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The Journey to The place We Already Are

In response to Francesca Fremantle, Buddhist tantra is predicated on the straightforward proposition that we’re already the place we have to be. We merely want to permit ourselves to actually understand it.

Primordial Dot, Yeachin Tsai

“Primordial Dot,” by Yeachin Tsai

I’ll start with a warning: these phrases are lies. Because it says within the Guhyasamaja Tantra, one of many earliest Buddhist tantras, it’s important to lie to speak concerning the dharma. Something you say is a lie, as a result of the dharma can’t be expressed in phrases. You’ll be able to’t even give it some thought, not to mention formulate the phrases and ideas in your thoughts. You need to belief that there’s something past that. And the extra expertise you could have of observe, and notably, the extra you observe formless meditation, the extra you’ll be taught to trust within the reality, which might’t be put into phrases.

After all, the Buddha himself was confronted with this quandary after his enlightenment. He wasn’t going to show in any respect. It’s mentioned the representatives of gods and males got here to him and begged him to show, and he took fairly a very long time to be persuaded, as a result of he knew that he wouldn’t be capable to categorical the fact of what he had realized. He knew that it could be misunderstood. That’s inevitable. It’s completely great that the dharma does come to us, one way or the other or different. It involves us from area.

House is a basic precept in the entire of Buddhism, however it’s notably superbly developed and expressed in tantra. My trainer, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, usually spoke of area because the setting by which delivery and loss of life happen—the elemental foundation of the whole lot. Like all Buddhist ideas, area is just not a idea or picture. It’s a lived expertise. It’s a sense, an precise expertise. Generally you should utilize photographs of bodily area to attempt to provoke this expertise. After we breathe out, our breath goes out. You’ll be able to think about going so far as you may probably assume, out into the universe, out into limitless area. And but the area that’s described in dharma is way past that. It’s the absolute expertise of full openness, full spaciousness. Which is as a lot inside us as it’s all round us. It has no boundaries. It has no location. It has no dimensions. And we are able to positively expertise this in meditation.

One of many foremost symbols of tantra is the sound AH. You’ll be able to say AH, both out loud, or to your self, and fully calm down. First calm down your physique with that AH. After which AH—let go of all the strain and all of the muddle in your thoughts. AH is the image of area, the origin of the whole lot. Every thing arises from area. If the whole lot weren’t area, nothing might seem. Nothing might exist.

Trungpa Rinpoche additionally mentioned the whole lot exists solely as a result of it doesn’t exist. Every thing seems out of spaciousness. One other phrase for spaciousness is shunyata, vacancy. However vacancy may appear a bit damaging. Spaciousness expresses the thought it may be full. It’s filled with potentiality. Even potentiality may very well be misunderstood. It merely accommodates completely the whole lot. However this the whole lot doesn’t trigger any obstruction. One other phrase for area is unobstructed. Clear is one other tantric phrase. Every thing could be seen via. And but the whole lot is as actual and vivid as a really vivid rainbow. Nothing will get in the best way of the rest. Every thing can seem concurrently.

Spontaneous Expertise

The entire of area exists in a single bindu, one dot, which isn’t even a dot. It has no dimensions in any respect. And this incorporates the entire of existence, the entire of area. And it additionally incorporates the entire of time: previous, current, and future—in a single second. And we are able to’t even name that second the current, as a result of the current is just not a factor. It was there a second in the past. Now it’s gone. You’ll be able to by no means, ever catch the current. So, in tantra it’s known as nowness, which fits past previous, current, and future. The ever-moving second of the current. The previous which we predict has occurred. The long run which we think about will occur. It’s all concurrently in nowness.

It’s doable to expertise this bindu of all area and all time in meditation. It’s equally doable for it to happen spontaneously at any second. I feel it’s notably made doable within the presence of nice artwork. However that’s not essential. It could actually simply occur if you’re strolling down the road. Some folks assume they should exit into the countryside to expertise this. However it might probably occur in a crowded tube prepare, can occur if you’re cooking, doing the washing up, something, no matter.

The extra one practices meditation, although, the extra alternative there’s for these spontaneous experiences to come up. This area is known as the bottom of being. It’s an expertise that all of us can have, and which is actually the aim of meditation. However you may as well see it because the story of the entire universe. After we speak about how the universe got here into being; how the six realms of beings developed; why we’re right here in any respect as human beings on this earth—we’re speaking about the identical factor, our personal minds, our personal day-to-day expertise.

There’s a beautiful textual content known as the “Aspiration Prayer of Samantabhadra,” which expresses this in a really poetic means. It begins off saying the bottom of being is one, however it incorporates two paths, main to 2 outcomes: consciousness and unawareness, figuring out and unknowing, in Tibetan rigpa and marigpa, in Sanskrit vidya and avidya.

The bottom of being is simply the identical factor as our personal thoughts. It incorporates each chance of existence inside it, and it’s all the time one. The Aspiration Prayer goes on to say that even the names of samsara and nirvana don’t exist inside this floor. There isn’t a distinction between samsara and nirvana. No distinction between confusion and awakening. There’s merely this one floor of being and from it the whole lot arises as a show, like fireworks in opposition to a darkish sky. Or lets say just like the northern lights in opposition to the sky. And that is merely issues as they’re—what’s. This may be skilled as a result of the state of spaciousness and vacancy, which is the bottom of being, is inseparable from what is typically known as luminosity, typically known as figuring out. It’s the standard of figuring out.

Play and Show

The standard of figuring out goes along with the standard of the looks of no matter is thought. It’s the identical because the Coronary heart Sutra saying “Kind is vacancy, and vacancy can be type.” You can not have vacancy that doesn’t manifest as type, and you can not have type if its essence weren’t vacancy. So, the vacancy right here is that this floor of being, the area, the dwelling area, the dynamic area, which is regularly, spontaneously manifesting as all doable appearances, together with us.

The truth that there are appearances, or the show—I just like the phrase show as a result of we’ve got this good correspondence between play and show, which you don’t have within the conventional Buddhist languages—means there’s figuring out, however with out ego. It’s figuring out with none type of possessiveness concerned, with out making a division into what’s me and what’s not me, what’s inside, what’s exterior. It’s nondual figuring out.

We do have these experiences in on a regular basis life. It could actually occur simply all of the sudden: you take a look at one thing, take a look at a blue sky, and also you’re completely one with it. You hearken to a bit of music and you’re fully one with it. You’ve gotten enjoyable with somebody you’re keen on very a lot, and also you all of the sudden develop into fully at residence with that individual, and it’s past thought. All of us have had these experiences. All of us acknowledge that there are moments which can be past our regular, on a regular basis expertise. And in reality, we couldn’t dwell in that have repeatedly. It will be unattainable to go about one’s day by day life: going to work, doing issues round the home, consuming, cooking, catching the tube, and so forth.

We have now to dwell as regular, dualistic beings more often than not. And on the similar time, we are able to acknowledge that this nondual expertise, this expertise of complete oneness with the universe round us, with different folks, with the whole lot that exists, is fundamental to our nature and by no means goes away. We live on totally different ranges on the similar time. One of many nice advantages of meditation is to assist hold us in contact with that nondual facet of our being, the woke up facet.

Going Nowhere, Joyfully

Because the Samantabhadra Aspiration goes on to say, what it means to be a buddha, to be Samantabhadra, is rarely to maneuver from the attention of that floor of being, whereas sentient beings have one way or the other moved away from that consciousness and have entered an phantasm, or a dream, or a play, of being in one of many six realms. Having inhabited a realm—in our case, the human realm—regularly we develop into completely satisfied that that’s what we’re. We’ve misplaced contact with the bottom of being, which is all the time our fundamental nature.

What is exclusive about tantra is that it actually emphasizes this fundamental buddhanature. Though that is current in different Mahayana traditions, additionally they current many strategies of attempting to get again to it, which makes it seem to be we’re not already there, like we’ve got to make a journey. We have now to do one thing. We have now to alter ourselves. Tantra says no, you’re already that. You don’t must go anyplace. You don’t must do something. However after all, we’ve got to know how you can interpret these directions.

As Trungpa Rinpoche put it, we’re all the time including to confusion once we attempt to do one thing. It’s all the time including to our confusion, taking us away from buddha­nature, hiding buddhanature from us. To get again to buddhanature is actually to do nothing.

If we are able to calm down into the popularity of the fundamental floor of oneness, duality can exist inside that—with none drawback.

Why do we discover ourselves on this scenario? One model of how that’s occurred is that the one consciousness, knowingness, the best way the buddhanature experiences no matter arises…all of the sudden turned conscious of this huge show taking place throughout it, and it turned frightened. A fundamental cut up happens. Because it turns into conscious of itself as one thing separate from that basic concern, that begins the lengthy journey towards the event of greed, hatred, want, and so forth. And that results in taking delivery in one of many six realms. The elemental buddha consciousness, nevertheless, merely experiences the whole lot that occurs and instantly lets it go. That’s the trick. It’s to expertise and instantly let go. And the show is steady on a regular basis. It’s a steady experiencing and letting go.

William Blake talked about this in a beautiful verse:

He who binds to himself a pleasure
Does the winged life destroy;
However he who kisses the enjoyment because it flies
Lives in eternity’s dawn.

What can we normally do once we expertise any kind of pleasure?

We grasp it and cling to it. We hold it and don’t let it go. That’s the best way to destroy it. “Kisses the enjoyment because it flies”: Which will sound such as you’re not going to get pleasure from it. However that’s not the case, actually, as a result of that pleasure is regularly arising—eternity’s dawn, it by no means ends. The solar of that bliss and that pleasure is simply regularly arising, with no finish. As quickly as we let it go, we’re renewed time and again and once more.

The essential cut up of ego arises from a basic twist in a tiny little bit of the huge show—the urge to know onto our expertise, to know onto a sense:

“I’m experiencing that.”
“I’m totally different from that.”

After which it develops into:

“I like this expertise.”
“I would like extra of it.”
“I don’t like that.”
“I need to push it away.”
“I need to destroy it.”

And so, the entire thing will get greater and greater, and we find yourself discovering ourselves within the place we’re in now. And that’s what is supposed by delivery. This delivery of what looks as if a person thoughts in one of many six realms takes place continually. On the similar time that there’s delivery, the whole lot is dissolving. The great show throughout us is arising and dissolving on a regular basis.

Beginning, loss of life, and the hole in between—which is known as bardo in Tibetan—are regularly taking place inside our stream of consciousness. That isn’t taking place exterior someplace. It isn’t one thing that occurred way back. It’s one thing that’s taking place inside our minds, proper now. Or lets say inside thoughts itself, proper now.

If we are able to calm down into the popularity of the fundamental floor of oneness, duality can exist inside that—with none drawback.

What does it imply to say “my thoughts”?

All of us assume we’ve got our personal particular person minds. In meditation, you may start to query this. First you may start to surprise, the place is thoughts? Is it one thing inside my mind? Is it all through my physique? Then you may start to really feel, it’s exterior of me as properly. You breathe out and you are feeling your entire consciousness going out into area throughout you. There’s no finish to it. And slowly you start to get a sense of thoughts itself, which isn’t essentially “my thoughts.”

Nondual Duality

The dissolution that’s continually taking place inside us, in sure circumstances turns into rather more seen. If we obtain a shock of some sort—some dangerous information, if we really feel in poor health and we’re all of the sudden actually nervous, all types of issues—we develop into conscious of this sense of impending dissolution, of the whole lot that we all know, that truly our life is just not agency and safe as we usually assume it’s. Something might occur at any second. We would go mad at any second. We would lose our thoughts. We would lose our bodily schools. We would really die. All kinds of sudden issues would possibly occur to us. Waking up from a dream typically, you may really feel a way of full disorientation, maybe not figuring out the place you’re. Generally it may be actually scary—only for a second. After which all of the sudden the atypical world reasserts itself.

These loss of life experiences are literally taking place to us on a regular basis. As Trungpa Rinpoche writes in his commentary on The Tibetan E book of the Lifeless:

…the expertise of uncertainty about whether or not one is definitely going to die, within the sense of dropping contact with the strong world…. This uncertainty is just not essentially seen by way of leaving the physique, however purely by way of dropping one’s floor; the opportunity of dropping contact with the true world, into an unreal world. Let’s imagine that the true world is that by which we expertise pleasure and ache, good and dangerous. There’s some act of intelligence that gives the standards of issues as they’re, a fundamental dualistic notion.

In some sense, ego is actually clever. We will see this in how a lot effort and creativity we put into regularly maintaining our sense of separateness going, whereas enjoyable is probably the most pure factor. However to us it’s an enormous effort to calm down into meditation, to calm down into nonduality. Our intelligence is actually working extra time to maintain us feeling we’re particular person sentient beings.

Nevertheless, as Trungpa Rinpoche goes on to say:

…if we’re fully in contact with these dualistic emotions, that absolute expertise of duality is itself the expertise of nonduality. Then there isn’t a drawback in any respect, as a result of duality is seen from a superbly open and clear standpoint by which there isn’t a battle. Battle arises as a result of duality is just not seen as it’s in any respect. It’s seen solely in a biased means, a really clumsy means.

That is the scenario the place we’ve misplaced contact with the nondual facet of issues. So, very clumsily, we solely imagine on this and that, “I” and “not I,” topic and object, in a really crude and clumsy means. If we are able to calm down into the popularity of the fundamental floor of oneness, duality can exist inside that with none drawback.

These experiences of delivery and loss of life are descriptions of numerous our day by day life experiences, an unsure, confused state in which there’s numerous concern. We’ve forgotten our reference to our true nature. Two huge themes in tantra are these two contrasting methods of being: the dualistic means, which is the six realms of existence, which we circle via on a regular basis; and then again, the woke up means of being, which is the realm of the 5 buddhas, the 5 tathagatas.

What does it imply to speak about 5 tathagatas? The woke up means of being is past ideas, as we all know. We actually can’t get our minds, our atypical conceptual minds round this image of huge, open wakefulness that incorporates all qualities. So merely so as to have the ability to give it some thought, or speak about it, or have any concept of it in any respect, we’ve got to divide issues up, moderately like splitting white mild with a prism, which supplies us the separate colours of the rainbow. These divisions are usually not finally actual.

They’re all merely totally different features of the white mild. The qualities of open wakefulness by no means transfer from the bottom of our being. To be able to describe what the woke up nature may very well be, we concentrate on qualities that we are able to relate to, comparable to knowledge, compassion, energy, efficient motion, and so forth.

So, the texts use the thought of 1 all-knowing buddha consciousness, cut up into 5 totally different qualities of consciousness, which we are able to take a look at and take into consideration, and establish in ourselves and different folks. That’s a very powerful factor. It seems like these buddhas are beings which can be superior to us, however they’re actually our personal qualities.

Our personal innate buddhanature is by no means separate from the picture of Samantabhadra, whose title means “all good,” “full goodness,” which represents the entire buddhanature. Samantabhadra is just a reputation that we give to the whole lot that we might probably think about as finally good. And Samantabhadra manifests throughout us and in our personal lives repeatedly.


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