how would you respond to this

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Johnny Dangerous
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how would you respond to this

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

I made a statement the other day to friends that when we say "Nature of Mind" it refers to the conceptual mind, that *the nature* of the conceptual mind is primordially pure, in a Dzogchen context. I brought up that this is another way of pointing out the non-separation of samsara and nirvana.. A couple people seemed to object strongly to this statement. To bring the analogy further I brought up that the terms sem/sem nyi refer to respectively, the "ordinary mind", and the nature of that very mind. In my understanding the terms do not refer to two separate minds, a pure one and an impure one.

To me, this is sort of an important point in Dzogchen. One person implied I was importing a view from Zen, and another voiced an objection that we shouldn't conceptualize in meditation. Of course this is true, we shouldn't, and at a point in Dzogchen one is learning to distinguish the two, but that was not really what I was saying.

However, I'd argue that regarding the conceptual mind as impure, or something to get rid of is counterproductive in a Dzogchen sense, perhaps even in Mahayana Buddhism generally. I'm basing that primarily on personal experience, but I feel it is backed up by the teachings.

How would you respond?
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Re: how would you respond to this

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If you'll pardon a Zen reference, I'd go for the Tenzo Kyokun: Instructions for the Cook- where the cook is cleaning the rice and is asked if the sand is washed away from the rice or is the rice washed away from the sand. The reply is the two are separated. Which I interpret as, there is no pure or impure as such, but such distinctions are made when appropriate eg cooking a meal and operating a kitchen.
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Re: how would you respond to this

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Johnny Dangerous wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 4:18 am I made a statement the other day to friends that when we say "Nature of Mind" it refers to the conceptual mind, that *the nature* of the conceptual mind is primordially pure, in a Dzogchen context. I brought up that this is another way of pointing out the non-separation of samsara and nirvana.. A couple people seemed to object strongly to this statement. To bring the analogy further I brought up that the terms sem/sem nyi refer to respectively, the "ordinary mind", and the nature of that very mind. In my understanding the terms do not refer to two separate minds, a pure one and an impure one.

To me, this is sort of an important point in Dzogchen. One person implied I was importing a view from Zen, and another voiced an objection that we shouldn't conceptualize in meditation. Of course this is true, we shouldn't, and at a point in Dzogchen one is learning to distinguish the two, but that was not really what I was saying.

However, I'd argue that regarding the conceptual mind as impure, or something to get rid of is counterproductive in a Dzogchen sense, perhaps even in Mahayana Buddhism generally. I'm basing that primarily on personal experience, but I feel it is backed up by the teachings.

How would you respond?
How did they object?

We absolutely do distinguish between the deluded mind that has not recognized its nature and the undeluded mind that has. But they're not different minds.
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Re: how would you respond to this

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PeterC wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 5:36 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 4:18 am I made a statement the other day to friends that when we say "Nature of Mind" it refers to the conceptual mind, that *the nature* of the conceptual mind is primordially pure, in a Dzogchen context. I brought up that this is another way of pointing out the non-separation of samsara and nirvana.. A couple people seemed to object strongly to this statement. To bring the analogy further I brought up that the terms sem/sem nyi refer to respectively, the "ordinary mind", and the nature of that very mind. In my understanding the terms do not refer to two separate minds, a pure one and an impure one.

To me, this is sort of an important point in Dzogchen. One person implied I was importing a view from Zen, and another voiced an objection that we shouldn't conceptualize in meditation. Of course this is true, we shouldn't, and at a point in Dzogchen one is learning to distinguish the two, but that was not really what I was saying.

However, I'd argue that regarding the conceptual mind as impure, or something to get rid of is counterproductive in a Dzogchen sense, perhaps even in Mahayana Buddhism generally. I'm basing that primarily on personal experience, but I feel it is backed up by the teachings.

How would you respond?
How did they object?

We absolutely do distinguish between the deluded mind that has not recognized its nature and the undeluded mind that has. But they're not different minds.
Just how I described, assuming I was saying it’s ok to grasp/conceptualize in meditation or something, then sort of lecturing or advising on that.

My point was that there is no conceptual mind to fix or make better in Trekchod, the distinction we make here is a provisional one ...the conceptual mind is deluded precisely due to not seeing its nature, like you say.

I’m curious to know if someone thinks I’m actually wrong or missing something, explaining this badly, etc. or it was simply a case of them misunderstanding me, me misunderstanding them.
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Re: how would you respond to this

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narhwal90 wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 5:00 am If you'll pardon a Zen reference, I'd go for the Tenzo Kyokun: Instructions for the Cook- where the cook is cleaning the rice and is asked if the sand is washed away from the rice or is the rice washed away from the sand. The reply is the two are separated. Which I interpret as, there is no pure or impure as such, but such distinctions are made when appropriate eg cooking a meal and operating a kitchen.
It's maybe analogous to a stage of practice in Dzogchen, but a direct comparison is tough, and Dzogchen (well, some teachers and texts at the very least) put emphasis on the view of primoridal purity. It's for sure not an easy thing to recognize, and the same "it's all the same so anything goes" misunderstanding can be made in Zen too, of course.
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Re: how would you respond to this

Post by tingdzin »

Emphasis on the stage of primordial purity is, I think, more a characteristic of sems sde. This is not to say that it is wrong, it's just not the whole story. These sorts of difficulties arise because people have taken what was meant to be a way of bringing students to certain definite experiences and understandings has become over the centuries just another philosophical school to be publicly argued about. I know students who have been caught in Dzogchen word games for decades while never really gaining anything from their practice.
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Re: how would you respond to this

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tingdzin wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 7:00 am Emphasis on the stage of primordial purity is, I think, more a characteristic of sems sde. This is not to say that it is wrong, it's just not the whole story. These sorts of difficulties arise because people have taken what was meant to be a way of bringing students to certain definite experiences and understandings has become over the centuries just another philosophical school to be publicly argued about. I know students who have been caught in Dzogchen word games for decades while never really gaining anything from their practice.
At least for me, this is not just a word game but relates directly to practice.

Trying to “do” something to fix or limit the conceptual mind, trying to obscure, avoid or change it in order to focus on some pure, blissful mind was an obstruction for me beyond early shine practice.

Things clicked more when I stopped trying to do anything.

To me these things seem directly related, so I don’t think of this as just a philosophy debate or something.
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Re: how would you respond to this

Post by PeterC »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 5:49 am
PeterC wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 5:36 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 4:18 am I made a statement the other day to friends that when we say "Nature of Mind" it refers to the conceptual mind, that *the nature* of the conceptual mind is primordially pure, in a Dzogchen context. I brought up that this is another way of pointing out the non-separation of samsara and nirvana.. A couple people seemed to object strongly to this statement. To bring the analogy further I brought up that the terms sem/sem nyi refer to respectively, the "ordinary mind", and the nature of that very mind. In my understanding the terms do not refer to two separate minds, a pure one and an impure one.

To me, this is sort of an important point in Dzogchen. One person implied I was importing a view from Zen, and another voiced an objection that we shouldn't conceptualize in meditation. Of course this is true, we shouldn't, and at a point in Dzogchen one is learning to distinguish the two, but that was not really what I was saying.

However, I'd argue that regarding the conceptual mind as impure, or something to get rid of is counterproductive in a Dzogchen sense, perhaps even in Mahayana Buddhism generally. I'm basing that primarily on personal experience, but I feel it is backed up by the teachings.

How would you respond?
How did they object?

We absolutely do distinguish between the deluded mind that has not recognized its nature and the undeluded mind that has. But they're not different minds.
Just how I described, assuming I was saying it’s ok to grasp/conceptualize in meditation or something, then sort of lecturing or advising on that.

My point was that there is no conceptual mind to fix or make better in Trekchod, the distinction we make here is a provisional one ...the conceptual mind is deluded precisely due to not seeing its nature, like you say.

I’m curious to know if someone thinks I’m actually wrong or missing something, explaining this badly, etc. or it was simply a case of them misunderstanding me, me misunderstanding them.
Then I think they've misunderstood your explanation of it - you're not conceptualizing, you're not creating thoughts, you're not doing anything, you're not eliminating or denying thoughts either. But this is the difficulty of explaining trekchod - it's experiential, not analytical. It's much easier to explain, say, Kagyu Mahamudra, which I know isn't the same but would conceivably be open to the same critique of proliferating thoughts that your interlocutors offered, and would have a similar explanation, that it's not reifying thoughts at all.
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Re: how would you respond to this

Post by heart »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 4:18 am I made a statement the other day to friends that when we say "Nature of Mind" it refers to the conceptual mind, that *the nature* of the conceptual mind is primordially pure, in a Dzogchen context. I brought up that this is another way of pointing out the non-separation of samsara and nirvana.. A couple people seemed to object strongly to this statement. To bring the analogy further I brought up that the terms sem/sem nyi refer to respectively, the "ordinary mind", and the nature of that very mind. In my understanding the terms do not refer to two separate minds, a pure one and an impure one
I am not sure that is exactly correct. The "nature of mind" is not referring to the conceptual mind it is referring to the basis. The basis is utterly free of concepts and has always been and to know the basis is called rigpa. So in the third word, of the three words of Garab Dorje, there is a explanation on how conceptual mind self-liberate when you rest in rigpa, in the knowledge of the basis. Ultimately the conceptual mind will disappear. However the path of Dzogchen is not to don't think, not thinking doesn't liberate, not thinking is just an other aspect of conceptual mind. The knowing of the basis, resting in rigpa, is what liberates.
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Re: how would you respond to this

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> I'd argue that regarding the conceptual mind as impure

Conceptual mind isnt pure or impure, it depends.

It will be like saying that actions (in general) are pure or impure. It depends.

Conceptual mind (conceptual thoughts) is just an expression of mind movement as an action is an expression of physical movement.

What should be done is purify impurities, changing alaya.

The same thougth can be pure samsara or pure nirvana. It will depend on your level of wisdom.

Complete mind movement implies two aspects: the arising of thoughts plus the reaction to them based on wisdom and previous realizations (or its absence). We should consider both aspects.

When alaya is purified there's no reaction to samsaric thoughts, so conceptual mind can be said it has been purified. But the thoughts itseld could be samsaric, but it just doesnt matter no more. They're realizaed as sunyata.

It's (again) like seeing a film, the problem is not the film but if you believe it's real or not... the conceptual mind is our film maker... do you believe in the movie?? or not? If you suffer in the theater is because the director is a bad person? or the problem is in another place?

You can say the film is pure or impure it doesnt matter, that's not the question at all...

Trying to determine as impure or pure theorical objects is not needed. The problem is somewhere else.
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Re: how would you respond to this

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 4:18 am
I made a statement the other day to friends that when we say "Nature of Mind" it refers to the conceptual mind, that *the nature* of the conceptual mind is primordially pure,
you’ve sort of set up a trick question, and if your statement had been a question, it would have been a good zen koan.

It’s like asking whether or not the true nature of a dirty glass window is clarity.

If you answer no, then the dirt on the glass has some kind of ultimate reality to it, and cleaning would be pointless.

And if you answer yes, then ultimately you can’t call it a dirty window to begin with, so what exactly are you trying to clean?

It is a mistake to say that it is two different windows
And it is a mistake to say that a clean widow is the same as a dirty window.

This conundrum isn’t limited to Dzogchen. In the zen poem Believing in Mind, the author Seng-ts'an writes:

When direct identification is sought,
We can only say, "Not two".
In being "not two" all is the same,
All that is is comprehended in it;
The wise in the ten quarters,
They all enter into this Absolute Reason.

…which, in Dzogchen terms would be that there’s no fundamental difference in the nature of the deluded mind and the awakened mind. Even the delusion is a delusion.

Nagarjuna also sort of touches upon this with his ‘four views’ refutations.
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Re: how would you respond to this

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heart wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 8:41 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 4:18 am I made a statement the other day to friends that when we say "Nature of Mind" it refers to the conceptual mind, that *the nature* of the conceptual mind is primordially pure, in a Dzogchen context. I brought up that this is another way of pointing out the non-separation of samsara and nirvana.. A couple people seemed to object strongly to this statement. To bring the analogy further I brought up that the terms sem/sem nyi refer to respectively, the "ordinary mind", and the nature of that very mind. In my understanding the terms do not refer to two separate minds, a pure one and an impure one
I am not sure that is exactly correct. The "nature of mind" is not referring to the conceptual mind it is referring to the basis. The basis is utterly free of concepts and has always been and to know the basis is called rigpa. So in the third word, of the three words of Garab Dorje, there is a explanation on how conceptual mind self-liberate when you rest in rigpa, in the knowledge of the basis. Ultimately the conceptual mind will disappear. However the path of Dzogchen is not to don't think, not thinking doesn't liberate, not thinking is just an other aspect of conceptual mind. The knowing of the basis, resting in rigpa, is what liberates.
I have to correct myself 😃 you are of course right about that there is only one mind and the confused mind have the same actual nature as the wisdom mind.
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Re: how would you respond to this

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heart wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 8:41 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 4:18 am I made a statement the other day to friends that when we say "Nature of Mind" it refers to the conceptual mind, that *the nature* of the conceptual mind is primordially pure, in a Dzogchen context. I brought up that this is another way of pointing out the non-separation of samsara and nirvana.. A couple people seemed to object strongly to this statement. To bring the analogy further I brought up that the terms sem/sem nyi refer to respectively, the "ordinary mind", and the nature of that very mind. In my understanding the terms do not refer to two separate minds, a pure one and an impure one
I am not sure that is exactly correct. The "nature of mind" is not referring to the conceptual mind it is referring to the basis. The basis is utterly free of concepts and has always been and to know the basis is called rigpa. So in the third word, of the three words of Garab Dorje, there is a explanation on how conceptual mind self-liberate when you rest in rigpa, in the knowledge of the basis. Ultimately the conceptual mind will disappear. However the path of Dzogchen is not to don't think, not thinking doesn't liberate, not thinking is just an other aspect of conceptual mind. The knowing of the basis, resting in rigpa, is what liberates.
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Re: how would you respond to this

Post by Matt J »

One reason why it is generally not talked about.

Different people are often in different paradigms that depend on certain ways of seeing (even people supposedly practicing Dzogchen).
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 4:18 am A couple people seemed to object strongly to this statement.
Narrow view, narrow mind.
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Re: how would you respond to this

Post by Aryjna »

This pali sutra is (debatably) relevant: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
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Re: how would you respond to this

Post by jet.urgyen »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 4:18 am I made a statement the other day to friends that when we say "Nature of Mind" it refers to the conceptual mind, that *the nature* of the conceptual mind is primordially pure, in a Dzogchen context. I brought up that this is another way of pointing out the non-separation of samsara and nirvana.. A couple people seemed to object strongly to this statement. To bring the analogy further I brought up that the terms sem/sem nyi refer to respectively, the "ordinary mind", and the nature of that very mind. In my understanding the terms do not refer to two separate minds, a pure one and an impure one.

To me, this is sort of an important point in Dzogchen. One person implied I was importing a view from Zen, and another voiced an objection that we shouldn't conceptualize in meditation. Of course this is true, we shouldn't, and at a point in Dzogchen one is learning to distinguish the two, but that was not really what I was saying.

However, I'd argue that regarding the conceptual mind as impure, or something to get rid of is counterproductive in a Dzogchen sense, perhaps even in Mahayana Buddhism generally. I'm basing that primarily on personal experience, but I feel it is backed up by the teachings.

How would you respond?
"nature of mind'' ain't a phenomena.
true dharma is inexpressible.

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Re: how would you respond to this

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Matt J wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 2:55 pm One reason why it is generally not talked about.

Different people are often in different paradigms that depend on certain ways of seeing (even people supposedly practicing Dzogchen).
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 4:18 am A couple people seemed to object strongly to this statement.
Probably true, it was a context in which I don’t tend to speak up much, and I’ll probably return to that. Not sure the conversation achieved anything.
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Re: how would you respond to this

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tingdzin wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 7:00 am Emphasis on the stage of primordial purity is, I think, more a characteristic of sems sde.
Although I try to avoid for the sake of the argument, but I don't believe it's true. All 3 series emphasize the inseparability of the two. Maybe if you said it in the context of Tregchod vs Togel/Yangti, there would be little to disagree with. The only reason I bring this up is that the first two series have been often portrayed (by many masters and in famous books) as somewhat lesser or incomplete. When you look closer, it was most often done in the context of presenting Upadesha, as a way of underlining its value, in the same way that Tregchod is presented when introducing lhundrub-related teachings. My personal observation is that people mindlessly accepted that and this is the reason why these precious series of teachings were almost extinct. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure if it weren't for the efforts of the Venerable Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, in a century or two they would just remain as a part of general transmissions that are given over the course of many months without anyone actually practicing and realizing through them.

As for the actual topic at hand, it's literally the main theme of all Buddhist teachings, not only Dzogchen. It has two aspects: (1) the official exposition, that you can probably present to your friends by quoting Longchenpa etc. without creating any problem, with many metaphors explaining the relationship, like ocean and the reflection of the moon in it, (2) the actual meaning and related practice instructions, that should be kept personal.
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Re: how would you respond to this

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Johnny Dangerous wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 4:18 am I made a statement the other day to friends that when we say "Nature of Mind" it refers to the conceptual mind, ...
Not necessarily!
Johnny Dangerous wrote: How would you respond?
A direct introduction applies more to the mindstream than the conceptual mind. Replace a term with another term closer in meaning!
A mindstream means that you have everything included and thus "it looks" like a flow chart. When you refer to a conceptual mind, it's limited to taking snapshots.
Thus watch for the terms the teachers/materials/books specifically use and try getting their specific meaning and nuances!

You can manage. You are reading the Bodhichitta book, and already are applying what you studied. In Dzogchen you take the result into the path.
When you have a feeling like you're not winning, excuse yourself by telling them the truth, that you have to go study and come back later with more knowledge!

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Re: how would you respond to this

Post by jet.urgyen »

tinylocusta wrote: Sat Jun 15, 2024 3:05 pm
tingdzin wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 7:00 am Emphasis on the stage of primordial purity is, I think, more a characteristic of sems sde.
Although I try to avoid for the sake of the argument, but I don't believe it's true. All 3 series emphasize the inseparability of the two. Maybe if you said it in the context of Tregchod vs Togel/Yangti, there would be little to disagree with. The only reason I bring this up is that the first two series have been often portrayed (by many masters and in famous books) as somewhat lesser or incomplete. When you look closer, it was most often done in the context of presenting Upadesha, as a way of underlining its value, in the same way that Tregchod is presented when introducing lhundrub-related teachings.

My personal observation is that people mindlessly accepted that and this is the reason why these precious series of teachings were almost extinct. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure if it weren't for the efforts of the Venerable Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, in a century or two they would just remain as a part of general transmissions that are given over the course of many months without anyone actually practicing and realizing through them.

As for the actual topic at hand, it's literally the main theme of all Buddhist teachings, not only Dzogchen. It has two aspects: (1) the official exposition, that you can probably present to your friends by quoting Longchenpa etc. without creating any problem, with many metaphors explaining the relationship, like ocean and the reflection of the moon in it, (2) the actual meaning and related practice instructions, that should be kept personal.
i wonder if the authors -masters- really completed the path to label anything as incomplete.
true dharma is inexpressible.

The bodhisattva nourishes from bodhicitta, through whatever method the Buddha has given him. Oh joy.
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