This handbook to spirituality gathers together Danish meditation teacher Jes Bertelsen's advice on training the mind through wordless prayer and meditation to realize the essence of consciousness. Bertelsen has been teaching philosophy and meditation since the early 1970s; in 1989, he met the Tibetan lama Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, who authorized Jes Bertelsen to teach Dzogchen, and to do so using his own judgment as to the most appropriate way to assimilate these teachings into Western culture. Bertelsen's teachings...
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Essence of Mind: An Approach to Dzogchen

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This handbook to spirituality gathers together Danish meditation teacher Jes Bertelsen's advice on training the mind through wordless prayer and meditation to realize the essence of consciousness. Bertelsen has been teaching philosophy and meditation since the early 1970s; in 1989, he met the Tibetan lama Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, who authorized Jes Bertelsen to teach Dzogchen, and to do so using his own judgment as to the most appropriate way to assimilate these teachings into Western culture. Bertelsen's teachings are based on an experiential investigation of the nature of consciousness, using comparative analysis of Eastern and Western spiritual teachings and consciousness practices on a foundation of modern psychological, philosophical, and scientific approaches.

Essence of Mind outlines the author's experience and approach to Dzogchen, the natural primordial state of human consciousness that is timeless, pure, and untouched by suffering. The book is divided into three parts. The first part describes different methods for pointing out the essence of consciousness and the techniques related to them. The second part seeks to outline the key principles of a training system suited to Western students that can lead to realization. The final section outlines the significance of continuous exercises, and describes the way spiritual practice slowly permeates daily life, dreams, sleep, and eventually death. Through the mind-training process, the practitioner approaches an almost ecstatic state of completion, a luminous, blissful wakefulness in which the consciousness is also fully relaxed, not clinging to bliss or desiring ecstasy, but transparent and open.

Bertelsen emphasizes that while more advanced forms of spiritual training can only take place in a face-to-face, deeply engaged mutual process between teacher and student, books are useful as sources of inspiration, in particular to help review one's insights and refresh one's practice. Essence of Mind systematizes the experiences that occur along the spiritual path and helps students to refine, correct, and clarify their efforts; it is the author's hope that many students in the West will be able to benefit from his comparative approach to Dzogchen.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Jes Bertelsen belongs to the very, very small group of people who are true lineage-holders of Dzogchen, held by many to be the pinnacle of the Tibetan tradition of meditation. He was authorized to teach in his own way by his teacher, Tulku Urgyen, one of the most revered spiritual masters of the twentieth century. This way, as it is brilliantly presented in this book, is clear, warm, and completely modern. Bertelsen unites a breathtaking command of Western psychology and philosophy with deep meditative realization. Here is, at long last, a lineage-holder of Dzogchen, a certified great teacher and scholar, who in a down-to-earth fashion can explain, step by step, what it means to transcend the mind—and how it is done.”
—Peter Hoeg, author of The Elephant Keeper's Children and Smilla's Sense of Snow

"Jes Bertelsen guides us to a fresh perspective on perspective itself, with this engaging exploration of a perennial truth: that our ordinary consciousness gives us a limited view of reality. He points out the possibility of an unconfined capacity in awareness, and how we might take this step beyond into a fully open, naked awareness.  Essence of Mind offers a practical map for those drawn to explore  the far reaches of our human potential."
—Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

“Jes Bertelsen’s words set the reader’s mind streaming in the direction of transdual completeness. Simple and spellbinding, this is that rarest of books—a genuinely profound page-turner you don’t want to put down. Its simple brilliance draws attention, not to itself, but to the reader’s own essential mind.”
—Anne C. Klein (Rigzin Drolma), professor of religious studies at Rice University and founding director of Dawn Mountain

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583946329
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books
  • Publication date: 6/4/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 738,611
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

JES BERTELSEN (b. 1946) is a Danish spiritual teacher and author. He is the leader of the Vækstcenter (Growth Center) in Nørre Snede in Denmark. He has a PhD in the History of Ideas from Aarhus University, Denmark, where he also taught for more than a decade. He has written 20 books in Danish ranging from a thesis on Kierkegaard, through books on self-development and depth psychology, to the advanced meditation texts of later years. His teaching and his later books are based on a systematic experiential investigation of the nature of consciousness, using comparative analyses of Eastern and Western consciousness practices, as well as modern psychological, philosophical, and scientific approaches.

His latest offerings are (2008) Bevidsthedens flydende lys: Betragtninger over begrebet apperception hos Immanuel Kant og Longchenpa (The Flowing Light of Consciousness: Reflections on the Concept of Apperception in Immanuel Kant and Longchenpa) and (2009) a research article published in the science magazine NeuroReport, "Long-term meditation is associated with increased gray matter density in the brain stem" (coauthored with Peter Vestergaard-Poulsen, Martijn van Beek, Joshua Skewes, Carsten R. Bjarkam, Michael Stubberup, and Andreas Roepstorf).

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2013

    This review gives the book under review, ¿Essence of Mind: An Ap

    This review gives the book under review, “Essence of Mind: An Approach to Dzogchen” by Danish author Jesus Bertelsen, 2 ½ stars, so as not to bias the reader either favorably or unfavorably toward the author’s material.

    Word Cloud (the number by each word denotes the number of times the word appears in the text of “Essence of Mind: An Approach to Dzogchen”):
    Consciousness 100+; Awareness 79; Divine 62; Unity 43; Bertelsen 40; Enlightened 37; Dzogchen 36; Compassion 35; God 34; Love 30; Unity Consciousness 26; Christ 20; Tulku Urgyen 14; Kierkegaard 14; Jung 13; Christian 11; Stillness 11; Karma 11; Longchenpa 6; Buddha 5; Emptiness 5; Buddhist 2; Guru 1; Dharma 1; Mahayana 1; Vajrayana 0; Refuge 0; Bodhicitta 0; Empty 0

    The following are excerpts from “Essence of Mind: An Approach to Dzogchen”. The quotations are not in the order they appear in the book, but are sequenced as they are here for thematic purposes:

    “In many places in the West there are attempts to reformulate or reactivate Dzogchen in ways that are better suited to a Western cultural context. Because if you transfer many of the ngöndro forms, the preliminary exercises, they will clash with many notions in the West; where this is contrary to reality in the West; where people might think: “Why should I do that and what does it mean?”
    To present this in a major language …might be important, as it could inspire others working with other teachers but with fundamentally the same project: How might one, in an authentic way, transfer and reformulate Dzogchen for the West, and how might one develop a preliminary training, a ngöndro, maintaining some of the [original] elements and at the same time tentatively making use of some Western techniques— e.g. depth psychology, philosophy, and such. That is our cultural background; and for a Westerner Dzogchen must be placed within that context …
    It seems odd that one would have to pretend that all this doesn’t exist, that one should relate solely to yidam visualizations. This is a question that has to be asked of classical Buddhism. Today there exists a very detailed understanding of the Western, typically insecure, psyche, which is very different from a Tibetan psyche. The latter is embedded in a clan society, which fosters a different sense of self. His Holiness the Dalai Lama did not understand why Westerners who functioned splendidly in their environment— Westerners placed at the top in hierarchies, such as professors, practitioners, and so forth— how these could be so fundamentally insecure about themselves. And a ngöndro that was developed for a clan person in the middle ages, a person having a security and identity that builds on a hierarchical clan context— how can a ngöndro like this be transferred to very insecure, materialistic super-egos such as we are? You cannot just uncritically adopt such things.
    And this is why I believe that some of our experiences may be helpful for people in a similar context— perhaps they might adapt some of our ideas: “Those people have done it this way, and this authentic Lama [Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche] has confirmed that this can be used; so maybe we can try and see if it works.” It might serve as an example of how to do it. It might help others with inspiration and give them ideas of how to develop their own approach.
    We have tried all this out— ngöndro, preliminary exercises, and whatnot— on the basis of fundamental contemporary Western notions: a commitment to democracy, to gender equality, to scientific rigor— you have to relate to the scientific dimension of this matter.
    And being a Westerner, you must relate to our Christian cultural background— and this is said frequently by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as well as by many others. We cannot act as if we had grown up in a Buddhist society. If we do that we cut off our Christian roots— the entire archetypal level. Jung put it this way, “anima naturaliter christiana”, which means: the Western atheistic soul is at the deeper, archetypal level Christian. This also is an insight that we cannot just throw overboard. We must relate to it. And this project is a way of showing how we got it to work in a certain way. Use it and do it your own way, and see if you can use some of these elements.”
    (Kindle Locations 1664-1698; p.131-134)

    “His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said that it is the continuity, for instance in Dzogchen, in the lineage, that is the stream of gold. Every teacher and each period produces tangible forms that are shaped by the particular time and its forms of expression; but all of these derive from the gold that flows through them. That is a very beautiful image. Its meaning is easily understood when we look at how Longchenpa had to shape it, or Jigme Lingpa; those are the great masters— but equally all the minor ones, among whom I count myself, had to do this in their own less elegant and less profound ways. Still, the same general law applies to the great ones, in whose works this can be seen clearly, as well as to the minor ones.”
    (Kindle Locations 1599-1603; p.125-126)

    “Ordinary consciousness lives and unfolds in the first four levels of consciousness: the physical-corporal, the life energy of the body, the astral-emotional, and the mental levels. These four levels and strategies of perception conceal and veil the three inner levels: the spiritual, joint, and unity consciousness (fifth, sixth, and seventh levels or spheres).”
    (Kindle Locations 1284-1286; p. 99)

    “If a person is awake at the level of joint consciousness, the sixth level, the continuity of consciousness will extend through life, the death process, the bardo state, and up to conception and incarnation into life in the womb. Life and death surge within an unbroken continuum of consciousness. At the seventh level there is neither life nor death. Jesus said, “It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the all. From me did the all come forth, and unto me did the all extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there” (Thomas, 77).”
    (Kindle Locations 1309-1314; p.101)

    “At the level of joint consciousness, the subject pole becomes actively engaged. It is one thing to see the beloved, and another to be unified with the beloved in a total merging of love. Figuratively, this is exactly the difference between the spiritual level and the level of joint consciousness. This union with the divine (the theosis of Hesychasm) is consistently described by the great mystics of the world religions. “I and my father are one.” Not “I live,” but “Christ lives in me.” “I am Brahman” (Aham Brahmasmi). “I am Allah” (Mansoor: al haqq). “This consciousness is Buddha.” At this point, the practice consists of identification, of surrender in love.
    The ultimate level— naked enlightened consciousness— lies beyond these final veils and polarities. Unity consciousness is a transcendence of the very dialectic between the human and the divine, a ceasing of the difference between subject and object.
    God has many masks to protect our eyes, so that we dare to look. For as long as our consciousness and our eyes are veiled, we will see veils.
    The naked awareness is veiled and hidden behind six veils: the level of joint consciousness, the spiritual, the mental, the emotional, basic life energy, and finally physical matter. The unveiled naked awareness is beyond all dualities, including birth and death. It is like the moon: it is born all shiny and new, grows and expands and becomes whole and round and full. Then it grows old, shrinks, and dies. That is how it looks. But the moon is there all the time, full and rou

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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