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  • Rudy Bauer

The Phenomenological Epoche and Phenomenological Reduction in Dzogchen and Continental Phenomenology

Rudolph Bauer, PhD Diplomate in Clinical Psychology, A.B.P.P Washington Center for Consciousness Studies and Washington Center for Phenomenological and Existential Psychotherapy Studies




Part 3 of Interface of Phenomenology and Dzogchen Ontic and Ontological Knowing Dzogchen and Continental Phenomenology bring forth an ontologization of knowledge. This ontologization of knowledge means discovering that the knowing of mind is psychological knowing and the knowing of awareness is ontological knowing. There is the ontic knowing of the essence of phenomena through our mind of thinking, feeling, sensation, memory, fantasy, reasoning, and intuitive apprehension. There is the ontological knowing of our awareness which is the direct non conceptual and pre-reflective knowing of Being. Awareness is not the knowing of our mind, primordial awareness is the knowing of our Being knowing Being. Our mind knowing phenomena is ontic and psychological. Our awareness directly and non -conceptually and pre-reflectively knowing Being is ontological. Our own Being knows Being as the primordial and intrinsic field of Awareness. This ontological knowing is the knowingness of our field of innate intrinsic awareness. The field of ontological knowing reflects our process of becoming aware of awareness itself. As we become aware of our own awareness, we become aware of our Being and our experience of Being. We experience our nature as Being and we directly experience the nature of Being. To know and to experience our own awareness is to experience the luminous manifestation of our Being which is Being itself. Awareness is Being’s knowing Being. To become aware of our own inner awareness is to become aware of Being, to become aware of our own Being, which is Being itself as us. Our mind may think conceptually and ideationally about Being and this is a form of mentalistic metaphysics. Our Ideation about Being is not our lived experience of Being. Our awareness is our own Being’s openness to knowing our lived experience of Being within phenomena and as phenomenological ontological knowing. Our primordial awareness is not the knowingness of our mind, as our intrinsic innermost awareness is our knowingness of our Being knowing Being. Our innermost awareness becomes intrinsically aware of our inner most field of our innate awareness which is knowing Being directly, non-conceptually and pre-reflectively. Our intrinsic inner most awareness field can experience the pervasiveness of Being within us, within phenomena surrounding us and beyond us. A human being is and has a fundamental openness to Being. Heidegger called this profound openness to Being Da sein. This understanding of ontological knowing is most important in our understanding of the relationship between Existential Phenomenology and Dzogchen. Both Dzogchen and Existential Phenomenology understand the powerful distinction between our mind knowing phenomena and our awareness knowing Being. Many learned traditions of psychology think, really think that knowing is only psychological. This is a limited and limiting understanding of human experience. Dzogchen and Existential Phenomenology are phenomenological ontological traditions that reflect the lived experiential knowing that our knowing of awareness knowing Being is an ontological knowing and not simply psychological or simply metaphysical. Our Being experientially knows the Being of beings since the knowingness of our Being is awareness. In our becoming aware of our own awareness, we experientially know our lived experience of Being directly and intuitively. Phenomenological Ontological Experience The ontological knowing of Being is a phenomenological ontological experience. Our phenomenological ontological knowing reflects our experience of our directly knowing Being both through phenomena and as phenomena. The word phenomena reflects the Greek wording of Phainesthai. Phainesthai is the understanding of what becomes visible in the light, which is a showing forth or shining forth, and is not the cognitive representational knowing of mind. Being shines forth through phenomena and Being shines through as phenomena. Phenomena is both veiled and concealed; and phenomena unveils and reveals itself. Phenomena both reveals itself and conceals itself simultaneously. Phenomenology focus on this opening of us as the knower of the lived experience of concealing and revealing to be intuitively experienced and seen. The actually of knowing is experiencing the disclosing or manifesting what has been hidden. Being is both hidden within phenomena and revealed through our experience of phenomena. Phenomenology is both ontic and ontological. Our phenomenology of mind reveals the ontic nature of phenomena and our phenomenology of our awareness reveals the Being of phenomena, the ontology of phenomena. Ontic is the actuality of the phenomena and ontological is the Being of the phenomena. This is a most important and foundational perceiving and understanding both in Dzogchen and in Existential Phenomenology. Union and Intertwining The union of the phenomenology of our mind within the phenomenology of our awareness field opens for us as the one knower who both knows the essence of the phenomena and who simultaneously knows directly non conceptually and pre-reflectively out lived experience of the Being of the phenomena. And so our phenomenological ontological experience opens for us both our knowing through the phenomenological manifestation of the essence of a phenomenological being and the Being of the phenomenological being. This phenomenological ontological knowing is the natural medium of self- liberation. This phenomenological ontological knowing is foundational both to Existential Phenomenology and to the ancient meditative tradition of Dzogchen. To understand the phenomenological power of the revelation of both the character or essence of a phenomena and the Being of the phenomena it is useful to understand the power of the skillful means of the phenomenological epoche and the phenomenogical reduction. The Phenomenological Epoche as Suspension of Judgement The phenomenological epoche and phenomenological reduction methodology are skillful means of phenomenology and also a skillful means of Dzogchen. Dzogchen is a philosophical phenomenological ontological knowing of phenomena and the Being of the phenomena. As the brilliant Dzogchen Master Lama Tharchin said “the Nature of Dzogchen is Knowing the Nature of Phenomena”. The nature of phenomena is the Being of the phenomena. The phenomenological epoche signifies the experiential process of pausing and suspending our mind so that we can become aware of our innate awareness rather than being located in our mind alone. By suspending our mind, we free our awareness from being contained and hidden within the context of our mind alone. Within our mind alone we will only know phenomena. and the forms of phenomena and we will not know the Being of phenomena. If we are in mind alone, we will not know the Being of our own being or the Being of others. Phenomenological form can hide Being, even though the very form is the manifestation of Being. A Beingless experience of phenomena is empty and thing like. Beingless experience is meaningless experience. A Beingless person is an empty person, and a Beingless world is an empty and meaningless world. Being is the primordial source of meaningfulness. As Bodhidharma said in the 6th century “Beyond words and letters there is a transmission, this transmission does not belong to any tradition, it is the nature of human awareness and this is the Buddha”. Yes, we actually transmit to each other the experience of our Beingness and our experience of Beingness of phenomena. Mind Can Dominate Our Experience of Awareness Our mind can contain and conceal the power of luminous awareness. This luminous awareness is the luminous awareness of our Being. Our mind can contain and contextualize our field of awareness and our field of Being. Our mind can obscure and hide the field of our awareness and the field of our Being. Our mind can obscure the self- manifestation of Being as our Being and the Being of other beings. Our mind can obscure and contain and hide and even foreclose our unfolding experience of self -liberation of lived experience of pervasive Being. Dissociation The most basic dissociation of human beings is the dissociation of our mind from our Being; and the dissociation of our mind from being within our field of awareness. Our mind can dissociate from our lived experience of being within Being. Our awareness can be profoundly dissociated from our mind because of the existential development of the psychological structures of our mind which focus only on objectifying experience of phenomena. The objectification of phenomena can foreclose and dominate our direct knowing of Being and the Being of phenomena. Our experience of Trauma both acute and cumulative can saturate our mind’s ability to metabolize saturating, painful and fragmenting experience and so our mind dissociates from Being and the field of Being. In doing so we become Beingless emptiness, without the experience of embodied Being which is embodied Presence. As Husserl’s phenomenology elaborates our mind knows intuitively and directly the essence of a phenomena. As Heideggerian phenomenology shows us our awareness Knows intuitively and directly our nonconceptual luminous experience of the Pure Being of phenomena. Our awareness is our profound human openness and human capacity of knowing Being. Our knowing and experiencing of our own being as Being, and the Being of others, and the Being of the world is the medium of our self- liberation. Our two ways of knowing can be separated and split off and foreclosed from each other. Our mind can dissociate from our innate and intrinsic field of primordial awareness. Our mind can dissociate from our innate and intrinsic sense of self which is our intrinsic sense of embodied Being. This dissociation is a source of vast suffering of so many people. Through the phenomenological epoche and the phenomenological reduction our two ways of knowing can be integrated and the one knower will experience simultaneously ontic and ontological knowing of phenomenological Being. This is the natural path of self- liberation. This is the natural path of both ancient Dzoghcen and contemporary Existential Phenomenology. Becoming Aware of Awareness In the Phenomenological Epoche we suspend our judgmental mind and in this suspension of mind we free our awareness to become aware of awareness itself. In becoming aware of our own awareness, we are directly and experientially open to the experience of the trans-lucidity of Being. To become aware of our own awareness is to become aware of our own Being knowing Being. The openness of our Being to knowing Being is in the language of Heidegger Da- Sein. The nature of our awareness is our spacious luminous openness to this translucid knowingness of Being. Heidegger called our awareness direct knowing of Being Da-Sein. Our awareness is Our Being’s openness to the Being of beings including our own Being. Our own Being is our felt sense of our ontological self. The Pause The epoche is the pausing of our mind and the suspension of our mind’s judgmental -ness so that awareness is freed from the containment of mind. In the freedom from containment of our mind, awareness is free to become aware of its own self. In awareness becoming aware of awareness, our own innermost awareness becomes aware of its self as the primordial luminous field of Being. As awareness becomes aware of awareness, awareness experiences its own nature as luminous Being, as the Spaciousness of Being, as the Vital All Creative Energy of Being, as the Pure Knowingness of Being, and our own awareness as a Manifestation of our Being. This same pausing of mind is described completely in the Dzogchen awareness meditative tradition. The Great Dzogchen Master and teacher Namkai Norbu Rinpoche would always use this pausing of mind as a skillful way of entering into our awareness of our own awareness. The Phenomenological Process of Becoming Aware of Awareness: The Phenomenological Reduction The process of becoming aware of awareness is the process of becoming aware of Being. In becoming aware of awareness, we become aware of Being since awareness is the knowingness of Being non dualistically. In becoming aware of awareness, we experience directly and non - conceptually our own Being which is Being itself. This experience of our own Being is our innate intrinsic experience of our sense of self. We consider this drama of becoming aware of awareness as an aspect of the phenomenological reduction. This drama of our phenomenological reduction takes place both in Dzogchen and Continental Phenomenology. The Epoche is the suspension of mind that allows us to become aware of our awareness. Then the phenomenological reduction is the unfolding experience of our awareness knowing of our own Being and our unfoldment of embodying Being. In becoming aware of awareness, we can become aware of our own Being and we can embody the field of Being as and through our field of awareness. Through awareness we become fully what we are. We become Who we are. The reduction is our unfolding of our becoming our own Being and the unfolding experience our own being as Being itself. The experience of our embodied sense of Being is Presence, pure radiant Presence. There are phases to the phenomenological reduction of Being. The Process of the Epoche and the process of the Phenomenological Reduction in Phenomenology and Dzogchen is as follows: Our first experiential movement is our Making the shift from Being located in our mind alone and we shift into entering into the innate innermost field of awareness which we enter into in order to become aware of our field of Being. Awareness is the Knowingness of Being. Being’s ontological knowingness is Pure Awareness. The field of awareness is the knowingness of the field of Being. We know phenomena with and through mind and we know Being through awareness. Awareness is not the awareness of mind which reflects a kind of focusing on phenomena. Rather our awareness is the ontological intrinsic innate primordial knowing of Being. Primordial awareness is our own Being’s knowingness of Being. Dzogchen uses the word “Sems “to reflect the mind knowing phenomena and “Semde” to reflect our awareness knowing Being. This important phenomenological distinction between mind and awareness arose in the 8th century AD in Tibet. There is an earlier source of Dzogchen within native Bon tradition that was in Tibet centuries before the Buddhist arrived. By suspending our mind or pausing of our mind, this suspension of mind allows us to differentiate from our knowing of mind and enter into our knowing of our field of pure awareness which can self- arise experientially and pervasively within us. The field of pure awareness is the field of pure Being. There is ontic knowing and there is ontological knowing. The mind knows ontically and awareness knows ontologically. Ontological knowing is our knowing of Beingness and our direct knowing of the Beingness of our own Being and the Being of others, and the Being of the world. Ontic is knowing the actuality of a phenomena as to what is and what it does. Ontic knows the character of phenomena. When we suspend our mind, we actually suspend the contextualization of our mind contextualizing our state of consciousness. The mind can contextualize consciousness. When we suspend mind, we suspend the contextualization of our state of awareness and so awareness can be naturally and easily become freely aware of itself as Being and actually experience directly the naturalistic path of the unfolding of the self - revelation of Being and the nature of the field of Being infinite in its horizon, vast and multidimensional. Merging of Mind within Field of Awareness The next movement is that while we are remaining in the field of awareness and sustaining our sense of self within the field of awareness which is the field of our Being, we can be integrating or merging our mind into the field of awareness, which awareness is the field of Being. By merging our mind within the field awareness, which is the field of Being, we can not only experience the Being of phenomena and the phenomena of Being itself, but we can know through our mind’s direct intuitive knowing. We can know the essence of phenomenological experience. We can as the one knower, know both the Being of the phenomena, and the essence of the nature of the phenomenological phenomena. By merging our mind within the field of awareness, by integrating the functions of our mind such as thinking, feeling, memory, imagination, we can think within the field of awareness, within the field of Being. We can feel within the field of awareness, within the field of Being. We can experience sensation within the field of awareness within the field of Being. We can think within the field of Being, we can imagine within the field of Being and we can have memories within the field of Being. We can live within the field of Being. We can die within the field of Being. We can be reborn within the field of Being as the field of Being. Ontological Presence Whenever we experience the field of Being we experience presence, we experience the radiance of presence. We can experience and live with this field of ontological presence. Our very sense of self is our sense of our innermost ontological presence. Our sense of our Being is our sense of self. Our Presence is our experience of our field of radiance of Being. The phenomenology of presence is intrinsic to the manifestation of Being and our experience of Being. Presence is the experience of the Radiance of Being within us, within others and within the phenomenological world of Being infinite in its horizon’s vast and multidimensional. Merging of Intuitive Knowing In this merging of mind within the field of awareness we merge the phenomenology of mind within the phenomenology of awareness. We merge the intuitive knowing of the essence and character of the phenomena within the intuitive knowing of the field of Being. In this way we can experience the essence of phenomena and we can experience the Being of phenomena simultaneously. This is a source of existential self - liberation. This is the medium of self- liberation both in Phenomenology and in Dzogchen. After the suspension of our mind the process of the phenomenological reduction unfolds. Continuing our Phenomenological Reduction of the Lived Experience of Being: The Sphere of Being In our phenomenological reduction we know the essence of a phenomena and we can know simultaneously the Being of the phenomena. In the reduction we can deepen our embodiment and lived experience of the field of Being within phenomena and as phenomena. First, we can hold within us our awareness of the field of Being. Then there unfolds in time the experience of the field of Being surrounding us and the experience of Being in and as the field of Being wherever we go. We find ourself within this sphere of the field of Being. We begin experiencing the field of Being which is the field of awareness infinite in its horizons and vast and multidimensional. Our Innermost Self as The Field of Being Then in time and through time there emerges the unfolding experience of us becoming the field of Being and actually experiencing our self as the field of Being. We experience our innermost who-ness as Being. We begin to experience directly and with ongoing continuity that we are the field of Being. We experience our self as Being and as the field of Being. Within this ongoing and continuous unfolding experience of Being, Pure Being is the experience of self- liberation. This Bliss of Being overcomes suffering. As the Chakrasamvara Tantra declares that to experience Being is to experience Bliss. To experience the bliss of Pure Being whatever the lived context is to experience self -liberation. The experience of Being frees us from the contextualization of situational context more or less. The Unfolding of the Multidimensionality of Our Being Then there is unfolding of the Experiential opening of the multidimensionality of our field of Being. Moreover, in the unfolding of the phenomenological reduction we can also open the multidimensionality of our field of Being. We are multidimensional persons. We are ontological Who-ness that experiences multidimensional Being. The multidimensionality of our existence becomes open to us and apparent to us. We can experience the different dimensions of our Being simultaneously. There is the dimension of the ordinary life world of Being. Then there is the dimension of the archetypal dimension of Being. Ultimately, there is foundational dimension as source as the Ground of Being. These dimensions of Reality are both within Dzogchen and within Phenomenology. In Dzogchen the ordinary life world is call Nirmanakaya. The archetypal dimension is called the Sambhogakaya. And the source or ground of Being is called the Dharmakaya. There is a prayer in the Dzogchen tradition. May I experience all Phenomena as the Dharmakaya. This means may I experience all phenomena as the Ground of Being. There is oneness between source and phenomena. There are different dimensions of Being unfolding within the phenomenological reduction. There is the opening or the reduction to experiencing the different dimensions of Being. The nature of our being and the experiential level of our being allows us to have the perception of the different dimensions of Being. In Dzogchen these dimensions are called the Kayas. The more subtle and more open our awareness is, the more we can perceive the different dimensions of Being. We can directly experience non conceptually the different dimensions of Being. Our experiential understanding of the multidimensionality of Being opens us to the knowing that we exist in all three dimensions simultaneously and we can actually experience all three dimensions simultaneously. Our understanding of Being reflects our own experience of Being. Our understanding is dependent on our state of Being. The more subtle and more open our direct knowing of Being is, the more we can experience the timeless awareness of Being and the more we can experience the timelessness of awareness in time simultaneously. The Phenomenological Reduction and the experience of Timelessness in Time In both Dzogchen and Phenomenology there is foundational Experiencing of Timeless Awareness. Experiencing the power of self- manifestation of the field of primordial innate awareness we are enabled to experience our field of luminous non dualistic Being. We can extend the field of luminous awareness to the present moment of a person. We can extend the field of nondual awareness to the past time of the person and we can extend the field of translucid awareness into the future time of the person. There are four times both in Dzogchen and in Phenomenology. The fourth time is Timeless Awareness. We can experience the power of manifestation of the field of Being when we are located in timeless awareness or what within the Dzogchen Dakini invocations is called Sangwa Yesse. Sangwa Yesse is the profound simultaneous experience of Timeless awareness in time. To experience the luminous power of Being in Timeless awareness and the luminous power of Being in time simultaneously is an experience of self- liberation. Timeless awareness profoundly frees us our human terror of annihilation anxiety. In the experience of Timeless Awareness, we experience our own inner self our own inner Beingness as unborn and undying. Dzogchen describes this deathless experience as Vajra meaning the experience of Indestructible Beingness. This is not a belief but a spontaneous and continuous experience of Timeless awareness in time. In both Existential Phenomenology and Dzogchen, there are four times. There is the time of the present moment, and the time of the past moment and the time of the future moment. And there is timeless awareness which is the timeless experience of the Ground of Being or the Dharmakaya. The Ground of Being is the All-Creative Source of pure potentiality. The Ground of Being is Being manifesting the Being of beings and is pervasive oneness within the different dimensions of Being. The Ground of Being is Pure Primordial All Creative Awareness. This Ground of Being is Ontological Who-ness infinite in its horizons and vast and multidimensional. All of awareness is personal and all of Being is personal. Reality is Personal. The Power of our Transmission and Self Manifestation of Awareness Field The phenomenological reduction opens to us and within us the power of our transmission of our awareness field into another person and situations. As Bodhidharma an early master of Dzogchen would say” Beyond words and letters there is a transmission. This transmission does not belong to any tradition. The nature of this transmission is human awareness”. In Phenomenology the transmission of inner most awareness from one person to another emphasizes the intimate relational collective dimension of awareness and the collective actuality of self -liberation. Or as my wonderful teacher of experiential psychotherapy Erving Polster would so often say “two awareness’s are better than one.” Liberation just as life is not a solipsistic experience but profoundly collective. This is the great understanding of the unfolding of the Mahayana Tradition. The Phenomenological Reduction Opens the Power of Invocation and The Power of Attunement in Dzogchen and Phenomenology In the light of our power of transmission to each other, there is also the Power of the Invocation and the power of our Attunement to our Archetypal dimension of Being and the power of our Invocation and power of our attunement to the Primordial Ground of Being. When we are attuned to the Archetypal dimension of Being, the archetypal dimension of Being is attuned to us we can embody the power of the Archetypal field of Being. We have the power of invocation, which is the bringing forth the archetypal energies of the field of Being into our ordinary life world. In this way both Dzogchen and Phenomenology have Shamanistic origins. Experiential language has the power of invocating Being and the dimensions of Being. Our attunement to the field of Being and the Being of beings opens for us a direct extended sense of self connecting us both locally and non- locally to beings and the field of Being as beings. This form of direct knowing is our direct experiencing of dualistic beings within the Non- Duality of the Being of beings. The Experiential Power of Metabolization in both Dzogchen and Phenomenology In becoming aware of awareness, the powers of awareness are activated and our direct perception of the trans- lucidity of primordial awareness of our knowing of Being manifest within us are before us. Our Embodied field of luminous awareness has the dramatic power of metabolization of our different dimensions of experience. As our awareness field is activated, so too is the power of assimilation and the power of our metabolization. This wonderous capacity of awareness metabolizes whatever phenomena is being experienced. This power of metabolization is not mental assimilation but our embodied field of awareness, vast and multidimensional. Awareness metabolizes phenomena and what remains is energy and light. In the drama of our metabolization of our experience of phenomena, the form of the phenomenological experience dissolves and the remaining energy is metabolized into light. Metabolization of experience brings forth and deepens and enriches our embodiment of luminosity, and our translucid experience of the light both within our self, and within phenomena. This metabolization process brings forth our experiential embodiment of light. This metabolization process brings forth our experience of the trans-lucidity of phenomena and the trans- lucidity of our own embodied awareness. This is bliss of the Ordinary. If we mystify this experience and in our aspirations of grandiosity mystify this natural experience of Being, we obscure this experience both for ourselves and others. This obscuration happens relentless in Patriarchal teaching and teachers. This is the obscuration of the One Who Knows Absolutely. Natural Self Liberation in Dzogchen and in Phenomenology Within our innermost light of own awareness, we experience the translucidity of phenomena as the nature of Pure Being, and thus our innermost awareness metabolizes the experience of pure luminous radiance of Being. Our innate Awareness field metabolizes the pervasive presence of Being within our own activation of our two ways of knowing. We integrate our two ways of knowing within us as the one knower. Thus, our mind can experience the essence of phenomena and awareness can experience the presence of Pure Being of phenomena. Because of the integration of our mind within our field of awareness, we can know the luminous nature of phenomena, and the luminous Being of phenomena simultaneously. This experience becomes the medium of self- liberation ‘just as we are’. Again, our hunger of grandiosity will mystify this experience even as we experience this natural bliss of the ordinary. We can simultaneously experience our mind intuitively knowing the essence of a phenomena and our awareness intuitively knowing the Being of the phenomena. We can thereby know the non-duality of Being within the duality of beings and we can simultaneously know the duality of beings within the non-duality of Being. We can know simultaneously ontological oneness and separateness or oneness and difference. Within this ongoing experience of oneness and difference, naturally arises Equality consciousness and pervasive Equal Vision. This experience of Equal Vision is self- liberation. In both Dzogchen and Phenomenology, our unfolding process of Self Liberation manifest through our circumstance of lived experience and the events of living. The Multidimensionality of Being and Our Direct Knowing and Experiencing of Being Our mode of Being influences our mode of understanding. Our manner of understanding will depend on our mode of Being. The knowing of Being and the understanding of Being depends on our own state of Being and our own knowing will reflect our experiential state of Being. Knowing Being is not a simplistic mentalistic experience. Our knowing of Being is not an ideational moment or experience. This paper has been an introduction to the natural interface of contemporary continental phenomenology and the ancient Non- Dualistic Dzogchen Meditative Tradition. This understanding of both Dzogchen and Continental Phenomenology provides an experiential process for the liberation of people suffering from their dissociation from the field of Being both within themselves and within their world. Rudolph Bauer, PhD Diplomate in Clinical Psychology, A.B.P.P. The Washington Center for Consciousness Studies and The Washington Center for Phenomenological and Existential Psychotherapy Studies References Bauer, R. The Absence of Self: An Existential Phenomenological View of the Anatman Experience. 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