Q: What is the distinction between mind and awareness?
A: What is the distinction between mind and awareness? I’ve absolutely no idea. I think from the traditional teachings, it’s very simple, it’s very clear. Like in the beginning of our meditation journey, the awareness appears to be one and the nature of the mind appears to be another. And as you continue to practice, the awareness and the nature of the mind becomes one eventually. Right?
In the beginning, it has an appearance of “this is who I’m trying to be” or “this is what I am trying to have awareness, and I’m trying to be aware, and I shouldn’t be distracted, and that is the nature of the mind”, or “that should be the nature of the mind” or “I should recognize the nature of the mind and so on”. So in the beginning, we have that perception and eventually when you recognize the nature of the mind, the meditator and the meditation becomes one. Let’s keep it like that at the moment.
Because when you have this awareness, you know, when you don’t have the fully realized awareness, in a subtle, underneath that foundation of that awareness you still have this idea of “there is a projection, it is appearing, I should encounter that, I should dissolve it”. You may be very successful but you still need to use some sort of mental strength to overcome or to dissolve or to disintegrate or to do something about it.
When you recognize the nature of the mind and then you only, you know, you no longer see that as a threat, you no longer see that as an issue, because you recognize the nature of the mind. So it’s quite different. And like I have to say, little bit more carefully, Previous Kalu Rinpoche in his teachings, he said: “First you must recognize, then you must maintain, then you must realize.”
So “realize” that has a different meaning. Because in our western understanding, when we say “realization” that simply means that you’re telling me I’m knowing it or I’m realizing it. And we assume that is the meaning of “realization”. The “realization” means just simply having this quality permanently in your mind. That is called the “realization”. And along the path towards the realization there may be a lot of glimpses of experience.
In Tibetan we say:
“nyam dang tok pa”.
“ཉམས། nyam” means “positive sensation” or “positive experience”. It’s not necessarily a realization. It’s a positive experience.
So the positive experience can go from foreseeing the future to having a pure vision of the enlightened beings or the deities or the divinations, like the protectors and so on. And that doesn’t guarantee anything. So you can encounter certain things, that is also by lot of hardship, lot of practice, lot of things, lot of accumulation. Even you manage to see something or perceiving the reality, like constantly moving, changing as a reality of impermanence, truly witnessing in the front of your eyes, you may have a very incredible experience, but that does not guarantee anything about the realization. You are still vulnerable to make a lot of mistakes. So when somebody says that “I think I’m enlightened”, that’s a big statement. So that’s that.
There’s a lot of glimpse of experience, some glimpse of experience can last probably a week, months, year, up to year and then it can go away. Sometimes an overwhelming positive experience can last for few hours, few minutes, a few seconds. So like unspeakable experience, and then most of these things are already written in the text and then you may encounter this experience. But these experience doesn’t guarantee anything.
So that’s why when somebody says “I recognize the nature of the mind and I realize the nature of the mind.” It’s a big statement. Forget about the enlightenment. So when you say “I realize the nature of the mind” that means you are no longer vulnerable to anything. So that’s a very big statement. So whenever I hear some people say that “Oh I recognize the nature of the mind, I realize the nature of the mind” and then I say to them “བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས། Tashi delek” that’s pretty much, that’s it. I don’t want to debate “how you recognize and how you achieve it? Did you really achieve it?” I’m not going to waste my time talking with them. If somebody says “I realize the nature of the mind”, I’m going to say “very good, I wish you all the best.” That’s the best approach. You know? So that’s that.
So that’s why we should, and then I’m not trying to make this up to sound more friendly to you. If you look into the biography of great masters and you will witness all the experience what I have just described to you. Some of them they had a clear vision, they see this master, they see this deity, they see this Green Tara, they see the Avalokiteshvara and they continue to make a lot of mistakes and they admit to that. You know? So that’s that.
So that’s why I think it is very important to, as a practitioner, to have a solid ground in the long run. You know? So that’s very important. When I say solid ground, it doesn’t mean that you need to have a blind faith, it doesn’t mean that to have to be obedient or like whatever your guru BS you and going to say “Oh yeh yeh I’m gonna do that”. Doesn’t mean that you have to be that kind of individual. You know? Doesn’t mean that you also have to be, but I’m also not recommending that you have to be arrogant either. There’s a thin line in between, if you are practitioner.
If you’re not a practitioner, either you fall into the category of being completely arrogant or being completely ignorant where you say “Oh my guru is everything, he knows the past, future and present everything and then I have my blind faith”. That’s also not helpful. Because if you have that kind of a very dependency, and then even your own guru cannot help you anymore. You know? So that’s that.
That’s why I like my Guru Situ Rinpoche. He tells me something, obviously, he is not wrong. But he tells me something and then he says “What do you see? You take a look, you know, but that is my suggestion, what do you think?” He gives me that space. You know? So I think that is something that we all have to keep in mind in the future that Guru is not always about giving teachings; and making you realize. It’s also about a Guru or the instructor is giving, it’s about them giving you the patience and them giving you the sense of space to realize certain things, not always being married, you know, sticking to each other, not literally like that. So that’s that.
So the Guru has to be, Guru has that kind of responsibility, you know, and you have that responsibility.
Without any sort of practice, then you cannot, your Guru cannot do anything. When you look at the Khyungpo Naljor, he is the great master, you know, he can, I mean, I don’t believe, I cannot say I don’t believe, I haven’t seen him flying over the sky. He is like going through back and forth through the rock, right? like going through the rock few times and then flying over the sky; or sitting in the crossed legs for six months; and giving teachings. You know? Incredible things! And yet his students they fight with each other. The real student who actually stick with him for years and years and years and years and years, they start to argue, they start to fight. You know? So all sorts of things.
And the one who uphold the lineage who was Mogchokpa, he was a teenager. He was absolutely nobody, he has absolutely no background and he happened to be the lineage holder. Who didn’t spend so much time, he was working as a, how do I say, little bit like an house keeper. And then he eventually, the Niguma and Sukhasiddhi they told Khyungpo Naljor to give all the transmissions and teachings to him. You know, and he was only sixteen years old. Khyungpo Naljor was already one hundred something years old by that time. So that’s that.
Niguma’s “Amulet Mahamudra” by Kalu Rinpoche (afternoon session – 12′ 10”)
Kagyu Sukha Chöling – Friday March 11, 2022