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Lions Roar : July 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2012 56 If we have the opportunity to receive these instructions and a sincere interest in working with them, we have a good chance of understanding and realizing Mahamudra wisdom. Mahamudra is divided into three parts: ground Mahamudra, path Mahamudra, and fruition Mahamudra. Ground Mahamu- dra is where our discussion starts. It is fundamentally a view of the most basic reality of our mind and world. We will then look briefly at path Mahamudra, which is the actual meditation prac- tice. Last, we have fruition Mahamudra, a description of what the path leads us to. That will give us a complete picture of the Mahamudra journey of awakening. Mahamudra teaches us with a number of special techniques for looking at our mind to see its true nature. When we look inside with a clear, steady focus, the mind we see is transpar- ent, spacious, and open. It feels like something’s there, but when we look for it, there’s no “thing” we can find. Our thoughts and emotions are vivid, yet we can’t put our hands on them. They melt away as soon as we notice them. Even sights and sounds, which seem to be real, distinct entities, evade our grasp when we search for their true identity. When we recognize the flow- ing, open, and spacious quality of all our experiences, even for a moment, that’s the emptiness side of the wisdom of emptiness. When we look at our mind, however, we see that it’s not just spacious. There’s a luminous, clear, and creative energy that’s the source of our compassion and joy. There is also a quality of wakefulness, of all-encompassing awareness. This is the wisdom side of the wisdom of emptiness. When we recognize the union of this brilliance, this awareness, and the open, transparent space, that’s what we call the recogni- tion of the wisdom of emptiness, or the true nature of mind. In such a moment, we don’t experience just one side of our mind; we experience the wholeness of the mind. We see the union of space, compassion, and awareness, which is called Mahamudra. This is a way of understanding the mind of enlightenment— buddha wisdom or buddhanature. This wisdom mind is rich in qualities that bring us boundless happiness, insight, and a cor- responding desire to help our world. Right from the very begin- ning the minds of all beings have been free of any inherent faults or defects. We might ask, “What is this ‘very beginning’ that we are talking about? Twenty years ago? A billion years ago?” Actually, it’s this very moment, now, when we fail to recognize the true nature of mind. This is the very beginning. If we can relax in this moment, we are resting in the ground or fundamen- tal state of Mahamudra. The way we rest is through the practice of meditation, which is path Mahamudra. When we can rest well, we are naturally in union with the goal, or fruition, of the path. There’s no other Mahamudra to attain: we are buddha, awake and free, in this very moment. But when we fail to recognize the basic nature of our mind, then we have a problem. The luminous, creative energy of origi- nal mind is misperceived as the dualistic world of self and other. Confusion arises, clinging begins, and then the whole world of suffering and bewilderment manifests. Instead of enjoying peace, illumination, and happiness, we experience our mind as afflicted with painful emotions. We’re bombarded by thoughts that lead us this way and that. We endure anxiety and fear while we long for peace and contentment. That is what we call the spinning of samsara, or cyclic exis- tence, which is endless until we decide to stop it by realizing mind’s true state. So the beginning of samsara is when we fail to recognize that ground, and the end of samsara is nothing more complicated than recognizing our own nature of mind. When mind recognizes itself and can rest freely and relaxed in a state of openness, that is the end of our confusion and suffering. Luminosity, the clarity nature of mind, manifests creatively as phenomena. Because we are habituated to solidifying our experi- ence of this luminous display, it’s easier for most of us to see the luminous aspect of mind than to recognize mind’s empty nature. However, if we’re missing the experience of emptiness, we might start to think of luminosity as something that’s solid and real enough to hold onto. Then it becomes a source of suffering and confusion instead of freedom. It’s important to first learn what emptiness actually means, at least intellectually, before we jump to the conclusion that the nature of mind possesses all the quali- ties of enlightenment. Once we have a good understanding of the emptiness nature of mind, then we can further that view by seeing mind’s luminous nature. So before undertaking Mahamudra meditation, we should first have a theoretical understanding of the true nature of mind—as empty, luminous, and aware. Second, we should understand how confusion develops when we don’t recognize that nature. Third, we should understand that the essence of our confused thoughts and emotions is free of any innate negativity or fixation, that all expressions and experiences of mind are empty and luminous. These three aspects of ground Mahamudra are important to understand through conceptual mind first, and then through the process of reflection to make it more experiential. Finally, we bring our understanding to complete realization through meditation. In the beginning, Mahamudra meditation is a process of becoming familiar with our mind just as it is, and then learning DZOGCHEN PONLOP RINPOCHE is a widely respected teacher in the Vajrayana school of Buddhism. Known for his skill in making the richness of Buddhist wisdom accessible to modern minds, he is the founder of Nalanda- bodhi and Nitartha International. His most recent book is Rebel Buddha: On the Road to Freedom. PHOTOBYKATRINBRÜGGEMANN