Thursday, April 22, 2010

Six Nails

Today must be Tilopa Day, eh? There is that tendency to romanticize things, but really, it is not necessary. 

Just as you are is fine. 

To prove it, Tilopa gave Naropa a teaching now memorialized in the Tibetan language as gnad kyi gzer drug: "Six Nails of Key Points." We've published it here before, so now we're publishing it again:

Don't recall.
Don't imagine.
Don't think.
Don't examine.
Don't control.

I saw some people arguing about Tilopa on the Internet just the other day. Why people argue about such things, I simply do not know. Tilopa was an actual person, but at this point he is realistically a historical character. Of course, because he is who he is, even to hear of him, or interact with his story, still has the power to liberate. But, you have to be prepared. You cannot just say, "Oh, I'll read about Tilopa and get liberated." It usually does not work that way.

Right now, you are just arguing about nothing: things you read in books, or things somebody told you. You are not celebrating anything on the basis of lived-through experience of the nature of your own mind. It is just ridiculous. 
You have to give up your own kingdom, go out and pound your own oil, and find your own girl.
I say this because Tilopa was born to royalty, but it didn't hold his attention.  He tried the monastery, but was kicked out because of some scandal with a woman. He went running around, doing this and that, until a dakini told him to go live with a commercial sex worker in Bengal. In polite discourse, she is usually referred to as a prostitute, but if you place it in proper context, she was a hooker. She worked making sesame oil during the day, and turned tricks at night. Her name was Dharima.

Regardless, Tilopa took the dakini's advice, and went to work for Dharima. During the day, he pounded sesame seeds to make oil. During the night, he provided stability in the midst of proximate instability, according to the arising dynamics of emotional exigencies. Some accounts say he helped Dharima find customers, but these come to us from scholars and priests of a rather different order. As long as grapes keep growing, no hooker alive needs help finding customers.

One fine day, Tilopa seemed to realize something, and this drew a crowd. Dharima was in that crowd, and experienced Tilopa rather differently than she had in the past. She formed the thought that she wished to be his student, and Tilopa perceived this. He threw a flower at her, whereupon she seemed to realize something as well.

The official accounts put this all a bit differently:
When the prostitute who employed Tilopa heard that someone was levitating very high in the sky, she hastened to see who it was. To her surprise she discovered that it was her employee in the sky, and that he was still working for her, even as he hovered, by continuing to grind sesame seeds with a mortar and pestle. She felt ashamed to have given such work to a highly realized being, and with great regret, she confessed this to Tilopa and requested him to accept her as his student. As she mentally made this request, Tilopa threw a flower down to her from the sky. The flower hit her on the head, instantaneously causing her to reach complete realization. She then levitated to the same height as Tilopa.
You can take a lot from that account, such as even though he was "highly realized," he was still pounding seeds, looking after Dharima's interests. I'll just bet that got her attention.

Now, although he had contact with Saraha, and Nagarjuna, to name but two, some people say that in ultimate terms, Tilopa never had a human teacher. That seems terribly romantic doesn't it? After he screwed up the government job, and offended organized religion, it was no teacher, and chasing skirts, because "a dakini told me to." If we actually knew anybody like that today, we probably would not have very nice things to say about them.
The point is, this business with Tilopa is all historical account. Not everyone agrees on the details. You can find various accounts in the literature, and given the bare bones of the story -- runaway king on spiritual quest meets whore with heart of gold -- I see Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, don't you? Nevertheless, if Tilopa was around right this minute, and he heard you arguing about him, what do you think he would say? This is the man who told Naropa, "don't recall, don't imagine, don't think, don't examine."

When you get caught up in the display, and harden into a status, you cannot fly. Then, when you drop dead, and neither the display nor the status maintain continuity anymore, all this time you spent recalling, imagining, thinking, examining, and controlling will be wasted.

What are you doing right now?

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2 reader comments:

Just Steve said...


Judy K said...

Tilopa himself could not have said it any better.