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  • Writer's pictureRudy Bauer

The Great Perfection of Dzogchen: An Existential Phenomenological View: The Fourth Epoch

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

Washington Center for Consciousness Studies and The Washington Center for Phenomenological and Existential Psychotherapy Studies

The Fourth Epoch: The Great Perfection of Dzogchen

The focus of this paper is on the absence and the presence of self in the unfolding history of Buddhism in the light of Existential Phenomenology. The Fourth Epoch is the manifestation of the Great Perfection or The Great Completeness. The Great Perfection or Dzogchen came into full existence during the 8th century CE in Tibet.

The Guhyagarbha Tantra and the Original 17 Dzogchen Tantras became manifest in the 8th century Tibet. Vimalamitra, Manjusri, Jnanasutra, Sri Singha and Padmashambava are some of the great masters of Dzogchen who participated in the bringing forth these unique Dzogchen text and teachings into Tibet. The source of Dzogchen is ultimately the mysterious archetypal person Garab Dorge, who appears mysteriously over the centuries revealing the nature of Being as the nature of human awareness, and as the path of self-liberation. Human awareness is the nature of Being and is our ontic-ontological self.

In our elaboration of Dzogchen experience, Dzogchen will be discussed in light of the phenomenological hermeneutic view of Immanence as the experience of the incarnational embodiment of Light. The phenomenology of Dzogchen will be contrasted with the phenomenology of Mahamudra which reflects the Transcendental approach to phenomenological reality both as illusionary and as concealing the experience of Pure Being.

Hermeneutics and Transmission

The Existential Tantric experience unfolds through time and cultures. Hermeneutics has different meanings. One meaning of hermeneutics is the transmission of knowledge over time from one person to another person, and from one generation to the next generation through our personal transmission.

Patriarchal traditions understand transmission to be an institutional experience. The institutional transmission contextualizes the personal transmission in light of the patriarchal structure and requirements.

Dzogchen is a personal transmission from one person to another person. Dzogchen is not an institutional transmission. There is a difference between lineage and Institutionalization. Lineage is personal, relational and heart felt. Lineage is I – Thou and not the I-IT. I -IT signifies institutional transmission with its inherent objectification and reification.

Dzogchen arises out of the intermingling of personal awareness. Sometimes Dzogchen is called the whispered tradition from one person to another. In a most real way the Dzogchen transmission is the transmission of human companionship its purest form. Dzogchen is the transmission of the experience of awareness and the “mingling of awareness” within the intersubjective sphere of one person to another person. Transmission creates a generational field of personal and transpersonal knowledge.

As Bodhidharma said in the 6th century CE “Beyond words and letters, there is a transmission, that does not belong to any tradition, it is the very nature of human awareness and that is the Buddha.” Dzogchen is the transmission of human awareness to human awareness within the human field of awareness. Human awareness is the Divinity of cosmological awareness manifesting in humanness.

The Essence of Dzogchen Is Timeless Awareness

The essence of Dzogchen is the profound experience of our being in timeless awareness and being in time simultaneously. This experience of timeless awareness in time is a natural path of self-liberation. This experience of timeless awareness in time is within everyone’s capacity and is always within everyone. Timeless awareness is the background presence within our Being. Timeless awareness is the ground of Being of our being. This ground of Being self-manifests as our own personal awareness, as our own being in time. Our own sense of Being is our own inner sense of self. We human beings are an ontic ontological self. We are the intertwining of mind and awareness; form and Being. Awareness is the knowingness of Being . Being’s knowingness is awareness.

Nyingma Tantras

Now in Tibet during the early 8th CE century ,the Village and Shamanistic based Nyingma tradition brought forth the Guhyagarbha Tantra and also brought forth the 17 original Dzogchen Tantras during this time period. Prior to the arising of the Buddhist Nyingma Tradition and the lineage of Padmashambava, the ancient Shamanistic Bon Tradition existed in Tibet. The Bon tradition was a naturalistic form of Dzogchen with its own language and power of symbolic invocation. The Bonpo or Bon Tradition describes Dzogchen mythologically beginning deep in Tibetan pre-history over 40,000 years ago.

The Bon tradition considers itself the original manifestation of Dzogchen understanding and praxis. Namkai Norbu Rinpoche the great contemporary Dzogchen Master describes how Padamashambhava utilized the Tibetan Bon tradition with Bon’s shamanistic understanding of the alchemical elementals in his transmission of Dzogchen within Tibetan culture. The transition of the unfolding of naturalistic Dzogchen from India into Tibet, is described by scholars as very loose and messy with various influences converging.

There are various traditions that influenced the unfolding of naturalistic Dzogchen. There was mutual influence between Kashmir Shavism and Dzogchen. Chan Buddhism also had early influence within Dzogchen tradition. The great scholar and existential phenomenological philosopher Herbert Guenther describes how the Gnostic traditions of a phenomenology of Radiance and Light influenced Dzogchen phenomenology of radiance of luminous presence. Dzogchen is a naturalistic path of independence and self-support. Dzogchen is both an ancient and a contemporary form of Mystic Humanism.

No One Owns Dzogchen

Namkai Norbu Rinpoche, the great Master of contemporary Dzogchen, would say that Dzogchen does not belong to any one religious tradition. Namkai Norbu would also say Dzogchen does not belong to any one culture. Dzogchen does not belong only to Buddhism, and Dzogchen and does not belong only to Tibetan culture. Dzogchen’s understanding arises from within many cultures, and from within many religious traditions. There is no one language for Dzogchen.

As the philosopher and translator Herbert Guenther suggests, elements of Dzogchen were articulated in early Gnosticism as a phenomenology of Radiance and Light. Guenther believes Padmashambhava was deeply influence by the gnostic phenomenology and culture of radiance and light. Padmashambhava transmitted his understanding of Dzogchen to and within the Tibetan Buddhist culture. Dzogchen is a phenomenology of Radiance and Light.

Intrinsically Non Patriarchal

Dzogchen is Non Patriarchal in nature. Dzogchen is Equality Consciousness. True Equality Consciousness is non patriarchal in nature. Existential Dzogchen understands the nature of the Guru as Equality consciousness and as Equal Vision. Dzogchen understands that the Guru is not a singular person. The Guru is within everyone as their very innermost awareness and as their innermost self. The Guru is the innermost nature of human beings. The Guru is primordial awareness self- manifesting as the world and as its inhabitants. This understanding of the Guru liberates the Guru and the experience of the Guru from the narrowness of Patriarchal Institutionalization.

The contemporary Dzogchen Master Dudjom Rinpoche teachings support this liberating understanding. Dudjom’s Rinpoche’s great text ‘Calling The Lama from Afar’ is an example of this liberating understanding that the Guru is our own inner most awareness. Dudjom Rinpoche’s great text entitled “The Magical Play of the Original State: A Song and Dance of Sublime Aspiration” is a sublime example of the de - institutionalization of the Primordial Guru.

Dzogchen liberates human beings from being considered children in the patriarchal context of the “One Who Knows omnisciently”. Patriarchal Institutionalization often requires complete loyalty and complete obedience to singular person who is the stated Guru. In this authoritarian context, self-agency of a person is diminished as the Guru is personified as the omnipotent One who knows and who requires being pleased and obeyed. Liberation through obedience is a patriarchal fantasy reflecting the Hegelian master-slave relationship. Liberation comes about by the spiritual slave serving the spiritual master. The slave serves by obedience. The spiritual master “gives” liberation.

Patriarchal Institutionalization brings forth a Feudalistic Deification of the Lama as The Singular Personification of the Archetypal Guru. This patriarchal context does not support the Guru as Equal Vision and Equality Consciousness. This patriarchal context does not support the profound understanding of the actuality of the inner Guru in everyone. The inner Guru is the presence of wisdom luminosity in every human being. The inner guru is the Logos of Being itself as expressed in Pre-Socratic Greek philosophy. The inner guru does not belong only to Dzogchen Tibetan Buddhism. The presence of the inner most guru is present in every person no matter their religion, their culture, and their place of their life. The inner guru is in all sentient beings including our dogs, and our cats and our birds.

Non Monastic

Dzogchen is non monastic in praxis. Dzogchen does not depend on monastic institutional transmission and empowerment . Dzogchen emerged in village life. The transmission of Dzogchen is from Person to Person. Dzogchen reflects Equality Consciousness in process and in understanding. This freedom of Equality Consciousness supports Dzogchen’s freedom from patriarchal domination and endless hierarchal illusions of spiritual status. In the language of the western medieval mystics, Dzogchen is Una Vocity. Dzogchen is free of both political and ontological hierarchy.

Attempts at institutionalization of Dzogchen will always fail. When Dzogchen is institutionalized that which was Dzogchen is no longer Dzogchen. Dzogchen is not a costume. Dzogchen is intrinsically authentic. Without the authenticity of Equality Consciousness Dzogchen does not exist.

Royalty and Spirituality In Union

Dzogchen is the path of the experience of the Oneness of Being within beings. Dzogchen is the path of the experience of Indivisibleness of Being within beings and between beings. As the Dakini said to Dudjom Lingpa “You and I are indivisible.” Dzogchen is not the Path of Being by analogy, nor a path of spiritual or ontological hierarchy. Dzogchen experience does not reflect the theocratic union of Royalty and Spirituality. From within the view of Dzogchen, political royalty always attempts to possess and dominate spirit. When the power of royalty possesses Spirit, the spirit of self- liberation is lost.

Take a brief glance at the history of the Roman Catholic Church and its aspirations of infallibility and is “psychotic preoccupation” that outside the Roman Catholic Church there is no salvation. Given the omnipotence and grandiosity of the embracement of Clerical “Infallibility,” the history of torture and relentless murder of persons as “heretics” becomes a given. This is the very nature of the union of Royalty and Spirituality.

Within ancient Tibetan Religious culture there was a union of royalty and spirituality. Dzogchen naturally self- liberates from this theocratic framing of the experience of primordial awareness. The experience and wisdom of Dzogchen is independent of the theocratic context. The wisdom of Dzogchen is completely within the field of immanence which is the field of Being. Can our experience of field of Being be institutionalized ? Can the radiance of primordial awareness be institutionalized?

Dzogchen As An Incarnational Path of Immanence

Being is Oneness and Being is Non Duality. Being is indivisible. Being is not a being. Being self-manifests beings. Dzogchen is an incarnational path of immanence, a path of embodiment, a path of transmission, and a path of radiant light, a path of equality consciousness, a path of humanness. Dzogchen understands that the nature of human awareness as Being is the Nature of Being itself. Dzogchen is a path of the direct companionship of the Inner Heart Essence. Dzogchen is an intersubjective path of indivisibility of the Being of awareness with the Being of awareness of another. As the Dakini said to Dudjom Lingpa “you and I are indivisible”.

Given the nature of the inner heart essence tradition, Dzogchen cannot be institutionalized. The inner heart essence tradition reflects the I- Thou relationship within the Being-ness of beings. The heart essence tradition reveals the nature of person as luminous awareness which is the unbound openness of the field of Being.

Equality Consciousness as The Presence of Inner Guru is within every Person

Dzogchen is free of the theocratic political union of Royalty and Spirituality. The innate power of becoming aware of awareness does not depend on patriarchal embracement or patriarchal permission or patriarchal institutional transmission. Dzogchen is naturally free of ontological hierarchy. Dzogchen is the direct experience of the Purity of Being within all beings. Dzogchen reflects the intersubjective non-dualistic dimensions of relational life. Dzogchen is the praxis of Equality Consciousness.

The Non-Dualistic experience of indivisibleness of experiencing oneness and separateness naturally manifests when we are living within the field of awareness. The ongoing experience of the field of Immanence is the field of Being. The profound understanding that the Guru is the innermost awareness of every person is the foundational expression of Equality Consciousness. The Dzogchen understanding that the Guru is within everyone is a challenge to the Tibetan new Translation Traditions. These traditions are historically fixated on the Guru as being only the singular person of the Lama. This view of the Guru as the ‘ Lama alone’ is the patriarchal contextualization and reification of the primordial Guru. The Guru is the radiant light of awareness within everyone and anyone. The Guru is not the possession of any one person or any one tradition. The Guru is Equality Consciousness. The Guru is the field of Equality Consciousness. The Guru is the field of Being as wisdom gnosis. The Guru in Greek philosophy was the Logos. Logos is a sublime self- illuminating quality of Being. To think that the Guru is only a singular person who is ‘ the one who alone knows,’ is incomplete and cannot recognize the ontological dimension of democracy.

Immanence and Transcendence

The wording of Immanence and the wording of Transcendence are existential phenomenological ways of expressing our experiential and philosophical approaches to the phenomena of beings and the Being of phenomena. The language of Immanence and the language of Transcendence are hermeneutical ways of experiencing and understanding our relational experience of the phenomena of beings and the phenomena of Being. Hermeneutics studies the meaning of meaning and the construction of meaning. We are in intimate relationship to both the phenomena of Being itself and the phenomena of beings and their Beingness. We are ontic-ontological beings in an ontic ontological world.

Transcendentalism and Invisibleness of Being

Most Buddhist traditions are Transcendental in their praxis and in their understanding. The aspiration of Transcendentalism is the experience of Pure Being and this sense of Pure Being is beyond the phenomenological experience of human beings. The Transcendental path and the Transcendental approach to Being is through the use of the skillful means of detachment, dissociation, and our dissolving into Pure Being.

In Transcendental traditions phenomena is considered as illusion and yet, strangely , this illusionary phenomena hides the Reality of Pure Being. In this view, the forms of Phenomena foreclose our experience of Being. For the Transcendentalist the experience of phenomena is unhappily lacking the Purity of Being. The experience of Pure Being is understood by Transcendentalist to be only available in the Transcendental State of pure consciousness. This Transcendental State is beyond phenomenological experience and beyond the phenomenology of our mind. For the Transcendentalist, phenomena hides and conceals the Light of Being. This is a limited and incomplete knowledge of the nature of Being as phenomena and phenomena as Pure Being.

Display of Phenomena

In Tibetan Buddhist Transcendental traditions of experience, human form and our experience of human form is not the embodiment of Luminous Radiance of Being. This transcendental interpretation is incomplete and limiting the path of self- liberation. The transcendental tradition considers phenomena and the world of phenomena as a display. The wording of “display” implies phenomena is not the self-manifestation of Being and phenomena lacks the actuality of Being. Phenomenological experience hides the actuality of the visibility of Being and the Radiance of Being. From the view of Dzogchen, the Transcendental understanding of Being and the concealment of Being by phenomenological forms is incomplete and creates a limiting foreclosure of our experience of the light of Being within beings and within the Being of the world.

In Dzogchen, the light of awareness illuminates human experience and illuminates our human forms as the Beingness of Pure Being. Our phenomenological experience of the world itself is the experience of Pure Being in singular form. Self -Liberation is experiencing the Beingness of Being within our own being and the being of others and the being of the world. The Being of the world is the Being of phenomena. Through beings we live in the sea of Being. Through beings including our own being we experience Being, Pure Being, ‘ just as we are.’

The Transcendental Tradition view experiences of phenomena and the phenomena of the world as concealing the light of awareness, concealing the Light of Being. So the transcendental path to self-liberation is to free our self from phenomena, to transcend the phenomena of the world, and to transcend the phenomena of our mind in order to experience the light of Transcendental Being.

Phenomenological Form Hides Being

The ancient Transcendental Traditions believe that because of phenomenological forms, Being is invisible. Form hides Being and Being may seem to be invisible . To go beyond phenomenological form is to allow the invisible Being to become visible Being. To go beyond phenomenological form allows for Invisible Being to becoming experientially Visible Being. The Visibility of Being reflects our transcendental freedom from phenomenological forms and from the phenomenological forms of our own mind. By going beyond form, the Transcendental field of Pure Being is revealed and can be experienced.

This View is not the Path of Dzogchen

Phenomenological forms of our own mind are thoughts, affects, moods, sensation, fantasy and reasoning. Without form, Pure Being can only be experienced. This is not the experience of existential Dzogchen. This is not the Path of Existential Dzogchen. Being and the light of Being can be experienced in and through form. From the view of existential Dzogchen, the Transcendental tradition and transcendental experience is incomplete and narrow in its understanding of the nature of the relationship between Being and the form of beings, between pure Being and phenomena, between the light of the pure Being of phenomena and the light of pure phenomena.

Going Beyond Phenomena

In Transcendental paths, the Transcendental method is to go beyond phenomena of beings and to go beyond the phenomenology of mind. Our Transcendental person both transcends appearance of phenomena, transcends the presence of phenomena and transcends the experience of the phenomena of their mind. Our Transcendental person must transcend our dualistic experience of phenomenological world and enter into a Non-dualistic Transcendental State of Pure Being. This is a solipsistic experience.

Non- Relational and Non- Phenomenological

Transcendental paths are in essence non-relational and non- phenomenological. In the Transcendental paths in order to experience the Transcendental Purity of Being, a person goes beyond their experience of phenomena, goes beyond appearance of phenomena, and goes beyond their mind knowing of phenomena. To experience the Purity of Being means our going beyond the density of phenomena, so that the invisibleness of Being becomes visible or becomes experiential. The experience of Pure Being is the Transcendental Experience. To experience Pure Transcendental Being is considered self- liberation. This transcendental view is reflected in many monastic religions and traditions of both the east and the west.

Formlessness of Being and Mahamudra

The path of Mahamudra is a Transcendental Path. The paths of Mahamudra were historically being formulated during the same time period of time as the formulation of Dzogchen. Transcendental focus is on the experience of Being and the Purity of Being. Transcendental Being is a formless experience. Pure Being is formlessness. Transcendental Being is vast formless spaciousness and vast formless openness. Transcendental Being manifests as Clear Light. This light is beyond color and beyond the radiance of manifestation.

The mind alone cannot experience Transcendental Being. Being is formlessness. Mind cannot experience formlessness Being. Formless Being is Pure Being. Only awareness knows Being. Only awareness knows formlessness. Our mind only knows forms. Mind cannot know formlessness. The” nature” of mind can experience the formlessness Pure Being. The language of the “nature” of mind, signifies awareness. The word “nature “ of mind signifies awareness in the Transcendental Traditions.

Form and Formlessness within Dzogchen

Dzogchen is considered by some as an opening into the awareness of Transcendental Being . Dzogchen is not limited or contained by the formless Transcendental experience of Pure Being that is only visible beyond phenomena and beyond the phenomena of our mind.

The Praxis of Dzogchen is an embodied experience of the actuality of Being . Dzogchen is the skillful direct experiential experience of the luminous Beingness of beings including our own being. In Dzogchen, there is the direct experience of the manifestation of phenomenological Being as the radiant manifestation of Pure Radiant Being. Phenomenological Being is the manifestation of the Radiance of Pure Being. This manifestation of the Radiance of Pure Being is Presence. This is Presence of Person, the Presence of Phenomena. The Presence of Appearance.

Phenomenological forms are forms containing formless luminous Being having become in-formed. Human beings are luminous phenomena of beings who are forms of luminous formless Being. This is the path of immanence. This is an incarnational path of Mystic Humanism. Through the luminous phenomena and luminous forms of phenomena, a person experiences the field of Being and the radiant presence of the field of Being.

Form and Formlessness are Experienced Simultaneously

The human being can experience form and a human being can experience formlessness. In Dzogchen the simultaneous experience of form and formlessness is the path of self- liberation. Dzogchen does not split the experience of form and formlessness. Dzogchen integrates the experience of form and formlessness. This happens and can happen because Dzogchen integrates our mind (the knower of form) within the awareness field (the knower of Being) in order for the person as the “Knower” to know through form, luminous Being. Form is the openness into the field of Being. Our own form and the form of the other is luminous openness. The form of the world is the form of Being. Dzogchen does not separate form from formlessness. Transcendental Mahamudra does separate form from formlessness. The focus is on formlessness alone. This is a limitation and is incomplete.

In fact human existence is not formlessness alone. Human existence is not form alone as materialist think. Human existence is mystical humanism. Mystical humanism is the natural integration of form and formlessness. Mystical humanism is the natural integration of mind within awareness.

The Trans-lucidity of Phenomena

The Dzogchen aspiration is the experience of the trans-lucidity of Phenomena and the actuality of phenomena. Dzogchen essentially experiences the embodied luminous Beingness of Phenomena as the Purity of Phenomena and as the Purity of Being itself. This experience and understanding of the Purity and Openness and Trans-lucidity of phenomena is not the experience of the ancient Transcendental Paths. For the transcendentalist, Being is veiled by form, and the phenomena of form. As Dudjom Lingpa once said Dzogchen is the training to experience the Purity of all Phenomena. In Dzogchen All phenomena is the Purity of Being’s self- manifestation. All form is the self-manifestation of Pure Being as Pure Form. All form is the Purity of Being. To experience the Purity of Form as the Purity of Being, being in awareness and being in mind simultaneously is necessary. As the great Dzogchen prayer says “May I have the Blessing to experience all phenomena as the Dharmakaya.”

The Trans-lucidity of Being and Trans-lucidity of Phenomena

Dzogchen focuses on the openness of the experience of the Trans-lucidity of Being through the luminous Being-ness of beings. The Trans-lucidity of Being manifests as the translucid appearance of phenomenological Being. Being shines through phenomena. Being shines through phenomena as phenomena. Being shines as phenomena. Being self illuminates as phenomena . Being ‘s radiant light becomes and is the presence of phenomena. The Light of Being radiates phenomena, all phenomena. The radiance of Being manifests as phenomena.

Presence is the radiance of Being. Phenomena is the radiance of Being. Phenomenological Presence is the luminous Shining Radiance of Being. Phenomenological Presence is Pure Presence, the Pure Radiance of Pure Being.

This is the experience and view of Dzogchen.

Appearance as the Radiant Self-Manifestation of Being

The very appearance of phenomena is the radiant presence of Pure Being self- manifesting as beings. Phenomena and the appearance of phenomena is the indivisibleness of Being becoming visible as the presence of phenomena. Phenomena does not hide Being. Phenomenological Presence Is Being itself in self-manifestation. Phenomenological Presence is the radiance of Pure Being. Phenomenological Presence is the formless presence of Being as Pure form. Form and formlessness are two aspects of the phenomena of Being. All Form is the self-manifestation of Being and Being is always completely Pure Being.

The appearance of Phenomena is the Purity of Pure Being. Pure Being becomes Pure Flesh to use Merleau Ponty’s description of the invisible becoming visible. This embodied understanding does not belong to Mahamudra. All form is Pure. All form is luminosity embodied.

The approach of Dzogchen and the approach of Mahamudra as the Phenomena of Being and the Being of Phenomena.

Dzogchen is not simply another form of Mahamudra. Mahamudra and Dzogchen are similar and yet there is profound difference between Mahamudra and Dzogchen. The difference is the way Dzogchen presents the directness and the immediacy of the Field of Being as the Field of Phenomena. The field of Being is the field of the world, and is the field of life. The difference between Dzogchen and Mahamudra reflects their difference in their relationship to phenomena. This difference reflects the appearance of phenomena and phenomena of the Being of the world . Their difference is also their relationship to Being itself, and to human awareness itself.

In Dzogchen, appearance does not intrinsically hide Being. Appearance is considered the direct manifestation of Luminous Being. Dzogchen is the Middle way of oneness within difference, and difference within oneness. The Middle way is the direct knowing of form within formlessness and formlessness within form. The middle way is the direct knowing of pure form as the manifestation of Pure Being. The Pure form of phenomena is Pure Being . Pure Being in its manifestation is the Pure appearance of Pure Being as the Purity of Form.

The Transcendental view dissociates form from formlessness, and formlessness from form. The transcendental view dissociates form from Being and Being from form. The transcendental view dissociates phenomena from Being and Being from phenomena. This is the fundamental Difference between the Dzogchen and Mahamudra view of the world of appearance, the world of phenomena and the Field of Pure Being. This difference is profound and fundamental.

Embodiment and Disembodiment

Mahamudra is a Transcendental Dissociative praxis. Dzogchen is a form of the Non-Dual praxis within the field of Immanence. Dzogchen is a praxis within the continuum of our experience of the Immanence of Being. Dzogchen as a praxis is our experience of the openness of the Being of all phenomena as the Pure Divinity of Pantheistic Buddha Nature. Mahamudra experience is the disembodiment and disengagement from phenomena. Dzogchen experiences all phenomena as the embodiment of the actuality of luminous Pantheistic Being. Pantheistic Being is Buddha Nature. Buddha Nature is Pantheistic Being. Being is both source and phenomena.

Union of Mind within Awareness: The Power of Dzogchen

Dzogchen practice is to directly experience the Union of both form and formlessness. Dzogchen practice integrates our two ways of knowing. This integration is the alchemical power of Dzogchen.

One Knower and Two Ways of Knowing: Simultaneously

We are the one knower whose mind knows form and whose awareness knows Being. Our mind knows form and our awareness knows formlessness. We are the one knower whose integration of mind within our awareness field allows us to know form within formlessness and formlessness within form simultaneously.

In the integrated union of our mind within awareness, in the integrated union our mind knowing form and our awareness knowing Being, we can experience the form of Being and the Being of form. We can experience the Non Duality of form and formlessness. Form and Formlessness are indivisible. This is the alchemical medium of self-liberation.

Knowing Being

Our mind knows phenomena and our awareness knows Being. Human Beings have two modes of knowing. And to integrate our two modes of knowing is the power of Dzogchen. The integration of the two modes of knowing is the power of direct perception, direct knowing of Being through form. This is jnana, this is gnosis. This is the trans-lucidity of direct knowing, directly gazing. Through the trans-lucidity of phenomena, the luminous Beingness of beings is experienced. Though the Purity of form and the Purity within form, Pure luminous formlessness is experienced. Awareness itself is pure formless experience as direct Knowing. Mind knows through the medium of conceptualization, sensation, memory, reasoning, imagination and feelings and affects.


The Dzogchen Path of self- liberation is our Knowing of Pure Form and Pure Formlessness Simultaneously and Continuously! The Dzogchen path of self- liberation is our knowing of Pure form and pure formlessness simultaneously. The Dzogchen path is our knowing of Pure phenomena and the Pure Being of the Phenomena simultaneously.

Integration of Knowing of Mind within The Knowing of Awareness

Our integration of our mind within the field of our awareness is the medium of our path of self- liberation. All the various Dzogchen practices support the integration of mind within awareness, and the mind within the field of Being, which is the field of awareness.

This is the alchemical skill of knowing Pure form and Pure formlessness Being simultaneously. This is the alchemical instrument of knowing the Duality of beings within the Non - Duality of Being. This is the alchemical skill of knowing the Non Duality of Being within the Duality of beings. As the Dakini said to Dudjom Lingpa ‘You and I are indivisible”. This is the ongoing experience of knowing oneness and difference simultaneously. This is the path of self-liberation. This is the path of Pure Love.

Our Embodied Sense of Self is an Ontic Ontological Experience

Our integration of our two ways of knowing empowers us to live in ongoing continuity of the union of form and formlessness, through the ongoing unfolding of life events of form and formlessness. Through our union of mind within our awareness field, we naturally experience our own embodied Being-ness of Being. This embodied Being-ness of our Being is our embodied sense of our ontic- ontological self. Ontic means psychological, Ontological means Being. We are the intertwining of psychology and Being. We are the intertwining of mind and Being. We can experience the ongoing continuity of form and formless of all phenomena. This is the experience of self-liberation, ‘just as we are.’ This is the bliss of the ordinary life.

Form and Formlessness In Union

Dzogchen is the path of form and formlessness in union, within the integration of mind within awareness. Form and formlessness are indivisible. Another way of expressing this experience is Dzogchen is the path of non-duality of Being within the duality of beings. Dzogchen is the path of experiencing the duality of beings within the non-duality of Being. The Duality of beings within the Non-Duality of Being are indivisible within Dzogchen. As the Dakini said to Dudjom Lingpa “You and I are indivisible”.

Middle Way As Integration of Ground of Being within Singular beings and Singular beings within Ground of Being!

There is a Dzogchen prayer. “May I always experience appearance as the Dharmakaya”.

This is the experience of oneness within difference, and difference within oneness. This is the middle way, the path between extremes of oneness and difference, between the extremes of non-duality and duality, between the extremes of form and formlessness, between the extremes of phenomena and Being.

In Dzogchen, self- liberation is the experience of oneness of Being within beings , and the experience of beings, within the oneness of Being. In Dzogchen self- liberation is the experience of the Non Duality of Being within the duality of beings, and the experience of the Duality of beings within the Non Duality of Being. This is the path of the Middle Way. Oneness within Difference and Difference within Oneness.

Transcendental Formlessness Is without Form

The Mahamudra Transcendental tradition’s aspirational focus is the Transcendental formlessness of Pure Being. Transcendental skillful means going beyond phenomena and the forms of phenomena to experience Pure Transcendental Formless Being. Transcendental praxis skillfully goes beyond phenomena and the phenomenology of the mind. The singular aspiration of The Transcendental path is the experience of transcendental knowingness of Transcendental Formless Pure Being. We dissociate from form, and we dissolve into Transcendental Pure Being , Pure Transcendental Knowingness. This is also self-liberation.

Pure Being as Formlessness and as Form

Mahamudra focuses on the formlessness of Pure Being. Dzogchen focuses on the Purity of formless Being as The Purity of Forms. Dudjom Lingpa once said “Dzogchen is the training to experience the Purity of all phenomena. “ Form is the luminous manifestation of formless Being. Our capacity to experience form within formlessness Being; and Pure formless Being within the Purity of form is the power of self- liberation. This capacity gives us the power to experience the Being of appearance as the Pure Being of primordial awareness both in and as ourselves and in and as the world .

The Veil of Phenomena as Veil of Being

In Dzogchen the experience of phenomena is not a veil of Being but rather phenomena is a direct luminous trans-lucid openness of the field of Pure Being. In the perception of Dzogchen awareness field, phenomena is luminous openness of the field of Being. Within phenomenological experience of the form of phenomena or the appearance of phenomena, there is the experience of Being of the form, the formlessness Being of the form. There is simultaneous oneness of the formless field of awareness, the indivisibleness experience of formless Being-ness within oneself, and formless Being-ness within the appearance of the Being of phenomena. There is oneness within difference and difference within oneness.


There is the liberating experience of dualistic beings within non- dualistic Being. There is the experience of non- dualistic Being within dualistic beings. There is the experience that all forms are the Purity of Being. There is the experience that all the forms of beings are Pure Being. This is the experiential view of Dzogchen. The dissolving of appearance and the dissolving of phenomena is not necessary since all appearance and all phenomena are the open Purity of Being. Being becomes form and Being is also formlessness. Pure Being is Pure Formlessness within a form of Pure Being. This experience is the experience of self- liberation. This experience is open to everyone.

To perceive this purity of the openness of form, and the luminosity of form, and fluidity of form, and the formlessness of form, we integrate our mind within our field of awareness. We integrate the concrete judgment of our mind, into the field of luminous formless awareness knowingness of Being.

The Path of Living Circumstance

Liberation takes place through and within our living circumstance. Liberation takes place through our experience of life events taking place within our field of embodied awareness ‘just as we are.’ Most monastic traditions are Transcendental traditions and are focused on Transcendental Pure Being and the dissolving of our experience of phenomena as well as dissolving the phenomena of our own mind. There is no otherness in Transcendental Knowingness of Pure Being. Transcendental practice does encourage the aspiration of compassion for the purpose that all sentient beings attain liberation.

The Path of Compassion

The completeness of the Path of Compassion is neither mind alone nor awareness alone. In mind alone compassion becomes an empathetic sentiment. In awareness alone compassion becomes the experience of the luminous field of Being without action. The luminous power of Compassion, the luminous action of compassion requires the integration of mind within the luminous sphere of awareness. Within this medium of timeless awareness in time, the transmission of the field of compassion can be given to another person in their present moment, and into their past time and into their future time. This action of transmission is a multidimensional influence within the ordinary life world of the person (Nirmanakaya), within the archetypal dimension of the person (Sambogakaya), as well as within the Dharmakaya dimension of pure potentiality. This is not a simplistic cause and effect configuration, or simplistic mental intention. This is the power of primordial awareness itself in one’s own self and in the self of another becoming invoked ‘just as we are.’ This transmission is beyond words and letters, this transmission does not belong to any tradition and this is nature of human awareness, this is the Buddha Nature.

Access to Both the Transcendental Path and Path of Immanence!

It is useful to have access to both these ways of skillfully experiencing Being. To be able to experience Being as Transcendental Being, Being liberates us from the suffering of phenomenological experience. Many people suffer from unbearable physical agony and many suffer from the terror of context and many suffer from the agony of trauma and illness of mind. To be able to go beyond and go beyond and go beyond the torture of phenomenological existence into the realm of Pure Transcendental Being is so wonderful and is self-liberation.

To be able, in our ongoing life and within the events of life, to experience the field of Being as the ongoing continuity of our own Being is liberation in our life ‘just as we are.’ And to be able to experience the phenomena of beings as Being itself is liberation in our life time.

These two paths of transcendence and immanence are complementary and are convergent . They are complimentary ways of self- liberation within Being. One path is going beyond phenomena, and the other path is going though phenomena. One path is the formless experience of Pure Being beyond phenomena, and the other path is the simultaneous experience of form and formlessness in the life of the world.

Rudolph Bauer, Ph.D A.B.P.P. The Washington Center for Consciousness Studies and The Washington Center for Phenomenological and Existential Psychotherapy

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