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Waking Up by Sam Harris

Waking Up by Sam Harris

Author:Sam Harris
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Publisher: Simon & Schuster


DZOGCHEN: TAKING THE GOAL AS THE PATH

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche lived in a hermitage on the southern slope of Shivapuri Mountain, overlooking the Kathmandu Valley. He spent more than twenty years of his life on formal retreat and was deservedly famous for the clarity with which he gave the “pointing-out instruction” of Dzogchen, a formal initiation in which a teacher seeks to impart the experience of self-transcendence directly to a student. I received this teaching from several Dzogchen masters, as well as similar instructions from teachers like Poonja-ji in other traditions, but I never met anyone who spoke about the nature of consciousness as precisely as Tulku Urgyen. In the last five years of his life, I made several trips to Nepal to study with him.

The practice of Dzogchen requires that one be able to experience the intrinsic selflessness of awareness in every moment (that is, when one is not otherwise distracted by thought)—which is to say that for a Dzogchen meditator, mindfulness must be synonymous with dispelling the illusion of the self. Rather than teach a technique of meditation—such as paying close attention to one’s breathing—a Dzogchen master must precipitate an insight on the basis of which a student can thereafter practice a form of awareness (Tibetan: rigpa) that is unencumbered by subject/object dualism. Thus, it is often said that, in Dzogchen, one “takes the goal as the path,” because the freedom from self that one might otherwise seek is the very thing that one practices. The goal of Dzogchen, if one can call it such, is to grow increasingly familiar with this way of being in the world.

In my experience, some Dzogchen masters are better teachers than others. I have been in the presence of several of the most revered Tibetan lamas of our time while they were ostensibly teaching Dzogchen, and most of them simply described this view of consciousness without giving clear instructions on how to glimpse it. The genius of Tulku Urgyen was that he could point out the nature of mind with the precision and matter-of-factness of teaching a person how to thread a needle and could get an ordinary meditator like me to recognize that consciousness is intrinsically free of self. There might be some initial struggle and uncertainty, depending on the student, but once the truth of nonduality had been glimpsed, it became obvious that it was always available—and there was never any doubt about how to see it again. I came to Tulku Urgyen yearning for the experience of self-transcendence, and in a few minutes he showed me that I had no self to transcend.

In my view, there is nothing supernatural, or even mysterious, about this transmission of wisdom from master to disciple. Tulku Urgyen’s effect on me came purely from the clarity of his teaching. As it is with any challenging endeavor, the difference between being utterly misled by false information, being nudged in the general direction, and being precisely guided by an expert is difficult to overstate.

The direct perception of



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