“The great master Shigpo Dudtsi began his formal teaching by saying that the practice of Dzogchen is rooted in bodhichitta and refuge. Garab Dorje, the most famous of all Dzogchen masters, said that the foundation of Dzogchen practice is bodhichitta and reflecting on impermanence. And it is not only Shigpo Dudtsi and Garab Dorje who said this—all the Dzogchen masters stress the importance of bodhichitta. In fact, Dzogchen is nothing but practicing on bodhichitta. As we mentioned before, bodhichitta means “courageous for enlightenment.” From the Dzogchen perspective, this means we are striving with great courage and commitment to realize the true nature of our minds, and to help all beings do this as well. For this reason, when Buddha Samantabhadra, Buddha Vajradhara, and Buddha Shakyamuni first gave Dzogchen teachings, they did not call these teachings “Dzogchen,” they called them “bodhichitta.”
Going for refuge usually comes before generating bodhichitta, yet Shigpo Dudtsi reverses this order in his teaching. In many of Tsasum Lingpa’s termas, bodhichitta also comes before refuge. Since every terma comes from Guru Padmasambhava, this means it is Guru Padmasambhava’s teaching too. When bodhichitta comes first, it highlights the intensity of our loving-kindness, compassion, and concern for other beings. Then, to activate this beautiful intention, we take refuge in the enlightened beings because we need their inspiration and blessings. But when refuge comes first, followed by bodhichitta, the meaning is not substantially different.
How do we take refuge? We will describe how to take refuge in a general way since the details vary depending on the specific practice we’re doing. First, visualize the objects of refuge in the sky right in front of you. The objects of refuge—the buddhas, bodhisattvas, and lineage masters—are living embodiments of love, compassion, and wisdom. When you take refuge in these enlightened beings with devotion and confidence you’re establishing a deep and everlasting connection to them, and also to their qualities. Since this is something so beautiful and profound, visualize that all sentient beings are taking refuge with you. Maintain this visualization and begin chanting. The words you chant are living reminders of what you’re striving to achieve. Keep both the visualization and the meaning of the words clear in your mind—this is a very high form of meditation. Do this for as long as you have time. Next, visualize lights emanating from the bodies of the objects of refuge, which instantly touch all sentient beings. This purifies all the obscurations and obstacles of all sentient beings. Finally, the objects of refuge dissolve into light, and that light dissolves into everyone. This establishes all sentient beings in the state of enlightenment.
At that moment look directly at your mind. What do you see? When you look directly at your mind there is nothing to see—everything is totally open. This is the true nature. Stay right there and relax. When you’re relaxing in that state, thoughts will come. Let them come, but do not highlight them. In other words, do not grasp. Let the thoughts go. Maintain the true nature calmly, peacefully. Your mind should be like the sky. This is the Dzogchen state.
Thoughts will arise again. Use the same technique: let them come, be, and go. Do not be upset by a negative thought, or elated over a positive one. Do not ponder or search. Do not look back into the past or forward into the future. Be open and relaxed; hold nothing. To be open and relaxed, to hold nothing, is itself the original nature of your mind. This is dharmakaya.
Dharmakaya is low-key, behind the scenes. In a way, it is ordinary and plain. Dualistic mind is loud and busy. When dualistic mind commands our attention, we chase our thoughts and wander through the six realms of samsara. We seek satisfaction outside ourselves and never find it. The state of complete satisfaction is dharmakaya, and it is always within us, always available, no matter what we have done in the past. It takes less than a moment to see it, yet we usually do not even look. For this reason, in the Dzogchen teaching called Self-Liberation by Seeing with Naked Awareness, Guru Padmasambhava commented how amazing it is that natural and profound dharmakaya mind which is always present in everyone, goes unrecognized.
Once more, look directly at your mind. What do you see? You see nothing in particular. Remain in that state, and relax. Whenever there is effort and striving, there is duality and ego. The true nature is free from all of that. One time the great master Mipham Rinpoche visited his root teacher, the First Khyentse. Mipham Rinpoche told the First Khyentse that he was on a strict retreat, keeping a tight practice schedule and meditating with great vigilance. The First Khyentse replied, “That is wonderful, but I am not doing any of those things. I’m just relaxing, being casual. Although I have not seen the color of my mind, and do not know if it is red or white, I have discovered its nature. Now I simply rest, and do not have any hope or fear about anything.” Mipham Rinpoche realized immediately that the First Khyentse had given him a profound pith instruction. He resolved to stop being so forceful and regimented in his meditation, and practiced as instructed by his great teacher. Being that Mipham Rinpoche was so gifted, achievement came quite quickly.
To put this into practice, begin with bodhichitta and then go for refuge. Feel a close connection to Guru Padmasambhava, the Three Jewels, and the lineage masters, and receive their blessings. Next, meditate on the profound Dzogchen state by relaxing in the original nature. Afterwards conclude with a good heart by dedicating the merit, wishing good things for all sentient beings. To actualize this practice, Shigpo Dudtsi recommends a three-day, five-day, or one week retreat. He says to divide each day into several short periods in a manner that is comfortable, and to practice consistently, but without being forceful.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind: Dzogchen Lineage of the Great Master Shigpo Dudtsi (pgs 27-29)
Copyright © Padmasambhava Buddhist Center at Padma Samye Ling. All rights reserved.