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A powerful guide to awakening,
This review is from: Rebel Buddha (Hardcover)
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche in "Rebel Buddha: On the Road to Freedom" masterfully contrasts genuine dharma that is naturally present in day-to-day living and the false "scarecrow dharma" of the "good Buddhist" persona. He says Buddhism is primarily a study of the mind and a system for training the mind. It is spiritual not religious. The goal is self-knowledge and freedom not salvation and heaven.
Buddhism relies on reason and analysis, contemplation and meditation to transform knowledge into something that surpasses understanding. From a Buddhist point of view there is no supernatural entity outside of our own mind. Every human has the capacity to achieve realization. There is no savior and no one to be saved. The journey we take is to fully realize the true nature of mind. We need to find our own way, because there is no "one-size-fits-all" spiritual path. He asks, "How well do we know our own mind?" For most of us it's not an intimate friendship. We haven't spent much time together. We don't know its full story. Our mind is too fast and too busy to notice our perceptions. We go quickly from perception to concept to emotion and value judgments. Concepts become so solidified they grow impervious to doubt and questioning.
When the external world is reduced to a conceptual world we lose a wholesome part of being - the beauty in the world: forests, flowers and birds.
The minute the mind mind sees space instead of a prison the trapped self is free. Once we wake up enough to see through our confusion, we see that even our problematic thoughts and emotions are, at heart, part of pure awareness. Seeing this brings a sense of relaxation, joy and humor. We think our life depends on the thought of "I" but actually, our freedom depends on letting it go. The mind that knows - our wakeful awareness - is formless. The state of being free is transformative. It creates a trail that others may follow, whether it's social, political or spiritual.
Our purpose is to discover who we truly are and connect with our own wisdom.
The practice of mindfulness helps us be present and conscious. Mindfulness is bringing ourselves fully in the present moment and continuing to bring back our awareness if we drift away. The mind is like a house and our mindfulness is like a tenant in the house. No one can get in unless we let them.
Dzogchen Ponlop says not to take on the identity of the guest. "Who will we ask to leave?"
The three trainings: discipline, meditation and higher knowledge transform the mind.
Whatever we've deposited in the bank account of our mind over the course of a lifetime draws interest. Are we holding a portfolio of anger or jealousy or is it diversified and mixed with empathy and love? It helps to check our minds and look at our motivations in every situation.
Once we join practice with day-to-day life, every corner of our world offers a way to explore wakefulness.
Self-clinging is an addiction that we're often powerless to stop on our own, regardless of the suffering it brings. Just as we seek support for recovery from substance abuse or dependency from a group like A.A. we can seek support for recovery from a teacher and the teachings of the Buddha. What we surrender to our higher power is the awakened mind which is intrinsically healthy and compassionate. The more vivid the emotions the greater the opportunity for wakefulness. There is a Buddhist saying, "However strong the emotions are, to the degree the fire of wisdom will blaze."
Dzogchen Ponlop is a fresh, contemporary voice. He focuses more on the internal experience of the Buddhist spiritual journey than the philosophic underpinnings.
He says we are born free and have a rebellious streak. If it's nurtured and guided with wisdom and compassion it can be a positive, freeing force. If it manifests neurotically, full of resentment, anger and self-interest it becomes destructive and harmful to ourselves and others. The true nature of the mind is enlightened wisdom and compassion and is always brilliantly awake and aware.