Roaring Silence: Discovering the Mind of Dzogchenby Ngakpa Chogyam, Khandro Dechen
According to the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition,
is the direct experience of enlightenment. In
Vajrayana teachers Ngakpa Chögyam and Khandro Déchen walk the reader through the meditation techniques that "enable us to side-step the bureaucracy of intellectual processes and experience/i>/i>
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According to the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition,
is the direct experience of enlightenment. In
Vajrayana teachers Ngakpa Chögyam and Khandro Déchen walk the reader through the meditation techniques that "enable us to side-step the bureaucracy of intellectual processes and experience ourselves directly"—to discover this direct experience of enlightenment that is the mind of Dzogchen.
the approach is very pragmatic. Offering an investigation of the necessary steps, the authors begin with how to prepare for the journey: the lama is essential; as are a sense of humor, inspiration, and determination. They continue by describing the path of Dzogchen from sitting meditation to the direct perception of reality.
The chapters include exercises for sharpening the presence of our awareness, for simple visualizations, and for investigating how to "remain uninvolved" with mental activity for a period—with follow-up guidance on how to view our experiences. Both practical and inspirational, the authors'
exquisitely precise guidance is all presented with the caveat, "be kind to yourself, don't push yourself beyond your limits."
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Dzogchen is the vastness of each moment. It is the natural simplicity of being, which in itself is only the teaching or practice. Dzogchen, the pinnacle of all Nyingma
makes this declaration of natural simplicity as the lion's roar of reality.
The lion's roar leaves no doubt. Such a roar is not a threat, although it inevitably intimidates those who have taken refuge in timidity. The lion,
however, does not give voice to reality in order to intimidate—its roar is simply a roaring silence: the self-existent proclamation of self-existent confidence. This confidence, which is naturally ours, is the empty confidence that has no need of reference points.
It is the confidence that makes itself known within the subatomic structure of our experience.
Dzogchen proclaims the self-existent confidence
of all beings—as they essentially are. The enlightened state is simply there as the basis of what we are. The roaring silence of this utter totality is the empty thread upon which the glittering beads of each moment of our being string themselves.
is a term that applies to both teaching and practice and to the intrinsic condition of the individual. The teaching of Dzogchen declares that meditation
the state of relaxation—a means by which we can be
what we are,
without tension, tyranny, or anxiety. According to this view, there is nothing to change—nothing to give up or alter in any way. We simply need to be what we are. Simply being what we are, without manipulation or struggle, is all that is necessary.
These are bold yet simple statements—but if we are not particularly simple people,
what will we make of them? Further investigation may be required. We do not intend to purvey a continuing series of rapturous statements that may merely intoxicate or weary the reader. It is not our aim to confuse—but maybe we need to explore confusion in order to get some glimpse of the vast sky of awareness in which confusion hides.
Dzogchen also describes a body of teaching. It is a system of catalysts. It describes the fundamental nature of
what we are
through simply opening the roof of our perception. Dzogchen encourages us to approach our essential nature directly— because that essential nature is so close, so accessible, so present, and so simple. It is possible—but that in itself is the major barrier. It is also
simple—for people as complex as we find ourselves to be. The complexity of the
"unenlightenment" we appear to experience would seem to contradict these marvelous assertions of our closeness to the realized state.
So it would seem that we cannot approach Dzogchen directly. Or if we can, it is with a type of directness that is so different from what we understand by
"direct" that there is nothing direct about it. We have a paradox,
and wherever there is a paradox, metaphors and symbols are apparently helpful. It would seem that we might need explanations that are as elaborate as we would appear to be. It should be possible simply to give this teaching in five words:
remain in the natural state.
From the perspective of Dzogchen, that should be enough. It should be enough merely to hear that. Then, on hearing it, we should be able to allow everything to relax into its own condition. But what can such statements mean to us in terms of our everyday experience of silent sitting? From the dualistic perspective,
they leave many questions unanswered.
They also seem to create a broad variety of new questions.
Often we are so immured within the relentless censorship of intellect that simplicity can become a complex matter. The complexity of intellect can impose such severe restraints on our perceptions that the instruction "remain in the natural state" is rendered incomprehensible. Thinking about such a proposition does not help, so we have to abandon our attempts to understand on the basis of what we already comprehend, and that leaves us with the roaring silence of meditation.
Meditation enables us to sidestep the bureaucracy of rigid intellectual processes and experience ourselves directly. But before being sidestepped, the intellect needs to be fed a little. The intellect needs real food if it is to satiate itself adequately. In order to feel replete, the "intellectual sense"
needs to masticate, digest, and excrete.
The intellectual appetite needs to be directed away from the processed abstractions of philosophical junk food. Intellect itself needs to taste the manner in which it functions as a method of obscuring the nature of Mind.
when given a capital
relates to the emptiness quality of being rather than the content of Mind. The lowercase-
mind relates to the mind with which we are familiar in terms of dualistic perceptions, judgments, and feelings.) This is where the use of intellect stops being a pastime or a conspiratorial battlefield of conflicting ideas. This is where intellect becomes a valuable tool with which we can begin to prompt interesting departures from the experiential myopia of the materialistic rationale. This is where we can give birth to the possibility of looking directly into the nature of Mind. Through study, through wholesome inquisitive skepticism, we can arrive at the point where looking directly into the nature of Mind becomes a feasible proposition. This is known as the development of view.
View is the collected experience of almost three thousand years of meditation practice in which a great number of yogis and yoginis have made the same discovery. View comprises the mechanical functioning of unenlightenment and the nature of the enlightened state insofar as it can be expressed in language. So,
view consists of seeing how we are in terms of our disquiet, dissatisfaction,
confusion, frustration, irritation, and pain. But view also consists of glimpsing the nature of the enlightened state insofar as it can be pointed at by oral, symbolic, and direct transmission.
In the Dzogchen view, which concerns the nature of Mind, the approach is highly pragmatic. The view holds the same pragmatism as does the art of lighting a fire—no one ever got colder sitting in front of a fire. And no one ever succeeded in making a fire using pebbles and river water. When we know how to allow a fire to spring into being by mixing wood and oxygen through the medium of heat, we do not need to remember the exact wording of the instruction booklet—we simply create fire. As soon as we integrate the view, the view disappears and becomes knowledge. Knowledge is like breathing—we do not have to remember how to breathe. So, view is a way of employing intellect to transcend intellect. To this end, view must always be tested in the laboratory of our own experience. This is the creative use of intellect in which we confront the day-to-day sensation of what we are. Because the intellect is a genuine faculty, it can become untangled. This book is an exploration of how we are as beings tangled in complexities, and of how we are as beings becoming untangled.
To begin this exploration we are going to look at the three crucial aspects of the path. In the Dzogchen tradition these are known as view, meditation, and action.
provokes or incites our natural intelligence.
opens our realization to the view.
is the pure appropriateness of our spontaneity in the state of realization.
Meditation enables us to find out for ourselves.
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Meet the Author
Ngakpa Chögyam and Khandro Déchen, both Westerners, are teachers in the Nyingma School of Vajrayana Buddhism in the lineage of the Aro gTer. A married couple who teach together, they spend much of their time traveling and teaching in Europe and the United States. They live in Penarth, Wales.
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