Thursday, December 27, 2007

Excerpt: Eastern Fortress of Evident Treasure

Things nobody should miss.

"A conscious intention to send forth emanations does not waver from the fundamental nature. Nevertheless, nirmanakaya emanations--- of teachers, artisans, reincarnate masters and inanimate matter--- manifest in such a manner that they are none other than the ground of being itself. These four distinct modes of emanation manifest through interdependent connection when there is the synchronicity of a consciousness that conceives of an 'I,' like a vessel filled with water (that reflects), and the qualities of the basic space of buddha nature, like the planets and stars in the heavens (reflected therein). In actual fact, the world as a container and its contents does not fall outside of the display of the three kayas. The term 'dharmakaya' refers to the aspect of its essential nature as emptiness; 'sambhogakaya,' to the aspect of its inherent nature as spontaneous presence; 'nirmanakaya,' to the aspect of the distinct manifestation of apparent phenomena."
---Dudjom Lingpa, Nang-jang

IN THE OLD DAYS, practitioners could understand the whole of a book’s content merely by reading its title. This ability is not so common today, so I will briefly explain. In its outer aspect, the first part of this work’s title refers both to the Dzogchen lands of eastern Tibet and the lands east of Tibet, which could theoretically include the Dzogchen lands of western America. What I am attempting to convey is a sense of spiritual security, or continuity: a place of protection where we are at liberty and ease to pursue that which is not gained by pursuit. However, this is not necessarily confined to any one geographic locus. In the best sense, this could and should be anywhere you find yourself. Your “Eastern Fortress” could therefore be a flat in London; a house trailer in Arizona; an apartment in Taiwan; a hotel; a hospital, or a hole in the forest. This is quite simply your path: holding fast in the immediacy of your own situation.

I observe that in Buddhism, as it was formerly practiced among the Tibetans, “history” can mean a sequential record of events and it can also be a palette of pointing-out instructions. So, to explain our title's inner aspect, I take a historical episode at random: this refers to the day in contemporary Tibetan Buddhist history when Guru Padmasambhava prepares Princess Mandarava of Zahor for the accomplishment of immortality at Maratika Cave. Padmasambhava says, “I shall depart to the East. You, young maiden, should turn and face the East.”

This reference to a cardinal direction might seem inconsequential, but Padmasambhava did not conduct himself trivially. In fact, his statement suggests an activity in which we engage for the welfare of all beings in the thirty-one classes of existence. This is nothing less than realization. Realization is directionless, so we can with some justification wonder why specificity becomes necessary. Every day we are alive, the sun rises in the east. This seems permanent but of course it is impermanent. It is not the same sun that rises every day: it is mutable and conditioned. The concept of immortality for the benefit of others likewise seems permanent, but it should be seen and understood as similar to being bathed in a sunrise, where your true nature and the nature of reality are identical.

In its intimate aspect, “Eastern Fortress” refers to the moment when we finally decide to get rid of pseudo-intellectual posturing, neurotic religious notions, and useless cultural trappings, and instead embrace basic freedom. You are an inherently and effortlessly enlightened being: that is basic freedom.

Similarly, the second part of this work’s title, Evident Treasures, has outer, inner, intimate, and utterly secret concordances. You can make these up on your own. I do not see any benefit in belaboring this any further. For me, this is not philosophy or religion. For me, this is just a memory inside of a memory.

Copyright (c) 2007 by Tulku Urgyan Tenpa Rinpoche. All rights reserved.

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