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Sustaining Present Awareness

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Talk about how to practice Dzogchen sky-gazing and the essential point of it. I will introduce this by reading to you a poem, a pith-instruction from the first Jamgon Kontrul Rinpoche, who lived 100 years ago. It is called "View and Meditation of the Great Perfection." Jamgon Rinpoche was one of the greatest lamas of the last century, who helped spread the Rimé (nonsectarian practice) renaissance in Eastern Tibet.

There are many techniques to help us ease into Dzogchen practice, this naked awareness practice called cutting through, seeing through, or sky-gazing. Techniques like breathing, opening into the natural awareness, devotional practices, chanting, shouting P'et, and so on. But don't forget-all of these are just like the doorway, the threshold at the door to cross over, to return to the natural state. If and when we are in natural awareness, we don't have to cross over. Then we don't have to turn the mind upon itself with the self-inquiry question: Who or what am I? We don't have to do a devotional practice. We don't have to surprise ourselves with P'et and awaken pure awareness. But when we are slightly distracted it is very helpful to do those practices, which are like introductory practices to help us come home again to the present awareness. But it is the present awareness that is crucial, is primary. That's the main practice. That's the heart of the matter, the heart practice. That's what this poem is about: That present awareness, which is the heart of the practice, and how to maintain it.

View and Meditation of the Great Perfection

Homage to the Guru, the teacher.

The View and Meditation of Dzogchen can be explained in many, many ways, but simply sustaining the essence of present awareness includes them all.
Your mind won't be found elsewhere.
It is the very nature of this moment-to-moment thinking.
Regard nakedly the essence of this thinking and you find present awareness, right where you are.

Why chase after thoughts, which are superficial ripples of present awareness?
Rather look directly into the naked, empty nature of thoughts; then there is no duality, no observer, and nothing observed.
Simply rest in this transparent, nondual present awareness.
Make yourself at home in the natural state of pure presence, just being, not doing anything in particular.

Present awareness is empty, open, and luminous; not a concrete substance, yet not nothing.
Empty, yet it is perfectly cognizant, lucid, aware.
As if magically, not by causing it to be aware, but innately aware, awareness continuously functions.
These two sides of present awareness or Rigpa-its emptiness and its cognizance (lucidity)-are inseparable.
Emptiness and luminosity (knowing) are inseparable.
They are formless, as if nothing whatsoever, ungraspable, unborn, undying; yet spacious, vivid, buoyant.
Nothing whatsoever, yet Emaho!, everything is magically experienced.
Simply recognize this.
Look into the magical mirror of mind and appreciate this infinite magical display.

With constant, vigilant mindfulness, sustain this recognition of empty, open, brilliant awareness.
Cultivate nothing else.
There is nothing else to do, or to undo.
Let it remain naturally.
Don't spoil it by manipulating, by controlling, by tampering with it, and worrying about whether you are right or wrong, or having a good meditation or a bad meditation.
Leave it as it is, and rest your weary heart and mind.

The ultimate luminosity of Dharmakaya, absolute truth, is nothing other than the very nature of this uncontrived, ordinary mind.
Don't look elsewhere for the Buddha.
It is nothing other than the nature of this present awareness.
This is the Buddha within.

There are innumerable Dharma teachings.
There are many antidotes to many different kinds of spiritual diseases.
There are many words in the Mahamudra and Dzogchen nondual teachings.
But the root, the heart of all practices is included here, in simply sustaining the luminous nature of this present awareness.
If you search elsewhere for something better, a Buddha superior to this present awareness, you are deluding yourself.
You are chained, entangled in the barbed wire of hope and fear.
So give it up! Simply sustain present wakefulness, moment after moment.
Devotion, compassion, and perfecting virtue and wisdom are the most important supportive methods for completely fulfilling this naked, nondual teaching about present awareness, the innate Dharmakaya.
So always devote yourself to spiritual practice for the benefit of others and apply yourself in body, speech, and mind to what is wholesome and virtuous.

Sarva mangalam.

May all beings be happy!

This is the heart teaching of Mahamudra, of Dzogchen, of Zen, of all the nondual teachings: Sustaining present awareness. Recognizing the Buddha-nature through the present moment, this very moment of awareness. If it's awareness taking the form of thinking, recognize the present awareness component of the thought. If you are remembering the past, recognize the present awareness component of the memory. You're not in the past. How could you be in the past? It is present awareness remembering. If you feel distracted when remembering, bring the mind back to the present awareness. You don't have to stop remembering. Recognize present awareness, which is remembering. If you are dreaming, fantasizing about the future, about what you are going to do when you leave here, how you are going to tell everybody how wonderful it was and how great Dzogchen view and meditation is, that's fine-recognize present awareness fantasizing, planning, dreaming. Recognize who or what is doing that present awareness. Know the knower; see through the seer; go beyond me and mine, and be free.

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