening to and reflecting upon the teachings to a certain extent,
Attachment to the eight worldly concerns will weaken,
And you’ll spend your life carefree, contented and at ease.
From your very first step on the path it won't take long
Before you're liberated in primordial omniscience — this is certain!
Then, to touch briefly upon action:
When you're resting in meditation in this way
And a new thought arises all of a sudden
Or the undercurrent of thoughts churns away,
Rising thoughts are seen from the experience of your own rigpa.
Don't follow them, considering them good or bad, pleasant or suffering.
Don't do anything, in fact. But, as soon as you see the rising,
Within the rising itself, let mind find its own natural place of rest.
By leaving mind in its own place, thoughts will disappear there and then,
And you'll arrive directly at rigpa once again.
Then, as before, maintain the practice of mind’s own place of rest.
In this way, whenever any good or bad thought should arise
Don't grasp onto it, but allow it to be freed as it arises.
There are three ways in which thoughts are liberated,
But there's really no difference between them — they're all 'self-arising, self-liberation'.
When a thought appears, it comes from the expanse of dharmakāya,
And when a thought goes, it ceases within rigpa's expanse.
Risings are harmless if you know how to let them liberate naturally.
This is the special instruction to enhance the view.
If you exert yourself in this, you’ll have fewer thoughts,
And their arising will not harm the ground.
The three ways of liberating — lesser, middling and greater — will unfold progressively.
But without these key points of liberation,
The final attainment of freedom will never come.
Knowing the way to liberate thoughts is the supreme form of action.
The fruition of such practice is that
Destructive emotions and thoughts will weaken,
Attachment to the eight worldly concerns will diminish,
Devotion and pure perception will steadily increase,
You’ll recognize dreams, clear light will arise, and so on —
These are authentic fruits of the path.
Otherwise, to have visions of deities, receive prophecies,
Gain clairvoyance and the like may or may not be the fruit of the path,
Whether good or bad, we can't say, for it could all be the deception of Māra,
So don't wait, but immediately put them aside.
Finally, at death or in the bardo of dharmatā,
Recognize the ground appearances, and, in that very ground,
Having seized the citadel, you're certain to gain liberation!
I have written this brief presentation of View, Meditation and Action,
Merely as a response to a friend’s request which I couldn't refuse —
A rather hypocritical endeavor for one who knows nothing of what is here described,
And one which will undoubtedly produce many errors.
Be sure, therefore, to ask others to clarify your every doubt.
In the unlikely event that this does contain one or two points of value,
I dedicate the merit so they may be a cause for my friend’s practice to grow in strength,
And for it to be accomplished completely,
So that he may be liberated in the expanse of the primordial ground.
In short, I pray for the accomplishment of the twofold benefit.
I, the one who bears the name of Yangthang Tulku, wrote this rather incoherent, disorganized text simply to avoid turning down the insistent request of Lama Tsewang, a Dharma friend from Riwoche in Kham. May it be a cause of benefitting a friend's practice!
| Rigpa Translations, 2013. Edited for Lotsawa House, 2016.
The five stages are: 1) movement, 2) attainment, 3) familiarity, 4) stability and 5) consummation. ↩