Sun, 11 Aug 2013
Ryder Japhy has been complaining on his blog about various things. Some of his complaints are too unfocused for me to respond to. But he did mention being offended by a Tibetan who thought it was better karma to be born Tibetan than American, implying that Tibetans are better than Americans. Now this is just common egotism at work, almost everyone thinks they are better than others or their culture is the best. And the Kadampa mind training teachings give good advice on what to do when faced with this kind of egotism and it doesn't involve getting hurt and offended. But as public service, I'll give some advice on how to impress a Tibetan, so that they'll hold you in high esteem. The advice is simple, though not so easy to carry out. If you are well learned in the dharma, know the main texts, who wrote them, and can quote from them, you will have the respect of every Tibetan. All of them revere the dharma and respect a person who knows it. It's even better if you know a little Tibetan or Sanskrit, but it's sufficient to know the texts in English. I have one talent in this life. I'm not especially smart, but I have a good memory, I can read something once and remember it forever. And since I've read a lot of dharma, I've been able to use that knowledge to impress a lot of Tibetans. It's a silly and foolish thing, obviously, and nothing to brag about. But if you really want to impress a Tibetan, learn the dharma well.
Mon, 05 Aug 2013
Ryder Japhy is carrying on again about how Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso's approach to teaching the dharma and how it's superior to the traditional approach favored by the Karmapa and other Tibetan lamas. I attended three teachings by Khenpo, the first two at KTD and the last in New Jersey. The first time he gave a fairly conventional lecture on other emptiness (gzhan stong.) The latter two times he had developed his own style of practice, based on singing and reciting texts. It didn't do much for me, personally, though it was fun. I really don't think it was that unorthodox, as Buddhist education traditionally is memorization by recitation. Ryder Japhy seems to think Khenpo's method of teaching was more effective, though I don't see how he measures effectiveness. He didn't seem to have more students or more enlightened students than any other teacher, as far as I can judge such things. It was just another, somewhat different apporach, that appealed to a different group of people. It seems to me that the Karma Kagyu is placing most its hopes for Buddhism in America on Mingyur Rinpoche. I'm sure if the Karmapa ever gets permission to freely travel, he will make a lot of tours of the West as well, picking up for the aging Dalai Lama. I don't know how that is going to work out, but how to popularize Buddhism is a mystery to me, otherwise I would be out there doing it myself. What Buddhism most obviously needs is a way to harmonize its teaching with modern science. I don't think either singing or touring with an entourage of monks is going to solve that problem.
Sat, 03 Aug 2013
Brad Warner keeps trying to explain his experience when crossing a bridge in Tokyo, which he unfortunately referred to as an enlightenment experience. Unfortunately, not because I doubt him, but because since he wrote about it, guys (all men, no women) have been pestering him, trying to get an understanding of what happened. Different Buddhist teachers have different opinions on whether enlightenment experiences should be discussed. It's fairly common in Zen, less common in Tibetan Buddhism. There are a few stories, but the only contemporary Tibetan teacher I know who's spoken on his own experience is Thrangu Rinpoche, in Vivid Awareness.
I just wanted to comment on what Brad said, you will not exeprience your own enlightenment. Mind is enlightenment and enlightenment is mind. We are confused because we do not understand the mind. We are enlightened when we see the mind is not a thing to be understood. The well known mahamudra lineage prayer says, "Mind is not mind. Even the Buddhas do not see it." Our problem is we take the mind as a thing to be seen, but this is oobviously wrong, as it leads to an infinite regress. (The mind which sees the mind which sees the mind ...) The first moment of introspection would be fatal, much like Kirk destroyed the computers in Star Trek with a trick question. Obviously this does not happen, yet people do not follow this to the logical conclusion. Anyway, hunting for enlightenment can't be like hunting for your missing car keys. How could the mind hide from the mind? The mahamudra instruction is just to relax and rest in a natural way, maybe now it is clearer why this instruction is given.
Sat, 27 Jul 2013
I've pretty much finished my latest coding project App::Followme, which you can find on github. It's a static website generator, like Jekyll, only simpler. It's mimimalistic, in the spirit of Blosxom. What's next is to give it a real world test, which I'll do on github. I couldn't bear the thought of building my github pages with code I didn't write myself. The longer range plan is to redo this site with followme, which I will do after shaking out the bugs on github.
So Ryder Japhy has been pretty critical of how the Karmapa is running the Karma Kagyu, especially as it concerns Western Buddhists. I'm less critical, mostly because I don't have any strong opinions on the subject. The truth is that he has very little say over how things are done in the West. As always, it's the Golden Rule: he who has the gold makes the rules. Every center raises its own funds and for that reason calls its own shots. So they are as committed to the Karmapa as they want to be. There are ties of loyalty, but no real control and the Karmapa does not yet have the attention and respect of the general public the Dalai Lama has. If there are faults in how Kagyu Buddhism is being transmitted in the West, place the blame where it belongs, with each center and the lama who runs it. The Karmapa has little to do with it. What the Karmapa and the Kagyu hierarchy have done is to tell teachers to go run centers in the West, what happens after that is up to the teachers themselves. I don't know what would happen if the Karmapa tried to take tighter control over the centers, dictating what is taught and what practices are done, and rotating his personal choices as teachers into established centers. I don't think he is foolish enough to try.
Fri, 26 Jul 2013
Ryder Japhy has been generating a lot of comment with his criticism of the Karmapa and the management of the Karma Kagyu in America. I am more in disagreement with him than agreement, and since I'm finished arguing with Brad Warner, I thought I'd write something about it. In his latest post he argues that the Karmapa should put together a curriculum with input from Americans on Buddhism. This doesn't strike me as useful. Here's why.
If Americans are poorly educated in the dharma, it's not for lack of a curriculum, but because of how American Buddhist centers are organized. Your typical center meets once or twice a week for group practice. Members come when they want or are able. Classes are held, but it is difficult to hold a class together for more than a few weeks and most members will only attend some of them. For this reason, it's difficult to teach anything in depth. As new people are arriving and need to be taught from the start, it is difficult to teach advaced topics. These are issues Lance and I struggle with at Medicine Buddha. Compare this with the education of a traditional Kagyu monk, who is expected to study, memorize, and debate texts full time for nine years. Very few Westerners have attempted this sort of serious study. That's not to say there aren't knowledgable Westerners, but for the most part they are self-motivated, self-directed, and self-taught. To think this problem could be solved with a standard curriculum misses the entire point of the problem, a lack of time or commitment on the part of the majority of Western students.
Even though a curriculum might help some, it's hard to see how a curriculum standardized on a national level would be an improvement over letting each qualified Buddhist teacher in America devise their own curriculum. They certainly know their students and their needs better than the Karmapa in India or some board of translators. And if they have been traditionally educated, they are qualified to devise their own curriculum. It is difficult for me to understand what the benefit of standardization would be.
Finally, the sort of Westerner who seeks to study Buddhist philosophy in detail is often ruined by their education. On all the Buddhist forums you can find self-educated experts spouting on Buddhist philosophy. The only gain I can see in many cases is an increase in arrogance. While I think study is helpful and I don't go to the extreme of condemning all study, as some Zen practitioners do, I think the time devoted to intellectual study would be better spent learning to do the practices properly and then doing them. The West needs devoted practitioners more than it needs devoted scholars.
Wed, 24 Jul 2013
What's been keeping away from this weblog is a serious attack of coding fever. You just need to look at my gtihub projects to see how busy I've been. But I did finish Brad Warner's new book and was surprised to find myself mentioned in one of the later chapters. So this has to be my closest brush with fame, even more than when I was the Dalai Lama's plumber.
Even though I criticized Brad's point of view, I hope people don't think that means I dislike him, feel he is a fraud, or anything like that. I like the guy, feel sad when I hear about his money problems, and think he gives good practical advice on meditation. But he does fall down when it comes to theory, which make it seem I'm more critical of him than I actually am, because theory is the only thing I can talk about on this weblog. In the final analysis his book was neither as good as it could have been or as bad as I feared, mostly becaused he steered clear of theory. So although it was a pleasant read, it was a little unsatisfying, because I came away still not understanding what he believed about God.
But let's leave God aside and move onto the real idol of the Internet, science. In his latest blog post he says there are some things science will never be able to explain, a position I agree with and have argued in this weblog before. But I don't think he gives a clear enough explanation why, so here is my two cent's worth.
Let's start with a thought experiment. Suppose a woman is born deaf and devotes her life to learning everything about the science of hearing. She can explain how sound waves are converted into nerve impulses in the inner ear and everything about how the brain processes these impulses. Then one day a new operation becomes possible, she has it done, and gains the ability to hear. She then has the singular experience of knowing what it's like to hear, something all the science she had studied could have never told her. So here is one thing science cannot and never will be able to tell us, even if it is one day taken to the point of perfection: what it is like to experience the world through the senses.
Science gives us a third person view of the universe, but we always and only ever experience it in the first person. Science is like a chemist holding a test tube over a flame, reality is like sitting in the test tube getting cooked. This is more than a theoretical distinction, it's pretty important to practicing meditation properly. Beginners in meditation don't practice purely because instead of meditating they act as if they were meditating. That is, they are thinking about what is happening, comparing it to what they expected to happen, what they read would happen, and similar mental mastication. They are observing their minds, but not in any direct way, but through an intellectual filter. Letting go of that is difficult and one reason why long retreats are helpful. Because on a long retreat you can get so tired that you drop this mental game. Genuine meditation happens when you are actually able to be with your mind and exeprience instead of with your thoughts about them, when you are the experiencer and not a witness to the experience. And because this is the first person view, it's a place that science cannot reach.
Mon, 01 Jul 2013
This post was provoked by post at Tricycle on Scientific Buddhism. (The author is against it.) A discussion of the term "scientism" broke out in the comments and one person denied that anyone believed it and called it a straw man. Words mean different things to different people, but I've used the term "scientism" and think it's useful and would like to explain what it means to me.
First, let me define positivism. Positivism is the philosophical position that all knowledge is empirical, that is, based on observation. No genuine truth can be obtained solely by reasoning, the truths of logic and mathematics are only empty formalisms, without meaning. Scientism is a type of postivism, but with the difference that it argues that the main thesis of positivism is established by science. It argues that the success of science and the supposed failure of philosophy proves it. The argument goes that science has given us many wonderful things, shile philosophers have just argued in circles and never come to any conclusion. And this position is not a straw man, it is held by many people and I have heard it argued many times on the Internet.
Some of the conclusions that follow from scientism are pretty obnoxious. Since it is hard to see how science could show if something is moral or immoral, advocates of scientism argue that morality is purel subjective and there is no objective morality. But beyond that, the argument from science to scientism is weak. Just because science can and has solved some problems, it does not follow that science will solve all problems. To use an analogy, an oilman drills three wells, and the first two result in gushers. The third has not come in yet. There is no reason to believe it will. Similarly, science is not powerful enough to show that all questions have scientific answers, because historical argument is not that strong.
Mon, 24 Jun 2013
Some folks on the Internet have wondered how a high school dropout could get a job as a system administrator at Booz Allen pulling in $120 grand a year. Since I'm a programmer in the Washington-Baltimore area and know a bit about the job scene, let me explain. There are a lot of computer related jobs in the area, most involving work for the government, sometimes directlu, but more typically as a contractor. That's the position I find myself in, I work at the Space Telescope for a contractor and the taxpayer pays my salary. Most of the government jobs are defense related and require a security clearance. Getting a clearance always took time, but since September 11th, it takes much longer. Hiring somebody without a security clearance means that they will be sitting on their hands drwaing a salary for a year, as you can't get a clearance befor you've got the job. This means contractors hire people who already have security clearances. Most often they hire ex-military people, and that's how Edward Snowden got his intro to this work. Because there aren't enough ex-military with computer experience, they command a premium. You'd better believe that $120 gransd is above the usual pay for a system administrator in the area. Usually ex-military are conservative, the color between the lines type and fit in well with their civilian employment. But with the job market being so awful, some young people who never would have considered the military and don't share its values have joined. I'm geussing this must have been Edward Snowden's situtation. The job prospects for a high school dropout are otherwise pretty bleak. So someone like Edward was bound to happen I'm betting there are more like him, he was just a little more courageous than the rest.
Wed, 19 Jun 2013
Let me say a few more words about the purpose of Buddhist meditation and why it isn't about seeing God. As I said yesterday, the purpose of meditation is to clear away the misconceptions about our minds. As the misconceptions are deeply held, it's not enough to think about your mind, you must actually look at it. And that is what meditation does. Even with meditation, the process is difficult. The reason why is that we disown our thoughts by projecting. For example, you might say ice cream is delicious. Ice cream is not delicios. Instead, we desire ice cream. Because we desire it, we call it delicious. Perhaps you remember your first sip of coffee or beer. You probably didn't like it. Yet now you desire it, good coffee is delicious. Or you might eat some candy you used to crave as a kid. What seemed so delicious then is sickeningly sweet now. The coffee didn't change and neither did the candy. What changed was your mind. This is just one small example. All day long we project our likes and dislikes out on the world. And then we react with greed, anger, or boredom to the world, but actually to our own thoughts. We also project our thoughts inward. We need to remind ourselves, "This is not me. This is how I think about myself. This is not how the world is. This is how I think about the world." Unwinding all this is a slow process.
The misconception Buddhism is most interested im is the idea that we have a self, or ego. In the Buddhist analysis there are two levels of this misconception, coarse and subtle. The coarse level is that the sself can either be identified with the mind or body or is separate from them and owns them. The subtle level is that the mind and body have no true existence: this is the message of the Heart Sutra. Since the misconception is a mischaracterization of the mind, the solution is straight forwad. Simply look at the mind and see what it is like. This is all meditation is and understanding this makes clear why meditation leads to enlightenment, since enlightenment is nothing more than clearing away our misconceptions.
So it should be clear why in Buddhism meditation has nothing to do with seeing God and seeing God is entirely beside the point. As Lin Chi's (Rinzai's) famous saying goes, "If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him." It should be clear what that means and how that equally applies to God and how Lin Chi meant no disrespect to either. It's just that seeing God or Buddha is entirely beside the point.
Sat, 15 Jun 2013
I've been reading Brad Warner's new book "There Is No God." Paradoxically he argues that Zen enlightenment is an encounter with God, though not in the traditional sense of the word God. (The clue is in the book's subtitle, "And He Is Always with You.") As often happens, I disagree with Brad on this and it provoked me enough to blog about it. I'm not clear on Brad's argument. It seems to be be based on his experience of enlightenment, as recounted in this book. He had a feeling of being unbounded in space or time. The argument seems to be that since he experienced some of the qualities traditionally attributed to God, he must have experienced God. This is a poor argument, in fact rather silly, so I may have misunderstood him. He makes a number of mistakes in the book. But he writes as a popularizer (he calls himself an entertainer) and not a scholar, a wise choice if he he trying to support himself from his writing. But going through the book and pointing them out would be small minded of me. It's easy to criticize the work of others, hard to do something of value yourself. So rather than complain, I think it would be better to offer my own opinion on God and enlightenment. This is a big topic, will take some time, my resolve is weak, so I am not sure how far I will get.
First, what is enlightenment? The word usually means to come to some understanding of the nature of things based on experience and not argument. There are degrees of understanding, enlightenment is not a once and for all thing. What needs to be said most is that the understanding is negative, one clears away a misunderstanding, and the ensuing clarity is called understanding. Even Brad's experience fits into this pattern. A feeling of boundlessness is recognizing that one formerly took as a boundary (one's own skin,) in fact, is not one. We experience our own bodies with the same senses we use to experience the external world, so the discontinuity we usually place between them is not there and only exists in our thoughts. Actually seeing this rather than just understanding it is the experience of boundlessness. So there is no reason to drag God, or any other positive hypothesis, into Zen or enlightenment.
I may write more about this, not just the first, but also the second, third, and fourth. But I am too tired now to say more.
Sat, 08 Jun 2013
KTD Publications recently published a new bok, Siddhas of Ga. It's a collection of stories about realized practitioners in the region of Ga, where Thrangu Monastery is located. Though Thrangu Monastery is Kagyu, all the lineages of Tibetan Buddhism are represented, both monastic and lay. How the book was written takes a little explaining. Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche told these stories of great practitioners, based on his experiences and the experiences of those he knew, while teaching the three year retreat. His nephew, Karma Drodhul, who was attending the retreat, wrote them down. Karma Drodhul later asked Khenpo Karthar for further information and wrote the original version of the text. It was translated by Yeshe Gyamtso and then published.
It's a slim book and the back half is the original Tibetan text. There are thirty different stories and about ninety pages of English text. Most of the siddhas described are not well known. The exceptions are a story about Ju Mipham and the previous Thrangu Rinpoche and the biography of Khenpo Gangshar, who is known through Chogyam Trungpa's autobiography. There aren't many books like this, theu aren't really spiritual biographies or namthars, and they aren't simply collections of miracles and wonders. They are stories of remarkable people who realized the remarkable through their practice. I can't say it's bad or good. It is what it is, and if it sounds like something you'd like to read, you will probably enjoy it. And if not, you probably won't.
Thu, 06 Jun 2013
There are more ways to practice the dharma incorrectly than incorrectly. So Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche's commentary continues on the topic of errors and deviations in mahamudra practice. I don't think many of us need to worry about being trapped in the formless absorptions, but I included the discussion because it helps to have an explanation of what these states are. This will be my last excerpt from Khenpo Rinpoche's teaching. I hope you have found them useful.
There are two specific lists of problems that are outlined in the mahamudra tradition. These are the three deviations and eight places of loss. This are explained extensively in the writings of our lineage. The author merely lists them. The three deviations are when in the context of tranquility you fixate on the experience. If you fixate on any experience, which need not be the belief it is supreme awakening, you will be turned off the path. If you fixate on bliss you will be reborn as deva of the desire realm, if you fixate on clarity you will be born as a deva in the realm of pure form and if you fixate on nonthought you will be reborn in the formless realms. At some point the merit of this experience will wear off and you will have used up almost all of your good karma and you will be reborn in a lower realm. To say the least, you are not headed for Buddhahood. There are nine types of absorption and from the point of view of mahamudra they are problematic. The first four lead to rebirth in the form realms. In the first state coarse thoughts do not occur, but there is an undercurrent of concepts. This is the first absorption and causes rebirth in the first three heavens. If your meditation is refined so there is no thought, but there is the experience of physical joy, this is the second absorption, and you will be reborn in heavens four to six. If the mind does not move at all, but there is an awareness of the breath, that is the third absorption and reborn in heavens seven to nine. If you remain free of thoughts with a mere cognitive lucidity, this is the fourth absorption and you will be reborn in heavens ten to twelve. These are the best mundane meditative states. However their only value is to serve as a basis of insight. If they are cultivated with attachment, they are a cause of deviation. The next four absorptions correspond to the four formless realms. If you consider things as infinite, like space, you will be reborn in the corresponding realm. Then if you have the subtle belief that this consciousness is boundless you will be reborn in its realm. If you believe the experience is beyond elaboration, you will be reborn in the state of being beyond something or nothing. If you meditate with the feeling that this state is utterly nothing, that is the rebirth into state of nothingness. There is a ninth state where are thoughts are stopped, which is called a shravaka's state of peace. Because it is without insight, it is not the ultimate.
The second set of particular mistakes are called the eight places of loss. The previous deviations are a kind of fixation on meditative tranquility. There are four pairs, the errors with respect to nature, path, remedies, and sealing. There are two types: temporary and fundamental. The first is the fundamental error with respect to the nature. While the mind's nature is emptiness, this in no way precludes causality. If you don't realize this you may adopt emptiness as a concept. Because it is a negation, you will perceive the nature as nothingness. The second one, the temporary error, is when you have begun to practice and understand it, but don't have experience, or have only had sporadic experience. This is called the transitory error. The fundamental error with respect to the path is to see the result as different from the path. The result is simply seeing the ground as it is. The result is not created by the path. The temporary error with respect to the path is to think it's not enough to sustain the ordinary mind and there must be something more to it. The fifth is the fundamental error with respect to remedies. This is not looking directly at the klesha when it arises but applying a technique to remove the klesha. The temporary error is when a thought arises and you don't look at it, but try to eliminate it. Then there are the two errors with respect to sealing. This is trying to patch meditation with a concept. This is forgetting that mind from the beginning has been empty and you feel the need to reinforce the concept of emptiness. You think my mind is empty and replace the direct experience with a conceptual idea. The temporary error is when your meditation becomes too conceptual. You think you are catching mistakes, but you are only thinking abut the mistakes. Any time you are without recognition of your nature and have concepts about it, this is a loss. All of these are different types of trying to create a special state. There are innumerable such types of error. Any time meditation becomes the pursuit of some state, it is a waste of effort.
There are other possible errors. Some people, by clinging to a mental state that is only a kind of stupor, create the cause of rebirth as an animal. Sometimes people mistake a non-conceptual state mixed with torpor as tranquility. Sometimes people mistake reasoning for insight. Sometimes they mistake rigid control of the mind as mindfulness. Some people mistake our usual state of mind as ordinary cognition. Some people mistake ordinary bliss for the supreme bliss of awakening. Some people mistake a vivid awareness of appearances for the natural state. So there is an almost limitless variety of mistakes. So what causes these mistakes? They are all caused by a few problems. The first is when you do not have sufficient accumulation of merit and purification of defilements. Because you still have coarse obscurations, these problems are more likely to arise. Even after the preparation, if you do not moisten your being with the guru's blessings, you are likely to become rigid. So you should cultivate devotion. The third source of errors is failing to resolve doubts through direct experience and resolving them through conceptual thinking instead. The problem is that when you don't resolve doubts directly, all you have left is the dharma of the mouth. As you become more addicted to intellectual understanding, you become more savage and jaded. This is the principal reason people become so disaffected with this path. Because you learn everything, you become more and more opinionated. You end up as a person who is both a worldly and spiritual failure. Such people are very common. They are disgraces to the lineage of accomplishment. If someone adheres to a conceptual view of emptiness and does not believe in karma, they are nihilists. This is a principal cause of rebirth in the lowest hell. They ruin themselves and others. So you should be careful not to become like this.
Wed, 05 Jun 2013
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche explained the mistakes one can fall into during mahamudra meditation. It's worth noting as a way to reinforce his explanation of mahamudra shamatha practice.
Next comes a presentation of things that can go wrong and what to do about them. This needs to be presented because individuals may not practice the instructions correctly. So there are two categories of how things may go wrong. The first is general mistakes in practice. All great traditions of practice instructions agree that what you are trying to do is to allow you mind to rest freely without alteration, or alternatively expressed, to rest in a state of self-recognition. However, we understand this in different ways. Therefore, some practitioners have problems and these misunderstandings are probably even more prevalent today than when the text was written. The first error is to think meditation is a state of nonconceptuality, where the mind remains without thinking. So they try to shut down the senses and remove thoughts. This is the deviation into sunken tranquility, described earlier. Even more mistaken is the view that meditation is a state where the mind is so absorbed that it is almost in a state of stupor. This is what Shakya Pandita warned about.
Others generate a sense of intense lucidity, or well being, or nonconcept and mistake these states for meditation. These states are valuable as sign posts, but of themselves have no value and should not be fixated on. Another mistake is to take the gap between thoughts as meditation. If you do this, you have carved your mind up and your meditation will be sporadic. Others think meditation is the contemplation of an idea. They attempt to reinforce some idea, such as "my mind is empty." The meditation becomes the attempt to reinforce belief. This is thinking and not meditation. Some misunderstand the instruction not to alter their mind to mean whatever arises is meditation and allow their mind to wander freely. This is called deviation into insanity, because it is not meditation at all. Most other people make the following mistake. They see the occurrence of thought as a problem and are disappointed when one arises. They try to co-opt it or try to turn it into what they think meditation should be. This is being bound by the need to control.
So what is right? Whether the mind is still or moving and whatever thoughts are present in it and whether you experience bliss and non-concept, rest within it without trying to create or reject or transform it. By not doing anything to it you will sustain the natural process of connate wisdom. But it is extremely rare for someone to do this and we need to be reminded that this point is important. The types of error spoken of here sound trivial and one might think they don't matter. But they matter more than any mistakes you could make in your mundane life. Because if you fixate on a mental state and leave the path, this is a tremendous loss. This means your entire opportunity to practice has been wasted and diverted into something that is meaningless. The entire purpose of practicing mahamudra is awakening and you want to avoid any sidetracks.
Mon, 03 Jun 2013
Here is Khenpo Karthar's teaching on the practice of insight meditation in mahamudra. Of course, this sort of practice is beyond most of us, including me, but I certainly find it inspiring.
The actual practice of mahamudra is insight. Just as tranquility was used in a particular way before, it is used in a specific sense in mahamudra. It refers to the direct experience of the mind's qualities and nature. Until there is a decisive resolution of what the mind is, all the meditation that you do has nothing to do the view that was pointed out. So you scrutinize the mind. The mind searches for characteristics within itself to see if it has them. You look to see where the mind came from where it is and where it goes you look for mind's beginning, middle, and end, whether it exists or not, is permanent or not, or whether it is beyond all of this. This must be investigated and seen and not accepted on the basis of authority or intellectual analysis. Understanding is not the same as seeing and until you see it you haven't reached the view. As long as you haven't reached the view, you won't know how to maintain the spontaneous maintenance of meditation. Until then meditation is still just tranquility and is just a kind of stupor. You have not yet gone beyond samsara.
So how do you resolve through scrutinize what the mind is? To move from tranquility to insight you must do two things. You must have dialog with an authentic guru. You must repeatedly report to a teacher and get authentic guidance. And you must pray to the guru and the lineage for their blessings to enter your heart. So what is the authentic insight? You experience for yourself what described as the ground and explained as the view. You experience the mind as self-cognizant and that it has had that ability from the beginning. This quality is known as the dharmakaya. Your mind sees its own wisdom, and because of this it involves no ideas or concepts. Your mind simply sees itself. In this self-recognition the mind's qualities are indivisible.
When this insight is achieved, it is experience and knowledge. But it is not conceptual, so you cannot explain it. This nature is self-arisen and self-illuminating. It is glaringly obvious. This is what is meant by insight. But this does not mean that what is recog- nized is anything new. The recognizing awareness was always there, but was never used. There was never a moment when this self-cognizing awareness was not there. But until blessings entered your heart, it was not recognized. What is resting in even placement and what is still or moving is this same self-cognizing awareness. An ordinary person who has never meditated, their thinking, no matter how deluded, was this self-cognizing awareness. When the mind experiences lucidity and insight, this is the same awareness. Until the self recognition occurs without any division between recognized and recognizer, there will be no awakening. When it occurs, whether your mind is still or moving, everything will arise as mahamudra. Whatever you experience with your senses or mind is not duality or bewilderment. It is only when you mind fixates on it and regards them as other, that it is duality. When the mind is pacified and seen nakedly and no concepts arise, that is insight.
But finally tranquility and insight are inseparable and aspects of the same thing. When everything that appears to you is experienced without fixation, both tranquility and insight are present. It doesn't matter if thinking is present. It is equally natural for you mind to be thinking or not. In either case, if the mind recognizes itself, that is insight. If you don't fixate on the objective reality of what you experience, that is tranquility. So ultimately tranquility is not the absence of thought, but of fixation. When your mind is aware of its nature, that is insight. When it does not add to that awareness, that is tranquility. When thoughts arise and are seen as no different than the mind that is tranquility. When the mind liberates itself by seeing itself, that is insight. So tranquility and insight are a unity. Even when a strong klesha arises, if you do not follow it, that is tranquility. When you see the klesha and the mind as a unity, that is insight. So even within kleshas you can experience the unity of tranquility and insight. Whether your mind is still nor active, in a good or bad state, the mind itself is neither of these. These are merely activities of mind, which is capable of an endless display of activity. Though tranquility and insight are indivisible, they must be taught separately for beginners to understand them.
But you might ask, you said tranquility does not qualify as authentic mahamudra. Why did you say this? If the mind is not recognized, that is not mahamudra. Even if the mind is undistracted, this is only a state of stillness. This is what most regard as meditation. That state is nothing special and is not the fourth empowerment of abhisheka. If you crave this state and fixate on it, that is definitely not mahamudra. Mahamudra is the ground of everything and regards everything without preference. There can be no preference for stillness over movement in mahamudra. Until there is not, there is no freedom from alteration and you do not see all experience as the display of dharmakaya.
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