Luminosity, or the natural clarity of the mind, is not something that I can fully explain to you in words. If, on the other hand, you undertake these experiments on your own, you will begin to understand through experience and will eventually be able to say: “Ah! That is the luminous nature of mind!”
- 14th Dalai Lama
Before we start our first lesson in special weapons and training lets get straight to the bit where I cut you with the sharp edge of truth. Allow me a moment to elaborate.
Dzogchen states that anything and everything, our thoughts, our emotions, the people we love, the music, we listen to, and the myriad diseases we suffer from are nothing other than the ongoing movements of form generated by our own empty minds. Once you’re able to stomach this seemingly bitter pill, or at least be open to the possibility it is just a hop, skip and a jump to wrapping your head around the greatest punch line in all of this - that you are empty too. You, dear soldier of the diamond age are as insubstantial as a rainbow, as real as a whim and before you protest let me reiterate that this very same diamond hard truth of the Great Perfection is also the adamantine jewel that will save you from the vicissitudes of your own mind time and time again. It often just takes a brave, desperate or crazy person to even be willing to see things this way, but then Dzogchen was never for sissies.
This primordially existing essence,
Unrealized because we are unaware,
Is clearly seen once instruction is given,
As one whose face is unseen sees it when given a mirror
- Wonders of the Natural Mind
At least for today I dare you to come and explore some of the multitude of possibilities inherent in empty existence with the mirror as our primary tool. We will be testing some anime style applications for the mirror mind as state of the art weapon for a good offense in the act of slaying ones ego as well as playing with its shield-like qualities in terms of infallible defense strategy against ego attacks. This is after all what Awareness in Motion is about – sexy and entertaining ways to decisively destroy those pesky aspects of self that holds us in chains. Be warned though, applying these techniques might leave a few bruises along the way, but there’s nothing quite like battle scars to proudly display mastery over the ego to ones fellow warriors. Maybe this is just me projecting - I’ve always found scars an incredible turn on …
Personal musings aside, if you think you’re up for it then let’s get straight to it. Allow me to introduce you to your first weapon. I’m sure you expected a sword but this is no standard run of the mill blade. Its greatest quality is flexibility so it should come as no surprise that it is in fact a fan. In terms of size it is small enough to fit into your back pocket and yet it can stretch out large enough to cover your entire body in the case of needing to defend against an attack. Both sides have the mirror-like qualities of reflection and so it rarely needs to be used at a size much larger than say, big enough for someone to see their own face in. An unusual characteristic of this fan is that it can reflect whatever is in front of it OR nothing at all. This peculiar quality of reflecting nothing can be understood in the following way. Imagine dropping a pebble into a lake. Usually ripples would appear on the surface but this mirror is infinitely empty so when needed, anything thrown at it is instantly dissolves into empty space – like dropping a pebble into a lake without any ripples appearing. In fact, this quality of empty reflection is the principal way to test ones own level of egolessness which is, after all, the primary objective here. Every good magical weapon has a name and this blade’s name is for obvious reasons Nairatmya, which means “Lady of Emptiness" or simply “No-Self”.
According to Machig Labdron, the founder of Tibetan Chod, the only ‘demon’ that ever needs to be slain is the identification with self as a concrete being. The saying “where there is smoke there is fire” comes with a caveat as far as Dzogchen goes. It continues … “and where there is fire, there is someone trapped in ego-identification.” There really are only three types of scenarios of interaction in this world.
A – Both people see themselves and others as empty in which case all good, crack open a bottle of vino, get cozy in front of the fire and carry right on. Maybe even stick that mirror on the ceiling and bask in the glow of egoless love.
B – You see yourself or someone else as empty but they see you as real in which case you may find yourself feeling trapped in their expectations of who they think you are or should be. In this case an impersonal defensive exit strategy is exactly what is needed.
C – You see yourself and/or others as real in which case you are on the short-cut to suffering and need a spectacularly effective offense to destroy the illusion of self. Pronto. In this case whether the other person sees you or themselves as empty is almost irrelevant. Suffering is ultimately personal and at best their level of emptiness might just create a slightly more stable background environment for you to play out you own personal melodrama. I might sound flippant but believe me I am all too familiar with exhibit C.
Samsara and Nirvana have no other difference
than that between the moment of being unaware and aware…
Since we are not deluded by perception but by fixation, liberation naturally occurs when we recognize that fixated thoughts are only mind grasping at its own empty manifestations.
- Padmasambhava, (The Dalai Lama’s Secret Temple)
The saying that the best defense is a good offense could not be more true than in the battlefield of ones own mind. After all, it is only yourself that you are destroying. If this doesn’t sit well with you then I’m afraid you’re in the wrong place. Destroying others or attempting to destroy others not only falls into the realm of ‘grave error’ as far as basic Dzogchen goes, it really only demonstrates ones own childish indulgence in dualistic fixation. Egolessness is not child’s play and often all it takes is to see your own curled bottom lip or red-faced rant to make you overwhelmingly aware of your tantrums. Gulp. It is from personal experience that I can testify that there is nothing pretty about that.
Enter the blade with its ‘empty reflection’ function turned on. Does someone else’s comments or actions or lack of action cause ripples on the surface of your otherwise placid demeanor? Is there a crack in your otherwise unbreakable resolve? Gaze into the mirror, step into its liquid world. Can you see your own face, can you hear your own shrill voice escalating into octaves of hysteria or droning on in monotony with no audience in sight? Welcome to Emptiness my friend, if you are still here, your ego got the better of you.
Don’t despair though, it might have won this round but you will win the war if you want to. Besides, see that stone glinting over there, smeared in shit, blood, snot and tears. Rinse it in the lava of your broken heart and put it in your pocket. Each lesson is after all another jewel for your crown. All things considered if it wasn’t for your brave act of gazing into the mirror in the first place, you most certainly would have ended up with a fate far worse, like never realizing why you’re suffering in the first place. Give yourself a pat on the back, dust yourself off and soldier on. Tomorrow is another day. The only damage was to your ego and that needs to be destroyed anyway so really, not so bad at all.
There is nothing quite like a good cringe at your own behavior to set things straight, at least for me it is. Truth is ever a merciless bitch but once one realizes that she’s ultimately on your side, she is the sexiest addiction in town – the drug without a comedown. Once you get a taste for it you will start to consult this relentless emptiness regularly until it becomes an indispensable quality of your nature. In fact, it becomes you as you realize that is WAS you all along. You are the intoxication - empty, endless, indestructible, constantly changing, pure clarity of Awareness. Enjoy it. You may now kiss yourself.
That more or less takes care of the embarrassing little problem of self-indulgence that most of us would like to keep hush-hush so moving swiftly along we get to exhibit B - the unfortunate case of others forcibly trapping you in THEIR identification of you. It is here that the art of indifference walks into the room. It is cool without being frosty, steaming-hot yet without boiling over, in short – elegantly perfect poise and probably dressed in Versace.
Nothing says “I powerfully love you” quite like the act of doing nothing. Neither getting caught in tit for tat nor being the doormat, the ability of refusing to play while fanning yourself with your mirror deflects even the harshest of personal attacks. This is detachment taken to its most compassionate yet ultimately impenetrable conclusion. Besides, when you are going all postal on someone else wouldn’t you appreciate their commitment to not getting involved, eventually? Remember that indulgent faux pas you’d rather forget and be gracious enough to offer someone else the gift of your indifference. They will come to respect you for it at the very least, maybe even love you.
The alternative is quite simply too horrible to even consider. That girl who keeps talking about her issues and but never takes your advice, the perfect lover who was driven away because all he wanted was to vent about business without every word being taken out of proportion, the unfortunate stranger at the bank who bore the brunt of your anger … the list goes on. When things get a little bumpy much pain can be avoided by opening up the fan of Nairatmya and checking the landscape of your own mind for ripples. More than often just doing this will stop the buck right there, ‘nough said. If after careful scrutiny unpleasantness persists, simply turning the mirror to someone else allows for the possibility that they might recognize their projections for what they are.
Give help when it’s needed and mind your own business
P.S. Strictly speaking when ‘turning the mirror’ to someone else it is absolutely necessary to do it without getting involved. Cover yourself with the mirror and look away. It is not for you to determine what someone else sees. Considering what you saw the last time you looked into your own mind, it is probably not very pretty and best that it stays between them and the mirror. Furthermore, expecting them to “get it” or thank you for it is just another trap by your own ego, so don’t even go there. Think burning lava broken heart, rub the gem in your pocket to remind you how much it hurt last time, and walk away.
P.P.S. It might take more than a few tries to master but try to enjoy it even when it hurts. Nothing lasts forever, not even despair.
From the universe, with Love