Lights, Colours And Direct Seeing
A conclusion (so far) about Togal
When we paint a picture, we start off with pure colours – red, yellow and blue – straight from the tube. Mixing these together for the first time, the colours of the rainbow are produced and, on a white canvas, those colours reveal their brilliance. Gradually, through further mixing and modification, we create an image that appears real. We may lose the pure colour on the white ground, but that remains the basis of everything that comes later.
This is the same as pure vision. Even though we may not see pure vision, pure light, we know that all manifestations arise from this.
This also applies to the emotions, which are the pure state of wisdom. Our pure essence has three qualities: emptiness, cognisance and compassion. These manifest as the five wisdoms:
1. All-encompassing wisdom is open and vast.
2. Mirror-like wisdom is able to reflect precise details.
3. Equalising wisdom is un-biased towards appearances.
4. Discerning wisdom is the ability to distinguish clearly.
5. All-accomplishing wisdom sees that everything is already perfectly accomplished.
When we know that everything manifests from emptiness, we no longer believe that manifestations are real. This direct seeing of emptiness is called ‘Togal’ – the clear light of bliss. From this, everything becomes modified into a gross state through ignorance but, like colour, it can all be reduced back to white or clear light.
One could say that everything works like a prism, where clear light enters the prism and is split into the rainbow colours. We may not see true colour – or wisdom – but we know, through inference, that it is there. Whatever we see with our physical eyes is not the real thing: it is the pure seeing or pure consciousness that is the real thing. A drawn circle can never be perfect because it is projected onto a surface, but the maths behind it is perfect. It is the same with pure consciousness; whatever we do, pure consciousness stays the same (but remains, for most, unnoticed).
Togal – the refined state of pure consciousness – is ‘direct seeing’. It is the outcome of analysis and experience but maybe, for most of us, the description of Togal is just inference. We do, however, understand about white light and rainbow colours.
Why is this so important? The five wisdoms correlate to the five negative emotions. When the emotions flare up, their brilliance reveals the pure light of consciousness.
There are many obscure descriptions of Togal that sound like gobbledegook and are not meant for the common mind. These description could be literal or cultural, or simply a clarification of pure consciousness.
I stopped worrying about the meaning of Togal years ago, as everything comes in its own good time, and refines in its own good time. Remember, this process isn’t about learning something and ticking a box; it’s about being – rather than being something. 😀
We may notice that Tibetan monasteries are rainbow-painted to remind us. It’s not just decoration: Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche wrote a book entitled, “Rainbow Painting”. When we truly take this to heart, it becomes an ornament: the word ‘ornament’ is the highest level of rigpa (essence love, expression, effulgence and ornament).