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  • Writer's pictureRudy Bauer

Pure Vision and the Vision of the Guru: A Phenomenology of Bewilderment


By Rudolph Bauer Ph.D. Diplomate in Clinical Psychology, A.B.P.P.

It is not easy to understand the nature of the guru and understanding the nature of the guru can be bewildering. There is often bewilderment about the guru. One source of the bewilderment is that people think that the guru is an individual person and for most people the understanding that the guru is not a person has been foreclosed. The guru is not a person. And when people see and believe the guru is a person, such a belief will create illusions about the person whom they think is the guru, and their own relationship with the person whom they see as the guru will fall into various forms of the psychology of transference.

Moreover, the true and pervasive nature of the guru will be concealed and the power of the guru limited and anthropomorphized, and politicized. To use Heideggerian language the ontic dimension will become the focus and the ontological dimension becomes foreclosed. In fact, the guru is not an entity, the guru is not a thing, and the guru is not even a being. The guru is the field of Being. The guru is the field of Being’s manifestation of understanding, manifestation of protection and manifestation of self- revelation. The guru is the radiance of primordial awareness. The contemporary master of Kashmir Shavism, Swami Muktananda would   teach, using the language of theology, “the guru is the grace bestowing power of God.”  He would also say “The guru is your own innermost awareness and you must get beyond your mind to experience the guru as your own awareness.”


It is also equally true that a person can be vehicle of the guru. Even you and I can be a vehicle for the guru. The light of the guru can manifest and shine forth through you and me, and through everyone. The power of the guru does not manifest only through institutional religious teachers as some would like you to think, but most often this manifestation is through ordinary people and through the ordinary events of life.  Even an event can be a vehicle for guru to manifest and shine forth through the event. Even a place like a house can be a vehicle for the guru to manifest and shine forth within the field of radiance, as the field of radiance. The experience of the guru can take place both local and non- locally simultaneously. The manifestation is not bound by time and place, yet takes place in time and place.

The guru is the field of primordial awareness manifesting within us and through us and around us. The word guru is a metaphor for this self- manifestation of primordial awareness in us as awareness itself.


One may experience the unfolding of non-conceptual desire to know the guru within our own being and within the being of another. This desire is the desire for self- liberation in unfolding circumstances. This desire for self-liberation is the desire for gnosis, for pure vision, for jnana, for the direct knowing and direct experience of luminous Being-ness within our self and within others and within every situation. This desire is to experience the luminous pure Being-ness of Being, and to experience it clearly and purely in every situation.

Of course this desire is often an intense and deeply felt sense. This desire, as most desires, may not have conceptual understanding or elaboration.  As Lacan would often teach in his psychoanalytic seminars the unconsciousness is structured like language and yet we may not know the meaning or the full meaning of this language of what we desire.

Pure Desire

This pure desire for self- liberation is the desire for experiencing non- duality within the realm of dualistic experience.  And within the realm of dualistic phenomena, to experience the vast pervasive purity of non-duality. This foundational desire is the desire to experience within the duality of appearances, the simultaneous experience of pure non- duality of primordial awareness.  This foundational desire is the manifestation of the great compassion and is the pure vision of compassion. This desire does not arise from mind alone, but from the very nature of our innate awareness. 

The Pure View

This pure view is our direct knowing of Pure Being through and within the appearance of phenomenal existence. The Pure View as expressed by the 19th century Dzogchen Master Dudjom Lingpa is to know “phenomenal existence as all pervasive purity.”

All phenomenal existence is pervasively pure. This desire of the pure view is to go beyond our continuous containment within dualistic experience. Of course pure vision can be pure love.  Pure Love takes us through the doorway of dualistic experience into the non-duality of pure Being. This is the mysterious conjunctio that Jung was so focused upon. This pure view is not a mental cognition or mental belief such as a belief of our mind, but is the fullness of direct knowingness of our own Being as direct perception, as gnosis, and as jnana.  Being is knowingness. The guru is the knowingness of Being, the knowingness of awareness. The guru is not a function of the conceptual knowingness of mind alone. The guru is not a function of mental   belief. 

Pure Vision

Pure vision is our experience of the indivisibleness of non-duality within duality and the indivisibleness of dualistic experience within non-dual awareness. Pure vision is a non-dual view and a non-dual knowingness in a dualistic context. Pure vision is not a mental belief as some would have you think. Pure vision is not the simplistic view of imagining the other as a pure person. Pure vision is the non-dualistic knowingness arising out of non-dual relatedness with another person.  

As a luminous Dakini said once in the late 19th century to the Dzogchen Master Dudjom Lingpa “You and I are indivisible.” The indivisibleness is the capacity to experience oneness and separateness simultaneously. This capacity is the capacity of human beings to experience timeless awareness and time simultaneously. We have capacity is to experience mind knowing time and awareness knowing timelessness simultaneously. Timeless awareness in time is the realm of guru.

Pure vision is the gaze of trans-lucidity. Pure vision is experiencing the pure lucidity within our own awareness and the pure lucidity within phenomena. This experience of pure luminosity is trans-lucidness of our   non-dual awareness within the non-duality of pure phenomenal existing-ness as lucidity. The non-dual light of intrinsic awareness is experiencing the light of phenomena.

Pure vision is the experience of the duality of the appearance of phenomena as well of the non-dual Being-ness of the phenomena. To experience the pure view of the purity of Being of the other, we must be in the purity of our own embodied awareness. We must be experiencing the Being-ness of our own being to know the Being-ness of the being of the other. Actually it takes one to know one. Pure vision is the perceiving and experiencing the purity of being as phenomena, and phenomena as the purity of Being.

Conventional View of Purity

Pure vision is not the conventional view of purity which is found in many   religions and ethical traditions. The conventional view is preoccupied with the purity of a person’s psychology, or purity of eating habits, or purity of   sexual habits, or purity of prayer habits, or purity of dressing habits, or purity of affective states, or purity of speech or the purity of mind, or the purity of moral character, or the purity of intention.  Pure vision is not a function of the other’s excellent moral character or excellent psychological maturity. The purity of vision is the experiencing the purity of phenomenological essence as Being. The purity of appearance is the purity of the essence of the phenomena. This essence is openness, this essence is ground awareness. This essence is luminous awareness. This essence is luminous emptiness. This understanding will free you of bewilderment. The purity of the guru is not the purity of a person but the purity of the guru as the Being-ness of awareness and the Being-ness of phenomena. All phenomena is experienced as pervasive purity.

Time within Timelessness

Pure vision is also the experience of experiencing the purity of time within the purity of timeless awareness and timeless awareness within time. Time is the manifestation of pure being and the phenomena of time is completely pure. Time is the manifestation of pure timeless awareness. Timeless awareness is ground awareness, the ground of Being as pure source of time. Time is the manifestation of primordial awareness.  Time is the drama of Being’s manifestation of being. Being, which is not a being is ceaselessly   manifesting beings in the Being-ness of their own being. And this manifesting is time unfolding.

Pure vision is experiencing the purity of phenomenal time within timelessness, and timelessness within the duality of time. We have the capacity to experience timeless awareness and time simultaneously. We can experience the non-duality of timeless and time within the duality of time.  There are four times. The time of the present moment, the time of the past moments and the time of the future moments. The fourth time is timeless awareness in which we can actually extend the power of timeless awareness into the present moment of a person, in the past situation of a person, and into the future situation of a person. This is action of the great compassion of extending timeless awareness into time.  The mind knows time of past, present and future, and awareness knows timelessness. The mind knows time, and awareness knows timelessness. The indivisibleness is the self-manifestation. Time is the self-manifestation of Pure Being, which is not a being, and the very manifestation of beings is the manifestation of pure time.

Pure vison is the knowing of the union of the knowingness of mind within the knowingness of awareness.  As the great Nyingma master of the 11th century Rongzompa describes there is a gnosis of mind and there is gnosis of awareness. These two forms of knowing are ultimately indivisible and can be experienced simultaneously.

Pure Vision of the Guru

Pure vision is associated with the knowing of non- duality within the context of duality. Pure vision is also often associated with the knowing of the Guru. The more you and I have pure vision, the more we will experience the guru within our self and the guru within others, and the more we will directly experience the self-manifestation of the indivisibleness of appearance and awareness.

The more pervasive our pure vision, the more we will experience the guru within the world itself as the world.  As Shaivism declares, “The bliss of Samadhi is the bliss of the world.” The more we perceive with and through pure vision, the more we will experience our embodiment of the light, and experience the pure light of Being, as Being itself. The guru is the light of self-illumination and self-revelation.  Pure vision naturally self-arises within us.  Pure vision is the vision of the sublime nature of the guru.  Pure vision is the experience of the pure Being-ness of Being within our self and within   everyone and anyone.  Pure vision is the gift of the guru, the grace of the guru. The guru is the Pure Being of Being itself, which manifests everything and reveals itself within everyone.

The Natural Path

Pure vision is the natural path of awareness. And of course, the path of awareness of awareness, is the path of pure vision. The path of awareness is the path of the embodiment of pure vision. This path of awareness as pure vision is the capacity of experiencing all phenomenal existence as   pervasive purity.  All phenomenal existence, all appearance is pervasive purity. Some think that Pure Vision has only to do with the conventional view of seeing their teacher as pure, as a pure person and all the person’s actions are totally pure and omniscient.  Seeing their teacher as pure through their eyes of conventional pure vision is not the pure view of true pure vision. The conventional understanding of seeing the purity of a person means the purity of the person’s personal psychology, personal character and personal habits as previously described. This unhappy understanding co-angulates the nature of the guru to a purity of personality and this often takes place within the context of a theocratic and patriarchal social structure. This is the narrow reification of the guru of the field of Being in the theocratic and patriarchal structural social process of the spiritual traditions of many eastern religious systems.  This is narrow view not the pure vision of Dzogchen.  This congealing frame results in the cult of personality!  The pure vision of Dzogchen is being described in this text.

The Word Purity

The word Purity was one of the earliest description of the ancient early Dzogchen Nyingma understanding of the nature of primordial awareness which manifest in us as us, and which manifest the world as the world. This purity has nothing to do with good habits, or moral habits or moral character. Purity was the symbolization of the nature of the Being-ness of Being of all beings. This symbolization was not reference to the personality of a singular person who was thought to be the guru. This later signification arose during the later formulation of the traditions and lineages of the new translation period of Tibetan Buddhism.

 Purity was one of the earliest symbolization of primordial guru as pure awareness, and as purity of the pure Being of Being-ness. The pure Being of all the beings is the manifestation of Pure Being of the Dharmakaya, to use Dzogchen language. The Dharmakaya is the primordial guru.  And of course there is an archetypal energetic manifestation of the guru, as archetypal symbolic deities of the Sambogakaya dimension.  And there is the Nirmanakaya manifestation of the guru as ordinary existence.  Here we see the guru function being carried out by the most ordinary people in their teaching and care taking activities.  People carry out the function of the guru. This Nirmanakaya manifestation is the presence of the guru as their innermost awareness in everyone, although often obscured by cultural and personal obscurations of mind. This dimension is hidden from the many people who do not know their experience of this dimension of their own direct knowingness. This is lack of knowing, Dzogchen names as ‘ma rigpa’.

Guru as a Pantheistic View:” Where ever I go I see the guru!”

The guru is pure luminous primordial awareness. Often the master of Kashmir Shavism, Swami Muktananda would say “where ever I go I see the guru”. In this statement he was referencing the pantheistic experience of the guru. This pervasive experience of the guru is also the described by   Dzogchen Masters such as Dudjom Lingpa, Mirpham,  Rongzompa, Longchenpa, Dudjom Rinpoche, Kungsang Dechen Lingpa,  Lama Tharchin. The guru is pure Being, and the manifestation of the pure Being-ness of Being within everyone and everything. This Pure vision of pervasiveness of the purity of all phenomena is a pantheistic vision. This is the view of the Guhyagarbha tantra, the great source tantra of the Nyingma tradition.  Being is not a being, but the purity of Being manifesting purity of Being-ness within all beings. All beings are divine. The purity of all phenomena is pervasive.

 And so although the guru is pure Being, the guru is not a being or an entity or a thing. The guru is not a person. The guru as Pure Being is the Radiance of Pure Being, unceasingly manifesting being in infinite numbers of beings. The guru is Pure Being and the guru is the Radiance of Pure Being. This radiance is often experienced as divine grace, the guru is not only pure Being, but is the radiance, the shining forth of pure divinity within everything and anything. Being, both is and is shining forth, showing and revealing the presence of divine Being-ness in everything and everyone. The Guru is self-revelation and opens the secret of pervasive divinity of appearance.  Of course in the un-concealment of self-revelation there is always remains some concealment, some hiddenness. This is also why the guru is bewildering to us, this unfolding process of concealment within revelation. The purity of the guru is pervasive. All phenomena are expressions of the guru.

Pure Being-ness As Guru

Pure vision is the experience of knowing the experience of the pure Being-ness of Being. Pure vision is experiencing the Pure Being-ness of everything and anything.  A person can experience pure Being within their own being and pure Being within the being of others.  Purity is Being itself.  Being is purity in and of itself. Being which is not a being, yet is Pure Being manifesting pure being as Being in all beings. Pure Being’s radiance brings forth the self-manifestation of Being within beings.

The Purity of Being is open pure spaciousness and simultaneously Pure Radiance, the radiance of light. This radiance creates everything and anything. Human awareness itself is radiance.  The guru is the radiance of our own awareness. This is why the radiance of awareness knows Being. ‘Ru’ is light. ‘Gu’ is darkness. The guru is the radiance of light, the guru is the radiance of love, pure love.  The guru is the divine radiance manifesting knowingness of self. The knowingness of the Being of our own being is the inner guru.

Being as Field

And so the guru is Being itself. Being is a Field. The field of beings is the Field of Being. The guru is the field of light manifesting and shining through everything and anything. Being not only exists, but Being shows itself and reveals itself.  Being reveals itself within us as us.  Being reveals and shows itself through beings, infinite numbers of beings.  Being both is and Being is shining forth.  The guru is the self- revelation of Being revealing itself as shining forth as everyone and anyone.  The un-concealment of Being within our self and others is the self- revelation of pure Being.  Pure vision sees this un-concealing self-manifestation of Being as the guru.

The self-revealing of the nature of pure Being takes place within us and others, within everything and anyone.  Being reveals itself to us in its shining, in its manifestation, and its radiance.  Pure vision is our seeing of this phenomenological manifestation of radiance. The radiance of the face is the radiance of Being manifesting and shining through the human face,  the face of animals, the face of plants and the face of all phenomena. The human face is embodied divine light shining forth.  The guru is the shining forth of self-illumination.  The guru is self-revelation of primordial awareness. The guru is Pure vision. To have the experience of pure vision a person is experiencing the inner guru.  You and I can experience the inner guru as our innermost awareness.  We can consider our innermost awareness as the presence of the guru.

The Mysterious Conjunction of Mind and Awareness: Completion

When person has the gift of the experience of indivisible union of their   mind within their awareness field, such a person can naturally know and naturally experience the field of Being manifesting as the singularity of a person in total-ness and completeness. Such a person can experience through a human form, Being itself. The person can know Being through a being. Through a being, a person can know the Being-ness of Being of the other, as well as one’s own being-ness of Being. The person can know through their own form, the experience of the Being-ness of being. Through their own being they know Being-ness itself.

Baby Gnosis

This gnosis happens even happens with babies. There is a form of pure viewing as baby gnosis that in time becomes hidden by the evolving configurations of mind and the unfolding internalizations of mind and embodiment. This is the bliss of the union of the maternal gaze and gaze of the baby. This is the gaze of trans-lucidity. This mutual gaze is the gaze of the field of awareness as the guru. The mother and baby at times and in time are in the ongoing state of non-duality within duality of each other. Mother and the baby at times are in timelessness and time simultaneously. Mother and baby are experiencing the nature of the oneness of the guru. Of course theocratic religion likes to take ownership of that which is intrinsically given to us as human beings. This is true of all religions and is the nature of religion…ownership which does not belong to them. Of course the experience of the mother is the first manifestation of the guru.

Teachers as Guru Function

This happens naturally with many teachers and the many forms of teaching. There all kinds of teachers.  True teaching is the drama of recognition and self-recognition of self through the gaze of the other. Gaze as felt sense, as felt knowingness, as self-recognition is the gaze of the guru. The pure vision of the other opens us to the pure vision of our own being. The pure vision of our own being opens for us the pure vision of the other. The gaze belongs to everyone and anyone. There are no limits as to age. We are born within this gaze and we die within this gaze. This gaze does not belong to religion or require religion.  Religion thinks, likes to think and loves to think that this gaze of the guru belongs to itself.  Religion takes ownership of that which nature gives naturally to everyone. This is the fundamental comedia of religion, owning that which does not belong to it.

This guru function is given within the unfolding of self-arising awareness. Religion loves to institutionalize the guru as its own. This institutionalization of the guru is a source of bewilderment and confusion about the pervasive nature and purity of the guru.  The guru becomes a theocratic focus of   political authority conjoined with spirituality in a patriarchal context. This patriarchal framing reflects an authoritarian state of mind. This is reification of the pervasive natural phenomena of self-revelation of the field of Being.

Persons as Teachers as Expression of the Guru Function

There are many forms of people as teachers. Mother as teacher, father as teacher, friend as teacher, first grade teacher as teacher, pet as teacher, bar tender as teacher, maid as teacher, lover as teacher, book as teacher, nature as teacher, enemy as teacher, sick person as teacher, sister as teacher, companionship as teacher, friendship as teacher. There are infinite teaching possibilities. There are of course meditation teachers, philosophy teachers, theological teachers, yoga teachers, religious   teachers who are lamas, nuns, ministers, priests, and rabbis all can be expressions of the guru. All can be a vehicle for the guru, and all can transmit the awakening of awareness.

Everyone a Teacher

 Every person is a Teacher.  Some persons who are teachers are fantastic vehicles of the guru and are openings of the unbound manifestation of the radiance, the light of self-illumination.  Every person- teacher may transmit the light of the guru, awakening within the darkness of mind and body, the   awareness field of the person. The person- teacher may be a vehicle for the guru, this does not mean the teacher is the guru.  Of course, the guru is not a person. The guru is the field of Being manifesting from one person through to another person. The person -teacher are vehicles for this self-manifestation of divine illumination.  No one owns the guru.  No one owns the teaching.  No tradition owns the guru.  The transmission of the field of awareness is the very nature of the field of awareness.

Mystic Humanism

Of course this drama of mystic humanism does not depend on the word ‘guru.’  As Bodhidharma said in the 6th century:  “Beyond words and letters there is a transmission, it does not belong to any tradition, and that is human awareness, and that is the Buddha.”  Here the word Buddha does not signify personhood but signifies primordial awareness as Buddha nature.  Actually Buddha nature is guru nature. Shiva nature is guru nature. Christos is guru nature.

Two Forms of Knowing

To deepen our understanding the nature of pure vision, it is really useful to know the distinction between the knowing of our mind and the knowing of our awareness.

Our mind knows forms.  Our mind knows entities, our mind knows beings and things. Our mind knows difference. Our mind knows dualistically. Mind thinks and knows in terms of beings, and things, and difference. In our   mind even our thoughts at times are experienced as things, and feelings may also be felt as things.  In the mind everything can become a thing or an entity.  Even no thingness can become a thing or entity within our mind. With our mind we can even make awareness an entity, awareness as thing. With our mind we definitely make the guru a thing.  In fact we can make the guru as a person thing.  Institutionalization can make everyone a thing.

Awareness does not know form and does not know things.  Awareness does not know beings. Awareness does not know difference.  Awareness knows Being.  Awareness experiences Being within everything and anything. Awareness knows itself as Being.   Awareness is a field. Awareness is the field of Being.  Being is awareness. Being is a field and the field is not a thing as some would think.   Awareness is the guru. Awareness is no-thingness.

The Necessity for Mind and Awareness Integration for Pure Vision

When mind and awareness combine, when mind integrates within this awareness, when mind and the field of awareness intertwine, within this mysterious union, within this mysterious conjunction of mind and awareness something amazingly happens. A person can know within a form pure Being itself. When mind and awareness intertwine within a singular being, a person can experience Being itself within their own being and the being of others.

Integration of Both Forms of Knowing

This mind and awareness integration allows for Pure Vision to take place within us and through us. In mind alone there will be no pure vison only the belief in pure vision.  In awareness alone there will be pure vision, the pure vision of the samadhi state. There will not be the pure vision of singularity   of person or appearance. There will not be the experience of duality within non-duality and non-duality within duality.  Without integration of the mind-awareness continuum there will not be the pure vision in knowing Being itself, as itself and of itself.  The pure vision of knowing Being within a being, and through a being will not take place.  A person needs both mind and awareness integration for the pure vision of knowing within dualistic phenomena, the non-dual vision of pure Being-ness of the being.

The pure vision of seeing the pervasive purity of phenomenal existing-ness arises within the mind- awareness continuum of integration. The knowing of form and formlessness simultaneously is Pure Vision. This is the union of appearance and awareness.

Pure vision as Light

Pure vision is seeing within everything and anything, the essence of everything and anything

which is pure Being. This pure Being is light.  Being is light. Pure Being radiates. The guru is light. The guru is the radiance of Being manifesting.  The guru means from darkness ‘gu’ into light ‘ru.’ Purity is not what you eat, not what you wear, not even what you think, not what you imagine, not even your moral behavior.  Your purity is your experience of your innermost awareness, your experience of the Being-ness of your being and the pure Being-ness of the world. Purity is the pure experience of your own pure awareness which is pure Being as knowingness. Your pure Being is the Pure Guru.


Since the pure presence of the guru is in everything and anything, and in everyone and anyone, we can experience the nature of Being through a person who experiences the nature of their own being. In a very real way the guru reveals the nature of Being through that person. That person is a vehicle and opening of Being shining forth in us and into us. That person is a vehicle of the guru, the radiance of Being manifesting. This is the experience of transmission and the experience of the guru’s presence.

Bliss of the Ordinary

These are not exceptional moments, this is the bliss of the ordinary. This is the bliss of pointing out what is actually manifesting within you. This happens continuously without knowing the word guru, or the word Being. This is a non-conceptual experience of the divinity of Being. This experience is open to everyone and is not dependent on reflective knowing.

Believing in the Person as Guru: Invitation to Bewilderment

In many eastern esoteric philosophical and spiritual traditions students are asked or even required to see the teacher as the guru. In some forms of the lineages of the Vajrayana Tibetan Buddhism students are taught that the teacher is not simply a vehicle of the primordial guru but the teacher is the primordial guru as a person. The teacher alone is the guru. The guru is not the primordial awareness that manifests within everyone and everything. The primordial guru is now a person, and is now your teacher.  You are asked and even required to see the teacher as the all-knowing perfected person who is the Buddha.  You must have devotion to your teacher as the Buddha. You are asked to see and believe your teacher is the archetypal Deity personified. This is not the liberating pure vision of seeing primordial awareness in everyone and anyone, including your own self and your teacher. This is a narrowing of the ontological understanding about the nature of the Guru. You are asked to see the teacher alone as having perfect character, as having omniscient knowledge and as having totally pure action.  You are asked to see this Buddha person as   beneficent in every action. You are asked to see the teacher as a God, a God man. This is very different then seeing the guru in everything, in everyone and every circumstance. The guru principle is now being anthropomorphized as a religious icon in a religious context.

This request and this requirement in certain lineages within the Vajrayana is source of bewilderment and at times brings forth despair about the   primordial guru.  People despair over the perfect Buddha person’s   unethical behavior and abusive behavior.  People despair over the Buddha person’s character problems and character distortions.  People despair over the Buddha person’s omnipotence and grandiosity.  People despair because they have believed what they have been taught by the tradition is not true. They believed that the teacher is the divine guru and when their Buddha person teacher betrays their faith and confidence as the Buddha person, people fall into despair about the guru not only as the Buddha person, but also primordial divine awareness itself. They despair about the divine guru as Being itself. This personification of universal guru becomes so limiting and containing, of what is so vast and pervasive.  Swami Muktananda would describe this limiting process as “some old guy with a beard sitting on a throne.” This is religion making the universal manifestation of guru as its own possession.

This happens and will happen when you think your teacher is the Buddha to the exclusion of everyone else including yourself.  When you concretize the guru as one singular concrete person, you lose the experience of the vast, unbound presence of wisdom gnosis that is within you and is in everything and anything. When one singular person is fixated upon as the guru, you will fall into the narrow delusion of religious omnipotence and religions’ domination. Your limited understanding of guru as the teacher alone is the grossly limiting experience of religious theocratic and patriarchal forms of spirituality.  These theocratic and patriarchal traditions are medieval forms of ecclesiastical power and ecclesiastical domination.  Such theocratic and patriarchal forms of ecclesiastical power is the Laminism that the Dali Lama expressed such great concern about in Washington DC during the recent Kalachakra Empowerment.

Theocratic and patriarchal spiritual traditions exist where royalty and spirituality are conjoined. These spiritual traditions exist where power and spirituality are intertwined and conjoined. This unhappy configuration is found in many western and eastern spiritual traditions. Think of Constantine declaring the Holy Roman Empire with sword and cross in his hands.

Conventional Sense of Total Purity

Totally pure in mind, totally pure in moral behavior, totally pure in knowledge, total pure in infallibility of judgment (just like a pope], totally pure in compassion, totally pure in discrimination, totally pure in all action,  total purity of character, and total mastery of dharma is how certain  Buddhist and Hindu traditions see the  guru-teacher-person. They see the person as the mythological Shiva and as the mythological Buddha in the flesh.

The person as student is asked to believe or pretend in this totally pure   viewing of the teacher. The student is asked to make an intellectual assent to the truth of the person as guru, and commitment to do so.  And when bewilderment arises when there is perceived failure on the part of the perfect person-teacher, then this natural bewilderment is considered as a test of the students’ existential faithfulness to the person-guru. This praxis of seeing or rather pretending the guru is a person who is omnipotent,   brings forth the reification of the guru. The guru is now a thing.

This is not the true praxis of Pure Vision. This is a theocratic and patriarchal view of the guru -student relationship that is power based    within the institutional focus for the self-preservation of power and subservience. This is a fundamental framing of the guru.

Beneficent Authoritarian Social Political System

This fabricated belief of omnipotent and omniscient guru can provide for the devoted person an external source of security and an external source of protective omnipotence. The cost of this ‘participation-mystique’ is the profound loss of self-agency. There is also the loss of self-gnosis, the loss of the experience of the guru as the light of one’s own awareness.  In this context of perceived omnipotence and the perceived infallibility of the teacher as guru, obedience becomes the essential and required practice for devotional students of the guru.  This subservient view and posture of the student can bring forth the master- slave relationship between the teacher and student invoking various forms of spiritual masochism. Spiritual masochism in this context is suffering for the sake of love of the divine.   

Actual Practice of Pure Vision of Teacher

 So the actual practice of pure vision is the practice of perceiving the purity of Being within the being of the teacher, and the purity of Being within everyone. Pure vision is not the focus on moral character, although moral character and character will be revealed through the actual practice of pure vision.

In pure vision the field of Being of the teacher is pure just as the field of Being is pure in everyone and anyone. When traditions require this seeing   the teacher alone as guru, then bewilderment arises naturally about the nature of the guru, since the teacher is not as omnipotent or as infallible as everyone would love him to be or imagine him to be. The teacher can be nuts and still the being of the teacher is pure Being and pure light.  Believing in total perfection of character and personality is a misinformed moment, but the praxis of seeing all phenomena as pure is self-liberation.

Guru as Formless Energy of Pure Awareness

Sometimes a person can feel the presence of the guru within another   person and within their own embodiment. This is our innate resonance within the field of Being, within the resonance of awareness. We can feel the energy of the field of awareness within and though another being and within own being.  We feel the shakti or the qi or the divine energy manifesting through resonance.  This is a natural unfolding of the event of self-recognition of the field of light within us. The guru is not only radiance but the guru is formless energy. This formless energy is described in different ways by esoteric traditions.  Shakti in Kashmir Shavism, qi or chi in Taoism and energy in Dzogchen and kundalini energy field in esoteric Hinduism.

Gnosis of Mind and Gnosis of Awareness

The pure vision of awareness supports and infuses our mind’s   discrimination of good and evil, and right action and wrong action. There are different dimensions to Pure Vision.  The primary dimension of Pure Vision is of awareness, the direct knowingness of Pure Being. There is also the dimension of our knowingness of the actuality of pure Being and the non-duality of Being within our dualistic experience of another.  In this experience we are able to experience through a human being, the Pure Being-ness of their own being.

Now as these experiences arise, our experience of our awareness becomes established within our person.  And having established ourselves more or less within this awareness field, we now naturally integrate our mind into this non-dual awareness field. Thus in this union of mind and awareness or the heart mind integration we can see the human  form as a doorway into non-dual pure vision of non-duality of Being. Our mind integrated within the awareness continuum brings forth the intertwined configuration of knowing that allows for pure vision to take place within duality.  Because of the union of mind that knows form, beings, things, and awareness that knows Being, a person can know Being through a form, know Being through a being.

The Mystic Path Becomes Relational

Now, the mystic path is no longer simply transcendental and dissociative but becomes the path of embodiment and the relational life of embodiment and immanence within everything and anything.  Phenomena and life circumstance becomes the relational doorway into self- liberation of Being. Using the language of the guru, we experience the guru within us and the guru within others.  Of course there is only one guru.

The Unhappy Precluding of Singularity

Certain forms of samadhi preclude singularity since these forms of samadhi foreclose phenomena and appearance.  These meditation methods discount phenomena as unreal and foreclose dualistic experience as deluded-ness.  They arrive at non-duality by discounting duality.  There are many forms of Samadhi states that are non-relational states of transcendence and dissociation.

 Many of the ancient monastic mystic paths of via negativa forms of meditation brought forth non-relational transcendental and dissociative state of disembodiment.  These forms of understanding and praxis are non-relational and discount the relevance of phenomena as deluded and even non-existent.  This neti neti neti (not this, not this) path is through dissociation of mind and dissociation of body; dissociation from relational form and dissociation from attachment bonding.  These philosophies support the dissociation of desire and the invalidity of phenomena and appearance.  Many Vedic traditions have this dissociative tradition that considers phenomena and appearance as deluded.

Many forms of Buddhism are within this dissociative tradition that consider phenomena a delusion.

These traditions consider the world and human experience as deluded.  All attachment and bonding is consider an obscurations of nasty desire. This framing is from sutra, from Mahayana and from those forms of the Vajrayana that want to maintain a continuity with the ancient sutra path of the person of Buddha. This will be true of the new translation traditions which are expressive of Indian Buddhism tradition brought into Tibet. This view may be less true of the ancient Nyingma traditions within the unfolding of Dzogchen. The ancient Nyingma traditions emerged out of the early shamanistic cultures of Tibet prior to the complete investment in Indian Buddhism.

Kashmir Shaivism as expressed by Abinavagupta and Swami Muktananda; and Dzogchen as expressed by Longchenpa, Dudjom Lingpa, Dudjom Rinpoche, Mirpam and Lama Tharchin understand phenomena as a dimension of the path of self- liberation.  Within the Dzogchen path there are various expressions of relationship of the purity as the nature of   phenomena.

The pure view of Dzogchen and Kashmir Shavism described here is relational, embodied and incarnational view of the primordial guru in everything and everyone. This view embraces the validity of phenomena and sees all phenomena as pervasively pure. This view is the view of all experience is the manifestation of immanence. The guru is the manifestation and un-concealment of the mystery of immanence.  Spirituality is the path of the embodiment of the light of immanence.

Pure Vision Supports Our Mind’s Discrimination of Good and Evil

Rongzompa Chozang Zangpo in the 11th century described the gnosis of awareness and the gnosis of mind.  He articulated the relationship between gnosis of mind and gnosis of awareness.  In the gnosis of awareness, the light infuses the mind and functions of the mind. The radiance of awareness infuses thinking, infuses feeling and infuses sensation, infuses memory, infuses imagination, infuses the symbolic function, infuses judgement, infuses knowing discrimination of good and evil and infuses the knowing discrimination of right action and wrong action. The light of awareness infuses the power of knowing to become action, infuses the power of accomplishment.

The gnosis of awareness supports and infuses discrimination of gnosis of mind. The person not only knows the field of Being, but also knows Pure Being within phenomena and within appearance of beings. The person can   maintain a non-dual relationship with the other, but also the non-dual awareness field opens the luminous clarity of the light of gnosis of the mind, so that the person may know directly the psychological and characterological nature of the human phenomena as a singular person and singular human event.

The light of awareness is infusing the view of the mind and the functions of the mind. The pure vision not only sees the essence of phenomena as Pure Being through the union of mind and awareness, but also allows the singularity of character and singularity of situation to manifest completely and fully illuminated to the heart mind-continuum. A person in pure vision with mind integrated can see the details of phenomena in a direct fashion. The mind begins to see and know directly the character within phenomena. There is this experiential union of the ontic and ontological.

There is union of Being that is beyond the realm of good and evil and right and wrong and yet simultaneously living within the realm of right and wrong, good and evil, and truth and falsity. The person is able to discriminate evil as well as goodness, able to discriminate the right action as well as the wrong action and moreover though this pure vision see the consequence of action whether good or evil. This is the complete empowerment of awareness-mind continuum, the heart-mind continuum. This supports the discrimination of judgment of good and evil, truth and falsity of personal actions and the collective group actions. This union supports action arising out of the mind awareness experience of pure vision and pure perception of what is.

Equality Consciousness

In this understanding a person may see their teacher through pure vision and experience the pure field of Being shining through, and even experience the energy of the pure guru within their teacher, and are free and able to discriminate the actions of the teacher towards themselves and others as good or bad as right and wrong or as simply stupid or with gnosis. The perceiving of teacher, does not mean seeing no evil, hearing no evil and seeing no stupidity or foolishness. This is equality consciousness.

Often in the illusionary context of patriarchal omnipotence, when students see shit, they are blamed for the shit they see.  This is more of the same of the theocratic patriarchal culture. Some believe and teach that this hearing no evil, seeing no evil is the essence in the Vajrayana approach to the personal guru. This is not the truth or the path of indestructible awareness as knowingness of what is.

Actually it is really great to see within your teachers the light of awareness and the generosity of their transmission, even though at times they are fools. The power of the guru is not protected by blindness, deafness or stupidity. It is really great to have pure vision of your teacher and experience the purity of Being embodied, and at the same time have a clear view as to his stupidity and foolishness.  It is true a person can be a Siddha and a fool simultaneously.  Is that not wonderful?  Is that not the truth of what is?

The Step into Multidimensionality

Now we have one more step in our deepening the understanding and experience of Pure View.  Within the power of the pure view we can experience the Being-ness of Being and the Being-ness of beings within depth and breath. Naturally the doorway of multidimensional awareness opens and we begin to know and experience the multidimensional depths of pure awareness and pure phenomena. We begin to experience the   unfolding of the archetypal dimension of existing-ness or the Sambogakaya realm to use Dzogchen language.

Multidimensionality of the View: the three Kayas or three Dimensions of Existing-ness

Because of the opening of the pure view becoming integrated with mind, and mind within awareness, and awareness with mind, the different dimensions of existing-ness or kayas become experientially available. So the potential of primordial awareness becomes more experiential at level of mind-awareness continuum; and the Sambogakaya or archetypal dimension becomes more available at level of mind-awareness continuum; and naturally the ordinary dimension of experience is more available at the level of mind- awareness continuum. This mind awareness continuum is often called mind-heart continuum.

A person not only thinks and understand these different dimensions of existing-ness but can actually experientially enter into and see, know and experience directly these dimensions or kayas. This not simply intellectual or thinking about, or reflecting about, but actual directly perceiving these different dimensions of experience. A person can have multidimensional views simultaneously. Of course all this applies to experiencing the nature of the guru at the different levels of existing-ness. Such a capacity is great fortune and provides a multidimensional experience of wisdom gnosis.

A person can experience the nature of the guru in ordinary human beings, in ordinary situations and in one’s ordinary self.  At the same time the   person can experience the living ontological archetypal dimension, and can experience the guru archetypes in apparitional experience giving visitation and guidance. And the person can simultaneously experience the vast openness of pure potentiality manifesting everything and anything as the play of manifestation. With such good fortune a person can experience the transmigration guru within himself or herself as their self who transmigrates life after life and death after death.

Invalidation of Phenomenal Appearance

The bewilderment of pure vision also arises because of the profound lack of the understanding of the dual/non-dual nature of pure vision. The double-ness of pure vision is foreclosed because of the traditional Buddhist and Vedic philosophical invalidation of appearance, the invalidation of phenomenal appearance.  Many Buddhist and Hindu eastern traditions believe human knowledge and human experience is deluded and that appearance and phenomenal existence does not reflect reality. They think that appearance and phenomenal existence is not a manifestation of reality, and so nothing is real, and everything is an “as if” illusion. Thus there is a foreclosure of relational vision of duality within non duality and non-duality within duality. There is a foreclosure of the union of the mind- awareness knowing continuum. This is great loss. This is the loss of relational mysticism. The dissociative/transcendental view which is the   ancient form of monastic meditation is now in this age and in this time incomplete. Within this is drama of dissociation there is the foundational   splitting of source from phenomenal existence. This splitting is the true delusion.

The Complete Purity of Vision is Dual/Non-Dual Pure Vision

The complete purity of vision is a double vision.  In the first movement of pure vision a person sees through the doorway of non-dual awareness the purity of Being as the purity of all phenomena.   And simultaneously through the doorway of the luminous infused mind of gnosis, the person experiences discrimination within the light of phenomena. The person sees right action and wrong action , sees good and evil, better and best and the discrimination of truth and falsity within the context of duality of phenomena within the field of  non-dual awareness. The person experiences the divinity of appearance and simultaneously discrimination within appearance. This is a great step in understanding of pure view.


A person because of the infusion of the light of awareness into mind and the union of mind and awareness continuum, the person can see the actions and consequences of actions as what they actually are. Pure being shines through and illuminates direct perception of awareness and direct perception of mind. There is gnosis of awareness and gnosis of mind as described by the 11th century Rongzompa.  At the level of action, some actions veil goodness and some actions manifest goodness. The character of non-dual/dual character of phenomena is directly experienced from within, and discrimination happens. This discrimination is the discrimination of seeing and the discrimination of action. This is the discrimination of taking action in attunement within the complexity of dual/ non-dual   situation.  As the Shiva Sutras declare ‘Knowledge is Action.’

Pure vision is a function of pure awareness, pure knowingness knowing the essence of phenomena. The purity of phenomena which is the purity of Being is manifesting within phenomena as the pure being of phenomena. Simultaneously the purity of vision is a double vision both in the direct awareness of the Pure Being-ness of phenomena, and the direct vision of the infused mind gnosis experiencing the character of phenomena and action of phenomena within the discrimination of good or evil, right or wrong or even better and best. The vision of mind infused by primordial awareness discriminates the character of phenomena and the actions as right and wrong and good and evil and better and best. This discrimination is not the judgmental-ness of critical primitive superego which is a primitive structure of mind alone. Superego is a mental part of mind alone and not pure mind infused by the sea of awareness.

A person can live beyond the realm of good and evil and simultaneously within the realm of good and evil.  Living beyond the realm of good and evil is living within the realm of non-duality. This is living in the field of awareness.  Living within the realm of good and evil is the realm of the union of mind-awareness discrimination within appearance and within phenomena.

Often in order to be able to experience some form of pure vision people deny, foreclose, the realm of good and evil, the realm of right and wrong, of smart and stupid. This is a favorite mode in many spiritual traditions. There is a denial of the actuality of appearance, the denial of the actuality of phenomenal experience and the denial of purity of phenomenal experience. This denial of actuality is no longer empowering.  In the moment of the denial of phenomenal existence, the denial of Being takes place: being as appearance, being as phenomena, being as actuality. This denial invalidates the manifestation of pure Being-ness of all phenomena. This denial negates the pervasive purity of phenomena. Today this incomplete view is no longer useful and is not completely true. Goodness and understanding are distinct. Goodness requires understanding for the completeness of the empowerment of gnosis, of jnana, of direct knowingness.

Three Eyes of the Guru Dakini

Pure vision is a double vision. Just as the Dakini has three eyes so do we. We see through the eye of pure vision the nature of awareness which is Being, which is the pure guru. And with the pair of eyes will see the realm of appearance and phenomena which is the realm of good and evil and truth and falsity, better and best.  Actually through the direct perception of pure awareness, pure vision of the realm of Being is experienced and revealed, simultaneously the pure awareness infuses the mind and our perception of duality of phenomena.  Pure vision is the capacity to see non- duality within dualistic experience, and dualistic experience within non-duality of Being as awareness.

In the same way we can experience the guru radiating through people. Some people are pure vehicles and some people are obscuring vehicles. So the guru is not an entity. So to think that the guru is the entity is personal and communal distortion of the vastness of the reality of guru.

When a tradition forecloses one form of knowingness and forecloses appearance as deluded, then bewilderment will occur over and over and over again.

Is the Guru Personal or Impersonal?

The experience of the guru is completely personal. The primordial guru who is primordial awareness manifests through and within the personal-ness of the person. The primordial field of radiance manifests within you and I as a most personal experience. And the primordial field of radiance manifests through you and I as a personal transmission. The primordial guru manifests through persons and through personal events. To experience the guru, the light of the guru, the energy of the guru, the understanding of the guru and the love of the guru is intensely personal. To experience the transmission of the guru through another person is intensely relational and personal. The archetypal manifestation is experienced personally, inter-personally and trans-personally.

The guru manifests through the gaze of the human face and this gaze is a trans-lucid experience of personhood. The Purusha is the ancient Upanishad language of the guru as the ‘who-ness’ of awareness. Personhood is not a thing, and personhood is not an entity but person -hood is ‘who-ness.’  ‘Who-ness’ is the experience and the manifestation of the anima mystic dimension of awareness. The feminine is who-ness as love is always who-ness. This who-ness is not a thing, this who-ness is not impersonal and this who-ness is not personality.

Rudolph Bauer, Ph.D. A.B.P.P.

Washington Center for Consciousness Studies and the Washington Center For Phenomenological and Existential Psychotherapy Studie

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