Light Comes Through: Buddhist Teachings on Awakening to Our Natural Intelligence

Light Comes Through: Buddhist Teachings on Awakening to Our Natural Intelligence

by Dzigar Kongtrul
     
 

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Buddhahood, says Dzigar Kongtrül, is nothing but
an unobstructed experience of the nature of mind, boundlessly spacious and
limitlessly compassionate. The trick is that in order to see the mind
accurately, we must use the particular aspect of mind he calls natural
intelligence. Natural intelligence enables us to discriminate between

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Overview


Buddhahood, says Dzigar Kongtrül, is nothing but
an unobstructed experience of the nature of mind, boundlessly spacious and
limitlessly compassionate. The trick is that in order to see the mind
accurately, we must use the particular aspect of mind he calls natural
intelligence. Natural intelligence enables us to discriminate between what
helps or hinders us. But most of all, it’s the part of us that searches for
happiness and meaning. In Light Comes Through, he shows us how to
skillfully use our wish for happiness as a tool in awakening to the joyous
wisdom of mind.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Friend and teacher of the high-profile author Pema Chödrön, Tibetan Buddhist lama Kongtrül grew up in a monastic environment and received broad training in Buddhist doctrine. Steadily gaining in sophistication in its three sections, this slender book has wisdom for practitioners of all levels. The first part lays bare the five self-centered emotions of jealousy, aggression, attachment, arrogance and stupidity. The second, which delves into working with others, offers fresh material on working with a teacher, as well as understanding the pull of our emotions and thoughts in everyday relationships. The final part, on emptiness, is more suited to advanced practitioners who are ready to embrace esoteric teachings. Kongtrül's primary mission is to help readers train their minds in wisdom. There is a comforting bravery in his thinking about the difference between "trying to arrange the world according to our preferences" and "delighting in the way our experience naturally unfolds." (July 8)

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From the Publisher
“This is a wonderful fresh look at the amazing potential of our human mind.”—Pema Chödrön, author of When Things Fall Apart

“There is a comforting bravery in Kongtrül’s thinking that clarifies the differences between ‘trying to arrange the world according to our preferences’ and ‘delighting in the way our experience naturally unfolds.’ This is a suitably calm and graceful pathway illuminated by a Buddhist master.”—Publishers Weekly

“An interesting and refreshing snapshot of Buddhist teachings.”—Yoga Magazine (UK) 

Light Comes Through is an inspired, well-written, and creative examination of topics such as faith, romance, developing happiness for others, and facing our own suffering with perspective and compassion. It is a wonderful guidebook for living a very different kind of life.”—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780834824669
Publisher:
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
04/16/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
526,304
File size:
336 KB

Read an Excerpt


Introduction

Anything and everything can arise in the
mind. This is either good news or not such good news, depending on how
we look at it. On one hand, it means anything and everything is
possible. On the other hand, if we possess no understanding of mind and
how it works, we will be—as the traditional example describes—like
someone without limbs trying to ride a wild, blind horse. We will not
be able to rein in the mind, and so the mind will never serve us—it
will never take us where we want to go.

The Buddhist teachings
address the mind: how it functions and how we can shape the mind so
that it can serve us. If we don’t learn how to shape the mind, the mind
will continue to shape itself. Rather than training in wisdom, it will
train and habituate itself against our will, our intentions, our better
judgments—it will do as it fancies. We already know how much we suffer
from our habits. It is amazing how resilient we are as human beings: we
suffer over and over again but just keep on going!

In order to
shape the mind, to make it work for us, we need to rely on an aspect of
mind itself—an aspect we can call our natural intelligence. We may
sometimes wonder where to find our natural intelligence—or if we even
have any at all. But the fact is, in ordinary, everyday ways, we
utilize our natural intelligence all of the time. Without it, we would
lack the ability to make basic decisions and to discriminate between
things that will help or hinder us. We rely on it while rummaging
through our closets in the morning looking for the perfect thing to
wear. We base all our ethical principles upon it. Natural intelligence
weighs all the pros and cons; it organizes and analyzes. It has the
capacity to see the interdependent connection of various elements and
how they function together. And it searches for happiness and meaning .
. . even if it sometimes can’t find them. Without this essential tool
it is doubtful we would get anything done at all. And any notion of
enlightenment, most certainly, would be out of the question.

The buddhadharma
harnesses the power of natural intelligence in a unique way. As we
encounter mind’s raw, unprocessed conceptual activity, the teachings
encourage us to utilize our natural intelligence to look
dispassionately at mind and emotions and sort through our confusion and
ignorance; in this way we uncover our innate wisdom and clarity. The
Buddhist teachings affirm this natural gift and also challenge us:
“Analyze! See if this isn’t true.” Everything we need to move forward
is right here.

Imagine a Vague Enlightenment

It
takes some time to refine the mind through this process of exploration.
We may have some resistance to using conceptual mind—thinking mind—in
this way. The prospect of investigating mind may not fit the
description we have of a spiritual path—it may seem too analytical, too
bookish or precise. We may prefer to keep our notion of spirituality
vague and openended. We may wish to reach for a nonconceptual state
absent of thought. Or we may only select spiritual ideas we feel
comfortable with instead of exploring what we don’t understand. In this
way, we maintain a more romantic view of spirituality—one that will
make us feel good and that is separate from our ordinary, sometimes
troubled life, the life we are trying to break free of. If we keep
things a little abstract, we can continue in our usual ways. We can
keep all of our options open, and we won’t have to worry about shaking
off old habits. Our self-image remains intact—just as we like. But try
to imagine a vague enlightenment: What might that be like?

And
while we are waiting for our vague enlightenment, what should we do
with our conceptual mind, which seems to churn mindlessly 99.99 percent
of the time, day and night? Even in the seclusion of retreat, cut off
from the stimuli of everyday life, the mind never stops chatting away.
And with nothing to distract us, the volume seems louder than ever. If
we try to disregard the conceptual mind or to wait for it to go away so
that we can finally attain enlightenment, we will be waiting forever.

Since
our experience of both happiness and pain depends upon the mind,
wouldn’t it make sense to learn how it works? Demystifying the
relationship we have with our mind, our thoughts and emotions, is the
essence of the Buddhist teachings. It is like switching on the light in
a dark room: no matter how long a room has remained in a state of
darkness, once we turn on the light, everything is illuminated.

A
fully illuminated mind doesn’t need shaping at all. There are no dark
corners and nothing to fear. Mind in its entirety never wavers from its
fundamentally free and unobstructed state. All the qualities of wisdom
and compassion naturally preside within it. Much of the time, because
the mind is obscured by its own bewilderment, we experience only a
fraction of its true potential. This fraction of our potential reveals
itself to us as our natural intelligence—it is the call of the entirety
of our buddha nature. Light comes through, and instinctually we want to
respond to it—to reach for its source.

A fully illuminated mind
sees through conceptual mind itself. In other words, we shape the
conceptual mind to ultimately transcend it—to uncover its source. But
make no mistake about it, until we have stability in this kind of
direct experience, the clarity of our natural intelligence remains our
greatest support. This is particularly true now in this age of
lessening faith and increasing confusion. We so often encounter
meditators who, after twenty years of practice, still have trouble
working with their mind and emotions and are still perplexed by their
relationships with others.

Through open and playful inquiry, we
can increase our understanding of how to use the mind, how to question
our experience through internal dialogue, and how to analyze the many
aspects of life that usually seem to resist analysis. As we do this, we
find that the truth naturally reveals itself to us—as the hotness of
fire reveals itself to us when we touch it or the day reveals itself to
us when we wake up in the morning. Our mind, our most precious natural
resource, rather than posing a threat, will take us where we want to go.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“This is a wonderful fresh look at the amazing potential of our human mind.”—Pema Chödrön, author of When Things Fall Apart

“There is a comforting bravery in Kongtrül’s thinking that clarifies the differences between ‘trying to arrange the world according to our preferences’ and ‘delighting in the way our experience naturally unfolds.’ This is a suitably calm and graceful pathway illuminated by a Buddhist master.”—Publishers Weekly

“An interesting and refreshing snapshot of Buddhist teachings.”—Yoga Magazine (UK) 

Light Comes Through is an inspired, well-written, and creative examination of topics such as faith, romance, developing happiness for others, and facing our own suffering with perspective and compassion. It is a wonderful guidebook for living a very different kind of life.”—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness

Read More

Meet the Author

Dzigar Kongtrül grew up in a monastic environment and received extensive training in all aspects of Buddhist doctrine. In 1989, he moved to the United States with his family and in 1990, he began a five-year tenure as a professor of Buddhist philosophy at Naropa University. He also founded Mangala Shri Bhuti, his own teaching organization, during this period. He has established a mountain retreat center, Longchen Jigme Samten Ling, in southern Colorado. When not guiding students in long-term retreats and not in retreat himself, Rinpoche travels widely throughout the world teaching and furthering his own education.

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