Dakini Upadesha, and Principles of the Visionary Methods of Lhundrub with Elias Capriles

August 27th – September 4th, 2023

by Margaret Jasinski

Elias and friends in the Tsegyalgar East Schoolhouse Gönpa

When we sit in mediation practice or do formal practice or dance, we are very focused; we have a framework guiding body, speech and mind- these practices were offered by Rinpoche. When we are in the world, in traffic, at work, – what is the experience of the mind as it relates to the self- perfected state of rigpa? Rinpoche taught his students to integrate our experience.  How do we function as Dzogchen practitioners in a busy world? One way is to become more familiar with our experience of “the self” and to discover how it functions.

We were very fortunate, at Tsegyalgar East, to welcome Elias Capriles for a ten day retreat from 27 August to 4 September Community members from all over the world joined  via zoom.  Two sessions were offered daily over the ten day period.  In the mornings, Elias taught from Dakini Upedasha and Instruction for Introduction to the Mind, a short text by Mipham Rinpoche at the Gönpa in Conway. The afternoon sessions were held at the Vajra Hall, where we did formal practice.

The following are six points presented during the retreat:

~I.  The Self- Subject

We are aware that our familiar view, our familiar mental outlook is a partial view.

We are also aware that we are highly attached to our habitual view, which is the partial view of “reality.”

How do we move beyond our habitual view and our attachment to it so that we access a wider, more all- encompassing view?

We become aware of our 3 dimensional thought structure composed of:

  1. subject/ object    b. doer       c. action

We become aware that the subject  “ I”  takes subtle action and “adds a charge” to thoughts. We  “do” something to our thoughts and impute them with value. We habitually experience “self- value” in which we perpetuate the illusion and delusion of “the self.” The self perceives. The self forms perceptions.

It is important to recognize that through practice we have the possibility to “see” the perceiver.

Without the perceiver, we are in the natural state of lucid clarity.

Ripga helps the experience of grasping to perception and perceiver, revealing natural clarity.

We have the opportunity to integrate the experience of the self when we become familiar with the mental experiences from which the self is formed.

~ II. Dualism- the self in action

Rinpoche taught: when we experience  “high energy” that arises when we experience tension and charge our thoughts with value, we notice what notices the experience. 

Elias helped the  students to understand the experience of  dualism- we perceive our “self” as “subject”- the one who experiences an object ( physical or mental).  When we become more familiar with this dichotomy, we come in contact with the habitual mental set up.  Most practitioners are familiar with the concept of dualism. When we are able to use this concept and go beyond it and notice what notices the experience, we become more directly aware of  duality as we experience it, through the perception of “the self” – the doer.

Trekchod is a term that is helpful in our understanding. The word is made up of two parts: trek  mean what is “tied up,” in a literal sense it may describe a bundle of wood; in terms of subject/ object, we are “tied” and attached to our experience of self; this includes our thoughts about “objects.” Chod the “tie” is released; in this case the tension of the “ self as subject experiencing an object”  is broken of its own accord, it is self liberating. In a moment of liberation, we have the possibility to recognize rigpa.

In self- liberation,yeshe the single gnosis ( knowledge/knowing) and dharmakaya arise spontaneously.

We have the confidence that our familiar view is a partial view. We “refresh” our view by looking “barely and nakedly” when we are aware that we are in subject/ object dualism, when we are distracted by thoughts, and we attach to thoughts. In  “refreshing our view,”  we build upon our capacity to be familiar with our ( karmic) view.

~ III. Method

This is a method for building the capacity to notice what notices.

 

~ i.We observe well, which means we are aware, we are with presence.

~ ii. We are aware of  the usual dualistic mental set up- “ I” ( subject) experience an object.

~ iii.We notice the arising of a thought- we are relaxed, seeing it “barely and nakedly” -as it is.  We see “ the stuff” from which it is made. We may say the thought is made of thinking- that is the stuff- it is without “substance” we are aware of this.

~iv. We use the physical eye. Most times we  (subject, “ I” ) are looking  “in front” – at an object; we experience this as ‘how it is” in the physical world.

~ v. When we notice dualistic experience we adjust our view by looking into “the back of the mind”

When we are aware of the thought formation- the subject ( “ I” )+ object dichotomy as it arises. Using the method, we adjust our view and “look” into the “back of the mind.” As we adjust the view, we are not in the familiar way of  experiencing “I, me, mine” + “ an object”.

Using this method, we momentarily interrupt our habitual way of ‘thinking’ of ourselves and the subject experiencing an object. We might say we “short circuit” our subject/object experience using this method.

It is important to note this subtle point: we have the perception of  the one called “ I” in who is “the front” looking at at “someone” in back. When we see this subject – based duality arising, we become aware. We do not get fixated, we use awareness and presence and apply the method.

We may recognize this simultaneity: that “ in front” is a reference we use in the physical world. We also recognize it as a mental concept, an illusion of subject and object duality vision. We recognize both the relative view of the physical world and the recognition of subject/ object without negating anything.

We are aware of perception and perceiver as they arise.Rinpoche instructed: The mirror cannot be the “object” .The one, “ I” who turns to the mirror “dissolves.”This is the spontaneous dissolution of  appearance and the perception of appearance.

~ IV. In dualistic vision,  we tend to  “perceive” distance and “create” distance in our minds.  This is a common perception.  In the relative world we use space and distance, we also have the opportunity to recognize this is mental activity, creating the illusion of distance. We “charge” our experience when we “believe” unconsciously that we are “separate” or “distanced” from experience, whether it be pleasurable or painful; we form the perception that we  “create” distance.

When we become aware of this habit of mind and its perception that “ I make  distance” then we see how we function, we are aware that we are in “dualistic vision” that is also an experience of cause and effect in the physical world. We also understand that our partial view is not the full view, therefore we are prone to “mistaken views” called ignorance. With confidence, we are able to see our view as it is. We see this lightly, like a snapshot. We understand- there is nothing “wrong.” We are experiencing the mind’s reflections.

As Rinpoche taught: In the mirror, there is no distance between the mirror and the images reflected.

Reflections are “ornaments” that make rigpa evident. There is no separation. When we release the self from its usual activity, it “self- releases.” We recognize, there is nothing for the doer to do. We relax completely.

~ IV. Emptiness

We have the possibility of experiencing “forms” in their natural state of emptiness, and we have the chance to experience ourselves in our natural state of mind, the essence of which is “empty” in nature.

We are not trying to make pure vision from impure vision. We are in the experience of the mind in all of  its expressions.

Oftentimes, we interrupt the spontaneity of the mind by subtly imputing  the personal experience of acceptance or rejection upon our mental experience- this is an “action” . and “I” am the “doer.” We see the experience of rejection or acceptance as such; with objectivity, we observe what we do.  We notice that we add a “charge” to experience. We are more aware of our experience of dualism so that we may go beyond to an experience of greater clarity.

We notice what notices.

We know forms are “empty in essence” from what we have been taught; this is the natural state of dharmakaya. We have the chance to experience the state of emptiness.When this happens, in seconds or minutes or hours- we recognize our nature directly, we relax in this state. Elias instructed that when we are in the experience of emptiness, we don’t “find something” in our usual subject, object way. We recognize emptiness, it is our own condition, and therefore we naturally recognize it. We do not have to go “outside” of  ourselves to experience our nature.

~ V  Yeshe 

Primordial Gnosis ( knowing) is called yeshe ( ye- everything) + ( she- cognitive).

In cognition- we recognize. When we recognize directly, without personal identification, grasping or distraction, we are in direct contact with everything as it arises.

We acknowledge, there is a cognitive, mental event that makes rigpa possible, therefore, we are not getting rid of thoughts- they are like helpers or servants of rigpa. They are “made” of yeshe, therefore they help to make rigpa evident.This is not an intellectual understanding- it is beyond cause and effect. It is spontaneously arising- direct and immediate, without the interruption of “subject”  “ I”.

We have the confidence in this knowledge.

We notice- the mix of thoughts and yeshe in our experience- we become more able to distinguish one from the other. The experience of clarity is the “evidence” that rigpa is present. We are careful not to fall into stupor, dullness or complacency as we practice so that we do not mistake appearances of nirvana or samsara as rigpa. 

~ VI. Source

One diagram Elias presented was particularly helpful; it showed a drawing of a human being, head and shoulders. In the area of the head, the mind was shown  as “the source” of thoughts, much like a reservoir, and the thoughts were presented as “ripples” which emanate from the source.

The point of this drawing is that our attention often goes to the ripples. We often become distracted from rigpa. When we focus on the thought, we are also focused on the ripple, and in distraction we do not notice the water from which it is made.  When we notice the ripple is also the water, we are with the complete experience, not the fragment of distraction.

Shardrol: As we practice, we gain the capacity to notice. We become aware  that when a thought does not have the “ time and energy”  to establish itself as a usual thought- it is self liberating. It is self liberating in its own condition. ( Not in “me” doing “ something” to “make” this happen.)

Randrol: everything is self liberated- there is no actor, no action.

We rest in the source- not in the ripples.

Ripples seem to have existence and value, We have a chance to see them as they are, to recognize:

There is no observer, there is no grasping. The source is the source.

We are relaxed- we do nothing- there is nothing to do. We don’t give “charge” to the experience of tension. We relax completely.

VI.  Awareness

We are aware not to “stir up” our mental experience. It will settle on its own. We have this confidence.

We recognize without doubt that there is no difference between what happens in the mind and external experience.  It is all the same, the expression of sameness.

We have the experience of shamata  ( stability) and vipashana  (awareness that knows awareness) 

We are confident that the mind’s nature, which has continually accompanied the mind, will arise.

We discover  rigpa, pure awareness- it has no inside or outside, no interruption, there is nothing beyond it. Rigpa is non- conceptual,  it is  the self-luminous quality of the nature of the mind.

In life, we are in various places, on a continuous journey.  Some places are pleasant, some are not. Wherever we find ourselves, we try our best not to be distracted. Through contact with Rinpoche and the teachings he so generously offered, we have the possibility of being  in the true condition of rigpa no matter where we are in life’s journey.

It was wonderful to be with Elias, a highly qualified teacher and dedicated student of Rinpoche.

We enjoyed laughter and lightness as Elas moved through the texts with his excellent, thorough teachings.

Many practitioners from around the world participated via zoom. The translators were essential. The technicians were key.  Community members supported Elias with the offering of hospitality. Thank you to all, and in particular to Elias. Everything came together perfectly.

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