Nature of Mind: It's A Secret!
I recently joined a weeklong retreat with a well known Tibetan buddhist lama in England. I have read books of this rinpoche and find his style of teaching dzogchen refreshing among the larger field of vajrayana buddhism where only few seem to yogically mature as well as proficient in communicating the natural state to others through their own living experience.
The retreat was attended by 160 people and was well organised. I joined the retreat because I wanted to take a breather from hectic family and work life, and also to do my own practice and perhaps to learn something new. All in all it was a nice experience and I will probably join it again next year.
Rinpoche spent the first couple of days talking about shamatha and vipashyana meditations. He also taught some tummo breathwork. These sessions were recorded on video by volunteers.
On the 4th day of the retreat he started giving pointing out instructions. For those who don't know what pointing out instructions are they are verbal and nonverbal ways that the teacher uses for the students to have a recognition of their natural state, also called buddhanature. I give pointers such as finding knowingness, shaking (rushen) of the body and speech, shouting short syllables and many others. Even though I highly appreciate pointing out instructions and see the necessity of them, I do not think there is anything special to them. From the perspective of samsaric mind the natural state is more profound than anything else. But it still is the simple and direct awareness that each of us have which is more or less familiar to all of us already. Instructions by the teacher can be very helpful but having said that it is all very simple.
One thing that I find strange is that rinpoche's teachings were filmed up until he started giving pointing out instructions. Then he told the technical staff to ”Stop the recording” when he started giving instructions about the nature of mind. I have thought about this in retrospect and find it quite problematic for obvious reasons. The students who joined and paid a notable sum for the retreat could not get the recorded instructions that were the heart and soul of the whole event.
I think that the custom of not recording ”dzogchen” instructions comes from the medieval habit. This prevents the instructions from getting available to millions of seekers worldwide. I find that restricting pointing out instructions only to those present is wrong and actually in conflict with the view of compassion. I think this is unhealthy and merely serves the religious establishment as it keeps the business in motion.
I am happy to say that I do not belong to the vajrayana establishment. The elderly vajrayana is like a dying dinosaur with many ancient counterproductive habits with little to offer for the modern population.
I wonder how it is always so difficult for teachers, religous or otherwise, to prioritise the needs of the people instead of the needs of the establishment.
- Kim Katami, 16th May 2018.
Find many pointing out instructions from Open Heart YouTube-channel for free.