The following quotations are excerpts from recent teachings with Rigdzin Shikpo.

The Teaching of the Buddha

The teaching of the Buddha is called, generally by people, Buddhism. It is not a very good name, I do not think of it as an “ism” particularly. It is better to refer to it by using two Sanskrit terms: “Buddha” and “Dharma” or “Buddhadharma.” This means the way of practising that the Buddha gave us.

The Buddha means “Awakened One.” It is the name of a particular person who lived perhaps 2,500 years ago in India, but it is also a state of being. It is a state of being that we all have but it is actually unrecognised by us, as a general rule. And the Dharma bit, in Buddhadharma, is the way that you progress, or the way that you follow in order to realise the nature of what you already have and have had from the very beginning, which is the state of being awake.

In general, everybody thinks they are awake but actually, from a Buddhist point of view, we are asleep. The whole of our lives is almost a kind of sleepwalk. This sleepwalk arises through a lack of understanding of what we are, of what our fundamental nature is. That fundamental nature is not to be found in externals. And it is not to be found either in going inwards somehow, as if I could probe deeply into myself and find something. Doing that could even be problematic; it might easily become a kind of ego enrichment. Rather, the Buddhadharma is simply allowing your mind to relax, to open out, and to display to itself what it is.

This quotation is an excerpt from Rigdzin Shikpo’s Heart of the Buddha teaching in October 2022.

Three Incalculable Kalpas

It is said, traditionally, that the Mahāyāna path in its entirety takes three incalculable kalpas of time, vast, vast, vast amounts of time. You might find that tremendously daunting and you might even think it turns you off. You go, “Oh, well, it is so vast, I am not going to bother with that.” But, if you are really inspired by the whole thing, you realise you cannot do that, you cannot be turned off, you must go on. And yet at the same time maybe you have to accept that vastness of time and something happens if you do that.

You actually give up the idea of attainment. It is never going to happen. Well, yes, it is going to happen in three incalculable kalpas which from my point of view at the moment is never. A long, long, long time away, but I can actually practise and connect without the expectation of results. So this is a wonderful thing actually to cure our degenerate notion of ambition.

As one of my teachers said, “Why should you care how long it takes to reach the end of the path?” Because on that path, as you go through it, even though you have not completed it yet, you will be able to endlessly help sentient beings and that, after all, is what you are about. So you do not bother to look towards the end of the path and think, “When shall I become enlightened?” You are very happy about the immediacy of your experience, of being able to relate to the world, to the people in it, to help in the ongoing practice with your fellow practitioners and your fellow guides and Gurus, to transform the world and to help sentient beings endlessly to the end of time.

The Wisdom of Confusion

If you think of delusion as not being able to see the truth of things then that can be compared to like a giant fog in which one cannot see anything very clearly. In that fog you look and it is as though there might be some kind of expanse but you cannot see anything in that expanse. There is nothing you can grasp hold of. But then this is also the essential characteristic of space itself.

In the vastness of space, the vastness of the dharmadhātu, there is not anything solid that you can get hold of and nothing you can identify. In that sense it is just like the mist or fog of delusion. So it is said there is a basic wisdom in delusion which is the same as the basic wisdom of seeing the nature of reality itself. It is beyond concepts and beyond thought. In delusion you cannot see anything clearly and in true wisdom there is nothing to see because you have passed beyond concepts and thoughts.

Appearance and Emptiness

What you see that appears before you can be said to emerge from ungraspable emptiness. As Trungpa Rinpoche says, “Nothing whatever but everything arises from it.” Everything arises from that state which cannot be said to be anything at all in any conceptual or identifiable terms. It doesn’t mean to say it is literally nothing whatever in the sense of just the idea of a bland blankness. It means that anything that you try to describe it as wouldn’t be valid. And any time you put your emotional weight on a particular manifestation of it, it would eventually just give way because there is nothing there that could support you.

So it does not mean that truly there is nothing. In other words, it is not true to say that it is non-existence, only that there is nothing whatever in any conceptual sense. And from that state everything seems to arise in the sense that appearances seem to manifest out of that state and then dissolve back into it.

When the grasping mind gets hold of these seeming appearances, they seem to become real. So you might say that what we call reality, solidity and so on is simply our imagination. We conjured it up as a kind of poisonous magical illusion of our own and actually there is nothing that corresponds to that at all. But we’ve hypnotised ourselves into believing such things actually exist. The truth is that everything manifests as māyā, as magical appearances because they are none other than the uncreated, unborn, non-existent power of the mysterious ungraspableness of what is.

The Great Sky

An important part of celebrating the solstices and equinoxes is the idea of a cycle. The cycle of the seasons if you like, of Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. But also the cycle of the breath, the in and out-breath and also the cycle of the heartbeat. Or all the cycles that exist in the natural world, in nature. In Dharma there are also cycles.

There is at the profoundest level, the cycle of the manifestation of appearances and their cessation. The appearances are like a mirage, the illusion of magical appearances. We say, “nothing whatever but everything arises from it.” The “nothing whatever” is the great sky from which everything seems to arise in an intrinsically ungraspable way. We might think we can reach out and get hold of it and that as we get hold of what appears in this magical way, part of the magic of ourselves could turn that into something solid.

In other words, we want to grasp and graspable things appear because it is created by that grasping. The phantasmagoria of magical appearances seems to become solid and real only because we grasp. But actually, you need to realize there is no such thing as grasping or the grasping mind. In fact, it is not possible to grasp. It is like a meaningless word. It is like a bad dream that you could wake up out of. Instead, you can realize that the magical appearance, the display, the dynamism of everything, it appears by its own power and we are simply part of all of that. We do not have to have meddlesome fingers interfering with everything. We can be quite happy for it to manifest out of and from its own nature and to dissolve back into that same nature, that same vast sky.

Video Teachings

We also have a number of teachings available on our Youtube channel and available for purchase on Vimeo.

More Excerpts

The following have been taken from a number of sources by Rigdzin Shikpo, including Openness Clarity Sensitivity and Never Turn Away as well as unpublished teaching transcripts.

Jumping off the Precipice of Concepts into Space

An introduction to Meditation
Openness Clarity Sensitivity: Ground, Path And Fruit

For those with some experience of meditation…

The Four Thoughts
The Elusive Deepening of Dharma Practice
Samsara is a Mess
Buddhas and Bodhisattvas Cannot Improve Samsara but…

For more experienced practitioners interested in a taste of Longchen Mahayana Maha Ati…

Moving from Kyerim (Form) to Dzogrim
Great Bliss Beyond Ordinary Pain and Pleasure

Scroll to Top