Does the Eagle know what is in the pit?
Or wilt thou go ask the Mole:
Can Wisdom be put in a silver rod?
Or Love in a golden bowl?
— William Blake
As mentioned in a previous post, it can be useful to recognize that there are two Buddhisms. One Buddhism is the practical codification, organization and institution of teachings, teachers and students as a human sociological phenomenon. The other Buddhism is the self-perfected, self-optimizing radiance of our own essential, individual Being. Another way to understand this is to understand that the realization of this self-perfected Being is the purpose of Buddhism. Ever since the supreme master Padmasambhava definitively introduced this knowledge in Tibet, the perspective of primordial perfection has been called Dzogchen. And so the teachings that deal directly with the primordial perfection of the individual are called Dzogchen teachings. When Padmasambhava first transmitted these teachings in Tibet they were presented as the pinnacle and culmination of a comprehensive approach to realization. There is much misunderstanding about this. Consequently, many scholars as well as practitioners have mistakenly presumed that Dzogchen is to be understood as the final stage of a gradient process of meditation. There are others who make the equivalent mistake of thinking that a gradual progressive approach contradicts the Dzogchen view. In fact, Dzogchen is the primordial basis that makes any and all spiritual approaches possible. So, in actuality, all spiritual approaches begin and end with Dzogchen.
Someone who walks a significant distance in a forest (unaided by a compass) will discover that their path has been circular. This is very important because it illustrates the inevitable fate of all beings who wander aimlessly in the dense forest of Samsara. It is indeed a most vicious cycle. In a patently insidious fashion, unconscious beings unwittingly perpetuate their own negative feedback loops, thereby sustaining their own self-imprisonment in the macro-cosmic status quo of entropy and perpetual recurrence. The key to understanding the real importance of this is available to those who can momentarily apprehend a view of the grand scale of existence. If you view existence from below, that is, from one’s own individual perspective, nothing makes any sense. Everything appears to be an exercise in futility. This would be equivalent to some individual Helicobacter Pylorus bacterium pondering its own significance from the perspective of its little ulcerous pocket in the human stomach. It does not understand that it is an almost inconceivably small pawn in the vast, overall life-cycle strategy of a human body. Likewise, if we fail to understand that individual human lives are also inconceivably small bacteria, colonizing little ulcerous pockets of a remote planet in the vast overall life-cycle strategy of the cosmos, we will not know the actual situation. The shocking truth is that the macro-cosmos (in which we are equivalent to nano-bacteria) has no more use for individual self-aware humans than humanity would benefit from a self-aware H. pylori.
So, let’s be clear. Human life is not futile or pointless if it’s viewed in the context of the macro-cosmos because in this big picture human lives serve the same purpose as all other lives on the planet, which is to simply generate organic radiation. In this context we are just a small subset of all organic life on Earth. And if we unwittingly comply with the macro-cosmic agenda, no real benefits whatsoever can be possible for ourselves as individuals. How do we comply? We comply by remaining at the level of human animal instinct. Therefore, if we now instead view ordinary human life in the context of humanity itself, such life then appears to be completely futile and pointless. It’s exceedingly easy to live an ordinary life. In fact, it seems to be natural to do so. All we have to do is ignore our essence and just carry on believing in, and identifying with, anything and everything that comes to mind.
Shakyamuni Buddha, Padmasambhava and other enlightened human masters have all emphatically assured us that it is indeed possible for individual humans to totally liberate themselves from the perpetually recurring cycle of entropic fate that is the default setting of living beings in the macro-cosmos. Furthermore, Padmasambhava in particular emphasized that human beings are especially predisposed to self-liberation due to certain unique qualifications. It is as though humans are born with a secret circuitry that, if discovered, and if properly connected, can enable us to enjoy absolute consciousness instantaneously. This circuitry is comprised of virtual pathways and channels specifically configured as conduits for knowledge — knowledge of ultimate reality/Being. These knowledge pathways however can not be discovered in the context of ordinary life, nor can they be activated by oneself. To connect and activate this secret circuitry of knowledge we must connect with and receive transmission from an enlightened master. The process of transmission can never be accidental — it can only happen deliberately. Once we receive this knowledge, the liberation of ourselves is then in our own hands. Simply having knowledge is insufficient for liberation — we must come to understand the real meaning of the knowledge. In general, understanding can be said to be the intersection of knowledge and Being. As there are many different levels of Being or states of Being, there are then many different levels of understanding of the same knowledge. As we consciously divest ourselves of all the various habits of emotional entanglement with how things seem, our level of Being elevates. It is like the rising of a hot-air balloon caused by throwing out heavy unnecessary items. So, as our level of Being elevates, our level of understanding becomes deeper. But, this all depends on having a certain knowledge that is continuously being transmitted by enlightened masters. To receive the transmission we must find a way to connect with these masters in a practical, concrete way. Then we must remain connected and maintain the transmission as an ongoing flow, like a life-line, until we fully realize complete and total enlightenment.
Of course, the whole thing can be summarized by saying, “Just stop thinking and simply be.” Note well, it will come to that. But also remember that Tibet’s most celebrated and esteemed yogi-saint, Milarepa, was expelled from his apprenticeship with his first master, Rangton Lhaga, a teacher of Dzogchen. Unable to immediately understand the profundity of Dzogchen and encumbered by pride, Milarepa was referred to Marpa, a severe taskmaster of discipline, under whose tutelage he endured many extreme hardships before ultimately realizing the real meaning of Dzogchen.