Sunday, December 14, 2014

Verse 2.8 and 2.9 — nothing to do, nowhere to go

Practice or not practice - place attention past that. 
Do or not do - these decisions fade away. 
Empty or not empty -  awakening mind is beyond. 
Am or am not - there’s a space where these differences fall away.

Awareness - not a word, not a thought, no description at all.
Its axis - no corrective, no holding a position. 
Bare, steady, fresh and constantly unfolding,  
A vastness free from effort and complication. 
Rest there, with no movement in past, present or future.

In these two verses, Jigmé Lingpa eloquently describes just how radical Great Completion practice is. They remind me of a Nasrudin story. 

On this occasion, Nasrudin is a magistrate. A man, dressed only in underwear, enters his courtroom. He says he is a tourist and that his clothes have been stolen by someone in the village. He demands that Nasrudin search the village, arrest the miscreant and restore his clothing.

Nasrudin looks at him carefully and then asks, “You are still wearing your underwear, aren’t you?
“Yes,” says the tourist.
“Well,” says Nasrudin, “it wasn’t someone from our village. We do things thoroughly around here.”

The first verse here is all about letting go, letting go completely. If we are going to do this, we do it thoroughly. We don’t leave the underwear, either. 

Forget about practice. And forget about not practicing, too. (Note what happens when you read these last two sentences.) 

Decisions and judgements reverberate, of course, but they fade away if we don’t feed them.

What is emptiness? What is empty? What is not empty? We don’t need to engage these questions. They don’t go anywhere. An instruction from Mind Training in Seven Points covers this -- let even the remedy release naturally. Just look, and poof! We return. 

Other ideas come, too. Do I exist? Do I not exist? We don’t need to engage any debate here either, nor analysis, nor speculation. All that can be left to the philosophers, the psychologists and the neuroscientists. We just rest in the space in which these questions arise, and they fall away (again, if we don’t feed them).

When you let go so completely, what's left?

What’s left is a particular kind of awareness, a knowing that cannot be understood or described, a knowing that needs no correcting or balancing. If we don’t do anything with it or to it (and that’s the hard part), it is there, almost spartan in its simplicity, constant in its presence, vivid and awake, revealing and refreshing itself moment to moment. It seems both extraordinary and absurd that anything could be so simple, so effortless, so wonderful and so immediately at hand, right under our noses, so to speak. One just has to shake one’s head at how obvious all this is when we happen upon it.

Here is a peace, a freedom, that goes beyond anything in our ordinary lives. It is extraordinary, yes. People have built whole philosophies out of it. Others worship it. Others ritualize the practices associated with it. And all to no end.

The point is to know it. Nothing more, nothing less. And to do that, we let go, completely.


Here Jigmé Lingpa concludes the second section of this poem, which he calls a description of the natural freedom of Great Completion.

4 comments:

Todd Johnston said...

Thank you Ken for the important reminder. We do need to ask ourself constantly: why do I practise (or not practice, sometimes...)Is it to suport my image as a Do-It-Yourself philosopher, psychologist or neuroscientist or to experience knowing? If I'm to be honest, my ego does struggle with this, and yet my experience is that the more I rest and not resist, the stronger my practice naturally arises. It seems the only thing I have to "work" with is myself.

Anonymous said...

This understanding of awareness is so extraordinary, so pared down and edgy!
I think of an axis as a ground, but this offers no ground, no position to hold, nothing to correct, but constantly unfolding. Amazing the fear and spaciousness and joy this creates!

Thank you again for these translations,
Diane

Kaz said...

Re: When you let go [and when ‘you’ are let go] so completely, what's left?
It all leads to this, doesn’t it? Wow!
Emaho!
Thank you.

Darien Donner said...

"Forget about practice. And forget about not practicing, too. (Note what happens when you read these last two sentences.) "
I thought that this practice; asking oneself these questions; create an experience that is not rational.
Here words are used in a way very different from every day life: they create, when listened to, a strange emptiness; space in between ... the strange thing is that one can't hang out there a long time, unless trained with practice