Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Alchemy of Realization

In his brief appreciation of Dudjom Rinpoche's Ri chos bslab bya nyams len dmar khrid go bder brjod pa grub pa’i bcud len, Keith Dowman refers to the work as a "difficult text." He explains that the work was first rendered into English by John M. Reynolds as The Alchemy of Realization (1978), and later by the collective effort of Orgyen Kunsang Chokhorling as Extracting the Quintessence of Accomplishment: Oral Instructions for the Practice of Mountain Retreat, Expounded Simply and Directly In Their Essential Nakedness (1979).

The former was done by John Reynolds, working with Dudjom Rinpoche himself. This was self-published at Kathmandu, with the printing done in Bangkok, and is now quite rare. The latter was primarily done with reference to oral explanations by Tulku Thondup Rinpoche, Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, and Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche. This was originally self-published at Darjeeling, and reprinted in 1998 at Corralitos, California. You can find the entire text of the 1998 edition online. Dowman describes it as "authoritative."

Everybody has their own ideas. I like the Reynolds translation best. Following is an excerpt, wherein Dudjom Rinpoche discusses the best way to regard obstacles:

"Truly, Dzogchen, the Great Perfection, is a powerful and skillful method by which even the sinner may come to that path which culminates in Buddhahood.

"In regard to the latter, since its power is so intense and profound, there may also arise many obstacles, for it is said that however great the profit, the risk is equally great. Nonetheless, this is a causal indication, a sign that at the present moment our bad karma which we have accumulated over the course of our past lives is now ripening. This in turn is due to the particular potency of the special teachings which we have received from our Guru, and these effects of our ripening bad karma may appear to us in the outer world as apparitional obstacles in the form of Maras.

"In places where we practice meditation these may display the forms of gods and demons. They call our name, and having deceptively appeared in the guide of our own Guru, they utter false prophecies. A varied host of apparitions, both fearful and terrifying, come forth in our dreams and meditations. Other figures, such as thieves and bandits, most certainly will appear to strike and beat us and throw filth and excrement at us.

"We will experience terrible depressions which are without any benefit to our mind. Fierce passions will be generated, while devotion, the Thought of Enlightenment, and compassion diminish. Discursive thoughts will rise up before us as enemies and these will drive us nearly mad.

"We will wrongly comprehend the communications which come from our Guru. We will no longer wish to remain in our hermitage and yearn to break our promises. Wrong views regarding our Guru will be produced and doubts will arise concerning the Dharma.

"Also it is possible that various unwanted conditions, both inner and outer, will arise, such as false accusations without having committed any offense, or bad friends, or former friends who become enemies, and so on. We should recognize all of these obstacles for what they are, as well as the extent of their benefit or harm.

"Nevertheless, if we keep to the essential point, these very hindrances will be transformed into siddhis. But if we allow ourselves to be overpowered by them, they will then become blockages. In regard to these latter, they may be overcome by virtue of our pure samaya vows and our steadfast fervent devotion which brings about an entrusting of our heart to our Guru and an intelligent confidence in his teachings. Since he knows whatever we do, we should pray fervently to him.

"So despite adverse conditions, we should endeavour to carry on, and by virtue of our intense efforts in aid of our practice, after some time these conditions will of themselves become diminished. Ultimately, they will even become of benefit to our practice. Appearances will go little by little, ceasing to be naively perceived as ultimately real, and a far greater belief than was known before will be produced in our Guru and his teachings.

"Thereafter, even though adverse conditions continue to arise, we will have gained a confidence of mind which thinks that they are of no consequence. At that time, having taken the measure of those conditions which arise on the path, we will feel that their appearance on that occasion is perfectly alright. A-la-la, is this not wonderful! This is what we old fathers wants. We must develop strength of mind, and not act like the ox who wants to devour a corpse, but instead slinks about with trembling knees."

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1 reader comments:

Anonymous said...

Working on the ngöndro(Longchen Nyingthig) and this has to be the most helpful thing I've read esp. when coming from a most surpreme master about when the practice gets, tough, dry, hits a wall etc. Thank you kindly. May all benefit.
Jordan P.