Dzogchen: The Resting Meditation of a Kusulu


"The experience of true insight is the simultaneous awareness of both stillness and active thoughts.  According to the Maha Ati teaching, meditation consists of seeing whatever arises in the mind and simply remaining in the state of nowness.  Continuing in this state after meditation is known as "the post-meditation experience."

 Jigme Lingpa  

"Do not resolve the Dharma,

Resolve your mind.

To resolve your mind is to know the one which frees all.   

Not to resolve your mind is to know all but lack the one"

                                                                                    Guru Rinpoche

The  practice of Dzogchen Meditation is based on the recognition of Natural Awareness which is referred to as Ordinary Mind, Thamel Gyi Shepa in Tibetan.   Natural Awareness is the true nature of our mind when it is free from habituation.  This is the quality of our present experience which is uncontrived and unfabricated cognizance.  It has been described as naked and unborn in the sense that it is awareness which is stripped bare of any conditioning or habituation.

"...the term 'ordinary wisdom,' thamel-gyi-shepa', is used a great deal in the Tantric tradition.  It is the completely ordinary version of 'form is form, emptiness is empty'; it is what is."

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche , "Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism" 

 Ordinarily in our day to day lives our minds are continually involved in habitual thought and projection. This habitual mode of being is generally how we operate and what keeps us trapped in a cycle of ignorance, delusion and suffering.  Habitual thought, projection and the compulsive fixation on what arises in our minds obscures our recognition of Natural Awareness.  Therefore we can understand Dzogchen Meditation as a practice which purifies the mind of habituation allowing us to recognize Natural Awareness. In this sense, Natural Awareness is beyond the reference points of habitual mind.  This is what Trungpa Rinpoche referred to as Crazy Wisdom in some of his early seminars in the west.
     Since habitual mind  depends on constant movement, distraction and the manipulation of what arises in our experience, the fundamental form of practice in Dzogchen is to sit still and be undistracted --  to leave whatever arises in our field of awareness as it is --  that is, not to manipulate or strategize our thoughts or the sights, sounds and sensations that we perceive.  This is called the "resting meditation of a kusulu."

 "Keep your body straight, refrain from talking, open your mouth slightly, and let the breath flow naturally.  Don't pursue the past and don't invite the future.  Simply rest naturally in the naked ordinary mind of the immediate present without trying to correct it or replace it.  If you rest like that, your mind-essence will be clear and expansive, vivid and naked,without any concerns about thought or recollection, joy or pain.  That is awareness (Rigpa)."                                                                

Khenpo Gangshar

The basic instruction for kusulu meditation according to our lineage is first to sit in the posture of the Buddha-- in the beginning anyway.  This is the seven-fold posture of vairocana.  Essentially the legs are crossed and the spine is straight.  Having taken that posture one then should "leave the body like a corpse in the charnal ground."  This means to not have hope and fear about the body.  In terms of the speech, one leaves the breath as though it were a broken instrument -- a lute whose strings have been cut.  Again this is referring to not having hope and fear about the voice or breath.  It is left as it is.

With the mind, the instruction is to leave the mind as it is -- without hope and fear.  And whatever thoughts arise in the mind should also be left without engaging. 


                                                     "Whatever arises as objects in awareness 

 --Regardless of what thoughts arise from the five emotional poisons ~

Do not allow your mind to anticipate, follow after, or indulge in them. 

                        By allowing this movement to rest in its own ground, you are free in Dharmakaya."

                                                                                                          Guru Rinpoche

A Way of Settling into the Realization of Mind’s Essence

by Khenpo Gangshar Wangpo

Within, awareness should be unbridled and free,
Without, there shouldn’t be any grasping at appearances.
In the absence of outer and inner, all is utterly transparent —
To be free of like and dislike: how wonderful!

Distraction is simply mind; as are like and dislike, hope and fear, good and bad, and clean and dirty — whenever you experience them adhere to cause and effect, be careful, and keep a low profile. Don’t be frivolous or vulgar, but be in harmony with those around you, letting all emotions and attitudes of like and dislike be purified in their own space.

Measure yourself against the various stages of the path; see if you can bear sufferings such as illness, being undermined, and despised. To be unable to do so is to be ordinary, a sign you have not completed the path.

As such, you should supplicate the guru and yidam deity, receive empowerment and mix the guru's wisdom with your mind. Then relax, without any grasping, into that expanse, and remain without the slightest effort in an experience of utter relaxation — free and loose.

From time to time, contemplate the karmic law of cause and effect; take the suffering of others upon yourself, and offer whatever comfort and virtue you may have to others.

In the practice of the giving and taking of happiness and suffering, difficulty isn’t to be rejected, nor comfort sought. Simply relax. To be without ideas of good and bad, or hope and fear, enables you to be joyful in any company, to be cheerful wherever you may find yourself — surely this is what it means to be truly happy!

The more precisely you adhere to cause and effect, the more your selfishness and self-grasping will diminish, and the more your obsession with pleasure and pain or desire and hatred will decline as well. To be altogether free from the fear of death is a sign that your efforts at practice have been worthwhile.

Essentially then, at all times and in all situations, do not contrive with the mind, but allow it to settle naturally; knowing this means you will never be apart from the experience of the dhātu.

These are the insane ramblings of Gangshar Wangpo. May you and I become inseparable and be of benefit to all.

| Translated by Sean Price, 2016.


Distinguishing between Sems and Rigpa

"Mind (sem) is like the clouds assembled in the sky.  Therefore you must gain stability in awareness (rigpa) which is like a cloudless sky.  You must be able to purify the aspect that is like the clouds in the sky.  Through this you will be able to separate mind and awareness."  
Khenpo Gangshar

 This particular method of practice depends on being able to separate or distinguish between confusion and realization.  This means being able to tell the difference between being lost in a daydream --or just zoned out --and being present-- i.e. not following thoughts or repressing them.   "Sems" in Tibetan refers to what in Buddhism has been translated into English as ego.  It is not a good translation in my opinion because of all the baggage connected with the word in the English language.  In this case, Ego as 'sems' is just the tendency to habitually fixate on mental projections which arise in the mind which creates a fictional dream world called samsara that sentient beings tend to think of as real and habitually attempt to solidify.  It is a fundamental confusion.  "Rigpa" is the Tibetan word that refers to awareness beyond habitual reference point-- beyond 'sems' or after sems has fallen apart -- which it does naturally.   Rigpa is what Trungpa refers to as "basic sanity."

     In order to distinguish between sems and rigpa we work with our body, speech and mind in a particular way.  "Leaving the body like a corpse in a charnal ground" means that we don't engage with the physical sensation of our body in a habitual way.  When we relate to the body in this way we are simply present with those sensations and they root us in an experience beyond our habitual daydream or psychosomatic experience of the body.  Its not that our experience of the body disappears in  meditation, but we relate to it without manipulation based on habitual mind.

This is the same with our breath, which in this context is regarded as "speech."  The breath is left alone without manipulation but is still a baseline experience.  We are breathing and that brings us back to a direct experience of being present without complication.  Utilizing our direct experience of body and speech in this way is essentially the method of meditation for a kusulu practitioner.  There are some techniques that Trungpa Rinpoche gave his students regarding the use of accentuating awareness of the outbreath which are very helpful for distinguishing between being caught in a habitual daydream and being present.  Those techniques should not be regarded as some type of saving grace.  In other words, with the technique Trungpa Rinpoche instructed his students to use we utilize the outbreath as the neutral reference point.  Being aware of the outbreath is just momentarily realizing you are here.  There may be some sense in that moment that you weren't "here" in the previous moment.  That is the technique.  There is no effort to push "thinking" away to dwell in stillness.  None at all.  You are "here" with the outbreath, then let it go.  You are "here;" then, let it go.   By sitting still and allowing the breath to be as it is , the tendency to be lost in some kind of daydream is lessened and so we use this form as the method to differentiate between daydreams and reality. 

     The "reality" we are talking about here is not some imaginary mystical experience of "transcending duality" or "becoming one" with whatever.  We are just talking about the basic sanity of being able to tell when we are daydreaming and when we are not.  On the basis of recognizing the difference between these two things in our experience , the whole path becomes possible.  If we don't understand this at the beginning of our journey then we are just chasing a fantasy. 

     The much sought after "pointing out" that so many western students chase after is nothing other than this-- being shown a mind that is not lost in daydreams.  It is supposed to be helpful for a student on their path as a practitioner to receive the "pointing out."  Unfortunately,  unless a student is able to utilize such a blessing in the way I have talked about here-- it can become an obstacle and hindrance to any genuine realization.  In particular, having received the "pointing out" is not the end of the journey at all.  It is only the hint of a beginning.  One analogy the Tibetan teachers use is that it is like being shown the road to Lhasa.  It is up to you to walk there. 
     Without intensive practice before, we will lack the psychological sophistication to understand what is being pointed out.  Without practice after recieving the pointing out we never reach out "destination."  
     There is a story in "Blazing Splendor"  where a naughty young Tulku recieves the "pointing Out" from an old monk who admonishes him to "not wander."  Throughout his life he would remember this old grouchy monk from his childhood as one of his root gurus.   The one who first showed him the nature of mind. 

Coemergent Wisdom and Self-Liberation

"I would recommend that you don't worry about future security, but just do it, directly and simply."  Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche


 The moment when we realize we have been following a thought is actually the moment of coemergent wisdom.

"At the moment of seeing, the thought has dissolved, it has vanished, and you have arrived at the completion stage."  

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

If we understand  the projection and fixation on what arises in the mind as sems then we can understand that every time a habitual reference point falls apart there is the possibility of recognizing awareness beyond ,or as the background to, the habitual involvement with "thinking".  From our samsaric perspective this experience is called  "impermanence," and is considered the cause of suffering; but from the Tantric point of view it allows the possibility of co-emergent wisdom.  Trungpa Rinpoche called this "the great switcheroo."

     Co-emergent wisdom or "the wisdom born within"  is resolved through practicing in this way.  This is why clinging to a fabricated meditation state which is peaceful and clear is missing the main point of practice entirely.
     There is an instantaneous flip that happens the moment you recognize that you are "thinking" --i.e. habitually engaging in thoughts. That moment is free from habitual reference point-- Rinpoche called it the "gap".  That is the meaning of the saying "the more thoughts, the more Dharmakaya." 
     Trungpa Rinpoche describes this moment as resolving rigpa -- or thamel gyi shepa-- through  what is percieved as the boundary.  The "boundary" is the realization that we have been daydreaming.  That perspective is outside of the daydream.  That momentary realization is called coemergent wisdom.

 There is a feeling that rigpa comes at you spontaneously rather than that we have to work  at it.  It comes at us because daydreams are unsustainable.  Reality always breaks through.  That is a self-existing intelligence.  Dukkha is experienced as suffering and insecurity because because it cannot be solidified.  Through continuing to practice in this way rigpa infiltrates or erodes that experience of boundary--much as the ocean erodes and undermines the mainland.   There is no attempt to create or maintain a still or peaceful or clear meditation state at all.  That approach is ego's mimicry of meditation --which is all habitual mind can come up with.  Whether there are thoughts or stillness isn't the point-- the point is that we wear out the tendency to respond to what arises with habitual hope and fear with awareness which is self-existing-- beyond hope and fear.  

If there is an habitual reaction to what arises in the mind then that is daydreaming-- the five skandhas -- the 12 nidanas.  If you simply recognize a thought as a thought rather than be carried away by it --that is rigpa.

Nonreference point experience

"The primordial dot spreads out to fill the whole of space."  Trungpa Rinpoche

 As a beginning or intermediate practitioner it is important to work within an authentic lineage.  Until one truly resolves the nature of mind it is easy to go astray.  The more one resolves the nature of mind throgh shamatha/vipashyana practice the more one comes to recognize it in one's authentic guru and lineage and their pith instructions.  This realization dawns as an unmistakeable atmosphere or quality.  This is what we generally refer to as adhistana or blessings.  Jinlap is the Tibetan word for this.  The experience of jinlap is the radiation of thamel gyi shepa.  The center of this mandala is the guru -- he functions as the pipeline for these blessings. That is why the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages rely on Devotion.

"For the realization of Dzogchen to occur in your mind you must receive the transmission of the blessings of the mind of a master who possesses the lineage.  This transmission depends on the disciple's devotion, so it is of sole importance."


"Devotion to the master is the king of all enhancement practices, so give up regarding him as an ordinary being.  It is essential never to separate yourself from the devotion of seeing him as a Buddha in person."

 Yogi Yanpa Lodi, the carefree vagrant

     Besides this the sitting meditation of a kusulu is extremely important and one should do a lot of it.   Maintaining a daily practice of 2 to 4 hours per day is essential. Without this we never accomplish the level of psychological awareness or subtlety necessary to distinguish between sems and rigpa moment to moment.  And that is key.   Beyond this one should engage in periodic intensive retreats and the full path presented by your lineage while living an ordinary life.   This is the path of the "hidden yogi."  

    Joining a monastery or living in  meditation centers for extended periods of time seems to only result in jaded dharma and spiritual materialism as the habitual mind develops a cozy world in these seemingly spiritual settings.  So don't try to advance your "spiritual career" with these types of credentials. Three to five years was the general rule for living at a Dharma Center under the direction of Trungpa Rinpoche.  That seems like a good rule of thumb.  The same is true for hanging out with the guru or the vajra sangha. The unique quality we are talking about in Dzogchen and Mahamudra is non reference point experience which is the radiation of thamel gyi shepa.  If you try to make a cozy home in your spiritual career or relationship with the guru then our habitual minds simply co-opt the whole thing.  This is the meaning behind the idea of not viewing the guru as an ordinary person.  It has nothing to do with elevating some ordinary person within a superstitious patriarchal power structure so he can shower abuse on his students and take advantage of them.  (This is how we generally view religious hierarchies in the West which obviously has a historical basis.)  It is very important to recognize the potential to misunderstand this relationship from a Buddhist Tantric perspective.

The guru is not our best buddy,  our lover or our father/mother.  He or she has one job and it has no relationship with habitual mind.

Identification with the Guru

"The next section , which is connected with that awakening begins:

When the wild and wrathful father approaches

The external world is seen to be transparent and unreal 

The reasoning mind no longer clings and grasps. 

You are arriving in new territory.  In spite of the depressions of theistic overhang or hangover, in spite of the theistic diseases that even Buddhists or other traditions can catch, you finally begin to realize that you don't have to dwell constantly on your pain.  You begin to realize that you can go beyond that level,  Finally you can celebrate that you are an individual human being.  You have your own intelligence, and you can pull the rug from under your own feet,  You don't need to ask somebody else to do that.  You don't need to ask someone to pull up your socks-- or your pants, for that matter."

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche 

     Buddhism is a nontheistic tradition which means that that profound feeling you have in the teaching or practice mandala is primordial.  It doesn't depend on one being a good boy or good girl or worshiping an external deity or the reincarnation of some great Tibetan master.   Really it is based on a  psychologically profound understanding of how we, as human beings, perceive jinlap or sacred world directly in our experience and work with that recognition as the basis of our nonthestic spiritual path.  This is based upon something we call  devotion in english.  In Tibetan it is called "mogu."  Mogu is a combination  of feeling the wretchedness of samsara, heartfelt longing and sadness which is the essential aspect of the practice of guru yoga.  "Devotion"  is a very poor translation.  The english language is not really suited to convey nontheistic spirituality.  The history of english is rooted  in theism.  That is why it is so important to understand how Trungpa Rinpoche has translated these words -- what the real meaning is from the experiential path of practice.    Therefore, generating mogu in one's practice is not the same as having  a conceptual attitude or theistic belief system.  Having a belief that the guru is a superior being who you need to worship in order to receive their blessings is a fundamental misunderstanding of the view or spiritual purpose of a mandala set-up in the buddhist tantric tradition.  Trungpa Rinpoche always cautioned against viewing the guru as the savior in this way.
 The tulku system as it exists today is based on the notion of the " blessed Tulku."  Not the metaphysical belief  of a  tulku as the literal reincarnation of a previous master.  Although  certainly there are instances of great masters who were reincarnated especially in Tibet and India in the old days, this type of tulku was rare then and is even more rare today.  We don't think of Tilopa as this type of tulku.  He stormed the citadel of the dakinis on his own!  Today, if you are practicing within an authentic lineage and have received these blessings thoroughly-- you have become a blessed Tulku as well.  Therefore you can transmit this authentic dharma which is good news. 

      The center of the mandala is always ordinary mind-- Thamel gyi shepa.  Because we have practiced according to our guru's instructions we recognize it and go towards it. What you recognize in a teacher is this same "ordinary mind."  That is what we have faith in and what we long for and have  devotion/mogu for.  It's not based on a superficial hierarchy or some famous celebrity guru who has written lots of books who you have chosen from a mind of habitual reference point.   You have to see it directly and that depends on your practice.  Because I have seen this in my own experience I have no doubt about my lineage or about Trungpa Rinpoche and the Vajra Regent.  The central experience of these two people directly corresponded with my practice and still does-- even as recollection.

     "You cannot have complete devotion without surrendering your heart.  Otherwise the whole thing becomes a business deal.  As long as you have any understanding of wakefulness, any understanding of the sitting practice of meditation, you always carry your vajra master with you all along.  That is why we talk about the mahamudra level of all-pervasive awareness.  With such awareness, everything that goes on is the vajra master.  So if your vajra master is far away, there is really no reason for sadness-- although some sadness can be useful, because it brings you back from arrogance."

   Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

    This is beautifully illustrated during tantric feast practice in which the participants are all the vajra sangha of Trungpa Rinpoche.  We all have our roles in the feast whether you are a Chopon (shrine attendant) or Dorje Loppon (vajra master).  When you have engaged properly in the practice of establishing a sacred mandala--i.e. have kept samaya-- then one recognizes the nature of mind as the atmosphere of that situation.  The Dorje Loppon is just a practitioner -- in this case, a member of the vajra sangha.  He could have been your roommate when you lived in Boston.  The role is on a rotating basis.  You don't need to be the reincarnation of some great Tibetan Master to be the Dorje Loppon at a Vajra Feast-- but you certainly can manifest the primordial nature within that mandala.  That is because the vajra sangha have all received authentic transmission from their lineage guru and they have the right kind of faith in nonreference point experience.  In other words, they have learned how to pull the rug out from under their own feet.  That blessing  (jinlap)is manifest in the feast practice.   To be honest, it is manifest whenever we get a bunch of Trungpa Rinpoche's direct students together to engage his teachings. 

Judy Lief has created such a situation in the Profound Treasury Retreats happening in Maine every June -- There are soon to be retreats in Colorado.  
     In terms of "having a personal guru."  Many people think that they need their personal guru like they need a personal trainer or tinancial advisor.   I never had such a thing as a "personal guru."  This idea seems to come from the usual activity of habitual mind.   When you understand that the guru and your practice, and your wife and your job are nothing other than nonreference point experience, you realize there is no exotic father figure out there to save you.  On the other hand, the realization of nonreference point is a lot closer than you think.  To begin to sit with our experience as it is will bring us face to face with this.  We don't need to be so poverty stricken.  Experiencing jinlap and recognizing nonreference point experience is meeting the mind of your guru and lineage.  Any other expectations or projections on this relationship is founded in the usual confusion of habitual mind.

     The stories of Padmasambhava, Tilopa, Naropa, Milarepa etc. are not cozy situations.  The vajra sangha of the past were not hanging out with the cool people in Pullahari, Boulder, Halifax , Kathmandu or whereever.  They were not hanging out with their "personal gurus."  In fact, the great practitioners in our lineage practiced and lived in the charnal grounds.  It is very difficult to make a charnal ground a cozy situation.  That is why they lived there.  Meeting your guru should be like moving to the charnal ground.  The difference between a charlatan and an authentic guru is that a charlatan will teach to the habitual mind.  He will tell you meditation will improve your golf game.  Authentic gurus will help you move to the charnal ground.  

The Three Vows and Shambhala

The Three Yana Journey of our lineage is based on taking three vows which represent our path of relating to nonreference point experience.  When we become a Buddhist we take the hinayana vow.  We take refuge in the Buddha as an example, the dharma as the teachings and the sangha as our community of fellow practitiioners.  Trungpa Rinpoche describes this as "becoming a refugee."  Again,  the notion here is that we are leaving home.  In the old days the Buddha's followers became monks and nuns.  The shaved their heads, put on the robes of a renunciant and lived off the generosity of the larger worldly community.  It was how the blessings manifested in that society.   They did not live in monasteries in the beginning.  They were wanderers with no fixed home and they renounced a worldly life.  This is the example of the hinayana way of connecting with and maintaining a connection with the reality of nonreference point experience as "individual liberation."

The Bodhisattva vow of the mahayana path is directly connected with a problem which developed in the path of the hinayana monk or nun.  That even this lifestyle could become the basis of creating a cozy home.  It becomes a special thing that "I am part of."  This further teaching and vow is renouncing our own "self improvement project" with a further understanding of the nonreference point experience as the shunyata experience--the emptiness of self and other.  In this case our own notion of attaining enlightenment is given up for the benefit of other.  It is said that when the Buddha manifested this teaching at Rajagriha through the dialogue between Avalokiteshvara and Shariputra -- 500 Arhats had heart attacks!  There is the notion of a correction of the view of Hinayana in this teaching and how it over-throws the habitual mind's tendency to co-opt the teachings in a subtle way.  Habitual mind simply does it's thing-- which is dependent upon co-emergent ignorance-- ma-rigpa.   It is constantly operating in a blind way which completely subverts the purpose of our engagement with the Dharma.  And if we are are not aware of this tendency it will co-opt our Dharma practice-- no matter what level or yana we are engaged in.   The Bodhisattva Vow  is meant to further erode this side-track and deepen our understanding of nonreferential reality particularly through exchanging self for other and the development and practice of unbiased compassion.  This path is particularly engaged in the practice of the six paramitas and tonglen.

The Tantric Vows are connected with the notion of taking an absolute vow to maintain one's devotion to the Guru, Lineage and Yidam as the skillful method for realizing nonreference point experience-- the indestructible reality-- inherent in our experience as whatever arises.  Formally, this is done through taking an abhiseka with one's lineage guru.  There are certain skillful practices like ngondro which facilitates one's ability to experience the mandala principle.  The practitioner engages yidam practice and guru yoga as the methods of transforming our gross and subtle experiences into co-emergent wisdom.  These  methods are how we refine the direct experience of thamel gyi shepa.  

These three vows have been described sequentially as somewhat direct (hinayana), more direct (mahayana), and absolutely direct (Vajrayana).  There are explicit instructions that one should not enter into a Tantric commitment lightly because if we misunderstand and violate our vow which connects us directly to the center of the mandala --i.e. thamel gyi shepa-- then we may separate ourselves from this direct realization forever.  That danger is due to misunderstanding the mandala principle and the primordial nature of jinlap.

The Shambhala Vow can be understood as all of these vows together with a further notion of removing any cultural or religious bias.  The Great Eastern Sun and basic goodness relate to the notion of thamel gyi shepa.  Setting Sun World is the habitual mind.  Natural Hierarchy and Enlightened Society is the mandala principle and how it can be manifest in our own twenty-first century reality as it is.  The Shambhala Warrior is a person who engages the world from this place of wisdom, compassion and courage.  In that way the Kingdom of Shambhala manifests in our present reality as tendrel -- auspiscious coincidence and Sacred World.  This expression of Shambhala may actually give 500 Buddhists heart attacks!

Creation and Dissolution

The main elements of tantric practice are called development and completion stage.  In development or creation stage we visualize  our body as the body of the yidam;  our speech is the recitation of the mantra of the yidam ;and our mind is the realization of dharmakaya --i.e natural awareness or nonreference point experience.  This entails a full involvement.  That is the idea of samaya and devotion.  When we do these practices our usual habitual reference points are actively replaced with visualization and mantra.  We could say that this type of practice is not unique to Buddhist tantra.  Hinduism has the same type of practices.  Prayer and worship in Christianity is very similar to this form of training.  The difference lies in the next phase which is the dissolution of the visualization and mantra and the completion stage of resting in that space in which that created reference system has  been dissolved.  This is a particularly Buddhist tantric skillful method for resting in the nature of mind beyond habitual reference point.  Tantra is defined as continuity because it develops a practitioners stability in that nonreference point experience.  It is also the method of transmutation.  The coemergent aspect is the same in  the sitting practice of a kusulu as in the tantric practices of the annutara yoga tantra or mahayoga.  But Tantra is much more effective because it is infiltrating this imaginary realm of mind through visualization and mantra.  In the practice lineage we say "mind is king."  This level of practice completely undermines the habitual reference point of the nidana chain.  That is why we consider it transmutation.  This depends on the pyschological sophistication of the sitting practice for students to understand this.  After doing a month long dathun along with other intensive retreats Trungpa Rinpoche did not consider his students to be at  , what he referred to as, the "peasant level" of understanding.  He gave them teachings according to a very profound level of understanding nonreference point experience.

The Reference Point of Nonreference Point 

"Devas, gurus, and one's own mind are inseparable, primordial, innate, beyond expression in the uncontrived ordinary mind, so bypass into the three secrets of Dharmata.  Whatever arises is seen as the play of the guru--."  Jamgon Kongtrul of Shechen

The practice of tantra is creating a continuity of the realization of nonreference point experience.  The experience , menory, recollection of one's guru and sangha becomes the present experience of nonreference point.  The same is true for the recollection of one's tantric yidam.  They become inseparable.  This is what Trungpa Rinpoche  called "symbolism" in "Dharma Art."  Interestingly enough the result of this co-arising is profound, tear-filled devotion.  This is the culmination of the path-- where the experience of Mogu is reveals the essence.  When that real devotion arises you cannot fake anything-- and you meet the genuine mind of nonreference point directly.  There is nothing to be embarrassed about in this.

"My own guru said to me:  I have no thought besides the guru.  I have nothing to chant besides supplcation to him. I have nothing to practice besides nonaction.  I simply rest in that way.  Now I am in a happy state--open, spacious, and free from reference point.  For accomplishing the permanent goal of one's wishes, the profound instruction of dzogchen is enough in itself."  Dudjom Rinpoche

The result of continued practice within the framework of the Three Yana path -- plus Shambhala-- is a growing infiltration of our experience with a quality of spaciousness and vividness (luminosity) which is the one taste of reality beyond habitual reference point.  It isn't that we are attaining some higher spiritual power -- rather, "things as they are" begins to shine through every experience we have.  If you are practicing guru yoga we call this the "primordial guru."  If we are practicing a yidam meditation, we call this the quality of the yidam.   Mahamudra, Dzogchen, vipashyana, compassion- it has many names.  At the same time experience feels increasingly "groundless and rootless."  This is the "unborn" nature of mind which is often mistaken as nihilism or existentialism in the West.  This is because it subverts our usual habitual, conceptual approach which we tend to be quite attached to.   Unless we have a positive or authentic spiritual lineage we are following we tend to overlay a conceptual view on the experience and therefore consider it a threat.  That is important to know because the quality of this realization often feels quite threatening to our personal status quo.  Luckily for us there is no escape after a certain point.

"This mind-essence is the nature of all sentient beings, the realization for the buddhas of the three times, the essence of the 84,000 dharma doors and the heart of the glorious master the supreme guide,  It is the transcendent knowledge of the second set of teachings and the sugata-essence of the last turning of the Wheel of the Dharma.  According to the general system of mantra it is called 'continuity of the ground,' the spontaneously present mandala of the innate nature.  According to the anuttara tantras it is called Guhyasamja, Chakrasamvara, Kalachakra and so forth.

As for the three inner tantras: according to the mahayoga it is the great dharmakaya of the exalted inseparability of the two truths,  According to anuyoga it is the basic mandala of bodhicitta of the 'son great bliss,'  According to atiyoga it is the great perfection of awareness and emptiness.

All of these renowned expressions indicate the mind essence itself, and nothing else."

Khenpo Gangshar

The important thing  is that at some point you realize what you thought this was about is not what this is about.  This is when you actually conquer the "three lords of materialism" in your own mind.   When you "label thoughts thinking and come back to the outbreath," as Trungpa Rinpoche instructs,  you come in contact with intelligence and ,in fact ,a whole reality outside of habitual mind.  At that point... we become real human beings...we become part of something outside of a compulsive, habitual way of being.  We join heaven and earth and manifest sacred world in our particular way as universal monarchs.  Just as Vidyadhara Trungpa Rinpoche, the Dorje Dradul of Mukpo actually said.

 This world is open ended and magic.  It is available right here.  Right now to "ordinary" people like us.  This realization is no different at all from what Naropa received from Tilopa and completely available.  And from my perspective-- every retreat we engage here at DMC manifests this. 


"When the wild and wrathful father approaches

the external world is seen to be transparent and unreal. 

Habitual  mind no longer clings and grasps 

It is wonderful to arrive in your domain

In the pure land of the blazing mountain

Where every experience is full of joy. 

Hey-ho, the happy yogi. 

Every movement of the mind becomes bliss and emptiness; 

All dualistic fixation disappears when the mind emerges into nakedness, 

This is the mandala in which the six senses are self-liberated. 

On seeing your face I am overjoyed. 

Now pain and pleasure alike have become

Ornaments which it is pleasant to wear. 

The experience of joy becomes devotion

and I am drunk with all-pervading blessings, 

This is a sign of the merging of mind and guru. 

The whole of existence is freed and becomes the guru. 

When such blessings descend, your son's depression is entirely liberated into Mahasukkha."

Adapted from the Sadhana of Mahamudra