Why I Stopped Worrying About Togal

I gave up on Togal – the great mystery of gazes and visions – to just concentrate on seeing clearly … it’s far simpler! Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t! Life is too short to have mysteries hanging over one’s head: it’s like living in hope that one’s lottery numbers will come up, or that the teacher to see that you are worthy. That will never happen, so it is we who have to know.

There are descriptions of Togal online, but they seem to be based on over-elaborate manipulations of our vision. Tibetans are very colourful. My wife and I were at a monastery on a hill just outside Kathmandu in Nepal, and we were taught a secret teaching by the lama: “Go outside and do the four-fold sky-gazing practice”, which entailed staring at a cloudless, blue sky and realising subtle emptiness. So we did that. Then came back and had supper. What was that all about? There was no further discussion.

Some teachings aren’t explained enough, while others are over-explained. It all depends on who is talking. To a Tibetan, visions and dreams are very important, but to others, perhaps we need a more straightforward explanation, a sequence of understanding and experience – and not all traditions use the descriptions of Togal.

Togal in Dzogchen is our natural, spontaneous presence at its finest level.

This is not a secret. It is just something to be personally realised; clarity joins up the dots.It is not a intellectual, scholarly exercise for which we get points; it is genuine experience. When the text mentions ‘visions’, it may simply mean the qualities of essence seeing clearly.

‘Rigpa’ is Tibetan for pure consciousnessorempty awareness, and has two aspects – Trekcho and Togal. Trekcho means ‘cutting through concepts’ = seeing clearly, and Togal means ‘direct crossing’ or ‘the direct approach’ = seeing clearly immediately. Concepts are acknowledged immediately upon arising, and spontaneously realised as emptiness. This ‘seeing clearly’ represents the natural wisdoms. It’s the Dharma made practical.

Before we can look at cutting through and the direct approach, we have to recognise that empty awareness or Rigpa has three qualities: emptiness, awareness and the unity of the two, which is compassionate activity. It may sound pedantic but it’s very important to see this clearly, for if either emptiness or awareness are missing or forgotten, then we fall into the extremes of ‘Nothing is real’, or ‘Everything is real and permanent’: in this way, we dwell ignorance, and therefore there can be no truly compassionate activity.

So, the one empty awareness prisms into these three qualities, called ‘Kayas’; Dharmakaya (emptiness), Nirmanakaya (awareness)and Sambhogakaya (the compassionate unity of the two).

Rigpa is clear-seeing, like a crystal. This empty awareness or pure consciousness crystal further prisms into five qualities: reflective, discriminating, all encompassing, equalising, and spacious. These wisdoms are the natural outcome of Rigpa.

Mirror-like wisdom.
Discriminating wisdom.
All-accomplishing wisdom.
Wisdom of equality.
Wisdom of space allowing the other four to operate.

The clarity of these enlightened activities translates into pacifying, enriching, magnetising and destroying. Tögal bring this spontaneous presence to realisation. This is practical Dharma. Happy now? 😀

Healthy and Safety: Please do not poke your eyeballs for the phosphene effect … 😀 😀 😀

NB. If you know better, please comment! 😀

A phosphene is a phenomenon characterised by the experience of seeing light without light actually entering the eye. The word ‘phosphene’ comes from the Greek words phos (light) and phainein (to show). Phosphenes that are induced by movement or sound may be associated with optic neuritis – a demyelinating inflammation of the optic nerve.

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