Mahamudra and Dzogchen – Foundation and Golden Roof
The result of Mahamudra and Dzogchen is the same: they are just different methods. The Dharma has to be able to accommodate everyone at any level, so that it is complete at every stage. There are, however, deeper levels of refinement. Although Dzogchen is known as the “golden roof”, from this perspective, the foundation is also “golden”. The best way to illustrate this is by looking at the six perfections from two points of view: the first is with effort, and the second, without effort.
The six perfections are:
We can view these perfections from a conventional level or an absolute level. One reflects the other. There are therefore two systems: in Mahamudra, we start at the beginning with generosity, and in Dzogchen, we start with wisdom.
It may be difficult to comprehend that one is not superior to the other as they have the same result. It all depends on how we work: our temperament, our capacity and what karma brings our way. Mahamudra and Dzogchen work perfectly together. After all, they both describe our true nature, what we are.
To start our spiritual journey, we have to be mentally healthy, decent human beings. We need to be fortunate enough to have some good karma. If this is the case to some degree, we are probably practising the first five perfections anyway – “Hooray!” This means we have some sense of compassion – “Hooray!”
The Mahamudra way builds on this foundation of decency in developing compassion: these describe the first three perfections. This is our conduct – our way of living. The next two perfections are aspects of mental remembrance, and the sixth is the fruition which is the true nature of mind – pure awareness – Mahamudra. Through the six perfections, we gradually realise this true nature.
The Dzogchen way is to receive the “pointing out instruction”, a direct pointing to the true nature of mind – the sixth perfection of wisdom. The other perfections then become a stabilising factor and an expression, a continuity of that true nature in the way in which we conduct ourselves in daily life.
The following is from the article, “Cutting Through Chain Reactions” from this blog.
These are the six perfections within Dzogchen. In Dzogchen, pure awareness is called rigpa.
Generosity here is non-fixation; there is no clinging. Rigpa generosity is not the generosity of giving away, which is a conceptual generation of merit. When it is included in rigpa, it belongs to wisdom – it is transcendent generosity. So we are practising generosity at the relative level and the absolute level at the same time, as they are inseparable.
The essence of generosity is non-clinging.
While we are in the continuity of rigpa, there is timeless compassion without fear.
The essence of patience is spacious timelessness.
In rigpa, there is no effort, and therefore there is no perseverance. When we are distracted, we make effort.
The essence of perseverance is effortlessness.
In rigpa, there is no attachment and that is the perfection of discipline. In ‘being disciplined’, one may become conceited and attached. Discipline has the function of binding our actions so that we can remain in a virtuous state, but it has side effects; we can become conceited because we are so pure, and this can create a social I (the way in which we relate to others). This can also happen with rigpa/pure awareness itself; we can become attached to this view.
The essence of discipline in non-attachment.
This is being non-distracted.
The essence of meditation is effortless remaining.
Rigpa Transcendent Knowledge.
This is rigpa wisdom itself – pure awareness. It is wisdom resting in the ground in its innateness.
The essence of rigps is clear view.
Within rigpa, conduct is meditation in action – the six perfections; our mind does not leave the clear view. Conduct is the six perfections being automatically expressed, without effort; we will be naturally generous etc.
There are the perfections that are practised with effort, and there are those that come automatically out of pure awareness.
It is like a healing coming from within: if we are doing something wrong, when rigpa is remembered, it will have an effect on our outer behaviour.
This is how we reduce and exhaust karma,
Cutting Through Chain Reactions
NB Once Mahamudra has been realised, then of course it views the perfections in the same way as Dzogchen/rigpa. There is a very subtle element at play here because we have to note when we are switching from generosity with effort to generosity without effort: we can switch back and forth in an instant. It’s a bit like remembering that you have to love someone, and actually loving them. We can’t assume, because we have been introduced to Dzogchen, that we are superior in some way: we’ve all heard of fallen angels, haven’t we? 😉