You will not find happiness until you stop seeking it.
What you seek is already present.
—Jesus of Nazareth
The nature of mind is Buddha from the beginning… Realizing the purity essence of all things, to remain there without seeking is the meditation.
—Garab Dorje (The Three Vajra Verses)
View, Path and Fruition. The wisdom teachings that have arisen within the primordial Great Wisdom Tradition of human history (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam) all have 1) a View (darshana, theory) which explains the basal primordial Ground, the ultimate Source of all appearing reality and minds that apprehend it; and 2) a Path (marga) which establishes the Meditation (bhavana) that approaches this continuity of recognition of the Ground; leading to 3) The Result or Fruition of the practice of the Path. This outcome is “The Fruit” that is ultimate realization of our inherently nondual, trans-conceptual primordial wisdom source/ground that is, paradoxically “already accomplished” and “always already” present at the spiritual heartmind (hridyam, nyingpo, kokoro) of each human being. This final or ultimate realization is seen as the essence, even the cause of human happiness, and in the highest nondual teaching of each tradition as ultimate Happiness Itself (paramananda, mahasuka, ultimate eudaemonia, beatitudo).
In Buddhism this blissful Result of the realization of the wisdom of emptiness/boundlessness is Buddhahood. The Path is the confusion of the gradual seeking strategies to this “goal” of liberation enlightenment. Regarding the View, the teaching is generally presented exoterically, conceptually. Thus, as knowledge deepens to wisdom in the prepared and engaged practitioner the teaching becomes more and more esoteric (inward, secret, nondual), and conceptual contradiction and paradox fall away. Regarding the View of the Fruition (result/realization) of the Path, it may be either gradual (zengo, rim-gys-pa), or non-gradual (sudden, direct, tongo, cig-car-ba). In actual practice these two are an interdependent unity, and the “gradual/non-gradual” dualism becomes a false dichotomy. Thus do we “make the goal the path” (Boaz, 2006, “Does Buddhahood Have a Cause?” www.davidpaulboaz.org).
The Paradox of Seeking. Our Great Wisdom Tradition teaches that this profound paradox of the path—the paradox of seeking happiness/liberation—is that the happiness we desire through all our seeking strategies is already present, indwelling, timeless, perfectly awake, prior to the cyclic suffering of the endless painful dualities that this flesh is heir to. “The path is emptiness. Emptiness is the path.” “What you seek is already present, yet you do not see it” (Jesus). “Wonder of wonders, all beings are Buddha.” This recognition is after all, the very definition of religion—religare/religio, yoga/zygon, the prior unity of the unbounded whole (mahabindu)—our inherent primordial urge and impulse toward Spirit whose presence (vidya/rigpa, christos, dianoia, shekina), is our “supreme identity”, our “supreme source,” our ultimate trans-conceptual ground state prior to all dualistic, conceptual signification and idolatry.
“We cannot become happy, we can only be happy.” We cannot become enlightened, we can only be enlightened. Why? Because seeking material or spiritual happiness to avoid suffering is a form of suffering. Indeed seeking such happiness is a subtle form of the very ignorance (avidya) that is the root cause of human suffering.
Liberation from suffering—enlightenment, ultimate Happiness Itself—is not a separate reality, some state or thing to be sought, caught and grasped by a knowing subject. “The seeker and that sought are one and the same” (Padmasambhava). Agent and action are not separate. Meditator and meditation are not separate. Yogin and enlightenment are not separate. We cannot cling to the conceptual existence or non-existence of anything at all. Thus is our egoic seeking motive destroyed and we enter in the immediate, naked pristine awareness of the nondual (subject/object unity) presence (vidya/rigpa) “always already present,” the perfect sphere of Dzogchen, the Great Completion, our primordial buddhahood—by whatever name—that is fully awake, if not yet fully realized, from the very beginning.
Thus our liberation from the endless suffering strategies of seeking happiness cannot occur in the future. Nor can liberation occur in the past. It can only be recognized, then realized right here now. Such primordial, original enlightenment need not be mystical, nor transcendental. Nor is it elsewhere. It abides just in between our awareness of past and future; in the luminous emptiness of the space between our thoughts. “Who are you between your thoughts”. As Dōgen told, our past, present and future are arrayed in the constant continuum of who we are now. Yet, we must remember that this mythopoetic “eternal now” has meaning to human consciousness only relative to a personal past and future. This liberation—but decidedly not annihilation—of discursive conceptual mind is, on the account of the mahasiddhas of our wisdom traditions, genuine ultimate happiness, the non-idealized happiness that cannot be lost. “Now is the time to enter into it” (Garab Dorje).
How do we do this? We begin this profoundly basic process by taming the wild horse of the concept/belief mind through trans-conceptual, trans-rational quiescence practice or mindfulness training (shamatha) under the guidance of a qualified teacher; then if we’re lucky, through a qualified master.
In the post-transcendental “pure view” (dag nang) of the Ati Yoga of Buddhist Dzogchen there is nothing to be transformed or transcended; nothing to be fabricated, contrived or deconstructed by the conceptual mind because all of this relative conventional arising from the “primordial purity” (kadag) of our ultimate base or ground (kun gzhi)—negative, positive, neutral—is always already spontaneously present (lhundrub) and self-perfected (rang grol), and naturally self-liberated (rang bzhin gyis mya ngan las ‘das pa) from the very beginning. This is the ontic prior truth of the matter, invariant through all of our cognitive and meta-cognitive operations, that is to say, through all cognitive state changes—exoteric, conceptual, objective; esoteric, trans-conceptual, subjective; and innermost esoteric/nondual. This non-logocentric, non-signified conceptually ineffable luminosity is “primordially pure” just exactly as it is right now, and thus cannot possibly be tainted by anything. So there is no need to change anything. No need to fix anything. As Buddha told, “Let it be as it is and rest your weary mind; all things are perfect exactly as they are”. Such intellectual and spiritual heresy utterly destroys our seeking strategies for some future happiness; and returns us to our timeless presence of this eternal now. Such heresy is clearly trans-rational, beyond our habitual concepts and beliefs about human happiness. How could it be otherwise?
Thusly viewed, happiness is a skill set. Moment to moment empty your mind, open your heart, and enter in the very luminous source, the primordial “groundless ground” in whom this all arises.
The great teaching is this: simply relax into it, into this mindful meta-cognitive primordial spaciousness of That (Tat/Sat), the selfless unbounded whole itself, by whatever name. That is the continuity of the great (chen) completion (dzog) that is the perfection of the natural state of this vast nature of mind that is not different from our natural ordinary mind. In Veda/Vedanta tradition it is “The Bright” (kham brahm), this ever present light of the mind.
This is after all who we actually are. And yes, it takes a bit of practice. On the accord of the masters of the three times, we just practice That, moment to moment, and in due course, be supremely happy. Now there is nothing left to do, so that everything we do is selfless, authentic and kind. Thus do we choose our reality. Thus do we create our individual and thereby collective destiny. Failing this, we are told, just practice anyway, until clarity arises. Remain mindful. Don’t quit! “The rest shall be added unto you” (Jesus).
Thus it is, nondual, non-separate Spirit, Ultimate Reality Itself, by any name, already transcends, subsumes yet includes and embraces the “explanatory gap” that is the duality of mind and body, subject and object, self and other, past and future, now. Always now. Is not the present reality of That, who we actually are, our supreme identity? So there is no need to try to become something or someone else, to try change anything. “Let it be as it is, and rest your weary mind, all things are perfect, exactly as they are” (Shakyamuni Buddha). This is the perennial, paradoxical (to concept-mind) truth of the spontaneous action of wu-wei, our effortless acts of surrender to the wisdom of unbounded reality that is the whole shebang. So non-seeking, not seeking something outside, nor inside, not seeking anything at all is the teaching. Now all that arises—positive, neutral, negative—spontaneously self-liberates at the very instant of its arising (when we surrender our thoughts about it).
The nondual “innermost esoteric” aspect of the wisdom traditions that comprise our primordial Great Tradition teaches that this View and practice is the “cause” of the Fruition of the Path, our liberation from human unhappiness and suffering. And this is the primordial wisdom teaching of nondual Dzogchen, the Great Completion, the very fruition of the Mahayana, and considered by many to be the pinnacle of primordial wisdom. Heady wine indeed.
As it is. The masters of the three times—past, present and future—have told it. That happiness you seek is “always already” present. The heartseed of enlightenment, our very Buddha Nature (tathagatagarbha), our Christ Nature (christos), the Atman that is Brahman, by whatever name, is always here within the continuum of our mental-emotional nature at the very heart (hridyam, kokoro, nyingpo) of our present human bodymind, just as it is now.
Can we really be that presence, this space of sky, in the chaos of our splendent earth? Yes, according to the supreme “innermost secret” nondual view of the wisdom traditions, and as exemplified by the lives of the great mahasiddhas of these traditions we can be that because That is our actual original face, our primordial wisdom nature (gnosis, jnana, yeshe), the very nature of our mind—our original “basic goodness”; so far from our “original sin”. We altogether participate in That. There is a relative conventional difference between samsara and nirvana. There is no ultimate difference. “There is not the slightest difference between samsara and nirvana” (Nagarjuna).
How shall we understand this? Again, the masters of the three times—past, present, future—have told it: We take refuge in “The Three Jewels” of our spiritual path—whatever path that we choose to truly engage. Thus do we transit from the preconscious “horizontal” spiritual path, to the conscious “vertical” spiritual path. These Three Jewels are 1) the spiritual master, 2) the teaching of the master and the lineage, and 3) the spiritual community of like-minded practitioners, including the lineage. All three are required. We take refuge in all three.
We are advised to commit to the moment to moment practice of our chosen path, and to train our restless minds in mindful equanimity and kindness; only then does spontaneous, effortless compassionate conduct arise. Not so easy. Yet we do it, step by step. We follow this path with its meditation practice and injunctions, under the guidance of a qualified master, all the way to the end of it. Then, some sunny day, perhaps today, shall we realize that “it is already accomplished from the very beginning”. “Wonder of wonders, all beings are Buddha.”
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
—T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding
You have always been one with the Buddha, so do not pretend you can attain this oneness by various practices. If, in this very instant, you could know that it can never be attained by effort… you would now be the Buddha Mind… Do not seek Buddhahood, your seeking is doomed to failure.
—Huang Po (Kraft, Zen Tradition, 1988)
In this very act of seeking, the truth is revealed, just for a moment… Buddha is within you, clear and bright and vast as space. This is the meditation. In this quiet, vast emptiness there is nothing to construct and nothing to do. In a carefree way, let it be as it is, and just relax into it… there is nothing other than this… Now then, rest in That.
—Lama Wangdor Rinpoche (Santa Fe Retreat, 2003)