Pema Rigdzin wrote:Mariusz,
In Dzogchen, the visions of togal are said to arise from the spontaneous presence aspect of rigpa, so they perfectly fit with what Thrangu Rinpoche has said. The togal visions are perfectly beyond concepts or any kind of elaboration. That said, I'm neither defending nor denouncing this couple. I suspend judgment.
It is obvious but perhaps not in this article? Moreover, if you do so called retreats in complete darkness many years you will have many "visions" of course. They can be even more realistic than of ordinary life, more inherent, solid, indepentend, permament with the nature of their own... There are stories of people who have many such visions, dramatic experiences, when for example were involuntary closed many days in dark places, for example cave tourists. Sunyata is the basic whatever you teach or practise in Buddhism.
The visions that gradually unfold in togal ARE sunyata. They are rigpa. That came across just fine on their website, IMO. As Mutsuk has said above, togal does not necessarily mean dark retreat, and I don't think this couple ever mentioned dark retreat. In any case, what unfolds from ordinary consciousness during sensory deprivation has absolutely nothing at all to do with togal.
Again, as you say, sunyata is the basics of what's taught in Buddhism... This is quite true whether we're at the Sutra level or the Dzogchen level. In Sutra, however, we're used to alternating in our minds between apprehending form (relative) and then analyzing it to gain insight into its emptiness (absolute). In doing so, we mentally "separate" the two truths out of necessity. We can look at the relative one moment, and we can analyze it to gain insight into its emptiness or absolute nature in another moment, but we're never looking at both at the same time. We of course have conviction that in reality they are inseparable, but in our practice we have no choice but to look at them one at a time.
The view of the Great Perfection, however, is the inseparable
two truths... At that level of practice there is no way to separate primordial purity, i.e. emptiness, from spontaneous presence, i.e. appearance, because it is not a practice based on the mental consciousness but rather on primordial wisdom. One doesn't have to mentally or verbally impute emptiness on primordial wisdom, or isolate emptiness from it and speak exclusively about emptiness. At that level, emptiness couldn't be more obvious. So when there's talk about spontaneous presence, such as the experience of perceiving one's own nature with greater and greater purity during the "visions" of togal, it is very very well known at that point - especially experientially - that emptiness is inherent to all that.
Hope this helps a little.