In my last post I reflected on how to embody the transcendent truth of my being. To embody this truth does not mean to reject the relative aspect of my daily life in favor of a mysterious ultimate truth. It is about following a middle way, neither completed preoccupied with the day to day preoccupations of this life nor absorbed in a far-off transcendent state. I remember many occasions when Sogyal Rinpoche has cautioned in his teachings not to see these two truths of how things are and how they appear as two different things. One example of falling into this trap would be to say, “Yes on an absolute level I have Buddha nature, but on a relative level I don’t.” The message I hear from this is that I have to learn to maintain both the relative and absolute understanding at the same time.
The phrase “to embody the transcendent” might sound complicated, but the teachings say that it is nothing more than to embody my true being, to simply be what I am naturally. It is said to be very simple, but not easy! The problem is that my true being has gotten covered about by conditioning, habits, and negative emotions. The first step to get out of this confusion is to understand how this obscured way of being comes about. Here is a quote from one of my favorite books Carefree Dignity by Tsoknyi Rinpoche about how our true nature is obscured by the conceptual mind and how to train in the recognition of the true essence of the mind:
“In the moment of recognizing mind essence, it’s not that we are not allowed to see visible forms. Nor do forms disappear, in fact, they become clearer and more distinct than before. But we shouldn’t fixate on what is being seen — that is the most important point. We need to check for ourselves whether we are fixing attention to on what is perceived, or are simply allowing it to be. In the moment of recognizing mind essence, and in the moment of being mind essence, the experiences of the five senses are not blocked off. You are not trying to to not perceive, to not hear or not to see anything. That kind of practice would be like shutting ourselves off from everything, like putting consciousness into a box. The approach I am talking about is the opposite, in that everything is increasingly opened up so that the all-pervasiveness of basic space is allowed for. The normal way of fixing the attention on something heard or seen is one of eliminating everything else. The particular perceiving consciousness is focused and the other five fields are excluded. In this type of situation, the all-pervasiveness is somehow hampered or blocked.
The training here is more in the sense of allowing the awake quality of to be totally open and free — not caught up in one way of perceiving one particular sense object. There is perception, but this perceiving is something insubstantial and empty, and because of this, experience is allowed to continue unfolding. That is the principle of the unity of appearance and emptiness. Empty does not mean there is no form; it simply means no fixation, not fixing on. All the appearances, everything that is perceived, is still present. Empty doesn’t mean that everything is erased. It’s more in the sense of a wide-open state where nothing is held or fixated upon.
(Rinpoche raises a flower). The very first instant there is the concept flower, you don’t have to do anything more than that. Mere leave it. Normally, in the next instant we start to define: what the exact color of the flower is, what particular kind of flower it is, whether we like it or not, and so on. That process, which can go on and on, is all our doing. The perceiver is personalizing his or her experience.
In the beginning, we are training to become like a very small child in a temple hall. The child perceives everything — when he moves his head around, he sees all the colors and shapes and so forth, but no value is attached to anything. No concepts are being formed, because the child doesn’t know what is what. He hasn’t learned any of that. It is a very free way of experiencing. This is how we try to be in the beginning. We allow everything to take place, but we are not caught up in any of it.
Later on we will come to a point when it is perfectly all right to have certain concepts about things, but they are instantly dissolved as they are formed.” (p.76-78)
For an excerpt of this book on Google click here.