Otsal wrote:What on earth was Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche thinking when he not only authorized Bertelsen to teach Dzogchen ...
Thanks for posting. I guess I would like to see some independent corroboration of this authorization, or at least some details about it. Is there any more information about this in his Danish or German books?
You're welcome, Dzogchungpa. And indeed, it is wise to seek independent corroboration. I did so myself and have received it from a number of people who were very close to Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche including some who were present at key meetings between Tulku Urgyen and Jes Bertelsen, including Erik Pema Kunzang who was the translator during their final meeting in 1995. Perhaps Magnus will be able to come back with a response from Erik at some point.
Bertelsen has written about his first meeting with Tulku Urgyen (when Andreas Kretschmar translated) in a few places, most extensively in Bevidsthedens flydende lys
(The Flowing Light of Consciousness). Here's what it says there in my own quick translation from the Danish:
(p. 62 ff.) "I would not have dared nor been able to carry out the following attempt at a deeper investigation of Longchenpa’s fundamental concepts and time-transcendent Dzogchen without having met Tulku Urgyen and without the instruction in Dzogchen that I received from him. It feels appropriate, therefore, to say a little about this meeting.
It took place in 1989 during a trip to Nepal with a couple of friends. We were to visit a common friend who at the time was living in Nepal in connection with his humanitarian work. The idea was to see and walk in the Himalayas, to try and meditate in a proper cave, and to experience the Orient. My friend in Nepal insisted that I should also meet a Tulku he knew. This meeting took place at the beginning of our trip. At the time, Tulku Urgyen was staying at his small retreat monastery at Yangleshö, one of the most important pilgrimage sites connected with Padmasambhava. The monastery is located near the village of Pharping at the edge of the Kathmandu Valley on one of the innumerable foothills of the Himalayas, about an hour’s drive from the city. There is a cave here, where in the 8th Century Padmasambhava had sat in a longer retreat with his consort Sakyadevi. It is said that Padmasambhava had reached full enlightenment here, the tenth level or bhumi.
Tulku Urgyen himself had constructed the small monastery around the cave, so to speak, much like Francis had built his monastery around his cave on Monte Subasio outside Assisi. Tulku Urgyen had done a shorter retreat in this cave together with the 16th Karmapa before the monsatery was built. The Karmapa than asked Tulku Urgyen to construct such a building at Padma’s cave. And so he did.
When I first met Tulku Urgyen here and when he began to speak about practice – via a translator – I got the sense that this was a person who absolutely knew what he was talking about, and what meditation and consciousness were in the deepest sense. It was a feeling that was not only rooted in my heart, but could be sensed all the way down in my cells and bones. He explained to me that there was a way in Dzogchen to introduce nondual, enlightened consciousness. This is referred to as the pointing out instruction.
After this first, preliminary meeting I asked the translator whether I had understood correctly that Tulku Urgyen had offered to give me this instruction. And the translator answered calmly: yes, you just need to ask him for it tomorrow and he will point out your enlightened consciousness for you.
Honestly, I did not sleep much that night.
Throughout my entire life I had investigated the essence of consciousness both in theory and in practice. Through bi-directional practice I had every day for 15 years listened and tried to feel inwards towards the source of consciousness. And even though I had seen and experienced and understood much, there nevertheless was a boundary, a veil, a doubt or resistance that I had never managed to pass.
And now this Tulku claimed that he could introduce this enlightened consciousness directly. But what would be the price, if it actually succeeded? Would one die? Would the ”I” disappear entirely and would one then become insane or manic? Would it hurt? And what about my children, love, friends and work?
In the end I decided that this was a unique situation and I had to say yes, no matter what the cost might be, and try to practice as best I could during the process. Then I got a few hours of peaceful sleep.
The next day, October 14, the actual meeting took place. When I had asked Tulku whether he would point out the innermost essence of consciousness, he immediately began the proces: a description of the basic aspects of consciousness, the significance of the heart, about objectless dzogchen practice, that nondual, enlightened consciousness is like the sun, and that dualistic mind and all ordinary experiences are like the rays of the sun. That consciousness and the mind always move with the rays, away from the sun. That Dzogchen was to turn oneself toward the source and to melt into openness.
And then the actual pointing out came.
And the gates of consciousness opened.
The thousands of situations where practice had met the boundary, the veil or doubt, all arose at once, and like a domino effect the barriers collapsed and released the congealed energy as flowing light. Light and energy and bliss and love flowed freely through mind and body. And the distinction between mind and body and consciousness and Tulku’s consciousness melted away. A profound sense of ancient recognition. Streams of grateful tears; cascades of the laughter of realization. And simultaneously with all these waves and streams of insights and realizations, consciousness somewhere remained unaffected and allowed that whatever manifested dissolved of its own accord back into the source; a natural state of apperceptive openness and unlimited freedom. This unbroken apperceptive unity with Tulku Urgyen’s enlightened consciousness lasted between 20 minutes and half an hour. Nuclear fusion.
This meeting set in motion a process that lasted for more than two years: every morning when I sat and practiced alone for a few hours, consciousness and the heart would open to the same streaming state of love and flowing light that was liberated from all form and all distinction in the open limitless unity of apperception.
It took two years to integrate this to such an extent that I felt ready once more to make the journey and meet Tulku Urgyen.
This meeting became just as powerful. Where the first had been about Dzogchen and trekchö, the second meeting concerned Dzogchen and tögal – the science of the fundamental structures of the visions. Tulku showed me again and again how in my practice I failed to distinguish precisely enough between the visions and the one who experiences. There was a subtle fixation on the experiencer.
It felt like a thousand-headed ego-dragon, where every practice conversation – and there were many – was about Tulku Urgyen, with a friendly smile and surgical precision, chopping the heads of the poor ”I”. Several times I had an almost irresistible urge to run off and head home. It’s a long way from Nepal to Nørre Snede.
Over the course of seven years I managed to visit and meet with Tulku Urgyen six times until his death in 1995.
He spoke of Longchenpa repeatedly and encouraged me – who at the time knew no Tibetan – to read and practice Longchenpa. Tulku Urgyen stressed that I should teach Dzogchen in my own way, so it fitted with Western culture. He gave me all this in his great generosity: feely.
Within the Dzogchen tradition it is said, that the recognition of the nature of mind happens in a meeting between a teacher and a student. There are two classical practice situations where this can happen. One of these is the pointing out instruction. And the other is an initiation, which has to do with the collapse of language.
This is supported by my own experience. Both in my own process and through the thousands of practice conversations I have had with people over the years about meditation, prayer, processes of the heart, neutral observation, bidirectional consciousness and Dzogchen.
In principle it is conceivable that someone might attain the nondual state on their own, but for most of us it is certainly the case that we need the dialogue, experience and feedback from an authentic teacher."