We are told that in the Dzogchen tantras, unlike the gradualist “causal path” of the sutras, Buddhahood does not have a cause. We cannot attain it through our armamentarium of seeking strategies: good, goods, gurus, virtue, ethical precepts, correct meditation and the rest. Why? Because the luminous emptiness/shunyata/dharmakaya that is our inherent (sahaja) Buddha nature is “always already” present in each of us. Perhaps we are looking for happiness in all the wrong places.
Stated another way, the ultimate nature of mind—by whatever name—is nondual, that is to say, non-conceptual, non-propositional and non-prescriptive. (This rose, by any name, would smell as sweet.) Yes, it is veiled (vikshepa). We recognize, realize and stabilize it in our lifeworld through training in quiescent selfless mindfulness (shamatha), and penetrating insight (vipashyana), the Vajrayana foundational ngondro, and other contemplative practices. But we do not accomplish these practices through the sheer force of our spiritualized ego-self. Yes, the bright mirror (melôn) of the lama or “spiritual friend” (kalyanamitra) is always required.
Therefore, according to the nondual teaching of the traditions, as this intrinsic awareness state, this presence or seed of Buddha nature—by any name—is “always already” present—if unrecognized—at the spiritual heart/hridyam of each human being, there is nothing to accomplish, nothing to desire and nothing to do (wu–wei/surrender), so all that we do is open, authentic and kind. As this ground of being is “primordially pure from the beginning” (kadag), activity arising herein, directly, without conceptual elaboration, creates no karma.
Moreover, this primordial ground is not only non-propositional (non-conceptual), it is non-prescriptive. Without reference to any ethical precepts, spontaneously kind and compassionate conduct arises from it. So, “as it is” who we are—“as it is already accomplished”—we surrender the wild horse of the busy mind and “simply relax into it.” No need to do anything (wu-wei). As change is the only constant, no need to change anything. No need to not change anything. So we leave it alone. “Leave it as it is and rest your weary mind; all things are perfect, exactly as they are” (Shakyamuni Buddha). Indeed, every contrived samsaric concept is an aperture opening into this non-conceptually fabricated primordial ground of our being, is not different or separate from it, indeed is it. Even our negative thoughts and emotions are doorways into it.
So how do we “simply relax into it”? Shall we just go to the beach, or chill out with a Bud Light? Paradoxically, it is accomplished through the contrived, fabricated step-by-step practice of the causal “gradualist” path under the guidance of qualified teachers, a qualified master, and a community of like-minded individuals. We are taught that the contrived “gradualist path” that is the goal of the uncontrived nondual state of liberation are not different. They are the same. Thus do we “make the path the goal.” Paradoxically, if we fail in this regard, which we inevitably do, we make no “progress” at all. We then, most fortunately, get stuck in the present moment. And it is the light of this very moment that is our “goal,” when we remember. “So let it be as it is” and relax into it.
Such a seemingly radical view is indeed heresy to the stasis of the commonplace assumptions that comprise Naïve Realism, Scientific Realism/Materialism and their resulting feel-good pop spirituality and self-help, and to our acquisitive consumerist political economy, and to the corporate/political leadership that attempts to manipulate and control the hearts and minds of the polity.
So this is the paradox of the psycho-emotional spiritual path. We struggle to grasp a future happiness that is already present, here now and nowhere else. This is the simple recognition that begins to stabilize this view. Nevertheless, without the practice of the Path we can accomplish only brief satori-like glimpses of this great truth, with little or no compassionate expression of it in the everyday lifeworld. This practice of the path is considered by the masters of the traditions to be absolutely necessary in preparing the mind to enter the mindstream of enlightenment/liberation, there to recognize, then realize and stabilize this “correct view.” Such practice is auspicious (tendril) in allowing many glimpses—“brief moments many times”—of this miracle. Then, in due course and by grace (euangelion, jin lab), we surrender to the continuity of recognition that is the mindstream of the buddhas and mahasiddhas; the grand desideratum of the wish-fulfilling gem.
This indwelling primordial mind nature is utterly ineffable to the discursive human intellect, but not to the “analytic meditation” of the trained contemplative mind. The mind trained in wisdom/compassion, step-by-step, gains freedom to choose its destiny. “This cannot be taught” (Shakyamuni Buddha).
The intrepid acceptance of the deepest paradoxes of human understanding—and a courageous tolerance for its attendant fearful cognitive dissonance—is a skillful utilization of this inherent magic of reality, and is as good a definition of a reasonable, if not rational mysticism as any. “Much obscurity, great hope” (Niels Bohr). Or, as the old zen master told, “Open mouth, already a mistake.”
It is taught in the wisdom traditions that within the vast spaciousness of the “many mansions” of this mystisch awaits a profound clarity and peace for those who would enter in. Alas, most of us stay in the uncomfortable comfort zones of the house fabricated and well-fortified by our cultural semiotic, conceptual “web of belief.”