The great master Shigpo teaches that bodhichitta is the foundation of Dzogchen practice. This is not only Shigpo Dudtsi’s teaching—all the Dzogchen masters teach this same thing. Therefore, when you begin any practice session, visualize the objects of refuge in the sky in front of you, and generate love and compassion for all sentient beings. Then take refuge. Bodhichitta and refuge can be a complete practice. If you’re practicing this way, after taking refuge, receive the blessings. Visualize that the objects of refuge dissolve into light, which then dissolves into you. Now meditate on the Dzogchen state. Relax your mind without blocking, grasping, or analyzing thoughts. Be open and awake; let everything come and go without your interfering in any way. Then dedicate the merit.
After his teachings on bodhichitta and refuge, Shigpo Dudtsi gives instructions on Vajrasattva, the mandala offering, and Guru Yoga. Vajrasattva purifies all the obscurations of body, speech, and mind so that you behold the radiant perfection of the universe. By offering the mandala you cultivate boundless, selfless generosity and in so doing accumulate tremendous positive energy, also known as “merit.” Guru Yoga is the profound method of merging with the guru, who is the perfect embodiment of the Three Jewels, the Three Roots, and the three kayas. Each one of these practices begins with bodhichitta and refuge, and each practice is completed by receiving the blessings, dissolving the visualization into light and then into yourself, meditating on the Dzogchen state, and dedicating the merit.
Shigpo Dudtsi studied and practiced all these teachings with great devotion and perseverance; that is how he attained enlightenment. The text we’re studying is the fruit of his experience and realization; it is his legacy to us. It is a complete Dzogchen teaching, which means it is the complete teaching of the Buddha.
The Buddha’s teaching begins with the Hinayana, or Basic Buddhism, which is the foundation. Throughout the Hinayana, andparticularly in the Sutras, the Buddha gave extensive teachings on Shamatha and Vipashyana. Shamatha means focusing the mind on a single object, without wavering, in order to attain a stable, peaceful mind. In the context of the Hinayana, Vipashyana means realizing the emptiness of the ego, or “I.” What is this ego? When we try to answer this question, we find no answers. We find no answers because there is no substantially-existing ego to find. When we become convinced, when we know for sure that there is no ego, we have achieved the result of Hinayana Vipashyana practice. Until the Buddha, no one had paused to consider whether or not the ego actually existed—everyone simply assumed that it did. The Buddha had the courage to explore the matter, and not to stop until he found the truth. The truth he discovered is known as the “emptiness of ego.”
The Buddha fearlessly continued his exploration and he also realized the “emptiness of phenomena.” Not only is the ego empty, but all the objects in the phenomenal world are empty as well. No one and no thing substantially exists; everything is a great magical display. This too was an unprecedented discovery in human history. The Buddha added the truth of the “emptiness of phenomena” to the truth of the “emptiness of ego.” Together these two discoveries are known as Mahayana Vipashyana.
Then in the Outer Tantra teachings of the Vajrayana, the Buddha added the following: “Not only are all phenomena and the ego empty, but everyone is a deity, a buddha.” This means that the true nature of every phenomenon, the true nature of the entire universe is enlightened. In order to experience this, we must purify our vision. The word ‘purify’ implies that there is a core of purity, but something is obscuring it. The Buddha said that the obscurations are no other than temporary habitual patterns of thought, speech, and action. In the Outer Tantras he taught us what is pure and how to cultivate it, as well as what is impure and how to avoid it. We must maintain courage and commitment, and keep a practice schedule to break away from habitual patterns and restore our natural qualities. Through wholesome physical activity, good speech, and disciplined meditation, our obscurations are removed, and our “having received the blessings.” The practices that lead us to this state are also classified as Shamatha and Vipashyana. When we focus on maintaining our purity understanding without being disturbed by thoughts, it is Shamatha. Rediscovering the enlightened nature of all phenomena is Vipashyana.
The Buddha’s complete teaching is contained in the Inner Tantras of the Vajrayana. The Inner Tantras are based on and contain the entire Hinayana, Mahayana, and Outer Tantra teachings, and at the same time go beyond them. In his Inner Tantra teachings, the Buddha said the nature of the ego and of all phenomena is empty—this remains the same. In addition the Buddha highlighted the blissful nature of emptiness. The entire universe is the mandala of bliss-emptiness, and every sentient being is also the mandala of bliss-emptiness. Bliss- emptiness is the true and ever-present nature of reality, but we don’t experience it because we cling to and are obscured by our duality conceptions. The Buddha gave many different teachings to free us from duality; these can be summarized as the Visualization Stage and Completion Stage practices. The Visualization Stage practices, which involve concentrating on and actualizing enlightened body, speech, and mind, are Shamatha. The Completion Stage practices are Vipashyana.
Although the Visualization and Completion Stages have different names, they’re not separate or distinct from one another. Through Visualization Stage practice we realize bliss, and through Completion Stage practice we realize emptiness. Bliss is emptiness, emptiness is bliss, and realizing their unity as the true nature of everything is enlightenment. It takes a very long time to accomplish this realization through the Hinayana and Mahayana teachings. Yet the Vajrayana teachings of the Buddha, particularly the Inner Tantras, connect us to this enlightened state directly and powerfully, and in very little time we can accomplish this realization. That’s why it’s called Vajrayana, which means “Diamond Path.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind (pgs 49-51)
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