Starting With Preliminaries Or Advanced Teachings?
Do we start at the beginning, or at the end?
This up to the individual teacher or student. We usually start at the beginning in order to get to the end, but this is only true within a culture where we see evidence of where we are going.
“Oh! that looks interesting. Where do I start?”
“Oh! I am that which I seek. And all I have to do is remember.”
To get to the point, we have to know what the point is. If hearsay is enough, then we follow along with what others are doing, hoping to get somewhere – but life is too short to hope that we will realise the truth. Some of us want something more than hope, don’t we? To keep being told that we’re not ready makes us suspicious of cronyism/selectivism/Lamaism. There is no danger in clear, advanced teachings save that of becoming arrogant. This is why compassion is of paramount importance and has to be accurately understood.
We have to know what we’re doing and why, rather than trusting someone else’s view and decisions. It’s up to us to recognise whether something is true and right or not (to recognise is to re-know something already known but which may not be clear).
Here is the advanced teaching:
We are the pure, direct experience of consciousness
that is ever present.
There is nothing else to do but remember.
When we realise this, everything becomes clear.
Drop all attachment to thoughts and realise what sees.
Now, when thoughts arise,
there is a simultaneous experience of pure consciousness.
Any procedure or practice can then be applied
to sustain this realisation.
Ultimately, our teacher is life itself.
That’s it! Not complicated, is it?
Now it’s up to us to value this and remember.
And, most importantly of all,
recognise whatever obscures this clear view.
We may find this rather disappointing as we want something extraordinary: are we looking at the culture rather than the teachings? We already have everything that we need to realise our enlightened state, within our culture and through our upbringing. Others’ upbringing will be different: Tibetan lamas are not brought up in our education system, with rock and roll, biased media and the technocracy of social engineering creating fear, hope and division.
We can either learn to be decent people and then be seen as deserving of advanced teachings, or we can receive the advanced teachings and become decent people. There is no right and wrong about this: it all depends on our past experiences and our present behaviour.
I follow the Tibetan Nyingma tradition of Dzogchen and Rigpa. Doesn’t that sound exotic and complicated? ;D ‘Rigpa’ is simply one Tibetan word for pure consciousness. We are pure consciousness – it’s what is seeing these words now without comment, and it’s quite ordinary – but when we start thinking about these words, we use ordinary human consciousness which is influenced by desire and aversion.
All we have to do is recognise.
There comes a time in our investigations when we encounter something that sounds bizarre, complex and secret, so we either have to find our own way through, or keep on waiting.
In the Nyingma tradition, there are two aspects to Rigpa; Trekcho and Togal. Cutting through and leaping over. Cutting through thoughts and direct seeing. Trekcho is frequently taught, but Togal is not. It’s Togal that sounds obscure, but it’s quite simple (to be continued).