Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's Plain English Dzogchen: the meditation on stillness, space and silence

I've been exploring non-duality for a year or so now and during that time I've kept coming across the word Dzogchen.  I hate the use of jargon, all the religious terms that exclude those of us who seek to find our own inner peace without reliance on gurus, priests and other external experts. My intuition said that it was important to find out what this thing was but all my Google searches were just coming up with so much gobbledygook   The little I found seemed to point to it being about space and light so I started playing with that on my own.

I asked myself "What is space?"  We don't think about it much.  Usually our brain focuses on form, noise and motion. If you look at the famous Rubin's vase the brain will usually focus first on the vase before it notices the outline of the faces.

Space surrounds everything. It doesn't judge us. It can't be harmed, shaped or molded to our will. Its inside us, within the spaces between our atomic particles, between our cells and inside our body cavities. Its outside us and connects with everything in the known universe  from the room or place we are sitting now to the outer known reaches of the universe. Its essence is spaciousness, silence and stillness.  It forms the ground for all things, motion and sound.

I found that just switching my awareness to the spaces between things was quite calming so I looked at how I might incorporate the awareness into my meditation practice  I chose to do this by working with the senses and with my thoughts.  Taking internal images I visualized them being surrounded by space.  I did this with sounds and smell as well. For touch I just visualized the space surrounding and touching my skin. For me this was all powerfully awareness shifting. I've always known there were five elements in the old healing and magical systems but had never really given much thought to space.

Still frustrated about not finding what I was looking for on the web I resorted to my own library, burrowing through some books I had by Tibetan authors and found a short section in the back of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's "Healing with Form, Energy and Light".  This was short but refreshingly simple so I started looking for what more he might have done on the subject.  A YouTube search on his name uncovered an eight part introductory lecture called the Fivefold Teachings of Dawa Gyaltsen. Again these were easy to understand and I put them into practice right away, finding the spaciousness of mind he was talking about. It seemed to me something worth pursuing further, that if mastered it was a switch I could use quickly and easily anytime I needed without needed a long involved meditation. Just five short minutes seemed to give profound results. I went looking for more and found Awakening the Luminous Mind: Tibetan meditation for inner peace and joy”. Its cliche to say this but this was so clear and simple I really wished someone had given it to me at birth. Life would have been so much easier. Yet despite its simplicity you don't want to rush through it. There is much in here to consider and reflect on. Concepts like the pain body, pain speech and the pain mind and how we can use spaciousness to change our relationship to them. The three things humans do when faced with a problem is denial/avoidance, resisting/trying to change it or simply allowing it. We all know the first gets us nowhere, we keep getting the same problem presented to us. Trying to change the problem saps our energy and resources (I think it was either Bob Frissell or Leonard Orr who said resistance leads to persistence). Finally we can simply choose to see the problem and say "it is what it is", allow it, then shift our awareness to the space around it. Its that shift of awareness that can change our perspective on the problem, even to the extent that with some things we suddenly see "it" wasn't the problem but instead our own image of it and reaction to it that was giving us grief. In this way we travel the path towards integration and oneness.

I particularly like the way Tenzin has given us these teachings in clear, plain English without all the usual dogma that would normally obscure it. You're not required to join a religion to practice it or spend several years learning something else before you can start using it. Like the Kabbalah the teachings of Dzogchen now seem to be being revealed to the general mass of the population, no longer hidden in secrecy and coded language.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your post. I also recently read Sam Harris's book Waking Up and found the Dzogchen mentioned. I tried to look it up but it was extremely difficult to understand. As a software engineer this was disheartening. But thanks to your post hopefully I'll make better sense of this.