Bir, India, October 2020
The Nyaluk Phurba is a treasure teaching revealed by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Each year Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche practice the drupchen of this terma with his monks at his monastery, in Bir, India. During the drupchen, Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche paused to share with his monks an explanation of the Dzogchen instruction from Guru Rinpoche that appears in the Nyaluk Phurba terma—something he had never done before. Fortunately, this special happening was recorded and is shared with you here.
Following the sections of the mantra recitation that relate to the enlightened body and speech, comes the section of enlightened mind, which concerns meditation. Here you need to actualize what is written in the text. These vajra words of the terma are incredibly blessed and I will now explain them a little to you.
My mind free of all elaboration…
What does this mean? Mind doesn’t actually exist. If you search for your mind, you won’t be able to find anything, even if you were to search for one hundred years. But neither is it non-existent, since all thoughts of past, present and future arise from it. Therefore it is neither non-existent nor existent. It is also beyond the extreme of being neither existent nor non-existent, because mind and thoughts have never been born or produced.
Thoughts are not bad in themselves, simply the dynamic expression of mind that arises. However, when we don’t know that they are the dynamic expression of mind, they become thoughts and we are deluded. Deluded thoughts then proliferate: “better”, “worse”… They arise uninterruptedly and we are deluded.
‘Deluded mind’ corresponds to these thoughts. But when the text says, “My mind”, it is not referring to the deluded mind. “Free of all elaboration” means when past thoughts have ceased, future ones have not yet arisen, and there is no thought in the present—this is rigpa. This is the yidam deity, Vajrakumara. But unless your practice is at the level of Dzogchen, it will be difficult for you to realize. When you do realize it, however, you will have taken hold of the path to buddhahood. Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche said,
Because it is too easy, we don’t trust seeing it;
It is realized through the lama’s pointing out instruction.
Actually it is easy, but because it is so easy, we don't recognize it. Even if we do recognize it a little, we don’t trust that it is rigpa. Since it cannot really be explained or thought about, we need to be introduced to it through the blessings of the lama, which comes as a result of our practice.
In any case, when your stream of thoughts is interrupted (the next thought hasn’t yet arisen) this empty state, vividly clear, wide awake, devoid of any identifiable nature, is the deity Vajrakumara; it is the essence of the dharmakāya. All the deities arise from the energy of the empty essence, as the display of primordial wisdom. Therefore, the empty essence is Vajrakumara.
Of course, this display of the deities includes the manifestations with three faces and six hands, nine faces and eighteen hands, twenty-one faces and forty-two hands, and so on. They are the display of primordial wisdom which arises for the sake of beings to be tamed.
Whatever arises, or doesn’t arise, is complete within emptiness. How is that so? The essence is empty. But it is not an empty void. Its nature is the display of the empty essence, clear light. Clear light doesn’t refer to something like an electric light, but to all the thoughts—the positive ones such as faith, devotion and pure perception, and the negative ones such as pride or jealousy—which are the appearances that unfold from the dynamic energy of the empty essence. They arise, but they don’t actually exist; they have a physical form but they don’t exist, like magical illusions or movies.
If you realize that when they arise, then they are liberated and disappear. Then they arise again, and disappear again. This is called “simultaneous realization and liberation” or “liberation upon arising”, which means that the appearances arise and at the same time they are liberated, in other words they vanish. The one who knows about the arising and about the liberation is the clear light. The text continues,
Remain evenly in the natural state of clear light.
Abiding in this clear light recognition, do not change or alter anything, but remain in evenness. If you remain evenly in clear light, as it is the ground of the yidam Vajrakumara, and of all the completely awakened victorious ones of the three times and their heirs, the deities will arise. The whole of samsara also arises from it. The whole of nirvana, complete and perfect buddhahood, comes from it. Therefore this is the buddha, the dharmakaya.
This is what we call ‘introduction’. Today I’ve explained the meaning of Guru Rinpoche’s vajra words in the terma to you, something I’ve never done before. Reflect on this meaning as you follow the text:
My mind free of all elaboration,
Vajrakumara’s complete appearance…
How is it “complete”? As you rest in the empty essence and clear light nature, illusory-like appearances are liberated upon their arising; there is simultaneous realization and liberation. You should write down the phrase “Remain evenly in the natural state of clear light”—take it with you in your pocket, look at it repeatedly, and reflect on its meaning. You need to contemplate this again and again.
Today, I’ve explained this to you and there’s nothing more that can be said. You need to go away and reflect on it—it doesn’t work if the lama just gives teachings. If you do this, an understanding will arise. But this understanding is just a means. When you reflect on the meaning and have some grasp of it, that is merely understanding. Understanding is good, but not so beneficial in itself. You need to experience what you have understood. How do you reach that experience? By thinking about the meaning repeatedly, in many short sessions, whilst you meditate. Then when you actually experience it directly for yourself, you will be certain of what you see. Of course, in the beginning doubts will still be there, but if you continue to reflect and meditate, you will reach a point of certainty when you realize, ‘This is it! This is the wisdom of realization, the yidam deity Vajrakumara, empty in essence, cognizant in nature!’ If you reach that kind of clear conviction, you will have reached the level of realization. First comes understanding, then experience, then realization. This realization will slowly grow.
Even though you arrive at this clear decision and certainty, mind’s fabrications will still appear. At such time, it is said that you need to ‘strengthen and master what has been recognized’. Firstly, you recognize and have conviction that this is it. This is merely recognition, however—you then need to meditate on it. You need to meditate for a long time, to pray to the lama, and to arouse devotion in order to receive blessings and siddhis. Slowly, you will then be able to master what you have recognized.
It will only grow to full maturity if you meditate, otherwise it won’t happen. You may have a glimpse of recognition, but if this becomes covered with ordinary thoughts, it will not develop into full maturity. So you need to meditate. If you meditate repeatedly and invoke the lama’s blessing and compassion, it will then grow fully. ‘To master it’ and ‘full maturity’ mean that you have conviction; you have come to the conclusion and certainty that there is nothing more than this. ‘Growing to full maturity’ is like when a child who doesn’t know much about the world becomes a full adult and is able to get things done. You need to reach that level of conviction.
Once it grows fully, you will gain stability in your meditation. Then your realization will remain unchanging, no matter what arises, regardless of what happens. You will see the buddha dharmakaya’s own face and realize Mahamudra and Dzogpachenpo. Once you reach this level of realization, you will have no fear of falling into the three realms of suffering of samsara, nor any hope to actualize the wisdom of a buddha. Not only that, all thoughts such as birth, death, illness or ageing will become mere labels at this point—as you reach the certainty of that immovable realization, you will no longer be afraid of them. You will ‘seize the stronghold of the dharmakaya’s realization’. The following example is given. Imagine a child wandering outside his palace not knowing that he is the king, amongst people who also don’t know his real identity. When he becomes aware that he is the son of the former king, and when people hear that too, he is placed on the throne and effectively becomes the king from that moment on. No one can harm him anymore. Likewise, once you’ve seized the stronghold of the dharmakaya, nothing can perturb you anymore.
To meditate on this and abide by that recognition is ‘the recitation of Vajrakumara’s mind.’
As I have told you the other day, I play the role of the lama and you play the role of monks, so I need to teach you the dharma. The crucial thing is that you know a little about practice. What we have done today is very easy in one way, but is also very significant. These five minutes of explanation—which has been easy to give—will have great benefit, whereas studying the pechas for ten or fifteen years without learning the practical, pith instructions that encapsulate the crux of the practice, is useless and only breeds more thoughts.
This teaching is important, and you should all think well about it.
Translated by Gyurme Avertin
Edited by Philip Philippou