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The Heart of All Paths

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by Malcolm Smith


 Dzogchen is the heart of all paths, whether of samsara or nirvana, and is the truth that everyone is trying to discover. What is Dzogchen? We all know the answer to that question -- it is our real condition.

Everyone, no matter what religion they belong to, is trying to discover the truth. That truth exists in the heart of every single sentient being. So when you discover that truth, there is no need to remain locked in the limitations of "Buddhist" and "non-Buddhist".

Limitations are what cause all the suffering in the world.

We cannot change the world for others, but we can change the world for ourselves. The only way to do this is to evolve beyond the limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race, and tribe. If we go beyond these limitations through discovering our primordial potentiality, then we are participating in changing the world.

As we have seen, for example, the six liberations are not just for Buddhists -- you don't have to make someone a Buddhist in order to sing Song of the Vajra for them, for example, or recite the Aspiration of Samantabhadra -- any sentient being who hears these sung or recited will have a seed of future liberation planted in their continuum, thos grol (liberation through hearing). You don't have to make someone a Buddhist to give them some myong grol (liberation through taste), or give them a btags grol (liberation through wearing), or show them some image that is a mthong grol (liberation through sight), or give them some incense which is a specially formulated dri grol (liberation through smell), etc.

Of course I am a Buddhist. But where I used to be a Buddhist before I was a Dzogchen practitioner, now it is other way around. This is not because of some intellectual trip. This is based on my practice of Buddhism and Dzogchen for 20+ years now.

I can see really clearly that we need to go beyond Buddhist provincialism. We even complain about sectarianism among Buddhists. We also war with each other about such things whose Karmapa is the real one; which is better, gzhan stong or rang stong; is yogacara as high as madhayamaka or not; is Theravada Hinayāna or not; is Mahāyāna or the tantras the real teaching of the Buddha or not. If we do not go beyond these kinds of petty intellectual differences, we will never survive as a species and we will continue to destroy ourselves.

In the end it honestly does not matter much whether we put our faith in Jesus, Krishna or Buddha. There is no perfect faith that leads to liberation. The only thing that leads to liberation is knowledge of our true condition. When we know that state, we don't have need of faith since now we have certainty.

We do not need to ecumenically pretend that all paths lead to the same place. All we need to understand is that everyone is searching for the same thing, the peace and happiness that springs from freedom. We can overcome all our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe just by maintaining presence and awareness of this fact.

When we have overcome our own limitations regarding religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe, then we can work with any circumstances. If one is attached to some limitation, there is no way one can work well with circumstances. One can only work with circumstances by seeing what one's limitations are.

When we overcome our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe then we are more free. We are more free to celebrate life, sorrow at death, wonder at creation, we are more free to enjoy our lives and the lives of others.

When we overcome our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe we are more free to celebrate the threatening "other", to celebrate the beauty of human diversity and difference, which is the strength of our species.

When we overcome our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe we are more free to act wisely, to cherish this beautiful planet we live on and all the richness of life, the plants, the animals, the rocks, minerals, oceans, mountains, rivers, and lakes it offers us.

When we overcome our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe through knowing our own state through personal experience the universe and all the beings in it are revealed as an astonishing panoply of spheres of light and color, sound, lights and rays that has no boundary nor center.

When we overcome our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe through knowing our own state just as it is, we have no need to ensure any creed, no need to confirm any ideology, no need to control anyone or anything -- we can let the free be free as they have been all along whether they know it or not.

When we overcome our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe thorugh direct and perfect knowledge of our own state, then, if we have the capacity, we can introduce others to their own state without regard to religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe.

If, for example, Dzogchen teachings are only for Buddhists, how can we ever hope to overcome our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe? How can enforcing limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe ever be useful in the project of overcoming our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe?

Dzogchen teachings are for all who are interested. Because the ancient peoples of Zhang Zhung and Tibet were interested in Dzogchen, Dzogchen spread there before the formal advent of Buddhism in that country. Originally Dzogchen was not a formal part of Buddhism. It spread through a very small lineage of practitioners. This group of practitioners, beginning with Mañjuśrīmitra, saw that Dzogchen was the essence of what the Buddha was trying to communicate. So they spread it slowly. Later, because Padmasambhava, Vairocana and Vimalamitra brought it to Tibet and some Tibetans too understood it was the essence of the Buddha's teaching, they kept it in secret and it slowly spread among Tibetans. Then, in the 11-12th century, when the Nyingmapas gained self-awareness as an independent school, they adopted Dzogchen as their official "position" in competition with the new translation trends and incorporated it into their school. But by this time, Dzogchen had completely died out in India. But Dzogchen, as is proven by its presence in Bon, is not strictly the provence of Buddhism. Though the Bonpos revised their teachings to bring them into line with Buddhist teachings, Zhang Zhung Nyengyud is an authentic line of Dzogchen intimate instruction that do not depend on Garab Dorje. Therefore, in the same way that early masters of Dzogchen were free from limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe and taught Dzogchen to whoever came to them, we should also endeavor to overcome our limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe.

We must not consider the Dzogchen teachings as belonging to any religion, ideology, nation, class, race or tribe. Instead, as practitioners of Dzogchen, we should endeavor to overcome our personal limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe through knowing our real state just as it is. When we know our own state just as it is, we can engage with people wherever they are without ourselves throwing up any barriers of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe. So I suggest it is very important for Dzogchen practitioners, including myself, to overcome any limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe. We already have the means to do this -- we simply need to will to do it. If we ground ourselves in the deep natural transformation that comes from recognizing and integrating with our primordial potentiality, then we can go beyond the limitations of religion, ideology, nation, class, race and tribe. By going beyond these limitations (as well as the limitations of conceptuality, imputation, paths, stages, realizations, attainments, buddhas and sentient beings) through recognizing our own innate state that is originally pure and naturally formed, we can move freely through the world and meet everyone and everthing from the authentic space of recognition of great original purity of all that is.

Source

www.atikosha.org