Presented by Jhampa Shaneman
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity. These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
Jhampa July 17,88 Clear Light
We were working away at the clear light consciousness and the fundamental nature of our being, or the most subtle level of consciousness which we have is qualified with clear light knowingness, clear light consciousness. With that then, as I said, As that clear light level of consciousness is the omniscient mind, if we could realize it consciously, but because we do not have normal conscious awareness to that level, then we do not access it so to speak, it's level of realization of power. But there are times which it becomes available to us. At the time of our death it arises regularly. Every time we die we absorb, our mind absorbs back to that clear light level of consciousness. And then it leaves the body and then animates to a slightly more gross level which is the astral plane or intermediate plane for a dead person, and then it seeks its next rebirth.
The other time it arises is upon going to sleep at night. Just prior to dreaming there is an arisal of the clear light state of consciousness and then you go into dream state. But then again, they say that state is very very brief, happening ever so shortly. And again it's a very deep level of consciousness. It's below dream level-level of awareness. It's very difficult to access in any general way.
In talking about that though, if we come back to the three principles of the path, renunciation, love and compassion, and the correct understanding of the ultimate nature of reality or voidness. Renunciation can be taken as second place in the sense that it's the fundamental or basic foundation of the spiritual practice, being the focus on your evolution towards enlightenment. That the worldly mundane pursuits are secondary. That the principle objective in your life is to realize more and more that which brings you closer to enlightenment. Renunciation is the focus of spirituality, the focus of becoming enlightened.
The two chief principles worked with in spiritual practice are on one side love and compassion and on the other side wisdom. They work together in the sense that your love and compassion is your empathy and capacity to help people, to be kind and considerate. Your wisdom consciousness is that which understands how to interact with other people. Understands the ultimate nature of reality that nothing exists independently or self existently. That all things are inter- related or interconnected. And in that interrelation, even to the atoms molecules etc... totally opened. That emptiness is openness. That the ultimate nature of the universe is openness. That is the ultimate wisdom.
The relative mundane wisdom is the wisdom of interacting with others, knowing how to apply oneself skillfully in helping other people, being kind and considerate, compassionate, and understanding the benefit of being generous, having moral discipline or patience, having joyous enthusiasm, being involved with meditation and also developing wisdom. In this way wisdom on the mundane level has many aspects, many varieties of wisdoms such as wisdoms of interacting with others, wisdoms in regards to one's own nature and so on.
If we took the foundation of the clear light level of consciousness and were to say that was an enlightened being, when it manifested into more gross levels. actually manifested a form, explain to me, what would be the coarse form manifestation of a fully enlightened being in the world?
You have to reflect that (1) a fully enlightened being has no negativity whatsoever. They have no residual karma within their being producing negative reflection in their interaction or activity. They don't see things from a selfish or attached, coveted way. Their being is liberated, free from all those stains of negativity. When their being becomes manifested form then, what would be the manifestation of form? What would be the intent of that manifestation of form?
: Pure energy... pure love...the intent would be to bring enlightenment to all sentient beings.
The form it would take would then be along the line of whatever was suitable for sentient beings? Another sentient being. A form we could relate to. That's where it actually takes a physical form. In it's subtle form termed the astral body or the body of enjoyment, it's said to be a very high spiritual form which has the thirty two major and eighty minor marks which is perfect in proportion, beauty and all majesty. Either marks of a man or woman, anyway it's perfect bliss or perfect form because it's the full evolution of the form of enlightenment. But upon manifesting into the coarse world, like our physical world or any other realm that it could manifest into, then it has to be, because it's enlightened, exactly at the level of wherever those beings are at.
In that sense if you think about it, for all we know Sinika could be a manifestation of the buddha right now because she can attract a lot of people. Because she is folk dancing. And in that she spreads her little bit of wisdom. So for all we know she is Tara. And she is manifesting buddha activity in that way which is appropriate for this time and day and age.
Point is, Enlightened beings, if they felt it was necessary could manifest as Tammy Baker, if it was appropriate. Or it could manifest as an ordinary person. Could manifest as Ronald Regan, Pierre Trudeau. If it is appropriate for the beings, and it helps then transform, then the enlightened beings not having limitations to their capacity, could do it.
If we then shift ourselves over into tantracism then, the fundamental understanding is that your innate nature is pure, is enlightened. And then, in manifesting a form of an enlightened being, that form is fully symbolic of what enlightenment is all about. For example... Tara. She has one hand over her right knee, the other hand is at her left breast and her third finger is touched. She is exquisite. She has the thirty two major and minor marks. So we could say it's an astral form, but it still has... you relate it to the physical plane in the sense that that is the manifestation of Tara. So if you are identifying self as deity, then you identify that your innate nature is in no way different from the enlightened beings nature. It's just that you don't realize it yet. You haven't accessed it yet. But if you wanted to become enlightened as quickly as you could, your intention, your focus, can match the enlightened beings, in the sense that you try to manifest love. But in manifesting love you qualify it with wisdom, it's not just emotional love. It's a love combined with a quality of wisdom involved in it. So to whatever extent that you can manifest love and compassion in your daily activities, and do that with a sense of purity, then you are manifesting enlightenment. And all it is is your qualities are not as great as the buddha, but as much as you appreciate your innate quality and you manifest those aspects of love and compassion, then you are so to speak, a clone of enlightenment.
In doing that then, the one special facet is that you don't visualize yourself as mundane. You visualize yourself as a fully enlightened being. You visualize yourself as Tara. She is symbolic of enlightenment. Her right hand is palm open and giving. If I give something, I give something like that to somebody. So Tara's hand is fully open and she bestows all your wishes. If you are praying to her in front of you, she would be bestowing unto you. If you are visualizing self as deity, then you visualize yourself as bestowing all gifts for all sentient beings. Your left hand is in this particular mudra. This means fully enlightened in the two fingers up and the third finger down, symbolizing "I am the jewel of the buddha. I am the jewel of the dharma, I am the jewel of the spiritual community", the sangha in that sense then, fully symbolic of the full object of refuge. So you are saying "I am the full object of refuge." All of the other implements and body posture has symbology for enlightenment.
Or if we take a male deity, four armed Avalokiteshvara, Buddha of Love and compassion. In his hands near the center of his chest is clasped the wish fulfilling jewel, the love and compassion we have. This jewel bestows all wishes for all sentient beings. The wish fulfilling jewel is symbolic of "My love and compassion fulfills all wishes." In his right hand he turns the beads of a mahla, symbolic it's said, that as each bead gets pulled, it's "I am pulling one sentient being to enlightenment." It's actually twisted like a figure eight. The other left hand is holding the stem of a white lotus flower. And that has a multitude of different symbols. Being a lotus flower it blossoms above a swamp. So, although it comes from cyclic existence, which is like a swamp, it blossoms above it beautiful and serene. And so enlightenment comes from from having been fully rooted in samsara but it blossoms in all beauty above samsara. It also symbolizes white as in purity, white as in love, white as in purification. There's quite a few interpretations for that. It is also a symbol for Avalokiteshvara being a white lotus.
So in identifying self as deity, at the initiation time you get given permission and actually experience to see self as deity. In that then you identify your subtle body with being the body with the marks, fully enlightened. And then the gross manifestation, although you still will have a certain sense of being yourself, it's said you should see that you are fully an enlightened being in the mundane world. In that sense then, you shouldn't see any more that you existence is mundane. That you are perfectly manifested in enlightenment, and then the world that you live in is what they term the celestial mansion and then that you are enjoying that, and then all your activities are for sentient beings. The crux of the matter, and that's where it comes back to the three principles of the path is that as much as you understand love and compassion and wisdom, that much of an an extent you can appreciate how to allow yourself to be an enlightened being. Because wisdom side says, the universe is open. Everything can change. Everything is mutable, transformable. And that is the ultimate nature of reality. So on that side you can appreciate that it's definitely possible for you to become enlightened. Then the other side is, my manifestation of love and compassion is approaching enlightenment love and compassion. It's sort of like a jewel, like a diamond. And for us, o.k. we have many facets which are the enlightenment facets. Well they are dirty, so they don't shine.
But as we become more and more serene, more beneficial, compassionate patient, loving, whatever, then the different facets of the diamond become clean and shine forth. And it's not that the diamond wasn't there. It was sullied, sullied with our own preconceived conceptions with our own jealousy, envy, attachment, whatever we have. This is what clouds it for now. So as much as we release ourself from those things, then we start to shine in the real quality.
The difference between the sutra path and tantric path is, the sutra path says that you are on the path and you are going to enlightenment. So you can't think of yourself as already enlightened because it's not appropriate. You are working and trying to clean off the jewel. Well, the tantric path says you are the jewel. In the tantric vision of the world, if you want to pursue or arrive at the goal the quickest, the best way is to think of yourself as the goal. And that way it eliminates any of the sense that I have that much more to purify or that much more to do. You are the goal. Now how well you manifest the goal in manifesting enlightenment of course isn't immediate. But as much you identify with that, then it makes it more quicker. You don't have the extra work of thinking that "I have to get to enlightenment, and when I get to enlightenment, then I'm going to become beautiful." Rather you think that "Already I have the beauty within, it's a matter that I have to fully reveal it." And there is a little dynamic there. It's a little bit sort of like enlightenment is here and now, it's not a thousand years away. But in doing that, if you have like a very high tantric deity, you'll have it in a very erotic form, like a male deity embracing a female, or a female deity standing naked, a very erotic figure. In doing that, you always have to appreciate that is symbolic, or that is empowering to me for my enlightenment. But what is the manifestation of my enlightenment, that is love and compassion. So although you might meditate, let's say we are talking on a high level of tantra, you might meditate as being a ferocious beast with a great erection, your standing naked and flames flashing a round your body, a horrible wrathful looking creature... the whole of that is symbolic for yourself as in you are tearing asunder all of your normal preconceptions. That the energy of that is totally focused on inner transformation. As soon as that energy touches the outside world, it's love and compassion. So it's purely self reflective, self enlightening, and in no way should it ever be seen as other.
Some people have the misunderstanding that, O.K. in tantracism, the world is my playground. And it's termed as enjoyments. Like I can enjoy the world because I am the deity and world is my mandala. And anything I do in that mandala is alright.
That is not wrong in a sense. But when you then throw in a little of your own selfish desire and say I can do anything I want, then you have tantracism gone bad. What you have to say is, "The world is a manifestation of my mandala. I am the tantric deity within my mandala. So this is the playground for my enlightenment." But in doing that then, is the energy as soon as it touches anything around you is bringing this thing into, well it is enlightened, so make it part of enlightened. In doing that the focus is all enlightenment activity. It doesn't have selfish activity. It doesn't have the normal sort of ego vision that we have, of like, "I want that" Or just possessions we would like, whatever. All of our sort of petty mind should be gone of course. It's not easy. But that is the tantric practice in the sense of that is the focus of it.
The added aspect is that it makes enlightenment its here and now. And they say that that transformation of seeing yourself as an enlightened being is quicker than the normal person's practice of a bodhisattva for example. They have to go through changes in their own personal vision of themselves. In doing that, they have to basically end up doing what a tantric practitioner does. But they are never told to do that. So therefore it takes them a lot longer and they sort of have to build up the energy, make a transformation, and then build up the energy and then they transform a bit. And it's sort of like they work at it harder where a tantric practitioner is taking it here and now. It's said for a tantric practitioner, the result is the path. For a sutra practitioner the path leads to the results. So there is a different emphasis to them too.
Now theres a lot more to tantracism, in the sense of also there are the chakras, the nerve channels, different meditational points that you can visualize and such which make it quicker. It's much related with what in India they call Agni yoga which is the yoga of fire. In the west they term that as kundalini yoga and similar practices. But in tantracism, they say that if you practice those practices without the vision of the three principles, and without the vision of being self as deity, then what you do is empower yourself as an ordinary person. Like if you get kundalini yoga, if you practice it more successful, because the meditation techniques are very powerful, they work very exactly. If you utilize those without the correct vision, you become sort of like a mahadev, in the sense of a great ego, you know very egocentric, and then of corse you could have people that maybe gain a lot of spiritual power but have very perverted ways of manifesting it.
Like the guy in South America. I mean, granted he had a lot of charisma, but he must have had some sort of power in the sense of being able to manipulate those people's egos. So there is an example of gone bad.
For a tantric practitioner, you visualize yourself as deity, all activities of yourself are enlightened activities which are the manifestations love and compassion, with wisdom. And in that sense then, if you were to practice kundalini yoga, whatever, then whatever power you realize empowers that aspect of yourself as much you can empower that aspect of yourself as much as you can empower that of yourself. O.K.?
So that ties together the fundamental nature of your being as clear light. That is the enlightenment seed. And that is within you. Sort of like the diamond within you that is clouded over. To make the practice quicker then tantracism says, you are the tantric deity. you are the fully enlightened being with the 32 major and 80 minor marks, and then your activity is the buddha activity, the activity of working for sentient beings. So this is a little different focus and a little different emphasis from the sutra path.
Meditation: Allow yourself to get in touch with your conscious mind, and try to investigate or perceive how is that like clear light. It's a very coarse manifestation of consciousness, lots of form and images it identifies with, but try to allow yourself to experience it as being light and energy, light and knowingness. And think a bit on the principles of the path, how they are integral and manifestation of your character and your spiritual practice.
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