Going Beyond Words – A  Retreat with Steve Landsberg

by Margaret Jasinski

At Tsegyalgar East we were fortunate to host Steve Landsberg for the three day retreat from September 30 – October 2.  Steve is a highly dedicated teacher who shared his experience and knowledge related to the experience of the mind. The following is a summary of Steve’s teaching:

To discover the nature of the mind, we must put forth effort, using presence and having intention.

To discover the nature of the mind, we recognize the self, the one who thinks and acts. When we actively and objectively observe the experience of “the self” we also notice the experience of the mind, we notice the way the mind creates a subtle experience of separation which we may call a gap; this is a relative state, the experience of our karmic vision and through practice we have the opportunity to go beyond it.

We observe ourselves, the one called “ I” , and get familiar with an attitude of openness and receptivity. As we observe, we are confident that there’s nothing to do, nothing  wrong, nothing to fix, we are moving towards discovering how we experience the mind. When we are able to go beyond our usual framework, our experience upheld by feelings, emotions, perceptions and concepts, we become aware of the state of a non- conceptual state, the state of contemplation.

The practice is to observe the “gap” (which may also be called the difference, the distance, the boundary)between the one who is looking and what is seen.  We notice the difference. We notice how, in our minds, we create concepts and conditions, how we form  a boundary, a gap, a distance, a difference between ourselves and what we experience. We see this concretely, for ourselves. As we become aware, we realize how we color and shape our view and how we are attached to it. We also become aware of the ways we experience resistance and tension. When we discover how we fabricate a mental landscape, we possibly get glimpses of the unfabricated, unborn state of mind

We have the possibility to  discover the “awareness that knows itself.” We discover this natural awareness by observing, aware of  subject and object duality: the subject, “the one who is looking”, and the object, what is seen. As we see these workings objectively, we have the possibility to experience the mind as it is, without fabricating, or embellishing. We look “barely and nakedly” at all experiences, including emotion and pain. When we practice,we see with greater clarity the ways we “solidify and substantiate” our mental experience and how we experience (karmic) aggregation as a result.

As we see the way our minds operate, we recognize, in Dzogchen teaching, everything that arises is a wisdom possibility. We discover this possibility for ourselves by becoming aware of our resistances, tensions and  experiences of acceptance and rejection. We move from the fabricated mental set up, which.”I” is centred and we arrive at a more all-encompassing view. We recognize that our inner experience of the mind is in perfect correspondence with outer reality- there is no difference.

We trust the natural energy that spontaneously manifests and we relax, with the confidence that we are in “the best place to be.“ As we “bridge the gap” the perception of the difference between the viewer, and the outer experience dissolves. Every thought is self liberating in its own condition. We are in our dimension, the self- perfected state of Dzogchen. Through the teachings of Rinpoche we have the possibility of discovering this profundity for ourselves.

Thank you Steve, for an enriching three days of study and practice.  Thank you for reminding us that when we practice together, our combined effort and participation create benefits. There was a warm feeling of community amongst the practitioners assembled for this happy occasion.

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