Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

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Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby Astus » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:39 am

It is said that you can tell whether or not you have genuinely heard the teachings and understood their point by whether or not you are tame and peaceful in your conduct. And you can tell whether or not your meditation is effective by whether or not your kleshas are diminishing. Ideally, someone should finally have no kleshas whatsoever. But even on the way to that klesha-free state, your kleshas and thoughts should diminish. Therefore, I think that it is of far greater importance than the experience of dramatic instantaneous pointing out that people be taught mahamudra as a full system of instruction that they can implement on their own gradually through diligent application using either one of the three texts by the Ninth Gyalwang Karmapa—The Ocean of Definitive Meaning, Dispelling the Darkness of Ignorance, or Pointing Out the Dharmakaya— or one of the texts by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal—either Moonbeams of Mahamudra or The Clarification of the Natural State.
In short, I think it is of far more importance that people receive this kind of complete and systematic instruction so that they can gradually develop experience on their own, than that some kind of dramatic pointing-out procedure be done. Of course, it is possible to give dramatic pointing-out instruction, and when you do so, some people do recognize their mind’s nature. But, if I may say so, I question the stability and, therefore, ultimately the value of that. It certainly is a dramatic experience for those people who achieve it, but I see no evidence of their kleshas diminishing as a result. And furthermore, they then carry away with them the arrogance of the thought, “I have seen my mind’s nature.” I think it is of far greater importance actually to practice meditation slowly and surely and make all possible use of the resources which this book in particular gives you.

(Thrangu RInpoche: The Ninth Karmapa's Ocean of Devinitive Meaning, p. 127-128)
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby heart » Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:19 am

Yes, Thrangu Rinpoche mentions this now and then. Also in a pre-publication I read he said that he himself was introduced to fast and that if you are not ready when you recieve the pointing-out or direct introduction it might be the cause of confusion rather than liberation.

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby Astus » Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:47 am

What I really admire in his approach - and Kagyu Mahamudra generally - is the detailed methodology they apply in this training.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby heart » Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:03 pm

Astus wrote:What I really admire in his approach - and Kagyu Mahamudra generally - is the detailed methodology they apply in this training.


Yes, it is quite wonderful.

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby Malcolm » Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:06 pm

Astus wrote:What I really admire in his approach - and Kagyu Mahamudra generally - is the detailed methodology they apply in this training.


Dzogchen etc., also have very detailed methodologies. They are just less sutra oriented.

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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby Astus » Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:58 pm

Namdrol wrote:Dzogchen etc., also have very detailed methodologies. They are just less sutra oriented.


Sure they do. It's just that I've never found those so clear, not that I've seen it all.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby Paul » Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:31 pm

Astus wrote:It is said that you can tell whether or not you have genuinely heard the teachings and understood their point by whether or not you are tame and peaceful in your conduct. And you can tell whether or not your meditation is effective by whether or not your kleshas are diminishing. Ideally, someone should finally have no kleshas whatsoever. But even on the way to that klesha-free state, your kleshas and thoughts should diminish. Therefore, I think that it is of far greater importance than the experience of dramatic instantaneous pointing out that people be taught mahamudra as a full system of instruction that they can implement on their own gradually through diligent application using either one of the three texts by the Ninth Gyalwang Karmapa—The Ocean of Definitive Meaning, Dispelling the Darkness of Ignorance, or Pointing Out the Dharmakaya— or one of the texts by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal—either Moonbeams of Mahamudra or The Clarification of the Natural State.
In short, I think it is of far more importance that people receive this kind of complete and systematic instruction so that they can gradually develop experience on their own, than that some kind of dramatic pointing-out procedure be done. Of course, it is possible to give dramatic pointing-out instruction, and when you do so, some people do recognize their mind’s nature. But, if I may say so, I question the stability and, therefore, ultimately the value of that. It certainly is a dramatic experience for those people who achieve it, but I see no evidence of their kleshas diminishing as a result. And furthermore, they then carry away with them the arrogance of the thought, “I have seen my mind’s nature.” I think it is of far greater importance actually to practice meditation slowly and surely and make all possible use of the resources which this book in particular gives you.

(Thrangu RInpoche: The Ninth Karmapa's Ocean of Devinitive Meaning, p. 127-128)


Dakpo Tashi Namgyal is indeed fantastic for clarifying any doubts and being very systematic. He wrote some wonderful texts.
Image

"Do not block your six senses; delight in them with joy and ease.
All that you take pleasure in will strengthen the awakened state.
With such a confidence, empowered by the regal state of natural mind,
The training now is simply this: lets your six senses be at ease and free." - Princess Parani
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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby Kai » Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:23 pm

Astus wrote:What I really admire in his approach - and Kagyu Mahamudra generally - is the detailed methodology they apply in this training.


If you read the latest book "Mahamudra and Related Instructions", there are detailed meditation instructions and some systematical teachings on how to apply simple practice like "four thoughts that turn the mind" and their correspondence to the four mindfulness found in lower path of accumulation. This is followed by Inner preliminaries (excluding guru yoga) that is related to middle stage of the path of accumulation involves the abandonment of negative actions and the cultivation of virtuous actions (four renunciations), by which merit is accumulated. After this, its guru yoga that supports the meditative concentration and so on............

At any rate, it reveals how important fundamental practice is.
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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby Greg » Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:41 pm

Astus wrote:Of course, it is possible to give dramatic pointing-out instruction, and when you do so, some people do recognize their mind’s nature. But, if I may say so, I question the stability and, therefore, ultimately the value of that. It certainly is a dramatic experience for those people who achieve it, but I see no evidence of their kleshas diminishing as a result. And furthermore, they then carry away with them the arrogance of the thought, “I have seen my mind’s nature.” I think it is of far greater importance actually to practice meditation slowly and surely and make all possible use of the resources which this book in particular gives you.
(Thrangu RInpoche: The Ninth Karmapa's Ocean of Devinitive Meaning, p. 127-128)


I can understanding what he is saying about pride being a possible problem, but isn't recognizing one's mind's nature the basis of the path? How can one cultivate something in a systematic way if one has not yet had experience of the basis of cultivation, that which is to be cultivated? Can one really practice mahamudra meditation slowly and surely without any recognition of mind's nature to serve as the basis of practice?

I am not asking rhetorically, I am just uncertain of this point.
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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby Astus » Wed Sep 28, 2011 7:31 pm

Greg,

It uses the practices of shamatha to tame the mind, then vipashyana to guide one to the insight of the nature of mind. Then on, of course, all actions can be based on the realisation of the nature of mind, and that is continuous practice.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby Paul » Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:09 pm

Greg wrote:
Astus wrote:Of course, it is possible to give dramatic pointing-out instruction, and when you do so, some people do recognize their mind’s nature. But, if I may say so, I question the stability and, therefore, ultimately the value of that. It certainly is a dramatic experience for those people who achieve it, but I see no evidence of their kleshas diminishing as a result. And furthermore, they then carry away with them the arrogance of the thought, “I have seen my mind’s nature.” I think it is of far greater importance actually to practice meditation slowly and surely and make all possible use of the resources which this book in particular gives you.
(Thrangu RInpoche: The Ninth Karmapa's Ocean of Devinitive Meaning, p. 127-128)


I can understanding what he is saying about pride being a possible problem, but isn't recognizing one's mind's nature the basis of the path? How can one cultivate something in a systematic way if one has not yet had experience of the basis of cultivation, that which is to be cultivated? Can one really practice mahamudra meditation slowly and surely without any recognition of mind's nature to serve as the basis of practice?

I am not asking rhetorically, I am just uncertain of this point.


Dakpo Tashi Namgyal says in Clarifying the Natural State: "It is important to continue training persistently for a couple of days. Otherwise there may be a danger of this seeing of mind-essence, which you have pursued through various means, slipping away."

So maybe, if introduction is too quick, due to an insufficient basis to work with the nature of mind might not be comprehended fully and mahamudra/dzogchen practice will then slip into something conceptual - leading to arrogance etc. That's the way I understood Thrangu Rinpoche's warning.
Image

"Do not block your six senses; delight in them with joy and ease.
All that you take pleasure in will strengthen the awakened state.
With such a confidence, empowered by the regal state of natural mind,
The training now is simply this: lets your six senses be at ease and free." - Princess Parani
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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby Greg » Fri Sep 30, 2011 8:13 pm

Astus wrote:Greg,

It uses the practices of shamatha to tame the mind, then vipashyana to guide one to the insight of the nature of mind. Then on, of course, all actions can be based on the realisation of the nature of mind, and that is continuous practice.



Hayagriva wrote:
Greg wrote:
Astus wrote:Of course, it is possible to give dramatic pointing-out instruction, and when you do so, some people do recognize their mind’s nature. But, if I may say so, I question the stability and, therefore, ultimately the value of that. It certainly is a dramatic experience for those people who achieve it, but I see no evidence of their kleshas diminishing as a result. And furthermore, they then carry away with them the arrogance of the thought, “I have seen my mind’s nature.” I think it is of far greater importance actually to practice meditation slowly and surely and make all possible use of the resources which this book in particular gives you.
(Thrangu RInpoche: The Ninth Karmapa's Ocean of Devinitive Meaning, p. 127-128)


I can understanding what he is saying about pride being a possible problem, but isn't recognizing one's mind's nature the basis of the path? How can one cultivate something in a systematic way if one has not yet had experience of the basis of cultivation, that which is to be cultivated? Can one really practice mahamudra meditation slowly and surely without any recognition of mind's nature to serve as the basis of practice?

I am not asking rhetorically, I am just uncertain of this point.


Dakpo Tashi Namgyal says in Clarifying the Natural State: "It is important to continue training persistently for a couple of days. Otherwise there may be a danger of this seeing of mind-essence, which you have pursued through various means, slipping away."

So maybe, if introduction is too quick, due to an insufficient basis to work with the nature of mind might not be comprehended fully and mahamudra/dzogchen practice will then slip into something conceptual - leading to arrogance etc. That's the way I understood Thrangu Rinpoche's warning.


True enough, but it seems like the shamatha instruction is usually something like "rest in thamal gyi shepa" so it's hard to see how one does that not having recognized thamal gyi shepa.
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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby Astus » Fri Sep 30, 2011 9:37 pm

Greg,

Not necessarily. It goes through different forms of shamatha with and without object. Insight into ordinary mind comes through vipashyana. That is, in the systematic works like those by the 9th Karmapa, Tashi Namgyal and Natsok Rangdrol.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby Greg » Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:25 pm

Astus wrote:Greg,

Not necessarily. It goes through different forms of shamatha with and without object. Insight into ordinary mind comes through vipashyana. That is, in the systematic works like those by the 9th Karmapa, Tashi Namgyal and Natsok Rangdrol.


It's true that 9th Karmapa's Ocean of Definitive Meaning has many different forms of shamatha instruction. It gives a whole overview of the Buddhist practice path really. But much of that is not Mahamudra proper.
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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby monktastic » Tue Sep 11, 2012 4:02 am

Sorry for digging up an old thread, but this topic is of great interest to me. I'm currently on a 3-month retreat, practicing primarily shamatha but also self-taught Mahamudra.

My question is: if one is trying to practice Mahamudra without having been giving a pointing-out, how should one check that one is "doing it right"? Or should one not worry? What are the chances that one can recognize thamal gyi shepa without a pointing out?

I have done a considerable amount of shamatha, as well as investigation into the nature of mind (more or less my whole life as a passion, before happily stumbling into Kagyu Buddhism 5 years ago). I've read Clarifying The Natural State several times, as well as much written by Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. (I even had the chance to ask Thrangu Rinpoche himself for a pointing-out during an interview, and he said no :tongue:). It does seem to me that I am experiencing what Dakpo Tashi Namgyal and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche are describing, but words are... yeah, you know.

I've asked one of Rinpoche's lamas for guidance on the matter, and there seems to be a miscommunication going on -- he answered "yes" when I asked if I should get a pointing-out before reading Clarifying.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby heart » Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:03 am

monktastic wrote:
My question is: if one is trying to practice Mahamudra without having been giving a pointing-out, how should one check that one is "doing it right"? Or should one not worry? What are the chances that one can recognize thamal gyi shepa without a pointing out?



It isn't that big. However your efforts might not be in vain if you approach a qualified teacher with your questions from your retreat. Most Mahamudra masters will not teach this to just anyone so they might want you to do some practices first that you find irrelevant. But nothing is irrelevant in Mahamudra.

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby Astus » Tue Sep 11, 2012 1:10 pm

As you can find in Mahamudra handbooks, regular checks by a teacher is how the effectiveness of instructions are assured. So, if you have a teacher who you can attend for a longer period, like within a retreat environment, make use of it. Otherwise, study the teachings, not only in Mahamudra manuals, but also works on madhyamaka, sutras, etc. When understanding, realisation and conduct matches what is taught, you see for yourself that the words of the Buddha and the masters are true.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby monktastic » Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:26 am

Thank you both for the replies. The funny thing is, I'm in one of Thrangu Rinpoche's centers, on retreat, but I'm a bit confused by the lama (the language barrier certainly contributes). It could also be my pride getting in the way, since he suggests spending one week (12 hrs/day) doing *each* of the 9 preliminaries, prior to taking on the 5 or so different objects of shamatha (one week each) mentioned in Pointing Out the Dharmakaya. This, despite being pleased with my shamatha progress on 3 month retreat 4 years ago (which has only improved). He also thinks I should be getting a pointing-out before reading "Clarifying...," but when I ask how to get one, he says "don't ask"!

I must say I'm breaking the rules a bit, and that I've been practicing the teachings of Greg Goode in the "neo-Advaita" tradition. After reading and practicing, the words of DTN and TUR (sorry for the abbrs) seem much more starkly clear. It feels presumptuous to believe that I have any understanding whatsoever of emptiness, but boy does some of it (particularly the things they both suggest one get a grasp on*) ring true from my experience now.

A related question: I've been practicing what Alan Wallace calls "awareness of awareness" (or "shamatha without a sign", similar to "unsupported shamatha"). But after (what I think is) a bit of experience of emptiness, it feels a bit more contrived to take on some particular focus (be it "stillness," "the present," or particularly awareness itself). These are all concepts that perhaps I had reified more strongly before. Perhaps this in itself is a sign I should switch to "uncontrived naturalness"?

Thanks again,
A

* In particular, that:
- external and internal phenomena have no confirmable identity other than awareness
- "mind" (as a construct, a container for thoughts) is not to be found
- awareness itself has no substance or location or identifying characteristics other than being illuminating and "permissive"
- awareness is not happening "to" anybody (although I haven't lost the suspicion that there's someone that awareness and thoughts might belong to)

(By the way, if I'm being obnoxious or improper by posting what I think I experience, please tell me and I'll stop immediately.)
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby heart » Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:12 am

monktastic wrote:Thank you both for the replies. The funny thing is, I'm in one of Thrangu Rinpoche's centers, on retreat, but I'm a bit confused by the lama (the language barrier certainly contributes). It could also be my pride getting in the way, since he suggests spending one week (12 hrs/day) doing *each* of the 9 preliminaries, prior to taking on the 5 or so different objects of shamatha (one week each) mentioned in Pointing Out the Dharmakaya. This, despite being pleased with my shamatha progress on 3 month retreat 4 years ago (which has only improved). He also thinks I should be getting a pointing-out before reading "Clarifying...," but when I ask how to get one, he says "don't ask"!

I must say I'm breaking the rules a bit, and that I've been practicing the teachings of Greg Goode in the "neo-Advaita" tradition. After reading and practicing, the words of DTN and TUR (sorry for the abbrs) seem much more starkly clear. It feels presumptuous to believe that I have any understanding whatsoever of emptiness, but boy does some of it (particularly the things they both suggest one get a grasp on*) ring true from my experience now.

A related question: I've been practicing what Alan Wallace calls "awareness of awareness" (or "shamatha without a sign", similar to "unsupported shamatha"). But after (what I think is) a bit of experience of emptiness, it feels a bit more contrived to take on some particular focus (be it "stillness," "the present," or particularly awareness itself). These are all concepts that perhaps I had reified more strongly before. Perhaps this in itself is a sign I should switch to "uncontrived naturalness"?

Thanks again,
A


It is all a sign that you should try to find a Guru.
Thrangu Rinpoche is an amazing teacher, did you read "Vivid Awareness"? He probably already tried to give you pointing-out. But if you don't get it and keep mixing up instructions from other traditions/religions you will just get confused, I think maybe you should look for someone that will teach you in a way you can relate to. I studied many years in a Karma Kagyu center and in my opinion, with your inclination, you might become very frustrated. How do you even know that your local Lama is capable of giving pointing-out, just because he wear a red robe?

* In particular, that:
- external and internal phenomena have no confirmable identity other than awareness
- "mind" (as a construct, a container for thoughts) is not to be found
- awareness itself has no substance or location or identifying characteristics other than being illuminating and "permissive"
- awareness is not happening "to" anybody (although I haven't lost the suspicion that there's someone that awareness and thoughts might belong to)

(By the way, if I'm being obnoxious or improper by posting what I think I experience, please tell me and I'll stop immediately.)


You are intellectualizing your practice a little to much I think. I think online discussion on these subjects will only confuse you in the end.

/magnus
"To reject practice by saying, 'it is conceptual!' is the path of fools. A tendency of the inexperienced and something to be avoided."
- Longchenpa
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Re: Pointing Out / Systematic Instruction

Postby Astus » Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:25 am

In the end it is always you who decide what to do. So, you better clarify your motivation when you decide on this or that teaching and practice. Is it because it sounds good, or it fits your previous ideas, or the lama says so, or it works, etc.?

The important thing in calming meditation is to be calm and aware. What tool you use for that is secondary. If you feel it is all contrived, that's fine. Then just let it go. But the more subtle the object the easier it is to lose mindfulness of it and slip into daydreaming. This is something you have to clarify for yourself. Big words and ideas or of little help.

If you are wondering about the things to be discovered in insight meditation, you should rely on the instructions first and then on actual experience. Instructions are your guide but not the experience. Ideas about the instructions are easily misleading. See for yourself, drop the explanations and just look. And if you have doubts, bring them to your teacher. Not to argue about theories, but only to help you find the present truth. You may also just recognise that doubts and the rest are all based on ideas, ideas on thoughts, thoughts just come and go without any problem.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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