Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

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Re: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby Astus » Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:53 pm

rachmiel wrote:Apologies for getting a bit analytical. I'm trying to avoid doing something that feels like vivid awareness, but is not. To do this, I need to know if I'm on the right track.

Let's say there are two main types of awareness: awareness of objects (physical and mental) and pure awareness (no objects).

Awareness of objects can be very obvious: I see a tree, name it (tree/maple), and think about that time as a kid when I climbed a maple tree and found a bird nest in it. Or it can be subtler: I see a tree, name it (tree), but I don't go beyond that in interpretation/storytelling. Or it can be even subtler: I see colors and shapes, but don't name them.

Pure awareness is awareness with no objects, no subject/object division. One simply IS awareness.

My question: Which of these types of awareness is vivid awareness? Specifically, is it the subtlest form of awareness of objects, in which one perceives sensations without naming them? Or is it pure awareness, in which there are no objects, just awareness itself?

Thanks!


First of all, an awareness without object is a fiction, it is only a theory, a false concept of self. When there is no duality of subject and object it means that one does not reify a self and a thing, and by grasping on one there is always the other, that's why Buddhism is not a monism nor a dualism. The emptiness of self and appearances means that there is no clinging to an inherently existing essence. But, it doesn't negate any ordinary phenomenon, the six faculties work perfectly well, but one knows and sees that all are dependently arisen and without substance. That's why in Dzogchen you don't create any special state, don't make any effort in achieving something, but simply let things come and go without attaching to them any importance. You are aware of everything but don't get stuck by anything. So, if you are wondering about what pure awareness, vivid awareness or anything like that is, just see how the thought appears, stays and goes, but don't try to hold on to it, solve it, respond to it or remove it. Also, look at the preliminaries given by Gangshar on how to analyse appearances, since that can help you clarify some difficult points.
"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: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby rachmiel » Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:20 pm

Astus wrote:First of all, an awareness without object is a fiction, it is only a theory, a false concept of self. When there is no duality of subject and object it means that one does not reify a self and a thing, and by grasping on one there is always the other, that's why Buddhism is not a monism nor a dualism. The emptiness of self and appearances means that there is no clinging to an inherently existing essence. But, it doesn't negate any ordinary phenomenon, the six faculties work perfectly well, but one knows and sees that all are dependently arisen and without substance. That's why in Dzogchen you don't create any special state, don't make any effort in achieving something, but simply let things come and go without attaching to them any importance. You are aware of everything but don't get stuck by anything. So, if you are wondering about what pure awareness, vivid awareness or anything like that is, just see how the thought appears, stays and goes, but don't try to hold on to it, solve it, respond to it or remove it. Also, look at the preliminaries given by Gangshar on how to analyse appearances, since that can help you clarify some difficult points.

Thanks, very clear.

How does awareness of awareness fit into the above? The friend of mine who suggested I try Gangshar's vivid awareness said that this is what Gangshar is talking about: to be aware of awareness itself. Which doesn't negate objects, but doesn't attend to them either. One attends to the awareness that enables these phenomena to arise in the first place.
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Re: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby rachmiel » Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:22 pm

deepbluehum wrote:You should just tune into Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche's webcasts.

There are lots of them. Any suggestions for where to start? Thanks.
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Re: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby deepbluehum » Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:40 pm

rachmiel wrote:
Astus wrote:First of all, an awareness without object is a fiction, it is only a theory, a false concept of self. When there is no duality of subject and object it means that one does not reify a self and a thing, and by grasping on one there is always the other, that's why Buddhism is not a monism nor a dualism. The emptiness of self and appearances means that there is no clinging to an inherently existing essence. But, it doesn't negate any ordinary phenomenon, the six faculties work perfectly well, but one knows and sees that all are dependently arisen and without substance. That's why in Dzogchen you don't create any special state, don't make any effort in achieving something, but simply let things come and go without attaching to them any importance. You are aware of everything but don't get stuck by anything. So, if you are wondering about what pure awareness, vivid awareness or anything like that is, just see how the thought appears, stays and goes, but don't try to hold on to it, solve it, respond to it or remove it. Also, look at the preliminaries given by Gangshar on how to analyse appearances, since that can help you clarify some difficult points.

Thanks, very clear.

How does awareness of awareness fit into the above? The friend of mine who suggested I try Gangshar's vivid awareness said that this is what Gangshar is talking about: to be aware of awareness itself. Which doesn't negate objects, but doesn't attend to them either. One attends to the awareness that enables these phenomena to arise in the first place.


Awareness of awareness is it. Precisely. "Perfectly seeing the self-aware primordial wisdom that is aware of itself by itself..." Five Stages "Place the awareness upon itself, which, from primordial time or from the very beginning, has never been confused in samsara."Water Crystal, A Commentary on the Ganges Mahamudra, by HH the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. If you have confidence in this, you can safely put away all your books and stop asking questions. Just doing this completes everything dharma has to offer.

"Once one eats the food of uncreated absolute nature, it provides the satisfactions of all tenet systems without exception. Not realizing this the childish ones rely on terms and words. Everything is characterized by one's own mind." Utterly Non-Abiding Tanta

Hevajra says, "It is mantra recitation, it is austerity and it is the generosity of burnt offerings. It is those beings in the mandala; in brief, everything is a reflection contained within the mind."

My hearfelt advice is to follow this an ignore the intellectualizations of other members of this board. Such terms are merely the skillful means to ensnare intellectuals. It is not the holy dharma itself. Dharma has no words. It is awareness seeing itself, and seeing nothing. That's all. Which is all ChNN can point out. Dzogchen is nothing more than this.
Last edited by deepbluehum on Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:00 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby deepbluehum » Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:45 pm

rachmiel wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:You should just tune into Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche's webcasts.

There are lots of them. Any suggestions for where to start? Thanks.


The next World Wide Transmission of Anniversary of Guru Garab Dorje. He will give extensive explanation of direct introduction of Dzogchen. But next transmission will be 10 day Mandarava Chulen retreat. He will sure give DI then too but for a first retreat this one will surely help but might be a little too much too soon.
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Re: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby Astus » Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:21 pm

rachmiel wrote:Thanks, very clear.

How does awareness of awareness fit into the above? The friend of mine who suggested I try Gangshar's vivid awareness said that this is what Gangshar is talking about: to be aware of awareness itself. Which doesn't negate objects, but doesn't attend to them either. One attends to the awareness that enables these phenomena to arise in the first place.


Awareness of awareness is simply being aware of whatever appears without attaching to them. There are numerous similar terms depending on the tradition and the scripture. There is a possible misunderstanding of taking it literally as if there was a singular awareness that can be aware of itself, which is not possible.
"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: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby deepbluehum » Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:02 pm

Astus wrote:
rachmiel wrote:Thanks, very clear.

How does awareness of awareness fit into the above? The friend of mine who suggested I try Gangshar's vivid awareness said that this is what Gangshar is talking about: to be aware of awareness itself. Which doesn't negate objects, but doesn't attend to them either. One attends to the awareness that enables these phenomena to arise in the first place.


Awareness of awareness is simply being aware of whatever appears without attaching to them. There are numerous similar terms depending on the tradition and the scripture. There is a possible misunderstanding of taking it literally as if there was a singular awareness that can be aware of itself, which is not possible.


This might be your personal position or that of Mahayana scholars. But it's not the position of the Drikung Kagyu lineage. Or any Kagyu or Dzogchen lineage for that matter. Awareness of awareness is beyond the mind.
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Re: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby Astus » Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:00 pm

deepbluehum wrote:This might be your personal position or that of Mahayana scholars. But it's not the position of the Drikung Kagyu lineage. Or any Kagyu or Dzogchen lineage for that matter. Awareness of awareness is beyond the mind.


Here are a few quotes from you from Dzogchen instructions.

"For a person of best capability, mind is mind when it is still, and it is mind when it moves. Once you are convinced that mind is empty, there is no difference at all between stillness and movement. Whatever thoughts arise, whatever appears, is all the play of pristine wisdom. It is the profound perspective of all victorious ones: emptiness. Without adulterating it in any way, rest within that itself. Although occasionally there are regular thoughts, since they are liberated automatically within that state, it is only meditative absorption (samadhi). It is dharmakaya. It is innately occurring pristine wisdom. It is the Great Seal (mahamudra). It is the perfection of transcendent intelligence (prajnaparamita). It is like a burned rope: it cannot tie you up because it is empty of essence. The thought-like occurrence is actually the shining radiance of emptiness. There is no difference between thought and emptiness. So the Great Orgyen said: Since the essence of thought is empty, know it as dharmakaya." (Za Patrul Rinpoche: The Clear Elucidation of the True Nature - An Esoteric Instruction on the Sublime Approach of Ati)

"When it happens that you do get involved in thoughts that recollect the past or entertain the future, then let be directly in awareness. If a thought pattern continues, there is no need for a separate antidote since whatever takes place is liberated by itself. What occurs spontaneously is the radiance of your own mind. To see it with vivid clarity is the essential instruction!
It is your mind's natural disposition to spontaneously reflect. Consequently, spend your life within this state of carefree and pervasive openness, of undistracted nonmeditation, of knowing one thing that liberates all - in which all that appears and exists is dharmakaya, samsara and nirvana are indivisible, and arising and liberation are simultaneous. If you spend your entire life in spiritual activities within this kind of state, in which the thinker and the object of thought are an undivided unity, there is not a single doubt that you will capture the 'stronghold of nonregression' in this very life."
(The Final Words of Tsele Natsok Rangdrö)

"All we have to do now is maintain our awareness. As a thought arises from the state of stillness, if we simply recognize it with that awareness, it will dissolve back into the nature of mind. Thoughts and emotions become like the waves on the ocean, rising and sinking back into its expanse, and we become like the ocean itself, vast, spacious and placid. Nothing remains for us to do apart from maintaining that awareness." (Sogyal RInpoche: Natural Great Peace)
"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: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby deepbluehum » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:09 pm

Astus wrote:There is a possible misunderstanding of taking it literally as if there was a singular awareness that can be aware of itself, which is not possible.


Your Dzogchen quotes refute this. This idea, mind cannot take mind as an object, is a Mahayana scholar idea, made most famous in Shantideva. In the tantras and in the Dzogchen you quoted awareness is aware of itself, which is the meaning of primordial awareness or self-aware wisdom or just self-awareness.

Anyway my point is there is no need to burden a newcomer with these mind games. Awareness of awareness is it. Which is what the authoritative tantras say, rather than these dudes you quoted with all that long winded talkie talk.. Moving on.
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Re: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby LastLegend » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:21 pm

rachmiel wrote:When practicing vivid awareness as taught by Khenpo Gangshar, if I follow his instruction to stay in the present moment without any trace of past (memory, resonance) or future (anticipation), my sense of continuity drops away and I am left with what feels like a succession of quick "snapshots" ... like a set of fast short edits in a movie: this, this, this, this, this, etc. It feels as if I am directly experiencing annica = constant change.

Normally a sense of deep and steady calmness arises when I meditate. But when I practice vivid awareness, things get kinda wild, and all I can do is hold on and watch as the world flashes by!

I'm a newbie to this technique. Does it sound like I'm "doing it right?" Should calmness arise from vivid awareness? Or the succession of fast discontinuous snapshots I've described?

Thanks for the help.


My suggestion is

Truly contemplate on the nature of interdependent existence or impermanence, and of no-self. Contemplate everyday, and don't worry about meditation yet.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)
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Re: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:18 am

LastLegend wrote:
rachmiel wrote:When practicing vivid awareness as taught by Khenpo Gangshar, if I follow his instruction to stay in the present moment without any trace of past (memory, resonance) or future (anticipation), my sense of continuity drops away and I am left with what feels like a succession of quick "snapshots" ... like a set of fast short edits in a movie: this, this, this, this, this, etc. It feels as if I am directly experiencing annica = constant change.

Normally a sense of deep and steady calmness arises when I meditate. But when I practice vivid awareness, things get kinda wild, and all I can do is hold on and watch as the world flashes by!

I'm a newbie to this technique. Does it sound like I'm "doing it right?" Should calmness arise from vivid awareness? Or the succession of fast discontinuous snapshots I've described?

Thanks for the help.


My suggestion is

Truly contemplate on the nature of interdependent existence or impermanence, and of no-self. Contemplate everyday, and don't worry about meditation yet.


Terrible advice.
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Re: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby Jinzang » Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:53 am

Here is what Traga Rinpoche had to say on the subject:

Ultimate truth is the original nature, which is the dharmadhatu, the suchness of phenomena. It is referred to as emptiness, mahamudra, or mahasandhi, the perfect nature. It is realized only by the noble ones. It is the self aware primordial wisdom. It is beyond the domain of thought, inexpressible, and incomprehensible. It cannot be expressed through speech, shown, pointed to, or demonstrated. The body cannot touch it, the speech express it, or mind think of it. It is known only by discerning the primordial wisdom. There is no duality of subject and object in it. It is inseparable appearance-emptiness. This emptiness is the dharmadhatu, the base of all phenomena. When it is realized, there are no concepts or kleshas. All impurities have been eliminated. But also there is no wisdom.
Lamrim, lojong, and mahamudra are the unmistaken path.
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Re: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby Jinzang » Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:59 am

Also, I once asked Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche during one of his question and answers, whether it could be said that you perceive emptiness. He answer (paraphrasing) that it was debatable, but because of the immediacy of the experience, it was more like a perception than not.

My personal opinion is, that "rang rig" is only a perception in the sense that it is not conceptualized and not unconsciousness. Thus it could be called a perception, but only by analogy.
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Re: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby deepbluehum » Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:26 pm

Jinzang wrote:Here is what Traga Rinpoche had to say on the subject:

Ultimate truth is the original nature, which is the dharmadhatu, the suchness of phenomena. It is referred to as emptiness, mahamudra, or mahasandhi, the perfect nature. It is realized only by the noble ones. It is the self aware primordial wisdom. It is beyond the domain of thought, inexpressible, and incomprehensible. It cannot be expressed through speech, shown, pointed to, or demonstrated. The body cannot touch it, the speech express it, or mind think of it. It is known only by discerning the primordial wisdom. There is no duality of subject and object in it. It is inseparable appearance-emptiness. This emptiness is the dharmadhatu, the base of all phenomena. When it is realized, there are no concepts or kleshas. All impurities have been eliminated. But also there is no wisdom.


Well since Traga is a Drikungpa, he also has to follow HH. The text I quoted, Water Crystal, is recent and meant to state, after his extensive research into the source material of all Kagyu branches of the earliest instructions on Mahamudra, what is the official statement about Mahamudra. A lot more could be said than is in the small text, because this is meant to refresh the original lineage of instructions, later statements about appearance emptiness, thought as dharmakaya, etc were not included.

So the basic view now is, awareness of awareness or self awareness is illusory because no one is seeing anything. Because all phenomena are contained in that it is Mahamudra.
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Re: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby Jinzang » Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:44 am

Well since Traga is a Drikungpa, he also has to follow HH. The text I quoted, Water Crystal, is recent and meant to state, after his extensive research into the source material of all Kagyu branches of the earliest instructions on Mahamudra, what is the official statement about Mahamudra.


I don't think it's that tightly controlled & there's no official "party line" on mahamudra and emptiness. All the Kagyu I've received teaching from follow Lodro Thaye's interpretation of gzhan stong, but it isn't a rigid "party line." Traga Rinpoche is as much Nyingma as Kagyu, as his main teacher was Khenpo Muensel.
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Re: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby Jinzang » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:22 am

I'm not aware of what Chetsang Rinpoche has written on mahamudra other than his book, which was based on teachings given in Frederick. It's a nice summary of mahamudra, but can't be viewed as a scholarly presentation, let alone the definitive word on the subject. It wasn't meant to be, he was presenting the subject to Westerners. Drikung Kagyu will turn to the same texts as Karma Kagyu for the scholarly presentation of mahamudra, such as Moonlight. Drupon Thinley Ningpo told me this & that he had received an extensive commentary on Moonlight from Chetsang Rinpoche.

I've met both Chetsang Rinpoche and Traga Rinpoche and was impressed by both of them, I'm sorry you think so little of Traga and refer to him dismissively.
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Re: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby monktastic » Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:35 pm

Along the lines of what deepbluehum is saying (and I must thank deepbluehum and others here for having helped me not long ago), here are two useful quotes from Lama Gendun Rinpoche:

Unless we look into the nature of mind we will never recognize it. But this is true only in the beginning. Once you grow more familiar with it, there is no need to look here or there, or to do anything. Recognition happens spontaneously because of being used to recognizing, to some extent. When there is a subject and object in the recognition, this is none other than dualistic mind.


Whenever we lose our motivation, we should remind ourselves [that there is nothing to do or attain] and never have any doubts about our capacity to do nothing!
(Emphasis in original.)

That last one has incredible depth. Doubt itself is merely another experience floating on by, and no importance need be attached to it. That only generates more doubt, and then the whole thing "falls apart."

Dharma teacher Kenneth Folk has a beautiful (I think) way of looking at this: if you're "ready" to practice in this formless way, then full throttle, godspeed, bon voyage! If you're not -- and that includes merely believing that you're not -- then there's certainly no shame in using "training wheels" (my words, not his). And it doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. Some days doubt may get the better of you, and other days it's recognized as just part of the scenery. If doubt arises, there's no need to take the bait. And yet... and yet... ;)

So yes, there may be no reason to take any other advice than "do nothing" and letting self-aware presence of mind just "do itself." And yet, especially in the beginning, it will often feel like there's reason to do other practices, particularly if this "self-aware presence of mind" thing isn't clicking. If this is the actual "situation on the ground," then maybe go with it. A little mindfulness of breathing never hurt anyone, including (or especially) those who could maintain rigpa flawlessly.

:smile:
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

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Re: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby monktastic » Sat Mar 16, 2013 6:32 am

deepbluehum wrote:Awareness of awareness is it. Precisely. "Perfectly seeing the self-aware primordial wisdom that is aware of itself by itself..." Five Stages "Place the awareness upon itself, which, from primordial time or from the very beginning, has never been confused in samsara."Water Crystal, A Commentary on the Ganges Mahamudra, by HH the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. If you have confidence in this, you can safely put away all your books and stop asking questions. Just doing this completes everything dharma has to offer.


I know nothing myself, but it has been repeatedly drilled into my head (by Alan Wallace, and from reading Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche's sons) that most "awareness of awareness" practice is "merely" objectless shamatha. Wallace explicitly uses "awareness of awareness" as a synonym for objectless shamatha, and says that only in exceedingly rare cases does this transition into the primordial wisdom of rigpa.

Again, I know nothing, but it is useful to make others aware of what these teachers say.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

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Re: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby Andrew108 » Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:40 pm

Yes deepbluehum has a subtle misunderstanding here. The term 'perfectly see' in the quote he referenced is the key. For the real meaning of 'perfectly see' then read Astus's posts. It is not deepbluehum's fault because I think a lot of Mahamudra terminology is confusing especially the term awareness. It is important to know that in Mahamudra terms such as self-arisen awareness, clear light, bliss, buddha nature etc have the same meaning. All are 'unfindable' and indescribable and unelaborated. So none of these is an object that can be experienced or held by an other. For example, clear light is not the object of awareness, buddhanature is not an objectification of awareness, bliss is not an object containing emptiness and so on.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Question about Khenpo Gangshar's vivid awareness

Postby oldbob » Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:28 pm

Astus wrote:Look at what Gangshar says,

"At that time, there is no though of, "Sights and sounds are out there!" Everything appears without obstruction. There is also no thought of, "The perceiver, the six types of consciousness, is within!" Clear and nonconceptual naked awareness is unceasing. ... When you rest your mind in unfabricated naturalness, no matter what thought may arise, good or evil, happy or sad, the mind-essence which is free from concerns about joy or sorrow is clear and empty, naked and awake."

It's not about focusing on something, it is relaxing, i.e. not grasping at whatever appears. It is called being in the present because you are naturally with whatever occurs without obstructing or upholding, taking or rejecting anything.


:good:
Good Questions. Good Answers all.

But it feels like some training in watching breathing and / or concentration on an object and concentration without an object, might be helpful. It sounds very strange to say that you might want to practice concentration to help you relax into unfabricated natural mind, but without the faculty of being able to allow the mind to rest in one place, then the flow of sensations, images, etc are what appear to the mind, (as time goes to zero) and the sub-strate of nonconceptual naked awareness is missed.

But I am not a teacher and so you should really ask this question to someone with real experience of such things.

ob
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