Discover more from Timeless Luminosity Newsletter
2023, August, Issue 58
“It’s never pleasant to maintain the state of mind of an ordinary person, which is always changing. When unhappy, one is totally overcome by that feeling. Better to recognize wide-awake empty cognizance and remain like that.”
~ Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche ~
When we realize the futility of jumping from one thought to another, always searching for answers that can be conceptualized with more thoughts, it’s not so easy to know what to do. Contradictions arise. Meaning becomes diluted with our own thoughts. People become depressed or very dark, feeling helpless or without hope, when this first glimmer of knowledge occurs. This is the natural reaction of an ordinary being who has discovered their own limitations. It’s very unpleasant, and it’s something we all deal with from time to time.
When I was in the death bardo, I was fully aware, without any sort of limitations. In this expansive eternal timeless luminosity, I did not seek meaning or answers of any kind. I became that timeless luminosity, without any boundaries or constraints. This was not some other place, it was where I had been all along. I simply hadn’t noticed, with all the thoughts and concepts bouncing around, cluttering my view with analytical thinking and emotion. This luminous condition is what we might call empty cognizance, suffused with awareness; although, it was far beyond the constraints and limitation of those words. This cognizance was empty, and, therefore, indescribable.
People want me to talk about this; and, I’ve given many many public talks about just this. It somehow seems a bit ridiculous, when I hear myself talking, simply because it is so simple and so obvious. We humans, nevertheless, continually want to nail everything down with concept. In reality, intellectual activity of this sort will never lead to enlightenment. It simply leads to greater and greater complexity in how we explain the world around us, and this creates problems.
This notion of empty cognizance almost sounds like I’m revealing a deep secret, one that should never be uttered to ordinary beings, at least not unless they have received lots and lots of pointing out instructions from great Buddhist masters. Well, since coming back from the death bardo, I have a problem with that attitude. I’ve made it very clear what that is:
DRUMROLL PLEASE! It’s obvious, here right now, never hidden by anyone but you, each of us, all ordinary beings ignore our real condition all the time. Realizing empty cognizance means that you will begin to have a glimpse of Timeless Luminosity, Dharmakaya, which has never ever been hidden from you or anyone. We simply work very hard with our thoughts, emotions, attachments to ego, conceptualizing, reifying and intellectual endeavors to do our best to cover it up.
I’m not about to keep something secret that has never been secret. It sounds more like protecting a brand or capitalizing on something as freely available as air.
What I would like to say, however, is don’t take your discoveries and jump to conclusions about them. In reality, our tendency is to jump to conclusions about everything. We want answers! Understanding who you really are is not something anyone can tell you. It is important that you discover this for yourself by knowing it directly. This is why this notion of secrets is passed around and often not understood. Masters see something that we should be concerned about; and, it’s not within the answers that are held secret, it’s with what you might do with them.
The important point is that you don’t jump to some other conclusion about everything that could cause you harm. Take your time and be considerate of your own limitations. Until you are able to sit in contemplation, when everything becomes completely illuminated, beyond thought, beyond emotions and fabrications, then simply practice and let it go. The important point is that, even if your Spiritual Practice feels very nice, let it go continually until you fully awaken.
To think about emptiness, simply look around you. See each object without labels. When you understand the view without labelling or engaging in everything, then you start to understand emptiness.
Cognizance is understanding. When this cognizance is empty, you have taken your first step beyond your constraints. When this empty cognizance becomes suffused with awareness, you begin to awaken.
Thoughts come and go with those who have begun to awaken; however, these very same thoughts are let go. They no longer dominate or control our actions. When you realize your Real Nature, then you are present as thoughts come and go. Mind may be active; however, you are no longer letting that dominate your existence.
Whatever you do, don’t be too hasty about your Spiritual Practice. Even though realizing the Nature of Mind is something you can do at any time, it may take many lifetimes before you are able to stabilize this awareness. Develop the key of Bodhicitta by first realizing that it is important to awaken. Seek masters who can help you. Meditate every chance you get.
Be patient. Don’t be dissuaded by missteps. Never give up! As I described in my book, The Frog: A Spiritual Autobiography, Spanning Many Lifetimes, the breadth and depth of multi-lifetime Spiritual Practice is both intense and completely worth it.
Blessings in Light,