Posted by Peter Jackson from the Dzogchen practice group - DzogchenPractice@yahoogroups.com
I want to share how the whole thing fits together from the Dzogchen point of view and my experience regarding awareness, energy, mind, self and liberation. From engaging in various methods from several different traditions, I have enough experience to write about the whole process from beginning to end. I am not saying that one has to engage in meditation or energy practices. But I will teach whatever is necessary so that what I am sharing below can be realized by anyone. There are many remedies for various "stuck points". But we have to all be using the same map or at least be familiar with it. What I am sharing here I don't believe you will be able to find very available on the open market. Most is considered to be the secret teachings of Tibetan Dzogchen, not broadly known. If interested, we can work through specific Dzogchen practices that trigger the Clear Light of Awareness to become revealed in consciousness.
Here's how it works: at first the person is seeking to find his enlightened nature within their own consciousness. They may receive a pointing out instruction regarding the nature of "changeless awareness". But they may only understand intellectually that their identity is not the body or mind. There was no total shift in perspective. This gives them a certain degree of relaxation as though the intellect had acquired its goal of understanding, it can now relax. But that intellectual insight does not drive deep enough into the energy contraction remaining in the subtle body and physical body, hence it is short lived. There was just a flash of insight but no total transformation of the self-contraction and mind. By recognizing that subtle flash of insight again and again, and learning to rest as just being the naked "observingess" in all experience, thoughts and mental engagement become more calm and less captivating. As a result our inner subtle body of chakras, channels and subtle energy called chi or prana, all begin to relax and expand. It is the energy contraction within the inner subtle body that gives the "feeling" of being a localized self within and as a body. We're not talking about the concept of self now, we are talking about how its "feels" on a sensory level. When the inner subtle body relaxes, because the mind relaxes, we experience a "feeling" of expansiveness, greater clarity, and well-being.
Understanding gives us insight but may have no affect on the "feeling tone" of inner experience. We "get it" but no bliss or stable joy. Hence meditation may help in bringing the mind into a more calm state, and that is a good thing because the rest follows organically.
This would normally be a model of yoga where the goal is calming and clarification of the mind and a deep relaxing of the body. In yoga when this is accomplished, the inner channels and chakras will expand and open. If this relaxing process is allowed to continue, eventually subtle energies will begin to flow from the bottom of the spine to the crown that may result in kundalini enlightenment. That is considered the end of the path in yoga. However in Tibetan Dzogchen, that is where our practice begins.
When the chakras are fully relaxed, open and expansive, another more subtle energy body is revealed within. It's the inner Body of Light or Clear Light. It's much more subtle than the chakras and subtle energy channels of subtle body. Prana, chi or kundalini does not flow in these subtle light channels, only Clear Light. The channels are themselves crystalline and transparent. The main crystal channel, called "Kati" in Tibetan, flows from the innermost center of the heart chakra, up through the central channel into the brain. It arcs forward and splits into two channels ending at the very center of the pupils. The Clear Light is centered in the heart chakra, the seat of Being. Clear Light Awareness is "seated" in the brain. It is the innermost center of the crown chakra. When the Light Channels are completely relaxed, the Clear Light in the heart will reflect upward and shine out the eyes. Other Light Channels flow upward filling the entire area of the brain. As the Clear Light is reflected into the brain through the microscopic network of Light Channels, consciousness is transformed into Clear Light Awareness. We feel utterly transparent and free of any sense of localization or physical identity when this happens. Our Awareness seems poised within our eyes and our skull seems transparent. The Self-Knowing Wisdom of Clear Light is suddenly revealed as the very nature of Clear Light Itself. All doubts are absent and there is no self in Clear Light Awareness as the mind and consciousness have been transformed into Clear Light as well. In Tibetan this state of being is called "Rigpa" which means both awareness and its wisdom. This is our goal in practice.
By remaining relaxed completely, the Light Channels will remain open and our state will continue to be the Beingness of Clear Light Awareness. As the Clear Light continues to flow into the Light Channels in the brain, it will eventually begin to overflow downward into the entire body, revealing the body to be transparent as well. The outer world will still be visible but clearly transparent like a giant crystal hologram floating in space. "Inside and outside" well no longer apply, nor do center or fringe. So we simply rest as what we are. When the mind begins to engage in thinking and conceptualizing again, that subtle mental grasping is enough of a contraction to cause the very delicate Light Channels to close. When that happens the lights go out, so to speak. Then we drop the concepts and mental grasping, and just deeply relax until the Light Channels blossom again. Our goal is to find ourselves always fully relaxed as Clear Light Awareness. We are simply relaxed in our Natural State, timelessly free, radiating intrinsic compassion, love and spontaneous creativity within the Natural Bliss of our own Being. Remember we are only modifying our energy, the Clear Light of Awareness is always unchanging, but its aura of energy can contract and give a sense of localization. That contraction and localization is only an "experience" and in no way modifies our Beingness. But I think we prefer the open state as opposed to the contracted… but our essential Beingness enjoys it all as pure play.
Not everyone has to engage in any type of practice in order to open the Light Channels. Many people already see from their heart, as the Clear Light of Awarenesss. They respond really well to pointers to Awareness. Also those whose Light Channels are somewhat open can really benefit from pointing out methods. But those that are really contracted and "shut in", some work may need to be done first, like meditation, therapy or chakra work. But once the full arising of Clear Light Awareness occurs, that occurrence becomes one's reference of practice. It may first occur from just a simple pointing out as to the true nature of awareness. Or it may take months or years of preliminary work to relieve the contraction. Its not that Awareness can be obstacled by anything, but rather that its Wisdom and Self-Recognition does not occur in the contracted state. That Wisdom Energy has transformed into mind and self. That's why when the self-mind-energy dissolves, the Wisdom is automatically known. The Wisdom Energy was compressed and transformed into dualistic mind by the intense gravity of the "I" concept. All the energy becomes contracted around the "I" concept. No "I" concept, no contraction. No contraction, sheer bliss…
Naikan is a Japanese word which means “inside looking” or “introspection”. A more poetic translation is “seeing oneself with the mind’s eye”. It is a structured method of self-reflectionthat helps us to understand ourselves, our relationships and the fundamental nature of human existence. Naikan was developed by Yoshimoto Ishin, a devout Buddhist of the Jodo Shinshu sect in Japan. His strong religious spirit led him to practice mishirabe, an arduous and difficult method of meditation. Wishing to make such introspection available to others, he developed Naikan as a method that could be more widely practiced.
A sincere examination of ourselves is not an easy task. It requires attention to what has not been attended to. It involves a willingness to squarely face our mistakes, failure and weakness. It requires us to acknowledge our transgressions and actions which have caused difficulty to others. The fourth step of the Alcoholics Anonymous twelve step program asks us to make a searching and fearless moral inventory. Albert Schweitzer’s suggestion was to “make a secret account of what you have neglected in thoughtlessness or in consideration of some other person’s existence.” Such self-relfection leaves little room for blaming others or complaining about how we have been treated.
The Three Questions
Naikan reflection is based on three questions:
What have I received from __________ ?
What have I given to __________ ?
What troubles and difficulties have I caused __________ ?
These questions provide a foundation for reflecting on relationships with others such as parents, friends, teachers, siblings, work associates, children, and partners. We can reflect on ourselves in relation to pets, or even objects which serve us such as cars and pianos. In each case, we search for a more realistic view of our conduct and of the give and take which has occurred in the relationship.