Integrating Life in Practice

An informal teaching given by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu 

After the Worldwide Guruyoga Transmission

Santiago, Chile, November 17, 2014

When we practice together, we are in the same moment, the same situation, the same state, doing the same transmission, and when we are applying it, it is just like we are unified in that moment. This [collective practice] very much helps people, who have less capacity, to develop. And also people who do not know how to do practice, if they participate one time, two times, three times, they will learn. For example, we’re doing Ganapuja. Many people don’t know how to do Ganapuja, the visualizations, the mantras, etc. Not only that, but there are mantras, mudras and vizualizations connected with the body, speech, and mind of the individual. We should apply all of these. Particularly new people, they don’t know [all of these things] and it is not so easy. But when they have received the transmission and apply it together during collective practice, one time, two times, three times, they will learn and they will also be able to do it by themselves. So collective practice is very important. 

Some people say that they don’t like doing collective practice; they can do it by themselves. If that person is really doing it by him or herself, it is also okay, it is good. But often people don’t do that, it is only a nice idea and then they do not develop. Some people have the idea that they are knowledgable and have high capacity, and when we are practicing together and giving some benefit to help people who have less capacity to develop, they think that they can lose their capacity. You can never lose your capacity; you always develop it.

It is very important to know all these things, so try to do collective practice. It is also important for entering our spiritual path because we have so many things that distract us. Sometimes we may feel like doing practice and following the teaching and so on. Other times we forget because we are always distracted by our mind, which is judging and thinking. Doing practice such as Ganapuja or simply Guruyoga means that we are trying to be in our real state. This is the main point. When we realize that, it means that we are totally in our real condition. The real condition means the perfected state and we manifest that. 

But most of the time we are always thinking. Thinking is mind, and mind is in time and space. Mind is not our real nature. Our real nature is beyond that. For that reason, when we are in our real nature, we can overcome all problems. But when we do not know that, we always go after mind. Mind is judging, thinking, saying this is important, that is important, this is logical, why and because and so on, and we think it is perfect and give it importance. But in the real sense it means that the mind dominates us. We become slaves of the mind and then we have infinite problems. So knowing that, we shouldn’t go after mind. We use it. We dominate mind. If mind dominates us, it is not good. So this is the principle of the practice. We should remember that and do our best to do practice, particularly Guruyoga. 

In this practice [Worldwide Guruyoga Transmission], at the beginning, after the purification breathing, we sound A and do the Guruyoga visualization. This is the essence of the Guruyoga of Dzogchen Atiyoga. In general, there are many different kinds of Guruyoga. When we do a thun [of practice], and we visualize Guru Padmasambhava or Guru Garab Dorje and receive empowerment, this is the Vajrayana system, practicing in a dualistic way. Then at the end, we unify. But in Dzogchen teaching the principle is trying to be in our real nature from the beginning, not in a dualistic way. So when we sound A and do the visualization of a white A in a thigle, we are starting with our mind, we are thinking. After that, we relax in that state. This is the state of Guruyoga. It means being beyond mind and time in space. So remember that this practice is number one. 

For Dzogchen practitioners what we should do is Guruyoga, at any moment: in the morning when we wake up, Guruyoga, when we go to bed, we should remember Guruyoga, this is the night practice. We don’t need any particular practice of the night, only Guruyoga. If we do Guruyoga in a perfect way at night, night practice also helps to prepare us to die. When we are dying what do we do? Sometimes we can do transference or some complicated practice, but it is not so easy when we are dying. When we are dying, being in the state of the Bardo of the moment of death, our elements, the essence of our elements, the function of our senses are all  dissolving internally and we have a lot of fear and suffering at that moment – if we are dying comfortably. It is not so easy. Very often we are not dying comfortably, like in an accident and so on, and there is also not much time to do complicated visualizations. 

If we know this and we do Guruyoga in our lifetimes – at any moment, Ati Guruyoga – when we are dying, what should we do? Guruyoga. We are being in the state of Guruyoga, in our real nature. Our real nature never dies. Absolutely not. It is beyond death. What is dying is our physical body which is relative to mind. Sometimes people say that they want to learn what to do after death in the bardo. The best practice is to do Ati Guruyoga. It’s complete. 

If we don’t do Guruyoga, what should we do? At any moment in time, in space, we should try to be present, not distracted. When we are being present, we can do everything, working with circumstances, because we are being present, not distracted, and everything goes perfectly. Even if we have some tensions, we discover them immediately. “Oh, there is some tension. I want to be free of that, otherwise, it will create a problem.” It is related to mind, and we don’t need to be a slave of the mind. 

What do we do in daily life? We do our best. Nobody knows how long we will live. Someone old, someone younger [passes away]; there is no guarantee of life, so it is a better we do practice. Even if we cannot do much formal practice, the essence is not really formal, but we should go to the essence, just like Guruyoga, like being present. Life is passing that way and we can integrate life in practice. It’s very easy. I hope everybody will try to do it. 

Transcribed by L. Granger
Photo of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu by Mikhail Abramov


Download PDF