Chenian Short Lectures in America


by Yogi C. M. Chen | 18,758 words

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Chapter 2 - The Three Identifications

Of The Great Perfection

Today is a very fine day and on our way to the Adi Buddha Mandala in Sonoma County we sighted a rainbow, a full 180-degree rainbow, brightly colored running east to west, directly over the road. As we were headed in a northerly direction, we drove below and through the center of the arch. Immediately, a short rain fell upon us, obviously some nectar from the Adi Buddha symbolizing an auspicious day for the Dharma. Next, the clouds parted and the bright sun shone upon our heads, foretelling that on this day I must introduce the highest teaching.

Usually I follow the traditional evolution of the Dharma, from Hinayana to Mahayana to Vajrayana. With Vajrayana proceedings from the first initiation of the Buddha body, to the second initiation of the Buddha body nerve chakras, to the third initiation of Vajra Love, and finally to the fourth initiation of the Mahamudra and Great Perfection. Normally I do not deviate from this order.

When I was twenty three years old I had a Gelugpa teacher and he taught me to practice the four foundations of Tantra, each of which was done ten thousand times, i.e., taking refuge, prostrations, Vajrasattva mantra, and the mandala offering. The last one was very difficult to finish. Next, I met my root guru Lola Rinpoche, a Nyingmapa, who so kindly gave me the Nyandhi Yoga. It seemed to me that he did not follow the proper teaching order; nevertheless I got the instructions of the Great Perfection.

Previously we talked about the nine steps of samatha. They are a very important foundation for the meditations of all three yanas. But now we have a special time and auspicious place. The special time has been indicated by the rainbow and nectar and the auspicious place is the Adi Buddha Mandala which is the palace of the Guru of the Great Perfection. This time I am definitely taking a jump from the traditional sequence of presentation and am omitting all the teachings of the Hinayana, Mahayana and the first three Lower Tantras, as well as the first three initiations of the Highest Tantra. These have been arranged in my book, Buddhist Meditation: Systematic and Practical, covering more than four hundred and fifty pages. To write this book from my dictation took the two English Bhiksus (Monks) Sangharakshita and Kantipalo more than six months of hard work. Neither do karmic conditions of this Kali Age permit the thorough completion of these practices, which take several years of complete devotion and discipline. Nor do I have the full enlightenment with which to teach, nor is there any person who has completely dropped out to follow me! So we are going to gamble and take a leap to the Great Perfection, remembering that our foundation is a bit shaky.

From Samatha we get the foundation but the Great Perfection is the final truth of the goal. So we are creating a birds eye view from start to finish, from beginning to ultimate. But we cannot reach the goal without walking. Actually, the Samapatti of the Vajrayana (Great Perfection) is a very simple teaching. But the simpler the teaching the more difficult it is to get the experiential realization.

The Great Perfection belongs to the Nyandhi Yoga. This teaching is called the Three Identifications; it is the highest and most profound teaching of our Great Guru Padmasambhava. He received it from Manjushri"s incarnation as Sri Simha who lived on the five peaked mountain in China. Sri Simha gave these instructions to Padmasambhava in India. He merely pointed to the sky and said, "My unmoving mind is always like this!" and then flew back to the five peaked mountain in San Shi province, which now is occupied by demons. Though they occupy the outward place, they can never discover the inward, secret, and most secret dwelling places of Sri Simha.

My Guru Lola Rinpoche imparted the three identifications and all other teachings of the Great Perfection to me and it has been printed about in my province Hunan in China. Many Chinese have also learned it.

The three things to be identified are the Mind, the Sky, and the Truth. The Truth is the Great Perfection, the full Enlightenment, the Dharmakaya, the Entity of Adi Buddha.

First of all, the Mind of the Great Perfection should not be mistaken for the psychic mentality or the physical heart; nor is it psychological thought or psychological conception, perceptions, or any thinking processes. The true mind of Dharmakaya is none of these! This fact has been mistaken by many contemporary scholars, religious teachers, and psychologists.

They loudly and proudly talk about the psychological nature of mind, but this is very foolish talk. Their outlook falls on the one sided view of mentality. This error is similar to that of the Maoists who regard the truth to be of a material nature, which falls on the one sided view of materiality. Both these views are far from the truth of mind.

The nature of mind is the final truth. To describe the philosophic mind we only need to say the Truth. But this point has even been left uncorrected by the ancient sages. The Truth is philosophic, is the Dharmakaya, is the Great Perfection, is the Chan. No practice is necessary to discover this philosophic truth. When it appears, it appears. It can be compared with an upside down pyramid. The sharp pointed vertex points downward with the base expanding upward to infinity (Dharmadhatu). The sharp pointed vertex symbolizes the sudden awareness of the Dharmadhatu. In a flash we can identify with the truth Before this sudden flash there is ignorance, afterwards there is realization appearing by itself the Dharmakaya.

The second identity of the Sky does not mean the physical sky, which we see above our heads. But is analogous to a crystal ball without limitation, pervading all directions simultaneously, transparent, clear, and radiating brightness everywhere. So we must think of the crystal sky of the Three Identifications not just as ordinary sky but as the unlimited, dimensionless, crystal ball of realization.

The third identity is the Truth, which is, was, and will be. It does not only belong to Buddhism for the truth belongs to itself. Buddhism revealed this truth, the Dharma of non self. Hinduism masks the truth with the high self but in the non self of Buddhism there is no such obstruction and the truth stands naked and bright. Every other religion in the world has a high self or God but only Buddhism has the truth without any such prophylactics. The truth pervades everywhere but we must study the non self practice of Buddhism if we want to understand the final, deep and complete truth. We should not wear our clothes when we take a bath, nor do we hold any kind of truth in the self. Therefore non self is the fixed philosophic truth of Buddhism.

The Three Identifications of Mind, the Sky, and the Truth are not three things but one. We use three terms just for clarification of the intellect, but without direct experiential realization there can be no genuine understanding. Beware of thinking you have discovered the truth merely by understanding the theory. This is not the real truth; but from the practice of this theory will eventually come the full realization from a Guru; this is very important. Keep this fixed in your mind: (l) The mind is not the visualization of these things! (2) The truth is not a result to wait for! (3) The sky is not an object of visualization. But it is here and now appearing in oneness these are Sri Simhas three identifications of the unmoving mind, adopted by our great Guru Padmasambhava.

For the practice of the three identifications, we must make some changes in the seven elements of the Samatha posture, e.g., crossed legs chin downward, etc. Now we tilt our heads slightly backwards, and let our eyes focus on the symbolism of the sky and let the brightness increase. So here the head does not hang downward but is elevated to identify with the brightness of the sky. Usually we should practice the three identifications outdoors, this is best. But there are some dangers. There should be no rain or strong wind. I practiced in the Himalayas and it was clear and beautiful everyday. It seldom rained but there was much wind. Dont let the wind blow directly to your body but always let it pass sideways in front of you. We can also practice indoors, also in dreams. Realization happened to me four times, e.g., indoors, outdoors, in dreams, and in meditation. I hope that you will get the realization of the Great Perfection very soon.

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