Shugchang" <> Date:  Wed Jul 11, 2001  8:02 pm Subject:  Vajra Point II: The Dharma

The sacred Dharma
in terms of the truth of cessation
does not fall into the extreme of nihilism,
which is the belief in non-existence,
since the absolute truth, or in other words,
the dharmadhatu, suchness, the true nature,
exists as the field of experience
of self-aware primordial wisdom.

-Jamgon Kongtrul, The Unassailable Lion's Roar, BN, p.105

    The path indicated by the Madhyamikas which emphasizes the emptiness of all conceptual elaboration (rang-tong) works toward the Dzogchen teachings on threg-chod or cutting through. This is the path of wisdom (yeshe lam). On a lower level of this spiral, it mirrors the marriage of deep insight and subtle limitations encountered in the atomic realism of the first turning. But rather than the radical pluralism of the Abhidharmikas, we witness a possible slide toward nihilism in the Madhyamikas.

    What is called the third turning of the wheel is definitive and suggests that the form aspect of the great equation 'form is emptiness', the summary code for the second turning, has been neglected and forgotten and we are all the poorer and dumber for it. Awakening is hard enough as it is; no need to tie one hand behind your back. The path of means (thabs lam) develops in order to generate a deeper insight into the natural qualities (gzhan-tong) of the true nature, and toward this end, we work with form through the energies of sound and light encountered in all six bardos, like itinerant prospectors in the Rockies, utilizing the ore of trance and samadhi, embracing methods such as mantra and visualization, resurrecting technologies of refinement and purification which had already been highly developed before the days of the Buddha, but without the clear fire of emptiness their endeavours were limited. Now, like graduate students of a sort, having penetrated the naked emptiness of mind, to enthusiastically engage the luminosity- clear-light-appearances half of the great yab-yum. This works toward the Dzogchen practice of thod-gal, leaping over, which is said to be a more advanced practice than merely cutting through (threg-cho).

"Shugchang" <> Date:  Wed Jul 11, 2001  10:01 pm Subject:  Re: Vajra Point II: The Dharma

A selection from the Mahaparinirvana Sutra on the nature of the Tathagatagarbha Dharma-

    In this passage, the Buddha attempts to explain mind's inversion of the true meaning. The first time I got a hold of this kind of teaching, I was overjoyed. Far different fare from what I'd been used to in terms of the first turning emphasis on emptiness, impermanence, impurity and suffering. Here was another movement in the dialectic, shifting from critique, analyze and annihilate to recognition, effulgence, true self.

    "You, monks! From distressing things, there arises the perception of happiness; from the impermanent, there arises the perception of the eternal; from the selfless, there arises the perception of a self; and from the impure, there arises the perception of the pure. The worldly thus also have the eternal, happiness, self, and pure. The world-renouncer also has the eternal, happiness, self, and pure. The worldly Dharmas may have these words but not their meanings, while the world-renouncer has both the words and the meanings. And why? Because the dharmas of the worldly have these four inversions, their meanings are not known. And why is that? They have ideas that are inverted, mentalities that are inverted, and views that are inverted. Because of these three inversions, the people of the world see in the happiness distress, see in the eternal impermanence, see in the self selflessness, and see in the pure impurity. This is called inversion. Because of these inversions, the worldly know the words but do not know their meanings. And what are the meanings? The selfless is samsara. The self is the Tathagata. The impermanent is the voice hearer and condition perceiver. The permanent is the essential body. The distressing is all the outside paths. Happiness is Nirvana. The impure is the conditioned thing. The pure is the true Dharma possessed by the Buddha and bodhisattvas. These are called the uninverted. Because these are not inverted, one perceives both the words and their meanings. If one wishes to depart from the four inversions, he should know thus the eternal, happiness, self, and the pure." Date:  Wed Jul 11, 2001  11:50 pm Subject:  Re: Vajra Point II: The Dharma

Shugchang wrote:

    "What is called the third turning of the wheel is definitive and suggests that the form aspect of the great equation 'form is emptiness', the summary code for the second turning, has been neglected and forgotten and we are all the poorer and dumber for it."

Yeah. Great way to put it.

    In the first turning Buddha relied on the predilection of existing philosophers (particularly the samkhyas) to cut up reality into metaphysical (artificial) categories -- but Buddha used that technique to show the emptiness of self.

    In the second turning he turned his own analysis on the very categories he had created, causing hysteria and anxiety in some of the hearers (thus the eventual need for the prajnaparamita teachings to go underground)-- the hearers' misinterpreting a teaching on the emptiness of phenomena to be a terrifying nihilism. Here a word needs to be said about the subsequent developments after Buddha. Those inclined to the first turning reified all the categories ("dhammas/dharmas") through scholastic literalism into a dead and deadening philosophy (in the most extreme case declaring those very categories to be absolutely real, e.g., the 'sarvastivadin - all dharmas are real school') whereby "attainment" consisted of "seeing dharmas" -- a kind of refined intellectual exercise that could only occasionally result in realization.

    However, in the second turning, his intention remains cautious, not explicitly declarative, room for specious mysticism abounds: "form is emptiness, emptiness is form", chanted like a magical formula, or as Shugchang so excellently said, "the summary code for the second turning has been neglected and forgotten and we are all the poorer and dumber for it", and I might add, regardless of whether it's memorized and repeated. Finally, in the third turning he explicitly and definitively calls all the categories fictions, "like the finger pointing at the moon". Then, he is able to reveal tathagatagarbha, etc.

I know there's a lot more to it than that, but that's my crude summary of the three turnings.

-kunzang Date:  Sat Jul 14, 2001  9:18 pm Subject:  Re: Vajra Point II

from Asanga's commentary: What is shown by this sloka?

    Because of its being unthinkable, non-dual, and being non-discriminative, And because of its pureness, manifestation and hostility; The Doctrine, which is Deliverance and also by which arises Deliverance Has the characteristics of the two Truths.

By this verse, in brief, the Jewel of the Doctrine is explained as being contracted by eight qualities. Which are the eight qualities? They are -

1) unthinkability (acintyatva),
2) non-duality (advayata),
3) non-discriminativeness (nirvikalpata),
4) purity (shuddhi),
5) [being] manifest (abhivyaktikarana),
6) hostility [against obstacles] (pratipakshata),
7) deliverance [from passions] (viraga), and
8) cause of Deliverance (viragahetu).

"Shugchang" <> Date:  Thu Jul 12, 2001  11:39 am Subject:  Re: Vajra Point II: The Dharma

    The Dharma of Realization has two aspects;

1. the truth of cessation is the realization of the dharmakaya which has supreme value for oneself
2. the truth of the path is the emergence of the rupakayas which are of benefit to others.

In the following passage from the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Buddha clarifies the provisional nature of his teachings on the self, which addressed wrong views regarding the true nature of the self. Citing naturalistic, occult and eternalistic notions, he refutes them with statements to the effect that there is no such self. The true unchanging reality of the self is identical with the dharmakaya.

    "Monks, you should know that the heretics have said that the self is like the insect who eats wood, mates, and makes offspring merely. This is why the Tathagata proclaims that in the Buddha's Dharma there is no self. It is for the sake of taming sentient beings, knowing the occasion, and that such selflessness has its causes and conditions. He also says that there is a self. He is like that excellent doctor who well knew the elixirs that were medicinal and not medicinal. It is not like that self the ordinary man reckons to be his own or the ordinary confused person who reckons that he has a self. Some have said that is as large as the thumb and finger, some that it is like the mustard seed, some that it is like an atom. The Tathagata says that the self is not like any of these. This is why he says that all things are selfless. Really it is not that there is no self. What is the self? If something is the true, real, eternal, the master, that rests upon the nature of being unchanging, this is called the self. Just as the great doctor well understood the medicinal elixir, the Tathagata is also so. For the sake of sentient beings, he says there really is a self. You and the four assemblies must thus cultivate the Dharma."

"Shugchang" <> Date:  Thu Jul 12, 2001  6:20 pm Subject:  Re: Vajra Point II: The Dharma

The imagined, the other-dependent and
The consummate.
These are the three natures
Which should be deeply understood.
-Vasubandhu on the Trisvabhava or Theory of Three Natures

    The following outline is adopted from a writing of Patrul Rinpoche entitled 'Instructions in the Mahayana View Which Clarifies the Two Truths'. It occupies less than six pages (Ch. 7) in James Low's book, Simply Being. I have reproduced here only the briefest outline of that short text. It addresses the Dharma in terms of both Realization and Practice

The Dharma of Realization has two aspects, the general natural condition and one's own natural condition.

I. The General Natural Condition (T. gnas-lugs) which has two aspects

    1. relative aspect (kun-rdzob) includes all appearances between the lowest hells and the post-meditative experiences of the tenth bodhisattva levels. The relative has two aspects, these being- a. the false relative of ordinary minds b. the pure relative upheld through tantric view

    2. absolute aspect (don-dam) natural to buddhas

    "Thus at first there is both appearance and attachment. Then there is only appearance without any attachment. And finally there is the absence of both appearance and attachment. Thus there is false understanding, the understanding of relative knowledge, and the understanding of absolute knowledge."
- Dza Patrul Rinpoche

According to Asanga, these three natures are to be known (the imagined), abandoned (the dependent) and purified (the perfected)

"The three patterns are:

1) the imagined pattern (S. parikalpitalaksana), in which consciousness fabricates illusions and clings to them as if they were stable and perduring realities;

2) the other-dependent pattern (paratantralaksana), which, as the structural functioning of consciousness, initially supports the imagined pattern but can be converted into --

3) the perfected pattern (parinispannalaksana), the absence of imagined illusions in the other-dependent pattern.
When the pervasive force (S. vasana) of the underlying seeds of defiled karmic consciousness in the container consciousness are negated, and the seeds themselves eradicated,  other-dependent consciousness becomes pure: illusory knowing is converted into wisdom."

-Realm of Awakening, p. 9
II. One's Own Natural Condition

    a. the natural condition of relative appearances and objects of knowledge: without self-nature, illusory, sky-like

"Mind is without form, without color, and without resting place, just like the sky."

-Maitreya's Request

    b. the natural condition of mind: non-conceptual, the ultimate inseparability of the two truths

The Dharma of Practice

there are two ways of practicing these instructions:

    1. for the very intelligent who have a good accumulation of merit, there is direct (chig-chhar) practice

In this there is nothing to be cleared away and
Not even the least thing to be kept.
By really looking at reality
When you really see you will be completely free.

    2. everyone else should start with the four reflections which turn the mind and progress through the stages of practice

"Until your mind gains the power of this understanding you should avoid attachment to all forms of wealth and possessions. Remain in the mountains like a wild deer and abide on the path without deviation or backsliding."

-Patrul Rinpoche, Simply Being, p. 78