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|Calm and Clear|
|The Wheel of Analytic Meditation (Sems kyi dpyod pa rnams
par sbyong ba so sor brtag pa' i dpyad sgom 'khor lo) and Instructions on Vision in
the Middle Way (dBu ma'i lta khrid zab mo) by Lama Mipham, translation and
commentary by Keith Dowman under the auspices of Tarthang Tulku; foreword by Herbert
Guenther; cover and illustrations by Arthur Okamura, frontispiece by Glen Eddy; 127 pages;
published by Dharma Publishing, Berkeley, 1973.
Note: In the Tibetan Tradition it was customary for the disciple to attribute his work to his. Tarthang Tulku was one of my Refuge Lamas, and since the project was initiated by him and some initial spadework on the translation was done by his disciples, notably Mervin Hanson and John Reynolds, the work is attributed to him in some contexts in the book. I am solely responsible, however, for the translation and commentary of Calm and Clear.
'The Tibetan Buddhist tradition is sometimes divided into sutra and tantra, the sutras forming the doctrinal basis of the straight monastic path and the tantras forming the root of a broader more tolerant way to buddhahood. Sometimes it is said that the sutra path was designed by Sakyamuni Buddha for karmically pure beings in an age of purity and that tantra was taught only for highly compassionate beings of a decadent age. The basic state of meditation, though, which can be defined as attentiveness to the nature of mind, is common to both sutra and tantra, and in Calm and Clear the basic techniques of Buddhist meditation are described formally and in detail. These techniques taught by Lama Mipham, a great Nyingma master of the 19th century, are modifications of concentration and insight meditation. The process begins by visualizing an image of one's greatest desire -- usually a man or a woman -- in front of one and holding it. This develops concentration. Then through a process of analytical deconstruction of the objects that appear in the mind a sense of the ephemeral, impermanent nature of existence increases along with an awareness of the unsatisfactoriness of being human. Turning from object to subject, an examination of the watcher who is performing this meditation produces no sense of an 'I', of an ego, or of anything substantial. The result is an unattached flow of awareness of whatever arises in the mind. With practice, which increases in efficacy like the velocity of a falling object, a sense of the spaciousness of existence and awareness develops that is inseparable from every sensory perception, thought or emotion. The unity of emptiness and bliss in all our experience is the final fruit of this oh so simple meditation technique.'
Contents of Calm and Clear
[Click on Highlighted Chapter Heading for Excerpt]
THE WHEEL OF ANALYTIC MEDITATION
Method of Meditation
Progress Along the Path
Significance of Achievement
These verses were written by Mi-pham rNam-par
INSTRUCTIONS ON VISION IN THE MIDDLE WAY
Root Verses with Commentary
After examining and purifying mind
Examining what is still unknown
Practice of the previous meditation induces certainty that 'I' does not exist in any substantial form. Discovering, however, that what was previously considered to be a concrete entity is a composition of parts which for convenience were categorised under the five groupings of bodymind, the tendency is to identify with the sum of the parts. Continuing meditation by examining whatever arises in the mind, the distinction should be made between the experience of the parts of the bodymind complex and the unconditioned states of concentration which should become more frequent as meditation progresses. Gradually each experience will become well defined, but the object of experience will continue to appear as an independent entity, existing regardless of the other ingredients of the perceptual situation, namely, the organ of sense and the sensation. The habit of belief in the material existence of things is difficult to break. A chair will still be considered as 'existent' even after the perceiver leaves the room.
Still clinging to the various forms of the flow
So long as there is a belief in the existence of forms independent of the perceiver, the search for the self-existent substance continues. The categories of mind and matter, subject and object, are transcended in this search. But the all-important transformation occurs when all things are seen as an inter-related field evolving in its entirety from one pattern into another. The belief in any 'self' or 'entity' is shattered in this vision of totality. However, the realisation of this higher reality may not be achieved immediately, but more likely, it will first appear as a bright possibility and only with constant perseverance in meditative practice will it become clear. The fictions of mind, the fantasies which have been mistaken for the genuine reality remain to colour the vision in ways that obscure it. These are deeply ingrained habits of perception, insisting that somewhere there is a fundamental distinction between 'I' and 'it', between subject and object, between the poles of every duality.
Focusing whatever must be examined,
Continuing to search for the base of existence, everything which enters the mind is scrutinised. Although a vision of reality excluding the limitations of duality and selfishness is dimly perceived, the same process of examination and purification during meditation is essential. Gradually as the vision becomes a constant mode of perception, all things take on an illusory quality, they become lighter and shimmer as if immaterial and gossamer. The realisation dawns that the Emptiness which contains release from the weight of mundane existence is nowhere but in the forms which are perceived. There is nowhere to go to, nothing to discover but the nature of mind.
Such is the specific ultimate reality.
Here the vision is sufficiently developed to perceive the Emptiness in every form and the form in Emptiness, but because of the obscuring function of profoundly rooted habits of thought, the particularising tendency prevents full understanding of the identity of all forms. The intellect still has sufficient power to intensify the discriminating faculty at the expense of the underlying compassion. The details of manifestation still bind attention by means of their decorative quality, and the preconceptions fortified by the common sense assumptions which have previously provided a supporting value system still block pure awareness. In the post-meditative state reality sustains the dreamlike quality which has been developed and insight does not vanish with the completion of formal practice, yet the root causes of delusion remain as subtle and elusive obstacles to full understanding.
When certainty in this magical vision arises,
The subtle obstacles to the stream of spontaneously apparent forms are removed in the same way as the grossest forms of passion --by means of close attention while searching for the essential nature of the object. The momentarily arising visionary field has some snags in it and pulls mind in that direction, limiting the scope of vision and preventing the full awareness of the breadth and depth of reality. Attention to them, discovering their substantial Emptiness, destroys their fascination. In the same way, attention to the mind which is attracted and which imposes a delusory fiction upon the tapestry of perception discovers no mind. Then having finally destroyed all attachment to both external and internal forms, the distinction between subject and object is destroyed and the all-pervasive ultimate reality is understood. The flow of perception is unimpeded.
In this original state of detachment
With the realisation of the realm of free space in which all things are identified, anything which enters experience is known to be unborn in its origin. This is the attainment of the ultimate refuge, for with complete certainty in the essential reality of whatever is experienced, no fear arises to begin the process of action-reaction producing attraction and aversion, clinging and anxious repulsion and complex reaction patterns. Detached, without any tendency to slow the natural progression from unitary totality to the intimately related flash of the following moment, no doubt or fear arises, no expectancy remains unfulfilled simultaneously with its arising. Rather there is a continuous sense of amazement at the ineffable beauty and sublimity of the being in life and understanding. Nothing need be asserted and nothing need be negated, for the perfection of the moment excludes the possibility of detracting expression which both positive and negative assertions imply. The precise discriminating awareness which is inseparable from the realm of self-sameness prevents the overbalance into an entranced state of blissful unknowing. The particulars of every situation are perceived, but none bring disquiet for the ultimate relationship between the parts is the harmonising, unifying factor.
The transcendent, all-pervasive ultimate reality is seen
This is the ultimate reality in which there is no attempt to postulate any formula or metaphor descriptive of the experience of the unity of Emptiness and form. There is nodivision between thought and experience. Thought has been transformed into the underlying understanding which is inseparable from the self-awareness of the form which is discerned. Like sugar dissolved in water, like heat and fire, or like water and wetness, there is not one without the other. The two truths, the relative empiric truth and the ultimate and absolute truth become one, and the yogin is the knowledge holder in this authentic state of being. This is the culmination of the Madhyamika Path in what is known to the Tibetans as Umachenpo, the Great Middle.
This nondual immanent understanding
The mental state or level of consciousness with which the reader has apprehended the above information and visions is the ground, the starting point. The Nyingma tradition offers two possible vehicles to travel the path to a realisation of the inadequately expressed goal which the visions imply. The first is the direct and immediately efficacious Mantrayana, and the second the Madhyamika path of the Mahayana which is an easier, slower, and less dangerous means of attaining the same ends.
When a man is parched by thirst
The necessary study which teaches skill in self-expression, metaphysical postulation, logic and other arts and sciences precedes practice. It is customary to look at a map before starting out on a journey. However, to believe that the knowledge which is gained from the map is the terrain itself is to mistake the concept for the reality. No mere intellectual certainty is valuable when faced with the naked reality of the depths of mind. Like accumulated wealth at the moment of death or the gift of snow in the tropics, theoretic knowledge has no relevance out of its own sphere. The spontaneous expression of the view perceived in profound equanimity, which is the acceptance of whatever may arise without addition or subtraction, replaces the preconceptions of dogma and philosophical dicta.
These verses were written by the great Nyingma master Lama Mi pham writing under the name 'Jam dpal dgyes pa'i rdo rje on the twenty ninth day of the eleventh month of the water-dragon year so that all beings may realise the meaning of the profound Middle Way. Commentary by Keith Dowman.
Mangalam! May all beings be happy!